In real estate, we talk a lot about the potential of your sphere. But we almost never talk about the individual contacts that comprise your sphere. Within the typical agent’s sphere is a broad spectrum of close friends, random acquaintances and even online leads that perhaps only have the name and email address populated within a CRM.
As automated “touch points” prevail over the more personal methods of truly keeping in touch, many agents are finding that their sphere isn’t generating them much business any more. Could it be because we’re treating all our contacts the same, when they in fact have very different potential to bring us business?
Consider these recent NAR statistics: 88% percent of 2016 buyers said would use their agent again or recommend their agent to others. This strong number is in line with the metrics we’ve seen for years in the real estate industry.
However, in 2016, only 17% of repeat buyers did use the agent who previously helped them to buy or sell. A full 37% of repeat buyers bypassed their previous agent and went with a personal referral or another agent they knew personally. Among first-time buyers, the referral number was even higher; 52% of first-time buyers either hired a personal contact to represent them or were referred to their agent by a personal contact.
What this means is that the power of an agent’s sphere is still alive and well. It’s even thriving. But in order to capitalize on your potential for word-of-mouth business, you must:
Look closely at your sphere contacts to determine the strength of each relationship
Segment your sphere into three groups: Strong, Average, Weak
Work to maintain your strong relationships, build your average relationships and nurture your weakest relationships
Are you ready to get honest -- and real -- about the health of your sphere? As time permits, review each contact in your sphere to determine if your relationship is strong, average or weak. For most contacts, you should know immediately where you stand.
For those that are a bit murkier, answer in your head these ten questions below to give them a definitive ranking. Give yourself one point for every “yes.”
1. Do they know my first and last name?
2. Do I know them? Would I be able to greet them by name if I saw them on the street?
3. Could they easily contact me without having to look up my information online or finding an old marketing piece? In short, do they have me saved as a contact in their phone or email?
4. Have they used my services in the past?
5. Would I expect them to use my services in the future?
6. Have they referred me any business or attempted to refer me any business in the past?
7. Am I friends with them on Facebook, connected on LinkedIn -- or engaged in other online communities, including gaming, fantasy sports leagues or online networking groups?
8. Is there potential for me to engage with them organically, face-to-face? Am I connected to them in any “in-person” groups, including a book club, PTA, Chamber of Commerce? Are we fellow school parents or do we belong to the same church or fitness center?
9. Does this person consider me a friend?
10. Do I have any idea when this person might transact again?
1-3 points: Weak
What comes next?
Next, you get to work. Once you’ve segmented your sphere into Strong, Average and Weak segments, it’s time to build on each of those relationships.
Maintain your strong relationships
Do this by keeping in touch naturally with each contact that represents your Strong segment. These are the people you know best, or the people who have most recently used (and loved) your services, so you shouldn’t overthink it. Work to keep in touch as often as you like and thank them vigorously for any business they send your way.
Build on your average relationships
This group represents your highest potential group, as they just need to be warmed up rather than re-introduced to you and your services. Consider inviting your Average contacts to lunch, coffee or on a walk so you can get to know them better. Send them personal emails when you see something that reminds you of them or post a message of congratulations on their wall when they mention a recent achievement. Focus on keeping each interaction natural and don’t sell too hard. Sphere building is all about the long game of building lasting relationships.
Nurture your weak relationships
This segment is, of course, the hardest one to squeeze business from. Whether the contacts within are old internet leads that didn’t go anywhere, or the product of a title list of homeowners, you’re going to have to work hard to get to know them. Nurture them with low-cost marketing products, add them on LinkedIn or to a Facebook group you have for their market area (using discretion). If you have their email address, try retargeting them with online or Facebook ads so they get to know your name and branding.
Want to win more business from every segment?
SmartTargeting Sphere is a new product offering that comes within the SmartTargeting platform. Whether you need to win more business from your sphere, or hope to identify opportunities within your local market area, our predictive analytics, automated marketing and mobile lead followup system has you covered.
Reach out today to see how you can identify listing opportunities from within your sphere and local geographic market area.