The Business is sometimes right at your feet

Last month I wrote briefly of some the prospecting options that would help you list through the winter. This winter has seen the typical fall-off in listings but the buyers are giving the industry an early spring. This has continued to place pressure on those salespeople and agencies, which have never developed high intensity and consistent prospecting programmes.

I continually get requests for new and on the edge prospecting ideas and when I test the person requesting such ideas, I nearly always find they have never bothered to look at what is probably at their feet. Why look for a special advantage when you have never bothered to test the waters of what is probably only an ask away. Too many salespeople and their agencies are showing their hand by relying on discounts, vendor inducements with free draws, additional marketing and competitions etc., in a vain hope that it will make their agency look good. Attracting business this way only detracts from your image – buying the business could indicate you don’t have the skills and consistency to compete – it may even indicate that your negotiation skills are weaker than they should be.

Surely the best image is a truly professional one – one where clearly you are a great marketer and negotiator – one who has a focus on the vendor and getting the best price you can for their property?

So before you go searching for business by broadcasting to strangers, have you really made a consistent and professional search of the market base that you already have? In my list of suggestions last month I suggested you looked at your advocates and I would like to expand that further in this article.

If you have never considered who your Advocates are then there is no more vital time than this market. Put simply, an Advocate is someone who refers you business – someone who sends you the best sort of referral – what I call, a Preferral. This is the business that is the easiest to secure because you come highly recommended by someone your new client already knows.

How do you create and use your Advocates?

The simplest way to use you advocates is to talk with them. These people are those who are most interested in your success and enjoy the fact that they may have contributed in some way to that success. Sometimes the simplest of actions don’t seem to be given their true value – I remember being sold insurance many years ago and I clearly recall the salesman asking for a referral. Once the business was done, the cheque and proposal all signed, he simply asked if I knew anyone else he could call. Having given him a name he then asked if he could use my name when he called. In the book “The Million Dollar Consultant” the author claims that this is still the number one way to get new business. Word of mouth.

How many people have you asked that question of recently? How would your business be if you asked 3 people that question 5 days a week?

But back to your Advocates.

What could you do to make sure they do the following three things for you?

Always use you for their property transactions?
Refer people to you that they come across who need your help?
Meet with you regularly and assist you in expanding your network.

So what can you do to nurture an Advocate base that works for you?

• Make a list of your favourite contacts and make sure you immediately write to them and then remind them at least 10 times a year that you are in the business

• Make a list of your favourite professional affiliates and call on them to hand them business cards, ask for some of theirs, and then ask for referrals. Include these people in your regular mail outs and then follow this with a visit and make referrals to them. In the case of your favourite solicitors always try to hand-deliver your new contracts so you continually remind them where their business is coming from. Repeat this for all your favourite professionals such as Mortgage Brokers and Valuers.

• After each mail out phone every Advocate to check if they have any leads for you.

• Visit every Advocate face to face every month. Set aside time each week to have a “coffee” and even make a time each week (e.g. Friday morning) to have breakfast with one of your Advocates.

• Make sure Advocates get their referral gifts hand-delivered and repeat this at Christmas – Advocates get their calendar and Christmas gift hand-delivered by you.

• Host your Advocates in your “corporate box” or your own functions. Don’t just have a function, offer something of value. Invite your advocates to a function where you provide some refreshments and perhaps a guest speaker. Ideas could include, Wine tasting with a wine maker, Interior design, Investment seminars, sports events, theatre shows etc.

• Gather your Advocates together at functions and create your own business network. You add value for them if you are able to encourage referrals amongst your advocates – they will see you as the common denominator and they will respond positively when you invite them next time.

• Make sure your Advocates always have plenty of your business cards. And make sure you have theirs. Every time you refer them to someone, make a phone call or send a card to follow up the referral. Likewise, if you receive a lead always let the referrer know what happened. I little loyalty and follow-up goes a long way with your real Advocates.

• All your Advocates will also receive any pads, pens, magnets, calendars you send out as well. Never take these people for granted – never refer them with out their permission – always respect every confidence and always recognise their support.

I am continually amazed at the sales people who never explore this option. They feel they couldn’t ask their friends. They feel they are being too pushy. They might lose their friends.

Then when their friends list their property with a competitor, they complain. If only the friend knew your were in the business and interested in them.

Always look to the business that may be at your feet – it’s easier. It’s more fun; it’s repetitive and once they see you how good you are, and that you care, they will enthusiastically refer you to others. That seems a whole lot easier to me than chasing strangers.

So take a moment and create a simple strategy to target these warm and friendly contacts and start calling. It will pay dividends so long as you persist and let the business come. And best of all – get face to face with your favourites.


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