How to ask clients for referrals

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Ask any experienced real estate agent where their best source of business comes from and they will most likely reply ‘referrals’. A few clients will do this unprompted but unfortunately for a majority it won’t cross their mind, even if they are very pleased with your service.

When it comes to generating referral business you have to take matters into your own hands and make the most of your existing and past clients. After all, what better advertisement is there than a satisfied client spreading the word about their positive experience with you and your business?

The prospect of asking clients to refer business to you can seem daunting at first or just a little bit awkward. We’ve come up with some simple strategies to help you learn to successfully build up your referral business and ultimately generate more leads for the future.

Knowing what to say and when to say it

It’s never a bad time to ask a client if they know anyone looking to sell or buy. You shouldn’t be afraid to request referrals before, during or after working with a satisfied client.

According to the highest rate of referrals comes from fostering ongoing working relationships with clients that are in the process of moving.

Similar to the phenomenon when you are looking to buy a new car and you see the same model you are considering everywhere you go, when a seller is moving they also generally have a heightened awareness of other people that are looking to do the same. So it’s a good idea to ask clients to keep an ear out during conversations with family, friends and co-workers for people in need of your services and expertise.

Most agents shy away from scripts because they can sound too pushy, contrived and sales pitchy. But reported top-producing real estate practitioners learn to use scripts to effectively generate new referral business.

A crucial factor in successfully asking clients for referral business is to become familiar with a few tried and tested real estate scripts that you are comfortable and confident using. This will come down to you and your sales style as an individual. Over time through trial and error you’ll become increasingly at ease and familiar with certain lines and phrases that work well for you.

Some simple example scripts to try:

During initial meetings-

“My goal is that at the end of the marketing and selling process, you will be delighted with our service and the price you received. We want you to become an advocate of ours by sending us referrals. That’s how our business grows. We will work hard to make sure you are delighted with the process, and we have no doubt you will send us referrals.”

“I don’t make a living off any one transaction. I make my living off of your referral business. I don’t get that unless you are happy. If you’re pleased with my service, will you refer me to your friends and family?”

Short and simple: “Who else do you know that needs to move right now?”

During the sales process-

“Congratulations your loan was approved today. Now you can get ready to move. By the way, can I ask you something? You know that I have been doing a good job for you, and now that you understand how I work and the processes we use, we could use your help in referring us to other people who want to buy or sell a home. Do you know of anyone that may be in need of my services?”

“As you are in the process of moving, you will overhear a lot of conversations from different people looking to move when you’re out and about. When you do, would you mind giving them my phone number and ask them to call me?”

Generate more referrals from a referral: “It’s been really great working with you thus far, and I feel grateful to John for introducing us. I just wanted to take the time to ask you if you know anyone else that is looking to buy of sell a home, and if you would feel comfortable introducing them to me?”

After closing the deal-

“You have been so great to work with and I find that people tend to hang around similar people. I would love to work with more people like you, do you know anyone looking to move in the near future?”

“I appreciated your business, and I look forward to doing business with you again. I also would like to help any of your friends or acquaintances who may be coming onto the market or people in your neighbourhood who might be selling.”

“I want to work with more with clients like you, and I find that people looking to move know others in the same position. How would you feel about referring my services to them?”

“Working with you was a pleasure, and it’s important to me to make sure you have been happy with my service. I have built my business on customer satisfaction. How would you rate my service to you? If you have friends, relatives, or associates who need real estate assistance, would you feel comfortable referring me? Do you know of anyone I should be talking to right now?”

Strategies to boost your referral business

Building a strong referral business is very important for sourcing new leads and can sometimes be a sorely neglected form of prospecting. Good agents should be constantly looking to expand their business and referral base by having a system in place for staying in contact with valuable satisfied customers. Try building up your referral business by:

  • Adding a call for referrals to your marketing collateral. Something along the lines of “the highest compliment our customers can give us is to recommend us to a friend. We appreciate your referrals!” on your email signature, quarterly newsletter, business cards, website and brochures can work well.

  • Staying in touch and thank people for their referrals. People love to feel needed and appreciated, so when someone sends you a referral make sure you call and thank them and keep them updated throughout the sale. If you continue to show interest in past clients that send you business they’ll send you even more simply because you show that you care. You could even reward people who regularly refer you business with a small financial incentive, a house warming gift, a bottle of wine or by buying them a nice dinner.

  • Following up clients after the sale. Following up clients after your job is complete shows that you are willing to go the extra mile and will make it a lot easier to ask for referrals later on. Try calling them two to three weeks after closing and say “Hi Neil, how did the move go? Are you settling in OK? Is there anything I can do to help you? If not, I’ll call again in a month to check in”. Then a month later call back and make the request for referrals, “I know we did a great job for you and I’m hoping you will refer your neighbours and acquaintances to us. Do you know of anyone planning to buy or sell a home?”.


Remember if you don’t ask you won’t receive. You have to train satisfied clients to work for you and refer business your way by regularly reminding them to do so throughout your sales relationship. Are there any tactics or phrases you’ve used in the past to sucessfully build your referral business? Please share them below.

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Larissa Gardner
Larissa Gardner is the Marketing Manager at arguably Australia’s best looking real estate website With a superb devotion to product innovation, user-centred design and innovative marketing platforms for real estate agents, helps millions of Australians find their next home.

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