Credibility and trust. Selling is a relationship business and without these key elements any sales person will be struggling in the dark tryingto overcome an enormous handicap. What do you say when a potential seller or purchaser asks the key question:

Why should I do business with you?

Do you think that anyone has answered that question with the truth if the real estate agent in question does not return phone calls or is generally a poorly educated or prepared agent? The standard answer?

Because I am a great agent or —— and I will do a great job!

Think of your potential customer or client as an employer. Do you think anyone an employer interviews admits that they will show up for work late constantly and will generally perform poorly? Yet, how many people have you seen hired by an employer do just that?

So the question remains, how are you going to get that person to trust your answer to this statement? The most effective way is to have someone else (preferably several someone else’s) say that you are good instead of you tooting your own horn. There is nothing more powerful than a third-party recommendation.

When your previous customer, a vendor and/or even one of their neighbors states that they would not go wrong by hiring you, there is very little that you can add which will boost your cause any further. Does this mean that you must get several people to call before a listing presentation or bring an entourage with you? Of course not! The most effective means of communicating this message is through the referral letter or testimonial.

You see referral letters everywhere. Next time you bring your car into service at a new car dealership, peruse the bulletin board and you might see some letters praising the department. These quotes from satisfied customers become powerful segments of advertisements when you receive flyers asking you to try a product or attend a seminar.

How do you obtain more referral letters? Of course, the easiest solution is to ask for them. Many of us do not even bother to follow-up after a transaction, let alone secure a letter from a satisfied customer. Calling a customer after the transaction is far from our only solution.

One place to look for referral letters is among your vendors. These people should be motivated to help you–or they should not be your vendor. Do you think that a letter from “the bank” or a settlement agent will not have as much of an impact as a satisfied customer? Think again–these players handle hundreds of transactions and are considered experts. Just make sure to coach them on pointing this fact out:

“I have been in the real estate business for 10 years and have been involved in over a thousand transactions and Mary Smith is the best…”

The second way to boost your portfolio with solid referral letters is to use a customer satisfaction survey. It is true that many people just won’t sit down and write a letter, no matter how many times you ask. The only solution for these people is to obtain a quote from them verbally and type up the letter for their signature (not a bad solution–anything which gets the job done!) or to provide them with a fill-in-the-blank alternative. Today, email also works for both of these alternatives. The important thing is to obtain permission to use their quote.