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Me, Cold Call? You’re Kidding, Right?
Don’t want to cold call or knock on strangers’ doors? Tired of spending your marketing dollars on farming materials or pay-per-lead programs? Starting to wonder if your friends really appreciate your frequent reminders to send you referrals?
Don’t fret! Not everyone is cut out to aggressively prospect for business. There’s no shame in being unwilling to submit someone to a sales pitch that you yourself would be irritated by. But just because you may be uncomfortable with traditional lead generation or prospecting methods doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a wildly successful real estate career.
BUILDING A REFERRAL BASED REAL ESTATE BUSINESS
My very first year as a real estate agent I sold 25 homes without making a single cold call or knocking on one stranger’s door. I didn’t even pursue FSBO’s or expired listings. So where did my business come from?
Virtually all of my business came from the people I knew and the people I met; that is, my Sphere of Influence or SOI. I never subjected anyone to a sales pitch or asked for their referrals and yet they generously supported my real estate business throughout my career, enabling me to be a top producing agent year after year. I did very little prospecting; I simply concentrated my efforts on nurturing the relationships I already had and actively pursuing new ones. All without pestering a soul.
You, too, can rely on your Sphere of Influence for most of your business without risking a single friendship. Let us show you how.
Click Here to Read Jennifer’s Opinion on Doo-Dads (to send to your Sphere of Influence)
SOI 101 – What Exactly is a Sphere of Influence Business Model?
A Sphere of Influence business model is a strategy that focuses on attracting business to you from the people you know and the people you meet socially, as opposed to pursuing business from strangers. It’s possible to run a 100% SOI business and never have to make one cold call, memorize a prospecting script or knock on a strangers’ door!
There are three primary activities in an effective SOI business model:
- Nurturing the personal relationships you already have within your social network (that is, your friends – I call this group my “Group One.” Clever, eh?)
- Staying in touch with “everyone else” (that is, the people you know who aren’t your friends – I call them my Group Two)
- Meeting new people.
Before you panic and say that you don’t have the time, money or energy to do all this socializing, don’t! Running an SOI business is much less time-consuming and less expensive than just about any other prospecting method, and can be far more effective, more quickly. In fact, if you spend a few years creating your personal cheering section, you can pretty much coast through the rest of your real estate career. That’s what I did and in my last five years I rarely worked more than 30 hours a week and my marketing budget was practically zero. My phone rang, I answered it, and whaddya’ know? I had a new client.
Nurturing the personal relationships you already have
From a philosophical perspective, this means to ensure that the people in your social network (aka Group One) know that you care about them. In a practical sense, it means that you strive to have a personal conversation with everyone in your social network as often as you can, at least once a quarter. A personal conversation can be a face to face lunch or coffee date, a phone call or even an email exchange. What it’s not is a concerted effort to abuse your friends with a sales pitch. Always approach your social network as a friend first, and a real estate agent second, or third, or fourth. Not the other way around.
Staying in touch with Everyone Else
Staying in touch with your “everyone else” group (aka Group Two) just means that you keep your name in front of this crowd with periodic interesting, relevant, non-salesy written communications, delivered both through snail-mail and email. As long as your mailings are consistent and intelligent, you’ll see a significant number of sales from even this minimal effort.
Meeting new people
An important part of an effective SOI model is to add to your Groups One and Two, especially in today’s market where there is admittedly less business to go around. The more people you know, who know you, and think you’re a generally cool person, the more that telephone will ring.
Running an effective SOI business model isn’t nearly as complicated as some would have you believe. Yes, it takes some organization and commitment upfront, and an ongoing effort to stay in touch with the people you know and the people you meet, but once it’s rolling and you’re in the SOI habit, it won’t feel like work at all! In fact, it might even feel suspiciously like FUN! And “the more fun you have selling real estate, the more real estate you will sell!”
What’s the Best Way to Ask for Referrals? Don’t!
(excerpted with revisions from “The More Fun You Have Selling Real Estate…”)
Abusing your friendships with constant requests for referrals is unprofessional and unnecessary, and, frankly, it makes you look desperate. It’s like having that chronically single girlfriend who is always asking you to set her up with one of your single guy friends. You start to wonder why she can’t find her own man and you might even feel a bit used by her. You may not be comfortable “referring” her to your male friends because you’re not sure she’s all that refer-worthy! If she’s so great (as she keeps telling you), then why aren’t suitable men already knocking down her door?
When someone I know asks me for referrals, it puts me on the spot, and I don’t like that. If I think she’s great at what she does, I’ll happily refer people to her, without her asking. If I don’t think she’s great, or I doubt her professionalism, I probably won’t send her business, no matter how often she begs me to, or even if she bribes me.
Think about your own referral patterns: Do you refer because you feel sorry for the person? Or because you think they’re great at what they do?
So… if you can’t ask, beg or bribe for referrals from your Sphere of Influence, how will they know you want them?
Ahhhhhh… that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Perhaps literally!
The answer to the question is rather simple, but it requires a bit of a mindset shift away from the traditional sales training philosophies of “It never hurts to ask,” and “If you don’t ask, you won’t get.”
We believe differently. We believe it CAN hurt to ask and that you WILL get even if you don’t ask.
Want to learn more? See below for more Soulful SOI resources!
“Okay, I’ll bite! Tell me more about how I can GET business from my sphere of influence without ASKING for it!”
If you’d like to learn more about the SWS approach to a Sphere of Influence business model, here are some places to do that:
- Jennifer’s SOI Blogs at Searchable Soul: http://swsconnect.com/searchable/soul/category/prospecting/
- The Seduction of Your SOI newsletter mini-clinic: www.sellwithsoul.com/newsletters
- The Sell with Soul forum archive: http://www.swsconnect.com/forum/
- The Sell with Soul bookstore SOI shop: /product-category/prospecting-products/
And of course, we’re here for you. We’re real people who actually read and respond to the comments and questions we get from our readers. Feel free to email Jennifer with any questions you may have and she’ll get back to you as soon as she can.
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SOI with SOUL Online Self-Paced Version at SWSUniversity: Build a Sphere of Influence Business Model from Scratch – No Referral-Begging or Pestering Required! Updated in 2018
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