As a team leader and coach with Workman Success Systems, one of the recurring challenges I hear from agents is that the market is being inundated with new agents. Listing inventory is already lean, and every prospect seems to already “know” an agent. This is not a new phenomenon, however, and competing with other agents is a given in this industry.
As of March 2022, there were 1.5 million NAR members, a gain of almost 100,000 members from March 2021. As the markets gain traction and values rise, the agent count goes right with it, and this is also true for the market downturns as well.
So what do we do about it? My answer is always the same, no matter the market conditions: Lean into your sphere, the people who already know and love you.
I commonly see teams working for new leads, cold calling, and sending email campaigns and mailers, all in an effort to gain a new relationship. Now don’t get me wrong—all of the above activities are helpful and productive in real estate, however, what I find most of the time is that there is more effort put toward cold leads than our own sphere of influence. If we can shift our focus more on cultivating the relationships we already have, we will create a business that is sustainable no matter what type of market we are in.
Everyone on a team has a sphere, big or small. Your sphere is the fastest and most consistent way to earn business, especially when you are new to the industry. Relying solely on team leads provided to you is just not a sustainable, long-term strategy.
Let’s go through a few ways to cultivate your sphere.
Stay in Touch
This is the single most important factor when working with your sphere. We all get busy, and when we get busy, we tend to stop doing the things that made us busy in the first place i.e., maintaining our relationships. If you want to have an effective database to earn referrals and repeat business, you must stay in touch.
According to a NAR study done in 2020, 67 percent of sellers who used a real estate agent found their agents through a referral by friends or family or used the agent they previously worked with to buy or sell a home. Cultivating your sphere isn’t only about helping those individuals with their real estate needs, but it is also about helping the people they know that you don’t.
On my team, we make sure we are sending out birthday cards to everyone in our sphere as well as a personal phone call every quarter. There are so many options for staying in touch with your sphere that we really have no excuse for not doing it.
When you have developed and nurtured a true relationship with people in your sphere, they will recommend you to anyone they know in need. It is when we are not staying in touch that they “forget” we are in real estate.
After the last two years of enduring social isolation, people are hungry for interaction. As real estate agents, you are pillars in your communities in the position to create social engagement. Be an instigator for positive interaction within your sphere and give them what they want!
Events are a great opportunity for your team to interact with a large portion of their sphere at the same time. It can be anything from a gift pick-up event to a large-scale group event. We host a large-scale car show that is open to all as well as a more private Pie day giveaway. These two events each year help us stay in contact while giving them curated experiences. Hosting gives you and your team an opportunity to connect with many people while giving value, whether that is a gift or just a good time. By creating excitement within your sphere, they will soon look forward to the invites to your next event and even tell their friends and family about it.
Have all team members go through their sphere and pick people who own a home—it doesn’t matter how long they have owned it or who sold it to them. The next step is calling them to let them know you are offering your friends and family free, no-obligation equity check-ups. When was the last time they checked on how much equity they have in their home?
Once I have their excited agreement, I always like to let them know it is something I will be sending yearly or as often as the market calls for. Doing this activity gives your team the opportunity to offer something of value while staying top-of-mind. On our team, we like to print a four-page CMA and send it to them in the mail so we know it will be opened. We can then follow up with a phone call to see what they thought and if they have any questions. Oftentimes we are asked for a more detailed report, which warrants a home visit, or we are asked to do one for someone they know.
There are endless ways to develop and maintain relationships within your sphere, but the most important part is doing it consistently. Lean into those who support you and support them back, and those relationships will sustain your business through any market.
Trisha Vierzba is a broker and team leader based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as well as a Workman Success Systems certified coach. Talk to a WSS business analyst to learn more about how real estate coaching can help you.