November 29, 2016 by Jeff Lowen
We’re taught in the real estate community that our database is our gold mine. For many entering the profession, the sobering realization that there are not many entries in theirs or being unsure how to organize it hits home and for real estate veterans, their database becomes cluttered with names, numbers and email addresses without any or very little organization. In either case, the idea to dive right in and maximize your database becomes a little overwhelming.
Let’s get something straight: A ‘database’ is a list of relationships. Not a list, or a bucket of leads, it’s your center or sphere of influence and used to keep track of your relationships. Anything else, and you’re not connecting with your audience.
We’ve all been taught to believe that bigger is better. Although that may be true, creating a lean, deep connected source of growing relationships is what we will focus on. Your database will no longer be a place for dumping contact information, it will be a list of endless opportunities to get to know your audience and a BIG source of referrals for your business.
Better than internet leads, cold calling, and other one-time lead converting methods, who view you the same as everyone else – in a cage with other wild animal real estate agents, cultivating your list of relationships database are people that view you as a trusted friend, advisor, business consultant and more. Note: I think cold calling, warm calling, internet leads and other similar sources are great to help build your database. For now, let’s focus on polishing our database.
What makes cultivating your database so amazing, is that you’re not necessarily going after the business of each of the relationships in your list; it’s that you’re carefully and methodically turning each of them into raving fans and tapping into the 5 to 7 people they know that will be interested in buying, selling or investing in real estate over the next year. Not to mention the three hundred people they know in their own circle that you can get to know as well.*
1. First off, you’ll need to time block an hour each day until you get your database under control. If your database is a mess or you’re just starting out, it’s going to require a little front end work, so understand it’s okay not to get it all done in a day. Even if it needs just a little cleaning up, it’s much better to create a habit here to attend to it on a regular basis. Whether daily or weekly, is up to you and how big your list is.
2. Next, create a process for entering someone into your list of relationships. When you get a name attached with any other info, what do you do with it? How soon do you call or reach out to them? Do you have a form you can use yourself that will automatically enter it into your CRM and categorize and apply a contact task plan at the same time?
If you get a name and a number along with an email address, don’t just email and hope for the best. Use the info you have. All of it! Reach out immediately and add details you don’t currently have. Based on the conversation, you’ll need to set up reminders (task plans) to reach out again, next time. Always think in terms of next steps.
3. You’ll want to create categories for your people, too. I’ve seen some databases with more categories than people! Keep it simple… Like this:
- Category (‘Clients’ doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done business with them)
- A Clients – Those that have or will refer you. You know this because you’ve asked them and they’ve told you they would. These are your biggest fans.
- B Clients – Those that would refer you, but you’d most likely have to ask them to.
- C Clients – Everyone else.
Sure, you’ll have categories like, Vendors, Contractors, and other pro services as you see necessary, but everyone that could possibly refer you or do business with you should be an ‘A,’ ‘B,’ or ‘C.’ Yes, vendors, title companies, lenders, and contractors need you as well.
4. Bring Value! “Hi, this is Jim Dandy and I’d really like to list your house…” is not bringing value. Ask yourself, “what’s in it for them?” What can you offer or share with them that they can use and find value in it? When it comes to bringing value there are do’s and don’ts. Much of the time, it will depend on where your relationship is at the time of you reaching out. Here are some general guidelines:
- Become genuinely curious
- Practice understanding them
- Learn from them
- See them as unique
- Get to know their world
- Think that your ‘CMA’ is what everyone wants
- Offer your services continuously
- Talk only about real estate
- Tell them how great you are
These are just a few but I think you get the drift. It’s all about them. Really, it is. Here’s a word of caution – If you wouldn’t like them as a friend, then you probably wouldn’t like them as a client. Look at the relationships you currently have. Be aware of the conversations you’re having. Are you doing all the talking? If so, try spending a little more of that time, asking questions with genuine curiosity and see what happens.
Your goal is to gently move your ‘B clients’ toward being an ‘A client.’ And your C’s to B’s, of course.
Think about how many conversations you have about popular topics. Say, technology for example. Over the course of a year, you probably have a few dozen of them, maybe even more. When you’re successful at creating deep relationships and have a handful of A clients that are raving fans about you and your craft; when they have conversations about real estate with co-workers, friends, and relatives – and they will – they will feel they have the best in their corner and want to share. Studies suggest five to seven of these real estate conversations each year will be someone who needs to buy, sell or invest. A mere 10 ‘A clients’ that you’ve got a deep relationship with could mean 50 to 70 referrals each year!
If you’re a little clueless about what do to, just Google, “questions to ask to get to know a person.” Then, fit some of the questions into your conversation. You’ll want to know birthdays, anniversaries, kids’ birthdays, special occasions, their goals, occupation, hobbies, and dreams.
You can continue to fight for internet leads and call neighborhoods, it’s a great way to pick up new business and feed your ‘C client’ category. However, don’t neglect your database. Your list of relationships. This will inevitably turn out to be your golden goose and you’ll pick up some great friends along the way.
What could be better than that?
For more information and a little help constructing a thriving list of relationships that offers a steady flow of business with amazing benefits, reach out to me today!
*According to studies I’ve perused on the subject, the average consumer knows 264 to 511 people, depending on how connected they are in their community, what type of work they do and their personality in connection with that.