As a real estate agent, how do you get nice, positive customer referrals without spending tons of time and effort and tugging at customers sleeves endlessly? An overwhelming majority of sales result from customer referrals. So it turns out this is a very fruitful marketing channel that agents should ultimately master. Here are 6 best practices for getting plenty of customer referrals that actually work.
In one of our recent posts we’ve mentioned how important it is for agents to leverage the power of their contact database in every facet of their businesses. [You can check it here: CRM for Real Estate: 6 Perfectly Actionable Follow Up Formulas].
It goes without saying that real estate referrals are an anchor for a successful brokerage. Some agents even manage to build their entire business solely on referrals. But when you think about the whole matter of actually getting them, it may seem quite a difficult undertaking. It shouldn’t be, though.
Why exactly? Because you already have a powerful and exclusive opportunity to get positive and trustworthy referrals right at your fingertips. This opportunity is your contact database, whether you keep it in your CRM or elsewhere.
Your contact database is an excellent network of your best, loyal, highest-converting customers. And they can recommend you to their friends and peers with pleasure. All you need to do is figure out how to integrate a referral system into your post-sales funnel, how to ask these people for a referral and when exactly.
We decided to save you some time and outlined some of the best strategies of getting real estate referrals together with a few CRM shortcuts.
Before really going into this, remember about one important prerequisite: your customer service, properties and especially website actually do have to be great (more on mechanics of that in #1). You’ll need happy clients to ask for the referrals, right?
Now that we’ve clarified on this, let’s move into the realm of what actually works.
6 Ways to Get Real Estate Referrals the Right Way
1) Your website is the first touchpoint for a referral and what you can do with this
Before diving into the referral talk itself, there’s one very important insight to start with: websites took all the spotlight in real estate. People no longer need agents to help them with a home-buying process like they used to. Modern homebuyers are independent, knowledgeable and willing to make their own research before contacting an agent.
In fact, 98 per cent of first-time homebuyers head online to check out listings and find relevant home-buying info. So this puts your website, and not you as an agent, in the center of the first interaction with a potential lead.
Why is it so important to care about real estate referrals from people who are not your leads, let alone customers, yet? Very simple: if they liked your site, they’ll give you referrals, even if they don’t know you personally. Not sure if this really works? Let’s take a look at the following stats from CEB Global:
You can see in this visual how people express different opinions about their product and service experiences. In your case, your real estate website is your product. So 71 percent of site visitors would recommend it to others even without you servicing them in person, just because they liked it! On the contrary, only 25 percent of people will do the same after a positive service experience, i.e. after interacting with the agent personally.
Such is the power of digital impressions – today, your website is the first touchpoint in the real estate transaction and it’s the very first thing people judge you upon. Obviously, this is something you can’t fully control. What you can control, though, is how your real estate website looks and feels like and if it features the info people are seeking for in an appealing, user-friendly way.
And so the most important technique to focus on first hand is to craft a real estate website that actually speaks to your visitors. This way you can secure yourself more positive referrals, even if you can’t identify their source immediately.
2) Time wise
In asking for real estate referrals, just like in sales, good timing is important. It has something from both art and science – you need to know precisely the best time to ask but would also like to do this in a warm and friendly manner. Grasping the right moment can define if you’re going to get that referral.
If you do some quick research on the best practices for the right timing, you’ll find out tons of advice on when to ask for a referral. But the truth is there’s hardly one right answer. It really depends on each particular customer. Being in a longer personal communication with them, you’ll be able to sense where the right moment approaches.
Here are a few tips on figuring out the right timing:
- do not ask for a referral right after the deal. Instead, wait some time till all formalities are settled and the purchase is completed. You can then safely approach this topic and ask for a referral;
- another good timing that dramatically cuts the risk of refusal is asking at a moment when your customer is especially delighted with your service or thankful for your advice. People feel obliged to return a favor at such moments as a whole set of psychological studies confirm.
Always remember to carefully store each touchpoint in your CRM for future records. Compare how you approached different clients, what worked especially well and give it a try once again.
3) Keep in touch
What differs successful agents from under-performing ones? They manage to stay on top of people’s minds. People remember about them next time they’re ready for a big purchase. These agents are also 6 times more likely to invest in a CRM system because this is exactly what helps them to keep in touch with people in a natural and meaningful manner.
You’ve probably encountered this situation: your customer is happy with your service and the newly bought home and promised you a referral. But time passes by and nothing happens. The referral you were hoping for seems to slip through your fingers. Too bad, right?
Well, one way to reverse the situation is to drop gentle reminders once in a while. The most common reason people don’t give you real estate referrals, even if they’re perfectly fine with your brokerage, is they forget about it. So it’s totally ok for you to ask again.
Be careful, however, with the frequency of these touchpoints. Needless to say, people find frequent reminders annoying and this can inspire them to try and detach from communication.
Another way to stay in touch in a helpful way is to use your CRM email automation feature. You’re probably already using it to automate follow up. Next thing, make sure you’re regularly emailing referral prospects your blog updates, guides, market news, community goings-on and whatever else you use to engage with your leads and customers. This way people will remember about you and you’ll be strengthening your reputation of a knowledgeable, professional agent.
The best thing about this strategy is you don’t have to make a referral a direct subject of your emails. Just dropping it in a P.S. works perfectly.
4) Thank the referrer
This goes without saying, right? While people who referred you don’t expect any special reward, everyone likes to be valued. A warm, personal thank-you message is a nice gesture of appreciation which also encourages people to go on recommending you to others.
Thanking people for mentioning your brand is especially important on social media. One research found out that 85 per cent of people are delighted to get a public response to their comments about the brand. Remember to add this to your social media checklist asap.
Make sure you thanked your referrer, and leave a few notes on the outcomes of your conversations in your CRM records. The reason for this is you will need to contact this person again.
That’s right – it’s ok to ask your customers for real estate referrals more than once. Be mindful, however, of the right timing. You can’t ask for another referral in a week or even month – conventional sales wisdom tells you have to wait for at least 6 months and up to a year to ask again. Which makes accurate CRM records invaluable, right?
5) Use social media to generate referrals
45 per cent of clients have walked through a home found on social media.
People trust feedback from their friends and peers more than your site with its listings. And where do they look for this feedback? On social media, of course.
So the next step you should bring to your planning table is to learn how to make the most of these vibrant platforms. One smart way to generate more social referrals is to level up your Facebook business page.
Basically, what you need to do is to collect more positive referrals and build them a long-lasting exposure so new visitors can easily learn about the great expertise you provide. One great way to do this is to create a new Facebook tab featuring all of your customers’ testimonials. This way page visitors will see an immediate proof of your expertise. People will also be able to share and like your testimonials and so your service gets an even more positive buzz around it.
[We have a full post on how to use custom Facebook tabs to make your Facebook business page more meaningful].
6) Build a referral process
In a nutshell, you would like to get plenty of real estate referrals but you wouldn’t like to spend way too much time on asking for them and following up. That’s why you need to automate the things which can (and should) be automated.
Here are a few tips on coining a well-functioning referral system:
- contact 10 people from your database each morning. Do not sell to them – just shoot a link with a new buyer / seller resource, market update and community news;
- create a library templates which you can easily personalize. This way you won’t be spending time on coming up with a unique correspondence every time you need to ask for a referral;
- automate reminders to send emails, social media messages or make phone calls regarding the referrals but don’t automate the messages itself. You’d like to be personal here;
- carefully store outcomes of each conversation in your CRM for future records so you can analyze what works and what should be stopped. Remember, you can also track lead sources in your CRM and add tags and groups to better organise your contacts.
It’s easy to draw parallels between business referrals and any service you’re personally using. If that restaurant offered you a delicious meal and exceptional service last night, you’d most likely recommend it to someone else and come back there again. It’s that simple.
This is what you need people to feel about your agency too. The best way to get started is leverage the advice that already proved to work for other agents and adjust it to your follow up. The above was a blueprint on how you can do just that. Make sure to get started right away and remember – referrals fuel your business growth and you can’t afford yourself to leave this goldmine unexploited.