This year, eClosings rose significantly in popularity amid increased technology acceptance and COVID-19 concerns that kept many borrowers from being able to close their mortgage in person.
However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. The increased technology use has seen a surge in fraudulent activity over the past year, and it can be hard to connect with borrowers at a personal level. As the digital mortgage becomes to be the new normal, housing professionals must find new and creative ways to connect with their buyers and sellers.
Samir Smajic, CEO and founder of GetAccept, a remote selling platform, sat down with HousingWire to discuss the technology changes the mortgage industry has seen over the past year, and how housing professionals can best create the best experience for their borrowers, all the way to the closing table.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
HousingWire: How has technology changed the way we approach buying and selling at home over the past couple of years?
Samir Smajic: We saw the digital shift within digital sales and the change in buyer behavior already back in 2015, and made a bold prediction that the whole sales process would move online. Since then, the transition from face-to-face interactions and meeting-in-person sales to online sales processes has changed step by step, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that buyers and sellers were forced to go digital in a massive way.
Wire fraud threats have greatly increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Using Consumer Wire Account Verification Service protects consumers when wiring down payments and allows lenders to process loans safely.
Presented by: FundingShield
HW: How much tech change did we see during the COVID-19 pandemic and how did the increased acceptance change the process?
SS: COVID-19 has forced buyers and sellers to start doing business digitally online. What started as a response to the crisis has now become the new normal. However, this transformation was already occurring before the pandemic. COVID-19 simply accelerated the process of going fully digitally. Before COVID-19, we could see a change coming along as more and more businesses were moving online and selling digitally.
Since COVID-19, it has become apparent that sales leaders are adapting the digital way of selling, with a growing conviction that digital is the way of the future. During this year, sales leaders have gone from being forced to adopt digital processes, to now realizing that digital is here to stay. The shift to remote selling can help sales organizations lower their cost, extend their reach and significantly improve sales effectiveness.
HW: What were some of the most common challenges when performing an eClosing and how can housing professionals avoid these?
SS: As we are moving to work more digital and remote, creating the personal interaction between the buyer and seller can be challenging. It can cause an engagement gap, create trust issues and make it harder to close deals. To help and improve the remote and digital interactions, it’s important to work with features that keep the personal and human touch alive.
Since the massive shift to online selling, video and live chat have emerged as the top channels for interacting and closing sales with customers. Video and live chat are both sales enablement tools that can increase engagement with prospects and customers while selling remotely.
During 2020 we analyzed about 800,000 sent sales documents from customers. The data tells us that by adding engaging communication channels, like presenting your sales assets with a personal video or introducing your collateral with a personalized message through chat, the hit rate of closing the deal increases by 30.4%. Also, sending proposals and other documents with SMS and automatic chat reminders increases your hit rate to 75.3% rather than a 52.2% hit rate if not applied.
Our research also shows that online and remote selling can be as effective and engaging, if not more, than in-person interactions. When we asked our own sales representatives, they also confirmed that digital prospecting has been as effective as in-person meetings to connect with existing customers.
HW: How can industry professionals make sure their borrowers are at-ease and have all of their questions answered through a virtual process?
SS: To help and improve the remote and digital interactions, it’s important to work with features that keep the personal and human touch alive. Since the massive shift to online selling, video and live chat have emerged as the top channels for interacting and closing sales with customers. Video and live chat are both sales enablement tools that can increase engagement with prospects and customers while selling remotely.
HW: How long do you think it will be before we see a more universal acceptance of the fully digital mortgage, and what are some of the greatest holdups right now?
SS: According to a study made by Gartner, we will see an even greater rise in digital interactions between buyers and suppliers will break traditional sales models over the next five years. By 2025, 80% of sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels.
Sales organizations must be able to sell to customers everywhere since the customer expects to engage, interact and transact with suppliers on their terms. The future of sales is moving from a seller-centric to a buyer-centric orientation and shifting from analog sales processes to hyper automated, digital-first engagements.