A short time ago we looked at Referral Strategies for Mortgage Brokers. The strategies discussed in that article, while directed at those in the finance industry, will apply in any industry... and it's the same for what's discussed on this page. Those in the medical profession, legal industry, or any other service-based profession have as much to gain from our methods. I've referenced mortgage brokers simply because they represent a large part of our business.
Trust is difficult to gain, easy to lose, and it's a challenge to define exactly how one achieves the trust of another. While some define the trust process as incomprehensible, there are techniques of building the basic foundations for what starts out as professional respect, and paves the way for a true trust-based relationship to develop. We've seen the trust component forge itself over and over into the lives of the professional people we work with, and we've developed a number of ways in which to help busy people build trusting relationships in environments that do their best to tear people apart. We call this suite of behavioral tools our Magic Lantern Approach.
Our last article came as a precursor to another that looked at how our EDGE platform might help build trust and establish a true referral-based relationship with your client. In this article we'll build a little upon the issue of trust and look at how our Magic Lantern Approach is managed and discuss the strategies we have clients use to build a rapport with their clients.
The Magic Lantern Approach (and the name) have been used internally for over 10 years. Other agencies have since adopted some of our practices but very few (if any) are familiar with our proprietary methods and tools.
The Magic Lantern was an early type of image projector employing pictures painted, printed or produced photographically on transparent plates (usually made of glass), one or more lenses, and a light source. The name earned its place in our vernacular because of the way transparency is projected, and how the longer-term relationship with a client will project larger in their lives.
A book titled "The Magic Lantern" by renowned speaker and success coach, Dr. Joe Rubino, is a children's fable that is "... set in the magical world of Center Earth, inhabited by dwarves, elves, goblins and wizards, The Magic Lantern is a tale of personal development that teaches the keys to success and happiness. This fable examines what it means to take on true leadership while learning to become maximally effective with everyone we meet."
Not totally unlike the book, our approach also seeks to build upon leadership skills while learning to become maximally effective with everyone we meet.
With most businesses that provide a service, the business introduced through marketing can be significant, and the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) may be quite high. Those clients introduced through referrals are far more willing to jump those early relationship-building steps because they've inherited a measure of trust based on their own relationship with an existing client. Word of mouth still remains the most profitable means to introduce a client to your business. Far too often we come across businesses that are looking to improve upon the efficiency of a marketing campaign without consideration to the benefit that might be derived from their existing clientele (their Long Term Value). We're not suggesting for a second that you ignore your online marketing (after all, it's what we do better than anybody), but we do advocate greasing all the moving parts in a business that might attract a benefit.
Those that are introduced to your business through marketing essentially represent a short-term opportunity. Without a structured referral program in place (and I mean structured), clients often be relegated back into the dating pool if we don't commit to an ongoing relationship. Building upon that relationship over time firmly cements your place in their lives and makes it far more likely that they'll volunteer your services to family and friends. The end goal of a true referral program is to reach a relationship inflection point where you've provided a service to brother, sister, aunt, friend, or other relative of an existing client... and you slowly but surely start to become part of their lives. Once you've saturated a downline community (or hive), the relationship becomes infectious and you'll invariably inherit business from those in that particular group. While supported by automation, our program is extremely organic and always well-received and appreciated by clients.
Our EDGE platform (designed for any service industry) is designed to facilitate that early communication necessary to ensure your place in your client's life. The post customer care in most industries - and particularly true for mortgage brokers - is rather poor. One of the first questions we'll ask brokers is orientated around their existing referral program and while many think that they have something in place, very few actually do. In fact, no broker I've ever dealt with, including those that have previously sough guidance from another agency, had anything in place that we'd consider anything close to sufficient.
The marketing model of AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) is a funnel-based means of filtering prospects through an information chain or education program with the ultimate goal of conversion (see our Sonata model here). The trust model (and the foundation for our Magic Lantern Approach) works in similar manner in that you're asking your prospect to know you, like you, trust you, and work with you. In asking for or expecting a future referral you're compelled to navigate this process in a heightened manner (after the sale is made). You're asking your client to know you better, like you more, trust you enough to refer somebody, and then ultimately become a passionate referrer and brand advocate.
We tend to advocate that no referrer techniques are employed in the very early stage of your relationship (interview or settlement stage). As discussed in our last article, we've seen clients employ dozens of techniques that do little to enhance any trust you may have earned. Think of an early referral request like asking for dalliance on a first date or, even worse, asking a girl is their sister has a boyfriend. Not unlike the proclivities that might eventuate in any dating type of relationship, and depending upon the effort you've put into the courtship, sometimes the other party will propose the dirty before you do (in other words, they may introduce others earlier without you having to ask).
Based on the reminders generated by EDGE, we introduce ourselves back into the minds and lives of our client (with education and purpose as our motivation) and start to build upon that 'like you more' component at key points in a mortgage timeline. Every time we check on a client (for a broker this might be a first payment reminder, second payment reminder, interest rate notification, checking on offset accounts etc.) it serves to build upon that trust our client has in our service. Assuming our relationship with a client is strong enough, our referral system (EDGE) often (but not always) terminates in an offer of some kind as appreciation for the referrals they'll invariably provide. Of course, EGDE provides for any number of reminders to be generated into your calendar at various strategic moments in a client's mortgage timeline.
One of practices we encourage in the Mortgage industry is the use of money boxes and other bank swag during the early stages of a home loan. Sending a young family a few money boxes with a hand-written note addressing a couple's children by name will go a lot further than the typical impersonal actions we often see taking place. This falls in the category of "Deliver the Unexpected" (one of the areas of our trust module). The nineteenth century Scottish author and poet once said "To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved." In the mortgage business, that's the kind of compliment you can take to the bank.
A tip for all our brokers. If you have money boxes lying around (and we all do), send them to your clients with kids, and include a hand-written note. It'll be one of the the best relationship building exercises this year. If you don't have any, call your BDM and ask for some! .. #beliefmedia #finance #marketing
My 4-year-old with her St. George dragons. They double up as bathtime floaties!
Tom Peters said in his 1982 book "In Search of Excellence" that we should endeavor to "underpromise and overdeliver". While not always true, we should never make promises we can't keep, always be reliable, continue to inform and educate, be passionate and unabashed about our beliefs, and always maintain ourselves to highest standards of truth and honesty. If you honour these traits, and you play a real part in the emotional money-lending roller-coaster, you'll always be remembered as a key part of what is often the most significant investment anybody will ever make. The nature of this behaviour goes a long way to building the elusive trust that'll ultimately evolve into a channel for business growth.