Okay, So I Lied... Real Estate IS a Number's Game... Sort of...

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Recently, I wrote a rather opinionated blog about how Real Estate is NOT a Number's Game. And, I will stand by that statement, in principal. However, I'm realizing that, unfortunately, it kinda is (a numbers game, that is).

For those of you who don't know me, I'm a big fan of SOI business. I mean, why pester strangers when you can pester your friends? (Just kidding, actually, you should never, ever pester anyone for business). Anyway, I built a very successful real estate business that depended 100% on my SOI from Day One. Which, as an introvert and "not the friendliest person in the world" (a direct quote from a client), that was quite an achievement.

I left the business of selling real estate exactly one year ago (today), yet my Outlook Express inbox still jingles with business and referrals from my loyal SOI, which I happily refer to my quasi-partner in Denver. So, even in this crummy market, I know that an SOI business model works.

But here's where I lied.

In my original blog and in subsequent written commentary on the topic, I have implied that you can have a successful SOI business with as few as 20 "friends". As long as those 20 friends know you're a real estate agent, you'll be just fine.

Unfortunately, that's not exactly true. What I should have said was that with a strong cheering section of 20, you'll be just fine. Here's why:

Most people in this world are not "referers." It simply doesn't occur to them to generate referrals for people they know. Or perhaps they've had bad experiences in the past referring their friends to others and refuse to do it anymore. Have you heard the expression "No good deed goes unpunished?" That's how we feel sometimes when a referred relationship goes bad!

So there's a big difference between knowing 20 people and have a strong cheering section of 20. It's not that all 20 of your friends don't think you're wonderful; it's just rare that all of them will take on the role of being your marketing department. Even if every single one of them thinks you're the most awesome real estate agent on the planet, most simply won't be the types to hand out your business cards. Maybe one or two of them will be. That's the truth.

Therefore, in order to create a cheering section of at least 20, you need to know (and impress) a whole lot more.

How many more? I don't have anything solid to go on with this opinion except my own anecdotal experience with my personal business and with the businesses of agents I've coached, but I think the magic number is around 200.

With 200 people in your SOI, you have a good shot at ending up with 20 people who are, or will become your biggest fans (and I guarantee that you have NO idea today who those 20 will be). You also have enough people in your sphere - who know your name and know you sell real estate - to generate another significant handful of sales throughout the year.

So, is real estate a numbers game or isn't it?

Yes and No.

Yes: When it comes to your SOI, size matters. The more people who know you and know that you sell real estate, the more real estate you will sell.

No: The people on your SOI are special and deserve to be treated as such. Every single one of them. Not like a number.



copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

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Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal
You are correct. Size does matter.  Once someone has identified themselves as a referrer by giving you a referal, then they need to go in a very special category that gets special treatment from you. Focus on those people and you should get a good return on the effort invested. 
Apr 05, 2007 08:31 AM #1
Dianne Barody
Century 21 AmeriSouth Realty - Pensacola, FL
Pensacola Florida Real Estate
Numbers do matter..........I look forward to receiving all the nos because I know a yes is coming.
Apr 05, 2007 08:41 AM #2
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Tim - yes... and, as I mentioned, if you're new, you will be Very Surprised who the referers end up being. A huge chunk of my early business came from a relationship I had with one person, who was referred to me by a real estate agent I met in a GRI class. Never rule anyone out!

Dianne - I'm not a fan of the 99 no's = 1 yes philosophy - that much rejection is just too hard on me! More power to those who can keep smiling through it.

Apr 05, 2007 09:49 AM #3
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales
I have a cheering section of one right now.  LOL.  Meaning, she's motivated to get me some business and she tries!  I need more like her in my SOI.  So many people I know are so laid back that it would never occur to them to recommend me to anyone.  
Apr 05, 2007 11:31 AM #4
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Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

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