Selling Soulfully with Jennifer Allan


You Gotta Ask for What You Want, Right? Eh... not always


On one of my recent (featured - thank you!) blogs about referral-begging, the comment was made "If you don't ask, you don't get" in relation to calling up your sphere of influence (or even strangers) and asking if they know anyone to refer to you. In case you don't already know my opinion on the matter, I think that's a really stupid way to prospect.

As Dave Ramsey sez, "Hope I wasn't unclear."

Of course it's true that in many situations, you must ask for what you want to have any chance of getting what you want. If you would like a discount on a computer at Best Buy, you'll have to ask for one. If you'd like fries with your Big Mac, you'll have to ask for them. If you'd like a nicer office, you'll probably have to ask for it.

But when it comes to inspiring people to send business your way - it's a whole 'nother thing. You're "asking" people to think highly enough of you to entrust their precious referral business to you - and as we all know, referrals can backfire on the referrer if they don't go well. Therefore, it's important that you exude an air of success and confidence, which does NOT involve asking / begging / bribing or obligating for business.

Blah Blah Blah - if you've been around here any time at all, you already know how I feel about asking for business. Don't.

But here's the thing. You absolutely CAN inspire the people you know and the people you meet to send business your way without ever asking / begging / bribing or obligating them.


Well, let's go back to Referral-Begging 101. We're taught a variety of scripts to Beg for Referrals from our spheres of influence. How about these gems?

  • "Do you know anyone who needs to buy or sell real estate?"
  • "Do you know anyone moving to my area who could use my services?"
  • "I build my business by referral; will you please keep me in mind if you hear of anyone buying or selling?"
  • "I'm never too busy for your referrals."
  • "I'm always looking for referrals, so would you mind taking a few of my business cards?"

So, Jennifer, um, I don't get it. What's wrong with these scripts?

Say each of them out loud. What message are your words sending to your audience?

More tomorrow!



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Comment balloon 19 commentsJennifer Allan-Hagedorn • September 08 2010 07:22AM


Hi Jennifer, great blog post.  What I hear in those sentences is desperation, coming from a place of scarcity.  I would much rather call a past client and ask how there home is, how they are, etc, than ask for a referral.  Most of our past clients don't think twice when they hear of somebody that could use our services.  Have a great day!

Your friends in Fort Wayne

The Christiansen Team

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) over 9 years ago

Jennifer, I always thought I was crazy because all those scripts do sound like the words of a desperate person.  I'll stay tuned!

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) over 9 years ago

Have you ever met an insurance salesman who left without asking for a referral?

Thanks for your encouragement.


Sonny Landau

Saint Louis Painting


Have a WONDERFUL DAY and thanks again.

Posted by Sonny Landau (St Louis Home Improvement and Painting Companies) over 9 years ago


I'm in agreement with your statement about calling or writing people with the sole purpose of asking for referrals even though most sales systems suggest you do so.

How about at the end of a conversation or the last paragraph of a personalized note, Oh by the way, I'm never to busy to help you or your referrals when needed. Borrowed that from Brian Buffini but I think it's a non intrusive way to offer services as kind of a passing thought while still putting the thought in your clients mind.

Do you find unless it's opportune timing most of our clients don't need our services frequently enough to have us be at the fore front of their mind when referral opportunities are presented to them even if we do stay in touch on a monthly or quarterly basis?

all the best,


Posted by Herb Johnson (Access Capital) over 9 years ago


You made a strong good point that Always Works ... Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by Troy Funk, Broker / Associate (Allison James Estates & Homes, Sarasota 941-957-3737) over 9 years ago

I sorta think that constantly reminding friends that we need referrals is also insulting to the friends.  They all KNOW we are in the referral business.  The BEST way to get referrals is to provide the absolute best service you can to your existing clients, and then stay in touch with them - as a friend, not a referral beggar.  Ick!

Posted by Melissa Brown, Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale (Helen Adams Realty) over 9 years ago

Good morning Jennifer,

Great post!! Of course the BEST way to get referrals is to provide SUPERIOR service but you have to educate them into understanding your business is based on referrals..turn those raving fans into referrals!! If you don't ask you can't receive!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) over 9 years ago

Dorie - I believe you can educate people as to how you work without asking for business and risking your credibility with them. Stay tuned for more!

Melissa - Oooh, I hadn't thought of that angle! Good point!

Troy - You're very welcome.

Herb - You raise a couple of issues that I'm actually writing more about as we speak. First, the "I'm never too busy" just doesn't ring true for me. It still sounds kinda whiney and desperate to my ear AND, probably more important, is overused at this point and therefore meaningless. As to your second question about frequency... stay tuned!

Sonny - Nope. So, I tend to avoid insurance salespeople because I SO dislike being asked for business and referrals!

Laura - BINGO.

Christianson Team - DITTO BINGO

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago

I can't imagine saying any of those things to my SOI.  It would come off as not being me, a.k.a., scripted.  That being said, it is also too easy to slip into the other extreme of never talking about your business with your SOI, so very few actually know what you do.  The key, in my mind, is to find meaningful ways to stay in touch with my SOI and show how I do business and how I can help them (and their friends and family) to navigate through real estate. 

Posted by Tanya Nouwens, Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager (RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) INC. / Tanya Nouwens Inc. over 9 years ago

@JA - I never like the "Oh, by the ways".... That's almost speak the loudest to me, at least. You know how I feel and act on this subject.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co.) over 9 years ago

"please please please please send me business" I am on my knees!

Do your job well, and stay in touch and the referrals will come.. You do not have to beg, you just need to be the expert, the "go-to" guy/gal with the answers.

And treat everyone the same... as if you were doing the deal for yourself or for family.

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 9 years ago

None of those questions sit comfortably with me.  I would feel sooo stupid asking them.  Referrals will come after if the referrer trusts you and knows you.  Great post as usual :)!

Posted by Brenda Mullen, Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!! (RE/MAX Access) over 9 years ago

All those "scripty" things just don't come out of my mouth right.... If you just do a wonderful job and people love you when it is over, they send their friends and family to you! 

PS - Our local library has "The Go-Giver" as a downloadable book.  Getting it tomorrow!

Posted by Eileen Liles, Macht-Liles Real Estate Group - Cedaredge, CO (970-216-0530 over 9 years ago

.......and one of these days, those people might just stop answering your calls!  

And as I am reading the above response, I re-read the Go-Giver and really forgot how much I loved it the first time around, thanks for reminding me.  So, I went out today and picked up the sequel  Go-Givers Sell More.  Equally awesome!  I have a feeling you are going to put together a really great series on this!!!! 

Posted by Christine Pappas - REALTOR®, eXp Realty - Because Experience Matters (eXp Realty) over 9 years ago

Christine - I think you'll enjoy the Sell More book even more!

Eileen - That is correct. Not the whole story, but the most important part - doing a great job!

Brenda - I know what you mean! I'd probably giggle and roll my eyes if I ever tried to say those words...

Robert - Okay, so you just wrote my follow-up blog... that's exactly it.

Loreena - Yeah, the OBTW was kinda cute at first, but once it was trademarked, it loses some of its casualness, y'know!?

Tanya - it's a fine line, but once you get it (and I know you do), it's effortless, truly! And, if you're with someone and it doesn't feel right to talk about real estate, it ISN'T right. Trust that feeling and talk about something else!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago

More thoughts on the matter here!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago

We do have a tendency to think a like some times, dont we?

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 9 years ago

We get many emails from other agents with the ...Oh by the way, I'm never to busy to help you or your referrals when needed." and it doesn't sound or feel right for us personally. Our clients know us, trust us and refer us without the begging asking - not that feels right.

Posted by Lee & Carol Barbour, REALTORS, Mountain Living Team in Murphy NC and North GA (Murphy and Hayesville, NC; Hiawassee, Blairsville, Blue Ridge GA and Copperhill TN) over 9 years ago

I just spent 7 weeks taking a training course that taught us to ask for business from everyone I know.  Then I read Networking Like a Pro, and was taught to help others and they will help you in return, without me ever having to ask.  I think this newest method would work best...

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) over 9 years ago

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