Happy Grasshopper presents an interview with Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, real estate trainer and author of Sell With Soul. Her new book, Prospect with Soul for Real Estate Agents is the third book of the "Soul" series and will be available in May.
About Prospect with Soul
In Prospect with Soul for Real Estate Agents, Jennifer takes on old prospecting methods and explains how to “soulfully” tweak them. She gives specific tips and guidelines on applying “Soulful” principals to:
- getting more business and referrals from your friends without begging or bribing them to work with you
- expanding your sphere of influence by simply being pleasant to people
- inspiring open house visitors to offer their contact information instead of tricking them into giving it up
- staying in touch without becoming a nuisance or spending a fortune
My Q&A with Jennifer
Celeste: Thanks for joining me today, I was excited to talk to you about your new book and especially about your “follow-up” strategies. What inspired you to write this new book?
Jennifer: Well, I hate to say this, but it was sort of a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" moment that originally inspired the book. What I mean by that is I've never been of the opinion that our jobs as real estate agents is primarily to prospect, and secondarily, to take care of our clients. I firmly believe that if you take fantastic care of the clients you're honored to have, and do a reasonably good job of staying in touch with them afterwards, you'll never have to formally prospect. Or, perhaps, it's better said that by taking fantastic care of the clients you have, you're doing the most effective prospecting in the world.
Of course, to kick off the cycle, you have to go find yourself some clients to take fantastic care of, and I understand that. Being self-employed, we are responsible for bringing business to our doors. But that doesn't mean prospecting is our primary job or the reason we have a license, it's just a necessary "evil" for anyone who is self-employed - going out and finding people to serve.
Anyway, my point is that I noticed that of all the topics I've written about, the most popular and appreciated seem to be those about business-building. So, I figured I'd do what I could to help agents prospect for business so that they'd have lots of clients to take fantastic care of, and then they'll never have to prospect again if they don't want to!
Celeste: You talk a lot about “sphere of influence”, what exactly does that term mean to you?
Jennifer: "Sphere of Influence" is quite a catch-phrase in the real estate industry and most agents and trainers assume it to mean "everyone you know," although some think of their sphere as only their "friends, family and past clients." Neither definition satisfies me - "everyone I know" is too broad and "my friends, family and past clients" is too narrow, and if a real estate agent relies too literally on either of these definitions, they'll almost certainly be disappointed in the business they see from their sphere.
Let's hit "everyone I know" first - that implies that everyone YOU know, knows you and knows (or remembers) that you sell real estate. That's almost certainly a false assumption since the people in our lives aren't keeping track of us on a daily basis. While we'd like to think that "everyone we know" is always thinking about us and looking for ways to support our businesses, that's a little optimistic!
Conversely, to say that your SOI is only your "friends, family and past clients" discounts the tremendous business-generating potential of all those other people you know who aren't friends, family or past clients, but might be happy to hire you or send business your way, if properly approached.
Therefore, the best definition of Sphere of Influence is "Everyone Who Knows You and Knows That You Sell Real Estate," which can and should include friends, family, past clients along with "everyone else" - and again, that "everyone else" group, can be a terrific source of business for you.
Celeste: Many Realtors find it difficult to get contact information from people who visit open houses. I know you talk about this in your book, can you give us a few tips?
Jennifer: One of my favorite topics! The problem is that most real estate agents suspect, deep inside, that open house visitors really don't want to give up their contact information in fear of being harassed afterwards by hungry Realtors wanting their business. And that's probably true - after all, what's in it for the open house visitor to turn over personal contact information? Why would they want to do that? So, we come up with all sorts of excuses to get that contact information - we ask people to sign in "for security purposes" or to "show the seller how many visitors we had" or to enter a contest for a lovely gift basket or to be added to a mailing list... but again, none of these reasons are going to inspire visitors to WANT the agent to have their information.
But instead of trying to "trick" contact information out of open house visitors, how about inspiring them to want you to have it? To offer it to you because they actually want to hear from you again? The way to do that is to have something they want (and no, it's not a lovely gift basket)! What might an open house visitor want from a real estate agent? Market familiarity. Neighborhood expertise. Combine a conversational familiarity of the local real estate market with a sincere interest in the visitor's real estate needs, and a bona-fide buyer (or seller) is far more likely to be open to further communication than if you simply make him or her sign in "for security purposes."
That said, not every open house visitor is a good prospect for you; in fact, maybe only one or two will be. Don't fret about the ones who don't seem interested in talking with you - just smile and be polite, and let them walk out the door. Trying to build rapport with someone who isn't interested is exhausting!
Celeste: You recently reviewed Happy Grasshopper, would you mind sharing your opinion about the service?
Jennifer: Of course! I see a lot of products, systems and programs designed to "build relationships" with one's sphere of influence. And most of them are, in my opinion, dreadful. They do nothing to make the recipient of the relationship-building communication (postcard, newsletter, etc.) smile and think of the sender (the agent) fondly. They do nothing to start up conversations that can lead to all sorts of wonderful things.
But your service is different and I like that you don't promise to create a relationship where perhaps none exists! You give the agent an easy-to-understand tool to use that he can (and should) add his own personal touches to. It's not fancy, it's not "corporate," and it doesn't insult the intelligence of either party. A Happy Grasshopper email campaign will not take the place of other relationship-building activities, and I like that you're upfront about that instead of promising agents that all they have to do is buy your product and BOOM! They'll have more business than they can handle.
Celeste: How would you recommend that Happy Grasshopper users bring some “Soul” to it?
Jennifer: I think of your product as a starting point for an agent who isn't used to communicating with her SOI on a regular basis. Your material is well-written, friendly, timely, and extremely easy to customize. Which I think should be done - that is - I think that every Happy Grasshopper email that goes out should have the agent's fingerprints all over it! She can add a few personal thoughts on the subject of the month, or some other personal note that will be of interest to her sphere, and here's the most important part... BE RESPONSIVE to any responses that come in as a result of the email! If someone responds, respond back! Start up conversations! If appropriate, make a date for coffee or lunch! Use the system as a conversation-starter, not simply a "Whew, glad I got this month's 'touch' out of the way!"
If a certain month's topic doesn't really interest you, don't send it out; just skip it. Maybe do something different that month - a market update report or some sort of interesting newsletter.
Celeste: When will the book be out? How do we get a copy?
Jennifer: YAY! Prospect with Soul for Real Estate Agents will be available by the end of April at my bookstore (www.SWSStore.com) and on Amazon.com in mid-May. Right now, at my bookstore, you can still get one of the first 1,000 copies printed - numbered and autographed, and the Kindle version is already available at Amazon.
Happy Grasshopper - Get started today!