SOI Gone Bad -- 21 Ways to Blow it with Your Sphere of Influence

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

I love SOI*. It's my thing... it's my passion. I think every self-employed salesperson oughta include a little SOI soiin their arsenal. Or a lot. During my real estate days, my business was nearly 100% SOI with a few random floor calls, walk-ins and web leads tossed in as gravy.

But if you're gonna SOI, you better do it right! Not everyone does. In fact, most don't. Not because they're stupid or incompetent or insensitive, not at all! Rather, because most salespeople have never been shown the right way to do it. When done right, an SOI business model actually changes the way the salesperson views his business ... and his world.

Most experienced real estate salespeople claim to embrace an SOI philosophy. They support the idea of generating business and referrals from the people they know. But the reality is that the vast majority of real estate agents fail miserably in their SOI efforts. Even worse, they manage to alienate many of their friends and family members along the way!

And then they proclaim that "SOI is a lousy way to run a business!"

Well, they're wrong. And, they're right. They're wrong that an SOI strategy is a poor business model, but they're right that it was a lousy business model for them. Because they didn't understand how to do it right.

If you're gonna SOI, you better do it right. If you're gonna do it wrong, don't do it at all. The personal relationships in your life are far too important to risk!

21 Ways to Blow it with Your SOI

  1. Ask a friend to lunch and give her your sales pitch (every time)
  2. Call your friends on the first Monday of every month and ask if they have any referrals for you.
  3. If they don't, ask them why not.
  4. Angrily (or tearfully) confront your friends and family if they use another real estate agent
  5. Take on business you aren't qualified to handle
  6. Send your friends weekly emailed newsletters of your listings
  7. Blow off your friend's housewarming party, but expect her to be loyal to you
  8. Attend your friend's housewarming party and sales-pitch everyone to death
  9. Tell everyone you know how lousy the real estate market is
  10. Tell everyone you know how overwhelmed you are
  11. Tell everyone you know how depressed you are about your real estate business
  12. Send out an announcement letter with typo's and misspellings
  13. Send your friends frequent "forward this on for good luck or else" mass emails
  14. Pepper your language with four-letter words
  15. Borrow money or books or tools or whatever and don't return them in a timely manner
  16. Don't return social phone calls or RSVP's
  17. Try to hijack referral fees from your family's pre-existing real estate relationships
  18. Ignore your SOI in favor of mass-advertising projects (then get your feelings hurt when they use someone else)
  19. Contact your friends only when you're looking for business
  20. Offer bribes to your friends for referrals
  21. Sell real estate "on the side"

*An "SOI" (sphere of influence) business strategy means to generate business and referrals from the people who know you.

To Read About "Doing SOI Right", check out these blogs:
The Jake Series
Are You Tired of Pestering Strangers for Business?
What's the Best Way to Ask for Referrals? Don't.
SOI and the Single Gal



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  1. Pete X-GRI, CDPE 03/23/2012 08:47 AM
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Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Real Estate Rookie
sphere of influence
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Comments 30 New Comment

Bob & Carolin Benjamin
East Phoenix Arizona Homes
Benjamin Realty LLC

You are right. It's the "in your face" tactics that fail to work out well every time.

July 23, 2008 03:46 PM
Shari Weber
Better Properties Washington

just came across this and although it is old I wanted to reply to Angela-

send a card to them wishing them the best. Don't ask why, don't solicate, just wish them the best. They will usually appreciate the good form and soften up. Likely they are avoiding you because they don't want to explain their decision and honestly- it is their decision- but if they know you are ok with it, it could diffuse the situation.

just my 2 cents

June 28, 2010 06:42 PM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

Thanks for your comment Shari - your advice is perfect. I get this question so often, and the agents are almost always furious with my answer that they should handle it politely and professionally. But you know what? More than one has written me back later to tell me that they did as I suggested and ended up with the friend as a client in the end because the agent they initially selected blew it.

It's just bad business to burn bridges.

June 29, 2010 07:26 AM
Anonymous #29
Bethany Williams

I'm a serious Rookie but loving it!  it's been a month, but I just wrote my first offer!

It was exhilerating!  It was just what I needed to jump-start my career.  Now I can't get enough.  My issue is that I have a husband with two jobs, 3 boys (one with Down's Syndrome) and an absolute passion for my career that is all consuming!!  I need to find a balance! My other obsession is Bikram yoga which is wonderful for relaxation and focus...not to mention the killer work-out that comes along with it.

So you keep a list of your SOI's but you don't send out letters etc...which I'm totally on-board with! I guess I need to be directed as to where to go to read about what TO do.  Just be relational, know your stuff and the clients will come to you?  I have my sticker on my car but I never bother or pester friends or people that I meet.  I figure everyone will know what I do and its up to me to learn every detail of the the Real Estate business.  When the clients come I want to be overly ready!  Does that make sense? 

January 07, 2012 11:17 AM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Author of Sell with Soul
Sell with Soul

Hi Bethany... well, there's a bit more to it than just being nice and waiting for people to show up... feel free to contact me directly and I'll point you toward some other resources. But YES - I'm completely in agreement with you that when clients come, you want to be overly ready... your future adoring fan club deserves that... ;-]

January 08, 2012 08:55 AM

Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

Author of Sell with Soul
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