Did you know 84% of participants in a Nielsen survey(opens in a new tab) across 58 countries say a recommendation from a friend is the most trustworthy type of endorsement? That means referrals can have more power than websites, online reviews and even print or TV advertisements.
So, how can you use word-of-mouth recommendations to expand your business as a real estate agent? Start with these six tips to open the door to more referral opportunities:
1. Stay social
Do you have friends, acquaintances or family members who always seem to know at least one person everywhere they go? Consider reaching out to them as a way to expand your business.
"Identify the ‘connectors and influencers’ within your social network,” suggests Priscilla Wood Balikian, a Realtor in the San Diego area of California. “Make yourself visible to these people and showcase your talents.”
Don’t forget your colleagues either. Because as their clients may look to relocate outside of the territory they service, those clients may enter yours—providing an opportunity for your colleague to refer their client to you.
“When you have a solid reputation among your peers, you will likely have multiple opportunities to receive referrals from your colleagues,” Wood Balikian says. “This referral is a testament to your professionalism and competence.”
2. Get involved in the community
From community service and local charities to church groups and nonprofit organizations, cities across the country have countless opportunities to pay it forward. And paying it forward, especially in ways you support, can go far in building relationships that lead to new clients.
“People tend to work with people they know and trust,” Wood Balikian says. “Residential real estate is not about selling homes but rather facilitating major life transitions.”
Through chairing and hosting events in her community, the San Diego Realtor says she’s received several referrals from various sources to assist with their real estate needs.
3. Connect with local businesses
Are there businesses you use and love? Wood Balikian suggests networking with those businesses and letting them know what you do for work. Once you begin referring those businesses to your network, they may start referring their customers to you when the opportunity arises.
Wood Balikian also recommends strengthening your relationships with any lenders, bankers, business attorneys or other agents you know, as these professionals will have access to prospective buyers and sellers. Find a BB&T mortgage professional near you.(moves focus)
4. Know your clients
The deal may be said and done, but the relationship with your client never ends. To nurture that relationship for years to come, you’ll want to start from the very beginning, by gathering as much information on your clients as possible—from their birthdays to their children’s names.
Michael Kanehl, a Realtor in Vero Beach, Florida, says as the deal and relationship with his clients progress, he tries to learn more about what they like, dislike and consider to be the most important life events. “No need to force it,” he says. “The moment people feel you have a genuine interest, they will open up more and more, and share with you.”
Even after your clients are in their new home, this type of information can help you stay top of mind and position you as an agent they want to recommend to their family and friends. Wood Balikian is a great example of a Realtor who has received business by nurturing relationships with past clients, as more than 50% of her clients have recommended her to a friend or colleague.
5. Be authentic
Whether you’re checking in on a past client or in the midst of closing a deal, you should always communicate authentically with your clients. “Authenticity is the fundamental element in building a trusting relationship with your clients,” Wood Balikian says.
For example, remember you’re assisting your clients with an expensive and personal transaction, so don’t sugarcoat or gloss over significant financial factors. Keep their true budgets in mind when discussing affordability or potential repairs or upgrades they may wish to make to a property. “Your clients will note and appreciate this just as you would appreciate it in their shoes,” she says.
6. Show your appreciation
Once you’ve gained a client through a referral, remember to treat the person who referred them to you. Wood Balikian suggests a meal, spa treatment, personal note or gift.
To show your appreciation for a new client—referred or not—Kanehl advises to be creative, personal and relatable with a closing gift.
“I try to stay away from the cliché gifts as much as possible,” he says. “Instead, I’ll use the information I gathered in the foundation phase to make it as personal and impactful as possible.”
He continues: “I once had a client whose daughter showed a lot of interest in calligraphy, so I got in touch with a local calligraphy artist and arranged a private visit to her studio.”
From community involvement to networking through local businesses, there are several ways to ramp up your referral game and grow your client base. Some methods may work better for you than others, so try them all to see what’s most effective.
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