5 Reasons You Don't Get More Referrals

Are you getting passed up on referrals? Find out why—and what you can do about it.

June 19, 2013

Are you getting the amount of referrals you want? How many of your clients refer new prospects to you? Do you have a strategy in place to ensure that this happens on a regular basis?

Before we answer those questions, it’s important to be clear about the basic differences between a referral and a prospect.

A referral is a prospect that was introduced to you. They are expecting your call or e-mail with the prospect of doing business. Easy enough, right?

So then, what’s a prospect? A prospect is someone who knows you (or knows of you) and is interested in hiring you either now or in the future. And how do you know this? Well, because they told you. Remember, despite what you may have learned in sales school, not everyone is a prospect and not everyone needs what you sell.

Most agents seem to have different definitions—and therefore, different expectations—of what referrals and prospects mean to your business. The confusion makes it difficult to generate more referral income. Here are five reasons you may not be getting more (or any) referrals, and what you can do about it.

You don’t know who your best prospects are.

How can anyone refer business to you if it’s unclear whom you serve? Stop reading right now and craft a 30-second summary of who you are, what you do, what you know, and whom you help. Be specific. Your target client can’t be just anyone who’s looking to sell their home or looking to buy a home. Maybe you serve first-time home buyers, international buyers, condo dwellers, or empty nesters looking to downsize. Live and breathe your 30-second summary. Know it cold and share it often.

You haven’t built enough trust.

Not too long ago, I met someone at one of those high-end cocktail parties where frou-frou drinks are served with umbrellas. We shook hands, chatted, and exchanged niceties. Once he realized that we both serve the insurance industry, he immediately asked if I would refer him to my clients. How’s that for forward? I said, “Perhaps in time, when we get to know each other a bit better.” He was outraged. He even asked me outright why I couldn’t refer him now. I thought the answer was obvious and told him so: Business happens at the speed of trust. Spend more time earning it.

You talk about features instead of benefits.

Repeat after me: Nobody cares about the features of your products, services, or the program you use to list a home. Of course, it’s different if you’re asked specifically about said features. But in general, you want to talk about the benefits and the results of how you help people. Use phrases like, “I help people with…” and “People benefit most by…” and “What this means to you is…”

You try really hard to sell your stuff.

First of all, stop doing that. Old school sales tactics, gimmicks, and schemes are a thing of the past. Prospects are wise to your jive. Besides, if they’re truly prospects, you shouldn’t have to sell them so hard in the first place. Focus on making friends, showing interest in others, helping the cause, asking questions, and listening up. You may even sell something in the process!

Others don’t understand what the heck you do.

Know anyone like this? These are folks you see all the time at events and meetings and you haven’t a clue what they do or whom they serve. If you don’t know anyone like this, it might be you! If it’s more trouble to figure out than it’s worth, others won’t want to know anyway.

Give these some thought. Think about how you can create a positive result in your practice. I’ll discuss five more reasons you don’tget more referrals next time.

Michael Goldberg teaches agents how to generate more business through high impact, “knock-out” networking strategies. Author of the book Knock-Out Networking!, Goldberg delivers real world approaches to networking and referral marketing that can be applied immediately. He is also an adjunct instructor at Rutgers University and donates time to speak at networking groups focused on job searches. Learn more about Goldberg at www.buildingblocksconsulting.com.