I remember when I was being trained on making referrals many years ago, the trainer asked…”What is the most powerful question in selling?”
There was a debate and a discussion but ultimately the group failed to give the correct answer. The trainer then gave us a clue…the question came courtesy of a well-known clown…
Have you guessed it?
The question was “Would you like fries with that?” a question responsible for adding millions of dollars to McDonalds bottom line.
So how can that principle be applied to estate agency?
Well, just asking customers if they would like to speak to your mortgage adviser or get a quote from your approved conveyancer is better than not asking at all, but there are better ways of securing referrals.
There has been a lot of bad press about force and coercion being used by rogue agents to secure referrals to these other providers, however the reality is that scrupulous agents will make these referrals in the full knowledge that introducing clients to these other parties will massively influence the chances of the transaction successfully reaching completion rather than falling apart.
Competent focused mortgage advisers and conveyancers are worth their weight in gold – and assuming your contacts fall into that category, then your recommending them to clients and customers is something that is ethical, sensible and beneficial.
A skilled and expert mortgage adviser will help a customer source the most appropriate mortgage for their situation, help them with their application, source a lender running to reasonable deadlines, answer questions throughout the process and help nurse the transaction through to a successful conclusion.
The right conveyancer will progress the sale or purchase quickly and efficiently, steer the customer through any issues that crop up and significantly improve the odds of the transaction going the distance.
There is a recognised referral process called the SLICK process.
This is a five stage process which leads to successful referrals – each of the five letters of SLICK stands for a stage which you need to be exceptional at to be successful.
The S stands for
Whether applicants or vendors, many of your customers represent an opportunity for cross selling. However, not all applicants are the same and therefore not all techniques to try and secure a referral should be the same.
Key open questions will help you uncover the opportunity in front of you. For example, a vendor might need to move particularly quickly to start a new job or to secure the house of their dreams. In this case, timescale would be the “opportunity”.
A first time buyer by definition will never have had a mortgage before or used the services of a conveyancer and their need might be for advice as to how the whole process works.
Too many agents simply use the default setting of “Do you want to speak to our adviser as he/she can save you money?” which is likely to meet with resistance if the customer has heard it several times already.
Once the opportunity has been spotted, the next stage is
In other words, consider what the customer has revealed and “link” the need with the appropriate feature of your adviser’s or conveyancer’s service. For example, if speed is of the essence then the fact the adviser can pick a lender with a quick processing timeframe would be valid, or the fact that your approved conveyancer has a track record of pushing transactions through to exchange within tight time frames would be the correct links to make.
Once you have made the “link” in your head, you need to…
…the appropriate feature of the mortgage advisers’ or conveyancer’s service by way of a “Benefit Statement”.
A “Benefit Statement” has three elements: Need, Feature and Benefit.
“As you haven’t ever bought a property before” (NEED)
“I’ll introduce you to my colleague John who can run through the various costs involved in moving like stamp duty and searches” (FEATURE)
“Which will mean that you can budget accurately from day one and not getting any nasty surprises later on” (BENEFIT)
This technique is way more effective than asking the typical closed question…”Would you like to speak to our adviser?”
The C stands for
After the benefit statement, you need to secure the customer’s commitment. Simply ask whether they would prefer to speak to your adviser today or tomorrow, or whether they would prefer a written quote from the conveyancer or a phone call to discuss their services.
The final stage of the SLICK process is
It is important to understand that securing mortgage and conveyancing referrals is not a one-hit approach. If the first attempt fails, you can keep trying on future occasions.
Resistance on the first attempt needs to be handled correctly. There are a number of reasons why customers put up resistance including that they may not feel it is important yet to speak to an adviser or to select a conveyancer, they may wish to discuss the idea with their partner, or they may already have a potential mortgage source lined up.
Whatever the issue, uncover and address it. If you don’t succeed, try again at a later date.
So, there is the SLICK process. Train your staff, keep reminding them of the key principles and enjoy the results.