By Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing, ProspectsPLUS!
There’s an old Girl Scout campfire song that begins with, “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” That tune came to mind as I sat down to write this month’s article. Why? Simply because I know many agents who are so busy chasing “new” business that they forget the customers who got them to where they are. While I agree that looking after new or “silver” clients is a great idea, there is no measure for the career longevity of consistently building a strong “golden” sphere of influence.
Did you know that the average 20-year value of a client is more than $93,000 for most agents? It’s funny how, even knowing that, so many bright, successful salespeople ignore past customers. I spoke to a ProspectsPLUS! client two weeks ago who-by most agents’ standards-is doing very well in what many consider a tough market. We were talking about her strategy for working with move-up market candidates, and I told her how proud I was of everything that she was accomplishing and then asked her, “How are you managing your BusinessBASETM?” Her answer was that, unfortunately, she wasn’t. Here was an agent who had been working with affluent homebuyers with the ability to move up into their dream homes despite a tough economy for the past year, yet she had not put the one system of our program in place that would help her keep those customers for life. We helped get her on track, but her story is not unique. How many of you have been so caught up working IN your business that you’ve bypassed the crucial step of working ON your business?
There’s no time like the present to adopt another Scout motto: Be prepared. Our markets are changing rapidly and, according to the experts I’ve talked to, many areas should start seeing significant changes beginning in the spring. So taking the month of December to get your proverbial “ducks in a row” just makes sense. What do you say we make a New Year’s resolution a month early-so we’re PREPARED for whatever comes our way in 2009!
Make a list, and check it twice! Take a tip from Santa this year and use some downtime to compile a list of customers and prospects past and present. Use whatever contact-management system you’re comfortable with, and jump in! You’ll be surprised at how the list grows once you start including friends, old classmates, business associates, your doctors, attorneys, CPAs, sports team members and neighbors. Visit www.prospectsplus.com to download our free BusinessBASETM, which includes a list of the 250 people who should be in your sphere of influence and guidance on how to start compiling the information you need to keep them not only as customers, but also as a referral base that will position you to weather any market.
Not sure how many people you need in your sphere to realize your 2009 goals? That’s not uncommon, so we’ve made it simple to figure out. Visit www.3727SOI.com to calculate your number based on your financial goals and average commission. This handy calculator is based on National Association of REALTOR® statistics that tell us top agents receive roughly 66% of their business from their sphere of influence and, when contacted at least monthly, one in 12 people in their sphere should result in a transaction every year.
Divide and conquer! Once you’ve got a handle on who’s on your list (no small feat, but well worth the effort), you can begin to segment your list so that you can market to those VIPs appropriately! In other words, you wouldn’t say the same thing to an investor that you would a first-time homebuyer candidate, right? Your marketing shouldn’t, either. By segmenting your list, you can be sure to send the message that best matches the mindset of your customer. For example, monthly postcards are a nice touch for friends and family. Newsletters are a great way to stay in contact with both your sphere and your geographic farm. Builders might like to hear how you can help them move standing inventory, while CPAs might love to hear how you can provide smart services for their clients looking to save when tax time comes next year!
Here are some examples of list segments to consider:
- friends and family
- business associates
- professional contacts (doctors, lawyers, CPAs)
- geographic farm
- buyer prospects
- seller prospects
- referral agents
- corporate marketing contacts (we’ll get back to this one!)
Create your strategic plan. Notice that I said “strategic.” Not just plan, not business plan, not “shot in the dark.” The professionals who will win both short- and long-term in this business utilize smart strategies, solutions and systems to streamline their business and manage their time. The new online version of our Master Marketing Schedule, which helps you map out at least two campaign ideas per week, with more than eight categories to choose from each month, is just weeks away! Email me for more information on this great tool!
Your plan should map out at least three to six months in advance to avoid getting caught up working IN your business rather than ON your business. Your strategic plan should include the “send-call-see” system in BusinessBASETM.
Next, set up an old fashioned alphabetical “tickler” file so that you remember to contact each client in your database. Send them something every month. Call them every two months. See them every three months. It might sound overwhelming, but if you break it down and just do a letter or two a day, it’s really not a lot when you consider the return. Top agents block out their hour or two a day without fail and, because of this, feel those inevitable market changes significantly less; in fact, many are reporting record years! The “see” portion of the equation can even be done in semi-annual or quarterly client events or appreciation parties. You can accomplish a lot without spending a lot if done right!
Get to it! Go ahead… and make new friends but keep the old! Add one person every business day of your year, and you’ll grow your business by leaps and bounds. Target one new niche market this year, and become the best in the world at it. It’s hard to be the number one agent in your market area, but it’s not hard to be number one with a targeted segment! Stay in touch this month and every month with solutions that allow you to set the dial, then go do what you do best!
As we close out 2008, I challenge you to look at the opportunity to stay in consistent contact with all of the people in your life not as a burden, but as a blessing. The rewards will be extraordinary, in terms of both career success and personal growth. There really is no such thing as a self-made man or woman, is there? There are many people to care for along the way. We’re here if you need us!
Learn how our new Personal Marketing Consultant can help you get ready for the new year by emailing PMA@prospectsplus.com. Find your copy of BusinessBASETM at www.prospectsplus.com, click on ProspectsPLUS! and then BusinessBASETM.