Pretty much every real estate agent at some time or another has been told that their sphere of influence is too small. And it makes sense: if you want more sales and referrals, market your services to more people. There are thousands of articles out there giving you advice on all the different people you can put in your sphere. At least a couple of those were written by me.
They all say basically the same thing – anyone you know, interact with, or do business with can be in your sphere of influence. Mom, dad, grandma, dry cleaner, dog groomer, trash man, banker, insurance agent, hair dresser, butcher, baker, candlestick maker – every one of them could be a customer.
But where are all the articles telling you that your sphere of influence shouldn’t just be BIGGER – it should be BETTER? The truth is, you have limited time and limited marketing dollars. To maximize the effect of both, your sphere of influence needs to be made up of people who will actually generate income for you.
Sometimes influence and acquaintance just isn’t enough. It’s great to have your auto mechanic on your sphere of influence. He may sell his home in a few years. And even though statistics say he knows at least 12 Realtors, he might call you to list it. But is he the kind of guy that is going to go out of his way to refer you to his friends and family? Does he know and network with a wide variety of people likely to need your specific set of skills? Probably not.
The average person moves only every 11 years. Which means AT BEST you are going to get direct business from only 9% of your sphere each year. You’ll need a very big sphere to make a career on selling to them directly. But that’s not the only thing your sphere can be used for. The main goal of your sphere of influence shouldn’t be to get a listing or buyer, it should be to generate consistent referrals.
To do that, you need to rethink the people you put in your sphere. Instead of just a sphere of influence list, we encourage you to create a Sphere of Active Referrers, or SOAR list. The people in your SOAR list are the types of people you might send you a referral every month because they know the people who need your help!
Determining this target audience is actually pretty easy. Your specialization (if you don’t have one, you should, but that’s a different article) is what determines who is in your SOAR list. If you specialize in a specific neighborhood then the people on the HOA board, PTO, neighborhood watch, and local business owners should be on your SOAR list. Those are the people who know the people in your target neighborhood.
If your focus is first time home buyers go out and get some ministers and wedding planners and formalwear providers on your SOAR list. Become their recommended Realtor and return the favor to them.
If you are in the luxury home market build your SOAR list around like-minded professionals like wealth planners, jewelers, and luxury car dealers.
If you have the NAR Green designation, seek out the people who are vocally concerned about sustainable business practices and let them know YOU are the Realtor they should be referring their friends to.
No matter what your specialty, the people you want on your SOAR list are the people you can create a reciprocal relationship with because you sell to, work with or interact with the same types of people. They are the people who know that your specialization makes you the best choice for people who need your specific expertise. Additionally, you want to focus on the TYPE of people who are likely to make referrals. These are the highly networked, outgoing and respected leaders who people turn to for advice.
Likely, you do not already have a relationship with these type of people. They are not already under your influence. You will have to put in the time and research to identify them and begin a plan of communication that will get them to know, like and trust you. The best way to start is by beginning the cycle of reciprocity. Give them something of value, refer some business to them or solve a problem for them and you’ll find many of them will return the favor! If you put in the effort, you’ll find that instead of waiting 11 years to get business from someone in your sphere of influence, you’re receiving regular, multiple referrals from your SOAR list!
To help you get started, below are a list of the people you can consider for both your Sphere of Influence, and your Sphere of Active Referrers.
Nieces / Nephews
Aunts / Uncles
Your Best Friend
Your Close Friends
Friends of the Family
Fraternity Brothers / Sorority Sisters Golf / Tennis / Bowling /
Cycling / Poker Buddies
High School Friends / Yearbook
Bible Study Group
Fantasy Football (or whatever sport) Fraternal Organizations (Elks, Masons, VFW, Shriners)
Health Club Members
Members of your country club Minister / Pastor / Priest / Rabbi Neighbors
Cell Phone Salesperson Computer Repair
Home Owners Association
Media Sales Representative
Old Co-Workers and Bosses Printer
Children’s Friends Parents Children’s Teacher
Day Care Provider
School PTA Board
Sunday School Teacher
Anyone you write a check, swipe a card or hand some cash to!
Charities you donate to Chiropractor
Stock Broker / Investment Advisor
If You Specialize in First Time Home Buyers or Young Couples
Consider credit counselors, educators, insurance agents, property managers,
daycare providers, wedding planners, fitness centers
If You Specialize in Luxury Homes
Consider jewelers, luxury car dealers, financial planners, country clubs, travel agents, interior designers, tutors
If You Specialize in Empty Nesters or Maintenance Free Living
Consider retirement planners, golf courses, travel agents, charitable organizations, landscapers, lawn maintenance companies, handymen
If You Specialize in Specific Neighborhoods or Parts of Town
Consider all local businesses, HOA boards, school boards, local elected officials, country clubs, churches
If You Specialize in Investment / Fix and Flip
Consider contractors, remodelers, bankers, handymen, plumbers, electricians
If You Specialize in Vacation / 2nd Homes
Consider property managers, cleaning services, sporting goods suppliers, home furnishing suppliers, local restaurants and entertainment venues, pet boarding facilities
If You Specialize in Seniors
Consider estate planners, physicians, church organizations, assisted living facilities
If You Specialize in New Families
Consider day care providers, school officials, teachers, pediatricians, tutors, toy store owners, photographers, insurance agents, car salespeople, new parent support groups, estate planners, libraries
If You Specialize in Relocation
Consider moving companies, cleaning services, auction houses, car rental companies, contractors, local hiring managers, higher education, temporary job services, self-storage facilities
If You Specialize in Military Families
Consider local military publications and writers, car dealers, temporary job services, military family support groups, local military officers, elected public officials, day care services, local schools, hunting and gun suppliers, fitness centers
If You Specialize in Non-English Speakers
Consider local cultural magazines or newspapers, churches and religious groups, ethnic grocery stores or restaurants, language schools, travel agencies, foreign language radio or television stations, other multi-lingual service providers or retailers
If You Specialize in Distressed Properties
Consider banks and lenders, lawyers, debt counselors, government officials, real estate investors, self-storage facilities