Jan/Feb 2022 RMM

RM: AAG relies heavily on its call centers to qualify and educate prospective borrowers. In today’s digital age, and increasingly tech-savvy Baby Boomer population, are phone sales becoming obsolete? Are you relying more heavily on other technologies to bring your sales force into “virtual” contact with borrowers? PF: It is inevitable that this industry will continue to evolve and that consumers will continue to migrate toward online opportunities and technology. When I first got to AAG, 100 percent of our leads were driven through TV. Now it’s 20 to 25 percent of our overall marketing strategy, because consumers are using all different types of media. I don’t think that changes the actual contact with the consumer. Now you can supplement and enhance your ability to communicate with customers. We see it with Zoom, which allows for face-to-face interactions and is actually an enhancement we didn’t have before. Consumers are good with doing the Zoom conversation. If you look at telecommunications and companies like Verizon, you go onto their website and a chat feature pops up immediately and they start communicating with you. With a reverse mortgage, you could have some version of a chat feature or chat function that ultimately leads to a conversation. I view technology as an enhancement opportunity and not a replacement of actual phone conversations or face-to-face conversations. RM: Are there things you’ve learned about Zoom that you know you’re teaching your salesforce? PF: It can be challenging. You’re trying to make eye contact. You look in the camera, you look at someone’s face on the screen. You also have to think about the appropriate time to have conversations, because it’s not every day that you can just say, “hey, would you like to do a Zoom conversation or a Zoom meeting?” But you’ve been on the phone for only five minutes. There’s a right time and a wrong time to introduce those opportunities. Advanced sales training goes beyond just having really great phone skills. It is definitely evolving. And, by the way, that also goes with your follow-up skills and making sure the conversations are intelligent and you’re not repeating yourself. When I think about the evolution of the sales process, prior to financial assessment, we used a financial worksheet that was a great tool for helping somebody understand where their financial situation was, but, more importantly, what their financial situation would look like with a reverse mortgage. Then financial assessment came into play, which has been great for the industry because it creates a much more consultative sale. But you have to make sure that you’re not just going down line by line and qualifying somebody just for the sake of qualifying them. Utilize every aspect of that financial assessment as part of the broader conversation to understand how somebody is living, trying to visualize what that situation looks like, as opposed to just doing your diligence to try to see if somebody qualifies. Whether you’re having that conversation on the phone, face-to-face or via Zoom, those interactions are some of the most important parts of successful sales with a reverse mortgage these days. RM: What are your business goals for 2022? PF: We’ve had a pretty good run as far as what we’ve been able to build, but, when we take a step back, there’s still so much more that we can do. We talked about it earlier—the idea that we want to grow the pie and reach customers who maybe haven’t previously thought of reverse mortgages but would benefit from them. That’s a big part of our strategy right now—the concept of knowing your customer. We’re going to align very closely with the marketing team, so that we can better understand people who choose not to transact and why. What is it in our messaging that we can evolve and change? The other big piece right now for us is the digital experience. If you look at the forward mortgage side, they’ve got a lot of tools, whereas reverses have tended to be a little bit behind the times. A lot of it is driven by our preconceived notions about how seniors want to interact. But seniors are getting younger, they’re more educated than they’ve ever been, and a lot of them actually appreciate a digital experience and would prefer it in a lot of ways and have maybe fewer conversations on the phone or fewer conversations faceto-face. We’re working a lot on the digital experience. The customer experience is something we should never lose sight of. I want us to provide the best possible customer experience that we can. Sometimes these loans aren’t easy. But how do we make it as easy as possible? How do we make the touch points less painful for consumers in general? How do we streamline our processes and make them as efficient as we can? You see that in a lot of financial service products that are out there in the market. I’ve got many ideas of what we can do with our industry and with our company that could make things a little bit more simplified for consumers. From the Top REVERSE MORTGAGE / JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 13