If you’re not getting any referrals from clients you’ve helped in the past, you can probably trace that back to your first appointment with them.
A lot of agents say they get most of their business from “repeats and referrals,” when, actually, it’s mostly repeat business. Because they never laid the foundation for the steady flow of referral business they hoped would come from the clients in their database.
There’s a reason for that. And it usually (if not always) comes down to the words you use.
Repeat & referral business from clients you’ve already helped
As a real estate agent, repeat business is something you hope for with any of your clients; you want them to think of you first if ever need an agent again. And if you are staying in touch and providing value in between their moves, it’s likely they’ll reach out to you again.
But while repeat business is possible, there’s also the potential for referral business, which is when these clients recommend you to someone they know who is buying or selling a home.
You want your clients to get excited about referring you to others in need of a real estate agent. There’s no telling how many people they know who could have a need or desire to move. And the more clients you have who will happily refer you to others, the more likely you are to have that steady stream of referral business you were hoping for.
So, how do you make that happen?
#1—Openly acknowledge the goal of that first meeting
When Tom Storey has his first appointment with a new buyer or seller—or someone he hasn’t seen in a while—he immediately puts them at ease about the process by letting them know exactly what his goal is for that meeting:
Thank you so much for having me here! Before we get started, I actually just want to let you know that I didn’t bring any paperwork today. So, I’m not gonna ask you to sign anything, the reason being I want to tell you everything that I would want to know if I were you. So, what we’re going to do is go through everything today. If, at any point in this conversation, you have questions, just stop me and ask the question. I’ll be happy to answer everything.
#2—Make sure clients know from that first meeting how your business works
Making the purpose of that appointment clear is the first part of this referral-boosting strategy. The next is making sure every client understands where your business is coming from.
For example, if 90% of your sales per year are from word-of-mouth referrals, that’s something you definitely want to tell your new clients.
For one thing, it lets them know that clients you’ve already helped have been so impressed by your competence and service that they’ve happily recommended you to everyone they know who needs an agent.
Ninety percent of my sales every single year are word of mouth. So, my only goal here today with you is to do such a good job that, at the end of this process, you want to talk about me to your friends and family. That’s how my business continues to grow.
If 90% is the goal, but you’re not quite there, yet, you can still make it clear to those you’re meeting with that referrals are important to your business.
You can let them know, for example, if the reason you’re there talking to them is because so-and-so gave them your name.
We know it sounds obvious. But it’s exactly because it’s obvious that most agents don’t do it. Don’t assume the consumer already knows the value of referrals to your business.
Make it obvious that earning their referrals (as well as their repeat business) is one of your top goals. You want them to be so happy with you as their agent that they cannot wait to tell others how great an experience they had with you.
#3—The perfect time to ask for a referral—and how to do it
Tom shared something he once heard at a conference: After someone says, ‘Thank you’ for something you’ve done for them, you have a moment of influence. And that’s the perfect time to ask for a referral.
Here’s an example of what Tom might say to a client who has just thanked them after a sale has closed or when he’s helped them resolve an issue:
No worries! I was actually thinking it’s been so much fun working with you. Your friends are probably awesome as well. If I could help any of them in the future, just let me know.
When they’re happy and grateful toward you for something you’ve done to help them, not taking advantage of that moment of influence and asking them for a referral would be a wasted opportunity.
Also, it never hurts to encourage them to picture a friend or family member feeling as good about their real estate transaction as they do at that moment—and encourage them to associate that feeling with you.
The next time they hear someone they know express a need or desire to move, they’ll remember the great experience they had buying or selling a home with your help. They’ll remember how good they felt when the deal was done.
And they’ll want their friend, relative, or associate to have that, too.
Change your wording to change your business
All you really need to do to get more referrals coming in is to change your wording. Change your approach to that first appointment and clearly communicate your purpose for it.
And tell them—simply and directly—how your business works. Don’t just assume they know how much you’re hoping they’ll recommend you to their friends and family.
Most agents know this, yet many of them hold back when it comes to asking for referrals, even when their clients are already grateful to them for helping them get the best possible results. If you’re one of them, the good news is you can change that.
So, how will you approach your next appointment differently to get more referrals?