E=MC2 Einstein on ReferralsEd Craine
July 16, 2008 — 2,026 views
I’m often asked the question, “How can I meet and do business with the top Realtors in my market? The answer to this question may surprise you.
What most loan agents are looking for when they ask this question is a turnkey system they can use to impress a top Realtor to a sufficient degree that the Realtor will be magically transported to a state of mind where they can’t help but want to do business with you.
The approaches are varied and creative (and often expensive). One popular approach is to spend a lot of money on image advertising so that you’ll be noticed and that when you call, The Top Realtor will eagerly take your call wanting to team up with you so that you both can make nothing but money.
Another approach that’s widely pitched is to have a website that this top producer can link to so that she’ll get a steady stream of referrals that will beat down her door to do business with her. This prospect of gain will make her most eager to take your call so she can again make nothing but money teaming up with you.
Yet another technique offered is the “I have leads for you” scheme. In this gambit, the loan officer is directed to write a letter and follow it up with a call saying something like, “I have a steady stream of buyers who need the services of a realtor who will treat them right (whatever that means). If you can show me you’ll take good care of my valuable clients I’ll refer them to you.” A variation on this is “I’m looking to develop a reciprocal relationship with a Realtor who can service my clients.” Either of these pitches is followed up with the quid pro quo of, “Of course I’ll be expecting referrals from you”
Growing in popularity is the more earnest “personal touch” system. In this approach you are encouraged to do something along the following lines. First you send a card or note saying how much you admire (respect, etc) them and are impressed by a particular success. Then you send them something that creates more value like an article or book that might interest them. Then you call and ask them for a few minutes of their (valuable) time. Of course they’re breathless to meet you.
The list goes on, but you get the idea. Each of the techniques is based on some system that you must follow so you can manipulate the outcome. And, by the way, they each have some merit. The problem is that they all miss the basic point. Einstein said when you have a difficult problem look for the simplest solution. The home buying, selling, and financing business is more about relationship than technique. What this means for you in meeting and working with top realtors is that you must place relationship above technique. Not that technique isn’t important, it is. But relationship comes first.
So we have a conundrum: how do we develop a relationship with somebody we don’t know? And this of course is why all these techniques appeal. We think we can use them to magically help us shortcut the creation of relationships. But the better approach is to think outside the box. Think who can I find to get me an introduction to the top realtor I want to meet.
The problem is that this requires a lot of work and creativity. Unless you have a team! I’ve found that using advanced business networking principles can lead you to introductions that you might never create on your own. Let me give you a specific example. Recently a person wanted to be introduced to a top realtor (in fact a mega producer) in Southern California. She had been frustrated by many unsuccessful attempts. One day in a business referral group that was being trained in a specific referral method, she stated her desire to meet this realtor. To her surprise, a friend of hers who had encouraged her to join this referral group exclaimed that she not only knew this top producing realtor, but was related to her and was about to have lunch with her in the next several days. This was followed with, “Why didn’t you tell me you knew that realtor before now?” To which the response was, “You never asked me!”
I have seen this type of scene more often than you might imagine when people first look for introductions through existing relationships rather than through trying to create relationships through staged techniques.
If you are like most loan agents I know and train, you’d much rather have a strong introduction like I’ve described above from someone who knows your target prospect well as opposed to using the distant techniques that most of us have been indoctrinated to use. My call to you is to cultivate your relationships and sharpen your networking skills so that the people who already know you, like you, and trust you can open the doors to the introductions you’d most like to have.
Ed Craine is the CEO of award winning Smith Craine Finance, one of the oldest independent Mortgage Companies in San Francisco, California. A 25+ year veteran of the real estate financing industry, Ed has originated and negotiated loans in excess of $2 billion, to include both commercial and residential properties. He has simultaneously held such notable positions as Vice President of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers (CAMB), as well as serving as the Public Relations Committee Chairperson of the 5,000 member strong association during 2007, the year in which the mortgage industry received more media attention than in recent history. Ed currently also serves as 1st Regional Vice President of the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute (CCIM). He will be inducted as Vice President of the Southwest Region of CCIM in September 2008.