Posts Tagged ‘Referral-Begging’

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Okay, so if you’ve been around SWS any time at all, you know how we feel about Referral-Begging. Don’t do it. Ever. Just don’t. Ever.

But, but, but…

Yeah, I’ve heard all the but but buts. No need to reiterate them here. (But feel free to search the Referral-Begging tag cloud over there on the right.)

Here’s the thing. If you aren’t enjoying a referral-based business, I promise you, I swear to you, I give you my solemn oath on a stack of Sell with Souls that it is NOT because you aren’t asking for them.

So, um, Ms. Smarty Pantz JAH, why is it so, then? WHY am I not getting the referrals I so fervently desire?

I dunno.

(Real helpful, right?)

No seriously, I don’t know why YOU aren’t getting the referrals you want, but here are some far more likely reasons a real estate agent might not get a steady stream of referrals than a lack of asking for them:

1. He doesn’t know enough people to generate enough referrals to live on (shoot for at least 200);

2. She doesn’t stay in touch with the people she does know on a reasonably regular basis (and rest assured that doesn’t mean every 35 seconds);

3. His stay-in-touch materials are cheesy, predictable, unmemorable and/or boring (aka Dorky)

4. She doesn’t provide refer-worthy service, but rather focuses on prospecting for new clients;

5. His friends know him primarily as a party animal, career-switcher or just a generally likeable but flaky guy;

6.She pesters her friends constantly with reminders to send her referrals which a) annoys them thus inspiring them to avoid her and b) makes them wonder why she’s so desperate.

Of course there are those who protest, saying “But I’ve always asked for referrals and I’ve always gotten them!” And if that’s the case, keep it up if you choose.

But I will challenge you to consider this: How many MORE referrals might you get if you do NOT ask for them? Because I’ll bet you that the referrals you’ve gotten you’d have gotten anyway, without asking for them… but maybe, just maybe your Referral-Begging strategy has pushed people away who otherwise would have been happy to refer…?



posted by on Jennifer's Best, Prospecting & SOI

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.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I got a facial the other day. Some fancy schmantzy European Spa Facial with a massage. Yummy. It was really good. And, I swear, I look ten years younger.

So, I’m lying there trying to enjoy being cleansed, exfoliated, moisturized and massaged. Yet, I’m tense. I’m waiting for the … facial-ist(?)… to ask me if I’d be willing to send her referrals. Maybe I just have referral fever on my mind ‘cause I’ve written about it so much lately, but I was truly upset about it! Seriously, I could hardly relax preparing myself for the inevitable sales pitch.

I pondered this behind my moisturizing mask. Why was I so opposed to her asking me for referrals? Not because I wouldn’t refer her – she was definitely refer-worthy, and I was actually kind of excited about handing out her business card to my friends.

But I wanted to refer her on my OWN terms, not because she asked me to! I wanted to surprise her with my referrals. I like thinking that this wonderful facial-ist doesn’t desperately NEED my referrals; but she would certainly appreciate them, as one professional to another.

This story has a happy ending – she did not try to sell me anything – not an expensive cleanser or moisturizer or serum; nor did she beg me for my future business or referrals. And… I grabbed a handful of her cards on the way out!

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I learn a lot at nail shops. Weird, I know, but every time I get my toenails polished, I come away with a new revelation or epiphany. Must be some way to claim my mani’s/pedi’s as a tax deduction.

So, yesterday, I had about 45 minutes to kill before my next appointment. I needed a manicure and saw a cute little nail shop, so I popped in for abeg quickie (manicure, that is).

As those of you who get regular manicures know, before your nails get polished, you have to go wash your hands to get off all the chemicals and lotions that the technician has been using on your fingers.

So, I obediently go to the wash sink and what do I see taped on the mirror? A tasteful sign that said “We can’t accept tips on your credit card, please consider using cash or check.” Or something like that.

Was I annoyed at this gentle reminder to tip? Not really! They weren’t asking for a tip, they were just assuming I would tip and were kindly letting me know how to do it.

Hmmmmm. My mind immediately started looking for a connection to real estate. Wasn’t hard to come up with one.

I’m adamantly opposed to begging for referrals. (Begging = Asking, Bribing, Reminding, etc.). It’s unprofessional, it’s unnecessary and it makes the beggar look desperate. Many disagree with me and that’s certainly their prerogative, but you won’t talk me out of this opinion (and many have tried).

But anyway, what if…  instead of begging… we ASSUME our friends and clients will refer to us and simply let them know the best way to do so, if they’re so inclined? Maybe it’s as simple as casually saying something like: “If you ever send any of your friends my way, tell them to use my direct line so they’ll reach me quicker.” Or “If you send any referrals my way, be sure to give them my website address so they can check me out ahead of time.”

Compare that attitude to: “I {heart} Referrals!” or “By the Way, do you know anyone who needs a real estate agent?” or “I’m never too busy for your referrals!” or “Send me a referral and receive a $50 Starbucks gift card!”

Which sounds more confident… and professional?

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Yesterday I promised to follow up on my blog “You Gotta Ask for What You Want, Right? Eh, not always.”

I ended the blog with the assignment to read thru some of the more popular Referral-Begging scripts, and then say them out loud. To refresh your memory, here they are:

  • “Do you know anyone who needs to buy or sell real estate?”
  • “Do you know anyone moving to my area who could use my services?”
  • “I build my business by referral; will you please keep me in mind if you hear of anyone buying or selling?”
  • “I’m never too busy for your referrals.”
  • “I’m always looking for referrals, so would you mind taking a few of my business cards?”

When you say these words out loud, what message are you sending to your audience?

Several commenters nailed it. When you beg for business you sound desperate, hungry and unsuccessful. Definitely not emotions you want to inspire in your audience. People don’t hire and refer out of pity; they hire and refer out of respect.

But it goes deeper than that.

Did you notice how all these scripts are all about YOU (as in, the person saying the scripts)? All about what YOU need and want?

There’s nothing in these scripts that leads your audience to believe you have anything of value for them; you aren’t assuring them of your competence, of your expertise, of your work ethic. You aren’t telling them with your words or tone or even your body language that you are capable of Taking Great Care of Them and Their Referrals. No, you’re simply telling them with your words, your tone and your body language that you Need Their Business and Referrals.

So, how could you let the people you know and the people you meet know that you’ll “take great care of their business” as opposed to you just “need their business?”

And, no, the answer probably isn’t telling them “I’ll take great care of your business, I promise!”

posted by on Prospecting & SOI


On one of my recent (featured – thank you!) blogs about referral-begging, the comment was made “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” in relation to calling up your sphere of influence (or even strangers) and asking if they know anyone to refer to you. In case you don’t already know my opinion on the matter, I think that’s a really stupid way to prospect.

As Dave Ramsey sez, “Hope I wasn’t unclear.”

Of course it’s true that in many situations, you must ask for what you want to have any chance of getting what you want. If you would like a discount on a computer at Best Buy, you’ll have to ask for one. If you’d like fries with your Big Mac, you’ll have to ask for them. If you’d like a nicer office, you’ll probably have to ask for it.

But when it comes to inspiring people to send business your way – it’s a whole ‘nother thing. You’re “asking” people to think highly enough of you to entrust their precious referral business to you – and as we all know, referrals can backfire on the referrer if they don’t go well. Therefore, it’s important that you exude an air of success and confidence, which does NOT involve asking / begging / bribing or obligating for business.

Blah Blah Blah – if you’ve been around here any time at all, you already know how I feel about asking for business. Don’t.

But here’s the thing. You absolutely CAN inspire the people you know and the people you meet to send business your way without ever asking / begging / bribing or obligating them.


Well, let’s go back to Referral-Begging 101. We’re taught a variety of scripts to Beg for Referrals from our spheres of influence. How about these gems?

  • “Do you know anyone who needs to buy or sell real estate?”
  • “Do you know anyone moving to my area who could use my services?”
  • “I build my business by referral; will you please keep me in mind if you hear of anyone buying or selling?”
  • “I’m never too busy for your referrals.”
  • “I’m always looking for referrals, so would you mind taking a few of my business cards?”

So, Jennifer, um, I don’t get it. What’s wrong with these scripts?

Say each of them out loud. What message are your words sending to your audience?

More tomorrow!



posted by on Prospecting & SOI

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?

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

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…