I Don't Buy Leads, I work My "Spear". Oh, Do You Really?

Real Estate Agent with Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 CA BRE# 01261476






I Don't Buy Leads, I work My "Spear". Oh, Do You Really?



I’m one of those Realtors that says, “I don’t buy leads, I work (or prospect) my Sphere of Influence (SOI) or my Database is the term I prefer to use. Now, in my case this is effective, because I really do. But, do you…really…work yours? Your Sphere of Influence is essentially your database. And yes, its a Sphere, not a Spear folks -I hear so many say “spear”; the title is tongue and cheek folks.


What is a database though?


Well, 90% of agents treat it like a solicitation list of phone numbers, email and mailing addresses to drip market on or to eventually neglect as they are lured away by shiny object syndrome over in the "land of purchased “leads”." Lead-lists made up of names of very angry people over solicited by sales agents, because they were sold to multiple agents without a business plan.

I invite you to join the 10% of us who treat a database like a relationship bank. Why a bank? Because you are looking to make deposits, not withdrawals as often as possible. Many agents are over drawn or worse, never opened an account.


Your database first needs to be built and filled with relationships: “With whom?” you ask. With everyone you’d invite to your wedding, send a Christmas Card to or with whom you already do business with: your dentist, your pet’s vet, your dry cleaner, your lawyer, etc.

Then you need to rank them. Why?

So, you can prioritize your time, energy and focus on them appropriately; because they don’t all warrant the same amount of effort. I use what I learned both in Ninja Sales and Buffini & Company  :

  •         A+ Are advocates that send you multiple referrals 
  •         A = Will proactively refer you 
  •         B = Will refer you if asked 
  •         C = Will maybe do business with you; they're new in your database.
  •         D = Would like to get to know (Ninja) and = Delete (Buffini)
  •         Hot List = Wants to buy/sell in next 90 days (Ninja only)
  •         Warm List = Wants to buy/sell in the next year (Ninja only)



What does it mean to work your database i.e. your sphere? What does it mean to make deposits? Well, it’s one in the same:

  •         It’s occasional calls to check in on them and the house you sold them.
  •         It’s popping by, maybe with a little item of value: I drop off CMA’s in Q1 and HUD-1’s to help with taxes in Q2 for example.
  •         It’s sending a quick “I was thinking about you” video text or email on their birthday, anniversary or maybe something you saw them celebrate on social media.Buffini & Co
  •         It’s mailing them a monthly item of value: great info like Identity Theft Prevention, Paying off their Mortgage Faster, Top 10 Curb Appeal Tips, etc.
  •         It’s popping a personal note into the mail to thank them for the referral, to follow up on a call or meeting you had with them.
  •         We learned this as F-O-R-D in Ninja Sales: Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams of your clients are all great ways to connect with them.
  •         Hosting events that invite your VIP’s to: Client/Vendor Appreciation Parties, Gratitude Gatherings, Community Outreach Events your involved in, etc.


It’s saying to them through actions, not words, that even when there’s no hint of a sale in their future, you’re still a trusted advisor. I’ve been called on to advise “sold clients” on:

  •         Kitchen Remodels: style & budget
  •         Backyard Projects: ROI
  •         Room Additions
  •         CMA information as it relates to equity, refi’s and capital improvements.
  •         Referral needs for trust & estate lawyers, CPA’s, future including retirement, etc.

Your database or your sphere goes into your CRM (Client Relationship Manager) and gets managed from there. A good CRM helps you organize your keep in touch plan, marketing plan and important dates and appointments. It keeps a record of all your interactions with your sphere. It can even help you set your goals through knowing how many contacts it takes to generate a referral and then home many referrals = a sale. Your closing ratio reversed engineered tells you how many calls, notes and pop-bys you need to do daily to generate X referral and closings.


Buffini & Co


A well-maintained relationship with a client is less likely to be solicited or lured away when discount brokers come a calling. You build loyalty through staying in touch and remaining a person of value to your database. Most of the time, it’s never going to be about real estate when you call on them. But, very often, they will bring it up for you.

It helps that you respect and even like each other and continue to build upon that respect; that they trust you and you never get transactional on your relationships with them. Keep their needs up front and yours away from any interations with them, it's all about them.

When you give first, you earn the right to ask for a referral, but don’t do it every time you contact them, or the "giving" comes off like a sales technique, not an authentic gesture, which it needs to be!


Disclaimer of the Obvious: We are all wired differently, not everything this blogger, dare I say any blogger shares is a one size fits all antidote or anecdote. But, you can mine blogs for nuggets of gold and pearls of wisdom and then throw away the rest. This is difference between being a student and a follower. Be a student, make up your own mind. Be a product of your own conclusion as the great Zig Ziglar taught me.


Oh, by the way, I use and highly recommend:

 Referral Maker CRM


Image 1 courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All other Graphics courtesy of Buffini & Company trainings I've attended.



It's Finally Here!






Posted by

REALTOR®, CRS, RCS-D, CDPE, ePro, Certified:Military Home Specialist,

Certified: Luxury Home Specialist Podcast Host, Author & Keynote Speaker


Brokered by Big Block Realty

CA-BRE# 01261476, since 1999  (My Team)

 "Oh by the way, I'm never too busy to serve you and your referrals to good people like you."

 mobile: 858-232-8722 / e-fax: 650-240-0717   


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RCS-DivorceSouthern California Chapter of Certified Residential Specialists (CRS)

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Disclaimer:  Nothing in this blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, medical advice or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice, health or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.

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Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Liz and Bill Spear   when I saw the Title  my first reaction was you need to use spell check, then I thought you and Bill have been passing referrals back and fort. Great advice to the ones that are willing to follow your advice, rather than just nod and agree, Endre

Apr 16, 2018 05:55 PM #21
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Bravo on this well deserving feature, Thomas! There's a boatload of great information here and I will be taking more time to read it more than once.


Apr 16, 2018 06:05 PM #22
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Thank you for sharing this goldmine of great ideas. Congratulations on a well deserved feature!

Apr 16, 2018 07:20 PM #23
Ron Aguilar
Continental Mortgage - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

Excellent post, I have actually tried to do this for several years but not as detailed as this. I will bookmark this and make a plan this weekend and implement. For you other people don't just say, I will bookmark for future use and never implement. Get on this quick because your database is very important.

Apr 16, 2018 07:47 PM #24
Robbi Tiller
Success Realty - Hull, GA

Thank you very much! This is something I struggle with because I have a huge sphere and I do not do well with follow up. I am always trying to focus on the NOW. I am really going to redirect and work in this issue and I thank you for being so helpful.

Apr 16, 2018 08:03 PM #25
Rekha Vyas
Keller Williams Realty of Brevard - Melbourne, FL

"I invite you to join the 10% of us who treat a database like a relationship bank."

Yes deposit more than you withdraw. What great advice. Very well written post.

Apr 16, 2018 08:19 PM #26
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

I've always said there was one thing I wish my first brokers had taught me - to stay in touch with clients after their transactions closed. But that's wrong. I also wish they had taught me to work my sphere.

It wasn't until I had been in the business for years and decided to open my own brokerage that I even reached out to the people who would become my sphere.

I prefer not to think about how much business I lost.

Apr 16, 2018 09:10 PM #27
JoAnn Young
Young & Young Properties - Melbourne, FL
Florida Real Estate

I did this for years in my mortgage business also.  I works!  Build relationships!

Apr 17, 2018 03:18 AM #28
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

We  have multiple spheres who receive monthly messages appropriate to our relationship with them.

Apr 17, 2018 03:31 AM #29
Marti Steele Kilby, CRS
Steele Group Realty - La Mesa, CA
Broker/Owner, San Diego, CA

Great post!  I have always relied on referrals, but had never found a CRM that was easy to use...so I didn't.  After reading "Ninja Selling" by Larry Kendall earlier this year I was determined to get a system in place.  That book changed my life!  Seriously!  When I actually spent a couple of days and put everyone in my database I discovered that several past clients had used other agents to sell homes I had sold to them!  I was crushed, but realized it was my own lack of consistent contact that led them to call another agent.  What a wake-up call!  I now work the Ninja system every day and am already seeing the benefits.  And just to share, I selected LessAnnoyingCRM.com and love it!  It integrates with MailChimp and is only $10 a month.  Thanks for highlighting the importance of really working our spheres!

Apr 17, 2018 07:17 AM #30
Brian DeYoung
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ithaca, NY
Brian DeYoung

RealtOrs work their Sphere.

RealtErs are more likely to be working a spear?


Apr 17, 2018 08:41 AM #31
Greg Mona
Platinum Living Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
YOUR Local Real Estate and Design Resource in AZ!

No truer words spoken Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D! Jeez, if we didn't have referrals from people that know us, trust us, and I dare say love us, we'd be doing something different for a living. Nobody wants to feel unappreciated or neglected. Keeping in touch with former clients in any number of ways will always pay big dividends.

Apr 17, 2018 10:10 AM #32
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experience Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I do several of the actions you refer to on the list!  Gotta stay in touch, with some past clients more than others.  It pays off!

Apr 17, 2018 01:35 PM #33
Brandan Tobin
SmartZip - Carlsbad, CA
Predicting which homes will list 6-12 mo from now

What a hilarious title! I'll never forget the first time I heard someone call it a "spear" instead of sphere.

Loved the gold nuggets and how humble you are! Great work!


As our friend Zig Ziglar would say, "Motivation never lasts. Neither does showering. That's why we recommend it daily."

Apr 17, 2018 02:06 PM #34
Diana Dahlberg
1 MONTH REALTY - Kenosha, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

You got my attention with your Heading!  I'm glad I read all of it.  All good points and important to follow if we are going to be successful Realtors.

Apr 17, 2018 06:03 PM #35
Aaron Fulcher
Berkshire Hathaway Northwest Real Estate - Bend, OR
Central Oregon Real Estate Specialist

It's such a basic, common sense, piece of our business.  Why is it so often avoided?  Life is made up of relationships and our business, which is service oriented thrives on it.  We are in the relationship business and a genuine caring for our clients is evident when we practice what we preach.  I shared a "just for fun" post on this very topic today and the full fruits of its labor.  I work 100% by referral only and will continue to do so.  Great outline for success!

Apr 17, 2018 10:36 PM #36
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

A well done post that lays out the best practices of maintaining and effectively using the sphere.

I have some work to do.

Apr 18, 2018 06:18 AM #37
John Alesi
Century 21 Award - Mission Viejo, CA
(Orange County California Real Estate)

Great reminder to stay in touch with our Sphere.

I find it interesting that agents will buy lists of random names yet won't connect with the people they already know.

Time to re-read "Acres of Diamonds"

Apr 19, 2018 02:18 PM #38
Paul Weese
Colorado Group Realty - Steamboat Springs, CO
Steamboat Springs Broker and Outdoor Enthusiast

Great post!  I'm a big believer in Ninja Selling.  It's changed the way I do business and my income has increased exponentially.  That being said, I'm still a fan of buying leads from specific sources.  A handful of cold connections a month, with an 8 x 8, goes a long way.

Apr 20, 2018 10:34 AM #39
Joan Cox
Metro Brokers - House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Thomas, I missed your post, and you hit the nail on the head.  Our sphere is a relationship database, and I like to touch base to hear how my clients are doing, their vacation, kids, pets and what they are doing with their remodels.

Apr 22, 2018 07:42 AM #41
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Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D

& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast
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