Improving Your Business Through Communication
How to Go from Relationships to Referrals!
In this article, we'll show you exactly how to go from relationships to referrals! But,
before we do that, here are some important guidelines on preparing your mind for
Begin with the End in Mind!
If there were only 12 words on your tombstone, what would you want them to be?
Who would you want at your funeral? What would you want them to say about you?
Why ask these questions? Because what you want said at your funeral has
everything to do with how you do business today!Your business should be a vehicle
for helping you live and leave a legacy that makes a difference in people's lives.
Use the flowchart below as a guide to determine where your attitude is at right now
and adjust accordingly:
Bottom Line:You really need to dig deep and know what your "why" is!
Where Should We Spend Our Time and Money?
We should not spend it on cold calling, door knocking, and advertising. This is trying
to attract and close people we've never met. Instead, we should spend our time,
energy, and money on people we actually know, like, and trust! These are people in
our sphere, in our database, etc.
Think about who you sold in the last six months. They've probably come from
someone you know or from a referral source. Our goal is to make that number of
people a lot bigger!
Key Point: The number of your relationships - not the size of your advertising budget
- will determine your future! You don't need a ton of money to become successful.
As your relationships turn into referrals, the more you give, the more you'll get. If
your goal is to get 50 referrals over the next twelve months, then you need to give
out 100 referrals. You need to start connecting people in your database to each
Remember, tt's not about who you know; it's about who you know, how well you
know them, and who they know! The bottom line is that you need to help them so
they'll want to help you in return.
And you can help agents, potential clients and others by having an abundance
mentality! Believe us, there's an ocean of business out there, and here's the math to
150 = 9,000
Here are the numbers to explain the above formula:
Assume there are 150 people in your database.The National Association of
Realtors estimates that the average person moves once every five years. So,
that means one-fifth or 30 people will be moving each year. (If they sell and
buy, that's 60 transactions!) If you were an agent and did 30 transactions last
year, you'd be in the top ten percent of all real estate agents nationwide!
Now, let's say that each person you know also knows 150 people. 150 x 150 =
22,500 in your community.
So, if 22,500 people are in your community and 20% of them are moving
each year, then 4,500 people in that community are moving. That equals
9,000 potential transactions!
So, adopt an abundance mentality as you learn about turning relationships into
referrals with the seven levels of communication!
The Seven Levels of Communication
As you can see below, Michael Maher's seven levels of communication form a
Communication Pyramid. The levels are:
Level 1 is advertising.
Level 2 is direct mail.
Level 3 is electronic communication.
Level 4 is handwritten notes.
Level 5 is phone calls.
Level 6 is events and seminars.
Level 7 is one-on-one meetings.
You'll notice that as you go up the pyramid, the more impact there is. That is, the
more personal you get, the more influence you have. That's why the top three levels
are termed the "Influential Zone." The bottom three levels are called the
"Informational Zone." They're the best levels for educating people on a broad level.
Let's look at several of these levels in more detail, starting with handwritten notes.
Level 4: Handwritten Notes
There are seven steps to a handwritten "power" note:
Step 1: Use unbranded cards with a symbol or monogram that represents you. Don't
send a card with the company logo! Remember, this is a personal note, and logos
have no place on it. At this point, you're trying to build a relationship and don't want
the recipient thinking that you're just interested in getting something from them.
The personal touch is critical!
Step 2: Use blue ink. It looks original and positive.
Step 3: In terms of the language on the note, use words like "you," but avoid
"I...me...my." You want the emphasis to be on the person receiving the note.
Step 4: Be specific in your praise; that is, identify and acknowledge a characteristic,
a talent, a unique quality, etc. For example, won an award, went on a trip,
participated in an athletic event, etc. It's easy to find this information; simply go to
their Facebook page!
Step 5: Leverage the power of positive projection. Identiy a personal characteristic
that you want to improve and express respect for others who possess that quality;
for example, happiness, wealth, balance, etc.
Step 6: Write "rightly." That is, slope the text slightly upward from left to right. If
you want more information on this, read the book, Your Handwriting Can Change
Your Life by Vimala Rodgers.
Step 7: Use a P.S. as a call to action. Ask the recipient to do something specific like
emailing or calling.
Start writing these notes to everybody you know. Find a person by picking up a
business card, looking in your email, looking in your database, etc. Then, select a
person, identify a positive characteristic, and write a note to him or her. Write at
least 50 with a compelling P.S. this week, and your phone will ring! The key is to do
Here's an example of success using this method: One agent sent 350 handwritten
notes to an apartment complex where rents were going up and affordable homes
were nearby. The note let residents know that when they decided to look for a
home, she wanted to be their agent. She also let them know that she was having a
home buyer seminar and invited them to come. Out of 350, she had 77 respond! The
agent was busy for six months handling the respondents.
Level 5: Phone Calls
We all have call reluctance to one degree or another. To overcome that reluctance,
adopt this attitude: If you're reluctant to make phone calls, you're being selfish and
thinking about yourself. If you think about the needs of the people you're calling and
helping them, then it's much easier to pick up the phone. So, always be proactive
and ask yourself,
1st and 10 calls.First thing in the morning, call ten people before you do anything
else! Contact people showing houses that week, referral sources, cooperating
LOs/agents, recent networking contacts, team members, potential clients, and so on.
Go into each and every call you make with a "heart to help." The people you're
calling may need a recommendation for a vendor, a job recommendation, etc. Then
take time after each call to send them what they need.
When calling, forget about thinking how this person can help you grow your
business. Instead, focus your attention on finding something you can do for them by
the end of the call. Make sure you assign yourself at least one action item to
complete when the call is over, just as with one-on-ones.
And don't forget your "Hour of Power!" Schedule at least four hours per week for
focused phone calls to people in your database. These could include those you've
worked with in the past, networking contacts, friends, family, anybody you don't
have to call but should (doesn't include returning calls!).
Of course, as with any skill, you want to get better at it. So, rank yourself after each
call on a scale from 0 to 10. A zero might be someone who hung up on you while a
10 might be reconnecting with somone as if they were on the level of your best
Bottom line: you want people to see your number and be excited to answer the
Level 6: Events and Seminars
Attending a seminar, a networking event, or other live event with someone (agents,
etc.) is powerful because it provides you with such an effective opportunity to build
relationships and turn them into referrals! If you're nervous about what to say at
such events, here's a great method of getting past that anxiety:
Check out the website to find out who's in charge of membership so you can
call them ahead of time. Ask the chairperson two questions. First, ask if
introductions will be formal or informal and the names of the top three or
four most influential people attending the event. Second, ask if the
chairperson will introduce you to those influential individuals at the event.
That way, you're going into the event with a plan! Tip: Be sure to Google the
chairperson and the influential people ahead of time so you're armed with
great conversational knowledge!
At the event, go with a spirit of helpfulness. People can smell a "taker" a
mile away. Be sure to get there 30 minutes early. Wear your name badge on
the right side so when you shake hands, it's thrust forward and easy to read.
Introduce youself to the meeting organizer and remind him or her of what
they promised you. If they get busy, don't pester them; simply give them a
polite reminder of their promise.
Use the FROG acronym. This is a great methodto help maintain focus on the
other person and to know what kinds of questions to ask. FROG stands for
"Family, Recreation, Occupation, and Goals." Everyone likes talking about
these areas of their lives!
As a follow-up strategy, be sure to send power notes to everyone you meet.
This will set you apart from everyone else because few people use this
Level 7: One-on-One Meetings
This is the most element in the pyramid because you're developing those allimportant relationships that can build your database and your business. And since
the meetings are the most important hours of your week, you need to prepare for
them. Here's how you do that:
Do Internet research on people before you meet them.
Once you're in the meeting, remember to use FROG so you keep the focus on
the other person and not on you.
Ask the person, "What are your biggest challenges?" Remember, you're in
that meeting to help them, so you have to know what they need.
Match their natural pace of conversation. If the pace is slow, then be slow. If
it's fast, be fast. But don't overdo it! You don't want the other person to think
you're mimicking them!
End your one-on-one meetings with one or both of the following questions:
"How can I help you?" and..."What can I do for you?" Your action item is to
leave every one-on-one with an assignment that you'll get done by the end of
Always, always send a power note as part of your follow-up! This is critical!
Take a gift to the meeting; for example, a relevant book or a downloaded
version of a book (cheaper).
For further education on one-on-one meetings, read Daniel Goleman's Social
Intelligence and listen to Dale Carnegie's classic, How to Win Friends and Influence
Additional Methods for Building Relationships
Try all of the following of the following tactics to turn those relationships into
Create a "Networking Stack"
Make a restaurant your home territory by becoming a regular and tipping well
(25%). Treat the restaurant waitstaff like VIPS; ask them about their kids, jobs, and
hobbies, etc. Use FROG technique with them! You want the place to be like the
television series, Cheers, "where everybody knows your name."
Once you're well-established, have a networking lunch or meeting. Then, stack your
appointments so the people you're seeing meet each other coming and going. It'll
increase your importance in their eyes that know so many individuals in the real
estate community. Also, schedule people next to somebody who could help their
This "stacking" strategy saves you time, helps you develop great relationships, and bonus time - allows you to get business from people who work in the restaurant
Follow Up with the "F (Follow Up) Bomb"
The "F-Bomb" is a system you'll create for follow up on your one-on-one meetings.
Plan out a seven-week series of power notes, direct mail pieces, emails, and phone
calls. At least four of your follow-up touches need to be hone calls. Use your CRM
calendar to schedule these tasks to make sure they actually occur! Ideally, delegate
the other pieces of the follow-up.You can use your success stories for the direct mail
pieces and your emails.
Use Google Alerts
"Alerts" is a great product that allows you to enter keywords to be notified of when
Google finds something on the web (news, blogs, etc.) that mentions the keywords
you entered. As a small business owner, you should focus on the seven essential
Google alerts; that is, you should set an alert for:
Your business name(s) or team name.
Your own name, and all variations of your name. (You never know when you
could show up on a blog post, video, Facebook or news article.)
Your website address(es). This is terrific for seeing who's referring you, your
blog and your company.
Your closest competitors. It's always good to stay informed on their online
Your clients. Remember the days when you'd read the paper and see a friend
or client's name? You'd clip the article and send it in a note? Well, those days
are gone, but Google Alerts are the technological equivalent to this practice.
So, set up a Google Alert for your clients, verify the article includes your
client, copy and past the URL into an email, and send it over with a few
words. Another idea for top referral sources is to find out what they're
interested in and send them relevant articles about that topic.
Industry news - set Google Alerts for specific topics in your industry; for
example, "real estate tax credit."
Local events, news, and ifnormation.
Bottom line: If you use Google Alerts effectively and efficiently, you'll go from
relationships to referrals!
The "Blessing "Book
To gain and maintain the proper attitude, create a system of focusing on the
blessings in your life by doing the following:
Each morning, write five things you're grateful for; for example, health,
family, friends, work, etc.
Each morning, write some positive affirmations. Here's one you should write
every day. It's call the "Rainmaker's Affirmation," and it goes like this:
Each and every day someone, somewhere in my city, needs my services. My job
today is to find that person!
Put the affirmations in places where you can read them in the morning; for
example, on a mirror, at your desk, in your car, etc. Internalize the message,
and you'll think like a top producer!
Also, consider carrying a "gratitude rock." This is a small rock you can put in
your pocket as a reminder of the good things in your life. During the day, pick
the rock up and think of something you're grateful for.
Create a sense of urgency. Repeat "Do It Now!" to yourself 49 times three
times daily. This exercise will build that sense of urgency.
Using Your Time Effectively
To make effective use of your time, make use of the following techniques:
Try a vision exercise: Imagine your perfect work day and write it out from
the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. Break it down
hour by hour and describe exactly what you're doing on your perfect
workday. Then, try to time block your day to match that perfect work day!
Remember, 80% of your time needs to be spent in the Influential Zone; that
is, on the phone or in front of people. This only to achieve this is to time block
your day on an hourly basis.
Schedule times to return phone calls and emails first; for example, 11:00 a.m.
and 4:00 p.m. Then, schedule an hour of "white space" (open time) to catch
up on paperwork, take a walk, return extra calls, grab a coffee, etc. Schedule
at least four hours per week for focused phone calls to people in your
database; that is, those you've worked with in the past, networking contacts,
friends, family, anybody you don't have t call but should, etc. This is your
Hour of Power!
1st and 10 calls. Do these as soon as you get to the office each day. Call people
you're showing houses to that week, referral sources, cooperating
LOs/agents, recent networking contacts, team members, potential clients,
and so on. Write the names, numbers and reasons for your lst and 10 calls
during your pre-leave ritual.
Follow the Four Rituals!
Follow the rituals below to prevent your life from getting out of control no matter
how busy you get.
Morning Ritual: Affirmations, Blessing Book, personal preparation, and
exercise (morning run, weight lifting, tapes, etc.)
Pre-Leave Ritual: Before leaving work, get your desk in order, write down
your lst and 10 calls, and check your time blocking for the next day.
Pre-Sleep Ritual: reading, visualization, prayer, stretching, etc.
Sunday Night Ritual: take a look at the entire week's schedule. Make sure all
of your appointments are in order. Also, make sure your clothes fit the
weather and arrange them in the closet right down to the socks.
Write Up Success Stories!
As we all know, testimonials are one of the most power methods of turning
relationships into referrals. So, so sit down and write up 12 success stories to use in
your marketing campaigns. To do this, follow these steps:
What was the client's name and situation? (Be specific about the problem or
challenge; for example, Jack and Jill were first-time home buyers.)
What would have happened if you weren't involved? (What is the worst
possible thing that could have occurred? For example; Jack and Jill could have
bought the first house they saw, one that backed onto a highway.)
How did you help them solve the problem? (You educated them on what
makes a good investment.)
What was the result? Be specific! (For example, they bought a great home
that's a great investment. It's on a cul de sac, has a desirable floor plan, and it's
located in a neighborhood that has a good history of appreciation.)
What did the client say or do to let you know that you did well? Be sure to
include their testimonial, or the fact that they referred you to other first-time
home buyers.Ask if you can use their picture in the success story to make the
message even stronger.
Go from Being a Marketer to a Communicator!
What's the difference between a marketer and a communicator? Well, you market to
someone, but you communicate with your clients. You're going to build a
"Community of Influence" by communication. Your database is that Community of
Influence, and you try to build the community by staying in the Influential Zone of
the Communication Pyramid described earlier!
So, know who in your database you should be communicating with! Never forget
that it's people who buy, and nothing happens until a person says "Yes," and no one
says "Yes" to people they don't trust.
In order to determine who you should be communicating with in your database, use
the following ranking system:
A+'s = these are "ambassadors;" that is, individuals who refer you multiple times a
year. They're essentially an unpaid sales staff.
A's = these are "champions;" they refer you on average once a year.
B's = these are your potential champions.
C's = friends and family; you like them but they don't send you business.
D's = they've never sent you business nor are they going to. "D" means delete; you
want them gone out of your database!
If you need help building your database, here's a list of handy target groups:
Once you grade everyone in your database, you need to build a specific
communication plan for each of those grades in the following manner:
Because of their importance, Ambassadors deserve the most communication.
Call them once a month during your Hour of Power and quarterly into a
networking stack at a restaurant. Eventually, have a "board of advisors"
meeting with all Ambassadors and ask them how you can improve your
service and business.
Call Champions at least four times a year. Use recurring reminders in your
CRM to ensure that you get this task done.
With "B's," send them the guaranteed response or GRE. This email will cause
them to give you a call. When they do call, you'll ask them how they're doing,
what's new in their lives, etc. Then you'll use the "Am I the Chosen One?"
script. After that conversation, you'll know if they're an A, a C, or even a D.In
terms of the GRE, send these emails to 20 B's at a time to prevent getting
overwhelmed. Here's an example of such an email:
Subject: Hey (first name), I have a few quick, specific questions for you....
Hope all is well. Wanted to touch base. I have a couple of specific questions for you.
Could you please call me at your earliest free moment at (phone number). It's not
an emergency, but when you have a second, please give me a call. I promise to take
only a minute or two of your time. Thank you in advance!
By the time you're done, you'll have no more B's in your database! They'll either be
Champions who promise to refer you and you'll want to stay in touch with, or they'll
be deleted because they have an established relationship with another professional
in your industry.
More Techniques for Going from Relationships to
For someone to buy from you, they first have to trust you. Trust is earned through
communication. The seven level pyramid described in this article is about
maximizing your communication in order to increase trust. The more people trust
you, the more they'll buy from you. The faster they trust you, the faster they buy
Once you establish a relationship to the point where you are an 8 ranking or above
on the phone, then you're approaching the Referral Zone! You've had a couple of
conversations and helped them out in a couple of ways. Now, it's time to have a
referral conversation! Here are some techniques for making the most of that
Employ the Power of Words
Never ask for a "referral." Instead, ask the person to "Introduce me" to those they
love and trust; for example, neighbors, friends, family members, co-workers, and
others connected to influencers. The reason you shouldnotuse the term "referral" is
because it's an emotionally charged endorsement that puts a person's reputation on
line for you. Emotionally, it's much easier for them when you ask them to make an
introduction rather than ask for a referral.
Use the "Birds of a Feather" Script
Obviously, birds of a feather flock together. And it's the same for people buying or
selling; they know others are interested in doing the same thing. So, in this case, you
can use a script similar to this example used with a client who bought and moved
from renting a townhome:
It's been great working with you. Who's another renter or first-time home buyer like
you who's looking to buy a home soon?
The more specific, the better!
Use the "Great People" Script
Adapt the following script to your specific needs and style:
Hi, ____________! I know how important your time is these days. I'm looking to grow my
business, and I want to grow it with great people like you. Something I've found is that
great people tend to know great people! SO, with that in mind, out of all the people you
know, who's the next person you know who will be buying, selling, or investing in real
Practice the script to make it more natural!
Tip: After you ask, give the person time to answer. Don't be afraid of silence in
conversation. Let silence help you. So many people get uncomfortable and feel
compelled to say something. Don't do it!
Employ the Reticular Activating (RAS) Script
An example of RAS is someone who buys a specific car and then suddenly notices all
of those cars on the road. Essentially, a particular part of your brain controls what
you focus on.To employ this technique in real estate, say the following:
Mr. and Mrs. Client, now that you're buying a house, you have supersonic hearing and
X-ray vision for real estate. You're going to notice that dozens of people around you
are buying, selling or investing. I ask that when you see, hear or meet a person who
mentions real estate that you give my card to them and give me a call. My promise to
you is that I'll respond quickly to determine how I can help them. Would you do that
for me, please?
Ask for Specific and Relevant Referrals
Here are some examples:
Who is a person you know who's buying their first home? It could be a renter or even a
son or daughter or someone you know.
Be sure to have call to action. Use a sentence like, "Please reply to this email with the
name and their situation. I promise they'll get the excellent service they deserve!"
Use the Great Retrace Technique
When someone refers you, you want to communicate with every single person in
that strand of referral sources. Here's an example:
Joe refers Jeff who introduced you to Cindy who recommended you to Janet. You
would call Cindy with an update on Janet. Then, you'd call Jeff to express
appreciation for connecting you to Cindy. After that, you'd call Joe to let him know
what's happened. There's enormous power to this subtle strategy.
Ask the Magic Question
You always want and need to know the kind of people you'll be dealing with. Of
course, it helps to first know the kind of person you are! To determine this, ask how
your spouse/best friend would describe you; for example, 1) straight to the point, 2)
social and outgoing, 3) steady and dependable, 4) cautious and perfectly accurate? If
you had to choose just one, what would it be?
We recommend that you put that magic question on your intake forms and next to
your phone. We also recommend that you learn the behavioral style of your clients.
You can do this by applying the DISC personality inventory categories:
D - stands for Dominance. These individuals are straight to point, driven, fast-paced,
impatient, and brutally honest. They aren't into long explanations; they simply want
the bottom line.
I - stands for Influence. These people love socializing. They're often outgoing,
friendly, emotional and energetic. They're often the life of the party.
S - stands for Steadiness. These individuals are steady, dependable and nurturing.
They live to serve and please others. They prefer predictability and security over
spontaneity and excitement. They enjoy executing systems.
C - stands for Compliance. C's are perfectionists who expect everyone to comply
with the rules. These guys create order and process. They can seem almost
inflexible. This is a person who will tell you it's more important to do a task right
Key Point:The process of buying or selling of a home brings out the inner "C" in
everyone. The bigger the purchase, the more attention to the details! In life, three
things you should never mess with a person about - his family, his home, and his
money. In our profession, we "mess" with all three! People are going to want
specifics, details and facts.
Sometimes, as an agent or loan officer, it's easy to wonder what people are getting
so worked up about. But, remember, it's the largest amount of money most of them
will ever spend!
We all know the Golden Rule - treat others as you would want to be treated. Well,
forget that! Instead, follow the Platinum Rule - treat others the way THEY want to be
treated, even if it's not what you'd want yourself. Sell the way the buyer buys!
Follow the Triangle of Trust
This is a simple concept. It depicts the introduction of two trusted individuals to
each other. For example, Josh (one side of the triangle) knows, likes and trusts Rick
(one side of the triangle). Josh also knows, likes and trust Michelle. Michelle asks
Josh to introduce her to Rick. When Michelle and Rick meet, they begin to form the
third side of the Triangle of Trust. Rick and Michelle are borrowing on Josh's trust.
The bottom line is that you can grow your business more quickly and profitably by
communicating with people you know rather than marketing to strangers!
Remember, when someone else speaks highly of you, it's far more convincing than
when you speak highly about yourself. So, anytime you can get a third party
endorsement, get it!
Look for opportunities to have somebody else sing your praises! Have them
introduce you to someone they know or connect you to a connector. An example of
this is stacking appointments. Have the person leaving speak on your behalf to the
person who's coming. Also, get several people to speak to a particular connector on
Have a Presentation Ready
Your most important one-on-one meetings are your client consultations. So you
need to have an initial consultation presentation ready for buyers and sellers!
Giving a client an initial one-on-one meeting that walks him through every step
shows your professionalism. This builds trust and gives him the confidence to move
through the entire process more quickly.
Ask the Three Most Referral Generating Questions!
As a loan officer or as an agent, you should always ask these questions:
What is your biggest challenge right now?Don't guess how you can help the person;
don't assume! Let them tell you!
So, what have you tried so far? You don't want to suggest what they already tried.
Maybe you can tweak what they did or add to it and help them.
So, what are you going to do next? (With this question, you're showing respect; the
answer is deep down inside them). Clients will often answer, "I don't know." But
when you have a conversation about what they're going to do next, they often selfdiscover the answer themselves and talk through their way throught it. In effect,
they solve the problem on their own but because you're there, they think you solved
it for them and tell others how great you are! And once they feel that way, they're
more likely to provide you with referrals!
Wow, you received a ton of information in this article! But that "ton" doesn't matter
if you don't do anything with it. So, get out there and put the seven levels of
communication (and all the other techniques) into effect immediately!Once you do
that, the power of turning relationships into referrals will transform your business
into the world-beater you've always wanted it to be!