The Key to Great Referral Source Relationships


In my sales training sessions, on how to improve referral source relationships, many originators report that they have a strictly transactional relationship with their sources. In my view, this is a classic “taker” strategy. “Takers” act out of self-interest in order to get as much out of others as possible. These producers view their marketing efforts as product- and price-driven. They don’t envision a broader role in which they help to make the real estate agent a top agent. In a refinance market, the transactional approach might have worked, but in a volatile and changing marketplace, deeper referral source relationships are mandatory if originators are to succeed.

When you look at top producers, they view their relationships with referral sources much differently. They have what I call a mutually beneficial strategy in which they are invested in helping their referral sources thrive. In my view, this is a classic definition of a “giver” because these originators are genuinely motivated to help others with no strings attached.  Our research indicates that top producers have a strong social personality characteristic which means that they like to help others.

But having a single personality trait of wanting to help others isn’t enough. There are eight other personality traits that need to be in place for the originator to be successful in their position. Top producers have relationship behaviors (such as social) and drive behaviors that correlate with their success.

In Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, Adam Grant, a Wharton professor at University of Pennsylvania, identified three behaviors of top salespeople:

  1. They are quick to identify takers and avoid them.
  2. They are masters at finding high-value items (like introductions) that they can do quickly to deepen their relationships. A high-value introduction is all about helping the other person do more business.
  3. They are quick to ask for help when they need it.

Grant’s research clearly reinforces that if a sales person is genuinely helpful, that is an effective way to get people to like and trust you. Likeability and trust are pre-requisites for being the first originator to receive a referral source’s customer loan application.