It’s no secret that getting past clients to refer you to potential new leads is one of the best ways to expand your business as a real estate agent. Being able to form a personal connection with these new prospects right off the bat – based on your shared connections – makes it much more likely that you’ll eventually go on to work together, leading to a commission for you and a sold house for your new leads.
But what if your past clients ask that you not mention their names when approaching a potential new contact? This is what’s known as a “blind referral,” and it poses some serious challenges to your ability to convert new leads into clients.
The biggest issue with blind referrals is that you lose the instant credibility that you’d otherwise gain by being able to “name drop” your relationship with your mutual contacts. Because of this trust gap, you’re forced to approach the door with a more creative introduction – like, “A little birdy told me you were thinking about making a move…”
When you’re dealing with blind referrals, you’ve got two options for maintaining confidentiality:
In this second option, you’d approach the prospect, introduce yourself and then break the ice with something to the effect of:
“Somehow – and I’m not sure exactly how – I ended up with your information on my desk that you might be looking to sell your home soon. I didn’t know how else to find out how I can help…except to just come knock on your door and introduce myself…”
Or, if you don’t want to fumble around with this type of “he said, she said,” you can always treat the referral as a completely coincidental contact. Instead of making any mention of your relationship with the referrer, you’d use something like my “Hot Market Script” and make your pitch based on the strengths of the market in your area – not on the relationship you have with the referrer.
Of course, both of these options present a major challenge. What do you do if the prospect lies and tells you that they aren’t interested in moving? If the prospect shuts the door in your face, you can’t go back and say, “I’m just kidding – your friend Bob sent me,” without damaging the trust between you even further.
Instead, a far better approach is to ask the one referring you why it’s important to them for the referral to be blind. In 99% of cases, you’ll hear something to the effect of, “Well, I didn’t want to offend the person…” or “I didn’t want to step on any toes…” Basically, most prospects are afraid that use the names they mentioned to badger their friends into working with you – creating unnecessary tension in their relationships.
In these cases, explain to your existing clients that you won’t be rude or obnoxious to any referrals they offer you. Instead, tell your clients that you recognize how significant is the decision their friends are making and that your only goal is to help them to navigate the market successfully.
You can even let this mindset slip into any conversations you have with these referrals. Since you know your clients were reluctant to share their friends’ contact details, approach new prospects with something like, “I hope I’m not out of bounds here – Tim was reluctant to give me your name at all – but I wanted to reach out and see how I can help you to make your move go as smoothly as possible.”
Regardless of how you hedge your referrals, the important thing is that you get your existing clients’ permission to name drop. Without this crucial piece of information, the odds that you’ll be able to successfully convert referred leads into new prospects go down significantly! So always work to build trust with the people in your Personal Circle, so that they know they can trust you with their referrals and that you will make sure that both they and their friends will be glad they referred you.