When it comes to agent-to-agent referrals, almost every Realtor wants to stand out from the crowd and be the first one their colleagues think of when they need to pass along a “ready-to-buy” prospect. But, how can this be done when there are so many good agents trying to be “THE ONE” everyone goes to when they need to co-broke with someone? As we all know this is great business. In a survey we did in conjunction with New York University’s Management Institute, we asked sales professionals the question, “How would you rate the best techniques to find new customers?” Referrals were the number one approach, beating out one-to-one marketing, direct mail, trade shows, and cold calls. Where else can you make 10-25% profit on the sale and already be working on your next one? In a practical sense it can mean the difference between an 80-hour week trudging it out alone, or a more regular week partnered with others who share your passion for helping people find a place for their business or family to call home.
I believe the old simple maxim “It’s better to give than receive” holds the key to our referral success. For centuries this has been sound advice for living. From the Bible’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” to sales trainer extraordinaire Zig Zigler’s key principle that “you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”, being a giving person gives success. Do you believe that? It seems to run so counter-cultural to the business climate most of us experience on a daily basis. Is there a way to “swim with the sharks” without becoming one? I believe there is, and the long-term health of a realtor’s business, referrals, depends on it.
So, what are some practical things you can do to genuinely be more of a giver than just a receiver when it comes to working with other agents?
Give Away Your Possessions
Sometimes it is appropriate to show appreciation with a gift. Sending a gift sets you apart and finding something that uniquely suites the individual helps build solid relationships. It says, “I know you and care enough to think about what you might enjoy”. Sometimes it’s appropriate to send a gift even when the deal doesn’t close. If you appreciate the effort someone has made on your behalf, feel free to send a little something. A client of mine, Sue loves to, when appropriate, give flowers. She was recently approached by an agency she had never worked with before on a property they wanted to co-broke with her for their client. In the end they weren’t able make the sale, but Sue sent over some flowers to just say “thanks” for thinking of her. In the meantime, they signed on a client with a very desirable property but didn’t have any immediate prospects in their own pool of buyers. The first person outside their agency they thought of was Sue, and they gave her the listing exclusively for a time before making it available to other agents.
Give Away Your Expertise
Share your skills and experience happy in the knowledge that you are helping friends and colleagues. Others appreciate and seek out knowledgeable people who give generously of their expertise. And when you have been a resource to others, people are more willing to help you when you ask. My client Joan is a good example of this. Joan is a resource for everything from a good printer to a good hairdresser. She always goes out of her way to help others, and when someone needs something they call Joan. It was no surprise that when Joan lost her job due to a downsizing a few years ago, she only had to make two calls to some pals and she was back at work in no time, this with a better and more prestigious position!
Give Away Your Time
When you are involved in the community of Realtors, you will meet more people, make more contacts, get to know those in the organization better, and your network will expand faster. There are several ways to do this. Consider some of these for your next regional conference or national convention.
Volunteer to be the “greeter” when people are registering. This is a great way to meet others and this simple act of hospitality helps you to connect with people later. If you just attend meetings, you will limit your ability to meet and get to know members of the organization, so join a committee and get involved. When you work on projects that are not directly job-related, you’ll invariably build relationships. These people will often become those whom you will rely on and they on you when it does come time to get the job done. Give a speech. Organizations are always looking for programs or breakout sessions for larger meeting or conventions. Perhaps you can put together a seminar about selling to your specific region of the country or share a simple technique you’ve successfully used to close more deals? Putting together a quality presentation can take up a good bit of time, but after you’ve done your research, come up with case studies and polished it up, you’ll find that in a small way you’ve become an expert on your topic. When others see the time you’ve invested for their benefit, they will recognize an individual who not only takes pride in their work, but also one who is willing to go the extra mile for them. After you’ve done your presentation, go one step further and offer to write an article for the organization’s newsletter or magazine on the same topic. This is a key way for people, especially those new to the organization, to be able to remember who you are. Not only will you get connected with the other Realtors who read your article, but you’ll also have the chance to meet other contributors and the behind-the-scene members who keep the organization fresh and alive.
Being a giver can seem like risky business. It often appears much safer to just take care of our own needs, especially in such a competitive environment, where unfortunate as it is, not everyone plays by the rules. Over the long haul however, you’ll attract like-minded people who could become your best associates, and even some of your best friends.