When it comes to working with referral partners, there are any number of scripts that are useful: the cold call, the warm call, the first meeting, the second meeting, and the referral of a client to a another partner, to name just a few.
Do you know the script that a partner uses to you refer you? Do they have one? Should you care? During a top producer segment at Mastermind 2019, the conversation turned to scripting, and the best ways originators can refer clients to other partners, and in turn, teach partners to return the gesture.
Bill Mervin is the branch manager at AnnieMac Home Mortgage, and he’s found that when partners give their clients a few names to choose from without any conviction behind them, that does the originator a disservice. He uses a heartfelt approach to scripting, which creates a solid handoff that partners can mirror.
“We [tell clients], ‘we work with a ton of agents, and we want to pick the one that’s going to be best suited to fit your needs.’ It’s really critical to work with a good agent, and when we’re doing a referral, we’re pulling that out: They work on a team so you’ve got six sets of eyes rather than one set of eyes and they might have pocket listings in a competitive market,” Mervin said. “The point is, we’re modeling to them how we want to be referred. When we’re able to show them a really strong, solid endorsement and doing it, and really speak with conviction about it, it’s much easier than to say, ‘that’s what we expect from you.’”
Renowned mortgage coach Tim Braheem led the session, and said that when using a script to make a referral for a CPA, financial planner, or real estate agent, originators have to be bold and confident enough to offer something that will make borrowers think they’re missing out on something if they don’t take the referral.
“When you know they don’t have somebody in that role, you have to be brave enough to step forward as the expert and authority and say, ‘I would love to match you up with the perfect real estate agent that can negotiate a great contract for you in this highly competitive environment. Would you like me to do that?’ All they can say is no, but most of the time, when you come from that position of authority, it’s hard to say no,” he said.
Misty Lapham is the vice president of mortgage lending with the Misty Lapham Group, and although she works heavily on creating leads from her existing database, she has also created a discipline of planting seeds of opportunity to work with people within the transaction, that period of time where the originator has the undivided attention of realtor partners.
One way to do that is to probe clients and see if they even have referring partners, or to rank their existing ones. If they have great relationships with those partners, then Lapham uses it as a way to approach the CPA or financial adviser and build on their existing client relationship, telling them that she wants to work with people of like mind.
“I try to wow them with what I’m doing with their current client, and try to spark up an opportunity to work with them and refer business back and forth. And if they don’t have a realtor, then that’s a wonderful way for me to refer out. I feel like many loan officers are always trying to say ‘here’s my handout, fill it’; so I can attack it the other way saying, ‘I have a preapproved buyer, I want to give it to you,’” Lapham said.
Mervin and his team have created a network of what they call Power Grid Partners, with the ultimate goal of having fewer partners but deeper relationships with those partners. By doing this, he and his team “link arms with the agents instead of having outstretched hands.” To a client, he said, there’s no hard delineation where the originator stops and the agent starts. All they really care about is the overall experience, and using a partner who is motivated to collectively drive that experience is invaluable.
It has to be more than picking up calls, getting deals closed smoothly, and offering a bank statement program, Mervin said, because everybody’ s approaching them with that. Instead, he started talking to partners about things that are near and dear to him, such as building a team, time management, using Trello, and different things for project management.
“When we start talking about things that are not the normal mortgage real estate stuff, agents are desperate for that,” Mervin said. “We totally flipped the script, and now we’re playing in a space that nobody else is really competing with, because we’re helping them grow as a person, we’re helping them add more value to their team, do it with more balance in their life.”
These honest conversations don’t land with everyone, and it can be a bit of a risk to go with a script that deviates from the norm. These top producers say that the best way to get to deep partnerships, however, is by telling the truth. It can be tough to pass on a partner if the truth doesn’t resonate with them, but it’s better in the long run partner with people who are aligned in terms of style and communication.
“This is completely a mutually beneficial relationship,” Laphan said. “You have to give to them as much as the give to you, and you really can only do that if you like that person, too, and teaching them how to refer you, I think, is a great mindset.”