Getting Referrals from Clients 101

Getting referrals from clients can be your secret to success when you put these tips to work.

Did you know that more than 80% of all real estate transactions come from repeat and referral customers? Referrals are a powerful tool for gaining new business because business at the core is about relationships. This can be especially true in real estate and mortgages, where even just the idea of the process feels intimidating and unfamiliar to a lot of people, not just first-time home buyers. In unfamiliar territory, it helps to have a person you can trust guiding you through it. That’s where it’s good to have a shining recommendation. It takes a person from “I have no idea what I’m doing” to “Wow, I can do this.” Are you ready to learn about getting referrals from clients and how it can change your whole career? Let’s dive in.

More than 80% of all real estate transactions come from repeat and referral customers.

Word-of-mouth vs. referral

First, let’s talk about the difference between word-of-mouth and a referral. You might think they’re interchangeable, but I’d like to argue that these two terms really operate on different levels. Word-of-mouth is lip service. It’s all talk, albeit a nice compliment. A referral, on the other hand, holds weight. It yields dollars. A referral makes a difference to your bottom line.

So now you’re wondering “How do I go from one to the other?” That depends. How to go from word-of-mouth to referral depends on YOU. It’s about going from people just talking about you to them actually choosing you for your services. And the way to do that is by you strategically fostering that relationship. It’s not by accident and it usually doesn’t happen naturally. Cultivating referrals is an intentional process that takes time and effort.

Ask for referrals

It sounds simple, but don’t skip over this. You’ve got to ask. In fact, a great way to ask for referrals is right up front during your pitch. From the get-go, set the standard that this is a working relationship and part of their end of the deal will be to refer you, should you deliver on what you promised. If you’re afraid to ask, don’t be. Think about how many companies ask you to give them a review after you’ve used their services. A referral is much the same thing, but a little more direct.

At this point, it also helps to tell the client whom your target audience is. Whom are you looking to attract? “Anyone seeking a mortgage” is not a target audience. Find your niche. Do you specialize in FHA loans? Tell your clients that if they know anyone with credit challenges who may be in the market for a home soon to give you a call. Are Jumbo loans your strong suit? Be sure to ask your last client if they know anyone looking to upsize anytime soon. As a businessperson, you should know whom you’re after, and so should your referral partners.

Oh, and while you’re asking, make sure you give referrals too. While you’re finding out a little more about your clients, think of someone in your life who might benefit from the kind of work they do. If the relationship can go both ways, it pays to scratch their back for scratching yours.

Cultivate relationships

Cultivating relationships with your biggest supporters is a large part of getting referrals from clients. To start, organize and prioritize your book of business based on the strength of your relationships. A stronger relationship usually means they’ll spread the word about you more which, in turn, should lead to more connections made.

Once you’re organized, start at the top and decide to show appreciation in big and small ways. Write them a handwritten note to see how they’re doing or a thank you card for the last referral they sent your way. Personalization is key, and creativity counts. You could also switch it up and try different methods of reaching out. If you wrote a card last time, this time you might want to leave a voicemail or schedule a coffee date.

When you do get in touch with your referral partners, be sure to ask them to connect you with anyone they know who might be in need of your services. They don’t have to be someone new, but you should always be adding people to your database. Don’t let the pipeline clear completely before you start looking for new business! Be proactive, and cultivating relationships is a great way to do so.

Referrals are a powerful tool for gaining new business because business at the core is about relationships.

Add value

Any relationship—especially when we’re talking business—is a two-way street. Your referral partners provide you with the most fruitful connections you have. Don’t you think it’s fair to give them something in return? Even if they’re not asking for it, it’s nice to show you care. Show your appreciation by regularly providing them with useful and significant information. Don’t just take, take, take. Spend time finding out what kind of information would add value to their lives and then send it their way. By doing so, you’ll nurture your relationships in a major way.

Stay sharp

While you’re nurturing your referral partners, don’t forget to feed yourself. Since you’re an expert in your craft, your clients rely on your expertise. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you’re the tip of the arrow in your field. This too will take a lot of effort and dedication, but if you love what you do, it should come more naturally.

Stay sharp by always being up to date on the latest and greatest information in your field. Read books, articles, and headlines. Attend conferences, talks, and webinars. Sign up for email newsletters and follow all the social media accounts. You should be a sponge soaking up new information. If you’re always sharpening those skills and staying ahead of the competition, you’ll be more likely to impress those referrals when they come to you.

When you win, they win

No, that’s not a typo: when you win, your clients should win too. That means it’s good to celebrate once in a while and invite your key partners to the party. Host an event for your clients, even those that hardly give you any referrals. A little mix and mingle is an easy way to drum up new business because most people love a good social gathering. And a party thrown for them as a thank you for giving you referrals? Now that’s a good incentive that should keep ’em coming.

What’s your tried-and-true way of getting referrals from clients? Tell us on social media! And don’t forget to share this article on your personal channels.

About the Author

Laura is one of our blog authors. Currently living in Charm City, she's a Great Lakes native who likes salsa dancing, brews a mean cup of Joe, and reads the Chicago Manual of Style for fun. As a young first-time home buyer, Laura likes writing educational pieces that dispel mortgage myths and give helpful hints about what the home buying process is really like.