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How Sean Carpenter Successfully Manages His Real Estate Relationships

Molly McKinley
March 14, 2019

There are few in the real estate industry who are consistently singing about the power of relationships. Sean Carpenter, a speaker, trainer, and agent in Upper Arlington, Ohio, unequivocally trumpets that real estate is about building relationships, solving problems and having fun. His dedication to teaching a simple yet effective relationship management system is unparalleled.

To start, Sean recommends breaking your database into 4 levels. By doing so, you will have a clearer understanding of who is in your network, and how best to reach out to them so you can finally maintain a flow with your most important asset, relationships.

Level 1: Database

Definition: Anyone you have contact information for.

Sean’s Context: Most agents have a super generic database. There are lots of people they have contact information for but may not have a relationship with.

Level 2: Sphere of Influence (SOI)

Definition: I know them and they know me.

Sean’s Context: Everyone in my SOI is in my database but not everyone in my database is in my SOI. People who think your database is your SOI are wrong. People tend to ask, how many people are in your database? The size doesn't matter if there are mostly strangers in your database. The more important question is how many people are in your SOI?

Level 3: Clients

Definition: They’ve done business with me in the past.

Sean’s Context: Anyone who is a client is part of my SOI.

Most realtors think SOI means they have to be friends, but that's not accurate. Your doctor for example, is in your SOI, but that doesn't mean you’re friends. It means they know you. These people have proven they trust you because you’ve worked together before.

Level 4: Bullseye

Definition: They’re siblings, your best man, your spouse, your best friend and your neighbors.

Sean’s Context: These are the people who are looking out for you. This should be a group of no more than 20 people. If I held up a monthly calendar, how many business days are there?  Pick these 20 people, and on every day of the week, this becomes that person’s day. They are now on your calendar. With these people, you don’t need to talk about real estate.


Sean’s system is actually quite intuitive. Afterall, where do you get the most points when you play darts? The bullseye! But agents tend to spend their time, effort and money on the outside instead of the folks in the middle, which is why they get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the effort. Sean’s system speaks directly to this problem, by focusing on your bullseye, you’ll stay focused on the right people. Even though these people may have never done business with you, they refer business to you, all the time.

The Right Touch for the Right Person

When it comes to relationship marketing, Sean reminds us to think from the outside in, from the macro to the micro. Here are some quick guidelines for how to stay in touch now that you understand the system of his four different levels.

Level 1: These folks receive your annual calendar or a semi-annual touch of your choosing.

Level 2: The people receive your monthly newsletter and are your Facebook friends.

Level 3: Past clients should receive a monthly newsletter, market reports (provides value about their investment and their community), and lunch dates to stay connected.

Level 4: These are your inner circle folks who will get invitations to all your important life events.

The 4-H Club

The 4-H Club is reserved for people in Levels 1-3. Your bullseye folks will have their own day on your calendar.

Here’s a refresher to Sean’s 4H Club:

1. Send 5 handwritten notes a day. This is an excellent moment to leverage First’s intelligent algorithm. Choose who receives your notes based on Top Seller Scores in your network.

2. Hotsheet--Leverage your MLS and check what is happening in the market, new listings, new price changes, new contracts sold. Send this relevant information to anyone within a two block radius of the activity. This is a pure value play and is a service to the community you serve.

3. Happy birthday videos on Facebook. This is a chance to celebrate with your network and show that you care.

4. High fives:

     5 likes on Facebook

     5 comments on Facebook

     5 instagram comments or direct messages

     5 retweets or comments on twitter

     5 random text messages

The 4H system should take about 40 minutes a day. But this process is critical to actively manage your network and nurture your pipeline. Sean has been consistent with this practice and regularly hits 45 touches before 9:30 AM. Keep in mind that the only real estate related touches connect back to the hotsheet.

Sean’s system is simple to follow and will yield results. Don’t overthink it. Remember, you are putting seeds in the ground every day. The harvest will come. Successful people have patience.

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The Official Relationship Marketing Guide For Real Estate Professionals

Growing your real estate business starts with building great relationships.

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