Insellerate, a provider of customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation solutions to the mortgage lender and real estate industries, made headlines earlier this year when it got a strategic investment led by Argentum with participation from First Analysis. The new capital will be used to expand product development, sales and marketing, and customer success initiatives and to meet increasing demand for its Enterprise Customer Experience Platform.
As consumers have shifted online to shop for mortgages, it has become critical for mortgage lenders and servicers to develop a sustained digital engagement strategy for their customers. Insellerate’s award-winning platform enables loan officers to engage more effectively, resulting in higher lead conversion rates, lower origination costs, and more closed loans. Insellerate is the first in any industry to deliver a complete CRM, Lead Management, and Engagement platform via a dynamic mobile application. The company’s Founder and CEO Josh Friend talked to us about the future of borrower engagement in mortgage lending.
Q: Josh, let’s start by telling our readers how you got started in the mortgage industry.
JOSH FRIEND: I started my career writing loans and quickly rose the ranks to managing and coaching other loan officers on how to be successful while providing a superior customer experience. Giving advice and counsel to our borrowers by listening and presenting options in their best interest was key to closing more loans. This quickly resulted in me starting and running my own mortgage company.
Customers were drawn to doing business with us because of the personalized service we were able to deliver. During this time, I quickly realized the importance of leveraging technology to level the playing field and help our company stand out in the crowd. It also became evident that some of the needed solutions didn’t exist or couldn’t do what we needed them to do. I became obsessed with technology and started building and integrating solutions into our tech stack to track loan officer productivity, responsiveness of lead follow up and borrower outreach. In lending delivering a memorable borrower experience is a key differentiator.
I have been blessed to help thousands of people realize the dream of homeownership and have personally trained 1,000’s of loan officers that directly impact hundreds of thousands of borrowers, if not millions, in a positive way over my 23-year career. I now dedicate myself solely to helping other lenders be more successful through better borrower engagement. I am passionate about transforming the borrower and LO experience with my technology company Insellerate, enabling lenders to achieve higher revenue goals while creating customers for life.
Q: What business area did you focus on when you introduced Insellerate to the marketplace?
JOSH FRIEND: We started with consumer direct lending because we knew that’s where the market was going. That was the most challenging part of the lending process ( telephony, data, APIs, massive amounts of integrations ). The last two years have only pushed forward the consumer-direct model. Propelling consumer direct strategies to the retail lending channels.
Our commitment is to helping lenders close more loans, therefore we have been working continuously working with our customers and having a constant pulse on changing market conditions to quickly identify pain points and opportunities that exist. These include
quietly releasing retail tools ( mobile, partner workflow, and management, partner marketing and co-marketing, parent reporting, client closing gifts, customer for life programs both physical mail and digital marketing with property profiles. This has allowed us to add a number of retail lenders to our platform.
Q: It’s more essential now than ever for lenders to figure out how to create customers for life. What do lenders need to do to make that a reality?
JOSH FRIEND: People want to do business with people and brands they trust. When you see someone in the marketplace repeatedly, guess what? It seems like you trust them because there’s something, why, they’re still here, they must be doing something right. The key is to reach people where they’re at, whether they’re on social media, through email, direct mail, or whether it’s tied to their lead management, and they can pick up the phone.
Therefore, lenders quickly realize that they need more than just an email system.
In addition, lenders don’t often know what to send, and they don’t know when to send it. When I was a lender, even though I like to say I was very good at marketing and very systematic, we didn’t have nearly the amount of outreach to our past customers, referral partners, or prospects. And the reason was it’s a lot of work to know what to send, when to send it, and whom to send it to, especially if you want to do something relevant.
It’s not just an email that says, “We do great purchases and refinances VA loans and FHA loans, and we’re your lender for whatever you need.” That’s not engaging a customer because that doesn’t speak to them.
It starts with having data. Something of value that borrowers want to look at. Something about the value of their home. Something about the value of the houses in the neighborhood.
So that’s going to engage customers. And then it’s, what’s the frequency of what lenders send to people? How often do they send them to people? What’s the message? And then how do you manage consistent messages across all platforms?
Q: What should today’s modern CRM include? What should lenders be looking for in a solution?
JOSH FRIEND: One of the essential things that we have to realize is that some systems have just stuck with what they do. We’re a CRM, we’re marketing automation, we’re an email platform, but really where things are evolving is it’s combining all of these into one platform that will have the most significant impact for lenders.
A CRM doesn’t handle all those functions. It doesn’t coordinate all that. So, lenders need a platform that can manage all of that.
The whole evolution of a CRM is to a Customer Experience Platform (CEP). Today’s modern CEP should deliver CRM & Lead Management, Sales Enablement, Engagement, a Robust Content Library, and Data Intelligence in one comprehensive platform.
The solution should seamlessly fit into your tech stack and allow you to communicate through multiple channels: text, social media, email, Direct mail, phone, ringless voicemail, and retargeting and providing you with the ability to give your customers and referral partners timely, relevant information based off of data intelligence to build repeatable outcomes at each stage of the customer’s journey. This will allow lenders to close more business, improve conversions and enhance retention.
Lenders need a comprehensive platform that will route a lead based on state licensing and loan officers’ availability. When a lead comes in, you either have to find out whom it belongs to, the original loan officer, or if no one’s available, the original loan officer is not there, you have to distribute that lead, send it to someone, alert them, and automate phone calls. That’s the power of one platform that can handle all of this outreach.
In addition, the CEP/Modern CRM needs to provide a robust mobile application, not just a web application. Lenders require a dynamic mobile application to access their information to become more valuable.
Q: Can you discuss Insellerate’s approach to solving these challenges and how your solution helps lenders close more loans?
JOSH FRIEND: It’s not easy to be a lender these days. Margins are down, rates are fluctuating, and new competition is right around the corner. Acquiring a customer is getting more costly, and keeping a customer engaged is critical. As a lender, how you engage prospective borrowers can determine your success in today’s digital mortgage environment.
In today’s highly competitive mortgage market, the speed at which your loan officers follow up with prospective borrowers and their ability to provide timely and relevant content throughout the borrower’s journey is critical.
Today’s modern customer experience platforms go far beyond the traditional CRM and help lenders increase conversions, enhance retention rates, and help lenders close more loans.
Transform the Borrower Journey From Transaction to Relationship and gain a significant lift in production with Insellerate’s Enterprise Customer Experience Platform, which delivers Lead Management, Sales Enablement, Engagement, a Robust Mortgage Specific Content Library, and Data Intelligence all in one comprehensive and highly scalable platform.
This dynamic enterprise solution seamlessly fits into your tech stack (Phone integration, POS, LOS, Servicing system, Data enrichment) due to our advanced API connectivity, modern design, and open architecture. Communicate at an enterprise level across all lending channels retail, wholesale, TPO, consumer direct throughout all of your branches, with each loan officer and their borrowers from one platform. Gain data alignment to leverage actionable insights to deliver the right message at the right time through the right channel to the right individual.
Deliver timely and highly personalized communications to your employees, borrowers, and referral partners through text, social media, email, Direct mail, phone, ringless voicemail, and retargeting for maximum impact and engagement.
The Insellerate Customer Experience Platform CEP draws new prospects, boosts customer loyalty, and helps you grow revenue.
Q: Josh, besides your incredible passion for improving the lending process through better borrower engagement, what are some other things that you are passionate about?
There are several charities and causes, but none are more near and dear to my heart than Project Hope Alliance.
Project Hope Alliance’s mission is to end the cycle of homelessness, one child at a time. They deploy a long-term model of care for youth experiencing homelessness. They have full-time case managers who work alongside our youth to eliminate barriers brought on by homelessness that could impede their ability to learn and succeed in school. Their team builds trusting relationships with students and offers individualized support in the form of transportation, technology, basic needs, and social-emotional mentorship from kindergarten to age 24.
People may not know that during my childhood and different times throughout my upbringing, my sister Jennifer, brother Jack, and myself were homeless. I remember not having a place to sleep or knowing where my next meal was coming from. I understand the impact this has on our youth and what to do what I can to help our homeless youth.
Thousands of students across California are experiencing homelessness and remain without access to good Wi-Fi and technology, reflecting a digital divide between those who can participate in distance learning and those who can’t. With education being the great equalizer of our youth’s future, we can’t afford not to address this essential need.
At Insellerate, we are committed to helping bridge that gap so that all students have access to critical learning through an Internet connection and computer. For each person who visits our landing page https://insellerate.com/cmba2022 books a demo, and receives a demo, Insellerate will donate to Project Hope Alliance in their name, which will enable child access to a Wi-Fi hotspot. For any lenders who sign a new contract, we will make an additional donation and allow a student to have a Chromebook and Wi-Fi for the school year.
“When schools closed and learning went online, Project Hope Alliance knew that the digital divide would prohibit the 32,000 children experiencing homelessness in Orange County from accessing their education. Because of the generosity of partners like Insellerate, we are responding by distributing Chromebooks and Wi-Fi to allow for all school-age children to participate in online learning, even if it is from a car, a motel, or a shelter.”, stated Jennifer Friend, CEO of Project Hope Alliance.
Q: What is next for Insellerate?
JOSH FRIEND: We are committed to continual innovation and improvement of the lending process throughout all lending channels to improve borrower engagement while helping lenders close more loans. This passion to deliver a superior customer experience for our lender partners and their borrowers is what drives us each and every day.
In the immediate future, we are going to bring our knowledge and expertise to the retail lending space with disruptive technology and solutions that we are releasing to the market in May. These groundbreaking new tools will include dynamic open house flyers, enhanced property listing landing pages, powerful realtor portals, and more, which will be added to our award-winning platform to dominate the retail space just like we have consumer direct.
This will allow lenders through all lending channels: consumer direct, wholesale, TPO, correspondent, Servicing, and now retail to drive higher conversions, enhance engagement, and more closed loans while creating customers for life.
Josh is a seasoned entrepreneur whose impact on the mortgage industry at large is unmistakable from his early days of working at a mortgage company, to rising the ranks, to running a mortgage company; he has helped thousands of people realize the dream of homeownership, has personally trained 1,000’s of loan officers that are directly impacting hundreds of thousands of borrowers if not millions over his 23-year career. Josh now dedicates himself solely to helping other lenders be more successful through better borrower engagement. He is transforming the borrower and LO experience with his leading technology company Insellerate which enables lenders to achieve higher revenue goals while creating customers for life.
Friend has won numerous industry awards and recognition which include Housing Wire Vanguard, Progress In Lending Association Thought Leader, Housing Wire Tech Trendsetter, Lending Luminary by Progress In Lending Association, Most Connected Mortgage Professional by National Mortgage Professional Magazine, Housing Wire Top Tech 100 and an Innovation Award winner by Progress In Lending Association.
In addition, Friend is viewed as a thought leader within the mortgage and technology space and has been published numerous times in leading real estate finance publications such as Housing Wire, Tomorrow’s Mortgage Executive, National Mortgage News, National Mortgage Professional, and Today’s Lending Insight. He is a recognized speaker who regularly presents at national and state mortgage association conferences. He has been a featured presenter at Lead Generation World, HW ENGAGE Marketing, CMBA Innovators Conference, Rob Chrisman Market Updates, Fintech Hunting Podcast, and the Lend, Laugh, and Eat Podcast, to name a few.
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