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A few years ago, I started coaching a new client. Let’s call her Sheila. Sheila had been in real estate for nearly 20 years, had higher production than most of her peers, but was disappointed that she wasn’t able to exceed annual earnings of $100,000. Every week felt like starting over, which was unacceptable after investing 20 years of her life into real estate.

Nearly 60 percent of Sheila’s business came from past clients and referrals, while the other 40 percent came from clients converted from leads purchased through a nationally known real estate website. Sheila wanted to grow her business, and not only was she poised to increase spending on these leads, she also planned to double her efforts toward following up with these leads. But the thought of calling more strangers who didn’t seem to want her help, or even know why she was calling, made her feel depressed.

We decided to focus our attention on her sphere of influence (SOI), which consists of people in her personal and professional network with whom her opinion holds some weight. These are people who know, like and trust Sheila. After 20 years, we both realized this group was significant, but the thought of “annoying” people she knew and trying to convince them to buy or sell homes made her feel sick, so Sheila decided to take a different approach.

Rather than selling her SOI, Sheila decided to serve them. She committed to never mentioning buying or selling homes to anyone in her sphere. Once Sheila made this decision, her worries disappeared, and she was off to the races. Below are the steps she followed:

1. Create a spreadsheet of 100 people who know, like and trust her.

2. Plan monthly themes for the next year. Topics included mortgages, identity theft, title insurance and market updates.

3. Commit to making a minimum of two connections per month with each contact—some via email, others by text, telephone or in person.

4. Genuinely try to help educate her contacts on all things real estate in her market.

After following this program for 24 months, Sheila’s business has doubled. She has received referrals or done business with 22 of the 100 contacts on her spreadsheet, and nearly everyone seems to enjoy the information provided each month. Instead of feeling anxious about prospecting, Sheila says she feels energized. Also, her earnings haven’t dipped below $8,000 in any given month.

Sheila also stopped buying online leads, saving herself nearly $12,000 per year in unnecessary expense. More than anything, she is relieved to not have to call total strangers and worry about how they will react.

To receive a copy of the same spreadsheet Sheila used, request one by email at

Cleve Gaddis is a master coach, speaker and trainer with Workman Success Systems. He works with some of America’s most profitable teams and specializes in helping family-owned brokerages and teams navigate their unique challenges. Gaddis hosts the Your Move Atlanta weekly radio show on 640 AM, a Fox News station on iHeartRadio. He learned sales the hard way, by selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. To have Gaddis speak live to your company, team or group, connect with him at Learn more about Gaddis and coaching opportunities by visiting