Buying leads is only a potentially profitable strategy. Cultivating them from your database, according to the latest RISMedia webinar, is a sure thing.
In fact, the familiar leads are the most worthwhile, according to Brooke Sines and Terri Murphy, who divulged their referral strategies in the "How to Find Gold in Referrals" webinar, hosted by Homes.com, RISMedia and Workman Success Systems.
Both Murphy and Sines emphasized the importance of nurturing your Top 50, or the 50 individuals most likely to provide you one referral a year.
Identify your MVPs.
To begin, determine who your 50 MVPs, or "most valuable partners," are. According to Murphy, often, agents can easily identify 35 individuals, but have difficulty pinpointing 50. When that happens, consider who you've given referrals to.
"We refer contractors, painters, plumbers, home inspectors," explained Murphy, a coach with Workman Success Systems. "Deploy the power of reciprocity."
It's critical to fine-tune the list of 50, as well, said Verl Workman, moderator of the webinar. Assess who on the list referred you, and change it, if needed, so that your 50 are actively giving you one referral (or more) a year.
Learn about them.
Once you have your Top 50, ask them for basic information, like their birthday, said Sines, also a coach with Workman Success Systems, and an associate at RE/MAX of Grand Rapids in Michigan. Sines does this with a Google Form, which asks for the birthdays of the individual and the individual's kids and spouse, as well as their anniversary date. She also makes note of their profession, so she can accurately apply FORD—family, occupation, recreation, dreams—when talking with them.
"Focus on building and deepening the relationship before you ever look at the opportunity," Sines said. "Knowing what profession they're in is priceless."
Plan your touches.
Both Murphy and Sines advocate for dialogue that's face-to-face or over the phone, and at frequent intervals—and, activities focused on helping them, not soliciting a transaction. Map these out in a month-to-month plan, such as:
- January – Call and check in with a "Happy New Year." Ask if they'd be interested in a mortgage review.
- February – Coordinate with a local pastry shop, and mail savings/vouchers to your Top 50.
- March – Ask your MVPs for their local recommendations (e.g., the best gym in town).
- April – Call with a free identity theft review—ideal at tax time.
- May – Gather for lunch somewhere in town.
- June – Deliver kits for "summer survival" (e.g., sunglasses, sunscreen).
- July – Donate to a local organization, in their name.
- August – It's the "dog days of summer"—host a movie screening.
- September – Gather your MVPs for a party to say thank you.
- October – Deliver sweets and treats.
- November – Offer pies for Thanksgiving.
- December – Collect donations or food at your office, and ask your MVPs to participate.
Be creative with your follow-ups and touches. With birthday cards, for example, Sines adds a scratch-off (and $1 for kids)! She also leverages Meetup.com, which allows her to connect with her existing network and new people.
Whatever your activity, being genuinely interested in a relationship is vital.
"When you have a relationship with someone and things go wrong in a transaction, you get through it—but when there's no relationship, it gets personal fast," Workman said. "Relationships not only create opportunities, but they also solve problems. Focus on the relationship, and the transaction will take care of itself."
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