Earlier this week, I spoke on the subject of Selling to Your Sphere of Influence - No Sales Pitch Required! at the Colorado REALTOR Convention.
As I usually do, I did my best to debunk many of the sacred cows of the SOI- business model training industry, such as how important it is to ask for referrals, why it's a great idea to categorize your friends based on their history of referring to you - stuff like that.
The crowd seemed to accept my protestations that this behavior is not only obnoxious, but that it's not terribly effective. Cool.
I closed my presentation by encouraging the audience to evaluate every prospecting strategy that crosses their path from their gut... to ask themselves if the strategy they're considering is one they're excited about and proud of; to be honest with themselves as to how they would respond to the strategy if used on them and whether or not it would annoy them, if used on them. And to trust what their guts have to say on the matter.
A woman in the back of the room raised her hand and asked if I "approved" of Client Appreciation parties. I asked her if she would enjoy holding such an event and she said she would. I responded with "then absolutely - have that party" with the explanation that if you enjoy doing something, it's probably a good prospecting activity for you. Me? Nah, I'd be too afraid no one would show up and it wouldn't be worth the pre-party stress!
But later I gave this some more thought and wish I had just another 45 seconds in that room to share the rest of the story...
Which is... I just can't get excited about the phrase "client appreciation party." Oh, it's not the worst thing in the world, but to me, it sounds like an event specifically held to make me feel obligated to the host with my future real estate business, as opposed to a party where I'll have a great time. I dunno - there's just something about that title that gives the introvert in me the heebie-jeebies - even more so than a run-of-the-mill party invitation might evoke.
Am I saying not to have the party? Heavens no! Party on, my friend! But call it something else! Have your party in conjunction with an event of general appeal - Oktoberfest, Halloween, your or your spouse's birthday, the World Series or Super Bowl, your housewarming celebration (even if you moved over a year ago!), or just your "first annual wine and cheese tasting" party.
Don't approach your precious Sphere of Influence as a real estate agent first and foremost, as if that's all you are to them. Be a friend or pleasant acquaintance, who throws a good party, and oh, yeah, also happens to sell real estate.
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