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Do this one thing, and you’ll double your business next year

Research tells real estate agents that they already have the best leads and often don’t even realize it. It turns out that leads from an agent’s sphere of influence— past clients and referrals— offer the best return on investments compared to any of the online leads an agent can buy, according to a study that surveyed nearly 300 real estate broker-owners and franchise leaders nationwide.

The “Thought Leader” study that the marketing technology firm, Imprev, conducted found that among the list of most-valuable lead sources: an agent’s sphere of influence ranked first, followed by the broker’s website, and then local marketing (flyers, walk-ins, signs, open houses).

Yet, many broker-owners say one of the biggest challenges they face is getting their agents to stay in touch with their book of business. So it’s not surprising to learn that the National Association of REALTORS® reported in the past that 88 percent of buyers said they would use their agent again or recommend their agents to others, but only 22 percent of buyers do. That appears to be a really big— yet missed— business opportunity that very well could be caused by agents simply not staying in touch with their clients.

Getting organized

We talk to real estate trainers and marketing folks who visit brokerages across the country on a regular basis. They tell us that most real estate agents are not very well organized when it comes to having a centralized client database: all of their contacts in one place. Our Form Simplicity folks see the e pattern when they go out into the field or hold informational seminars and training. And our Tech Helpline discovers the same thing when they help folks rebuild their hard drives when they crash.

Many agents have the names, addresses, phone numbers and emails of their clients scattered just about everywhere: in a Gmail, AOL, or Hotmail account; trapped in Outlook; in a stack of business cards on their desk; attached to an old-fashioned Rolodex; or on mailing labels filed away in a drawer in their desk. Many have a combination of some—or all—of these things.

Today, having all your past, current, and prospective clients in one location— a CRM, a spreadsheet, or even in a single email program that will let you export the file— is the single most important thing you can do to improve your business production. A daunting task in the past perhaps, Technology is making it easier and easier to gather all your data into a single place.

If you currently have all your contacts well organized, coded and identified, then this article is not for you. But if you do not, getting your contacts organized is the one thing you could do that could easily help you double the amount of your business production next year.

The key is to “go digital”

If you still have printed contacts, you may have to contract a high school student or college intern to create a digital file, but it will be more than worth that small investment in the end. Ask them to save your contacts into a format that Excel made famous called – csv – which stands for “comma separated value.” This is the magical format that just about any program you use to stay in touch with clients will need to be able to import the data.

If you already have all your contacts in an Excel file (or Google Sheets) – you’re done, because Excel can be saved as a csv file! Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, just about every major program that has contacts, if it is able to export, will most likely export it either in an Excel or csv format. That’s the key, because you can eventually merge all your csv files together, get all of your contacts organized and coded to include the type of client they are, their anniversary or sale/buy date, their birthday, the names and ages of their kids— whatever information you have tracked—into your file that will eventually help you reach out and “touch” these clients on a regular basis, for months – and years – after their last transaction.

Many CRM programs will automatically import your LinkedIn, Facebook, Gmail and even Outlook contacts with just a few clicks. If they don’t, then they most-likely have a csv-import option.

Staying in touch

The key to new business really is working your book of business. Something as simple as a monthly letter, newsletter, holiday email, congratulations note— anything that you can personalize, and the client knows that it is coming from you—will generate new business every single time you send out a mass mailing or a mass email. It’s just the way it works because staying top-of-mind is essential to keeping connected to your client.

Let’s face it: everyone knows more than one real estate agent. Consumer research has shown that consumers often know at least three agents, so if you want to be the agent that stands out, you have to stay in touch with all of your clients on a regular basis, and to do that, it all begins with making sure you are able to contact them easily, with one database that you maintain in a single place (backed-up, of course).