Where did your last client come from?

Reblogger Julie Martin
Real Estate Agent with Port City Realty 54149

The house I listed yesterday was a combination of things. I was the listing agent when this buyer bought it, and it's waterfront in my neighborhood. She knew me by reputation and she like the way I had marketed it when she found it originally. She loved my MLS write up, but I'm not sure if she originally saw it on the internet or via her buyer's agent. My current internet marketing was definitely a plus in getting the listing.

I listed 6 waterfront lots last week that was the result of a meeting I had to list some downtown condos two weeks ago, because of my www.PortCityCondos.com website.

Having said all that, most of my listings come from repeat and referrals, but that is because I am serious about doing a good job, which includes a lot of good internet exposure.

So, any way you look at it, it is all connected.

Original content by Rene Fabre

I’m a curious fellow. A question I always ask my real estate associates when a transaction comes into play is, “Where did your client come from?”  Traditionally it was most often one of three ways.

      1. They know someone I know.

They ride the bus to work with my neighbor. They socialize with a friend. It was a recommendation based on my good treatment of a prior client. It was someone from church, volunteering, a relative, a friend.

2. It was through my marketing.

“I’ve been working this ‘area’ diligently for sometime now and they gave me a call because they saw my flyer, postcard, ad, sign, or open house.”

3. They found me online.

They found me via my company, read my blog, or found my open house online. They see me on ActiveRain, Facebook, LinkedIn, or at a Biznik event. We’re in an online networking group and share an interest in cooking, cars, golf, or travel.


Once upon a time #1 was very different from #2, and #3 didn’t exist. In fact #3 is rather recent and it has only really come into play in earnest over the past five years or so (even though it’s been around for more).

#1 happened because you lived and participated in a community, neighborhood, school, or fraternal organization. You were known and real estate is what you do. If someone had a need, chances were good (or at least hopeful) that they came to you, or were recommended to you. That’s passive.

#2 came about because you had vision and a plan and you worked it faithfully. You had a goal in mind. You intentionally made yourself visible while prospecting for those that had a real estate need. If you did your job well you found the 1% or 2% that had a real estate need and they chose you (instead of your competition) because you were there, had the right message, style, personality, and presence. You are proactive.

Time went by (along with a lot of blood sweat and tears) and you stayed committed and learned your craft. You practiced great customer service day in, day out, even when you didn’t feel like it. You noticed clients and prospects moving from group #2 to group #1 and your referral base began to grow.

A great achievement for any professional, right?

So what happened? Did something change?

Yes, very much so. The lines of distinction between #1 and #2 not only blurred they melded and fused together. #1 and #2 didn’t go away (and don’t forget that realtors!). But #1 and #2 are now super influenced by #3. In fact most consumers no longer make the distinction where one begins and the other ends. 


Because we all changed.

#3 is the number new #1 influencer because the consumer (and that includes us) adopted search (online) as our primary first or second action step towards goal/life fulfillment. We also broadened our social net to include more people into our lives and our decision making process than every before known on the planet in any time that ever existed before now.

 I use the term ‘consumer’ loosely, thinking people use online search for many things other than purchase… We also look for answers. We look for facts, love, friendship, ancestors, religion, science, art, music, and history. We seek out people with common interests. It’s not always just about the purchase. Yet, in almost every single case it leads to, or is tied directly to, something to buy.

What happened?

The internet not only redefined local, (a monumental and wonderful accident), but as searchers (surfers) we are engaged in the pursuit of knowledge. We’re looking for stuff… real estate, coffee pots, a new car, a great vacation. We’re self educating.

The consumer is driving the market. They’re fed up and tired (just like us) with the old methods that we see crumbling around us daily. It matters far less where we are on the planet and so much more about what we have to offer and share. Distance is no longer a barrier. The old platitudes fall away. It’s not about control, domination, scarcity, hording and controlling. It’s about abundance.

Because we’re actively engaged and in pursuit, we do not want to be sold anything. Yet the result of our search is often about the want or need to buy something. When you Google anything you get at least 1,798,354 unique hits. So what do we do? We immediately begin to eliminate. Not you, not you, not you, nor you. Searchers want a reason to be pulled in. They do not want to be pushed. That’s why internet marketing is passive.

I’ve talked to about 700 realtors through lectures, presentations, roundtables, and networking events since the first of February. I asked them, “Where did your last client come from?”

In short and overwhelmingly so the verdict is

The answers included #1, #2, and were dominated by #3 (and profoundly so)… The internet was inextricably involved at every point along the way. It didn’t matter if they knew you, knew someone who knows you, they were your neighbor, a relative, or friends of friends. Every conversation we had, we could not separate the internet from the equation. Even from the non believers.

I'm asking you to help me with my research… “Where did your last client come from?”

I'd like to know... thanks...




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Sandy McAlpine
Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC

my last client was a lady that I met on a plane while both going to run a half marathon in Disney World in Orlando. We exchanged info and she came to one of my wine drinking meetups and then 2 years later, called me up to list her home!

Mar 20, 2009 12:59 AM #1
Rene Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
Marketing in the Digital Age

Julie: I just wanted to stop by and say hello, and thank you so very much for re-blogging my post. I have so much passion for all of this. To me, we're fortunate to be at the beginning of a new era. I believe #1 and #2 will always be with us. And, #3 will play an even larger role. It's face to face that matters, and what I find interesting is how we get there. The internet plays a greater and greater role in that. Infact that's how you found me, that's how I found you!



Mar 21, 2009 12:29 PM #2
Julie Martin
Port City Realty - Mobile, AL
Realtor, Broker - Gulf Coast Real Estate


Thank you for your response. There are people I have met through social networking that I have learned so much from. What a fabulous world and business where so many people are willingly and able to share so much useful information! I really try to help my agents understand this, but like most things until you get involved you really don't get it.

Let me/us know how your survey of all of this goes. I am going to use your actual post, along with the comments in my sales meeting on Tuesday.

Mar 21, 2009 01:38 PM #3
Teral McDowell
Referral Patners LLC - Murphy, TX

My last client came from a referral through my husband's employer. I like the post too.

Mar 27, 2009 03:23 PM #4
Muffy collins
Bridgeport, CT

Mine came from the internet!!

Apr 13, 2009 03:20 PM #5
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Julie Martin

Realtor, Broker - Gulf Coast Real Estate
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