A Modern Approach To Working by Referrals (Part 1)






Welcome to The B-Word, the podcast for women in real estate who want to unlock the clarity needed to put your big girl panties on and rock your career like the true boss you are. I'm Joanne Bolt, your host, and together we'll dive into the things your broker doesn't teach you in order to own your own path, disown the things getting in the way to finding your place, and stop apologizing for the obstacles you had to overcome along the way. If you're ready to stop playing small and take action in your professional life, this is the place for you.

Joanne Bolt

Well, hello there friends, and welcome back to another episode of The B-Word. I wanted to check in and see how you're doing, because I know for a lot of you, 2022 isn't going quite how you had anticipated and you're having to shift your perspective. So that got me thinking about one of the main building blocks that I believe every entrepreneur needs to focus on. Building and maintaining your referrals. It is so important to your business. The problem is you may be stuck in outdated and old-fashioned ways of looking at referrals, most likely because you've been taught outdated and old fashioned ways of looking at how your referrals are, or you're not maintaining that database in a really good and efficient way. Ooh, database. I said a dirty word to most of y'all and I know that because most of y'all are using Excel spreadsheets. It's time to get into CRM folks. It's time to start treating that database like what it is, a money-making machine. And it's time to start diving into referrals.

So I'm going to give you a three-part series on the modern approach to referrals that you can implement into your business right away. In fact, go ahead and make sure if you haven't already, hit the subscribe button on the platform player you're listening to this podcast on because since this is a three-part series, you don't want to miss out on the next two, as soon as they drop. And in episode number 50, I will be giving away a freebie for you with the top five ways I personally tag my database to manage my referrals. But for today, let's break this referral thing down and start at the beginning. Just what in the forking shirtballs is a referral and how do you get them?

Simply put, a referral is a piece of business that comes to you from somewhere else. It is not one you necessarily had to advertise for, pay for, and it really shouldn't be one you have to beg for. I guarantee that 80% or more of you listening right now think that a referral is a piece of business that comes because one of your friends, families, or past clients want to support you in your career. Right? Wrong my friends. A referral comes because the person giving the referral sees a pain point from one of their friends, family, or colleagues, and they want to help solve a problem. It's really one of those phenomenons of being a human being, but we love to help others. So when we are presented with the opportunity to do so, we tend to jump in with both feet and full force into the opportunity. Okay, let's unpack this with an example. You know I love examples.

Let's imagine that your past client, Betty, my ideal client Avatar's name is Betty. So I'll go ahead and pull her into this example. Betty is having a cocktail with her friend, Allison. And Allison casually mentions to Betty, "Hey, I think I may need to sell my home. It is getting way too big for me and Bill and I'm really tired of having to clean all of those bedrooms." So Betty immediately realizes that Allison has a pain point. She needs to sell her home. Thus, she needs someone to help her. And Betty pipes in with, "Oh my God, Allison, I know the best agent for you. Her name is XYZ agent." Obviously we want this to be you if you're a real estate agent, but go with the flow with me here.

Now, Betty has just given you the real estate agent, a referral. And in your mind you immediately think, "Oh my God Betty, thank you so much. Allison's going to be my client. This is amazing." Boom. The referral's been initiated, but the reality is Betty didn't give that referral to you to help your business. She gave it to Allison to help Allison's pain point. And when you realize it's all about that client experience, you can start the mind shift into coming into the modern age of referral strategies.

So understand this, your job as an entrepreneurial is not to get the referral. It's to create an environment in your work world where your friends, family, past clients, and sphere of influence only think of you when presented with someone else's pain point that you can solve. And this concept is true for anyone listening out there, not just real estate agents. I know I give a lot of examples of real estate agents because well, I do hang my license with EXP, but the truth of the matter is any one of you needs to listen in and hone in on this. I'll give you another example.

If you own a store at the local shopping center where you sell amazing home decor and someone else needs to maybe redecorate. They need a new light fixture or one of those little poof things that goes in the living room to make it warm and cozy for your kids to sit on. They need their area more appealing. If someone were asking me, "Ugh, I hate my light fixtures. I really need to update them." And I recognize that their pain point is they don't know where to go get a new light fixture that will look really modern and really good in their home. And I say, "Hey, go to Pine and Pigment down the street. They do great work there. They give great customer service and their stuff is always amazing." That's a referral people. So you just need to get to the point where you are the only person in your industry that people point to when someone else needs a solution.

In the not so modern era, you were probably taught in the past that in order to find those people and get the referrals you needed to send out a million email newsletters, postcards offering sales and discounts, or freebies like a home valuation. Which if you are a real estate agent listening to this, please don't send those out anymore. Your clients are just going to go on Zillow anyway, and then we know that Zillow is wrong, but they're going to question you as to why your home valuation that you give when you show up is different from the Zillow's estimate. But I digress. I would wager that some of those outdated ways actually still do work when coupled with more modern-day techniques and people will respond to them, because they'll be seeing both the outdated methods and the new methods. And the combination of that is really going to be powerful for you.

But I'm here today to talk about the modern stuff, so let's dive in to technique number one. Make it all about them. I know, I know. You mentally just sat back and thought, "No shit, Sherlock. It already is about them. Duh!" But I doubt that. I doubt you even realize it's not really focused on them.

Let's take a sneak peek at some of the ways you are not centering on your client, your referrals. I'm going to abuse the real estate industry here for a moment, because again, I am one. What do your social media post portray about you? If you were to look at them from a non-realtor perspective, would you agree that just closed, just listed, just sold, or I just won this award in my office type of post is really more about you than the potential client? I mean, yeah, we tag our clients in them. We take a photo with our clients at the closing table and pretend that this is about them and their closing day. What that really is though, is a pat on your own back to try to let others know how successful you are on your social media. That is not making a referral-based system about them. That's making about you. "Hey, give me the referral because I'm so good. I'm so successful."

Did you give your client a closing gift at the table that's branded to you? This is one of my all time favorite ones to discuss and you all know how I feel about closing gifts. Absolutely hate them because what other industry besides real estate gives them? Again, I digress, but you gave them a gift. It could even be a wine bottle, a wine bottle opener. It could be something really amazeballs, but you went and took the time to brand it. Well, guess what? You thought that that's what you should be doing because someone somewhere along the way said you should always brand your stuff, but pumpkin, let me shoot it straight with you. If you're branding it, then the gift isn't about them. It's about you and your need to stay top of mind.

So instead, I would encourage you to consider dropping by their home the week after closing with a nice bottle of wine to say, "Congrats on finally moving in." Or ordering pizza and Gatorades on moving day so the movers aren't tired, hot and cranky. Your clients will appreciate that because refreshed movers tend to break less stuff. And the best client experiences are ones where you show up in ways they don't expect and make them feel appreciated and valued by you.

I'll go back to that home store example I gave earlier. If you're the homeowner of that store and someone comes in because they want new light fixtures and then they order a whole bunch of stuff from you for their home. What if you gave personal service by showing up and helping them hang that picture that they ordered in the perfect spot of their living room? What if you offered to come help them take all those knickknacks that they just bought for their bookshelves and arrange them in a great way to catch the eyes of everyone entering the room? They may not take you up on your service offer, but because you offered, they will remember that. And that may be the reason they refer you in the future. And you didn't even think about it in a referral sense, you were literally just making the experience of being in your store about them and not you.

I believe that starting today, by the way, you should fine-tune all of your social media accounts so that your content is less aggressive about your business, and more on the fun and value adding items will prompt your followers to give those referrals. Your content created, where they feel appreciated and valued as people. Because when the content is about something they find interested and not about a pinch potential sale, they're more likely to follow it and watch it. And the more they follow it and watch it, the more you are actually top of mind. So you're the person they think about when they need to answer someone else's pain point. Shift that content to where they want to tune in and see, because it's something that's on their mind. It's something that they are interested at.

Maybe you are a restaurant owner and you do a series on making a fantastic charcuterie board. And then you offer a, "Hey, Friday night, I'm going to give a class on making a charcuterie board. You just have to make a reservation and come in." Now you did that content to get the people into your store. But the after effect of that is, if you give a great charcuterie board making class and people really enjoy that experience with you, they're more likely to recommend your restaurant out to their friends and their family when those friends and family think, "Oh my gosh, I really need a new water and hold to go have a cocktail at." And so you did that, not actually to create the sales, but to gain the referral experience.

Now here's a pro tip for making the modern referral approach all about the potential person. Instead of writing a thank you card to drop in the mail when someone purchases something from you or engages in your company, slide into their DMs with a video. I know, I know, I just scared half of you off yet again. This does mean showing your face and letting them hear your voice. And don't do one of those can thank you videos. It's obviously pre-recorded. Oh, hell no. Do it as soon as you realize the referral has been made and I mean ASAP. Like if the referee calls you and says, "Hey, Betty referred me to you for XYZ services," you talk to Allison, hang the phone up, and immediately go and record a video for Betty in her DMs so that she knows immediately that it's happened. She gets that instant gratification and she hears your voice and sees your face. And she knows the emotion you've got behind that thank you.

Here's a really simple script. "Oh my forking shirtballs, Betty. I just chatted with your friend Allison and she is so sweet. Thank you for sending her my way. I will do my very best to assist her in her home sale." Now you would insert whatever your profession is, of course, and whatever pain point it is that you're solving, but you get the idea of the easy and quick videos. Don't worry about your makeup. Don't worry that there's dogs barking in the background. Just get the video done because that shows the person that you really do appreciate it. Easy peasy. Right? Well, okay, so this is the part where you nod your head and make a mental note to get a travel size ring light to attach to your phone so that maybe that thank you video is a little bit brighter and better looking, it would've been otherwise. Okay.

Let's chat about modern technique number two, develop real relationships. Once again, I will happily acknowledge that you're rolling your eyes in a duh Joe motion, but hear me out please. Do people know the real you or do they only know the business you? Do they only interact with you when they have something to attend like a client appreciation party, or when you sponsor the local football team's first game of the season? You need to stop thinking of taking your referral sources out for a cup of coffee or Coca-Cola at lunchtime or a cocktail as a reason in time to thank them for the business. And instead, take them out and talk about what's important to them. What's going on in their life? How are their spouse's jobs? Are the kids going off to college? What is their next vacation going to be? Where could they recommend to you to take a vacation? Heck, don't talk business at all. I know that is directly undoing every threat about referrals you've ever heard, but don't talk about business. Show them the personable side to you and that you care about them as a person. That's what makes people resonate with you, makes them build relationships with you, and it makes you be who they think of when their other friends have a pain point that needs your service.

If you aren't convinced by now that you need to showcase your authentic and human side to create a real relationship, then take a look at some recent shifts and commercials we're seeing. Chick-fil-A, if you're familiar with that company, they're huge here in the Atlanta area, they sell chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets, heck chicken everything. And I mean, as long as 20 years ago when I was dating my husband and they threw cows into the football stadium at a game we were watching at, they kicked off this program where everything they did was eat more chicken. And they had cows as the focal point, because you got sympathy for the cow. The cow was telling you to eat the chicken. It made you go to Chick-fil-A. Pretty simple.

And the last year and a half to two years, I've really noticed that they have swapped their campaign out of as much eat more chicken, though that is still there somewhere. But in the commercials, they're showing families in living room situations, sitting on a couch, talking to the local franchise owner about things that were important to them about their local Chick-fil-A. Times their families went there after baseball practice, or when the local operator gave them a job and helped them get through college, or something that really is a little bit of a more emotional tug because Chick-fil-A ultimately now wants to be seen by you, the consumer, as personable and very human and having a real relationship with you. Not just the fun, eat more chicken strategy. Now what does that do for someone like me?

Well, if my kids are in the car or someone I'm with says, "Let's go grab a quick bite," I am likely to think Chick-fil-A because I see them. I resonate with their stuff. They're a restaurant that I really want to support because I like them. And the pain point is the person I'm talking to says, "I'm hungry. Let's go grab a quick bite to eat." A quick bite to eat means we're not going to go to a sit down restaurant. So hey, let's meet up at the local Chick-fil-A and grab some nuggets or a salad or whatever it is, a glass of sweet tea and let's sit down and chat. I've solved the pain point by taking them to Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A got real personable and became a valid restaurant to me because they shifted some of their strategies. And guess what? Referrals come from anywhere, anytime.

I know you're probably wondering, "She's talking about a fast food restaurant and referrals in the same paragraph." But think about it. Chick-fil-A, it's a business. I just referred them to the person I'm going to go eat with. The person I'm going to go eat with, may or may not have been thinking about Chick-fil-A. That's a referral guys, however you want to put it, however you want to think about it.

All right, my friends, I hope you enjoyed this quick intro to the referral series. You know I like to keep them short and sweet so you can listen to them on your next Target run or when you're sitting in the dreaded carpool line at school, which if you're anything like in the south, you're very aware that is coming up on you very, very quickly. I think we have two weeks left until school starts.

But if you love what you're hearing, be sure to follow The B-Word on your favorite listening platform. And if you plan on making referrals a solid part of your success strategy, and I hope you do, then come on over to Instagram. My Instagram handle is @itsjoannebolt, and I would love for you to DM me and tell me where you're struggling or share your success stories on referrals with me. I love to hear them and I love to chit chat with you about my off-the-cuff thoughts and processes behind how you could shift your referral strategy to really having a solid part of your business. Or better yet, come and join me in Nashville this September for the first annual Workplace Slay Conference. We're going to open up our laptops and dive into this referral piece in particular. There's nothing good as putting your thoughts into action. I'll see you Thursday for more referral goodness, same time, same place. Can't wait.