Relationships have formed the foundation for successful businesses for centuries, but how those relationships can benefit a business has evolved over time. Today, client relationships that result in referrals can fuel your growth and success both online and off.Christie Cannon, a Keller Williams Luxury Homes International agent who specializes in Frisco and its surrounding communities north of Dallas, has put those referrals to work for her in a Texas-sized way.
“More than half of our business comes from referrals,” Cannon says. Through sourcing her business, Cannon finds that many new clients heard about her from a previous client.
Cannon’s results speak for themselves. Her team closed $112 million in sales in 2016, a 28 percent increase from the previous year. The results are particularly remarkable given the unexpected challenge they were presented.
Cannon’s husband and team member, Kevin Cannon, was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. He began aggressive chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy and 30 radiation treatments.
“It was heartbreaking for us. We were unsure where the situation would take us,” says Christie. “Thankfully, Kevin is now fully recovered and back to working full time. The challenge really brought to light how strong our team is. Everyone rallied together to create the best year yet.”
Upward momentum continues for Cannon and her team. They currently have 65 active listings and 50 pending transactions, not to mention plans for a 20 percent increase in production this year. This projected growth undoubtedly will be aided by her strong referral program.
Cannon builds a strong referral program
“Reaching out to current, past and future clients is so important because they all have a referral to give,” she says. “The most important part of building a referral-based business is building strong business relationships with your clients along the way.”
In order to build those relationships, Cannon and her team have created a solid referral protocol for each and every one of her customers and clients. “Every person in our database is on an action plan of some kind. Each action plan is set up to cater to the specific needs of each contact. The activities in our action plans will vary, but they all include offering something of value to each person. Our contacts are the heart of our company, and we treat them as such.”
When the team receives a referral, the client is sent a handwritten thank-you card as well as a small gift. That strategy has paid dividends dating back to Cannon’s very first client in 2003.
“Ironically enough, one of my very first transactions was a small $48,000 home, and to this date, that client has completed five other transactions with me and is still referring business to me,” she says. “I started getting my systems in place early on, and the systems are what helped me get organized and get in touch to grow and foster relationships with my clients. They have helped us maintain a consistent year-over-year growth pattern and get to where we are now.”
The value of referrals
Now that Cannon and her team are part of KW Luxury International, she has discovered that those referrals are even more valuable to her success.
“Luxury home buyers and sellers are very seasoned,” Cannon says. “They rely heavily upon advice from people they trust. Keeping your name in front of the luxury market is important in maintaining a strong referral base.”
While clients are the first ones that referral strategies are typically aimed at, Cannon also works hard to earn referrals from her local real estate colleagues and peers. To that end, she is committed to participating in networking events with other agents in and around her area. The best method she has found for earning those referrals is an unyielding dedication to professionalism.
“We have had agents – even within our own area – refer business to us,” she says. “It is such an honor to get a referral from another colleague. It’s important to maintain a professional relationship with not only your clients but also with your colleagues, as you may work with them multiple times over.”
Keep clients first
For agents who are working to assemble a solid referral strategy, Cannon suggests keeping the client as your central focus.
“A big mistake I see in a lot of agents is making this business all about them,” she says. “While we want to brand ourselves and relate to our clients, it’s not about you. This business is about catering to the needs of our clients and offering them a service and skill they can’t get anywhere else.”
Lead generate, lead generate, lead generate
In order to increase the amount of referrals you receive, Cannon suggests going back to the basics. “The models and systems are there, so don’t skimp on your lead generation,” she says. “As part of your lead generation, you should be reaching out to your sphere and past clients every day. Put everyone you know into your CRM and get them set up on some type of action plan. Reach out to your contacts on a regular basis by sending handwritten notes, making phone calls and sending items of value to them. This is all part of an action plan.”
Cannon stresses that an action plan only works if you keep your clients’ needs in mind.
“If you’re sending something of value to your contacts, they have a reason to continue to receive information from you,” she says.
At the end of the day, Cannon credits the Keller Williams models and systems for her team’s impressive growth.
“It took me trying to invent my own models and systems several times over and failing before I realized how much Keller Williams has to offer,” she says. “We will continue to improve and streamline our systems as we grow and plan on attending Family Reunion and Mega Camp each year. The best is yet to come!”
Cannon’s story illustrates how past clients are one of the most reliable sources for leads, but it takes consistent follow-up with your database to ensure that you remain top-of-mind.
Download our Lead Gen for Listings toolkit for resources to help you leverage your past clients and land more listings.