How To Get Real Estate Testimonials (In Your Hands!)
Did you know that testimonials are one of most under-used sales tools in real estate? The power of your current clients to sell your value to others is far greater than your own power to sell yourself. And unlike most forms of real estate advertising, testimonials are free!
Unfortunately, most agents spend years generating happy clients without a written word to show for it, and here’s why:
“This feels a bit weird.” When it comes down to that “perfect” time to ask for the testimonial, the agent feels uncomfortable and puts it off.
“Now it’s too late.” Time rolls on, and it starts feeling strange to ask for a testimonial. Your clients still love you, but the white hot heat of “Just closed on our house and our agent is fantastic” is dissipating in a whirlwind of other stuff that needs to be attended to right now.
“I’m on page 65. Almost done!” When we do ask for a testimonial, some clients try to write something that sounds absolutely perfect, and will put so much thought into it (or put it off for so long, rather than have to think about it) that their half-finished testimonial dies a quiet death on their computer.
That’s all completely understandable, but in real estate one lost testimonial can mean many, many thousands of dollars of lost referral business over the years!
So how do we fix this? Here are some tips on actually getting testimonials that hit home with prospects.
1. Plant the Seed Early On
Tell clients early on, ideally in the first meeting or two, that if they’re happy with your services you’ll be asking them to share with others the good experience they had with you.
This does a few very helpful things:
- It takes the pressure off of them (and you) because you’re not asking for anything right now.
- It triggers the mindset from the start that they should be thinking of talking to their friends about you.
- When you do eventually ask for a testimonial, it won’t feel uncomfortable because it’s something you already agreed upon.
In fact, if you don’t ask for a testimonial, you will actually be failing to follow through on something you told them you’d do. Who wants to do that? 🙂
2. Make It Easy for Them
Would they prefer to write a review on Zillow, or would they rather just send you an email with a testimonial that you can use for your website and your marketing materials?
Give them an easy choice, ideally between no more than two options. Here’s what I personally prefer:
First Choice: Zillow Review
Zillow’s ‘star rating’ is search-engine friendly and is likely to come up easily if someone Googles your name and “realtor” or “real estate agent”. We rely more and more on reviews these days (Amazon, anyone?), so in my opinion Zillow’s agent review format works pretty well.
The other thing I like about Zillow is that I think they try to vet the reviews they receive, unlike Yelp. (More on that later.)
Potential Downside: Your client needs to have a free Zillow account in order to submit a review, which for some people is no big deal but to others may be more hassle than they want. (They can always unsubscribe from Zillow emails right after they submit the review, but it’s still potentially a barrier to some.)
Second Choice: An Email to You
This is about as easy as it gets. Just tell them that you’re going to be updating the testimonial page on your website (or your “testimonial list”, if you don’t have a website), and ask them to write an informal blurb about their experience, the same way they’d talk to a friend over coffee.
For an even better testimonial, “beer” might work better than “coffee”. 😉
Not a Great Choice: Yelp
Yelp has this nasty habit of letting its algorithm pluck your clients’ heartfelt testimonials and hide them away on their “Not Recommended” page so that they’re very hard to find. This is supposedly due to some criterion that triggers a “fake review” alert, but I have to wonder.
I got on the phone with the people at Yelp a couple of years ago, and the upshot of the conversation was that nothing trumps the algorithm. Specifically, I was told that even if you show up at their headquarters with your client, your birth certificates, and the closing documents for the sale, they will not un-blacklist your client’s review.
So… exactly how does that benefit the consumer reading reviews? No answer to that one.
3. Write It Yourself (And Then Get It Approved)
Sounds bold, you say?
Here’s the thing. Most people, even your biggest fans, don’t really want to write a testimonial – even if they think, or say, they want to. The reason is simply that it puts them under pressure because they want whatever they write to be perfect.
But think of all the times you’ve been on the phone or talking directly with a client and received a stream of thanks and praise for the work you did for them. That’s a raving testimonial right there, yes?
If you’re really at that spot where you don’t feel comfortable asking a specific client for a written testimonial (or if they’ve promised one but it’s obviously turning into their next unfinished novel), just have a conversation.
Ask them for some feedback about what it was like to work with you. What did they appreciate, and is there anything they think you could have done better so that you can provide the best possible service to future clients? Usually this will result in a flood of positive comments, and afterwards it’s the easiest thing in the world to say:
“Would it be alright with you if I wrote up some of your comments to use in a testimonial? I’ll send it to you to review so you can make sure everything looks the way you want it to.”
You can almost hear the sighs of relief. You’ve put them in a position to do something nice, without having to put forth any effort!
Important Tips If You Write It Yourself…
1) Write down what your client said IMMEDIATELY, as soon as you get off the phone or back in your car. If we’re quoting someone, it really needs to be a quote.
2) Unless you know your client will want to review what you write before it makes it onto your website or marketing, in my opinion it’s usually fine to use the testimonial and then send them a copy of what you wrote.
(In fact, asking them to review it first might actually feel like “homework” – one more thing they have to get to in the course of a busy day.) This also means that the default situation is “testimonial written and put into use” rather than “written and awaiting review”.
A big part of getting things done is removing barriers to completion, right?
1. Plant the seed for a testimonial in the very beginning. (Schedule this!)
2. Take the pressure off by not asking for one right away.
3. ASK for a testimonial at the right time, ideally when people are still emotional. (Schedule this too!)
4. Make it easy by providing two user-friendly options.
5. If those aren’t best for your client, get a verbal testimonial.
6. Get permission to write down and use what they said.
Tip: Schedule “Plant the seed” and “Ask for testimonial” in your planner, so you don’t forget.
Especially planting the seed. It sets the stage for everything else, and even if you aren’t the best gardener, I still think something is likely to grow eventually. 🙂