Perhaps we should start by considering ‘how many referral relationships do I need for my business?’ Some people will think that more relationships means more referrals where others think less is more.
The only thing to remember is that all relationships require your time and effort to reap rewards. Unattended business relationships will often result in no referrals (out of sight = out of mind).
Like all relationships, business relationships have to be nurtured and managed. Most successful referrer relationships need regular communication between each party, feedback, change to processes and scripts for successful introductions. These ingredients are usually refined when trust is established between each party.
Most Mortgage Brokers would consider a good referrer to be someone who refers more than three prospects per month.
This may be a good number based on industry standards but it’s not if the referrer only refers you when the customer asks if they can recommend a broker. Unfortunately for brokers, most referrers (especially accountants) are ordinary at referring. They may have the best intentions but if a referrer can’t articulate your USP and provide some compelling reasons to do business with you proactively, they are not a great referrer.
Let’s look at an Accountant in a mid-sized firm as an example. They would see at least 2 clients per day and spend up to 2 hours with each. That’s ten clients per week. Of those clients, most (80% minimum) would have a debt and the most common type would be a home loan. Based on a four week month, that’s thirty people that they could introduce to you as an expert in lending to review their current situation.
You may not be able to help all of these clients at the time of consultation; however you will be able to help many of them now and others later if you provide a professional service and follow up effectively. The present problem is that unless the client asks the accountant for help with borrowing or their debts, the broker will not be mentioned.
Here’s the problem: the Accountant;
- isn’t really sure how to recommend you
- is only interested in solving the clients tax and compliance issues
- isn’t thinking about how they can assist the client beyond their core service and is not thinking about helping you
- doesn’t have a sales or service process to follow
Help the Accountant to understand that they can improve client loyalty by providing value-added services. This will be achieved by providing services and solutions (ie. you, the broker) that the client did not expect. Explain that every client (debt or no debt) is a potential referral opportunity for you and other strategic partners. Include home loans and introducing the Mortgage Broker in the accountants fact find checklist.
You will also need to help the Accountant to remember you during their meetings with their clients. Put a flyer in a display folder in each meeting room as a visual prompt. Educate the Accountant to promote you whenever they see a debt on a client file.
Accountant: “Doug, the loan on your investment property has been in place for 3 years now. I would like you to meet with Bill, our professional lending consultant, to review that loan to ensure that you have the best product and structure. I’ll work with him on this. Most of our clients that work with Bill say that he’s fantastic. I’ll ask him to call you and arrange a meeting. Is that ok?”
The best broker/referrer relationships that we see are the ones where the two parties work in the same office. This is because neither are out of sight or out of mind and have spent many hours together getting to know each other, building trust and perfecting the referral script. If you can’t do this with your main referrer, meet with them as often as possible to work on the relationship. The goal should be that both of you recommend each other in as many client meetings as possible.
Referral partnerships rely on each party knowing exactly how to help the other. No opportunities are missed and each party is promoted at every appropriate opportunity. The partnership thrives because both businesses grow together. These partnerships take time and effort to build and are managed by professionals. Partnerships are never perfect – but they can be very profitable for each party within.