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

By
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

www.sellwithsoul.com

 

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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
433,876
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
Stephen - you crack me up! I forgive you for blowing past me in Alabama AR points.
Oct 30, 2007 09:32 AM #11
Rainer
62,731
Allen C. Wright
RealtyU - Aliso Viejo, CA
NS, AHS, REPS
Wonderful post. 
Oct 30, 2007 04:05 PM #12
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Another great post!  It's amazing how your actions, or lack of, can ruin your reputation as a Realtor to everyone you know.  I'm glad I haven't been guilty of any of these, yet :).
Oct 30, 2007 04:43 PM #13
Rainmaker
311,335
James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move
Ouch - forget their house-warming party!  An agent friend of mine has started throwing her buyers a house-warming party.  It is her closing gift.  She spends a couple of hundred dollars - and gets to be face to face with all her "Happy" clients friends.  Hmm....
Oct 31, 2007 10:32 PM #14
Rainmaker
135,689
Scott Cowan
RE/MAX Four Seasons - Puyallup, WA

Excellent points! I try very hard to not go into a sales pitch with my SOI... it's tough sometimes because I see so many opportunities for them to get involved while the market is slow  so they will experience growth when things pick up. 

What I have found though, is if I do not talk shop the topic usually comes up and they want to hear what I have going on and if I have any suggestions for them.

Best Wishes,

Scott Cowan
Rainier Real Estate
www.scottcowan.com
Nov 02, 2007 10:58 AM #15
Rainmaker
433,876
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Scott - I think if you're speaking directly to a person and truly concerned about sharing opportunities, your approach will be welcomed! I'm against sending out a general list of your listings to your SOI, but if I listed or knew of a great investment, I'd send it out and got a great response from it. It's all in the attitude - if you really really DO want to help someone, that shows.

But yeah, people will usually ask about your job and if there's any interest, the conversation will take on a life of it's own.

Nov 03, 2007 06:35 AM #16
Rainmaker
157,055
David & Lisa Webber
RE/MAX Executive - Crofton, MD
www.webberteam.com
Too funy!  I do avoid the "sales pitch" but when there is an opportunity, obviously bring up something having to do with real estate as most people like to talk about the market, just don't want to be constantly sold.
Dec 17, 2007 04:07 PM #17
Rainmaker
433,876
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
David & Lisa - Thanks so much for your comments- I checked out your profile and you definitely GET IT. Let's stay in touch.
Dec 18, 2007 06:27 AM #18
Rainmaker
206,680
M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk)
NOW Sharing the life and spice of the GC one day at a time - Grand Canyon, AZ
Suzi Woods, Prior Independent REBroker in MS

Jennifer, do you have a SOI yearly Planner?

Dec 23, 2007 03:50 AM #19
Rainmaker
433,876
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Suzi - excellent question. No... but yes.

I never used one in the past - SOI came very naturally to me, although if I'd had a written plan, I probably would have doubled or even tripled my business.

Therefore, now that I'm going back into real estate sales after the 1st of the year.  I SHALL make a detailed, written plan. I have the shell done - now I just need to fill in the specific names & activities. I'll use Top Producer to keep me on track.

Dec 23, 2007 06:02 AM #20
Rainmaker
104,210
Josette Skilling
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Bethesda, MD
I had a friend tell me the other day that someone had invited the swim moms to her house for brunch.  At the end she did a pitch for business that really seemed to rub the wrong way.  Ouch.
Dec 23, 2007 08:25 AM #21
Rainmaker
433,876
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
Oh, that is SO wrong!!!!!!!!
Dec 23, 2007 09:08 AM #22
Anonymous
Anonymous
Angela

Hi Jennifer! 

OK, my question is, exactly how SHOULD you react when friends list with another agent? 

My husband has ONE of their homes listed, and has had a lot of activity on it.  Then out of the blue our friends listed their OTHER house with someone else!  Keep in mind when answering, that these are VERY close friends of ours and they seem to be avoiding us now.  We are very hurt and did nothing to cause this whatsoever.  We never saw it coming, and my husband found out about it from another agent.  My husband is a broker, in the business for 11 years with his father, they own 2 successful Re/Max offices, so my husband knows the business.  He has been a top producer consistently for years.  In the past, when this SAME thing happened to his father, he never spoke to his friends again!!!!!!!  

 Thanks for any advice! 

Jan 07, 2008 11:29 AM #23
Rainmaker
433,876
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Wow - I don't have anything brilliant to say. I have lots of ideas as to why someone would do that, but who knows?

What to do? Be polite, professional, assume the very very best. Maybe this other agent was desperate and they felt bad for him or her. People do know more than one real estate agent and maybe this other person was devastated when they selected your husband.

Don't ruin a friendship or business relationship over it. That would be very unprofessional! Just act "as if" it doesn't matter to you at all and that you're sure they have a perfectly reasonable explanation - and, they probably do (at least in their minds).

 

Jan 07, 2008 12:05 PM #24
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

OK.  If they believed that they had "a perfectly reasonable explanation" then why are they avoiding us?  And why would VERY good friends, (and fellow church members) do that, with NO explanation at all, and in fact, not even tell us about it THEMSELVES?

As for the "desperate realtor" theory, it doesn't wash.  She is new, completely unknown to them, and got into the business AFTER my husband listed their other home.

I realize that you can't solve this for us, I just thought that you may have a concrete answer for us, or a personal experience to share.  It is such a sticky situation.  Unfortunately, it DOES matter a great deal to us.  In 11 years, this is the first time it has happened to us...thankfully!!!  My father-in-law has, as I said before, had it happen to him a few times in his 17 year career.  He doesn't take kindly to "friends" doing that, and feels that in the long run he is far better off with his "loyal" friends and customers.  In spite of losing a few "friends(???)", he has managed to retain his integrity and high degree of professionalism.  (It hasn't hurt him financially, either! )  Maybe we aren't all as kind and forgiving about such things as you would be in our situation.  Just to clarify, my husband HAS had other customers do this to him, and that really is just par for the course.  These are our FRIENDS, and that is what makes it pretty bad in our eyes.

With that said, I think the business end of things can remain intact, but the friendship...well,that was their choice. 

Thanks for your advice, Jennifer!!!

Jan 07, 2008 05:17 PM #25
Rainmaker
652,546
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

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

Jul 23, 2008 03:46 PM #26
Rainmaker
26,486
Shari Weber
Better Properties Washington - Port Orchard, WA

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

Jun 28, 2010 06:42 PM #27
Rainmaker
433,876
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of 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.

Jun 29, 2010 07:26 AM #28
Anonymous
Anonymous
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? 

Jan 07, 2012 11:17 AM #29
Rainmaker
433,876
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of 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... ;-]

Jan 08, 2012 08:55 AM #30
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Rainmaker
433,876

Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

Author of Sell with Soul
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