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Collaborate with Your Referral Sources

It is in listening that we can we detect areas in which we can offer assistance and provide tools.

The best (most effective) strategies for acquiring and maintaining new business no longer depends upon the delivery of pastries or a free lunch. Today, recruiting participants means searching for and then filling needs, recognizing gaps, appealing to goals, and ultimately providing tools for achieving those goals.

A defined process that leads to a better understanding of a prospect’s pain points, coupled with a plan of attack, enables a title agent to bring value to clients.

We’ve all been there. After weeks, perhaps months, of professionally approaching a realtor or lender prospect, the much-sought-after initial meeting gets scheduled. 

Then mental preparation turns one’s thoughts toward how best to provide value to the prospect, within compliant borders, that will sufficiently attract them to begin using our services.

Too often, our approach centers around providing a laundry list of goods and services our company offers. As we run through what can sometimes be an exhaustive list, we hope that at some point, our prospect will react favorably, and drill down into the particular offer which they find irresistible.

As we have found out, and is often the case, this never happens. What we have unwittingly done, is waste the prospect’s time by offering products or services which are not needed. These types of meetings usually lead to a polite “thank you,” and “we will let you know” response.

A better approach involves putting ourselves in the place of our potential referral source, and viewing business challenges through their eyes. It is a given that they are faced with the same type of questions we have, in trying to obtain their business. They are seeking ways to attract their own referral sources even as they spend time and money to do so.

Instead of laying our tools on the table, hoping one will be useful to our prospect, the better approach would be a consultative one. Use the first five minutes of the meeting asking questions about business strategy and goals, methods currently being employed, and history of success and failure.

It is in listening that we can we detect areas in which we can offer assistance and provide tools.

For realtor prospects, this may involve keying-in on monthly meetings put on by the broker in charge. It is their obligation to provide meetings and speakers, to bring value to their franchise, and to attract and keep top agents. 

An offer to sponsor the food, as well as line up industry speakers, will go a long way in obtaining an endorsement from the broker, while adding valuable face time with the agents with whom we are trying to connect.  Providing a short segment on title insurance itself, will show your prospects that you are a subject-matter expert, and worthy of their consideration.

For lender prospects, offer to line up a real estate office presentation, with them as the main speaker, on topics of lending particularly interesting to agents. Again, an offer to underwrite the cost of food, line up the presentation, and participate in the program will bring value to your relationship with that lender. It is possible to work collaboratively with your prospects, employing a consultative approach, and filling needs gaps, to help them in their business. This altruism places you and your agency top-of-mind when the decision is made for title work.

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Why online reviews matter

There’s been a huge shift in the way businesses receive feedback. In today’s fast-moving digital orbit, recommendations are dictated by online reviews (think Yelp, Google My Business and Facebook).

For those willing to invest the effort, it’s clear that paying attention—and responding when appropriate—to online reviews is a powerful tool to boost credibility, authenticity and transparency.

Learn more

target your closing table

The Best Call of the Day: Optimizing Opportunity at the Closing Table

Showcase your firm’s strengths at the closing table.

Many title agents spend money and time on marketing and sales efforts to increase directable business. While most campaigns are effective, and certainly essential, one of the best opportunities to showcase your firm’s strengths is at the closing table.

A well thought-out and unique closing table strategy will result in increased referral business, and will cost half of traditional marketing plans. A well thought-out closing table strategy looks like this:

  1. Target referral sources who attend closings at your office.
  2. Showcase your firm’s customer service and competency.
  3. Follow up with collateral materials and a call to action.

As real estate professionals, we value a well-planned and executed marketing campaign, directed at realtors, loan officers and future clients.  Typically, this includes direct mail, targeted email, web presence, social media and office visits.

All of these methods have varying degrees of cost, both in dollars and time. Everyone would agree that they are essential to building and maintaining a business.

The closing table, however, is a hotbed of opportunity that is, unfortunately, often ignored. A number of factors that make this situation unique include:

  1. All parties can be scheduled and will attend;
  2. Traditional referral sources are there;
  3. As a closing agent, you control the pace, flow, and agenda of the time you spend together.

As the closing approaches, since your office will schedule, you will be aware of who will be attending. With that information, you can tailor your approach to fit the needs of each. Your approach should be a systematic and repeatable part of your processes.

The buyer’s agent is most likely your referral source. You should acknowledge their competence and professionalism, in the presence of their clients, the buyers, and be sure to thank them with a small, parting gift, in full view of the seller’s agent.

The seller’s agent is your primary target. An informational packet should be prepared with contact information, pricing and an order form. Also, testimonials are always helpful if they can be obtained. It can be useful to acknowledge them in the presence of the parties, and thank them for their help in facilitating the closing. Be sure to obtain a business card and information on their office which could be helpful in future marketing opportunities. Finally, it is always appropriate to ask for their future business in person.

The mortgage broker, if present, and not familiar to you, should have their own take-away packet, containing similar information to the seller’s agent, as well as a document outlining their firm’s experience in handling various types of loans other than residential. An acknowledgement of their professionalism and assistance in putting together the transaction is essential. 

Sellers should be given a branded packet with all their documents, containing all you contact information and some swag such as pens, highlighters or pads. Do not overlook this important contact. They are a potential future client. At some point later in the year, they will be looking for copies of various documents which they have lost. Their ability to contact you and obtain these documents will cement your relationship, and make it more likely they will call on you for their real estate needs in the future.

Finally, remember that you, as the closing agent, are on stage. Whatever you project at this closing, will make or break your ability to obtain future business from the parties. You should be affable, available, and project quiet confidence. This is important at what can be the most stressful experience in a consumer’s lifetime.

At the closing table, by targeting referral sources, showcasing your abilities, and having collateral materials prepared ahead of time, you will be able to take advantage of a unique and valuable marketing opportunity.

Steam Locomotive

To move full steam ahead, title agents must face of waves of disruption

Title insurance agents face waves of continuous technological evolutions, all designed to ease the agent’s work, but which can be glitchy enough to tempt title agents to abandon new protocols in favor of old habits.

Technology shows up in our work lives in several ways. For example, the options below are but an “initial round-up” (if you will) of many title agent’s interactions with technology:

Production Software – Often used by title agents to manage files, create documents and commitments, handle disbursements, communicate and share information with clients.

Electronic Records – While still not yet available in every county or title plant, most urban areas now have electronic records. Title professionals no longer have to drive to a set location to research property records. They can do research from a computer anywhere with an internet connection.

E-Recordings – Rather than taking the original documents to the County Register of Deeds to be put of record, recordings can be submitted online through various providers.

E-Signatures – E- Notaries/RON (remote online notarization) – This a rapidly evolving space and can be a major convenience for consumers and increase productivity for title agents.

Smart Contracts – SC’s are just beginning to become a reality. Self-executing contracts that follow an “if-this-then-that” protocol can streamline workflow and reduce errors.

Social Media – A powerful and ubiquitous vehicle that aids marketing and relationship efforts.

Technology is now a part of everything we do, and most every title agent recognizes the benefits of adopting some form of technology. Moving forward, technology is helping mitigate risks like wire fraud while helping us run more efficient businesses.

There can be a bit of tug-of-war over the adoption of new technology. The over 50-year-old work population has had to learn new technologies as adults, while Millennials grew up in the face of ever-evolving technology options, and the up-and-coming Generation Z has never known a life without the Internet.

Those from older generations have witnessed methods that were once industry best practices become obsolete in a brave new, technological world. In some cases, entire industries have had to evolve or risk becoming obsolete themselves.

The truth is the title insurance industry is behind, technologically speaking. Title insurance operates much like the check at the grocery store; although the check may remain an option for some time yet, it is not now, nor will it ever again be the dominate method of payment.

Yet our industry has been slow to adapt and embrace new technologies. Those who would drag their feet cite concerns about emerging technology, the validity of it and what the implications could be in the result of certain claims. These are valid concerns.

But a continued resistance is creating opportunity for those outside our industry to change it for us.

While the use of new technology does open doors to risk of claims or risk of being unintentionally negligent could increase, the waves of disruption don’t look to be letting up anytime soon.

To remain relevant, title agents must get on board and move full steam ahead.

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The Independent Underwriter for
the Independent Agent®