Referral Storming – The Art of Giving and Getting Referrals for Loan Officers, Mortgage Brokers and Mortgage Bankers By Brett McDonell

July 27, 2018

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Hello mortgage pros, sales managers and mortgage industry leaders!

Today we’re going to discuss a marketing and lead generation strategy I am calling “Referral Storming”. Referral storming leverages the social rule known as the law of reciprocity.

Here is the definition of the reciprocity rule when it comes to social psychology:

Reciprocity is a social rule that says people should repay, in kind, what another person has provided for them; that is, people give back (reciprocate) the kind of treatment they have received from another. By virtue of the rule of reciprocity, people are obligated to repay favors, gifts, invitations, etc. in the future. If someone receives a gift for their birthday, a reciprocal expectation may influence them to do the same on the gift-givers birthday. This sense of future obligation associated with reciprocity makes it possible to build continuing relationships and exchanges. That’s the definition of the law of reciprocity. An

In summary, from a mortgage professional’s standpoint… if you give referrals, you will get referrals, it’s like planting lead seeds… the more you plant, the more you will eventually harvest.

Let’s discuss how we as mortgage professionals can leverage the rule of reciprocity to continually and consistently receive quality leads with near pin point predictability.

Case Study – Referral Storming:

Prior to doing this podcast, I did a case study on myself…. for 10 business days, I generated roughly 1 referral a day, I gave 9 over a 10-day period. The breakdown was as following. I generated 5 insurance agent referrals, 1 Realtor referral, 2 CPA referrals and 1 CFP referral.

In the 14 days that followed those referrals, I received a total of 4 referrals from that same group of partners I referred to. That’s nearly a 50% return on my investment of leads given. I know it’s a small sample size, but that’s pretty damn impressive… of that 4, 2 turned into apps which should close soon…… and I’m likely to get some more referrals from those partners that had not referred me back yet down the road…. Given this case study of 9 referrals given results in 4 received you can reverse engineer how many leads you want each month. Given this rough example I can now better predict what to expect from this strategy and know how much giving I need to do in order to get what I want… so if I want to generate 10 leads a month referral storming, I need to give 23 referrals each month or basically 1 per working day to meet that sales goal… and That’s totally possible too if you develop the right systems and tactics to consistently generate opportunities for your strategic partners.


The reality is, we as loan officers play an integral role in our client’s financial future. We manage the largest debt they will likely ever carry and the debt we give them makes up around 45% of their gross monthly income. we should always be looking for more ways to add value to our clients and to help improve their financial situation, and we can do that by referring these clients to other financial and professional service providers within our trusted network.

“If you want to become a maven, connector and person of extreme interest and value to all your strategic referral partners then all you have to do is give them some referrals when they present themselves” -Brett McDonell

Sometimes you will have referrals that fall into your lap, like when a client is buying a home and says, I need a good realtor, or a good insurance agent… those are layups and are great to give out to your qualified strategic partners…. But if you want to become a referral machine and constantly be referring on a daily basis which in the long run will create an abundance of leads and referrals coming back to you, then you need to CREATE opportunity for referrals by developing a system and implementing tactics to generate as much as you can out of every contact possible.

The goal of Referral Storming is to generate as many quality referrals to your strategic network every single day. Simply put, if you give you get….. almost a 1 for every 2 given with my scenario, but this rule has been tested and proven in all aspects of life.  even if you don’t get a referral back immediately you should get one back at some point.

Here are a few tactics and strategies to incorporate into your business to generate or create referral opportunities


  1. Use a client questionnaire when working with every client: You may have heard me talk about using a client questionnaire to create differentiation from you and your competition, but the questionnaire is and should also be designed and used to probe and identify referral opportunities on every loan you do. In the questionnaire I use, it asks questions like, are you currently working with a CPA? How would you rate their performance: below average, average and great, if they don’t have one, it also has a box to check that says they would like a referral for a local professional…? This is an easy way to identify an opportunity to refer them to a CPA in your network within minutes of reviewing their loan options… I also ask if they have goals of having financial investments. if they say yes, I can then refer them to a CFP or investment advisor if you work at a bank…. I ask if they have a living will in place or other estate planning questions… if they don’t, there’s a great opportunity for an intro to one of your estate planners…This info is all great too because if they are in a trust or not you should know this for the loan.


As you can see the initial client questionnaire doesn’t just help you better advise your clients and tailor custom financing solutions based on their goals, but it also gives you ammo you need to give referrals and improve their financial situation even further…. additionally, if these people do already have these providers. that’s an easy way to get a meeting with them and leverage your new client to grow your referral network. You can say to their CPA, “Hi, we have a mutual client Debbie, I have a questionnaire I use to identify opportunities for my strategic partners…. Would you be interested in becoming a strategic partner that is mutually beneficial for both of us?” … then show them the questionnaire and detail in black and white your process to add more value and generate referrals.


  1. Compare premiums for insurance savings with your insurance network: Provide the basic details of the policy with your home insurance agent partners to identify opportunities for savings; Of course, don’t provide any personal info or get a formal quote of any kind, just boiler plate details so you can see if there may be an opportunity. by being proactive and not waiting for an opportunity you’re creating an opportunity for a referral and you’re also providing over the top service to your client to help try and improve their financial situation as much as possible. On a side note, In Canada I think that mortgage bankers or traditional loan officers like me and probably you can also sell insurance…. Imagine that, what an easy way to improve the client’s overall situation, analyze their mortgage and insurance policy and get two commissions + trailing income for as long as they keep it.


  1. Make them an offer they can’t refuse: I have a CPA that I refer to a lot and he will review any taxes for any of my clients and do a full probe to see if he can save them additional money and to double check the other CPA’s work…. This is an easy way for me to refer… I can say to any client whether they have their own CPA or not, I work closely with a great local CPA that is willing to double check any of my client’s taxes in an effort to find hidden opportunity, you pay him nothing unless he finds a way to save you a lot more money. would you be interested to see if he can save you some money?

*The same can be done with any professional services provider like an insurance person or investment advisor.

  1. Team up with your strategic partners: Do a webinar, workshop, white-paper, e-book, article, etc.…. Each month you should be tapping your strategic referral partners knowledge of their product or service to add more value to your clients. This also lets them tap your network of happy, trusting past clients which if the information or offer they provide is good enough they will get some new clients and leads. This should be done mutually and you should do a piece for them to share with their clients to in an effort to add value and create opportunities for you. If you do this every month, you will create organic referral opportunities for your partner and yourself by tapping their trusting networks.


  1. Use the Ultimate MLO daily planner every day!! I created a daily planner for mortgage professionals with keeping referring top of mind. This dialer planner tailor made to maximize mortgage professional’s days has a section dedicated for identifying who you want to refer that day. By knowing ahead of time who and what you’re looking to refer, it will be easier to identify those opportunities when they present themselves and is simply keeps referring out top of mind and part of your daily activities. To get this daily planner for FREE, go to

Those were 5 ways to generate referrals for your strategic partners in hopes of triggering the law of reciprocity…. but WAIT, there’s another way you can use Referral Storming to Grow your business.

Just like we can give referrals of new clients to our referral partners, we can also referral storm by referring our existing and new referral partners to other referral partners of yours that provide complimentary services.

For example, if you work with a CPA and a Realtor that work in the same city and are like minded, connect the two of them.. everyone likes an introduction to a new strategic partner that could grow their business and add value to their clients…. You can invite them both to lunch or a drink and introduce each other, you can also simply send an email and cc them both on the email… say Jon, meet Cindy, she’s a great Realtor and is local to you. I thought you two should meet, hopefully you two can find some synergies and help each other out. Good luck!!

Or a CFP and a CPA, they’re a great fit.

Or a home insurance agent and a real estate agent

Or CFP to home insurance agent

The great part about doing the spontaneous strategic partner referral storming is that you generate two referrals in the process, doubling your chances of them repaying you with an intro or a new client lead.

Make it a practice to grow your partners networks and link them up with like-minded people and you will get back in return just like the rule or reciprocity says….


Here are the formal action steps you need to do to start Referral Storming and leveraging the law of reciprocity

  1. Organize your list of existing strategic referral partners such as CPA’s, CFP’s, attorneys, title reps, escrow reps, insurance agents, stock-brokers, and any other service professionals whose services complement yours or come before, during or after the loan process that you may be able to refer to. Let them all know that you’re going to start implementing an aggressive referral program in an effort to grow their business and add more value to your clients.


Side note: if you don’t have a large number of strategic partners then I recommend using the quarterly network multiplier strategy I have detailed before to exponentially grow every aspect of your network, or you can start with the service providers you use for you own person needs and expand from there over time. Additionally, go through the last 50 loans you did, call and introduce yourself to every CPA, insurance agent, cfp, etc. that share your mutual client and let them know you’re looking for some good partners to start a mutually beneficial referral relationship.


  1. Start using a client questionnaire with every client to identify all the referral opportunities you have for every deal you do. If you don’t use one or want to see the exact one I use, email me at brett@mortgagebankeruniversity and I will send you mine to get you started.


  1. Download the Ultimate MLO daily planner from – start using this daily to keep your referral storming partners top of mind.


  1. Make it a goal to refer 1 person a day whether it’s a new client opportunity or simply an introduction of two like-minded business professionals. Try to lead with a client referral, but if you’re coming up short towards the end of the day fire off an introductory email just to make sure you stay on track… Do this consistently for 1 month.


  1. After 1 month of doing this, track all your referrals and intro’s given, analyze how many leads or referrals you received in return and from who… at this point you have enough data to optimize the strategy, add or remove any strategic partners and scale it as needed.


  1. After the analysis, you will be able to see which partners refer the best, which ones are takers and not givers and which type of referrals you generate the most and least of….

With this data, you can now determine how many referrals you get based on x number of referrals given, then you can reverse engineer that to hit whatever referral goals you have for this strategy. The data and analysis will get better and better the more you do this and track the results… the goal is to get to the point where you can predictably determine how many referrals, leads and intros you will get each month based on your output.

And that’s my strategy on Referral Storming!

I am confident that if you make giving referrals a consistent part of your business model and develop systems to generate referrals for your network, you will consistently reap the rewards of receiving tons of intros and referrals back thanks to the law of reciprocity.

If you have any questions about this strategy or want to share your successes using this strategy, please email me at

Here is where you can download for FREE the resources mentioned in this post.

*The Ultimate Mortgage Client Questionnaire: (Link)

*The Ultimate MLO Daily Planner: (Link)

*Podcast episode on “Referral Storming”: (Link)

Now get out there and start creating referrals!!

Brett McDonell

Founder – MBU