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Just Outside the Looking Zone

May 1, 2013

Posted by

Tom Fleming

Tom Fleming is the Executive Director for Business Network International (BNI) in West Central Florida, and the Referral Institute.  Prior to beginning his career as an entrepreneur, Tom worke Read more

Asking for referrals when a prospective client is already in “the looking zone” could be too late.  When a Realtor meets a person who is already looking to buy or sell a home, that Realtor runs the risk of the client having already reached out to other sources, including the broker or sales agent they bought the home from, their friends, the internet, or the local paper.

Why not start the relationship when a prospective client is just outside “the looking zone” -- before he or she enters the market?  By doing this, you will earn top-of-mind awareness and brand recognition with the prospective client prior to their decision to buy or sell a home.

When it comes to referral-based marketing it’s all about relationships.  Relationships follow a three-stage process taught in my Referral Institute -- The VCP Process.  On first acquaintance, we gain Visibility with an individual.  As we interface with them over time, Credibility is developed.  Following Credibility is Profitability.

Who is just outside “the zone” for a real estate broker or sales agent?  This largely depends on their target market, but generally, people in transition are likely to be at this point just outside “the looking zone.”

Great Prospects

Good potential referrals for professionals would be:

•  Recently engaged couples -- Train your referral sources to introduce you to the couple at the first sight of that new engagement ring.

•  Couples sending their last child off to college -- Those empty nesters are probably looking to downsize.

•  Couples announcing an addition to their family -- Additions to the family require more space.  Train your referral sources to keep their ears to the ground for couples who are expecting and keep their eyes peeled for those baby bumps.

•  Recently separated couples -- This could be a “Threefer” for any Realtor® where they sell the couples’ past home and look for a new home for each of them.  An unfortunate situation, but traumatic times cause change and the need for effective support.

•  Newly promoted individuals -- Train your referral sources to keep their “ears open” for those individuals they know that just got a new job or promotion and are looking to move into their dream home as a result of that big raise.

Timing Is Everything

There are quite a few other transitions in life that cause people to upsize or downsize that can be added to the list above.  The point is -- don’t be late!  Begin to build the relationship and your brand with a prospective client before they’re actually looking to buy or sell their home.

Referral-based marketing is a system frequently used by those businesses that rely heavily on invaluable referrals, such as Realtors®.  When done by a highly structured method, it effectively goes beyond “the looking zone.”  In fact, when done right and consistently, it has been proven to keep the pipeline filled with leads and produce a steady flow of business.

Closing Tips

There are three main tips to know about referral marketing when it is done right:

1.)  Don’t confuse direct selling with networking.  Effective networking is about developing relationships.  As Dr. Ivan Meisner, the founder of BNI, states, “Sometimes you go to a networking event to increase your visibility, sometimes you go to establish further credibility with people you know, and sometimes you may even go to meet a long-time referral partner and do some business.  In any case, the true master networkers know that networking events are about moving through the VCP Process™ and not about closing deals.”

2.)  Make introductions that last.  Business professionals can learn unique strategies for making introductions referral sources will remember.  This is an important part of referral-based marketing because it ensures that the referral source will think of the business when the opportunity arises to send the qualified prospect.  It’s all about building brand recognition.

3.)  Learn how to effectively ask for referrals and reward those who provide referrals.  Develop the skills needed to create a system for tracking how sources are motivated to pass referrals all day every day.

Last year, Business Network International chapters in West Central Florida impacted the local community with $4 million worth of business passed per month to its members by staying focused on what’s possible and generating massive results through referral-based marketing.  This year, the 1600+ members of the 41 BNI chapters in the West Central Florida region are on track to pass $50 million worth of business to each other.  Statistically, Realtors® are one of the top-leading professional groups that start their own BNI chapters for the development of long-term referral partners.

In today’s new economy, highly-structured referral-based marketing is not only cost-effective, but highly profitable.

To your success!