How and why, you should build up a referral program

Referrals. We all love getting them, especially when they are valid. Think about it, someone has just done your work for you and sent you over a qualified lead! It's fantastic. However, the reality is, that the only times you will receive referrals is when the referrer genuinely cares about the person they are referring, or there is something in it for them (generally a reward for referring a buyer) 

In saying that, it is amazing how little current agents establish a referral system in order to build up cliental. With further validation now available that reviews hold power, and do work, how can you get people to start sharing your listings?

Remember, that a person is much more likely to trust and take serious a referral that comes from someone they know. Think about it, that person knows their personalities, what is important to them, and has a clear picture about their needs and wants. You as an agent are dealing with prospective buyers as blank canvases. Therefore, start using referrals to build up your network.

Here's how:

Find the influencers:

When you think about who you would ask for a referral from, chances are it is the sellers who have had a good experience with you. However, it's also important to remember that you need to have people refer your services who have influence. There is no point in getting 100 happy sellers to talk about how great your service was if they have no extended network, or all of their friends live in Sydney and will never require your services. Therefore, start to get testimonials from the influencers. You want referrals from influencers. Influencers are the people who:

  • Have social clout
  • Are respected in their chosen professions
  • Are respected in their opinions on property
  • Have experienced your services and can compare it to others.
  • Are passionate
  • Can validate your services over competing agents. 

Give people a reason to refer: 

Imagine I said to you, I want you to get 100 people to sign up to my new loyalty program. I won't pay you, but I want them on my loyalty program so I can market to them. Chances are you would say, do it yourself. 

You need to give people a reason to refer others to your services. Now, if people have had a great experience, received more than they expected at auction etc. Then there is a strong chance that they will refer your services, purely because of the delight they have experienced. It is imperative you follow up with these people. It's amazing how many people have good referrals go begging from clients who are happy with your service, you just never asked!

However, sometimes you need to actually give people a reason to refer. 

Some suggestions on what you can incentivise people with if they refer your services are:

  • Money
  • Discounts to future services
  • Gifts for the home
  • A discounted fee for the person who engages the service next (if you can save your friend $5,000 you will feel great about yourself)

If you implement a referral program, you will need multiple channels to have people find out about it. The channels may be your eDMs, social media, letter box drops, etc. Here you need to provide a strong call to action. The best call to action referral headings generally include:

To get people to refer, you need a compelling call to action. Subject lines such as;

Save big dollars on your next home sale

Help your friends find a home and make $$

Do you know what types of homes your friends are looking for?

All of these will entice consumers to respond. Explain really clearly what they are able to win or get by referring people to you. It's important that you state to people what they will be getting out of referring clients to you. One of the main reasons people refer people is to help, but also because they know they can win something. It's also important that when asking for people to refer business to you, you also explain that you can help them. By building a relationship up with the referee, you are essentially doubling your marketing reach. If they do connect you to someone, you can establish two profiles, one for someone looking, and one for someone who is most likely very knowledgable of the market.

Your prospective clients are out there, and chances are, that if you can't get to them directly, you can get someone to connect you. Reach out to people and explain the benefits of them referring prospects to you. You will be amazed when you ask for help the amount of people that are willing to connect you.

About the Authors:

Rocky Bartolotto

Rocky Bartolotto is the National Sales Director for - Rocky's extensive experience in introducing new product offerings to the market and client management abilities makes him one of the most knowledgeable property specialists in the country. 

In addition to his time working in the online space, Bartolotto is also one of Sydney’s top auctioneers, with over 4000 auctions performed through his business Auction Services.

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Todd Schulberg

Todd Schulberg handles all things marketing for Homely. Living and breathing property, Todd has a keen interest in the movements in the market and how agents can utilise new tools and technology in order to be more connected. Using all things social, Todd suggests different ways that agents can engage and think outside the square with their marketing approach. 


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