Posts Tagged ‘Sphere of Influence’

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

The other day I presented seven deadly objections to running an SOI-dependent business (SOI = Sphere of Influence = People Who Know You) and asked for your comments. THANKS for all of them! JMac pretty much soisummarized my thoughts on the matter – actually he nailed them – eliminating the need for this follow-up blog! But I’m in the mood to talk SOI, so I’ll do it anyway

Here are seven objections I listed and my responses:

1.       “I don’t know anyone who wants to buy or sell right now and even if I did, how can I base my entire business on them?” 
In my first year, I sold 25 houses, all to my SOI. Of those 25, all but three were to people I didn’t know the day I got my real estate license. They were people I met as a result of the personal relationships in my life. Some were referred directly to me by my SOI; others I met at weddings, parties, etc.; yet others were service providers in my life who weren’t my friends, but knew I had a real estate license.

As JMac alluded: Your SOI is Everyone Who Knows You and Knows that You Sell Real Estate. Not just your friends, family and past clients. And if you add up all those Who Know You and figure out how many other people they know… that’s a lot of potential business! (Read Teri Lussier’s great blog on this topic.)

2.       “I refuse to be one of those annoying real estate agents that the family avoids at parties.
So don’t be! Contrary to popular belief, an effective SOI strategy is not about bothering your friends for their business. Sure, that’s a common tactic, and many real estate agents give up on their SOI because they suspect their friends are sick of hearing from them – and they’re probably right. Just be a genuinely nice person with a good head on his or her shoulders… who happens to sell real estate for a living.

3.       “My friends would expect a discount or kickback because they know me.
So? I do, too! When appropriate (and I do know the difference), friends DO give friends discounts or freebies! I don’t have a problem making my good friends and family feel special by giving them a deal, especially if they’ve been supportive of my business or are frequent buyers or sellers. But in reality, it doesn’t happen nearly as much as you think it will, especially if you have confidence in your value and abilities. I get much more commission objection from strangers than I do from my SOI.

4.       “I don’t believe in mixing business with pleasure. If the deal goes sour, I could lose the friendship.
Could happen. Probably won’t, if you take great care of your business. Yes, things go wrong, but if you can fix the problems professionally and competently, you’ll probably win even MORE brownie points from your friend than if the deal went 100% smoothly. Anyway, if you do a great job for someone who knows you and cares about you, you’ll get GREAT PR in your social circle for it! I’ll take that risk because I have faith in myself.

One caveat here – DON’T take SOI business that you aren’t confident you can handle. For example, if your buddy wants to buy a strip mall, and you’re a residential agent, REFER IT. I don’t believe we should “practice” on anyone, but especially not on our SOI.

5.       “My family doesn’t take me seriously – they see my new career as just another phase.
This is actually a valid objection. Family can be tough; much tougher than friends. If you suspect this will be an issue for you, don’t pursue your family’s business until you’ve built a track record you’re proud of. They’ll come around (or not, which is okay too). There are plenty of other people in the world for you to WOW.

6.       I don’t want my family and friends to feel obligated to use me if they don’t want to.”
Obligation” is a dirty word in our business. Never ever ever think that someone is obligated to use you and don’t get hurt if they use someone else. It’s probably not personal (people have lives outside of our real estate business), and if it IS personal, take the opportunity to figure out why. Always give your SOI the benefit of the doubt if they don’t use you – for them, it was the right decision. Respect that.

If, in your heart, you feel that your SOI is obligated to use your services, they’ll feel it and resist. Conversely, if you respect their right to “choose,” they also feel that and will probably beat down your door!

7.       My broker says I need to cold-call, door-knock and mail to a geographic farm – that selling real estate is a number’s game, so I need to get my name out there everywhere I can.”
Somehow we get the idea we need a shot at every piece of real estate business out there in order to succeed. But we don’t. If this is your first year you really only need to sell 10 – 20 properties to have a banner year. That’s only 10 – 20 people in your whole town who have to hire you! It’s tough to get 20 clients by throwing doo-doo against a wall, especially for new agents on limited budgets. It’s not likely there are 20 strangers out there sitting by their mailbox, waiting for your fancy farming postcard, but there certainly ARE 20 people in your SOI who would love to help you, if you approach them correctly.

So… there you go.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Yesterday, I wrote a blog…. about a reasonably good excuse to contact your clients from years past. You can read it here if you wanna. It’s just about checking in with your clients at the five year anniversary of their real estate transaction with you.

Anyway, my good friend Allen Wright commented that I should send them a photo of the home they photoeither bought or sold five years ago, just to add a little zing to my message. Great idea! Of course, that means that I’d actually have to HAVE a photo of the property from that time period, but, being the organization freak I am, I probably do. Gonna go digging through the archives today.

But that’s not my point; it just reminded me of something I used to do with my buyers.

At some point during the buyer transaction, I’d “sneak” over to the house they were purchasing and take a bunch of photos. Bring ’em home, digitally file them away. Then, a year or two later, I’d create a slide show of the photos and zip it over to them. They were always, and I mean always, thrilled, usually because they’d made so many improvements and couldn’t wait to show all their friends the beauty they’d created in their home.

Of course, this entails taking a long-term approach to your SOI* business and certainly won’t pay off for you anytime soon. But that’s the beauty of a long-term SOI strategy – put the pieces in place today… and tomorrow… and next week… and in a few years, you’ll be set.

*SOI = Sphere of Influence = People Who Know You

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I’m doing my annual housecleaning… well, let me rephrase that lest you think much less of me than you did a filefew moments ago… I’m doing my annual FILE CABINET cleaning! Amazing how time flies, isn’t it? I’m going through my real estate sales files from 2002 and 2003 and it seems like just yesterday…

My plan is to take the files to the shredder, but as I glance through the names on the files, I realize that … DUH… most of these people are probably going to be thinking of moving soon! And, being the good little SOI’er* that I am, I still have all their contact information stored in my handy-dandy Top Producer program and in my email address book. And of course, they HAVE heard from me once or twice (probably more like 5-10) times since they closed.

But anyway, do you think I’m going to call them all up and ask if they’re thinking of buying or selling anytime soon? BAH! Not a chance.

What I’m doing is sending each a personal email wishing them a Happy Five Years in their home and asking if there’s anything at all that might be in my file they want or need. I’m explaining that I’m getting ready to take my 2002 and early 2003 files to the shredder, but that Murphy’s Law promises that the minute I do that, the calls will flood in with requests for pieces of irreplaceable paper that are now… well… shredded.

So far, so good. I sent out about 25 emails and almost immediately received responses. No one wants anything from the file, of course, but “it’s nice to hear from you, how ya doing?” etc.

Cool! I’ll update this post if anything more exciting comes from my housecleaning effort.

*SOI = Sphere of Influence = The People Who Know You

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

To all my self-employed friends out there…

A great way to receive referrals is to give them. Become a referring machine. Be on a constant look-out for people who need referrals to other people.

Do you have the world’s best hairdresser? Dog-sitter? Handyman? Spanish tutor? Knock yourself out building THEIR business through your referrals!

How does this help you?

Oh, let us count the ways.

  • You become known as a resource among the people you know. Not simply as a fabulous real estate agent (accountant, financial planner, restaurant owner, etc.), but also as the Keeper of the Referral Directory. As they say, “no publicity is bad publicity” – every time your name crosses the mind of another person on this planet, the potential for getting business or receiving a yourself just increased, if only a wee bit. If the person actually contacts you to get the name and number of your dog-sitter, BAM! A rapport-building opportunity is delivered to you on a silver platter.
  • Think about how wonderful it feels to receive a referral yourself. Don’t you feel incredible warm fuzzies toward the person who thought enough of you to send their friend your way? Evoke those feelings in others and they WILL return the favor.
  • What goes around… comes around. It just does.

There’s not much to it. Simply keep your antenna up for people who are deserving of your referrals… as well as people who need your referrals.

Casually gather business cards of the people you feel good about referring, or simply memorize their website or phone number. BONUS! That way you can write down THEIR contact information on the back of YOUR business card!!

Get in the habit of sending business to others and they will quickly get in a habit of sending business to you!

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Does your spouse confidently and cheerfully refer you to everyone he knows who has a real estate need? Yes? Good for you! You can move onto the next blog on your list. You don’t need me today!

But if you answered “no,” do you know why he or she doesn’t? Do you know the real reason?

Neither do I. But I’m going to throw something out there that you are free to accept or reject.

Do you come home every night complaining about your real estate career? Do you… um… whine about how awful the market is, or about how little training you’re getting from your broker? Do you bemoan the fact that the last 10 FSBOs you contacted hung up on you before you could even begin your sales pitch?

Or, conversely, do you bounce in the door at night, bubbling with enthusiasm, ready to share your latest success story or lesson learned?

In my SOI* writings, I urge agents to prove to their friends that they are an RCHB, which stands for a “Reasonably Competent Human Being.” If your friends perceive you as an RCHB, they’ll be happy to hire you, or to refer business your way. If they don’t perceive you as such, they probably won’t. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I mean, referring business to a friend is a risky thing to do – no one wants to be responsible for a referral that goes badly, so we’re all a little circumspect about who we have on our personal referral lists.

Here’s the thing… the cold hard fact is that your spouse is no different. He has a social network that is important to him. She doesn’t want to jeopardize her friendships and business relationships with a referral that goes sour. Neither does he want to be seen as “that pesky real estate agent’s husband” to be avoided at parties!

So, what’s the answer?

It’s up to you to prove to your husband or wife that you are an RCHB who loves selling real estate and is darn good at it. And you don’t “prove” this by telling him or her how great you are, you have to demonstrate it in your attitude and your enthusiasm.

Am I asking you to fake it? Well… not really, but… 

Frankly, if you aren’t an RCHB and you don’t have a fair amount of enthusiasm about your career, you’ll probably fail, with or without your spouse’s referred business. The question really isn’t “should I fake it?” but rather “how can I change my attitude?”

Now, if you don’t need or want your spouse’s support in your real estate career, then feel free to use him or her as your nightly sounding board to vent your frustrations on. It’s okay, really! We all need someone to cry to. Just know that doing this puts your spouse in a difficult position when it comes to drumming up business for his beloved…

*SOI = Sphere of Influence = People Who Know You

http://www.sellwithsoul.com/

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

A major fear of beginning an SOI* Seduction campaign is that your targets (that is, the people who know you) will see right through your attempts at friendship and know that you’re trying to “seduce” them.

So, let’s talk about Seduction for a moment. 
romance
Even when I’m aware I’m being seduced, I certainly enjoy the ride. I mean, if my man were to come home tonight and outright announce he was expecting some action, I might be put off by his approach. I might feel a little used. However, if he came home with roses, gave me a big hug and kiss, helped me clear the table and then took out the trash, his chances of getting lucky would dramatically increase, wouldn’t they?

So what if I know what he’s up to?

Or imagine a young man takes a young woman out on a date. If he were to ask her up front if he’s going to get lucky that night, she would probably be offended, even though it’s likely she realizes it’s in the back of his mind. So, the smart young man takes a different approach. He is charming. He is friendly. He is appreciative. He is attentive. He is complimentary. He is respectful. In short, he’s good company and makes her feel special. He’s fun to be around.

Will his seduction efforts pay off? Who knows? But he’s sure a whole lot closer than if he had just announced his intentions up front. Again, the young woman probably knows she’s being “seduced” but she’s enjoying it.

So, let’s compare a romantic seduction to the process of seducing your SOI. Fact is you want something from your SOI. You want their business and referrals. You want to be invited to their parties. You want to be their favorite real estate agent, don’t you?

Well, you could always call up everyone you know and tell them, couldn’t you? Remind them on the first Monday of each month that You {Heart} Referrals? Ask them if they know of anyone buying or selling real estate? Maybe even ask them for an invitation to their next social gathering?

But do you think they’d look forward to hearing from you? Do you think they’d appreciate your approach? Probably not; in fact, they might start avoiding your calls.

What if you were to call up your friends every month or two and ask how they’re doing and really listen? Maybe even offer to help or send out periodic informative e-mails or newsletters of interest to them instead of all about you. What if you invited your friends to your Super Bowl party or sent them a postcard from your vacation in Cancun?

Would your friends realize you want their business and referrals? Maybe, but they won’t care – you are making them feel special and cared about. Besides that, you’re fun to be around! 

Seduction works in a romantic arena; it also works in a prospecting one. If we are charming, friendly, appreciative, attentive, complimentary, respectful and fun to be around (and also reliable and competent), we’ll get our friends’ business and referrals. We don’t have to beg for it; we really don’t even need to ask for it.

Give it some thought.

*SOI Seduction = Sphere of Influence = To generate business and referrals from the people who know you.

soi

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

One of my readers asked the question “How do you build loyalty with your customers or potential customers?”

Interesting question.

I don’t. I don’t want anyone’s “loyalty.” Oh, sure I’ll take it, but to me, the word “loyalty” is on the same playing field as “obligation” which as I’ve said before is a Dirty Word When You SOI. I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to be loyal to me!

I want to earn my business, and keep earning it. I want my customers to use me, hire me and refer me… then use me, hire me and refer me again… and again… not because they’re “loyal,” but because they know I’m good at my job, they like me and they know I care deeply about their real estate transaction.

So, how do I make sure they know this?

By being a darn good real estate agent (which means I know my market, my systems and my contracts, among other things), by staying in touch with the people I know… and by never pestering them about being loyal!

posted by on Contact Management, Prospecting & SOI

My SOI* has always been around 300 warm bodies, which is more than enough to get plenty of business and referrals without soimuch outside effort on my part.

However, as many of you know, I’m getting ready to launch a major SOI Reconnection Campaign, so I’m looking closer at my contact database as part of the getting-ready process.

There were a lot of names in there of people who… well… don’t make me feel warm & fuzzy. Either they were a total PITA and I’d never want to work with them again or I have a sneaking suspicion they don’t like me. Yes, even Miss Smarty Pantz (me) has had deals go sour, leaving everyone a little disgruntled and uncomfortable.

So, I deleted these names from my database. It felt GOOD! But that left me with a much depleted database and I really want to get back to 300 again. Or at least, 200 in the very near future.

Here’s the fun part. I’m going to actively pursue new people to add to my database and they’re all going to be people I like! Can you imagine if you added one “nice” name to your database every day for a year? Or even six months??? And then… you’d have a database full of only people who make you smile!

It would make SOI’ing even more fun!

Off I go.

*My SOI = The People Who Know Me

posted by on Jennifer's Best, Prospecting & SOI

I recently read on another forum where a new agent was heartbroken (and subsequently outraged) that his brother-in-law hired someone else to sell his home. Because he was brand new, he felt his B.I.L. owed it to him to give him the listing so that he’d get some much-needed experience. The new agent was bad-angrymouthing his B.I.L. to the rest of the family and swearing to avoid him at the next family get-together.

OUCH!

How fast can you say “Kiss Your Family’s Business GOODBYE!?”

No one on this planet is obligated to work with us, regardless of any personal relationship. Instead of whining and sulking and pouting about the situation, our new agent should have taken all that energy and asked himself WHY his brother-in-law didn’t hire him. And made an effort to do better next time.

Was it personal? Maybe, maybe not.  Although with this guy’s attitude, it probably was. The minute I get a sense that someone feels I’m obligated to hire them (or even refer them), I’m turned off. Yeah, I’m contrary that way, aren’t you?

Getting business from your SOI, particularly your family SOI is an art that once mastered, will seem oh-so-obvious and natural. But if you approach the people you know with the attitude that they owe you something because you’re related or went to college together or because you sent them a pretty calendar last year, your SOI efforts will crash and burn.

What I would have advised the new agent to do (had he asked) would be to graciously accept defeat and cheerfully offer his assistance. I’d have told him to be pleasant, supportive and complimentary of the other agent’s efforts. Sweet as sugar. Because… at some point, the B.I.L might just get frustrated with his listing agent and be open to talking again.

But instead, look what this guy did. He alienated his B.I.L. and gave the entire family a great reason to wonder about his professionalism. I’ll bet that it will be a long time before anyone in that family dares to talk to him about their own real estate needs!  

*SOI = Sphere of Influence = The People Who Know You

sws

http://www.sellwithsoul.com/

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

A little while ago I wrote a blog called The BEST Way to Build a Strong Sphere of Influence. If you didn’t read it, what do you think it says? To stay in touch with everyone you know? Nope. To send everyone in your SOI a $10 Starbucks Gift card? Give fabulous Christmas presents or closing gifts? Pay juicy bribes for referrals? Not even close.

No, the best way to build a strong sphere of influence is to be a fabulous real estate agent. It’s simple; when you are blessed to have a buyer or a seller, TAKE CARE OF THEM! As your first priority…

Here’s an email I got yesterday from my current seller/buyer who has, to date, referred 6 people to me during our less-than-two-month relationship.

“It’s so easy — it just happens naturally every time someone hasn’t seen me in a while and goes ‘Oh yeah – how’s selling your house going?‘  Everyone is convinced the market is terrible, so as soon as they hear we sold our home in only 2 days, they are dumbfounded and of course want to ask a million questions as to how on earth we pulled that one off…  sometimes I forget how many people are or may potentially be in the market for a home. I love having someone good to recommend.”

Guys – when we are actively working with a buyer or seller, remember that they are talking about their real estate experience with everyone who crosses their path! If their agent sucks, you can believe the world will hear about it. But if their agent is really special….? IMAGINE the opportunities for good PR over the next month, two months, six months.

No fabulous closing gift or monthly newsletter even comes close.

The moral of the story… Taking Good Care of the Clients You Already Have blows away any other form of active or passive marketing. Set your daily priorities accordingly… and enjoy a full pipeline for years to come…

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I have a friend; let’s call her Sarah. She is a new real estate agent and is committed to an SOI* strategy to build her business. So far, it’s going well – she’s already experiencing some success and is optimistic that she will survive her first year without ever cold-calling, door-knocking, farming or advertising.

Here’s the problem. Sarah has a new boyfriend. When said boyfriend couplerealized that Sarah freely hands out her phone number (in the form of her business card) to anyone who asks (regardless of gender), he was horrified. Not that he doesn’t understand she has a business to build, but he’s convinced that when Sarah cheerfully offers her phone number/business card to those of the male gender, they are going to assume that she is interested in them romantically. “That’s the way men think, honey.”

Sarah dismissed his concerns, assuring him that she keeps her SOI efforts on a professional level and that there is no funny business going on – either real or imagined. She simply doesn’t believe that the men she prospects to have any notion that she might be open to their advances.  The boyfriend disagrees. It’s causing some strain in their relationship.

Sarah asked me for my thoughts. Initially I agreed with her – that the BF needs to accept that his honey is in a business that requires her to socialize with male creatures.

But then I ran across a paragraph in a book I’m reading about the differences in brain chemistry between men and women and it made me rethink my position. The book said that “…men are very easily aroused and easily misconstrue the slightest hint of friendship as a sexual invitation.” So I asked my own BF for his thoughts, as well as a couple of other men I know. They all adamantly agreed with Sarah’s boyfriend that if a woman shows friendly interest in a man, he’s absolutely going to interpret that as romantic interest on her part. If she gives him her phone number? She might as well have invited him in for a late-night coffee…

Any thoughts? No gender-bashing or ridicule, please. I’d love to hear from the men in the crowd how you honestly feel about this, as well as from any women who have experienced the same thing with their men…

THANKS!

* SOI Strategy = Building your business based on the personal relationiships in your life – the people you know and people you meet.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

*SOI – Sphere of Influence = People Who Know You

I recently wrote about how the “numbers” of an SOI/Relationship Prospecting business model blows away the traditional concept of a “numbers game” in real estate sales. You can read about it here.

Not convinced? Here are some more numbers for you to ponder…party

  • If you attend ONE social event (wedding, housewarming party, Sunday BBQ) or neighborhood activity (street fair, festival, block party) per week, in a year, that’s 52 opportunities you created for yourself to meet people who will have a real estate need in the next six months.
  •  Of course, it’s also an opportunity to touch all the people those new friends of yours know who might have a real estate need.
  • If you take ONE friend to lunch per week (and don’t bore him or her to death with your sales pitch), in a year, that’s 52 GREAT opportunities to touch everyone your friends know. And that “everyone” can number in the thousands
  • If you add just ONE person per day to your SOI contact database, that’s… holy cow… 365 new contacts in just a year. 
  • If you spend ONE hour per month writing an interesting, non-salesy email newsletter to send to your SOI (including all the emailNEW friends you’re meeting), that’s 1,800 times in a year you’re touching someone who knows your name and knows that you sell real estate (assuming your contact database is around 150 names).  Let me know if you’d like a sample of “interesting and non-salesy.”

Some more numbers – that is – dollars and cents…

The Cost to:

  • Attend a social event you’re invited to: $0
  • Attend a neighborhood street fair:       $0 – $25
  • Take-a-friend-to-lunch:                     $25 per week, if you pay every time 
  • Meet one new person per day             $0 – ?? depending on how you meet them
  • Once-a-month email to SOI:              $0 – $100 (if you spring for fancy email stationary)

If you do all these things, I promise your business will explode. And doesn’t this stuff sound like MORE FUN than calling up 1,000 strangers or mailing out 1,000 postcards?

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

*SOI = Sphere of Influence = People Who Know You

How can I prospect to first time buyers?”question

    “How can I meet newly married people?”

         “How can I get my name in front of divorcing couples?”

              “How can I market to renters?”

                       And even…

                         “How can I meet newly dead people (or more specifically, their heirs)?”

These are questions I read every day here on Active Rain and on the other real estate agent forum I moderate (www.agentsonline.net).

Responses are fairly predictable – “Hold buyer seminars, mail to apartment complexes, write to attorneys, attend bridal fairs, prospect to funeral directors and watch the obituaries.”

Fair enough.

But here’s the thing. The people you already KNOW, know first time buyers, married people, divorcing couples, renters and yes, even dead people’s heirs. They also know couples with new babies, investors and relocating families.

So, it’s your choice. You can bombard your target audience of strangers with your (expensive) marketing materials, hoping for a hit, or you can reconnect with the people who already know you and guarantee yourself one (or two or three or four or a dozen).

Our industry has made prospecting way too complicated and counter-intuitive. It doesn’t have to be. Back up, calm down and use the brains God gave you to find your next clients. They’re all around you.

Related blogs

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I’ve been writing for a few years now on tips, techniques and strategies to build and maintain a strong sphere of influence business model. soi

But y’know what the all-time most powerful way to run a successful business based on the personal relationships in your life is?

Do a hell of a job for your clients.

Go above and beyond every chance you get. Don’t ask what your client can do for you, ask what you can do for your client. DO that open house, even if you don’t want to. Attend your buyer’s inspection even if inspections bore you to tears. Call your seller every single week, even if you have nothing much to report. Cheerfully take your buyer back to the house for the 3rd time so he can measure the windows before writing an offer. Follow up with your buyer a few days after closing to see if any problems arose during move-in that you can help with.

And then, stay in touch with them on a personal basis forever and ever.

Did you notice that there’s nothing in the above paragraph about buying them a fabulous closing gift or putting them on a canned drip campaign? Nothing about mailing them recipe cards or pestering them for the names of three friends you could contact with your sales pitch?

Nope. Gifts and drips won’t change anyone’s opinion of whether or not you are refer-worthy. If you did a lousy job for your client, but buy them a Rolex at closing, you just threw your money away on the watch. Following up with consistent sales pitches will only alienate someone who could otherwise be a huge source of business for you.

Especially if you’re in your first year, please take this advice to heart. If you go all out for the clients you have today, they will enthusiastically support your business for years to come. After 3-4 years, if you’ve done a reasonably good job staying in touch, your phone will start to ring without any effort on your part.  

It’s a beautiful way to make a living.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I have an SOI Business Plan (that is, a plan for how often I contact the people I know) that includes a couple of personal phone calls every week. Before I continue, let me stress that I never ever ever attempt to prospect to my SOI during these calls – I’d hate to train the people I know to “let me go to voicemail!”

Anyway, I admit that I struggle with the personal phone calls. Don’t know why it’s so hard, but it is. I guess it’s because I really don’t like to talk on the phone myself, so it’s hard for me to impose my voice on others! But whenever I do get brave and make the call, I almost always feel good that I did.

(Except I’ve noticed that if I call a fellow introvert, who probably doesn’t like talking on the phone any more than I do, it can be a bit awkward. So, unless I have a real good reason to make that call – I don’t. My introverted friends get an email.)

If you also have trouble picking up that 300 pound telephone, try this. Before you make your SOI phone calls, make a few purely “business” calls to warm up. Like – schedule a dentist appointment… call your credit card company to protest a charge… if you’ve moved recently, make a few phone calls updating your address. Once I’ve have a few successful phone calls under my belt, it’s much easier for me to make the personal, or even difficult ones. (Like calling your seller to explain why you haven’t had any showings this week).

If you’ve recently gone to lunch/coffee/happy hour with a friend, make a note in your planner about something you talked about that you can call next week to check up on. For example, last week I went out with my friend Catherine who is getting a puppy (named Ben) this weekend. So, I wrote down in my planner to call her on Monday or Tuesday to see how Ben (I made sure to write down his name) is doing and invite myself over to meet him! Maybe I’ll even bring my video camera!

Just remember, don’t call your friends looking for business. Don’t even mention real estate unless you have a darn good reason to. If you truly can’t think of anything interesting or non-salesy to talk to someone about, don’t make that call!

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I’ve never had much (any?) luck with mass-advertising (newspapers, bus benches, SEO), at least, not that I could tell. One year I took out over $20,000 worth of newspaper ads which resulted in, get this, ZERO phone calls. Enough of that nonsense.

However, I’m starting to think about the effectiveness of “advertising” to your SOI. Here’s where my brain is going.

I live in a trendy, hip neighborhood that has barely noticed the recent doom & gloom of the real estate market. People still want to live here and decent homes sell quickly. (Although there’s plenty of overpriced crap on the market that isn’t moving, for good reason.) I also happen to know a lot of people who live here in the ‘hood with me – probably 20-30 members of my core SOI are neighbors. We’re such a hip, trendy crowd…

So I’m thinking… would it be effective to advertise in the local (neighborhood) newspapers – not necessarily to attract the business of total strangers, but rather to reinforce my name recognition among the people who DO know me, or have at least heard of me?

I remember many years ago, there was an agent in town who advertised heavily on bus benches. I thought she must be a Top Dog because it seemed her name was all over the place. When we finally met (and became friends), I was shocked to discover that she was newer than I was and did significantly less business. But the perception I had of her was that she was very successful.

Here’s my point… If I were a consumer, would all those bus benches have inspired me to call her up and hire her on the spot? Not a chance. BUT, if I’d met her, at an open house, at a party, wherever, would she have already had some credibility with me, due to her advertising efforts? Probably so, especially if she were professional and credible in person (which she was).

So… I’m wondering if the point of local advertising might be to put you in a position of credibility should you ever have the opportunity to meet those who have seen your advertising. Or, of course, to remind those who already know you of your existence, if they’ve forgotten…?

Is this a big DUH question?

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

As my loyal readers know (my, that sounds pretentious, doesn’t it?), I recently re-entered the Wonderful World of Real Estate Sales, after two years away on a sabbatical WRITING about the Wonderful World of Real Estate Sales.

My re-entry into the biz was prompted by a number of factors, one of which was an unintentional challenge by Loreena Yeo back in September. In a nut, she asked if I thought the early success I enjoyed in my real estate career, back in the mid-90’s, was due more to the strength of the market, rather than the strength of my business strategy (specifically my 100% SOI model).

So, many have asked how it’s going for me, now that I’ve been back in the trenches a few months.smile

FABULOUS.

Frankly, I’m stunned at the warm welcome I’ve received from my sphere of influence, many of whom I haven’t spoken with in years. More than once, more than twice, more than three times since my return, I’ve been told by past clients that they were thrilled to hear I was back in business. They said that in my absence they hadn’t met another real estate-type who knew her stuff as well as I did and who gave the impression of actually caring about her clients. HUGE SMILE.

But enough back-patting from me. Sure, compliments are nice, but how’s BUSINESS?

FABULOUS.

I have two buyers under contract, three sellable listings coming on soon and four more buyers in my car. All but one are SOI (and that one came from Active Rain!). I’m not crazy busy, but considering my license has only been active for less than two months, I’m quite pleased.

So… does an SOI strategy work in this market? Oh yeah.

Thanks for asking.

posted by on Contact Management, Prospecting & SOI

We real estate agents love our systems, don’t we? If we can purchase a product that will help us streamline our prospecting efforts, we’re all for it. Where do I sign???

But… but… but… let me fly in the face of convention here and say… STOP! Stop with all the systems and programs and products!

Why? Because when pursuing business from the *Very Important People Who Know You (that is, your Sphere of Influence or SOI), it’s kinda important to make them feel special. And no system, program or product is going to do that FOR you. You actually have to do it yourself.

Here are some examples of what I mean.

A question came up a few weeks ago during my weekly SOI training teleconference.  The agent asked if I recommended putting past clients on a 5-year drip campaign that automatically sends out anniversary cards and seasonal postcards. My answer? NO!

My SOI database (and especially my past client database) is precious to me. Every name in there has the potential to bring thousands of dollars to my business and deserves my respect and attention. Before I send anything out to my SOI, I go through my list carefully to make sure it’s up to date, with accurate information. This exercise also inspires me to personally “touch” those who I enjoyed getting to know with a more personal effort (phone call, personal email, whatever).  I want to stay intimately in touch with the names in my database. If I put my SOI on any sort of automatic drip campaign, I feel I’ll lose that intimacy and connection, and be just another real estate agent looking for business.

Want another example? Today, I sent out a mass-email to my SOI offering to put interested parties on a list to receive a monthly market report created by a local economist. When the positive responses started coming in, I tried to figure out a “system” to track respondents and automatically send out the report every month. But then I caught myself… by systematizing this process, I’m throwing away a wonderful opportunity to connect with my SOI every single month when I personally email them the report. I mean, DUH! They are ASKING to hear from me; why waste the chance to include a personal note with my email each month that might make them smile (and believe me, that personal note will have nothing to do with how much I love referrals! Ick).

One more… one of my agent friends asked me a few weeks ago if she should purchase a program that automatically sends out birthday cards to her SOI. Sheesh. Is it too da*n hard to actually sign and mail a card to someone you care about? I mean, c’mon!!! Are we real estate agents so important and so busy that we can’t take five minutes to write “Happy Birthday!” on a card, sign it personally, address the envelope and slap a stamp on it? Please say it isn’t so!

One thing I love about this business, especially my 100% SOI business, is that every little thing I do that goes above and beyond what I “have” to do can result in a huge financial payoff for me. Personal notes (that I actually wrote myself), personal emails, personal phone calls… this is where the money is… at least if you’re gonna SOI…

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Many of you have joined my Sphere of Influence (SOI) email list so you can take a peek at the material I email to my SOI on a monthly basis. In the continued spirit of sharing, I thought I’d also share a snail-mail mailing I’m doing in “celebration” of the USPS’s upcoming penny increase to the price of stamps…

Below is a picture of a simple notecard I created. I’m mailing it to my friends with my business card and a pane of 20 penny “transition” stamps enclosed.  I printed it on stock paper and used brightly colored greeting-card-sized envelopes.

Pretty simple, not too gimmicky… I’ve already had a few Thank You’s!

postal

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Am I the only idiot on the planet who can turn a simple Christmas Card mailing project into a full-time job? My plan… send out Christmas cards to my local Denver SOI (sphere of influence) and toss in my hot-off-the-press Referral Directory magnet as an extra-special holiday gift for my friends (hey, I sprung for the xtra large magnet at over $1 each!).

Simple enough…

Well, it’s been anything but. One thing after another created delays in my sending-out-cards process – first, the cards I bought (and addressed & stamped) weren’t big enough for the magnet (remember, I bought the xtra large one!), so I had to re-do all the envelopes. Then I realized that I needed extra postage for each envelope (that xtra large thing again), so I had to stand in line at the pre-Christmas shipping extravaganza at my local P.O. I finally got all the cards written, stuffed, addressed & stamped, so it was time to seal ’em up. I used cute little holiday-themed sticker-sealers I bought at Wal-Mart so I wouldn’t have to lick all those nasty envelopes.

Got the cards in the mail, marked that particular project off my list.

Couple of days later… empty cards started coming back. Apparently the cute little holiday-themed sticker-sealers weren’t strong enough for the enclosed magnet (y’know, the xtra large one) and the magnets broke thru the seals and fell out.

SHEESH!!!!!

Anyway, where’s the lemonade in this? Well, I sent out an email to my entire SOI telling them the story and asking them to let me know if their magnet didn’t arrive. So far, I’ve gotten tons of responses back, wishing me well and letting me know their magnets made it (most of ’em anyway). In fact, this may turn out to be the best responded-to SOI email I’ve sent out in a long time! 

If you’d like to see the email I sent, just shoot me your email address and I’ll forward you a copy.  

Happy Holidays, my friends!