Any mega-producer or real estate coach will tell you the key to capturing commissions and achieving your personal financial goals is repeat and referral business… and if you want to produce a steady stream of income year after year, that’s where your focus should be too!
Now obviously clients don’t just come back on their own, and referrals don’t fall from the sky, YOU have to make it rain… this is where the concept of Referral Programming comes in.
What is “referral programming” and how does it work?
I’m so glad you asked, I’m really excited to share this with you! Referral programming is a unique combination of relationship-bonding language, engaging content, and direct response triggers that build reciprocity between you and your clients – reciprocity that you can use as fuel to generate repeat business and referrals.
In simpler terms: a strategy that gets people to think about you and refer clients.
Know, Like & Trust
As we’ve talked about in the past, it’s about getting people to “know, like and trust you”, but let’s assume the entire audience already does. Any relationship will break down over time without consistent nurture, so you need to continually remind people that you are the trusted expert in real estate, and to refer you business, without being obnoxious or overbearing.
If we dig down to the root of things, trusting is believing in the reliability, truth, ability, [and] or strength of someone or something. So really, it all comes down to 3 key components when you’re bonding with clients and trying to create enough reciprocity to generate referrals: content, language and frequency.
One of the best ways to maintain trust is by putting out content that positions you as a well-informed source of information on various topics, including – but not limited to – real estate.This conditions or ‘programs’ your audience to think of you when they have questions related to that topic.
Some examples of content that accelerates referral programming include:
- Important Updates – Covering opportunities for buyers or sellers, giving pertinent advice for navigating the real estate market, highlighting economic news, and informing of changes in lending practices will showcase your knowledge and expertise as a real estate professional.
- Articles of Interest – Sharing information that provides direct value, or is immediately beneficial to your audience is a great way to stay top of mind.
- Group Engagement – Responding to questions, posing questions, and engaging with other group members will create bonds and build reciprocity.
- Education About Referral Types – Making sure your clients know all the different ways you can serve them (and anyone they know), reminds them to send you business and usually triggers awareness of people in their life that might be in need of that specific type of service… enter the referrals!
- Appreciation & Recognition – Publicly celebrating clients who buy, sell or send you referrals is actually one of the most powerful ways to generate more business. From the reciprocity it builds between you and the clients you are recognizing, to the exposure it gives you among your own sphere – and among your client’s connections – appreciating and recognizing is the most productive relationship marketing activity you can employ.
While you always need to maintain your position as a trusted source, getting referrals is also about asking for them, and doing so in just the right way. By using language specifically curated to elicit a direct response, you are much more likely to get engagement and see referral activity from your efforts.
Look, I’m not talking about putting that infamous cookie-cutter phrase “The referral of your friends and family is the greatest compliment you can give me” on the back of your business cards. It’s about truly knowing your audience and getting creative with your approach.
Download our Referral Programming Scripts below for some examples, and use them with the following strategies to increase the amount of business you generate from your sphere:
Tie it to a Life Event
Tying your suggestion of a referral to life events creates multiple psychological triggers and increases the likelihood that people will refer you at the right time. Even when people mention the prospect of buying or selling a home to each other, it’s often already too late at that point for anyone to make a referral. Instead, psychologically tie your referral ask to the different life events that can cause people to move, like: completing education, getting married, expanding families, aging parents needing care, etc.
As we’ve discussed before, reciprocity is one of the most powerful tools in your belt but offering assistance shouldn’t be general. By being specific when you offer assistance you increase the chances someone thinks of you when they face that specific problem. Buying or Selling a home usually comes down to a lot of smaller questions along the way – focus on each of those questions, 1 by 1.
Showcase Clients You’ve Helped
We outlined above why recognizing and appreciating clients is so important but it’s also about the language you use when doing so. Always focus on either thanking or congratulating them first, but add references to the type of home and services you provided. If done correctly, it doesn’t feel like a promotion for you but subconsciously triggers people to think about situations where you’ve helped.
Success Starts with Commitment
Positioning yourself to generate referrals online is practically essential to working in real estate right now. You probably know this, but are you actually doing the things needed to be successful with it? Are you sticking to a formal plan? As with any marketing and prospecting, you need to follow a consistent strategy in order for referral programming to work – build it into your daily routine, have goals on what you want to accomplish and who you want to target, and always follow up when anyone interacts with you.
We suggest at a bare minimum, that you maintain a weekly 3 & 1 Strategy. Each week, do 3 things that maintain or build the trust your audience has in you . Then, ask for 1 referral a week using the referral programming language we’ve outlined. Essentially, choose three content items, and one language item, and do them EVERY WEEK. Referrals aren’t going to come from this activity every week, but they will come if you stay consistent. And this momentum will build on itself over time, so before you know it, you’ll only be doing referral business – yes, it’s possible!