Education & Training with The Lones Group, Inc.


Many real estate trainers, speakers, and ‘gurus’ preach the same gospel : “If you want referrals, you better ask for them.”

I say just the opposite.

All the gurus that tell you to ask for referrals after every sale are missing one big point. Think about it. How do your potential buyers, sellers and past clients FEEL when you ask for a referral?

It’s an uncomfortable moment. They know you want something from them and it tarnishes the trust you’ve built together. Instead of a confidant, you become a typical salesperson. And most salespeople – like it or not- are seen as sharks by the average consumer.

My own personal market research focuses on what the consumer wants and how he or she reacts to what you’re asking for. All the consumers I’ve talked to adamantly state that if you exude professionalism and stay in touch with them, they will give you referrals – without you ever having to ask for them.

IF you’re not getting referrals, it has nothing to do with whether or not you are asking for them. Here are the real reasons you’re not getting referrals:

1. You’re not staying in touch with them after you get their money. Consumers want professional advisors who are looking out for them out of genuine concern – not just to make a sale.


2. Your marketing campaign is ego-based (meaning it’s all about you and your next transaction). This creates the image of a shark-like predator in people’s minds and they will avoid you just as they would a Great White.


3. You’re not giving enough of your expertise away. By ‘giving away’ I mean your expertise, advice, and good will – positioning yourself as your clients’ trusted expert.

The main reason people are stingy with giving referrals is that they’re afraid you may reflect badly on them. They don’t want to disappoint their friends and family by sending them to yet another shark. Even though you may be an honest pillar of your community, asking for a referral triggers the ‘shark alarm detector’ in people’s minds.

Also, when you’re at parties or events, don’t’ hound people by asking for business. Too many real estate agents are in the nasty habit of handing out cards while saying “Call me!” with a cheesy smile.

Instead, just talk to people. It’s okay to tell them you’re a real estate agent. But instead of asking for business, share something with them. Ask for advice about what they’re an expert on. Make a connection. Then, shake hands and exchange cards without asking for business. Making a connection is a two way street not a one way road.

They know now what you do, and will be more likely to call you when they need you. You also know what they do and can refer business to them. See? “Win-win” always works. The sharks aren’t making strong connections with others and are developing a bad reputation in the community by presenting themselves as predators who only care about their next sale. Don’t be one of them!

One more tip: Some of the best referrals come from transactions where things have gone wrong. You may think I’m joking, but it’s true. When you take a disaster and turn it around with your diligence and hard work, you often shine brighter than in transactions when everything goes smoothly.

Never ever think that you’ve screwed up! When problems arise, this is your golden opportunity to generate referrals. Dive in there and fix everything – no matter how irate or unreasonable your client may appear at the moment. They will sing your praises just as strongly when you solve new problems.

Bottom line: If you feel uncomfortable asking for referrals, you can bet your clients do too. It sounds great at a seminar, but in real life if you’re doing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, it will show in your mannerisms and voice. This sparks distrust and sets off people’s finely tuned ‘shark alarm detectors’. Don’t be a shark!

But does it feel uncomfortable to send out real estate information in the form of letters, articles, or reports? No. You always feel good knowing you’re serving your past, present and future clients. And they feel good knowing there is somebody out there they can trust. Every time you contact them, you are in effect generating referrals – without asking.

And if you don’t agree with me that is okay because what really matters is how your clients feel when you are asking for referrals. What may seem to work for you may not work for them.


Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Diane Daley 11/06/2008 07:25 AM
  2. Leah Stapleton 07/25/2011 11:48 AM
  3. Justin Messer 03/29/2012 06:18 AM
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denise lones
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Joseph Mazzei
Wholesale Mortgage Services - Tampa, FL

denise, i couldnt agree more. great article.

Nov 06, 2008 07:17 AM #1
Diane Daley
Caron's Gateway Real Estate - Northumberland, NH

Great post... I'll reblog this one... Agents need to reflect on how they stay in touch...

Nov 06, 2008 07:25 AM #2
Thomas Santore Lic Associate Real Estate Broker
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage/Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT - Yorktown Heights, NY
Realtor®-ABR-Land, Residential & Commercial Sa

Great advice I never ask but I do get some referrals. Some people say I should be more aggressive but I feel funny.

Nov 06, 2008 07:28 AM #3
Sandy Gleason
North Pointe Realty - Buhl, ID
Realtor for Southern Idaho-Magic Valley

I agree also, I think when relationships are made and kept the referrals are just natural.

Nov 06, 2008 07:28 AM #4
Thomas R. Martin Broker/Owner ICPM
Investors Choice Property Management - Sacramento, CA
Property Management the way it SHOULD be.

Nicely put. We take a more aggressive approach to referral business, but the best referrals are the ones you don't have to ask or pay for.

Nov 06, 2008 07:28 AM #5
Sylvie Dolley
CHMS, ePRO, SFR Phoenix Arizona Real Estate 602-32

Excellent Post.

I have not been in RE very long but have found out early that it makes people feel weird or strange to have to ask for a referral.
The referrals that I have received I have not asked for, they were just given to me since I do pride myself in providing excellent service!  I belive that my clients would agree!  Which is all that really matters in the long run, making your clients happy!

Take Care & Have a Great '08!


Nov 06, 2008 07:38 AM #6
Treva Fox-Christy, Realtor (ERA Four Corners Real Estate)

Wow, I am so glad to see others feel funny asking for referrals. I thought it was just me. Being new in the business, there are so many people giving points of advice.  This makes more sense to me. I am so glad I read your article. Thanks!

Nov 06, 2008 08:04 AM #7
Connie Goodrich
Keller Williams Realty - McKinney, TX
CRS ABR (McKinney Realtor)Texas

Great thoughts.  I don't ask for referrals either but I still get them all the time from my sphere.  I just am quick to thank them for the referral and send a little thank you card with a Starbucks card or car wash, etc as a little thank you on the front end.  I keep them posted on the results and thank them again if they referral works into a closed transaction.  Sincere thank you and appreciation also keeps the people giving out your name as they know you care and they are appreciated.

Good luck!

Nov 06, 2008 08:42 AM #8
Patty Carroll
Vancouver, WA

We agree with you. If they felt that you did a good job for them and you keep in contact with them you will get referrals. It really is that simple.

Nov 07, 2008 03:47 AM #9
Sandy Nelson
Riley Jackson Real Estate Inc. - Olympia, WA
your Olympia area Realtor


This really struck a chord with me. I never considered how bad it looks to ask for a referral. You know that certain "gurus" preach that we Realtors need to ask for referrals. I'm going to make some changes.



Nov 09, 2008 10:46 AM #10
Austin Coop
Coldwell Banker West Shell - Cincinnati, OH

So true... There's nothing worse than someone hounding all their friends, clients, and family all the time.  People think you just see $ when you look at people.  Thanks for the post.

Dec 08, 2009 08:26 AM #11
Sharon Lancaster
Sage Executive Group Real Estate - Kelowna, BC
SRES, Realty Executives Okanagan

Thank you - I am searching the data base looking for tips on referrals - I have relocated to a new community - and know NO ONE ... so need to start from scratch - the basics... without doing 'cold calls'....

Jun 13, 2010 07:07 AM #12
Leah Stapleton
Century 21 M&M and Associates - Berkeley, CA
Berkeley Closer, Bay Area Real Estate

Thank you for the blog (I had to reblog too) it is my true feelings on the subject.  Provide outstanding service and the referrals will find you. 

Jul 25, 2011 11:58 AM #13
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

This is a great article and I've suggested it. No matter what the experts say, I still feel uncomfortable asking and I'm positive it shows. I'm going to try to have it come about by more natural means.

Jul 25, 2011 12:18 PM #14
Tanja Cisliek
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL

Denise, somebody just re-blogged your post right now, and I seems just as good today as in 2008 when you initially posted this. Great advise!

Mar 29, 2012 06:51 AM #15
Denise Lones
The Lones Group, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
CSP, MIRM, CDEI - Real Estate Coaching & Branding

Hello Tanja, and thank you for the feedback!  For me, the idea that we NOT ask outright for referrals seems as right to me today as it did in 2008.  I'm glad you enjoyed the re-post.

Apr 02, 2012 02:22 AM #16
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