Published by Jim Droz
I know the phrase “sphere of influence” has been around for a while but I never felt like it applied to me. It always sounded so empirical, like it only pertained to politicians, leaders of industry or celebrities. I work in real estate, so other than trying to convince someone to use my services, how much influence do I have? Do I even have a sphere?
As it turns out, yes. And you have one too, even if you might not know it. So it’s time to dig in and use it, because statistics show that a sphere of influence is a fantastic source of referrals for agents.
Our sphere of influence goes way beyond a prospect, contact or client list. It can be a combination of people – personal and professional – you have contact with on a semi-frequent basis or even sporadically. I (begrudgingly) see a dentist or doctor, go to the grocery store and gym, see an occasional movie and have favorite places to eat. I’m sure you do, too. These are all great places to cultivate relationships that could turn into referrals. That doesn’t even scratch the surface when you consider school events, church, city organizations, volunteering, family, friends, your children’s friends, former co-workers, address books and former clients, to name a few.
Obviously, there’s a fine line between staying in contact and pestering. If all you do when you see or talk to people is ask if they know anybody who wants to buy or sell a house, it’s going to be seen as an all-take, no-give relationship.
“I think it’s really important to speak to your clients at least four times a year in person, and you also need to send them things at lest once a month so they have your picture and phone number handy,” said Mary Beth Buckles, a HouseHunt agent in Southern California who works in Dana Point. “Anyone I’ve ever sold a house to gets greetings, messages or items from me. It’s a simple thing to do and has a big impact.”
If anybody knows about how successful a sphere of influence can be it is Buckles, who had $12 million in sales in 2011 and said nearly 100 percent of her business comes from past clients and referrals, which includes a jaw-dropping 14 transactions from one family over a 10-year period. That number grew into even more closings when they referred her to some of their friends and co-workers.
Don’t think of these contacts as sales calls, acts of desperation or killing time. Be positive and ask how their kids are doing in school or if they’ve been on a recent vacation. Ask how their job is going and make mention about how the housing market is improving but you can never have enough contacts. That’s when you can ask about any signs they’ve seen or people they know thinking about buying or selling. Make it a conversation that leads into the possibility of picking up business. Make it a daily routine. That will make the practice more comfortable and feel less robotic. Who knows, you might discover that you have a lot in common with someone who becomes a person you go to ballgames with or meet for lunch in the park from time to time.
As agents, we do have a sphere of influence and would be foolish not to tap into it. So it’s time to start asking who you know that can be added to your list. Sit down and think about it. You’ll be surprised at all the potential contacts you run into each week. Write some of them down and, if you’re an organized person, categorize them in terms of family, friends, professionals, peers, prospects, vendors, city leaders and the like.
The list will grow and you might even end up selling a house to the guy next to you on the elliptical machine at the gym or the woman you see a lot at the coffee shop.
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