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How Sun West Mortgage Broke The CRM Mold With OptifiNow

Platform flexibility and close working relationship brought quick success with sales and marketing efforts.

Founded in 1980, Sun West Mortgage Company, Inc. (Sun West) is a veteran in the mortgage lending industry. They have survived numerous economy-defining cycles over the past 40 years with a resiliency that has allowed them to become one of the biggest independent mortgage lenders in the United States. Through it all, Sun West has maintained a corporate ethos of differentiation that has been core to their success.

“We believe that if you act like your competition, you’re going to get their results,” said John Brumund, executive managing director at Sun West. “Everything we do, from sales to operations to servicing, is uniquely Sun West. We even built our own loan origination system. That’s why it was not easy for us to find a CRM solution that fit our particular way of doing business.”

OptifiNow adapted to Sun West’s unique sales process and multi-channel lending.

Sun West has a traditional, distributed retail model with loan officers located in branches, but they were also deploying a new hybrid consumer-direct model they call Home Buyer Connect (HBC). HBC utilizes a lead generation source that generates a large volume of inbound calls handled initially by an inside sales team. Once screened, borrowers are immediately routed to the appropriate licensed loan officer to complete the pre-qualification process. Speed and responsiveness are paramount to maintaining borrower engagement.

Like many lenders, Sun West has used numerous CRM solutions in the past. They found most vendors designed their systems around a pre-defined sales and marketing process. “Many CRMs are built for smaller organizations that look at sales and marketing from a single loan officer perspective,” said Brumund. “Our processes are broader and built for scale. The cookie-cutter approach to CRM doesn’t work for us.”

Even so, Sun West spent eight months trying to mold a CRM to fit their unique sales and marketing process. But when it became clear that their attempt would end up falling short, Brumund brought in OptifiNow to see how they could adapt to their specialized needs.

“One thing we liked is that OptifiNow has clients in other industries,” said Brumund. “They’re not focused on one vertical or one assumed sales process. OptifiNow has the flexibility to support different types of sales processes, which is exactly what we were looking for.”

Because of OptifiNow’s experience with high-volume call centers, they easily integrated Sun West’s lead generation source and plugged in their desired telephony system. Leveraging their intelligent business rules engine and built-in email marketing automation, Sun West created a variety of marketing sequences that automatically routed inbound leads to specific agents.

OptifiNow extended its API integration capabilities to connect to Sun West’s proprietary loan origination system (LOS), enabling the bi-directional exchange of data that provided real-time updates on loan milestones that are used to trigger automated messages to borrowers.

“OptifiNow is so flexible that we adopted the platform across all of our channels,” noted Brumund. “When we saw how well it supported our traditional retail and Home Buyer Connect channels, we decided to use them for our wholesale division. Again, our approach to wholesale is different from other lenders and OptifiNow delivered a solution that fit us like a glove.”

Brumund admits, however, that their success with OptifiNow is not just a function of technology. He relishes the terrific relationship that he’s stuck with the company and how seamlessly OptifiNow staff have become an extension of their own.

“They call it ‘White Glove’ service and it’s really made a big difference,” Brumund said. “OptifiNow staff works closely with our sales and marketing leadership. They take our ideas, and our content and build them into the platform. We are lenders. We’re not in the business of building a CRM.”

OptifiNow provides better management, better control, better sales and marketing results.

The fact that Sun West has just one CRM platform to manage all of its lending channels provides numerous benefits. “Using one system makes it so much easier for everyone in the company,” Brumund said. “Marketing can create all of our campaigns in one central location. The system is very easy to pick up as a user but having all of our teams using the same system eliminates confusion for management. We can now generate reports without having to combine separate exports and normalize the data. It’s a tremendous time-saver and allows us to make better decisions in less time.”

What matters most is the impact OptifiNow has had on their actual sales and marketing performance. “There is a noticeable increase in response and conversion rates, more than any other CRM platform we’ve used before,” Brumund replied. “It’s hard to gauge definitively the impact of the system since business is so good for everyone right now. But the execution, the flexibility and the close partnership we have with OptifiNow is simply immeasurable. There’s no better way to differentiate ourselves than to have a partner that will change as we change, grow as we grow.”


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