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Relationships & Referrals Rule

Spotlight on Marketing

Looking for Leads

I eat, drink and sleep marketing. People tell me I'm a born salesman, but I actually don't like salespeople very much. I'm all about relationships and when it comes to sales, a relationship beats a lead every day of the week.

When a lead comes in, some salespeople add it to their prospect list and start counting their commission. I like leads as much as the next guy, but if a lead is merely a name on your prospect list, then you're missing the most important opportunity. Instead, a lead should be an invitation to a relationship.

When following up with a lead, most salespeople start by asking what the prospect is looking for. A better approach is to find out who they are. Truth be told, a lead can be an invitation to your worst nightmare. A demanding person, who can't make up their mind and finds fault with everything you do, might have all the money in the world and an intention to buy, but they are about to suck you dry. They'll be so demanding you won't have time and energy left over to take care of the rest of your prospects. At the end of the deal, chances are the demanding client is more like to gripe about you on social media than say thank you.

So when you get that lead, it might be a better idea to start finding out who the prospect is. You might need to help them understand what they want isn't at all what they need or what will make them happy. As you get to know them, they get to know you. By the end of a phone call you can already have a relationship and whether you sell them something or not, that relationship can be the most important asset your business has.

Relationships Over Leads

Briain Buffini, a world-renowned business coach, has one of the best relationship stories that I've ever heard. He had a relationship with his a painting contractor. The guy had a beat-up truck and lived paycheck to paycheck, barely making his monthly rent. No way this guy would ever be buying a house. However, the painting contractor had a relationship with another guy, a banker. This banker would qualify people for mortgage loans and needed to meet a real estate agent he trusted. He wasn't a prospect either, but because of the painter, he and Brian formed a relationship and from that relationship Brian got more business than he got from any other source.

But I don't need the Buffini story to convince me. I had a relationship with one of the sweetest ladies you would ever meet - a real grandmotherly sort who lived in my neighborhood. When she referred me to her boyfriend I had no way of knowing he was the richest man in town or that his hobby was flipping houses. Because she liked me, he liked me and I supported his house-flipping hobby for years.

Nurture Your Relationships

A relationship is a gift that keeps on giving. Initially your relationship may be focused on a pending contract. At the end of it, you'll get your paycheck, but that shouldn't end your relationship. Nurture that relationship, not with calendars and postcards about your listings, but with contact. It's an investment of time you can't delegate or automate, but it will bring you more business than all the postcards in the world.

Don't believe me? Try calling everyone you sold a house to last year or whatever it is that you sell. Don't ask them if they are ready to move or even for referrals. Ask them if they are enjoying the house. Ask them about their puppy. Keep asking until they understand that you care about them, because then they will care about you. Once they understand that, then you can ask them for a referral, but you might not even need to - they may beat you to the punch.

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