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Building Your Book of Business – A Key to Success in Real Estate Sales

Updated on September 5, 2016

A wise old Realtor once said, with sage like quality, “the longer you’re in this business, the easier it becomes”. Some real truth in that statement, but it’s also true that “even a blind pig will find an acorn every now and then”. The point is that success does not come by accident. It is a planned process and one of the cornerstones of success in real estate is understanding how to work your centers of influence and build your book of repeat and referral business. These key questions need to be addressed:

  • Why are people willing to make referrals?
  • What should you expect from someone who knows you are in the business?
  • How do you cultivate your referral business? Are you getting results?

If you know the answers to these questions you are likely a top producer in your company and enjoy the opportunity to have the things in life that a successful career can provide. If you think the answer is sending out a calendar to a list of past clients and customers once a year, you are fooling yourself and need to take the next step to receive the full impact that is part of a successful marketing strategy.

What is the Book of Business?

So what’s it going to take to make this work? First, you have to understand why and how people refer other people. There is really no secrete to it. A careful look at other professions; Doctors, Lawyers and Consultants will provide a guidepost for developing a strategy and marketing plan that can work for you in real estate. Second, you need a way to organize and communicate with your base. What is that base, or what we call your “book” of business?

A book of business is made up of people you know, or whom you want to introduce yourself too, that will have“top of mind” awareness about you, a real estate professional. They are people who are in a position to referral people they know your way and when they have the need for your service they will use it.

For people who are new to the business the best way to get started is to start with the people that know you. Family, friends, class mates, club members and people you have worked with n the past all have the potential to introduce you to people they know. Another good way to help create that list is to use the “Yellow Pages” approach. Start with “A”, who do you know that is an Accountant, Adjuster, in Advertising, Air Conditioning / Heating & Cooling, Alterations, etc. Create a list and record what you know; i.e. address, phone number, e-mail. Don’t know anybody, go introduce yourself.

Getting Starting is as Simple as 1 – 2- 3.

Here are the steps to follow in beginning your marketing plan.

Step 1 – Let them know you are in the business and excited about the opportunity. An introduction letter is a good idea, but the key is to talk with them. Talk about what? Good question. Share your enthusiasm for why you are going into the business; tell them a bit about the company you are affiliated with and let them know that you would like their “help”, so if they know of someone who needs assistance with buying or selling, please send them your way.

Step 2 – Let them know that you want to keep them informed of what is happening in real estate, the market place and their community. It is your intent to send out a periodic update and ask if they would like to receive it. Explain that you intend to use e-mail to deliver this information and ask for their e- mail address.

Step 3 – Send them a thank you note, along with your business card.

If you mail and call twenty people a week, in five weeks you will have talked with one hundred people and chances are pretty good you will have a couple of prospective leads to follow up on. The key is that you have taken the step to associate your relationship with the fact that you are now in the real estate business.

Create the Right Plan

The challenge now is to build on that foundation and build confidence that will lead to referrals and leads. You can make it happen by implementing the right plan.

Top producing real estate agents create and work a well defined marketing plan that communicates directly to their base or “book”. Like any business plan it has specific objectives, allocation of resources (time and material) and is scheduled into the work load each year / month and week. The objective is simple. You need to establish and build a “top of mind” awareness with people who are in a position to refer you.

There are a number of options available and if, in your annual business plan, you have allocated resources to a marketing plan, then you may want to look at the various alternatives that can be purchased to promote your name. A calendar, notepad or “sticker” magnet for the frig have all been used for years. How about radio and T.V. advertising…not out of the question. Heard any of those ads of recent?

We are not suggesting you start throwing money at the challenge; in fact, the first steps toward building a successful marketing program cost little more than your time and effort. Sending out a calendar once a year is certainly not the answer but could well be part of the plan.

When you are new in the business it is difficult to allocate money you have yet to earn to an element of marketing that you have not experienced. That is why we recommend that you start the process with building upon what you already have in place, people you know.

A good business plan for marketing to your book should focus on providing information and insight into what is happening in the business. People who own real estate are interesting in knowing about things like current market conditions, interest rates, trends and results. People that want to buy real estate are looking for someone that is knowledgeable. Your job is to provide that information and become the “voice” of real estate.

How to Work Your Plan

We live in a world of cyber communication. The internet has made a huge impact on our business, so it is no surprise that we need to learn to use the tools available to organize and communicate with your “book”. A program like Microsoft Outlook will allow you to do that, and at a relative low cost. There are other programs on the market, like Constant Contact or some software designed specially for real estate. They vary in cost, so it is worth a little research to determine what you will use to help you organize and communicate with your book. It really does not matter what you use as long as you have the ability to enter contact information, organize your contact list, record notes and follow up information, create and integrate communication by e-mail, anniversary cards, etc., that can be attached to your distribution list and sent with minimal time and expense.

It is up to you to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable, competent and successful and that in large measure, defines what you need to do to construct and implement a marketing program. If you have been in the business and have now decided to invest your time and energy to do a better job of marketing to your repeat and referral base, then you should be prepared to allocate a portion of your revenue to the plan that will make it happen.

In either case, new to the business or been in it a while, using the “cyber” tools like face book, can work to maintain that “top of mind” awareness that is so important to your success. The effective and impacting part of the plan should focus on using e-mail to send out a periodic market report or “news blast”. A simple, one page update, with your picture, contact information and a reminder to call you that is insightful, provides meaningful information, updates in the market place and positions you as the real estate “voice” is the cornerstone for marketing to your book.

Sending this “e-newsletter” four to six times a year, along with a couple of holiday or anniversary cards should be the core portion of your marketing strategy. Everything else is an add-on. The key to working your book is staying in touch with the people who know you are in the business, know you are knowledgeable and successful. A quick “news blast / e-news” every other month and a call once a year will meet that challenge and go a long way to securing the repeat and referral business you desire.

If you want to be successful in real estate sales build and work your book of business.

© 2016 Doug Stranahan


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    • Doug Stranahan profile image

      Doug Stranahan 19 months ago from Fenton, Michigan

      Yes. Let me know if I can add some detail. Same plan works around the world!

    • HappyTom LM profile image

      Tom Christen 19 months ago from Switzerland/Ecuador

      That sounds very interesting. I have to get more deep with this topic I think.