I get a lot of questions from loan officers just starting out in the business. One that I’ve been hearing a lot lately is this: How do I land the big referral partners, just two or three realtors who will send me a whole lot of business?
My friend Ralph Wakins and I have a term for these top agents: whales. These people are the best of the best, the top of the top. If you land one of them as a referral partner, they’ll save you a whole lot of time and effort. You won’t have to cast out that line so often, bringing in small fish after small fish.
So, how do we land these whales?
Classifying Real Estate Agents Based on Production
First, let’s talk about what makes a real estate agent a whale. When it comes to fish size, Ralph and I have four classifications of realtors based on their production. Here’s the thing. When you reach out to people for referrals, you want to make sure they actually have business to send you. They can be a delightful person, a friend of yours. But, if you spend a lot of time reaching out to them, and they just don’t have the business to give you, you’re going to struggle.
Here are our classifications:
- Whales (4+ buyer side transactions a month)
- Tuna (1-3 buyer side transactions a month)
- Tilapia (less than one buyer side transaction a month but 8 a year)
- Guppy (no business to send you)
If you spend all your time on guppies, you’re not going to get any referrals. You have to go after qualified agents. If your strategies aren’t working, you may not be going after the right agents. If you’re going fishing, you need to make sure there are actually fish in the pond. You won’t catch any fish in a bathtub.
I had someone tell me they’d been given an opportunity to teach a class of brand new real estate agents. They wanted to know if that was a good idea. Well, not if you’re just trying to get more realtor referral partners. Newbies don’t have business to send to you. They’re guppies. Now, if you’re doing a favor for the broker who owns a whole office, because that will open up opportunities with other agents, that’s a different conversation. There might be future tuna and whales in that class, but they’re not there right now. And you need to spend your time with people who are tunas and whales right now.
How Do I Get In Front of the Whales?
You simply reach out to them. Here’s what I want you to see at the heart of it. The whale is not this monster person out there. They’re people just like you. You just have to know how to connect with them.
One of my clients reached out to a whale and called her eight or nine times. They met for coffee, since my client was so persistent. My client sat and listened to this realtor for 90 minutes. She laughed with her, cried with her. When they were done, the whale hugged her and said, “I’m absolutely going to be sending you business going forward. Here’s why. Everybody wants a piece of me, but nobody sits and listens to me like you did.”
Often, when loan officers go after these whales, these high-producing agents, they feel like they need to help the whales build their business. The whales don’t need you to do that. They’re already making a lot of money. They just want connection, human contact. Connect with them by asking questions, shutting up, and listening.
So, how do you get that first deal from them? Ask for it. Ask for the business. We have simple scripts for realtors we can share with you that will help you with that ask. What do you think keeps 95% of loan officers from asking for the business from these people? What is the number one thing that’s holding most people back? A fear of rejection.
I know, I know. Getting over the fear of rejection is easier said than done. One thing that has proven helpful is to convince yourself of this truth: just because someone says no to your offer doesn’t mean they don’t like you. It doesn’t mean they think you suck. All they said was “no thank you.” Most of these whales are already working with someone else. Don’t take it personally.
How Do You Keep the Whales Loyal to You?
So, after you land a whale, how do you keep them from getting away? You’ve got to wow them with your communication, your service, with closing loans on time. You have to do what you say you’re going to do. You’ve got to provide excellent service. If you’re constantly late, if people are constantly complaining about communication, you’re losing referral partners. You need to make sure you cultivate these relationships. That’s what builds loyalty. Let them crow a little bit, because they’re worthy of that.
Remember, in this business, you are the prize. There are thousands of agents closing eight buyer sides or more, but there’s only one of you. You’re not auditioning to see if you’re good enough to be their lender. They’re auditioning to see if they’re good enough to be your referral partner. They need to fit your mold. You’re the one who decides if they’re going to work with you or not.
We only need a handful. Just a handful will give you an outrageously successful business. I don’t care to work with prima donnas or pains in the neck. I pass on those. If there’s someone who’s a huge producer but they’re running you ragged, let them go. If you’ve read The 4-Hour Workweek, 90% of our grief comes from 10% of our clients and customers. You don’t need them nearly as badly as you think you do.
To Sum It All Up
So, what have we learned? What are our takeaways? It’s pretty simple.
- Whales are people just like you and me.
- Confirm how much business people are doing.
- Remember you’re the prize.
If you’d like some help figuring out how to land some whales, we’d love to sit down and do a strategy call with you. We’ll take a look at where you are right now, where you want to be 12 months from now, and map out the steps that get you from point A to point B. We’ll give you our loan officer scripts that are proven to bring in more business, and we’ll get you your own custom blueprint to follow. Give us a call TODAY.