Business success often requires repeatable formulas, but sometimes the process needs to be tweaked as technology and customers evolve. Like a master gardener pruning a plant, the most successful businesses know when to abandon what doesn’t work and keep what does. As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, many sales and marketing professionals may feel tempted to return to some old ways, even if they are as effective.
Some of the strategies before COVID served the title industry well, but others haven’t. Has your title company assessed which ones are which?
Here are some tips to help break the bad habits title sales expert Darryl Turner mentions in our Title Talks interview.
Stop calling when things are going wrong
You’ve probably heard the phrase “customer delight.” It’s when the barista meets you at the register with your usual, or your online order is delivered with a surprise gift. These positive surprises produce memorable experiences.
Title agents have the opportunity to delight their clients too, but it doesn’t have to include donuts, swag, or golf outings. Instead, Darryl suggests calling when things are going well with a closing, but most title agents only reach out to deliver bad news. This habit primes clients to have an adverse reaction the minute your name shows up on the caller ID.
“Service is what people expect; surprise is what people remember,” Darryl says. By calling when things are going well, title agents can alter that initial negative response.
These calls can also serve as an opportunity to gain feedback on your services or ask what kind of support you can provide your clients. Reach out to the agent on the other side of the transaction too. A passive form of communication like email isn’t enough to make a good and lasting impression. A call or personalized text is much more effective.
Delight can take many forms, and for many real estate agents, educational content that they can use every day in their business holds far more value than a box of donuts.
Stop confusing customer retention for customer acquisition
Taking care of your current clients isn’t sales. Sales or acquisition is the process of gaining new customers. Both retention and acquisition are vital to sustain and grow your business, but people often confuse the two. Darryl mentions this confusion as one of the biggest bad habits he sees when working with title companies.
“Golfing is not a process of sales. It’s a component of human engagement,” insists Darryl. But many salespeople see it that way. It often takes another set of eyes to point out that if the goal is to grow your client base, this activity isn’t contributing to it.
Retention activities that include socializing with and delighting your clients are important, of course. It strengthens loyalty and grows a customer’s lifetime value, but this isn’t the same thing as expanding your customer count.
“If they’re in a sales role at all, they need to accept the fact that their primary responsibility is the development of additional sources of business and making sure they are taking those new sources of business through the transition process,” explains Darryl.
According to Darryl’s research, that transition process includes anywhere from three to five title orders. That’s the number of times a prospect has to engage with your company to decide if it’s a right fit for them. Once that onboarding period is over and the salesperson is confident that the new client is satisfied with the level of service, the salesperson needs to disengage. Now, the handoff to customer service begins.
Regardless of how big your title company is, everyone should be aware of when they are advancing the function of acquisition or retention. Take the time to consider how you and your team categorize each person’s tasks. Are you investing in the right activities to reach your customer acquisition goals?
Stop getting caught up in the wrong measurable
“Hot markets ruin good business people. They get so busy with the business that they forget about the things that are core critical to the business,” Darryl warns. Many professionals have the bad habit of looking at their total order count or revenue without examining their customer count in the title industry.
Title orders are easy to come by when interest rates are low, and homebuyer demand is high. Everyone is hitting record numbers right now, but they may not be the numbers that will sustain the business when refinances and purchases slow down.
Eventually, title company owners need to step back and examine their customer base and rate of acquisition. Regardless of how big your title business is, someone on your team needs to be responsible for increasing that customer base to safeguard against a swing in the market.
Examining current sales processes and implementing new ones can be challenging for smaller operations with overwhelmed staff members wearing many hats. Still, it’s important to start before the slow down. As difficult as it may be, review the numbers and create a sales plan to combat potential market adjustments sooner rather than later.
Stop using inefficient outreach tactics
“You can’t drive as fast as you can dial,” remarks Darryl. For many salespeople in the title industry, face-to-face meetings seem like the best way to sell title insurance to prospects. That’s a natural assumption for a group of professionals known for their outgoing personalities and people skills. In reality, the return on investment doesn’t support that sentiment compared to other tactics.
This will likely be one of the toughest bad habits to break. Darryl runs through some of the numbers during our talk, and the difference in ROI is pretty staggering. Before the pandemic, catching a prospect at a good time while working in their office was already a gamble. Now, even more real estate and lending professionals are working remotely, further driving up the cost of an in-person sales conversation.
That’s not to say that in-person meetings aren’t useful at all. Instead, these new remote work trends mean that salespeople have to readjust their strategies to prioritize what works best for a changing workforce. One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned from COVID-19 is that windshield time isn’t contributing to the bottom line as much as other activities.
Video has long been one of the most influential pieces of marketing content, and now, sales teams are learning the value of video and phone calls to reach prospects wherever they work.
Keep moving forward
We all fall into routines. It’s human to seek comfort in what we know and what we feel we can control. Formulas should be repeated only as long as they yield the best results. Success in sales won’t be achieved with stagnant strategies. Your clients are moving forward, and you have to follow them.
Listen to the whole conversation with Darryl. He talks more about how title companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and what to do before expanding into new markets.