Agents should speak from their heart and not their head. Here’s how agents can show appreciation when their sphere provides referrals.

Successful real estate marketing is built on the relationships we form. One of the highest compliments an agent can receive is a past client, colleague, family member or friend sending a referral. 

Someone sharing your name and contact information with a friend or family member because they recognized your value, appreciated your hard work and trusted you to deliver the same kind of incredible experience with someone they know is no small thing. It’s everything, and it deserves thoughtful recognition.

Agents should speak from their heart and not their head, and I think in many ways, gifting and gratitude should start there as well. 

Here are 10 things to think about when thanking people for referrals. 

Come from a place of serving, not selling

One powerful differentiator that I teach is to serve, not sell. To coach, not close. 

Believe it or not, that comes through in everything you do. Every phone call, conversation, interaction and even thank-you confers your commitment. 

When you make it about them — not about you or a transaction — people can feel and connect with that sincerity in positive and meaningful ways. It also feels a whole lot more authentic for you and for them.

Don’t forget your thank-you cards

Some may think these old-fashioned in today’s “high-touch-high-tech” world. What we have seen, especially in the last few years, is that an old-fashioned handwritten note has gotten more response from past clients than some of the most intricately thought-out drip campaigns. 

Why? It’s a personal touch. It conveys that you took time, effort and energy to sit down and write a message — and it’s the opposite of automated. 

During the beginning stages of the pandemic when people were still reeling from the lack of contact and shift from in-person to virtual prospecting, showing and listing, agents told us over and over again that it was that personal touch of writing out one to five notes a day that not only brought them a tremendous response from their sphere and farm, but also made the agents feel like a million bucks to be proactive in such a personal way. 

Try it. It works. 

Having the caption ‘the best compliment I can receive is your referral’ is a bad idea 

Here’s why you shouldn’t use it in your thank-you cards, birthday cards or holiday cards. I know, I know, I started this article with basically that sentiment. 

It is a great compliment, but asking for it doesn’t belong in what should be a heart-felt card or letter as it then turns something that should be about them into an ad for you. 

In addition, if you are sending a thank-you for a referral, asking for another in that thank-you note seems a little greedy, right? 

It’s an age-old practice and I get it. I think there is nothing wrong with putting that in your regular marketing pieces, like just listed/Jjust sold cards, market update letters and newsletters. Just not in something so personal. Make sense?

Put in extra-mile effort when working with referred clients

Don’t take referrals lightly. Ever. Even more than a prospective seller or buyer you acquire on your own, a referral is a high-level responsibility to the person that gave it to you. 

Why? Because it is based on trust and that is something you should always protect in fierce and powerful ways. 

It is someone saying, here is a relationship that I have and I want to share it with you because I trust you. Man, that’s big. 

So, go the extra mile. Take care of that referral like it was your own mom or best friend. 

Make the process and transaction as smooth as possible. Communicate every step of the way. Be sure that they feel valued, appreciated and cared for – so much so that they tell the person who referred them thank you.

Keep your referrer in the loop

Speaking of communication, don’t leave out letting your referral source know how things are going from time to time. Consider a quick card, call or text to keep them in the loop such as: 

“Hey Susan, just wanted to let you know that the Jones family’s offer got accepted and we’re excited to get them through the process swiftly without any stress! Thanks so much for trusting me enough to help them get into their new home! If I can do anything for you – please know that I am always here! Thanks again!” 

It can go a long way to maintaining that trust and nurturing that relationship. Don’t worry or think you are bothering them. They will let you know if they don’t want to be informed. 

Don’t make your thanks ‘one and done’

Many agents say thanks for the referral to someone, then that’s it. They’re never to be seen or heard from again. When you consider that top producers report that 82 percent of their business comes from referrals, it’s just smart business to make these folks VIPs in your marketing plan each year. 

Make sure you are reaching out to them with “thank-yous” through the transaction and closing, of course – but also throughout the year with touchpoints such as newsletters, birthday cards and personal visits with small, memorable gifts. 

Real estate gift-giving 

I love gifts, don’t you? For a listing or buyer referral, it’s a very nice thank you. I do think there are a few things to be mindful of, however.  

A bottle of wine or box of chocolate are classic gifts, right? Well, yes, but they don’t stand out as unique or memorable and they only last until these items are consumed, then, blip, they are gone. 

Better to give something that has some shelf life so that every time they use it, they will think of you. I love the idea of things that can be personalized to their family especially, such as

  1. An engraved door knocker
  2. A charcuterie board etched with the family name
  3. Monogrammed barware
  4. A set of customized kitchen knives 

Now, we also love to help agents deliver SMILES all year around with what we call SMILE Stops — simple pop by’s to recognize clients throughout the year. SMILE is an acronym for: S-Service, M-Meet face-to-face, I-Invite them to share any questions or needs, L-Leave behind a token of gratitude and E-Elevate the relationship. 

Some of my favorites for these are:

  • Pretty potted flower plant — “Thanks for helping my business BLOOM! I appreciate you!”
  • Ice cream scoop — “Want the scoop on what’s happening in our market? I can help! I appreciate you!”
  • Pie plate WITH pie — “Any way you slice it, you’re appreciated!”
  • Rolls of wrapping paper — “Thanks for helping me wrap up the year! I appreciate you!”  

Have fun with them. Personalize them. Make them special. When you do, your clients will remember you in the best possible ways.

In-person is better

Whenever possible, give your gifts in person. Trust me, I know how easy it is to click on an Amazon link or call a florist. It’s way easier, it’s just not as memorable. 

Even if you aren’t able to buy something locally and need to order gifts online, send them to your home or office, then package them in a way that will help you stand out and make that real face-to-face connection when delivering. 

Call ahead, of course, and say something like, “Hey — I REALLY appreciate your referral and I just wanted to stop by and bring you a little something as my way of saying thank you! What would be a good time?”

Reciprocate when possible 

Savvy real estate professionals get to know what their clients do for a living or what their special interests are. Should you have the opportunity to send a business referral back to them, do it. 

In fact, actively seek out opportunities to share referrals between your network. Put people together. Make connections. 

For example, if you have a pediatrician in your referral network and you have a family that is moving into the area with small children, you can say something like, “Do you all need a referral to a great pediatrician? Let me get you a contact number.”  

Dentist? CPA? Restaurant manager? Think creatively: how can I send business or resources to my referral network? 

Even if you just engaged in that question and sent one a week, think about what that would mean to their business. Probably about the same as it means to yours. So much.

Don’t forget fellow agents

All right, this one is a doozy. I’ve heard countless stories about agents who get a referral from another agent then either think, “No problem, they will get paid a referral at closing. I’ll do the best I can but I don’t have the time.” Then that referral never heard from them again.

Listen, referring agents can be a steady stream of income for your business, but only if you gain a good reputation. That means doing much of what we talked about in this article for them as well. 

Send a card. Give great care to their referrals. Keep them in the loop. Give a small gift. Reciprocate when possible. 

Do that and develop a solid reputation for being extraordinary about how you handle referrals and guess what you will continue to get more of? You guessed it. Referrals. 

Part of developing a career worth smiling about is creating real and lasting connections with the people you work with. 

While some agents might feel like that is too much time or work, I can assure that the agents at the top of the charts in your market know exactly how many are in their referral network, work hard to stay top of mind with them and ensure that their clients feel valued and recognized and don’t lose sight of the fact that most of their business comes from referrals. 

That means they don’t have to prospect as hard for new business. They don’t have to call a for sale by owner (FSBO) or navigate an expired. 

I say they don’t have to, but I just spoke with a coaching member last week who told me that despite being at the stage of his life and career that he doesn’t have to work every day and referrals constantly come his way, he still picks up the phone and calls prospects. “It’s important to stay sharp – and skilled,” he said. I couldn’t agree more. 

Go take care of the people that will help you take care of your business – your past clients and your sphere. They are the VIPs that will help you grow your career in exceptional ways and their referrals will be the lifeblood of your business.

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