In the business world, referrals can make or break the balance sheet. What may seem like a simple recommendation from a friend is actually a marketing tool with powerful influence.
Chad Bishop, an agent based out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has a deep understanding of how referrals initiate trust — even before the client meets the agent. In fact, he’s put an extraordinary amount of focus into building his referral base and has some advice for how others can do the same.
Among his valuable tips on how to successfully establish deep connections through referrals are the following:
1. Targeted Marketing Plan
Chad discovered Brian Buffini, a business coach, trainer and speaker, who taught him, “the art of not being a bumblebee.” Standard marketing tactics require business owners to buzz around like a bumblebee, Buffini says, and throw money at all types of advertising. But a targeted marketing plan aimed at growing a business with word-of-mouth power compounds one sale into many.
2. Developing Meaningful Interactions
Using the skills he learned, Chad began to focus on developing meaningful interactions with the people he knew — and the people they knew — instead of targeting the general population. Put succinctly, his out-of-pocket marketing costs plummeted, while his sales grew exponentially. “I was going from a $1-3 million a year agent up to a $6-10 million a year agent, up to a $12-15 million [agent], working my sphere of influence and not buying leads.”
3. Observing the Sphere of Influence
The first step in using your sphere of influence is understanding what the phrase means. According to the Buffini and Company website, “Our sphere of influence is all of the people you interact with personally and professionally. These could be your vendors (like accountants, electricians, home inspectors, etc.) or even your kids’ teachers, parents at Little League, the dry cleaners, folks at your church — anyone you hold a strong connection with in your area.”
4. Finding the Best Marketing Approach that Works
Success in real estate is heavily dependent on building relationships, but some aspects of sales can be challenging for agents — like feeling pushy or asking for the business to close the deal. Chad says he realized he had to ask because it was a business and he was a professional. It’s critical to remember you’re helping and providing a service for past, existing and potential customers, he says. “You're literally helping them with [a big] purchase [or sale] and explaining you can walk them through the process. So, when I learned that it's easier to work with friends and family and referrals, it really just was like a lights [on moment].”
5. Upgrading Old Tactics
Chad says that in addition to using social media to engage with his sphere, he utilizes a warmed-up version of cold calling that costs little, yet works effectively. “I do calls, notes, and pop-bys. I live my life that I make at least 25 calls a day.”
Chad emphasizes the importance of keeping in touch via written notes, as well.
“I write at least five personal notes to anybody involved in my database, whether it's mom, dad, past client, friend, a maitre d’ at a steakhouse, anybody.”
6. Creating a Rating System
Chad says it’s also important to recognize those leads that have the most potential. He’s created a rating system to keep track. However, Chad also knows he can’t predict where the next lead might come from, so he keeps his CRM up to date with information about each contact and implements a strategy to keep in touch.
7. Embracing Changes
When the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the real estate industry, Chad rolled with the punches and adapted his outreach strategy. Instead of hosting events, for example, he delivered pies to his past clients’ houses. He says it’s important to recognize that not every encounter will close a sale or lead to an immediate referral. The important thing is to connect your name and face to a memorable encounter so people will call you when they need a Realtor or recommend you to people they know.
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