Developing Referral Relationships
Once you’ve received a referral, gathered information, and ranked the lead, it’s time to pick up the phone. The following advice and scripts will help you at each step of the lead-conversion process.
Making first-time contact
The first call is the hardest one. Until you make first contact you really don’t know the quality of the lead. It could turn out to be a huge business opportunity – or nothing at all. You have to hope for the best. The referral lead could result in years of business and an important new referral alliance, or it could go into the trash 60 seconds after you make the call. As you initiate contact with a new referral, heed the upcoming advice. Know the two objectives of your first call or visit.
The primary objective of your first contact, like the objective of any other first sales call to a new prospect, is to book an appointment. The first appointment might take the form of an exploratory session aimed at determining the wants, needs, and desires of the lead, or it might be an appointment to conduct a buyer consultation or listing presentation.
The secondary objective of your first contact is to open the door, establish trust and respect, demonstrate your knowledge, and establish your position as a reliable resource.
In your first contact, you’re not trying to make a sale; you’re just trying to achieve a face-to-face meeting.
Use the name of your referral source to open doors
The best way to get beyond your prospect’s defenses is to share the name of your referral source. By presenting the name of your mutual associate, you establish immediate rapport and credibility. In your opening statement, include a reference to your referral source using a script such as this:
“Hello, Mr. Smith, this is Dirk Zeller with Real Estate Champions. The reason for my call is that your name came up in a conversation yesterday with Bob Jones with the Acme Delivery Company.”
Then continue by using a linking statement such as:
“He said you’re neighbors,” or “He said you used to work together,”
“He said your sons play soccer on the same team.”
“Well, Bob Jones is a very valuable client. Bob knows I primarily work with referrals; he suggested I give you a call. He thought it would be worth a few minutes of our mutual time to see if we should meet.”
You could also use a variation like:
“Bob was pleased with the service I provided to him and his family. He thought you’d like to evaluate how I might be able to assist you in the future.”
Converting referrals into clients or referral sources
Once you’ve established a solid opening connection, it’s time to ask probing questions that help you determine the wants, needs, desires, and expectations of the lead. Depending on your findings, the lead might result in a qualified prospect that you convert into a client, or you might determine that while the lead isn’t ready to buy or sell, or to commit to an exclusive agent relationship, the person is a valuable resource to be added to your referral database.
Personal visits and calls
Leads generated through referrals come with a higher client-conversion probability than leads received from ad calls, sign calls, or any other cold sources. Due to that fact, consider investing some additional time as you launch the relationship. Instead of, or in addition to a personal call, consider stopping by to personally meet your new leads in their home. Once they attach a face and voice to your name they’ll find it more difficult to reject you or select someone else to represent their interests.
If a personal visit isn’t possible, aim to enhance the sense of personal connection through an increased number and frequency of calls. It takes, on average, four to six calls for you to leave a lasting impression.
Written notes, e-mail messages and mailers
Between calls and personal visits, build a bridge with personal notes and e-mail messages. Written communications will never replace the personal touch of phone calls or face-to-face visits, but in between live contact they do a great job of keeping the connection alive.
Send market updates, testimonials, letters from other satisfied clients, information on your current listed properties, and news about key awards or recognition you’ve received.
Beyond that, treat leads as if they’re already clients by adding them to your newsletter list and to insider mailings that share news from your office.
Dirk Zeller is a sought out speaker, celebrated author and CEO of Real Estate Champions. His company trains more than 350,000 Agents worldwide each year through live events, online training, self-study programs, and newsletters. The Real Estate community has embraced and praised his six best-selling books; Your First Year in Real Estate, Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies®, The Champion Real Estate Agent, The Champion Real Estate Team, Telephone Sales for Dummies®, Successful Time Management for Dummies®, and over 300 articles in print. To learn more, please visit: http://www.realestatechampions.com/SurvivorSalesSkills/.
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