A panel of experienced reverse mortgage sales professionals discussed a series of effective marketing methods that have led to success in appealing to clients across a number of different reverse mortgage product types when asked about challenges they have overcome in making sales.
This was part of a discussion among the sales professionals that took place at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) Eastern Regional Meeting this week in New York.
“One of the things that often needs to get discussed in the sales process is HECM alternatives,” said Elly Johnson, president of All Reverse Pro and moderator of the panel discussion. “When I ask about HECM alternatives, I’m not talking about alternative products to the traditional HECM. I’m asking, how do you discuss their [financial] alternatives?”
It often depends on the mind-set the client is in when they come into the office of a loan officer, said Chris Downey, president at Harbor Mortgage Solutions in Boston, Mass.
Positioning information in the right way
“When I’m talking to a client or their advisor, typically we’re talking to a client who is not in asset accumulation mode, but in asset spend-down mode,” Downey shared. “The biggest concern they have is outliving their money. There are more pressures on retirement today than there ever have been before, and the utilization of home equity in many situations has to be looked at very seriously. Clearly a reverse mortgage is an option for that, or using it within an overall plan to extend the life of their financial assets.”
This has been a very effective tool not only for selling the reverse mortgage to the end user, but to their financial advisors as well, Downey said.
For others, it can be about framing the conversation in a way that helps clients understand the ease that a reverse mortgage can provide to the finances for the person who decides to use it.
“I tell clients, ‘now you’ve found a renewable resource to have your house pay for itself. You’ve been good to your home, now let your home take care of you,’” said John Luddy, vice president of reverse mortgage lending at Norcom Mortgage in Avon, Ct.
Becoming a ‘shining star,’ and knowing who to talk to
Some marketing tactics for one product may not be the best fit for others, however. One instance where a member of the panel expressed a different opinion was in discussing a HECM for Purchase (H4P) transaction.
“H4P is a relationship-based sale. You become a friend of the realtor and educate them, and it’s key to become a standout in knowing your business better than everybody else,” said Ellen Skaggs, reverse mortgage national sales manager at New American Funding in Tustin, Calif. “I can outshine a room full of reverse mortgage loan officers because I know the product better than anyone.”
Becoming that consummate professional is key to both the perception of your ability to solve problems, and opens up the possibilities for more referrals at the same time, Skaggs said.
“Everybody should be a shining star, in this arena especially. You may not have needed to be that in the forward world, but it’s necessary in the reverse world. I also have a video, so when I do presentations, I try and take the approach of how to improve my Realtors’ commissions, and if I educate them, they’ll come and give me a loan.”
Carving out a niche as the go-to professional in your own community is also essential, according to Patricia Whitlock, reverse mortgage specialist at Quontic Bank in Brookhaven, N.Y.
“I’m more active in hyper-local networking,” Whitlock said. “As Ellen said, be the expert in your community. I’ve been the expert in my own little village, and I often get questions from a variety of interested parties. I’ve had success being interviewed on very local radio. Being the local expert is, I think, very important.”
Not ‘who you know,’ but ‘who knows you’
After opening up marketing perspectives to the audience of assembled reverse mortgage professionals, one loan officer in the audience found it strange that more of his colleagues don’t reach out to potential business leads through friends and family.
“Why not talk to parents or grandparents about what you sell in a way that could end up being a treasure trove of leads? Not that there’s anything wrong with social media, but why not talk to people in your own sphere of influence? I think that’s something we miss: talking to the people we already know that we could help,” the LO said.
Establishing credibility is key to ultimate success with a borrower, and even after you may effectively communicate who you are, a loan officer should still be cognizant of ways they can be researched by family members, said John Luddy.
“The old saying is it’s not what you know but who you know. My experience is that it’s who knows you,” Luddy said. “I find that the adult children of a borrower will go and look you up on the internet to validate your credibility, and that’s one of the reasons why you need a credible webpage. I’d advise you all to make sure your webpage is clean, friendly and speaks to adult children.”