As published in Scotsman Guide's Commercial Edition, August 2007.
Many commercial mortgage brokers rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals. Even if we run massive advertising and marketing campaigns, there is often no better way to generate business than by having people refer clients to us.
Our referral partners, however, can only do so much if we haven't taught them how to properly refer business to us. They must know exactly what we do -- from what products we specialize in to the types of properties we have expertise in to our geographic areas of concentration.
That said, the onus lies on us to teach people about our work so they can recommend us not only to the right people but also in the most favorable light. To communicate this critical information, we must understand ourselves first. That way we can streamline our own story.
Of course, we know what we do for a living; we earn our keep by facilitating loans for our clients. But if we really examine what we tell our referral partners, we might find we're not as precise as we should be. If we can't tell our Realtor, accounting and investing partners how we offer clients the best loans to suit their needs, how can they send us viable clients?
Take a few moments to examine where your business stands today and what direction you want it to take. Here are great questions to ask yourself.
Why are you in this industry? What service does your business provide?
What do you sell? Service? Products? Loans? What are the benefits of what you sell?
Who are your favorite customers? What is your target market? Be specific. Do you like working with first-time investors or seasoned real estate investors? Take a critical look at all your products, clients and properties to determine if you have a niche you've yet to recognize.
As an adviser, what are your core competencies? Are you a whiz at structuring multi-use-property loans?
How well do you stack up to or stand out from other commercial brokers? Why?
By answering these questions, you will learn valuable information about yourself that will help you teach others about your role. Think about how you will communicate this information to your referral sources.
All brokers who have attended a seminar, mixer or other business event have been asked what they do. Most likely, you don't give a moment's thought before responding that you are a commercial mortgage broker. This simply is not enough. To open the door to further communication or to build a potential relationship, you must talk passionately and specifically about what separates you from the competition.
Focus on the products you know best and the type of clients you've had the most success with, and etch them into your memory. By clearly understanding your strengths, likes, dislikes, core competencies and niches, you're better able to streamline your story, all the while opening the door for quality referrals.
Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author, founder and
chairman of BNI (www.bni.com), and the founder and visionary behind the Referral Institute (www.referral institute.com). Misner can be reached at email@example.com. Edward Craine is CEO of San Francisco-based Smith Craine Finance, an award-winning mortgage brokerage. He also serves on the state board of directors of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers and as an executive director for BNI. Contact Craine at (415) 406-2330 or firstname.lastname@example.org.