How To Get 20 Referrals Per Year


Referrals! Everyone loves them. Why? Well, because it is a great way to get new clients. Plus when you consider that nearly 40% of buyers and sellers found their agent through referrals and nearly two thirds only interview one agent*, it’s obvious that referrals are pure gold. The real question is, how can you get more of them?

Well when it comes to something this important you don’t want to leave it up to chance. Some people think a forceful approach will get them the referrals they want. Personally that is not my style. The truth is, you don’t have to be forceful. You just need a methodical well thought out step-by-step approach.

This is what I refer to as engineering referrals, and anyone can do it, even new agents with no past clients.


The important thing to keep in mind is that, this is a long term strategy. You can get quick results. However, if you build this with people who don’t really know you too well and haven’t worked with you in the past. It can take longer for the referrals to start coming in, but they will come in. Still it is best to start with the people who know, like and trust you and build from there.

Goal Setting

Engineering referrals begins with goal setting. It is important to be reasonable in our expectations and base our projections on what is happening in the market. Experian published a stat that can give us a general idea of the opportunity.

Experian reports that nearly 1 in 5 Americans moves every year. Of course not all are buying and selling a home, but there is still a large number who are. Now let me ask you something…

Do you think that a past client or contact will either buy or sell a home themselves or know someone who does within a 5 year period?

If the answer is no, then that person is not a good prospect. If the answer is yes, then you want to add him or her to your list. We will call this list your referral group.

Your referral group does not have to be extremely large. A total group of just 100 people will give you an average of 20 referrals or direct transactions per year.

100 is a nice number to start with and it is attainable for anyone, especially real estate agents. That’s because you are probably talking to people all the time. Of course, past clients are best, but if you don’t have 100 past clients, you can still do this.  Now let’s consider how to engineer the referral.

Engineering Referrals

OK the goal is 1 referral from each person within a 5 year period. You need a referral group of 100 people to get an average of 20 referrals per year (100/5=20). Now to engineer these referrals there are 2 things we need to understand first.

1. People are more likely make a referral when they feel they are helping the person they are referring to you. Remember most of the time they will be referring friends or family, so from their prospective, it is more about helping their friends and family then helping you.

2. People may miss opportunities to refer you simply because they are unaware of how you “fit into the conversations” they have in their day to day lives.

To engineer referrals it is important to think about the conversations people have in everyday life and the thoughts that are going through their heads.

For example: Mary has a friend that is going to have a baby. She and her husband live in a small condo and are looking to move into something bigger. Mary hears the news and she is excited for her friend. They talk about a lot of things, but Mary’s friend never mentions that she is planning on moving to a bigger house. The referral opportunity is lost.

Now think about this. What if Mary recently read a post on your blog where you “planted a seed” by talking about the reasons why many families look for bigger homes when they have a baby and in the post you provide tips on how to make the home safe for children. Now when Mary talks with her friend there is a far greater likelihood that she will introduce you into the conversation. After all, what she read was very relevant and could protect her friend. This opens the door for you to get the referral.

Of course, our timing may not always be perfect, but keep in mind that we are only looking for 1 referral or transaction within a 5 year period.

The trick is to help our referral group of 100 people see the opportunities and make them feel helpful when “introducing you into the conversation”. Now that we understand what we need to do, the question is how do we do it?

Building The System

Before I go into the steps, there is 1 very important point that will make a big difference in your results. Remember you are building personal relationships here.

To be effective your referral group needs to feel that you are helping them and they should see you as a friend. Newsletters are OK, but personal messages that talk directly to the individual (not a group) work better. Keep the communication personal and the tone friendly.

Example: John, I came across a cool tip on a simple way to spruce up your landscaping. I thought about you because I know you are always looking to increase the value of your home. I thought this was a pretty easy way to do it. Take a look (link to your post here).

Talk about things that are helpful but not directly related to buying or selling real estate. In every post you want to “plant a seed” and tie it back into what you do.

For example: You can create a post on highlighting a simple way or cool trick to spruce up the landscaping. In the post you mention that it will help increase the value of the home and make it easier to sell when the time comes. You also “plant a seed” by mentioning some people love fixing up homes and sell their homes when they don’t have anything left to do.

With that said, here is how to build the system.

Step 1: Identify all the top reasons why people move. This is going to help make your referral group aware of the opportunities they come across where they can “introduce you into their conversations”, in their daily lives.

Step 2: Write at least 1 post for each reason. These don’t have to be long. A lot of times a few short sentences and a video embedded from YouTube will work great. The important thing is to be informative and helpful. Think quick tips.

Step 3: Write a short email for each post. Keep in mind that email is a personal form of communication. Keep the email short and personal. Cold formal emails are not going to work as well as friendly, personal emails. Write like you are speaking to a close friend then share a link to your post. Be sure to tell them why they should click the link and read the post.

Step 4: Create an email campaign that will automatically send out emails sequentially at a rate of 1 email every couple weeks or 2 emails per month. This way, all you need is about 24 posts and short emails and the system can take care of things for the whole year. Keeping them short and personal will help keep your readers engaged.

Step 5: Make sure to get their permission before emailing them. Spamming people will backfire on you. It is easier to ask. Just let them know you put together some really great tips that you would like to send to them.

That’s it. Once you complete those 5 steps you will have a killer system that will follow up on your contacts and past clients for a whole year. Just be sure to keep adding content to the system, so that it will cover the entire 5 year period and beyond.

As you meet new qualified people, add them to the system. Over time you can easily build your referral group to a 1,000 or more.

One final tip. If you add in a few personal touches like a phone call every few months, you will increase the effectiveness of the system. However, don’t be surprised if the referrals keep you too busy to do it :) .



*Stats taken from 2012 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

*Image by thetaxhaven

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field