There's No Harm in Asking, Right?

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Okay, okay, you are all tired of me ranting and raving about the sins of Referral-Begging and Referral-Bribing, which in my opinion, just annoys and irritates your friends. Oh, and a nice side-benefit; it advertises how desperate you are for business.beg

Of course, I hear all the time; "There's no harm in asking!" or "You gotta ask for what you want if you expect to get it!"

I disagree. I think there's all kinds of harm in asking, and no, I don't believe you always gotta ask for what you want. But I've written thousands of words on this topic already...

So, allow me to be a little more helpful today. What should you do instead of Referral-Begging?

Well, today, I had a listing appointment with someone referred to me by a current client. During our conversation (notice I didn't say "presentation"), I took the opportunity to toss out two comments about how I Work By Referral... without implying that they were in any way obligated to participate...

Watch how I slipped it in...

#1:          Me: "You guys are so cool. This is what I love about working by referral - I get to work with the nicest people!"

#2           Me:  "Did Jane (the client who referred me) tell you the story about the toaster (click here to read about it)? So, if you ever refer anyone to me, don't worry, I won't send you a toaster!"

It's really not hard to let people know in a non-threatening way that you enjoy a referral-based business. See how I worded that? That you "enjoy a referral-based business." That sounds a whole lot more professional than "I {HEART} Referrals!" or "Oh, By the Way... Do you know anyone...?" or "The Greatest Compliment I Receive is...." doesn't it? Kind of like it just happens naturally, without effort... 'Cause You're So Darn COOL!"

Which you are, aren't you?

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Ken Tracy
Coldwell Banker Residential - Naperville, IL
Helping clients buy and sell since 2005

Congrats again Jennifer.  You write my business strategy every day!!!


Jul 31, 2008 11:34 AM #6
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

My friends think I'm always so busy because I'm always running around so they know to send people my way without me asking.  However, it has backfired a couple of times where my friend told me she thought I was too busy to want to deal with her co-worker so she didn't refer me... oh well, you win some you lose some.

Jul 31, 2008 11:40 AM #7
Joshua & Kathy Schmidt
ERA Henley Real Estate - Cabot, AR


     As always very insightful.  Your so sneaky.

Jul 31, 2008 02:27 PM #8
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

I've read many of your posts about how adamant you are about NOT asking for referrals. And this is something I've never done either. The affiliations I have with others in this industry, who ask for referrals, always seem strained.

This is well presented. Good advice for those who have trouble figuring out how to get the business without asking for it.

Jul 31, 2008 04:34 PM #9
Mark Organek
And the United States of America - Mesa, AZ
It's not a game, it's your life.

I've got to agree with you.  Better to seem non-threatening than referral grubbing.

Jul 31, 2008 07:58 PM #10
Paddy (Patricia) Pizappi
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty - Pine Bush, NY
Real Estate Associate Broker Hudson Valley NY

You know there are agents in my office that use a huge canned presentation and really push for referrals and I find them to appear desperate.  Other agents are more laid back.  They get the same information across but don't appear over-barring or invasive.  I much prefer the later.  It seems like these agents get listings that are priced more realistically because of the conversational style.  Do you think this might be true?

Jul 31, 2008 11:22 PM #11
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Paddy - Probably so - when you push someone on your agenda (e.g. pricing), they're going to resist you - it's human nature. By being "conversational" you're actually showing your prospect/client respect and they're much more likely to listen to your advice.

Mark - it seems kind of obvious, doesn't it?

Lisa - Perfect description - "strained"

J&K - LOL!

Donna - I've had a few situations where someone has asked me if I'm too busy for referrals, which is fine with me! I'd rather give that impression than the opposite - that I'm so lousy at my job that I'm desperate for business!

Ken - now THAT's pressure!

Susan - we agree on something??? LOL

Linda - It can happen! I swear!

Heather - actually I wasn't asking. In fact, it didn't occur to me until later what I'd done.

Laura - Perfect approach

Beth - sure comes across that way to me when it's DONE to me!

Aug 01, 2008 12:06 AM #12
Laura Kombrink
RE/MAX Alliance - Collinsville, IL

Everything we do in our business is about communication style.  Asking open-ended questions gives the appearance that you are interested in what the other person has to say (and you should be).  People love to talk about themselves and this approach builds rapport.  The person on the other end of the conversation feels like they are being listened to.  You will find out so much more and be able to guide the conversation by the type of questions that you ask.  Ask, acknowledge, and follow up with another open ended question.

By the way this conversation style works with not only your clients, but your spouse, your children, the car sales man and everyone else you talk to.  It's all about how we communicate!

Aug 01, 2008 12:46 AM #13
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

it is true, You have to be a little sneaky about it and can never appear desperate (even if you are!)

You need to make it about the client from day one and the referrals will come naturally.  But you do have to stay in touch... Just think of it as a value added approach... dont send something that begs for a deal... I like Jennifer's idea of taking people to lunch to catch up, it is about the relationship after all. And if you like them, you will probably like their friends... Birds of a feather flock together... so if you dont like a client... dont take them to lunch!!!


Aug 01, 2008 12:58 AM #14
Norma J. Elkins
Elite Realty Group - Morristown, TN
Realtor - Elkins Home Selling Team

The referrals will come if you treat all of your clients the way that you would like to be treated as a CLIENT!! 

Aug 01, 2008 01:18 AM #15
Cindy Marchant
Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 - Carmel, IN
"Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate

I think if you stay in touch with your database, the referrals come naturally.  I try to remember birthdays, invite them to client appreciation events and a few other reminders that I remember them and want to work with people they know.  I still am not 100% referral base, but getting closer every year I am in the business. 

Aug 01, 2008 01:07 PM #16
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

You are always good with words..... And of course, you do it so alloquently.

Aug 01, 2008 09:35 PM #17
na na
Ponca City, OK

Thanks for sharing your approach.  I like your style.

Aug 02, 2008 01:43 AM #18
Matt Thomson
Fathom Realty Colorado - Littleton, CO
Helping you find success through real estate

I thought I was cool 'til I started reading your stuff...oh well.  Amazing the little tweaking of words (I guess it's really a tweaking of mind-set) makes such a huge difference.


Aug 02, 2008 03:22 AM #19
Sandra Carlisle (Ayers)
Berkshire Hathaway California Properties - Newport Beach, CA
Real Estate Marketing & Sales

I like a more natural approach.  It seems to work well too.  Maybe it will help us shed our "used-car salesman" coats that everyone seems to think we wear...

Aug 02, 2008 07:54 AM #20
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

What is F.O.R.D. technique?  All I know about FORD is that it is FOUND ON ROAD DEAD, and somehow, I don't think that's what was implied.  LOL

I don't like to ask for referrals either.  I much prefer things to occur when conversation flows naturally.

Aug 06, 2008 02:08 AM #21
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

I agree, I am also uncomfortable with asking people for referrals but that is the best way to work!

Aug 06, 2008 02:11 AM #22
Laura Kombrink
RE/MAX Alliance - Collinsville, IL


F = family
O = Occupation
R = Recreation
D = Dreams

When contacting past clients, friends, or SOI you start you conversation by talking about their family and sharing what's going on with yours.  Ask open ended questions (people love to talk about themselves)  ex.  "my daughter is getting married next month"  this opens the opportunity to send a card of congratulations to the client and their daughter and find out if they are looking to move into their own home.

Occupation example:  "How's work?"  They will tell you and often ask about your work.  Great opportunity to remind them that you are still in real estate.

Talk about their vacation plans or hobbies.

Talk about their dreams (retirement, purchasing that retirement property, etc.)  Don't end the conversation asking for a referral.  End it talking about their dreams.  This way the call or conversation (could take place at a party or in the grocery store) doesn't end on you asking for a referral.  The conversation feels like a natural conversation you would have with a friend.  Practice the types of questions you would ask.  Make sure they are not yes or no questions...keep them open ended to keep the conversation flowing.

Aug 06, 2008 02:21 AM #23
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

Ahhhhh!!! Thank you very much for such an excellent explanation!!!! 

Aug 06, 2008 02:23 AM #24
Laura Kombrink
RE/MAX Alliance - Collinsville, IL

It's my pleasure, Karen!

Aug 06, 2008 02:24 AM #25
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