Asking for Referrals versus NOT Asking for Referrals - Which is more risky?

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

I was interviewed Monday on Real Estate Radio USA (listen here) and in the middle of the interview, I had an epiphany about Referral-Begging... (I love epiphanies, don't you? Although perhaps in the middle of a live national radio interview, the timing might not have been the best).

Anyway. Back to my epiphany. It's about whether or not to ask/beg/bribe your friends for referrals, which as you probably know, is a practice I'm adamantly against.

Yesterday, my seller client (whose house sold in TWO DAYS, yay!) sent me an email asking permission to give my name to two friends who are looking for a real estate agent. ASKING MY PERMISSION! As if I might be far too busy to handle even more clients.

I giggled to myself because that's exactly the impression I want to leave with my world. Of course, I told her I'd be thrilled if she gave my name out and thanked her profusely. Maybe too profusely, actually, but oh well.

But here was my epiphany. By not letting my client know that I <Heart> Referrals, I took the chance that she wouldn't know to send me any. I took the chance, that, egads, she might send her friends to someone else! Oh the horror!!

However (and I'm sure my regular readers know where I'm going with this), I'd MUCH RATHER take the chance of losing potential referrals out of innocent ignorance than to take chance of annoying, pestering or otherwise damaging my credibility with my SOI by constantly reminding them to send referrals my way.

Besides, if I do a great job for my clients and treat them respectfully, they will think of me when the topic of real estate comes up in their social interactions. If they don't think of me, well, it has nothing to do with whether or not I pestered them lately about it...  

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Chip Jefferson
Gibbs Realty and Auction Company - Columbia, SC

Doing a great job for clients usually get referrals. I usually just keep the in my email drip to keep my name in front of them.

Jun 26, 2008 12:08 AM #3
Donna Gilbert
Century 21 Heritage Co. - Chester, CT
Realtor, GRI

You make a good point - but you should never be afraid to "ask" for a referral - you never know what you might be missing!!!

Jun 26, 2008 12:21 AM #4
Mike Saunders
Lanier Partners - Athens, GA

I don't ask for referrels from friends and relatives, but, I do try to drop subtle hints that I would take one.

Jun 26, 2008 12:28 AM #5
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Mike- there are plenty of ways to let people know you work by referral without putting THEM on the spot. But really... in most cases, it's just not necessary and in my VERY STRONG opinion, counterproductive.

Donna - I guess that's my point - I'll take the chance of missing a referral or two rather than risk annoying my friends or appearing desperate. Stay tuned for more on this topic tomorrow...

Laura - Yep - and throw in a personal phone call or email every once in awhile and you're golden. (but NO referral-begging in those either!)

Fernando - I guess we can agree to disagree on this!

Penny - ditto what I said above to Mike - you CAN get the point across without outright begging...

Jun 26, 2008 12:33 AM #6
J Perrin Cornell
Century 21 Exclusively, Wenatchee, WA - Wenatchee, WA

It depends on how it is done.

I agree no begging. But don't be afraid and you can do it regularly in many ways that are nor begging.

I am currently managing 54 clients (listings 21, pendings 10, balance under contract as buyers). All but five are referrals.

Jun 26, 2008 01:24 AM #7
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

It is a fine line... You dont want to beg, that is for sure... But you want to politely stay in their face so they dont forget about you... when they here some one talking about Real Estate you want your name and face to be a familiar one.  As long as it isnt an image of you begging on your knees! 

That's why I prefer to pass on "good info"  more of a value added approach than the info-mercial approach.


Jun 26, 2008 01:41 AM #8
Jack Climer
Jack Climer Realty, LLC - Springfield, MO

ask, ask, and can pick the listing that best fit you....................

Jun 26, 2008 01:46 AM #9
Kay Wise
Fort Huachuca, AZ

I'm not an agent, but I don't think that you have to "beg" for referrals from clients.  I think that dropping a hint that you get many of your customers from client referrals is enough to let them know that you don't mind them giving your name to someone.  If you do a wonderful job with a client, your name is going to come up anyway when they talk about real estate with their friends.  Then they know that they can give out your info right right then and there.

Jun 26, 2008 01:59 AM #10
Michelle Pine
Kris Weaver Real Estate Team - Virginia Beach, VA
ABR, GRI, Hampton Roads Real Estate


I just made great use of my time by listening to your real estate radio interview-- Great Job!  You make such good sense!

Jun 26, 2008 02:10 AM #11
Ken Tracy
Keller Williams Realty Infinity - Naperville, IL
Helping clients buy and sell since 2005

Hi Jennfier.  I am with you 100%.  Provide friendly top quality service, and referrals will come.

All sales trainers and brokers disagree with me, but my sphere is working for me whether I hound them or not!

I commend you for writing an against the grain post.


Jun 26, 2008 03:41 AM #12
Lori Gilmore
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Joliet, IL
Realtor - Will County Illinois

Jennifer -- I hate asking for referrals, I get them regardless :-)  I don't ask, but I do thank and "reward" those who send people my way REGARDLESS OF THE OUTCOME!  Recently I was sent a referral for a potential listing. . .potential client picked a different Realtor. Even though I didn't land the listing I still thanked the person who sent the opportunity my way by sending a note with a gift certificate to his favorite breakfast spot. Hope he thinks of me again when he knows someone with a real estate need.

Jun 26, 2008 05:59 AM #13
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

I've always been that personality type where I dont like to ask for stuff - referrals included. I shake tremendously and sound very unprofessional during the times that I do (a few times). I did it because I bought into the concept of asking for referrals. They said that I wont be successful if I dont.

Here I am, haven't asked for a referral for a long time, I still consider myself somewhat successful. My current clients do that for me. It speaks much louder and most of all, if the referrals dont work out, it has been a true honor for me to think that my past clients think that I can take care of their friends. 

Jun 26, 2008 10:11 AM #14
Not Yet Licensed

But here was my epiphany. By not letting my client know that I <Heart> Referrals, I took the chance that she wouldn't know to send me any. I took the chance, that, egads, she might send her friends to someone else! Oh the horror!!

Hi Jennifer,

I suggest that you should not take that chance.  I believe you can usually avoid the horror of a lost referral/transaction.  I'm not a real estate agent, yet.  However, I do realize that everyone has their own style.  As food for thought, I would like to share a true story that just happened yesterday afternoon.  I was at the most recent Brian Buffini event, called Turning Point, in San Diego.  At the end of the second day, Brian opened up the floor to the roughly twelve hundred people who had attended.  A San Diego RE/MAX agent stood up and told us how, I think it was nine or ten years ago, he lost his own cousin's referral to Brian!  After being stunned that his own cousin would give a listing referral to another agent, this RE/MAX agent decided that he also needed to have an effective, professional referral system in place.  With the right system, you don't have to annoy, pester, or beg anyone for referrals.  Your friends, family and clients will be happy to send referrals to you.


Bruce Brockmeier

Jun 26, 2008 11:47 AM #15
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Bruce - I'd much rather take the chance of losing a referral than annoying someone. Just my perspective. Obviously, the Buffini crowd will disagree with me vehemently! That's okay.

Loreena - I don't believe that asking for referrals would make you more successful. And I believe you believe that, too. It's not as if I'm advising against the practice because it's a nicer way to behave, I advise against it because I don't think it works nearly as well as other methods of generating good will from your friends and clients.

Lori - Yes, indeed! I've seen some trainers who advise to only "pay out" referral thank you's IF the referral results in a closing... very silly.

Ken - And I suspect you will continue to receive referrals BECAUSE you don't hound them!!

Michelle - thank you!

Kay - that's exactly it.

Jun 26, 2008 11:57 AM #16
Jenn Beilmann
Coldwell Banker Gundaker - Mehlville, MO
St. Louis MO Realtor

Jennifer, you will LOVE this one... I called the cell phone of another agent today and got her voicemail. After the usual sorry-you-missed-me-leave-a-message-at-the-beep, she says 'oh and by the way I am NEVER to busy for your referrals.'

I was still gagging by the time I had to leave a message - could barely get the words out. YUK!


Jun 26, 2008 12:22 PM #17

I'd much rather take the chance of losing a referral than annoying someone. Just my perspective. Obviously, the Buffini crowd will disagree with me vehemently! That's okay.

Hi again Jennifer,

Buffini says there are two types of referrals.  Active and passive.  He teaches active.  You prefer passive.  That's okay if that's your comfort zone right now, but here's one more little tidbit to chew on.  This is Active Rain not Passive Rain!  :) 



Jun 26, 2008 03:36 PM #18
Not Yet Licensed

Oops.  That was me.

Jun 26, 2008 03:37 PM #19
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

I have never been one to ask for referrals, since the people I know, who do, tend to come across as having ulterior motives. But I think it can be done properly. Maybe it's an art that can be perfected with practice? And maybe some people should avoid it altogether. I don't mind the little "I always have time for referrals" signatures at the end of e-mails. I think that's a gentle reminder. Although I don't do that either...  =/

Jun 26, 2008 05:03 PM #20
Hope Goss
Ventura Property Shoppe - Ventura, CA
Ventura Real Estate

I agree, it's not my style to beg and bug for referrals.  I d, however, drop hints in newsletters, postcards, etc.  Not everyone operates the same and some clients DO need a reminder, it's not their natural tendency to refer people they've done business with.

Jun 27, 2008 02:09 AM #21
Michael Cole
CPG Tours - Orange, CA

If I may, I’d like to chime-in here from a ‘client’ viewpoint.

Agents that ask me for referrals actually put me in a bit of an uncomfortable position (be it a friend, or not). I may not want to refer them, or even tell them what I really think of them as an agent.

If I worked with an agent who was just average or less, I wouldn’t refer them regardless of what they said or did. In fact, if they come across too aggressive or pushy, it would have the opposite effect on me.

However, if I work with an outstanding agent, they don’t need to ask. I would tell people about them anyway - just because of how good of a job they did. In a way, it’s kind of bragging and blowing my own horn, because I can say… ‘MY agent did such-and-such.’

I’ve actually referred agents who I’ve never even worked with, or even met in person. And I’ve referred them just because of the type of people they are. Not because they asked for anything. And Jennifer is one of them.  : )

Just my 2¢

Jun 28, 2008 03:56 AM #22
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