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How to Ask for Business from Friends & Family WITHOUT Feeling Awkward

Reblogger Chris Sonaggera
Real Estate Agent 152751

Original content by Gregg Paul

Has this ever happened to you: you wanted to ask a close friend, family member or someone you've recently met if you could be their REALTOR... then stopped yourself because you felt uncomfortable and didn't want to appear pushy?

I've sure felt that way. When I first started in the business, I struggled with how to strike the balance between "Gregg the Friend" and "Gregg the REALTOR". It took me a good six months to realize that patience and a keen ear can make all the difference in getting business from the people I already know.

Patience, because inevitably my friends and family would bring up real estate questions on their own, and a keen ear, because they'd often reference important changes in their lives that would impact where they lived (promotions, new children, kids off to college).

It became easier over time, as I became more comfortable with my local market, and felt at ease discussing it in the context of my friends' specific circumstances. As I mentioned last week, the 2009 National Association of REALTORS® consumer study revealed that 53% of real estate transactions are conducted through our social network. It took some time to get there, but that was certainly consistent with what I saw in my business. Here's how I approached it:

6 Easy Tips to Ask for & Win Business from Friends, Family & Acquaintances

Get my 6 quick tips to make it easy for to ask for business from the people who are most likely to give it to you - the people you already know! >>

Tip #1: Chat casually about the local real estate market.
People always want to know how the market is doing and how much their home is worth. I would call friends, family and acquaintances regularly just to bring them up-to-speed on recent listings, sales and market trends around their homes or in areas they were interested. My brother-in-law loved to hear about the new listings as soon as they came on the market... it was a way for him to understand how his home might be faring. I always kept it conversational, and made sure he never felt pressured. They haven't moved in over a dozen years, but he was always referring me. I never took it for granted that he'd refer me just because we were family... I worked to show him I was keeping their best interests in mind.

Tip #2: Offer information with no strings attached.
I would provide my friends and family regular real estate market updates for their neighborhoods, and then create personalized reports to follow-up. When I started, that consisted of plenty of photocopying, gluing, and "scissoring". My flyers didn't look great, but they sure got noticed. The biggest challenge I had was keeping up with the demand... it was certainly time consuming. Products like Market Snapshot from Top Producer provide the same value, but sure cut down on the time. I would record what information in shared with my family and friends, so I could refer to it later on.

Tip #3: Listen for life changes.
A new job, promotion, marriage, baby, retirement can trigger a move. I would listen for these cues in conversations, and keep track of these changes - first by writing them down in an ad hoc way, and ultimately recording them in my Top Producer. Today, online networks like Facebook® and Twitter® offer an even easier way for us to stay in touch with friends' (which you can follow from Top Producer 8i), so we now have a new way of finding out about life changes that might involve a move. A timely offer of real estate information, and assistance in buying and selling, is never out of place.

Tip #4: Answer questions about the market with "it depends...why do you ask?"
We all get questioned about the real estate market - I preferred to find out what was motivating their questions. Was it simply curiosity? Or because they were thinking of moving soon? I would answer with ‘it depends... why do you ask?' because it really opened up the conversation.

Tip #5: Ask how you can be helpful to their network.
After sending out my personalized flyers, I would ask friends and family if they knew anyone who might want real estate updates for their own neighborhood. I would follow-up with personalized market information. It took time, but was worth every minute.

Tip #5: Don't be afraid to offer assistance.
When it's clear that someone is ready to buy or sell, I was always aware that the process can be stressful, especially for many people buying or selling a home only happens every few years. I would reach out to make it clear that I was there to help. I felt this was always easier if I'd kept them informed on the real estate market. I would refer to the specific market information I'd sent them, ask if they had any questions, then ask if I could schedule a more formal and listing presentation.

Even experienced realtors can feel uncomfortable asking for business from their friends, family, past clients, and acquaintances. Many avoid the conversation at the expense of losing valuable business. I am especially proud of Top Producer's track record in the industry for providing agents tools to reach out to family and friend regularly, and especially the addition of Social Media. As always, you can learn more about turning your social network in a true business asset on our website.

Now that you've seen my list, tell me about yours... how do you ask for business from friends and family?

Don Spera
CR Property Group, LLC - East York, PA
Serving York and Adams County, PA

You just have to tactfully keep bringing the topic up and letting them know what is going on with the industry.  Wear your company logo shirts when going to a reunion or visiting.  If they don't get the point by now, they never will.

Aug 18, 2010 01:06 AM
Mary Kay Hopkins
Mary Kay Hopkins, LLC e-PRO, GRI, CRS, CRB - Lake Charles, LA

Chris and Jenita, this was a good choice for a reblog. Very good points about dealing with friends. Thanks

Aug 18, 2010 02:23 AM