As published in Scotsman Guide's Commercial Edition, September 2009.
While trying to refinance current and past clients, some commercial mortgage brokers have lost sight of one of the best sources for new business: referral partners.
Real estate agents and builders, as well as past clients and other professional connections, can be great referral partners for mortgage brokers. Fortunately, if you haven't kept up with your referral partnerships, it is never too late to build these relationships. You can get back into this market quickly with a step-by-step plan and by formulating a script as a basic guide. Here's how.
Create your target list
Your first step is to make a list of the key real estate agents, builders and other professionals you want to target. It is usually best to focus on past, already-established relationships or on new prospects that are doing a fair volume of business. There should be at least 10 prospects on your list.
You can find new prospects in several places. When targeting real estate agents, for example, you can locate the top-producing agents by looking at signs in front of commercial real estate offices. These often include the top-listing agent and top-selling agent of the month. Access to a commercial multiple-listing service also will give you an indication of which agents have the most listings.
Another easy way to locate good producers is to network with your title companies and closing attorneys. They see firsthand which real estate agents and other industry professionals are active and do a good job.
Other places to meet potential referral partners are at industry breakfasts, chamber-of-commerce meetings or local real estate functions.
Once you have your target list, you must create value before you reach out to your prospects. That is, what will you offer that makes you stand out from your competition?
People only want to buy two things: solutions to problems and value. Therefore, when you meet with your prospects, you will need to uncover problems they are experiencing or determine what they value most.
What real estate agents need most in today's market are listings and sales. You have many ways to help them grow their business if you think creatively.
When creating a joint-marketing program or simply learning how potential referral partners are marketing and selling, you can add value far beyond your competition. This requires having a well-defined interview process to uncover their needs.
Interview referral partners
When interviewing potential referral partners, you should listen more than you speak. Start with a solid purpose statement that centers on the other person, rather than on yourself.
For example, here is a broker-centered opening: "Thanks for meeting with me. I want to tell you about my company and all the things we can do to help you."
If you start like that, you will lose your audience quickly. If your focus is on helping them, however, your opener might sound like this: "Thank you so much for your time. My purpose for meeting with you is to learn more about your business and to see how I can help you grow your business and your income."
Prepare questions in advance to pull out what is most important to your prospects. Always start with questions centered on their business, such as:
How are you marketing to grow your business?
What are some of the most-successful marketing and sales programs you have done?
Who is your target market?
What are your goals for this year?
Are you happy with the current number of referrals you are receiving?
Were you pleased with last year's results?
What are you doing differently this year than last year?
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