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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   March 2005

Get Referrals in 7 Steps

The easiest lead to close is a referred lead. Unfortunately, few mortgage brokers have mastered the process. I’ve developed a simple seven-step process to obtain referrals to help develop your referral business so much that you can make the process part of every selling situation.

Begin by setting a goal for how many referrals you want from each contact. Start with a goal of just one referral every time, and work your way up to a place where you know the steps so well and they flow so naturally that you’ll get at least three referrals from every client.

Then memorize these seven steps to getting referrals. The better you know them, the better you’ll mine the rich referral lode awaiting you in your current client base.

  1. Help your clients think of relevant acquaintances.
  2. Write down referrals’ names.
  3. Ask qualifying questions.
  4. Ask for contact information.
  5. Get referrals’ addresses from the phone book (if the client doesn’t have them).
  6. Ask the client to introduce you to the referrals.
  7. If the client shows nervousness or refuses to call, ask if you can use the client’s name when you contact the referral.

Let’s review the steps in detail so you’ll see how to work with each one most effectively.

Step 1

When you ask for referrals, help your clients focus on a group of faces. Centering on one or two faces is impossible when their thoughts are bouncing off the wall with their new home — and your job is to get them focused again.

Salesperson: “Bill and Jane, you’re excited with your new home, aren’t you?”

Clients: “Oh, it’s wonderful. We can’t wait to get settled.”

Salesperson: “So tell me, who will be the first people you tell about your new home?”

Clients: “Well, our relatives, of course. Then our friends who live in the same area. It’ll be nice to be close to them.”

Salesperson: “That’s great. Are there any of your relatives or friends who might also be in the market for a new home?”

By mentioning family and friends, the clients focused on people to whom they are closest and whom they might contact that week — while their excitement about their new home is still fresh. The salesperson has helped them do that.

Step 2

When your clients come up with a few people who are in the market for a home, take out 3-inch-by-5-inch index cards or a small notepad and write down those referrals’ names. Be sure to ask for proper spellings.

Keep the cards out so you can jot down information you receive. Plus, you’ll need those notes to qualify the referrals.

Step 3

While Bill and Jane are busy answering questions about the referrals, you should jot down notes to help you remember specific things. Here’s some useable information you might ask of them:

  • Where do the referrals live now?
  • Are the referrals interested in moving to a larger home? Or are they just interested in something new?
  • What did the referrals say when you told them you were looking for a new home?

When you get in touch with the referrals, you’ll be able to begin conversations based on Bill and Jane’s answers. When you’ve taken a few notes, move on to the next step.

Step 4

Asking for referrals’ addresses and phone numbers is more difficult because your client may not know this information offhand. But don’t let that deter you. You can’t just settle for the name, as several people in the phonebook might have the same one. And knowing how to contact the referral is critical.

Step 5

If your clients are willing to give you a referral’s address but don’t know it offhand, reach for the phonebook and politely ask if they could help you out and look up the address.

Your request could be as natural as the following:

Salesperson: “I don’t know about you, but  this has been thirsty work. What would you like to drink, a soda? Or would you prefer coffee?”

Bill: “Water would be fine with me.”

Jane: “The same for me. Thanks.”

Salesperson: “Tell you what. While I run to get us some water, would you mind looking up the addresses of the names you gave me in the phonebook so we can get this done?

Ask this last question while you hand the customers the phonebook, and then leave the room to get the water. At this point, you’ve all but “closed” on how to contact the referral.

Step 6

Most novice salespeople balk at this step. They won’t even try it. But those clients who will make the call will help you comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Registry. If the referral’s name is on that list, you might not be able to call without permission. Your existing client can, at the very least, get that permission for you.

Also keep in mind that this question simply sets the stage for the final step. Clients who are uncomfortable calling for you will be so relieved that you offer them the next step that they’ll jump on it. But if you had gone directly from Step 5 to 7, you might receive the same response.

Here’s how it works:

Salesperson: “Thanks so much for the referrals, Bill and Jane. You know, I won’t get to see your excitement when you show off your new home; would you mind calling Don and Mary and sharing your good news with them? Then we can work on arranging a time for me to talk with them.”

If your clients are fine with that, start dialing. But if they hesitate and act uncomfortably, take the pressure off immediately by moving on to the next step.

Step 7

If your clients may not know the referral well or feel uncomfortable about making the call, let them know you understand their hesitation — but ask if you could bother them for one more favor. Ask for permission to use their names when you contact the referrals. They’ll probably be relieved to be let off the hot seat and more than happy to grant your request.

Always give three to five of your business cards to each client, and ask your clients to distribute them to future potential referrals. Then invest in a little follow-up time after your clients have settled into their new home. Ask them how it’s going and who has visited. Help them again focus on small groups they know, and ask qualifying questions about those people’s needs. Ask if they have given your card to anyone. If they have, get that person’s contact information, too. If they haven’t, thank them for their business and repeat your request.

It may take you a few tries to get this pattern down to where it flows naturally. However, it will become a natural part of every contact once you see the phenomenal results it generates. Many of my students have gone from five or more clients offering one or two referrals to getting five referrals from every client. Don’t you think it’s worth a try?

The “S” in the word “sales” stands for “service.” The better service you provide, the bigger your sales volume will be.


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