Real Estate Sphere of Influence: Best Marketing & Referral Engine
As a real estate agent, it’s vital to stay in touch with your database and build relationships with those in your real estate sphere of influence (SOI). Just consider a few of these statistics:
- 82% of all real estate transactions are the result of contacts from previous clients, referrals, friends, family, and personal contacts. (Source: Buffini & Company)
- 74% of buyers would use their agent again or recommend them to others (Source: National Association of REALTORS)
- 84% of consumers say they trust recommendations from family, friends, and colleagues, making peer recommendations the highest-ranked information source in trustworthiness. (Source: Nielsen)
If these stats highlight anything, it’s that people are social creatures and they are much more likely to use a realtor if they have social proof. Whether you’re a brand-new agent, or you’ve been doing this for over a decade, word-of-mouth remains extremely important, as is social and online marketing in this day and age. The key to increasing your leads is harnessing the golden opportunities within your real estate sphere of influence.
What is a Real Estate Sphere of Influence?
Simply put, a Real Estate Sphere of Influence (SOI) is a group of people you know personally. Whether it’s your immediate family member, Steve from the gym, a previous client, or your Starbucks barista – the main idea behind a ‘sphere of influence’ is just because these people know you, you can impact them in some way.
Defining your real estate SOI doesn’t need to be complicated. Scroll through the contacts in your phone, go down your social media friends list, jog your memory of the last 15 people you’ve talked to. You’ll be surprised how fast this list comes together – and how large it probably is.
Tip: Leveraging a real estate CRM helps you compile, track, nurture and grow your SOI from one central place.
While creating this list often comes easy to most real estate agents, marketing to an SOI can be intimidating. Fear of rejection, failure, the phone – many obstacles keep agents from working their SOIs. If you’re one of them, understand influencing others is a very natural human behavior. Mothers influence their children to get household chores done. Religious leaders influence their congregations. Government leaders influence the citizens of their district. You are simply another natural-born influencer in the community.
Authenticity and CRM: Two Vital Components to Nurturing Your SOI
Continually defining, growing and nurturing your sphere of influence is important because not everyone in your real estate sphere of influence will be ready to buy, rent or sell their home, or make a referral when you contact them. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of outdated (and just plain BAD) advice out there about marketing to your SOI. In a world ridden with fake news and mistrust, the most effective thing you can do is be authentic and contact your SOI in a way that feels natural. Not only is it more cost efficient (mailers are pricey), it’s also more personal. Truly great SOI and marketing aren’t really about selling your real estate services, it’s about building trust and providing relevant value to others who know you.
For example, if you normally interact with Steve from the gym in-person, it’d be weird to all of a sudden call him up on the phone and immediately start talking business. Instead, after your next weight training session, maybe mention a funny story from work or an interesting stat you read recently. Engaging with Steve in this way is more in line with the normal way you’d be communicating, but you’re still nurturing a professional relationship with him. Remember, your goal isn’t to SELL Steve on anything today; it’s to ensure he thinks of you first when he is ready to buy or sell, or when someone in his SOI needs an agent.
We all like to say we’ll remember these conversations at the gym with Steve but can easily lose track of things – especially when we get busy. That’s why a real estate CRM, like ZipperAgent, is the ultimate keep in touch tool. Not only does it serve as your database to house all the contacts you want to stay “top of mind” with, but it can also remind you when it’s time to reach out, provide automated drip emails between touches to everyone in your database and more.
Marketing Tips for Increasing Referrals
When it comes to real estate marketing to your SOI, there isn’t one silver bullet tactic. Put yourself in your contact’s shoes. What do they like to talk about? Who do they hang around with? How do they want to engage with you usually? Here are a few tips as you think about contacting each person in your sphere of influence.
Social sites like Facebook. LinkedIn and Instagram allow you to grow a sphere of influence exponentially. Commenting or writing about what you do means potentially thousands or even hundreds of thousands of eyes on it almost immediately. However, the algorithms on these sites highly value engagement. That means, don’t just like someone’s post, be social. Comment and respond. Go beyond just posting your listing. Share a fun GIF or meme, or pose a question in your status update. The few extra seconds you spend doing so helps get you more visibility in your SOI’s newsfeeds.
Some CRMs make it easy to set up email drip campaigns to go out to relevant segments of your list. Sending out a regular newsletter with helpful tips on inexpensive home upgrades, news from the local market, comparable property values in their neighborhood, etc. are great for staying top-of-mind. Just be sure you ask for permission first.
Yes, we live in a digital age but there’s just something about hearing a real voice. The key with generating referrals via phone so it doesn’t feel like a sleazy sales call is to make it part of the natural conversation. When you’re chatting and laughing about everything from life with teenagers to the big upset during last week’s big game, bringing up the word “house” in the last few minutes of the conversation then feels like a natural segue, not an awkward script. For example:
“Hey Susan, before you go, would you do me a favor? If you know anyone who’s thinking of buying or selling their house anytime soon, would you please keep me in mind? A great deal of my business comes from referrals from friends and past clients like you, so I’d really appreciate it.”
If picking up the phone seems too intimidating or weird (hello, client you haven’t spoken to in 13 years…), there’s still a place for traditional mailers. You never know which of your acquaintances is looking for a realtor or knows someone who is. Sharing the success story or testimonial of a recent client or mailing a printed version of your most recent email newsletter might be the thing that sparks action from someone in your SOI.
Divide & Conquer
Whether your SOI has 50 or 500 people, contacting everyone on a regular basis doesn’t need to be complicated. All you need is a simple plan and consistency. For example:
- Pick a letter of the alphabet each week and call your SOI contacts accordingly. That way, you’ll touch everyone at least twice a year.
- The first week of every month, record a short video from your laptop or phone with a 90-second real estate tip and email it out to everyone in your SOI database.
- Send a postcard on the 15th of every month to everyone in your database. Send special postcards to past clients for holidays and birthdays wishing them well.
- Once a quarter, meet your priority contacts in-person for lunch or coffee. Even a short, handwritten card or unexpected gift can go a long way by simply letting them know you appreciate them and that you’re always there to help.
Remember, most people genuinely like to help others they know (science says it makes us feel good), and will happily refer you or offer a testimonial if you just ask. Obviously the most opportune time to do it is immediately after a sale, but if you’ve got old contacts or acquaintances in your SOI that you’ve never asked for a referral from, it’s never too late to reach out…the worst they can say is ‘not right now.’
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