Dear Brian: I went to a seminar of yours about a year back in Cleveland. Almost all my business is refinances, and I'm looking to go after the certified public accountants (CPAs) in the area and I'm not to sure how to approach it. Looking for a little bit of advice.—David Brooks, Ohio
Thanks for the question. Getting referrals from outside sources is one of the most frustrating things we all go through as loan officers. What most of us do is find a professional like an attorney, financial planner, insurance agent, or as in your case, an accountant, and we rush over to meet with them. Then, we proceed to tell them how wonderful we are and conclude with a strong pitch begging them for business. No surprise that most of us fail.
The very first thing you must realize is that everyone, regardless of their business, is tuned into only one station W-I-F-M … otherwise known as: What’s In it For Me? Bet you are tuned into that very same station when a wholesale rep walks into your office. They tell you how great their programs are, how wonderful they are to work with, and then, just like you, they proceed to beg you for business.
So what does work?
In all relationships, you must provide value to the other side. They must immediately see ways they can personally benefit from the relationship. And by the way, the fact that you will provide their clients with good service is not the value I am talking about here. That is a given. If you cannot provide good service, you shouldn't even be in the business!
Now, the question is … how can you provide this service?
First, start the meeting by trying to find some common ground. The best way I have found to do this is to make the initial contact based on the fact that you both have a mutual client. Every time you take an application, write down the name and phone number of your client’s accountant, attorney and financial planner. If they don't have one, make sure you are in a position to refer them to your preferred list of providers. I not only give them the attorney, financial planner or accountant’s business card, but I continue by explaining the importance of the service they provide and why I am personally recommending them. But, I don't stop there. I then call the person I referred and tell them that I have given their name to my clients and that they should expect a call. This allows me to stay in touch with this referral partner and prove to them that I am a valuable resource they can depend on to grow their business.
Let me also give you a few other ways I have found to provide value.
Each month, I send out a newsletter to my database of past clients, current prospects, friends, family, and of course, referral partners (including real estate agents and builders). The newsletter allows me to stay in front of these referral partners. I also allow them to write articles for my newsletter (if and only if) they also allow me to write articles for their newsletter. This then allows them to receive my endorsement and be exposed to my clients, and it allows me to provide their clients with information and the referral partner’s endorsement.
My Web site has a resource section, and I allow my partners and referral sources to post an ad for their services on my site. I then also want to have a spot on their site. Big idea … make sure your partner’s link opens on your site so it doesn’t take people away from your site. This is referred to as a “window in window” and your Webmaster should be able to set that up easily.
This is a really big way to provide value. One of the ways I stay in touch with my client base is through free monthly teleclasses. I invite my referral partners to come on as guests and tell my clients about some financial topic that is of interest to them (or should be). I then go back to my referral partners and offer to do the same for their clients. I pay for the conference line and all other related costs.
As an example … since I am an expert at working with buyers who have had a bankruptcy or other credit-related issues, I recently held a teleclass for a bankruptcy attorney where I showed his clients how to get into a home with very little down and attractive rates even if they had a bankruptcy or other credit challenges.
There were two big benefits here. First, I was providing information his clients were looking for and needed. Second, I was allowing him to now be seen as not just another bankruptcy attorney who can help them file, but rather, as a trusted legal advisor who can help them get back on track financially.
Value for value … this was a true win- win. I got five new clients, and he will get referrals by staying in touch with his clients and providing them with useful information.
So David, I hope that helps. Think outside the box and always have the best interest of your referral partners at heart. By truly helping them you will help yourself. And forget that everyone is tuned into W-I-F-M.
If you have a question you would like Brian to answer in this column, please send an e-mail with “Ask Brian Question” in the subject line to [email protected]
Brian Sacks is CEO of www.loanofficerformula.com. He has been an industry expert for more than 25 years, closing 6,000-plus loans totaling $1 billion. You can read Brian’s 32-page special report entitled “The Death of Mortgage Origination as We Know It” and “The 10 Things You Must Do Now to Survive and Thrive” at www.loanofficerformula.com/mp. This report sells for $97 and has been downloaded by more than 9,200 originators and company owners, but is free for a limited time for readers of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.