Are You Marketing to Past Clients Effectively?

Patricia Sherlock

During a recent sales audit for a mortgage lender, I asked originators if they marketed to previous customers. They responded that their company sent out birthday and anniversary cards automatically through a CRM system. Everyone felt this effort was enough to generate referrals. Many of the producers also said they didn’t have time to do anything else since they were working on their current production.

What I found striking about these conversations is that there was no recognition that past clients represent an important opportunity for originators and should be an integral component of prospecting initiatives.

At one time, sending greeting cards was a unique and personal touch, but today everyone uses CRM systems to reach out to past customers. As a result, consumers no longer view these communications as special since the process is automated with preprinted signatures. While it is better than not doing anything, these efforts aren’t enough to move the sales needle by generating new referrals.

Many originators have lost sight that doing the same things that everyone else is doing is not going to wow prospects or distinguish them from the competition. Computer-generated mass mailings with just a name changed telegraphs to the customer: “You are really not that important. I am busy so here you go.”

Is it any wonder that pre-programmed follow-up programs don’t generate referrals? What is missing is a personalized effort that conveys the originator truly cares about their previous clients and what matters most to them.

While many originators complain they don’t have time to market to past customers, focusing a small part of the work week on this influential group can pay off in the long run. Inevitably, customers or their friends and family members will purchase a new home or refinance an existing loan at some point in the future. If producers have not developed or maintained a personal relationship with these customers, they will miss out on any referral business.

Top producers understand that they need at least a third of their volume coming from former customers and their referrals. If an originator doesn’t have that as a base, it is difficult to be 100% dependent on sourcing only new customers.

Originators should recognize that past customers represent a potential income stream that can make all the difference in production results when business is challenging. However, it takes effort, planning, strategy and implementation to effectively generate business from past clients.

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