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It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling widgets or real estate; the sales game is all about relationships—and you’re only as good as your last referral.

Most agents get hung up on making calls to their clients because they think it’s dirty to ask for a referral. But what if the goal wasn’t to ask for a referral, but to deepen the existing relationship? Your end game should be a relationship with your Top 50 clients who wouldn’t do business with anyone but you. These are the same folks who wouldn’t let anyone they care about do business with anyone but you. Your Top 50 clients are customers who have bought or sold more than one home with you and/or have referred you to others. I also like to consider their reach. Who do they know that they could refer to me? If you’re new to real estate, your Top 50 might be people who would refer you, if they knew they should.

To have a successful referral-based relationship with 50 clients, you must stay in regular contact with them. And that requires a customer relationship management (CRM) system. There are plenty of options available for affordable CRM platforms—and even some that are free of charge—so don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis because you want to pick the best CRM. They’re all good, and the best one for you is the one you will use. If you don’t have one now, pick one and commit to using it.

What does communicating on a regular basis look like? Monthly contact in some form, whether it’s something in the mail, a phone call, a video text, lunch or even a visit to their home or office. In fact, your Top 50 clients must see or hear from you at least once a quarter. A good CRM will help you track vital details such as a birthday or anniversary and organize notes related to a specific client’s dream vacation or when their child is heading off to college. If you want to maximize your relationships, you need to pay attention to these details.

People have a deep need to feel connected, appreciated and understood—and people naturally tell us how we can do that. Look for opportunities to connect with your Top 50. It can be as simple as gifting them a book on how to plan a vacation in another country or how to gracefully become an empty nester. A good CRM will help you manage those details and keep you on track when it comes to staying in touch with the right people at the right time.

While the average person knows 200 people well, they also know five people who will make a move in the next 12 months.

I believe that if you have a strong connection with your Top 50, you don’t have to beg for business; however, you’re only as good as your last referral, and in order to grow a referral-based business, you must commit to the time it takes to develop relationships while caring about the details and having a good CRM.

Bliss_Sarah_MichelleSarah Michelle Bliss is a coach with Workman Success Systems. She has been in the real estate industry since 1995 and is an original founder at RE/MAX Professionals, where she has been a part of the Nate Martinez Team since 1997. Over the past 20 years, she has taught locally and nationally, coached and influenced her peers through team management, agent development and training. She is currently the director of Agent Development for RE/MAX Professionals in Glendale, Ariz. Contact her at For more information, please visit

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