A real estate agent’s referral sources are paramount to maximizing sales success. While name recognition within a particular market and consistent advertising, among other things, are important to growing your business, nothing beats a loyal and robust network of referral sources which can, on a regular basis, refer new clients to you.
Through your networking efforts, you will meet people who can – based on their valuable network of contacts and relationships – refer potential clients to you. In the residential real estate industry, these people might include mortgage brokers and lenders, out-of-area agents, attorneys, past clients, national recruiting executives in large companies, or other individuals in a position to refer new business to you. It is imperative to properly develop your relationship with these referral sources in order to enhance the likelihood of enjoying a steady stream of referrals from them.
This article is part one of two, where I will discuss how to do this, namely by building what I call Unique Business Relationships, or UBRs, with your referral sources. A UBR is defined as a relationship that is difficult, if not impossible, to replace.
Why UBRs are Critical
UBRs with referral sources are critical because good relationships alone are not good enough anymore. Simply having a good relationship with a referral source does not, in many cases, sufficiently motivate that individual to refer business to you, especially a steady stream of business. The barriers to entry in the “relationship-building business” have gone way down. Your competitors – who are also trying to develop relationships with your referral sources – are increasingly more sensitive to relationship-building due to a downright brutal economic environment. Countless relationship-building courses and seminars are available. The books in the marketplace about building relationships are endless. People are paying attention to the concept of personal relationships in business more than ever. If your competitors are getting better at the relationship game and are also trying to get close to your referral sources, then you need something more to succeed.
Further, your referral sources are busy people. They have many demands on their time generally, and simply having a good relationship with you likely will not be sufficient to keep you top of mind. Other priorities will pull them away from helping you and toward other more immediate demands for their attention.
Thus, not only must you have a good relationship with a referral source, you must have a unique relationship with that person–a UBR. A UBR is a powerful relationship. The compelling impact it has on a referral source is what drives that person’s motivation and personal commitment to make referrals to you on a regular basis–as opposed to your competition and notwithstanding other demands on their time.
Why UBRs Have a Powerful Impact
UBRs have such a powerful impact for two main reasons. First, your strategic effort to create a UBR breaks the referral source’s pattern. It is likely that she has good relationships with other real estate agents in the marketplace, most of whom would like her to refer them business. She is used to having good relationships. It is her pattern. One additional good relationship with another professional, such as you, does not evoke a marked response from her. She is not compelled by the mere fact of your relationship with her to commit to actively – and regularly – referring potential clients your way. On the other hand, a UBR breaks her pattern. She is not used to having such a relationship with a real estate agent and this fact evokes a heightened response from her. She is intrigued, honored, and enthused by the uniqueness of the relationship, and is much more inclined to commit to actively helping you grow your business.
A second reason why a UBR packs a lot of power is that it substantially increases the emotional bond between you and your referral source. That emotional bond will be what causes any particular referral source to go that extra mile and actively look for opportunities to refer business to you. Capture the emotions of someone and you will propel them into action. UBRs provide a perfect platform upon which to truly connect with a referral source. This emotional bond is essential to building trust–a necessary prerequisite to any commitment by a referral source to invite you into their valuable network of contacts and relationships.
Chart a unique course to building a relationship with a referral source and you will gain an edge. You will gain such an edge because chances are that your competitors are not paying attention to the dynamic of becoming unique to the referral source. They are too distracted by trying to apply routine sales strategies and stale relationship management/development techniques. For them, it is practically impossible to move beyond the basic level of relationship-building with any one referral source. By building a UBR with that referral source, you will not only move beyond that basic level of relationship-building, you will have entrusted yourself into that person’s inner circle, a place reserved for those people who are top of mind with that individual and considered true friends deserved of his or her active business development assistance.
Stay tuned next week for part two of my UBR series, where I’ll tell you about how to develop key UBRs and how focusing on them can help your business..
About the Author
J.B. Brocato is the CEO of Intense Coaching and Consulting Worldwide, as well as an attorney and licensed real estate broker in Illinois. He is also the author of A Service Provider’s Guide to Starting a Unique Business Networking Group. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for personalized business development consulting services. Follow J.B. on Twitter @JB_Brocato.