Desperately Seeking Referrals?

Q. Dear Coach:

I have been in real estate for almost three years and have a Sphere of Influence of nearly 200 names in my database. For some reason, I am not getting many referrals from my Sphere. I send them a monthly mailing, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. I don’t like the idea of calling people since it makes me feel like a used car salesman. What do you suggest?

Signed, Desperately Seeking Referrals

A. Dear Desperately Seeking Referrals:

This is a great question and one I frequently encounter with my clients.

There are two basic approaches to marketing to your sphere of influence. They are 1) Reactive and 2) Proactive. It is important to have both as part of your marketing program mix.

The Reactive approach involves waiting for people to call or visit you. When we send out a mailing, that is essentially what we are doing. We do the mailing and hope that people will call us. The key word is “hope”. Does that mean you should not do any mailings? Absolutely not! Monthly mailings are an important part of your marketing program mix since they are an additional reminder to your sphere that you are out there! The mistake many realtors make is that they rely primarily (or solely) on mailings to market themselves and exclude most proactive approaches, which we will describe next.

The Proactive approach involves initiating a personal contact and connecting with people. This can be either a phone call or a meeting (for lunch or coffee) with people in your sphere. Personal contacts allow us the opportunity to make connections and remind people who we are, and how we can help them. The more personal contacts we make, the more likely we are to get more business. My clients find that being proactive is the most quick and effective way to establish a consistent flow of referrals from their Sphere. As an added bonus, when you work with your sphere, you are calling and meeting with people who know you, trust you and like you!

You mentioned that calling people makes you feel like a used car salesman. What a drag! That must feel really uncomfortable and it obviously gets in your way of calling people in your sphere. The key to feeling good about making calls is knowing that you are connecting with people and providing value to them , not just asking for their business. Here are some ways you can provide value to your sphere when calling them:

Provide a brief update on the real estate market in their neighborhood
Remind them of home maintenance needs (cleaning gutters, changing furnace filters)
Let them know you have a list of preferred service people (gutter cleaners, electricians, plumbers) that you are happy to share with them whenever they need work done around their house.
The most important aspect of calling your Sphere is to make a personal connection. Talk to them about their families, occupation, recreation and dreams (FORD), while providing them information of value. The referrals will come!

So, continue your monthly mailings and begin calling your Sphere. You will soon begin to generate a consistent flow of referrals, and you will enjoy yourself in the process!