What's the Best Way to Ask for Referrals? Don't.

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Whatchu talkin' ‘bout Jennifer? You can't be serious!

Yes, I am.

If you're asking the question "What is the best way to ask for referrals?" that tells me that something about doing it bothers you.

And if it bothers you, don't do it. Your discomfort will be crystal clear to the person you're asking, which is probably worse than not asking at all.

(If you don't mind asking for referrals, it probably comes naturally to you. Keep up the good work and ignore the rest of this blog.)

Do YOU like being asked for referrals? I don't.

When a friend asks me to refer business to her, I feel uncomfortable. What was five minutes ago a friendship suddenly feels like an obligation. If she asks me twice, our friendship may very well be in danger. I don't want to have to explain to her why I haven't referred anyone to her lately (or ever). I don't want to listen to her sales pitch... again. And, frankly, if I haven't referred anyone her way, there may be a reason. But I'd hate to lose a friendship over it.

When a business professional asks me for referrals, it lowers my respect for them a notch. Right or wrong, I assume everyone is as successful as they wanna be. So when I receive a marketing letter from my insurance agent or my accountant asking for referrals, I suddenly question their level of success... and therefore, just a teeny bit, their competence. Where five minutes ago, I perceived them to be a prosperous, crazy-busy professional... now they're a ... salesperson. Ick.

Don't get me wrong, I love to refer. I'm a referring madwoman when I find someone I believe in. You don't have to ask me to refer, I'm all over it! Aren't you the same way? If you have the world's best hairdresser, dog trainer, chiropractor - don't you tell everyone you know? Do these people have to constantly ask you for your referrals?

Here's a better way.

Be a friend first. If not a friend, then a reasonably competent human being. Be happy, excited and enthusiastic. Act as if your career is everything you always dreamed of. Practice saying "I'm a real estate agent and it's the coolest job in the world!" with a huge smile on your face. Or how about "I had no idea how much I would enjoy selling real estate, I'm having a blast!" Followed up by a sincere "How are YOU doing?"

To ensure that every potential referrer in your life knows you're a reasonably competent human being, make sure your self-promotion materials are professional and error-free. Return phone calls promptly, even social phone calls. Show up on time for appointments and lunch dates. Do what you say you're going to do, when you say you're going to do it. No excuses. Dress appropriately. Watch your language.

It really is that simple.







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Show All Comments
Nancy Moeller
Seven Gables Real Estate - Anaheim Hills, CA
Great post Sharon. I prefer asking how I can find THEM referrals or help in some way.
Oct 06, 2007 03:20 AM #98
Bob Edwards
Coldwell Banker- The Real Estate Group, Inc. - Appleton, WI
Fox Cities Real Estate Hotline, SFR- Appleton, WI
Thank you for emailing me the link to this post Jennifer, I'm on board with you.
Apr 07, 2008 02:27 AM #99
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
thanks for all your comments, Bob! I think this particular blog is my all time favorite (of mine). I'm glad you're enjoying my ramblings.
Apr 07, 2008 03:42 AM #100
Fred Carver Personal Real Estate Corporation
RE/MAX Camosun Victoria BC Real Estate - Victoria, BC
Accredited Real Estate Consultant

Again Jennifer..I responded earlier above. It's a Good Idea to Ask For The Order, see Zig Ziglar's books and tapes on sales. It's how you ask that makes us look professional or not. There is nothing wrong with asking for referrals, people love to Help. Say Can You Help Me...I am expanding my business, and I'd love to have New Clients Like you as Customers if you hear of any friends or family members that need a great Realtor to Help them Find or Sell their Home, Call Me I'd be pleased to call them and look after them for you.

People love to Help and People Love to Refer you to their friends, it how you do business, nothing gets you more business like referrals, work on how or what you are going to say, be sincere when talking to clients...ask them if you can help them with anything, like refer a good painter or carpenter etc to help them.

 Make a Goal of have 25 Clients send you two referrals a year...do the math, here it's $250,000.

Cheers, have a great day!

Apr 07, 2008 04:13 AM #101
Debra Kukulski, Broker Associate
RE/MAX Suburban - Cary, IL
SRES;SFR,CDPE;GRI;ABR;e-PRO Realtor, Northern IL

Excellent points...serve, don't ask!

Jul 15, 2008 03:26 AM #102
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

Agree with you. We recently were invited to a "party" where we were asked to bring our Rolodexto send out some post cards to our contacts for the person throwing the party -- huh? honesly we don't need a BBQ hamburger that badly.

Jul 23, 2008 08:40 AM #103
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

OMG - that's hilarious!!!!

Jul 23, 2008 08:44 AM #104
Pippa Mac
Chevaux Group Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring - The Woodlands, TX
The Woodlands TX Real Estate

OK, a different perspective.

Jul 29, 2008 08:27 AM #105
Tracy Santrock
Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. - Cary, NC
Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge

I agree wholeheartedly - communicate and the rest is best on your credibility and reputation in my opinion.

Aug 24, 2008 01:39 PM #106
Brian Langley
Keller Williams Realty - Greenville, SC

I know you posted this article a million years ago but I am slow to read these things. Just wanted to chime in. AMEN. Referral-begging agents are pests. It is smarmy to beg your friends and clients for referrals. I do think it is important to stay in front of them and available to all potential referrals, however, constantly reminding them that you need their help in growing your business is annoying. Thank you for the post.


Sep 10, 2008 09:33 AM #107
Sam Thompson
BIC Services, LLC - Fayetteville, NC
BIC Services, LLC

Tons of comments on this one!  Too many to read.  Like you, I don't like asking too agressively and I find that people will tell you what you want to hear just to get rid of you.  But I do think it is important for people to know that referrals are important to our business and many people need to get our permission to promote us due to their self-confidence too so we need to do that too.

So, at the least, I would share your enthusiasm like you do and use the 'herd behavior' by mentioning some recent successes and throw out a story about a referral you got from another friend that you really appreciated.  This indirect way might help your referral base send more leads your way. 

Also, always mention the good news about the market when talking to people like the low mortgage rates, 1st-time buyer tax credit and great home values.  This prompts people to think about real estate and might help them tell you about people in the market...

Nov 11, 2008 03:22 PM #108
Carl Pruitt
FHA Loan Advice - Buford, GA

This post caused me to think about the people I do business with and how I react when they ask for referrals. I hate it. Strangely enough, no matter how great I thought the service or product was I am less likely to refer them once they ask. But every person is different. Some people react very well toward being asked to give referrals.

Dec 29, 2008 06:45 AM #109

I don't ask for referrals out right. I let my enthusiasm and work ethic sell me, myself and I. If I hear a friend say that they know of someone needing a realtor I will let them know that I would love to talk with that person and see if I can help them myself or refer them to someone else for their needs.

Jan 02, 2009 06:28 AM #110
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

That's it EXACTLY!

Jan 02, 2009 06:44 AM #111
Nanette Bauer "Helping Families Since 1984"
Remax Suburban, nan@nanbauer.com - Glen Ellyn, IL

Jennifer, I am so enjoying your insight and perspective. I have been indoctrinated with asking for referrals. I need to re-assess. Thanks and I will continue to enjoy your writings.


Nanette Bauer

Mar 13, 2009 11:51 AM #112
Cindi Evans

Hi Jennifer~instead of saying "I HEART Referrals"  I say "PLEASE DON'T KEEP ME A SECRET!"  It is just another version of the same ol' thing...I usually get a comment about it....anything to be remembered right?

Cindi Evans 

Sep 11, 2009 02:04 PM #113
Melissa Katzenberger
Crist Collins Realty - Fayetteville, NC

I've been licensed less than two weeks now and already have two listing appointments this week because I've been excited about my new career but I haven't had to ask anyone for business.  My appointments are both friends and are happy to have someone they know to help them sell their homes.  If I had used the approach my company taught in my first company training class, I would have already turned them off by calling and asking if they or anyone they knew was considering buying or selling real estate.  BLECH!  I am so grateful to you and SWS to help me build my business by being myself. 

Oct 03, 2010 01:49 PM #114
Brent Cain
Century21 McDaniel & Associates - Hemet, CA

I ma so with you on this one Jennifer!!! I've got a unique sphere of influence in town - about 100 property managers..of apartment complexes.  I used to be the crime prevention coordinator in town, teaching all property managers about crime free housing program...

I am sending them out an information gathering letter - and I am going to offer a first time homebuyer workshop at those locations (the club house) for all those tenants who are interested.


Whaddya think?


Brent Cain

Oct 27, 2012 07:47 AM #115
Lori Olivet
Woodstock, GA

I am so pleased to read this! I am a new-er  realtor and am feeling frustrated with finding my first client! Any tips on just getting going? I've sent an intro letter and have put my mug out there, but feel like I'm spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere.

Mar 18, 2015 03:49 AM #116
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Practice articulating the value you bring to a transaction. Ask: ''Who do you knwo that I can help?''


Dec 17, 2017 02:05 AM #117
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