Learn how successful agents engage their real estate sphere of influence SOI by coming from contribution and always adding value.
Every ten years or so, we run into circumstances out of our control that impact the real estate industry and disrupt how things are going. Our routines are disrupted, and our systems and our processes as real estate agents need to adjust and adapt. Let’s talk about these disruptions and how real estate agents can pivot and use their sphere of influence to survive and thrive.
Most recently we have seen this with COVID-19, the Coronavirus crisis. Prior to this we experienced a similar disruption in the Great Recession of 2007 through 2009. Even before that, 9/11 happened, the Dot-com bubble burst – these are major disruptions. We experienced the shift into technology around the 2000 where so many real estate agents’ systems went online, like CRMs, multiple listing services, and document forms. Agents were forced to shift tremendously.
A lot of agents left the business during these shifts. And many agents that remained in the real estate business gained a lot of market share.
The adage of racecar drivers during a race holds true here. Racecar drivers drive in an oval around a racetrack. In the straightaways, there is a long stretch where there isn’t a lot happening to differentiate racecar drivers from the competition. They’ve all got the gas pedal down to the metal and they’re going as fast as their cars take them.
However, it’s in the turns at the end of the oval that cause drivers to slow down. They must pivot, shift, and accelerate. They must take risks even though the inertia is pushing them up into the wall around the turn. This is when the real maneuvering comes into play, and that’s when the racecar drivers (and real estate agents) can really advance their position. During shifts in the market we must pivot our business practices as Realtors. Those are our “turns.”
Pivot to your real estate sphere of influence
Through turns in the market like these, we must remember that our sphere of influence is the most important tool in our toolbox. Always. Whether we are in a straightaway or a turn, SOI controls 80% of all real estate sales conducted in the in North America.
Remember that success leaves clues. It’s up to you to pick them up. Many real estate agents get distracted by focusing on looking for bells and whistles to help them succeed. Think of these cool technological bells and whistles, like social media, to enhance your sphere of influence. If you’re trying to find a way to get business outside of your SOI, you are going to be swimming upstream. Instead of working harder than you need to, go with what works and start building up your SOI.
Can real estate agents use methods other than sphere of influence?
Yes, there are other ways to generate business. Here at Icenhower Coaching and Consulting, we coach and train many top producers how to use other methods. We emphasize that they should never be in lieu of your sphere of influence. These other business generation methods should be in addition to your sphere of influence.
Real estate agents as community leaders
Your sphere of influence needs you to help them as real estate agents. We are the most connected to the community, much more than any other industry out there, without question. If we don’t reach out from the private sector and try to help, no one else is going to do it.
Take this opportunity and establish yourself as a positive force that cares in your community. Grocery stores hours for senior citizens, local restaurants that are open for delivery and pickup, Small Business Association information on loans, etc.
People still need to buy and sell real estate
During these uncertain times, people still need to buy and sell real estate. Regardless of the crisis, people still find themselves in a position where they need to move. People are still getting divorced, married, laid off or fired from their jobs. People are still having babies and need a larger home. Some investors see this turn as an opportunity and want to invest in real estate, especially as they’re coming out of the stock market. Shelter is a primal need – one of the most primal needs of humans.
Therefore, it’s so important for you to let people know that you are here to help. During difficult times like this, your sphere of influence needs someone they can trust to provide them with information, real estate related or otherwise. Be that community leader. Do not hide during this time – do not go silent during a big turn in the market.
Focus on your SOI
To many, creating an SOI database and a contact plan (and sticking to that plan) is too intimidating. It seems like too much work. Let’s put it into perspective. Manual labor like digging a ditch is a lot of work. Doctors and nurses assigned to the COVID unit at hospitals, working double shifts and risking contracting the Coronavirus is a lot of work. There’s a lot of work out there that’s harder than getting your databases together and organizing your business.
There’s no better time than right now to start doing this. Learn the technology. Embrace social media. Create an SOI contact plan and stick to it. This is one of the first things we do at Icenhower Coaching and Consulting with all our new clients. We have the privilege of coaching many of the top producing agents and teams across North America, and every single one of those we work on getting their sphere of influence together, first and foremost. And then we work on their contact plan.
Real estate agents must turn to their sphere of influence
There is a lot of panic right now, and there is a lot of uncertainty, so even if you are just calling your SOI to check in and say hello, that is huge. Especially, your past clients! A quick call saying, “Hey, how are you doing? Is there anything I can do for you?” Show that you care. This goes a long way in terms of customer service.
We are coaching all our clients to pivot to focus on their SOI right now. Some of these agents are highly successful real estate farmers, or highly successful at converting online leads, or highly successful with teams of ISAs, or great prospectors of expired listings. We coach all of them to pivot hard. Yes, it’s a little uncomfortable, but you must do it because it’s been proven to work time after time.
I’ve been in this industry for almost thirty years, so I’ve been through quite a few of these “turns” and I’ll tell you it’s the same process regardless of the catastrophe. Regardless of the reason that we have a turn in the market, it does seem to work the same way every single time. So, we stick with it. We see the results, and it’s paying dividends. You can see a lot of our agents advancing their positions in the turns as a result.
Keep it neutral and be diplomatic
Right now, you need to focus on how you’re making contact. You’re trying to help as a community leader, and you are staying positive and neutral. You can come from contribution and provide information, adding value to help people during these times. Look for any way to provide information to your people.
Extreme opinions are not effective ways to lead large groups. If you want to lead a small group of people that all think the same way, then okay – but you will only have a small chunk of business from that group. But, if you want to lead a large group, you need to learn to be diplomatic.
You don’t have to change who you are – I’m not asking you to be something you’re not. But I am asking you to be neutral and diplomatic in the public arena. Social media, your website, your email newsletter, your mailers – any way that you are reaching out to your entire sphere of influence is in the public arena.
Create a sphere of influance contact plan for your real estate business
For the purposes of this example, let’s say you have 300 people in your sphere of influence. You are going to contact them 40 times a year through diversified communication channels. This can be emails, social media direct messages, phone calls, text messages, mailers, etc. There are many ways to do these 40 contacts. This helps you stay first in mind. There are 52 weeks in a year, so you try to make it so that almost every week they see something from you. This helps them think of you as a leader they know that you’re active and successful.
Always come from contribution
Content is king and reaching out to your sphere of influence with helpful, valuable content is very important. During a “turn” like the one we’re in right now with COVID-19, there’s all kinds of content that you can be passing on to your SOI. For real estate agents that already have their sphere of influence database set up, suddenly they have more content than they know what to do with. That is one positive aspect of doing business during a turn. Your people need help right now.
Results from your SOI contact plan
So, if we are contacting our 300 people 40 times a year, the very next year we can expect a seven to one return. That means for every seven people in your SOI database, you should receive one side of business. Either from one of those 300 people, or from someone they refer to you. You can assume each of your 300 know 100 people. This means you’re marketing indirectly to 30,000 people. That’s a lot of people! If you stay consistent you will start to get these referrals, growing your SOI even further. If we take 300 and divide by seven, you will close 43 transactions from your sphere of influence or people they refer to you per year.
It is unlikely that you’re going to believe that these results happen until you meet someone that has experienced it. I can tell you at ICC we’ve never seen it not work. Yes, we’ve seen a lot of people not stick with it, and it didn’t work for them. But for the clients that stick with their contact plan of 40 contacts a year – they see the results.
Don’t obsess over your CRM
Oftentimes your CRM is the one your office or brokerage provides you. That is fine. That will work for any of these contact plans that we are talking about here. You don’t need to spend three years getting frustrated over finding which CRM is the very best. That is not the key to succeed in this business. Just pick one and stick with it.
Get the information into your CRM and create a contact plan
The next step is gathering the contact information for your people and plugging it into your CRM. Then you can start setting up an annual database contact plan. Make sure the plan includes 40 contacts a year, and the results will follow the next year. The thing you must remember during a “turn” is that when you’re in the grips of the panic, this is the most important time to be reaching out to your SOI.
Long term results
Your SOI contact plan will be sowing seeds for your future business. During the Coronavirus crisis, you may be wondering how this outreach will help when no one wants to list their house right now.
This is similar to what may happen when you call someone October 31st and they say hey we want to list their home after the holidays. You stay in touch with them. You nurture them and add value. You send them a Christmas card and find ways to come in from contribution. You’re working on staying first in mind. You keep them on a listing alert email system where they stay up to date on how the homes in their neighborhood are selling and what prices they are selling for. You’re calling to let them know how the value of their home is changing and how that might affect the price of their home when they put it up for sale in spring. So, you do all the work in October, November, and December for the result in spring when they are ready to list. This is a similar situation!
This too shall pass.
There will be a time when people can go outside again. The Coronavirus will pass. Just like in 2008, there was a time when people weren’t afraid of their money being lost in all the banks anymore. You stay in contact throughout this uncertain time and you add value, building a pipeline for the future. Ultimately, they will think of you when it comes time to buy and sell real estate.
It’s time for real estate agents to work their sphere of influence systematically and consistently
That is the idea behind our SOI contact plan. If we stay consistent and work with a system, every single year those results will just come to us. Instead of scavenging and wondering how much business the markets will give us by default, you can generate business by design. Create a system that will bring you business over time.
Get your sphere of influence into a database. Create a contact plan of 40 contacts a year. Be consistent and come from contribution. Stick to the plan. For us to pivot effectively during this time, we need to grasp our SOI tightly and continue to grow it. Continue to add value and use these tips to come from contribution. We will get through this turn in the market!