As a real estate agent, you typically have two choices when it comes to growing your career: join a huge team staffed with 24/7 support, or work in a smaller setting where you hire your own staff or do a majority of the work.
Either way, you largely rely on a database to build your business. Your database is one of the most powerful tools for acquiring clients. But the size of your database is far less important than the quality of the relationships you build with the people on your list.
That is why we are excited to talk with expert coaches Mike and Donna Stott on GrowthHouse this week.
After working as brokers for over two decades, Mike and Donna relocated from Hawaii to Atlanta to begin a third decade and grow their coaching business. They founded Your Coaching Matters in 2009 and have supported countless real estate professionals grow, or even triple their businesses, in most cases by simply seeing clearly the value in their databases.
We chatted with Mike and Donna to learn how to effectively pull your richest resources from your database, and build lasting relationships with clients who can't wait to share YOU with their friends and families, eagerly referring you!
Pssst, want to skip to the interview? Scroll down to the bottom to listen in!
Table of contents
- Small market, big wins: The people, area, and price range right for your business
- Building relationships: How to leverage your know, like, and trust factor
- Why keeping it simple is the best way to scale
Small market, big wins: The people, area, and price range right for you
“What gets hard as a real estate agent that wants to do more business is the encountering of the “bright and shiny object” that sounds too good to be true, or the fear of missing out (FOMO). And we lose clarity, rarely focusing on doing what's going to [get] our best returns.”
Mike and Donna Stott know the difficulty of building a real estate database. They left a large successful business in Hawaii with a database of hard-earned 33,000 contacts in it and started over in a brand new city in 2006.
After more than 25 years as successful brokers, they drastically reduced their transaction volume in order to teach other real estate professionals how to succeed using one crucial asset:
But according to Mike and Donna, it’s not the size of the database that matters, but your expertise in a small market segment specifically chosen.
Their advice? Niche down to a specific geographic area, client type, and price range to become the go-to expert for buyers or sellers with those specific needs.
Here’s how they explain it:
If you take the shotgun approach by trying to access every corner of the market from FSBOs to expired listings to divorce cases, it’s difficult to become an expert in any single area.
It may seem intuitive to spread your wings to reach the largest market possible. But when you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely connect with anyone. It's the classic jack-of-all-trades, master of none scenario and if you let it, it can be a total business killer.
But there is another way.
The way Donna and Mike see it, your key differentiator is to master a single market so you become known as the expert in your community.
You'll have a deep understanding of your inventory, and feel confident talking to prospective clients because you can help them find exactly what they’re looking for.
According to these two rain making coaches, this specific type of standout expertise will generate a ton of referral business for similar transactions and create the kind of profit-driving virtuous cycle most agents only ever dream about.
Sounds pretty great, right? Here's how you start.
Donna suggests digging into your database to get crystal clear on who you want to work with. Who do you LIKE who is already in there? Who did you enjoy working with most of your past clients? What areas are most productive for you? Even if the top prospects in your database aren’t ready to transact this year, they likely know someone who is. “The numbers are undeniable. The way people find a real estate agent is right about 73% who were referred by a friend, neighbor, or relative; or used the agent previously.”
Once you figure out who you want to work with and what area you want to focus on, the next step is building meaningful relationships with every name in your laser-focused database — regardless of their buying or selling timeline.
Building relationships: How to leverage your know, like, and trust factor
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the stress of growing your database, especially if you're purchasing one from a company that sells those contacts to multiple agents and brokers.
But, Mike and Donna point out that building your database starts with your own contacts.
You come into contact with dozens of potential leads who already know and like you. From your friends and family, to your dry cleaner or the front desk clerk at your gym.
You also have social media contacts, church members, or connections from community events. The list goes on and on. 98% of agents do not need to buy potential leads. They already have them and just aren’t working them.
However, transforming your SOI into a revenue machine is about so much more than handing out your card after one conversation. The key is to take ample notes and follow up frequently so your contacts trust you with one of their most important financial decisions when the time is right.
Here are some of Donna and Mike's best tips on how to do this:
Whether you’re just starting out and have no database, or you’ve been around long enough to accumulate a substantial list— Mike and Donna recommend taking the time to connect with the people who represent exactly who you want to work with.
Take Rose who shared this story at one of Mike and Donna’s Annual Live Summits a few years ago:
"After spinning my wheels with a large database of over 5,000 people, I finally chose to fall in love with the business again. I identified only those I truly wanted to work with, and when I was done, there were only 161. I put all my efforts and marketing budget for the next 12 months into those 161 people. The results were amazing. Over 90 transactions from those 161 people in direct business or referrals from them in one year!"
Donna explains, “Rose got clear. Working the masses wasn’t fun and wasn’t effective. She spent three full months letting her son and staff handle nearly everything else. All she did was call those 5,000 people.” She could put on the blinders and focus on calling everyone. She took notes of who responded well (and identified who she didn’t want to work with). She had no set number of clients she wanted to remain - just divided them into email only... and her Active list to follow up with.
Her really clear goal was to fall in love with her clients and business again by choosing who she wanted to work with in the areas and price range she felt most comfortable working in.
Mike and Donna constantly surround themselves with rockstar real estate professionals in their coaching courses and live events. Mike and Donna Stott
Donna explains that once she narrowed her list, she went above and beyond to build a trusting relationship. “Every month they got a very personal thing from her in the mail. Every month they got a personal phone call from her where they just chatted. She held several live events over the year with only that group invited. She kept notes in the database and she talked to them again every month. Not necessarily about real estate. Yet she always did talk about her business.”
The rest of her database went on auto-newsletter so she could focus her time and energy with her top prospects.
Her monthly contact time necessary was kept to a minimum because she developed a system that allowed her to spend more time in person with a small group.
That level of human interaction is an increasingly rare commodity these days and it’s meaningful to people.
When you have a database of people who know, like, and trust you — you spend less time chatting on the phone and sending emails, and more time face-to-face with clients eager to build a relationship.
Why keeping it simple is the best way to scale
In these days of AI and ironically named chatbots, it's all too easy to get sucked into the wormhole of shiny object syndrome.
Especially, when it feels like every name in your database is tugging at your shirt for instant attention.
On the flip side, when you optimize your database workflow, you know exactly who you need to contact on which days at what time.
Start chiseling through by leaning into every follow up a little deeper, until you know exactly where the diamonds are.
Take ample notes in your system about your talk with each contact. Note important conversation starters like life events or needs they expressed in the previous call (yes, their dog's name does matter).
Then, schedule a follow-up call in your database before you hang up the phone. And KEEP that appointment with yourself to make that next contact.
This organization system cuts down on the amount of time spent each week making calls, or sending texts and emails. “We don't believe that you need to be on the phone two or three hours a day,” says Donna.
“You really just need to be on the phone half-an-hour to an hour every day, five days a week, and the rest of your time you better be out in people's homes.”
The outcome of these calls is to get an appointment with a person interested in building a relationship, not to sell them on why you are the right person for the job.
Donna explains, “I think most people kill their chances for that appointment because they try [to] do too much on the phone when they need to get really, really, really good at getting in front of people face-to-face. Because face-to-face is 99% of the way you're going to earn that business.”
Face-to-face doesn’t need to only happen with those ready to buy or sell immediately. It’s with anyone willing to sit down with you for a real conversation. You want to let them know you are their to answer any questions at any time, even if they are a year or more out from making a decision.
It’s simple. People want to work with people. If they can put a face with a voice and build a rapport, it’s more likely you’ll be the first person they contact when the time is right for them or someone they know.
“I don't care when you're going to buy or sell, I want to begin to develop relationship and I want to talk to you on such a frequent basis that we feel like we're friends.”
Want the whole story? Get the full interview below: