"Rely on My SOI? I don't know anyone who wants to buy or sell right now!"

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

The other day I presented seven deadly objections to running an SOI-dependent business (SOI = Sphere of Influence = People Who Know You) and asked for your comments. THANKS for all of them! JMac pretty much soisummarized my thoughts on the matter - actually he nailed them - eliminating the need for this follow-up blog! But I'm in the mood to talk SOI, so I'll do it anyway

Here are seven objections I listed and my responses:

1.       "I don't know anyone who wants to buy or sell right now and even if I did, how can I base my entire business on them?" 
In my first year, I sold 25 houses, all to my SOI. Of those 25, all but three were to people I didn't know the day I got my real estate license. They were people I met as a result of the personal relationships in my life. Some were referred directly to me by my SOI; others I met at weddings, parties, etc.; yet others were service providers in my life who weren't my friends, but knew I had a real estate license.

As JMac alluded: Your SOI is Everyone Who Knows You and Knows that You Sell Real Estate. Not just your friends, family and past clients. And if you add up all those Who Know You and figure out how many other people they know... that's a lot of potential business! (Read Teri Lussier's great blog on this topic.)

2.       "I refuse to be one of those annoying real estate agents that the family avoids at parties."
So don't be! Contrary to popular belief, an effective SOI strategy is not about bothering your friends for their business. Sure, that's a common tactic, and many real estate agents give up on their SOI because they suspect their friends are sick of hearing from them - and they're probably right. Just be a genuinely nice person with a good head on his or her shoulders... who happens to sell real estate for a living.

3.       "My friends would expect a discount or kickback because they know me."
So? I do, too! When appropriate (and I do know the difference), friends DO give friends discounts or freebies! I don't have a problem making my good friends and family feel special by giving them a deal, especially if they've been supportive of my business or are frequent buyers or sellers. But in reality, it doesn't happen nearly as much as you think it will, especially if you have confidence in your value and abilities. I get much more commission objection from strangers than I do from my SOI.

4.       "I don't believe in mixing business with pleasure. If the deal goes sour, I could lose the friendship."
Could happen. Probably won't, if you take great care of your business. Yes, things go wrong, but if you can fix the problems professionally and competently, you'll probably win even MORE brownie points from your friend than if the deal went 100% smoothly. Anyway, if you do a great job for someone who knows you and cares about you, you'll get GREAT PR in your social circle for it! I'll take that risk because I have faith in myself.

One caveat here - DON'T take SOI business that you aren't confident you can handle. For example, if your buddy wants to buy a strip mall, and you're a residential agent, REFER IT. I don't believe we should "practice" on anyone, but especially not on our SOI.

5.       "My family doesn't take me seriously - they see my new career as just another phase."
This is actually a valid objection. Family can be tough; much tougher than friends. If you suspect this will be an issue for you, don't pursue your family's business until you've built a track record you're proud of. They'll come around (or not, which is okay too). There are plenty of other people in the world for you to WOW.

6.       "I don't want my family and friends to feel obligated to use me if they don't want to."
"Obligation" is a dirty word in our business. Never ever ever think that someone is obligated to use you and don't get hurt if they use someone else. It's probably not personal (people have lives outside of our real estate business), and if it IS personal, take the opportunity to figure out why. Always give your SOI the benefit of the doubt if they don't use you - for them, it was the right decision. Respect that.

If, in your heart, you feel that your SOI is obligated to use your services, they'll feel it and resist. Conversely, if you respect their right to "choose," they also feel that and will probably beat down your door!

7.       "My broker says I need to cold-call, door-knock and mail to a geographic farm - that selling real estate is a number's game, so I need to get my name out there everywhere I can."
Somehow we get the idea we need a shot at every piece of real estate business out there in order to succeed. But we don't. If this is your first year you really only need to sell 10 - 20 properties to have a banner year. That's only 10 - 20 people in your whole town who have to hire you! It's tough to get 20 clients by throwing doo-doo against a wall, especially for new agents on limited budgets. It's not likely there are 20 strangers out there sitting by their mailbox, waiting for your fancy farming postcard, but there certainly ARE 20 people in your SOI who would love to help you, if you approach them correctly.

So... there you go.





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Renee Parker
Coldwell Banker Hubbell BriarWood - Lansing, MI
Lansing Realtor
Jennifer ~ this was very well written.  I depend on my SOI and it is not just family or direct friends.  It is so much broader than that, as you noted.  Even other Realtors I consider in my SOI.  I moved in the past few months and started my career over in a town where I do not know one single person...but Realtors I worked with, who I continue to be in contact with, have sent me referrals.  Everyone we meet is considered our SOI and my data base grows daily.  Right down to the woman who owns the little store I frequent.  Good luck to you.
Jan 07, 2008 10:54 PM #1
Jennifer Allan
Jennifer Allan, Inc. - Denver, CO
Renee - I can tell you truly "get" the concept of how a good SOI strategy works. I'd love to hear more about how you're building your business in a new place... Great point about other agents.
Jan 07, 2008 10:57 PM #2
Chris Frantz
EDU Real Estate Group - Indianapolis, IN
Very good summary of the Sphere of Influence.  Can't forget the basics. 
Jan 07, 2008 11:07 PM #3
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer
I am #2.  Find a property priced right and tell everyone who may be interested in it.  Or multiple properties.  They automatically start asking you in the future about more properties and it pique's interest.  Instead of you being the annoying real estate agent they become annoying because they want to talk about real estate when you want it shut off in your brain..LOL!
Jan 07, 2008 11:35 PM #4
Charlie Ragonesi
AllMountainRealty.com - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros
Great post we are an independent company too.... and loving it
Jan 07, 2008 11:37 PM #5
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Renee - now THAT is a great idea - keep your antenna up for great deals and then mention them in conversation... that's actually how my Alabama Realtor got me to buy two rental houses when I wasn't even thinking of buying. She casually mentioned an investment property she was considering and I was all over it!

Chris - Seems very basic to me, too, but apparently it's not!

Charlie - keep up the good work!

Jan 08, 2008 12:35 AM #6
Karl Burger
ERA Beach Ball Realty - Pensacola, FL
Pensacola Real Estate News
Thanks. That was great reading. And so true. All things I must keep in mind as I try to grow my business.
Jan 08, 2008 01:08 AM #7
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

For me, the "secret" to successfully working your SOI is NOT to be all about real estate, all the time. 

In a group or social event, I never bring it up...if someone asks me what I do, I tell them and then ask THEM a question simply because I do NOT want them to think I am going to launch into a sales pitch!  LOL  

Friends, relatives, neighbors ask "how is it going?" and I tell them, "great, having my best year ever...how is Sally doing with that school project?"  And you know what?  It works and no one runs the opposite way when they see me coming. If they are interested in talking about real estate, believe me, they will bring it up! 

When you act as if you don't need the business, it seems to find you in spades!  And there's nothing sweeter than the question, "would you take me on as a client?"  :-)

Jan 08, 2008 01:11 AM #8
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans

Jennifer.....  Sphere of influence is so critical for our business....   I definitely give friends and family a huge discount, but rarely a freebie....    but I am helping my sister and brother-in-law out this time, so it would just about be a freebie, since I have helped them several times.  Good post.

jeff belonger
Jan 08, 2008 01:52 AM #9
Wayne Miller
San Diego, CA
This is very interesting.  I've learned very quickly who my friends really are when they call me and say they have listed their property with another agent.  To put a real spin on this, sometimes I feel like they don't want to help me success due to jealousy.  To be honest, I just look outside my SOI for business and it seem to have worked for me.  I'm just keeping it REAL here, that's just the way some folks are.  Moving on.
Jan 08, 2008 01:59 AM #10
Chris Atkins
Coldwell Banker - Big Bear Lake, CA
Great Post Jennifer...very informative.
Jan 08, 2008 05:11 AM #11
Vincent Coccia
Construction Services Integration - Paoli, PA
Great info again...Thanks.
Jan 08, 2008 01:19 PM #12
Carol Lynne Bull
Keller Williams - Alexandria, VA

Jennifer thank you for explaning how the SOI works

Carol Nova Star


Jan 08, 2008 01:39 PM #13
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Andrew - oh, yes, I'm terribly qualified to shrink heads. I have a minor in psychology ;-]

Carol - hope it's helpful in YOUR business!

Vincent - you're welcome!

Chris - thanks! I love this stuff.

Wayne - I tend to think that people do their own thing most of the time without worrying about my thing. It really isn't personal when they hire someone else most of the time.

Jeff - I've only done freebies when I screwed something up badly. Yes, it happens. I think I've "donated" my entire commission to a deal twice.

Susan - Isn't it lovely to hear those magic words? And once you know how to evoke them, it's a piece of cake!

Karl - Let meknow if I can help!

Jan 08, 2008 10:28 PM #14

I agree with Wayne.  I have two wicked sisters that used to use my kids to get to me now it's my job.  They had no problem using me when they needed thier homes comped but then went to a new builder without me.  That is just spiteful and lowlife! 

May 24, 2008 08:34 AM #15
Robert Paris

How do we fulfill #2 and not bother our friends and family for business yet still let them know that we ARE in the business?

BTW, I am a HUGE SWS fan.  I know that this is way past the timliness of this posting but I stubled upon this during a search for another topic and have been wondering how not to bother people for business but still get the word out.

Nov 03, 2008 02:34 PM #16
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Hi Robert,

It's pretty easy to let people know how you work without putting them on the spot or implying a sense of obligation that THEY are responsible for building your business. Think about it with this attitude: "I ENJOY a referral-based business." Period. If you give the impression that you already work by referral, without sounding desperate or needy, people will assume that you are refer-worthy.

You can tell stories about or casually mention a great referral you got recently. It's fine to talk about your business and how it comes in as long as you aren't asking someone for business. Does this make sense?

Here are a couple other blogs on the topic - maybe they'll help! Great question!



Nov 03, 2008 10:12 PM #17
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate www.ChandlerRealEstate.weebly.com - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Jennifer - This series has helped me to gain a better understanding of SOI.  When I first started in real estate, I used to get very upset and take it personal when people I knew went with another agent.  Now I realize that there is still plenty of business for me from people who want to work with me.

Sep 18, 2009 02:17 AM #18
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Troy - I'm so glad it was helpful! It's hard not to take it personally, but in almost all cases, it really isn't. And yes, there's plenty o'biz out there!

Sep 18, 2009 11:18 AM #19
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