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3 Tips to Improve Relationships with Your Sphere and Past Clients

September 04 2015

la tips improve relationships sphere clientsAs a real estate agent, saying you are busy is a supreme understatement. By definition, you are the wearer of many hats. You have prospecting to do, deals to make sure you close on time, homes to show, open houses to hold, listing appointments to win, and on top of all that, the never ending stream of day to day fires that pop up without warning.

With all these things demanding your daily attention, it becomes necessary to prioritize. As we've written about many times, one of the first things that drops off the radar is your marketing. Of all the marketing that drops off the radar, one of the most common things we hear agents are skimping on is their past client and sphere of influence follow up.

While you can outsource some of your marketing, your sphere and past clients still require a certain amount of personal touch on your part in order to build effective relationships, generate referrals and obtain repeat business. So I'll share a few things to consider putting in place to ensure you are visible to these folks on a regular basis, and have the best chance of getting the most business possible in the process.

1) Follow-Up Reminders: Set them and forget them

For most agents, the biggest roadblock to following up with past clients and sphere farms isn't lack of desire to do it. It's just lack of time and lack of a plan. Things get busy and, as a result, slip through the cracks. It is best to have some process in place that tracks the time it's been since you've last contacted a past client, and automatically reminds you that it's time to follow up with them again.

There are many ways you can do this. The automated follow up funnels in our cloud-based CRM happen to be my favorite way to accomplish this, but there are many other options out there. Contactually is another great option. It will not only track the timing for past client and sphere interactions, but takes it the extra step of also monitoring milestones that happen with these people over social media (e.g., getting a promotion or new job).

While I don't recommend it, you can always just assign tasks manually in your CRM to remind you to follow up with a past client or personal contact. The problem with anything manual, though, is that the risk for error increases. You could accidentally finish one of these tasks and forget to assign a new one for the next follow up. Because of that chance, I always prefer the automated way to "set it and forget it," ensuring that your reminders will happen EVERY time, like clockwork.

Whatever you use, you should set these reminders to ensure you are personally following up with them (via email, handwritten note, or phone) at least once per quarter, minimum.

2) It's not always just about real estate

Perhaps the second most important piece of knowledge we give agents is the idea that when you engage with these people, it can't always be about real estate.

These people already know you, know what you do, and like you. You have a personal relationship with them and your relationship needs to be based on more than you simply wanting to do business with them. Why not share things that will be looked at as interesting? Why not give them things they'll want to hang on to? (For example, art and wine festival guides are great items to send to past real estate clients and sphere of influence farms.)

Every marketplace is different and offers tons of potential ideas that will be well received by your past clients and sphere farms. Our staff, for instance, prepares a broad range of "value added" type pieces that can be sent to these people. Some of these things include festival and concert guides, local events calendars, holiday cards, restaurant guides, sports schedules, planting, decorating or home maintenance guides, newsletters, etc.

These types of marketing pieces have shelf life. They are the type of things that will go up on a bulletin board or refrigerator. Your photo and contact info will, of course, be on it, so you will passively be constantly branding yourself.

My suggestion would be you do these types of marketing pieces, at minimum, once per quarter.

3) Remember: It is NOT a bad thing to ask for referrals

So you might be asking yourself right now, "Well, if item number two is the second most important piece of knowledge, what is number one?"

It's simple: It is okay to ask for referrals.

In fact, it's not just okay to ask for referrals, it's CRITICAL. You see, the National Association of Realtors has done studies on referrals and the habits of people. What they found is very interesting. They found that nearly 90 percent of your sphere of influence and past clients will actively seek to refer your services to someone else. The trick is, you have to actually ask them for the referrals. If you don't ask them, almost none of them will refer you.

Why, you ask? It's not because they don't like you. It's simply because people, by and large, have no idea that agents depend on and appreciate referrals. I know it sounds crazy, but it's a fact.

In order to ensure all the hard work you put into working for these folks pays off, remind them that you need and appreciate referrals. There are many ways you can do this. You can create custom marketing pieces that simply ask for them. You can include small calls-to-action (emphasis on small) on your value added pieces, or you can even ask for referrals in conversation as you are doing your personal follow ups.

Whatever way you feel most comfortable talking about referrals, the point is that this HAS TO BE part of your strategy when it comes to successfully cultivating your relationships with past clients and your sphere of influence.

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