The power of recommendation for real estate professionals
- Tips & Tricks
- 3 min read
Building up an extensive repository of client recommendations is a crucial part of almost any real estate agent’s marketing strategy. Case in point: as many as 52% of sellers view online reviews and ratings of an agent or broker as “very” or “extremely” important when deciding on who to work with. In addition, online reviews – and “social proof” more generally – are especially decisive with Millennials (ages 25 to 40), who constitute 39% of first-time home buyers.
Online recommendations, however, are more than just a way for clients to learn about your performance and set their expectations accordingly. They also provide invaluable, ongoing feedback that can help you to continuously improve your services and thereby stand out from the 3+ million-strong competition.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the process of asking for recommendations, and cap it off with a quick discussion of the advantages of returning the favour – and how to do it.
Ready? 3, 2,1, go!
Laying the groundwork
Prior to asking for a recommendation, it’s best to communicate your intention of doing so to the client in advance. Broaching the subject during the very first meeting is probably not ideal, but ultimately depends on how quickly you manage to establish rapport.
Very few clients will have the motivation to leave a review unprompted, but more than ⅔ likely will if you ask them. Being upfront about it can bring additional clarity to the relationship and increase your chances of getting recommendations. In addition, it will also allow you to express appreciation for your clients’ willingness to help you out despite all the busyness of settling into a new place.
You might also want to consider adding notes in your CRM to track which clients have already given feedback and which may need a follow-up call. And don’t be shy about it – it’s a perfectly normal thing to do (and, besides, your business depends on it). Just remember to limit follow ups to no more than two, separated by an interval of about 30 days.
Choosing a suitable platform
First things first, you’ll need to pick a suitable review platform or platforms (no DIY!). While a comprehensive discussion of all the relevant criteria is beyond the scope of this article, you should keep in mind the two most important ones: 1) popularity within your area; and 2) necessity of creating an account (most people simply won’t bother doing that just to leave a review).
Popular options include Facebook, Google, Redfin, Yelp, and HomeLight. You can also use a customer satisfaction platform like Real Satisfied that makes it easier for agents to collect, respond to, manage, and use client recommendations.
Since most clients probably won’t go out of their way to write a review on more than one or two sites, it’s best to provide a handful of options and allow them to choose whichever one(s) they prefer.
Also, do reply to every review. If it’s a positive one, by replying you’ll get a chance to provide more detail about the deal and your contributions to securing it. If it’s negative, a thoughtful and measured reply that identifies a problem (and specifies a solution) will signal your maturity.
Last but not least, don’t sweat below-5-star reviews. Some people see a 5/5 rating as indicating perfection, and since no one is perfect, that rating should always be withheld. Frustrating as it may sometimes be, remember that having a high, yet not perfect rating is actually to your benefit, as most people consider that more realistic and honest.
Going for it
Once the deal is closed, you basically have four options when it comes to asking for a recommendation.
This is the most obvious and popular option. In addition to a personal thanks, you should include a direct link for submitting the review and/or provide some examples of what/how to write. Also, make sure to limit yourself to 40 characters or less in the subject line as your client might be reading it on a smartphone.
If you’re going for this option, pay attention to your client’s email address. If it’s Gmail, it’ll be easier for them to write a review on your Google My Business profile since they’re probably already logged in.
A text message will likely be seen as less formal than an email, which might be preferable with some clients. For obvious reasons, however, this option is a bit more limited. If you’re going to be soliciting reviews via email, it’s best to use a customer satisfaction platform that, for example, automatically sends a review request form along with a thank you message.
Make a friendly follow-up call and check how your client is doing. As the conversation draws to a close, gently remind them to leave a review on the platform of their choosing.
This can also be an opportunity to ask for a video review. These are quite a bit more powerful than written recommendations, which explains their growing popularity. For a video review, pick enthusiastic clients that you’ve built a good relationship with. The video itself should feature the client’s story and your place in it, as well as the client’s name, your branding materials, and your contact information.
Meeting in person gives you significantly more latitude in what you can do than indirect communication via text and phone calls. For instance, you can drop subtle hints from day one or, if you’re comfortable, just act natural and ask for a review directly.
Returning the favour
Since you’re going to be asking for recommendations, you should also be willing to give them yourself. And it’s not just out of courtesy – being a dependable source of recommendations will improve your standing with clients and other agents. The more value you’re able to provide, the stronger your brand will become and the more you’ll be able to earn.
Realthy is a depository of services that your clients might need and a platform for offers that can help you boost your professionalism. With Realthy, your clients get the goods and services they actually need, theservice provider gets a new client, and you get to further develop your reputation as a top-tier real estate professional willing to go the extra mile. It’s a win-win-win!