One of the most profitable ways, yet often underutilized sources of business, is your Sphere of Influence. What do I mean by that? I mean anyone who would know your name or know your face, and whose information you can track down, should be considered a part of your Sphere of Influence (or SOI). In the back of my upcoming book I am including a handy little memory jogger to help you think of people you may not pull off the top of your head. Try it...you'll be amazed! I know the first time I applied it, I was awe struck at some of the names I had over looked of good acquaintances of mine. I remember seeing one line, for example, that simply said "bald," and it made me remember two or three guys whose hair was starting to thin out that I would most likely have never considered until I may have run into them sometime down the road.
I also used to think that I was pretty good at keeping in touch with my SOI until one day I read a book, "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent," that suggested I contact my Sphere multiple times a month! I was contacting them every 3 or 4 months with a phone call or letter, birthday card, etc. and that was way more than a lot of agents I know, so I felt pretty confident I was doing plenty. Once I read the book I realized maybe I hadn't done as much as I could do, and I began doubting my effectiveness. I went through and began calling people and low and behold, I missed upwards of 30 or 40 deals in the last 18 months alone! I was sick! Even if the average sales price may have only been $100,000, that equated to over $100,000 in commission income to me. Ouch!
I have heard many reasons for people not utilizing their SOI as a lead generation source. One is "I don't want my friends to feel like I'm pestering them for business. I'm afraid they'll not want to hang out with me any more." Another I've heard is that they just don't know what to say to them, or that they have call reluctance. Here's the thing, people tend to do business with people they like and people they trust. If this doesn't sound like your friends, then it may be time to look for new friends. Seriously though, this is your best, most predictable source of future business. If you communicate effectively to them, and get their support in your career, they will send a steady stream of qualified leads your direction for a fraction of the cost it takes to generate business from other sources. The main challenge you will face is getting them to make a paradigm shift of your role in their life.
Out of those deals I missed, I realized the main reason I missed so many wonderful business opportunities is because I had not effectively done my job of educating my sphere on what I do for a living and how my services could fulfill their needs in real estate, their friends and family's needs, their co-worker's needs, etc. I had dropped the ball. I took for granted that since we were friends or good acquaintances that when they thought of real estate, surely, I mean Surely, they thought of me! But you know what? When I asked those people why they didn't use me for their home purchase or sale, they said things such as "we didn't know you were still in real estate;" "we didn't know how to get hold of you;" "aww, sorry, Jeff, we didn't even think about it! You're the guy I play golf with (or have happy hour with, or go to church with...you get the idea)." They did not see me as their Real Estate Consultant!!! I was so upset at the first one or two people that didn't use me, and I took it personally.
After I continued hearing the same response with slight variations, I realized the only person I could find to ultimately blame was the one staring back at me in the mirror. It was disgusting that I lost out on so much money. The beautiful thing is, that no matter how much you may have dropped the ball on this in the past, you have another chance. You have the chance to change the way you do business and approach your Sphere starting today. I like to call your Sphere your ATM machine. They are your "Automatic Transaction Machine." If you begin to nurture those relationships with a business purpose, you will see your numbers soar. It will change your life. It is like having a little army of prospectors beating the street on your behalf!
Always Remember, There Are No Limits!