How to Ask for Referrals

Don’t be afraid to request referrals before, during, and after working with a satisfied client.

March 1, 2005

Ask experienced real estate professionals what their best source of business is and they will most likely tell you, “referrals.” A few customers give referrals without prompting. Unfortunately, most won’t think to do so, even if they loved your service. The fundamental rule of sales is: you have to ask to get, and that’s definitely true for referrals.

If you feel a bit awkward asking for referrals, here are a few scripts to help you become more at ease. You can ask for referrals before, during, and after the sale, so I’ve included graceful ways to approach the topic at each stage of the transaction. All of these scripts are used by top-producing practitioners to help them generate new business.

During the Listing Interview

It’s easy to ask for referrals even before you get the business if you also are taking the opportunity to sell them on your exceptional service. Try these effective words: “My goal is that at the end of the marketing and selling process, you will be delighted with our service and the price you received. We want you to become an advocate of ours by sending us referrals. That’s how our business grows. We will work hard to make sure that you are delighted both with the process and the product, and we have no doubt you will send us referrals.”

Or try this short and snappy version: “I don’t make my living off any one transaction. I make my living off of your referral business. I don’t get that unless you are happy.” Finish with a pointed request: “If you are pleased with my service, will you refer me to your friends?”

During the Sales Process

Use this script once the customer is beginning to see results of your efforts: “Congratulations, your loan was approved today. Now you can really get ready to move. By the way, can I ask you something? You know that I have been doing a good job for you, and now that you understand how I work and the systems we use, we could use your help in referring us to other people who want to buy or sell a home. Do you know of anyone that may be in need of my services?”

Just After the Closing

Once the transaction is complete, it’s even easier to ask for referrals. You can use any of these scripts to plant the seeds of future business:

“I appreciated your business, and I look forward to doing business with you again. I also would like to help any of your friends or acquaintances who may be coming into the market or people in your neighborhood who may be selling.”

“Working with you was a pleasure, and it’s important to me to make sure that you have been happy with my service. I have built my business on customer satisfaction. How would you rate my service to you? If you have friends, relatives, or associates who need real estate assistance, would you feel comfortable referring me? Do you know of anyone I should be talking to right now?”

“Your friends are looking for the best service in real estate. I hope you will help them find it by recommending me. Would you please do two things? Tell your friends about me. And when one of your friends needs real estate service, pick up the phone and tell me about them. Would you do that for me?”

In addition to building in conversations to drive referrals throughout the transaction, there are a number of other opportunities to reinforce the request for referrals. Some of these include:

  • Asking for referrals on your marketing materials. Add the following to your brochures, letters, and on the back of business cards: “The highest compliment our customers can give us is to recommend us to a friend. We appreciate your referrals!”
  • Updating everyone who gives you referrals. People love to be appreciated. When you get a referral, thank the person who gave it to you and keep them updated. Call up and say, “I really appreciated your referring John Smith to me. I want to give you an update on how that’s going. But first, how’s your family? How is your new job?” Call again with another update when the sale is complete. Continue to show interest in people who send you business, and they’ll send you even more just because you showed you cared!
  • Following up after the sale. Post-sale follow-up is good business. It lets customers know you are interested in their well being and makes it easy to ask for referrals later on. Two weeks after the closing, call to say, “Hello, it’s Barbara Agent calling. How did the move go? Are you settling in OK? Is there anything more I can help you with? I’ll check in with you again in a month.” Then, in a month, call again. This time, ask for referrals, saying “I know we did a great job for you, and I’m hoping you will refer us to your new neighbors and work associates. Do you know of anyone who is planning to buy or sell a home?”

The idea is simple: ask and you shall receive. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of asking for referrals. Even though it is one of the easier prospecting methods, it is sorely neglected. A common complaint among homebuyers and sellers is that they never hear from their real estate professional again after the transaction is complete. Don’t make that mistake. Reap what you sow by keeping in touch with everyone you have helped and asking from time to time if they know of others you might help. That follow-through will pay dividends for a long time to come.

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