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As the day-to-day demands of real estate professionals continue to increase, staying in touch with clients—past and present—often gets put on the back burner. Marketing to your sphere of influence is not only a critical component to being successful, it also enables real estate professionals to generate referral business, which is the name of the game when it comes to staying ahead of the competition.

According to Tim Rush, vice president of marketing and recruiting at Prudential California Realty, “Salespeople are like cheetahs. They’re all focused on what they can kill and eat today, however, it’s crucial that they understand the importance of working their sphere of influence each and every day in order to cultivate referral business.” By automating the entire follow-up process, Lenexa, Kansas-based The Personal Marketing Company (TPMC) has taken the work out of staying in touch, offering more than one Client Follow-up Program, generally ranging from three to five years in length.

Taking advantage of TPMC’s Client Follow-up Program, Rush’s agents are able to follow-up with clients on a consistent basis. “Since partnering with The Personal Marketing Company, my agents no longer have to worry about staying in touch with their clients,” says Rush, who utilizes a customized follow-up program for his agents, which consists of a postcard with address labels thanking the client for their purchase, a subscription to Today’s Living magazine and a series of postcards. “With so many prospecting activities on an agent’s radar day in and day out, it’s easy for them to put off following up with their sphere of influence in order to pay attention to what’s most urgent,” says Rush.

While constant contact is the key to staying top of mind with clients, Wayne Murray, president of Weichert, REALTORS® Wayne Murray Properties in Houston, Texas, stresses the importance of following up with clients to new and seasoned agents alike.

“I have always felt strongly that the contact you need to make through direct mail is still as important as it once was, even with the technology that’s available today,” says Murray, who utilizes TPMC’s ProPower program (thank-you postcard with address labels, magazine and postcards) in addition to a client satisfaction survey. Not only does the program provide Murray’s agents the opportunity to stay in touch with clients while supplying useful information, the survey offers an in-depth look into how the company—and its agents—are meeting and exceeding expectations. Short and to-the-point, the survey provides an honest assessment and the company typically gets more than 70-80 percent of them back. “Feedback is very important, and while we periodically receive negative comments, they provide us with a great opportunity for discussion.”

According to Frank Turk, marketing director at Coldwell Banker Honig Bell, who utilizes TPMC’s Today’s Living magazine program, “when it comes to real estate sales, keeping in touch with clients is a basic fundamental toward sustaining and growing business.” The personalized lifestyle magazine features articles related to home improvement, family life, hobbies, travel and more. In addition to providing pertinent information, the magazines are branded with the agent’s photo and contact information, allowing them to stay top of mind with clients. Not only does the program ensure that clients will be followed up with once the transaction is complete, it also provides agents with a solid foundation to personally follow-up.

“The Personal Marketing Company offers an inexpensive way for agents to stay in touch with clients, and agents know exactly what their clients are getting,” says Turk, “providing a great opportunity for them to follow-up with a personal phone call, setting the stage for referral opportunities down the line.

“In any sales business, especially real estate, referrals are the name of the game,” says Turk, who points to building a referral base as the main idea behind following up with clients, providing agents a place to draw business from so they don’t burn themselves out. “Historically, if you look at the better agents within the industry, most would agree that between 60-70 percent of their business comes from referrals.” Rush agrees: “If I asked every salesperson where they get the best leads, the answer always boils down to either a referral or a sign call.” While it’s tough to pinpoint which is better, Rush points to the fact that it’s important for agents to understand that it’s more costly to market yourself to new customers than it is to stay in touch with people you’ve helped in the past, therefore becoming the best candidates to refer business to you.

“Real estate professionals in general spend way too much time trying to find new clients rather than working with existing clients for referrals,” says Murray. Having been in the business for 25 years, Murray has seen firsthand how destructive a lack of follow-up can be to an agent’s real estate career, which was one of the biggest motivating factors toward his decision to partner with TPMC for his company’s follow-up needs. “My agents buy into The Personal Marketing Company’s Follow-up Program 100 percent,” reports Murray, who says partnering with TPMC was a no-brainer. “While the entire program is instrumental in keeping my agents in front of their clients on a consistent basis, the client satisfaction survey really ties everything together.” Simply asking clients if they’d use a real estate professional again—or refer them to a friend or family member—enables Rush’s agents to create business for 3-5 years down the road.

“In the end, it all boils down to one basic fundamental: All the marketing you can do—whether it be Internet, print, etc.—creates the opportunity for sales,” concludes Turk.

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