Helping people send you the type of referrals you seek

Before you launch a referral-generating effort, you need to know what you're looking for. After you know what you're looking for, you then have to let others know as well. In a sentence, you need to be able to tell your referral sources exactly what your ideal real estate prospect looks like. Include the following information:

i Moments when people become great prospects. Help your referral sources notice the signs that indicate that their friends are in the "thinking about moving" stage, because your goal is to enter the game before the transaction is already underway. Universal signs to watch for include pregnancy, recent adoption, promotion, transfer, trouble with aging parents, a recent empty nest, or trouble in a marriage or relationship.

Left to their own good intentions, many people will call to tip you off about people they've just heard are in the process of buying or selling. By the time that a mutual friend hears that someone is actively looking to buy or is in the midst of selling, it's too late. By then, the prospects probably already have an agent relationship.

i Your interest in helping people sell their homes. The standard consumer view of real estate agents is that they put people into their cars, drive them around, and sell them houses. If you don't expand this initial impression, most of your referrals will be for people seeking to buy rather than sell homes. Buyers are great clients and important sources of revenue, but the best agents build their businesses through listings. By cultivating referrals for those clients thinking about selling their homes, you'll put your business on a faster track to growth.

i Your real estate niche. If you're particularly effective at serving a specific niche of real estate clients, such as investors, seniors, younger-generation buyers, or first-time buyers, let your referral sources know. Likewise, if you want to gain more of a certain kind of buyer or seller, m you need to inform your sources about your expertise in the desired segment and what prospects in that category look like.

When communicating your market niche interests, start by sharing your overall competitive market advantage and inviting all referrals. Then explain the particular niche market expertise that you've developed and they'll think of you when they hear that their contacts have interest in your specialty area.

The point of all this guidance isn't to get your referral sources to screen leads for you. Instead, the goal is to educate your sources. Make sure they know that you still want them to recommend the names of anyone who has interest in buying or selling property. In this case, less is not more.

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