NCHE, a business unit of National City Corp., turned to a customer relationship management program from Nashua, N.H.-based GuideMark to solve the problems.
"Over the last four years, our business has targeted mortgage brokers and lenders," says Ken Carter, executive vice president of NCHE. "As we started taking it out to brokers, we found what we needed to do was provide more knowledge to our sales force and more to our brokers as to what their business was providing us, what the closing ratios were and to help them understand how valuable our products are."
As business grew, so did the amount of data the sales reps were responsible for. Data was being manually compiled in a spreadsheet program on a daily basis and sent via e-mail. Each account rep had to calculate who the best customers in different categories were.
"It was taking more and more of their time to understand the drivers of their business," says Carter. "We were very quickly growing at a pace that there was no way to provide the type of knowledge to the sales force and the brokers manually. We started looking for automated solutions that would provide information to the sales force to help them do their jobs, but not require a lot of manipulation or office work. We wanted to keep them in face-to-face contact with the brokers armed with meaningful data to help them improve what they are doing."
Providing useful data to the brokers was as important as providing data to the sales reps. NCHE targets brokers who deal with middle-income customers. These brokers typically have long-term relationships with their customers, who have taken mortgages with the brokers before, been referred by someone who has or been referred by a real estate agent.
"We want to not only teach the account executive, but pass down that knowledge to the mortgage broker on how to manage those relationships," says Carter.
Now the system automatically calculates the reports and tracking data.
"The reports are going to them crisper and cleaner," says Carter. "These reports readily give them the drivers of their business. We can create for them individual account scorecards showing which accounts are the most profitable."
These reports can also be shared with the brokers, showing what their production has been and the type of business they are doing the most.
"In the home equity business, margins are very low," says Carter. "You really need to get as efficient as possible. Using SalesLogix has enabled us to identify the risks to efficiency and fix them more quickly, along with identifying customers that are providing us very efficient business and reward them."
The system has been an astounding success with the sales reps.
"We have 100 percent usage of the automated system," says Carter. "These are remote salespeople who spend two-thirds of their time with the customer. It's astounding that every day, 100 percent of them are using the system. Typically it would be common to only get 50 to 60 percent to use the computer.
"Our whole business strategy is built around accessibility to the account executives. We are there for the customer to provide a product that is easy to use. We can now get in front of the customers with information they view as valuable and show them how they are making money and how they can differentiate their service from the broker down the street. That is what has made us successful." How to reach: National City Home Equity, (877)626-6265
Finding the right partner
Implementing a major technology upgrade is never easy, but finding the right partner to do it for you is important for the project's overall success.
"We have about 4,500 broker relationships, and we needed to make sure we are managing each one individually and understanding the dynamics," says Ken Carter, executive vice president of National City Home Equity. "We could not find anything off the shelf that could do that. We started talking to a number of companies, but felt very quickly that GuideMark had the expertise using its SalesLogix software to develop a CRM we were looking for that would provide the reporting we needed and would help us improve the service we are providing."
Three companies were chosen as finalists, and GuideMark ultimately won. A series of meetings was held between the sales reps who would ultimately use the software and the designers at GuideMark.
"They started tailoring SalesLogix to meet our needs," says Carter. "The thing that was impressive about the relationship was generally companies will simply do what you ask them to do. What GuideMark did was different. As we told them what we thought we wanted, they were very quick to come back with value-added solutions, taking the base idea we had and making it larger, with more robust data and seamless integration.
"The ultimate solution was better than we expected."