By Craig Proctor
RISMEDIA, Oct. 22, 2008-In order to run a profitable and predictable business in real estate, every key element of your business must be systemized. What this means is that nothing is left to chance. By chronicling and systemizing the steps of each repeated process that proves to be most successful (through ongoing tracking and testing), you vastly increase the odds that these repeated actions will continue to yield great results for you. This is true of all key aspects of your business: lead generation, conversion, presentation, and the development of lifetime customers.
The ultimate goal of your marketing is to have the process come full circle. Effective lead generation marketing will always be a critical, external, front-end engine for your business. However, with time, and with effective client servicing and results, the internal engine should also warm up and kick in: i.e. the engine of referrals.
Your marketing pulls prospects in through the offer of great information that ultimately positions you as The Information Provider. While this prospect may be hot with respect to his or her moving plans, some work will be required on your part to convert him or her into your client.
This is less so for a referral, because a referral prospect comes with a bias – a predisposition to using your services. Because you have come to them via the powerful third-party endorsement of someone who has gone through the process they are just embarking on, they are already pre-sold on your credentials.
In my marketplace, I do not expect referral business to eliminate the need for my front end marketing – after all, the inexpensive direct response systems I use are an extremely easy way of reaching and motivating new business – but referrals do add an important depth to my marketing machine, and thus I have automated this part of my business, and it’s a good idea for you to do the same.
The overall goal of your business systems, of course, should be to produce customers who are not only satisfied with your service, but absolutely delighted with it — “wow”-ed by it. In other words, the goal of your system is to produce raving fans. A raving fan is very important to your referral system, because a raving fan is your best salesman. As mentioned, people will believe what their friends or relatives say about you quicker than they will believe what you say yourself.
By designing and implementing a system to elicit referral business, you’re creating an invaluable network that will feed you with customers far more easily (and inexpensively) than any prospecting or marketing could ever do. It takes time for this network to grow, of course, but by developing a system to cultivate referrals, you will create massive leverage.
Your referral system should make it easy for your clients to take the step of making a referral, and to plant this seed in their minds at the best possible moment. The best time to ask your clients for referrals is at the time they love you the best: i.e. right after they’ve signed a listing or buyer contract with you. Do this by printing up some referral cards to give to them. This way they don’t have to make a call or even ask their friends or acquaintances for permission to make the referral. Instead, they simply jot down the name and address, and mail the card into your office. You should be doing this automatically as part of the process you follow with every new client.
As mentioned, the best time to ask for referrals from homesellers is at the moment when your customers love you the most — that is, immediately after they sign a listing or buyer contract with you. Before you leave their home after securing the contract, ask them to pass on the confidence they feel in you — the confidence that led them to trust you with their most important investment — to others they know who might be buying or selling.
Don’t be backwards or tentative about asking for referrals. You see, people inherently want to help each other. With a newly signed buyer or listing contract, you have just shown your new clients exactly what you will do to help them realize their goals; now you ask for their help in return.
Explain to them what a reticular activator is. This is what you’ll explain: A reticular activator is that part of our brain that is tuned to situations that parallel our own. For example, pregnant women notice other pregnant women. New mothers notice others with small babies. The week after I bought my red Cadillac, I must have seen about a hundred of them driving around my town. That’s because my brain was tuned into this particular car.
Well, it’s no different with homeowners. When someone decides to sell their home, it becomes a natural part of their thought process and conversation with other people. They suddenly start to notice other For Sales signs in their neighborhood and often speak to neighbors, co-workers and friends who may be future home sellers. (The same applies to buyers.) You need to plug yourself into this.
Explain to them that if you can spread the word about the great service you offer through word of mouth, you will have to spend less time on the time-consuming task of drumming up new clients. The less time you spend on searching for new business, the more time and money you can spend marketing and selling your clients’ properties.
This simple equation is easy for them to understand, and you’ll find that your clients are very happy to pass your name on. They become walking salespeople for your business, and it doesn’t cost you a penny.
“We all know that doing business by referral is much more profitable and normally provides for a much smoother transaction in the long run. Just as we handle everything else that we do in our business, building your business by referral must also have a system.” – Willie Miranda, Clifton Park, NY
To find out more about effective referral systems, you can visit http://www.hypertracker.com/go/cp/a35a081022/ where you can learn about my 3-day SuperConference where I train agents on the effective and profitably systemization of their businesses at all levels.
Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/MAX Worldwide for 15 years. To receive free training from Craig with no obligation, visit: http://www.hypertracker.com/go/cp/a35b081022.