Sales Success is About Having the Most Realtor Friends

Patricia Sherlock

Over the years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of top producers and analyzed the behaviors and traits that set them apart from the rest of the pack. One significant differentiator? The best in our industry have the most real estate agent referral sources. This is probably no surprise to sales leaders. Top originators are relentless in developing their Realtor relationships.

This isn’t by happenstance. Top producers are just as slammed as other sales professionals but they put in the time and effort to connect with referral sources to ensure that they are top of mind and have a more personal relationship.

They recognize that referral sources have numerous choices when it comes to partnering with a lender so keeping in touch to improve the Realtor’s business is essential. They also understand that nurturing referral source relationships takes more than sending out an occasional email or newsletter. They know that phone calls and in-person meetings with referral sources increase their chances of receiving the business.

While average originators don’t bother to form deeper referral source relationships, top producers view their prospecting efforts as an opportunity to develop friendships with the people they do business with.

What Distinguishes Lenders in the Mortgage Marketplace?

In today’s world, products become commodities fast. Even well-capitalized firms like Apple, Amazon and Disney realize that no matter how innovative their latest products or services are, success is short-lived and they must focus on the next enhancement or product coming down the line to stay in the game.

In financial services, mortgage products are commodities because of the limited number of investors and agency dominance. Rarely does a lender have a significant advantage based solely on their product offerings. Wall Street requirements ensure that MBS securities follow a certain format and risk-level tolerance.

So, what distinguishes one lender from the next? In my opinion, it’s the quality and skills of their originators. How borrowers and referral sources are treated matters. If the interaction does not go well, borrowers won’t refer their friends and family or return for a refinance loan.

Industry research shows that the customer experience is inconsistent depending on who a borrower interacts with. Just look at J. D. Power’s Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study on how borrowers view lenders. It is glaring how many lenders have poor ratings regarding their loan officer interactions. The reason for this, in my view, ties with a decentralized organization structure and the lack of commitment to investing in regular training. Originators are left on their own to determine what constitutes good customer service instead of learning best practices.

The Prospecting Challenge for Originators

Given the mediocre quality of LO interactions, is it any wonder that borrowers’ loyalty seems non-existent and referral sources are hesitant to refer their customers?

The best originators invariably deliver better service than other sales professionals because they follow an organized approach to updating and connecting with borrowers and referral sources. While all lenders and originators know that great customer service is critical for success, the problem lies in how good service is defined and implemented.

Becoming a friend and partner to referral sources is a fundamental requirement for originators that increases the likelihood of receiving a borrower referral and a preferred lender status.

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