When it comes to hierarchy of importance, Joe Manausa, GRI, hopes his agents place customer testimonials ahead of commission checks.
“When I train agents, I get them to understand their future cash flow will be determined by the way they treat their customers,” says the broker-owner of Joe Manausa Real Estate in Tallahassee, Fla.
Whether an agent serves their clients well or could have done better, they still get the check once the deal is closed, he says. If an agent does an excellent job, however, that one check turns into referrals and great reviews, which leads to more checks.
“With the digital culture now, research often starts online with consumers wanting to know ‘Who are you? And why should I work with you?’” he adds.
Testimonials can tell them that.
Jennifer Lind believes that, in this saturated market where many agents are vying for the attention of potential clients, high-quality testimonials serve as a valuable differentiator.
“They offer authentic feedback, build trust and can indeed place agents a step ahead of their competition,” says Lind, Coldwell Banker Realty’s president for the west region in California.
The Importance of Testimonials
Manausa wants his agents to set the stage for referrals from their clients at the onset of the relationship.
“So, when do you ask for referrals? Early, often and always,” he says.
Clients reach to agents for help with the real estate transaction because they believe that the expertise and counsel offered by agents and often—86% of the time, according to NAR data from the 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report—a client would recommend their agent for future services.
If that’s the case, both Manausa and Lind agree that asking for testimonials is a great way to help future clients find agents.
Lind emphasizes that agents should be proactive in seeking feedback after transactions, especially during moments when clients express satisfaction.
“Setting up straightforward methods for clients to leave reviews and guiding them to impactful platforms is key,” she says. “Sites requiring registration might deter clients, but testimonials from these platforms can be repurposed effectively.”
She believes that the most powerful testimonials resonate when they touch on traits like professionalism, reliability, communication skills, expertise in the local real estate market, negotiation skills, trust and a deep understanding of their clients’ needs.
“Testimonials not only establish trust and credibility for an agent but also showcase the [agent’s] expertise and track record,” she says. “They also add a personal touch to the business, giving potential clients a glimpse of the kind of service they can anticipate.”
The Bones of a Quality Testimonial
Manausa teaches his agents the three marketing imperatives their messages should constantly promote—their name, their market area and their profession of real estate agent.
“Those are the primary keywords that will determine how well they generate business. So having their customers include those keywords in the review is favored,” he says.
A sincere review that includes how the agent was specifically effective is a big plus, too, he adds.
Manausa teaches his agents to discuss reviews during the first five minutes of initial appointments, and again at every showing and at closings.
“You openly discuss the value of your customer’s feedback,” he adds. When a client gives positive feedback, it’s completely acceptable to ask if they’ll add that information to their review when they write one. Manausa says one of the reasons to make reviews an early part of the conversation with every client is the importance of having several and varied reviews.
“The more scenarios that are mentioned by different customers, the more likely you will touch on the specific concerns of people researching agents,” he says.
His brokerage considers a perfect transaction to be one that generates five 5-star individual reviews—two on Google, along with Zillow, Facebook, Yelp and elsewhere.
“Getting reviews must be part of your organizational culture. It must be discussed at every sales meeting, and every customer should hear about reviews early, often and always,” Manausa says. We discuss reviews in the first five minutes of initial appointments, we discuss reviews on every showing, and we request reviews at closings.”
Persuading clients to actually write their review can be as easy as being upfront and directly requesting one after a successful transaction, Lind adds, followed by reminder emails or messages. It’s important, though, to make sure your clients understand that you want their reviews to come from a genuine place of satisfaction.
“Testimonials need to be motivated by excellence and not a cup of coffee or other monetary offering,” she stresses.
She also knows that video testimonials are incredibly effective. If a client is willing to go on camera or to provide even a quickly taken photo in front of the home or property, this is a great visual to accompany a written testimonial.
“It’s crucial to ensure [videos] are well lit with clear audio and convey a concise, heartfelt message,” she says. “These are great pieces of content that can be leveraged in so many ways. Ideally, shoot in a format that can be shared in 16:9 or cropped well for a vertical video or reel presentation.”
Manausa feels that if your brokerage has set the culture to prioritize testimonials, then it should be easy.
“Just whip out your phone at closing, ask their permission to discuss the transaction in a video to be used as a testimonial, ask them questions about specific moments in the transaction that you know they appreciated, and voilà, there, you have it,” he says.
Where to Place Testimonials
Agents’ websites should be the primary destination for these testimonials, Lind says. Once a testimonial is posted there, it can be shared via a link on a Facebook personal or business page and on LinkedIn.
“This makes it easy to share and a great way to drive traffic to your agent’s site that should have your entire collection of testimonials, your bio and information about your business and production,” she says.
Instagram also has a great feature to highlight previous stories, she adds. She suggests featuring testimonials in listing presentations and in digital and print marketing campaigns.
Manausa touts Google as the site the majority of people trust to get their information. Reviews help agents rank higher on the site, so they’ll show up more often in a client’s search. The ranking that clients provide, he says, is also important.
“I would say you want to be a top four agent in your market area. Your ranking is based upon the number of reviews, and you must have a 4.9 grade of 5 or better,” he concludes.
Reviews and testimonials are a powerful and effective marketing tool, and they’re free. Remember, however, that this also means they’re a form of advertising and must comply with Article 12 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and state advertising laws.