A strong marketing strategy that includes the best real estate technology and tools is certainly essential for any real estate agent. However, even the strongest strategy and newest technology can’t compensate for a struggling referral network. Referral business is frequently the foundation of a top producing real estate agent’s business. Top producing agents rely on a sphere of influence referral program to help them sustain ever-changing real estate market cycle. These agents keep their sphere of influence up-to-date and in the loop: often contacting each member upwards of forty times a year. Their efforts are rewarded with a robust, steady, and consistent referral business – a welcome change from the real estate roller coaster they’ve been riding.
How Should You Contact Your Sphere?
In general, the best methods for contacting sphere of influence referral database members are mailers, emails, and telephone calls. But, don’t ignore other methods of communication that might be more effective with your unique sphere. Occasional face-to-face “drop-bys” can be great tools. Also, don’t overlook the power of social media for keeping up with your sphere of influence. Facebook events and social media messages can be easy, low-threat ways to keep in touch with members of your sphere.
Who Makes Up Your Sphere?
Your sphere will have layers. The inner circle is made up of people you already know. These are your family members, friends, organizations, and club memberships – the people that know you, believe in your work, and already trust you enough to refer business your way. The next layer is comprised of former business contacts and members of organizations you support financially. The final layer requires a bit more effort – and creativity – on your part. Here are some suggestions of people to include when building your sphere of influence beyond the first two layers:
- Extended family members
- College friends and organizations
- Your significant other’s friends, family, and connections
- Children’s coaches, teachers, and principals
- Healthcare providers
- Beauty providers
Regardless of who you ultimately include in your sphere, make sure that you have good data on each member of your sphere. While you can include as much or as little information as you like, at the bare minimum you must have:
- First name
- Last name
- Email address
- Phone number
How Should You Organize Your Sphere?
You’ll almost certainly be surprised at how large your sphere is, and will quickly understand the importance of keeping your list well-organized. Keep your list in a single place – no piles of business cards/notebooks/email contact lists. Then, organize your list based on how you know each person – family, friend, former business associate, etc. Once you get to know them better, you can break them down further into “Buyer” and “Seller” lists. If you’re lucky, you’ll enjoy access to a great CRM through your brokerage, and the CRM can keep your list organized for you. If you don’t have access to a CRM, and you aren’t quite ready to make that investment, a simple excel spreadsheet will work initially. Eventually, though, you’ll want a CRM so you can see at a glance exactly when you last touched base with a contact.
Pro Tip: Star or highlight the people in your SOI who you know are the most influential ones. These could be people who know a lot of homeowners, like roofers or maintenance pros, they could be the heads of your kids PTA or even just the natural extroverts in your friend and family circle.
How Should You Customize Your Communications?
Be natural. Contacting your SOI in a way that feels natural is not only more cost-efficient (mailers are pricey!), but is also more effective. Your first communications will simply be to introduce your new role as a Realtor and build awareness around what you are doing through conversation. Business is about connecting with people, not selling to them. Go ahead and get out there.
At its best, marketing to your SOI helps you establish yourself both online and offline as THE local realty expert. There are three primary ways to get your name out there:
- Become active in the community
- Expand your presence on social media
- Use online and offline advertising
When Should You Consider Trimming Your Sphere of Influence?
Trick question! Never write anybody off. You never know where your next lead will come from. So, give your full attention to every person you meet. Rockstar agents have an easy, workable system for nurturing and growing their SOI. They understand that not everyone in their sphere will be ready to buy or sell their home, or even make a referral when contacted. But, if you have an easy system for following up, you’ll make sure your sphere is well-cultivated and generating new leads for your business.
How Can You Nurture Your Sphere of Influence?
You can nurture your sphere of influence by sending regular emails. The Washington Post spends roughly 20.5 hours per week in their inbox, and your emails should be there waiting for them. Not every email needs to be completely customized, and most CRMs are capable of setting up an email “drip” campaign and sending communications to relevant segments of your list. Just make sure to ask permission before sending anything. Nothing cools a potential lead quite like seeing an inbox cluttered with unsolicited emails!
And again, don’t ignore the role social media plays in nurturing your sphere of influence. Set aside an hour a day to engage with your SOI on the social media platforms they prefer. Share stories about your recent wins, offer information and answer questions. Social media posts are a great opportunity to give your SOI a better understanding of who you are, what you value, and why you love real estate. Finally, take the time to thank your sphere of influence – especially if they took the time to give you a referral. Client appreciation gifts, holiday cards, and handwritten notes go a long way towards nurturing your relationship.
Building a sphere of influence is an art, and can seem daunting for a new agent. Hopefully, you have an experienced real estate mentor to help you create your own sphere of influence. If you don’t, eXp Realty has all the experienced professional mentors and support you need to accelerate your career as a real estate agent. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.