Are you a loan officer marketing to Realtors? Here’s how to position your mortgage business so that real estate agents actually enjoy sending clients your way.
Every loan officer knows that real estate agents can be a goldmine of client referrals. In fact, up 21% of all mortgage referrals come from point-of-sale advisors, including real estate agents.
Problem is, it’s not easy to get a steady flow of Realtor-generated referrals coming your way.
Taking real estate agents out for lunch and exchanging business cards just won’t cut it anymore. The competition is too fierce, and agents are getting tired of the same old generic approaches.
So how do you attract referrals from Realtors who get approached by dozens of loan officers every week?
In this article, we’ve gathered the most actionable and effective strategies to attract referrals and build a network of agents who are actually eager to refer you to their clients.
We’ve also reached out to the original ace of referral business, best-selling author and coach, Stacey Brown Randall. In her first year of business, Stacey attracted 112 referrals. Today, she helps dozens of businesses do exactly the same thing.
If you want to create a steady stream of loan referrals for your mortgage business using the most actionable advice to date, then this article is for you. Let’s dive in!
How to Get Mortgage Referrals from Realtors
In this article, we’ll reveal both specific tactics and broadly applicable tips to help you build a referral network that is:
Sustainable. Getting an avalanche of referrals one week and then getting almost nothing for months is not something you want for your mortgage business. You want your stream of referrals to be steady and reliable no matter where the market is.
Business-appropriate. Not every referral will work for your company, and not every real estate agent will be a great referral partner. This article will show you how to gain referrals that are the best fit for your mortgage business.
Scalable. If you want your mortgage business to grow, you need to make sure your referral network can grow with it. The tips in this article will help you identify opportunities for referral growth and create a referral plan for the whole company.
Here are seven tips to help you build a sustainable and scalable referral network of real estate agents who love to consistently send new business your way.
Tip #1: Generate Loan Referrals From Realtors Without Asking
“When a loan officer applies the ‘prospecting hustle’ mentality to their referral efforts, it’s a recipe for disaster.”
— Stacey Brown Randall, a best selling author, a national speaker, and a coach-founder at Stacey Brown Randall Coaching
Stacey Brown Randall is a mortgage marketing genius. She’s helped dozens of businesses and hundreds of professionals build referral generating plans and triple their number of referrals within mere months. She calls it the “referral explosion”.
The jaw-dropping twist?
Stacey attracted these referrals without even asking.
Loan officers are constantly prospecting for new clients. But when you apply the same approach to generating referrals and start chasing down Realtors for more business, the results are often underwhelming.
“The ‘hustle for business, always be prospecting and closing’ mentality is stronger than ever which puts us in a particular frame of mind when it comes to lead gen and sales,” Stacey explains.
Instead, Stacey advocates for building lasting relationships with your referral partners.
‘‘My philosophy and methodology shifts the way you think of referrals,” Stacey adds, “It gives you a roadmap to follow where you focus on the referral source (or partner) relationships for long-term success.”
Here are just a few tips that will allow you to build deep, lasting relationships with agents and get a steady stream of referrals without even having to ask:
Research agents. Before you initiate a convo with any real estate agent, try finding some information about them. What are they good at? What do they like? What do you have in common? How can you help them?
Drop the sales perspective. Realtors are not your end clients, and you’re not making a close. You are building a relationship—agents send referrals your way when they like you. Strive to find things in common—don’t talk business all the time.
Make it about them. Every agent knows why you’re calling. You’re not the first loan officer to take them out for lunch. Your only objective during the first meeting should be to learn how to help this particular agent. Don’t make your ask too soon.
Plant referral seeds. Never directly ask about referrals, but send soft signals that you’re open to them. For example, instead of asking “How many referrals can you give me?” you can share how many referrals you’re getting and how you’re helping those clients.
As Stacey shares, the relationship-based approach can have a profound effect on your entire company. “The more you spend time focused on building and maintaining relationships, your whole perspective changes on how you want to run your business,” she says.
You can learn more about generating referrals without asking, plus get specific workflows to engage real estate agents and plant referral seeds from Stacey’s book Generating Business Referrals Without Asking: A Simple Five Step Plan to a Referral Explosion or through her referral generating coaching program.
Tip #2: Utilize Private Facebook Groups
Many loan officers use Facebook pages and groups to market their brand. In recent years, more LOs and brokers have opted to make their pages or groups private to boost engagement and trust by making the information you share feel exclusive and community-oriented.
Here are some tips to turn a private Facebook group into a referral generating machine:
Provide unique information. Your posts should be both highly relevant to agents’ business goals and unique. Create content that is hyper-focused on your location or niche, or join real estate groups to learn about the industry’s hottest topics.
Follow a regular posting schedule. No one likes dead-weight Facebook groups. Make sure to stay on top of agents’ minds by regularly popping up on their Facebook feed with new updates and posts. The best way to do this is to develop a content plan and stick to it. Tools like Buffer, Hootsuite and MeetEdgar are also great options for automating your social media updates.
Show some personality. Your goal is not to sell agents yourself. The goal is to do business with agents that like you. So don’t be afraid to record videos, take stances on something important to you, and be yourself! It’s all about building up that know-like-trust factor.
Engage with everyone in your group. Make a point of replying to all comments in your group. This allows you to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with friends and group members
Tip #3: Teach Continuous Education Classes
Education is one of the best ways to provide value to Realtors upfront, while demonstrating your loan expertise to agents in an organic and non-intrusive way.
And you don’t have to look too far for success stories.
Just a few weeks back, we interviewed Brian Sacks, a nationally renowned mortgage expert and speaker who also happened to close 38 loans in just one month after getting referrals by teaching seminars and webinars to real estate agents and helping them understand the current market trends.
But if you want to take it to the next level and have a steady stream of agent referrals, why not let the system help you? Become an NMLS-accredited continuous education (CE) provider.
By teaching CE classes you get regular access to an audience of engaged real estate agents who need to learn in order to keep their licenses.
There are many CE providers, so here’s how to make sure your CE classes stand out and attract more referral-driving agents for your business
Change your program periodically. If you keep teaching agents the same thing over and over, they won’t regularly get back to you and you won’t have a chance to build a lasting relationship.
So add a twist to your classes from time to time. You can:
Invite new presenters
Change the format
Hold a Q&A session
Or simply add new information
No one will supply you with referrals simply because you teach CE classes. Make sure your courses are engaging and full of valuable knowledge, and never use them as a selling platform.
Work on your branding and marketing. Treat CE classes as a strategic business investment, rather than an obligation. Track your attendance rates and conversion. Make sure to follow up with your attendees to nurture the relationship and maximize your conversion rates. You may also want to take some time to work on your branding in order to stand out from a myriad of other CE providers. Establish an online presence, work on your logo and slogan, and convince agents why they should attend your classes and not someone else’s with a strong marketing message.
Leverage technology to boost attendance rates. Almost all loan officers utilize a CRM to work with their leads, so why not use the same approach to boost your referrals? The right mortgage CRM will help you automatically follow up with your participants and keep in touch with them after the course ends. But above anything else, a CRM can help you boost attendance rates.NMLS-accredited CE providers have access to a local database of Realtors, including their emails. Simply import the contact details into your CRM and schedule a drip-campaign to go out anyone who is interested in your courses. From there, all you have to do is keep the conversation going!
Tip #4: Define Your Perfect Referral
Sometimes you get referrals that simply don’t work—they take too much of your time, or they’re not ready to do business just yet. For whatever reason, they don’t feel like a referral at all.
You might call them “bad” referrals, but the thing is there is no such thing as bad referrals.
But there are poorly defined referrals.
Let’s boil it down to the essentials. There are two defining characteristics of a referral:
A referral is a client directly introduced to you. Either through a shared email or conversation. In this scenario, a real estate agent introduces you to a potential client directly. A non-direct introduction, such as giving out your business card, is not a referral. It’s more like a warm lead.
A referred client has a specific problem that you can solve. Ideally you should be presented as a solution to someone’s problem. If a prospect has no specific problem that you can help with, again, it’s more of a warm lead for your business—not a pure referral.
When you have a clear vision of what your ideal referral looks like, you can inform your partners of the best ways to refer you to others.
Take time to crystalize the definition of a “referral” as it pertains to your particular mortgage business. Who are your ideal clients? What’s the service that you’re best at? Identifying your ideal client will help you communicate to your agents and other referral partners the type of clients you’re after, and why you’re the best option to help them.
This approach benefits you, the agent, and the customer—which results in even more referrals.
Tip #5: Host Custom Events For Realtors
When it comes to building relationships with real estate agents, many loan officers think only of a 20-minute lunch, a handwritten postcard and then a series of neverending emails.
Of course, every now and then a great opportunity comes through the traditional way—like a shared community event or local masterclass. But why wait for an upcoming community event when you can host it yourself?
Knock your competition out of the park with custom events created exclusively for your real estate partners. Done right, you won’t have to spend much money on these events. In fact, some of them will cost you nothing but your time.
Here’s how to earn extra points with agents through custom events:
Provide unique value. If everyone is writing about the ‘3 hidden challenges of underwriting a loan’, how about spicing things up by inviting an underwriter for an interview and then live streaming the event in your Facebook group?
Make events memorable. The best way for agents to remember you is to create something they’ll never forget, and a face-to-face client appreciation dinner is much more memorable than a handwritten note or a generic email newsletter.
Engage your agents. Whether it’s a webinar, a party, or a masterclass, make a point of engaging with your guests and audience. Reply to comments, spark conversations, and always look for ways you can help agents with their current struggles.
Tip #6: Identify Your Top Referral Sources
Not all your partnerships with agents will be equally beneficial to your mortgage business: inevitably some agents will refer more clients your way than others.
Identifying your top referral sources is important for two main reasons:
Real estate partnerships don’t last forever. Real estate agents engage with many loan originators and are constantly being poached by new ones. That’s why you should never rely solely on existing partnerships. Consistently work with your top referrers to develop new ways to benefit their businesses in order to keep the partnerships fresh and mutually beneficial over a longer period of time.
Scale partnerships that work. After you identify your best referrers, you can understand what kind of agents you’d like to build relationships with going forward and how to build new relationships that are just as strong. Additionally, learning what works for you and your team allows you to save time and resources on building relationships that you don’t want.
Tip #7: Building Referrals As a Team
“People refer people, not companies”
— Stacey Brown Randall, coach and best-selling author of “Generating Business Referrals Without Asking”
Referrals are a great way to grow your business and build up a clientele, but can you use referrals as a business strategy for your whole company?
Stacey’s reply is a resounding “Yes”—but with a twist:
“You should have a company ‘referral plan’ but it should be created to support your individual loan officers and their referral generation efforts.”
Simply put, each loan officer on your team needs their own referral plan and referral source relationships. “The company plan starts with educating them on how to generate referrals without asking,” Stacey explains, “then having them create their own referral plan to follow.”
Here are a few tips on building a sustainable referral network for your whole company:
Support your loan officers with resources and accountability. Share your connections, use your CRM system to help your LOs identify their best sources of referrals, and follow up by setting clear accountability workflows and referral targets.
Get your team members in front of Realtors. Don’t be a bottleneck for your company. If someone on your team is great with certain tasks, don’t hesitate to introduce them to your partners to demonstrate their value.
Market your team to real estate teams. Indicate that as a mortgage team you provide complex services with many people working together to help every client. This is something real estate teams can directly relate to, and thus feel more comfortable sending clients your way.
Agent referrals can be a powerful source of clients for your mortgage company, but don’t leave this stream of business to a chance. Make a conscious effort to build lasting relationships with agents by providing excellent service, giving value up front and planting referral seeds along the way.
If you want to see how an easy-to-use mortgage CRM can help you attract referrals in a systematic and consistent way, try Shape.
Through smart automation and lead distribution, Shape reduces the amount of time loan officers spend on routine tasks and allows them to spend their time on what’s really important: helping clients and building relationships.
Try Shape free for 14 days and see how our smart CRM can help you grow your mortgage business on autopilot.