James Shelby's Long Term Strategy To Maximize Commissions
In this podcast, James Shelby shares his strategy that helps him sell an average of 75 homes a year. With 70% of his business coming from his sphere of influence, James explains how he built his sphere and how he maximizes his profits to put himself ahead of the competition.
In order to help you understand all your options to increase your success, we interview experienced prospectors. That means, although some approaches mentioned may be more effective than others, they may also be more risky. So rather than censor this interview, we let you decide what is best for you and don’t endorse any particular approach.
Jump to topics: Read the topics below and scroll the video to the time listed.
• 01:25 – Sphere Of Influence defined
• 03:10 – SOI vs. other forms of lead generation
• 04:44 – James’ other forms of prospecting
• 06:35 – How much of James’ business comes from SOI
• 07:30 – Marketing to your SOI
• 09:24 – Social media strategy
• 13:45 – Benefits of using social media for SOI
• 15:45 – James’ SOI Scripts
• 19:58 – Why agents fail at SOI and how to be successful
• 22:19 – Why you don’t have to go to the gym at 5am
• 28:29 – How to keep a positive mindset
• 31:17 – James’ SOI marketing strategy
• 35:40 – Client appreciation events that bring in business
• 38:50 – How to know when and what to spend money on
• 43:16 – Be a top producer by being around top producers
• 46:28 – It’s not about transactions – it’s about how much money you can keep
• 48:35 – Where to contact James
• 20:18 – “If you’re an agent listening to this right now, your sphere is the low hanging fruit, as they always say, and the easiest person to call and have a conversation with.”
• 32:31 -“I would say first and foremost, starting with your social media, secondarily calling your sphere on a regular basis. And both of those things are free essentially, they only cost time.”
• 44:59 -“When I started being around people that were making, you know, 800 grand a year or $1 million a year from selling real estate, it really opened my mind, expanded my mind and taught me to think bigger.
Building your sphere of influence takes time. But if you start now, you’ll find yourself maximizing profits while putting yourself ahead of the competition.
How do you define Sphere of Influence?
Everyone has their own definition of what it means. But for myself, sphere is anyone that would know who you were based off someone, your friends, your family, someone that you go to church with, your neighbors, people out in the community that you see on a regular basis. Maybe your kid’s teachers or coaches. I would even throw in, and this might be a different part of the sphere, but also your past clients because they should be someone that you’re talking to on a regular basis.
How is sphere of influence prospecting different from other forms of lead generation?
When it comes to reaching out to your sphere and past clients, these are people that more than likely already know who you are and know that you’re in the business. You know when you call an expired listing, cold calling, or door knocking, more often than not, the people you’re talking to don’t know who you are.
So there’s no real vetting process. They don’t have any type of history with you. They don’t know you and don’t trust you already. Whereas on the flip side of that with your sphere, these are the people that know you, they know what you do, or at least they should. And they more than likely are gonna trust you more than someone that they don’t know at all.
What other kinds of prospecting do you do?
I do cold calling, just listed/just solds, Expired listings and circle prospecting type of calls. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of prospecting of businesses that are very likely to have customers or clients that are going to be moving or likely to sell a home.
For example lawyers, divorce attorneys, family law attorneys that deal with people that are getting divorced that would need to sell their home. Or I work with probate attorneys, so when people pass away I can help their family sell the home.
Another one I’ve been doing is going to a lot of senior care facilities and assisted living senior homes and getting in contact with the personnel. That is kind of the first contact for the new residents coming in. Because a lot of times if you have a new resident, they have a home they have to sell before they can go in there.
What percentage of your business comes from your sphere?
I would say a good 70% of my business comes from sphere. Now I wouldn’t say I’m prospecting them 70% of the time. A lot of times referrals come from your sphere that might not have been from a direct phone call to your sphere. I’m actually prospecting my sphere closer to 40% of the time.
How do you build your sphere?
Every time I go to the bank, if there’s a new bank teller, I will get their name and add them on Facebook. This is just the digital age… the social age that we live in. So anyone that I meet out and about that I know I’m going to run into on a regular basis, whether it’s a new bank teller or someone at a restaurant that I go to frequently, or coaches, I always say that you’ve got to add them to your social media.
That’s the way for you to get in front of them with what you do. Letting them know you sell homes on a regular basis without having to mail them or call them. It’s more of a passive way for them to constantly be marketed to.
Why do realtors fail at social media?
I think 90% of the agents out there are unfortunately not going about it the right way. They’re sometimes hitting people over the head with real estate. 24/7 they’re posting memes about real estate constantly or, “Hey, call me if you need to buy a house.” I don’t think that’s the best way to go about it.
I always tell agents, and I’ve always followed the 60/40 rule. I like to keep social media as 60% or 70% of the stuff I post having nothing to do with real estate. Us as realtors seem to think that everyone cares about every house we sell or every little problem we have in a transaction.
But the truth of the matter is no one really cares about that except maybe other realtors. So I try to post things that are more just about lifestyle or what I’ve been up to and then sprinkle in real estate every once in a while just so people remember, “Oh yeah, you know, I love this guy’s content, but oh yeah, I forgot he’s in real estate.” Just 30 or 40% of the time, sprinkle out some real estate content. Just so people don’t forget that you’re in real estate.
Why is using social media so beneficial?
The best thing about it is that people are able to reach out to you. They don’t even have to call you. They’re one click away from messaging you and saying, “Hey, you know what, I just saw that home you posted.” Or “I see that you know a lot about the area, all the local spots. And I see that you sell a lot of real estate. My mom actually needs to sell her house,” or “I see your content all the time and I love it. We’ve been thinking about buying a home in the area. How do we get started?” I get these messages all the time, but it wasn’t like that at first.
Once you put in the work and you’ve shown them proof that “Hey, I know what I’m doing. I’m constantly out working.” If you’re door knocking already as an agent, door knocking and prospecting, why not every once in a while post that you’re doing those things?
“Hey, I’m out in the community marketing our new listing. It’s a beautiful day and we’re over here in the X, Y, or Z neighborhood. One of the things I love about this neighborhood is the little water park.” Now you’re talking about real estate, but you’re also showing some of the features and benefits of a certain community within your area that maybe someone that’s new to the area or someone that’s been following you didn’t know about. And now you’re providing value. It’s almost like your own little mini reality show and you’re giving people a reason to reach out to you and ask more questions.
Other than social media, how do you prospect to your sphere?
We do cold calling and door knocking. I would say once a quarter I’m reaching out to my database, my sphere, my past clients. I’m physically picking up the phone and calling them. And if I’m not able to reach them through a phone call, I’ll sometimes send a message or a text. “Hey, just thinking about you. Just wanna ask how you are and how’s the family.” I do it just to stay top of mind.
I will never shy away from asking them, “Hey, who do you know that might need my help?” Because sometimes it’s always nice to just call in and shoot the crap, so to speak and just kind of see how the family is. But this is the business. And a lot of times you can make it as simple as, “Hey, you know what? It’s been great speaking with you. I gotta ask you the million-dollar question, who do you know that might need my help buying or selling real estate?”
And a lot of times it’s going to be a little chuckle, but it does plant the seed. “Hey, you know what? My mom or my neighbor was just talking about it.” As much as they might love you, or as much as they might be an advocate for you and your business, sometimes it’s as simple as forgetting to ask that question that you might lose out on a deal. So you have to ask and you can even make a little joke about it. You can say, “Hey, it’s a million-dollar question I just gotta ask,” no one’s gonna hate you for that.
A lot of times people think, “Oh gosh, I can’t ask for business. It’s embarrassing.” But you know, at the end of the day, they know who you are. They know what you do and you know they’re not gonna hate you for asking for business. In fact, if they’ve had a good experience with you in the past or is a good friend of yours, they’re gonna respect that you’re out there hustling.
How do you overcome fear of calling your sphere?
Look at it from a different way of how can I provide value to my friends, my family, the people I know, my past clients. How can I just reach out and see if they need anything? A lot of times, as much as we think people won’t forget about us, they do. And if you know in your heart that you’re the best agent to help them, always keep that in mind.
As a real estate agent, we always have to have the attitude that we are the best agent out there. There’s no other agent that that is going to be better servicing our past clients than us. And if we truly believe that and we know that when we reach out to ask them if there’s something that they need help with, you’re going to be coming from a place of service and a place of value.
What is your daily routine?
I’ll be 100% honest, I’m not one of the get up at 5:00 a.m. hit the gym type of guys. I’ve done that, I’ve been there, it’s just for me personally doesn’t work. Not even that it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work for me. I think there’s this narrative going around that the only way you can be successful is if you wake up at 4:00 a.m. and run five miles every day. I think there’s 100% proof in the pudding that doing that is productive and a good thing to do. I have no problem with it.
For me, I don’t start the day like that. So I wake up at 6:00 a.m. and spend a little time with the family. I’ll have a coffee in the morning and then I get to the office. I try to get into the office right about 8:00 a.m. and I do some roleplay with my team. And then from there, we start prospecting. We start making our phone calls or we’ll go out.
Like today we went out door-knocking this morning. Friday is usually our door-knocking day. So we get in, we have our flyers we’re going to be door-knocking with and we hit the doors. And then from there I just grab a quick bite to eat and then prepare for any appointments that I have in the later afternoon. And then after my appointments, I hit my fitness. I’m a big fitness guy, but I always usually go in the evening. So I believe in fitness. I’m a strong believer in taking care of your body and watching what you eat. I just handle it at a different part of the day than some other people.
Is it okay to have a different schedule than other agents?
Yes! There were times I was killing myself. I was getting up at 4:30, I’d go to the gym at 5:00 a.m. I would do my workout in the morning, but I was unhappy. I was pissed off, I was stressed out and it just wasn’t working for me. I don’t want it to make it seem like you can just fly by the seat of your pants and you don’t need a schedule… I’m not saying that.
I think everyone should have a schedule and a set time that they’re prospecting, a set time that they’re going to the gym, taking care of themselves and doing meditation. All of these things are important. I just think everyone’s schedule is different. You should have a schedule, you shouldn’t just be randomly flying by the seat of your pants, but your schedule might be different than someone else’s. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
How do you keep a positive mindset?
Knowing the goals that I have for myself. If you have goals, you have something that you’re working towards rather than just saying, “Oh, I’m just gonna see what we can get done.” If you say, “Look, I want to sell a home a month.” Now you have a target. Now you know, “Okay, this is why I’m getting up every day because I’m trying to hit my goal.”
This is why I’m calling every day, I’m trying to hit my goal. When you talk about mindset it can be somewhat difficult because prospecting is monotonous. You get rejection, you get people yelling at you, and these things happen. But at the end of the day, you need a goal and a reason why.
I think it’s important to have something that’s bigger than yourself, whether it’s your family or maybe it’s just a certain financial goal or maybe it’s something that you want to do with the money that you’re going to make. I think it’s important to dig a little bit deeper as to why it is you got into real estate in the first place. Because most people didn’t get into real estate because they like to be mediocre or have some basic income. Most people get into real estate because they have big goals and they know that this is the vehicle that they can get in to take them there. If they do it the right way.
What is your SOI Marketing Strategy?
When it comes to marketing, I try to really limit the amount of money spent because real estate is no different than any other business in the sense that your end goal is to make as much profit as possible. So when it comes to marketing, I want to stress that it’s important that your goal is not to spend as much money as possible. It’s to make as much money as possible. That’s why I love Facebook and Instagram. That should be your number one focus when it comes to marketing. Prospecting should be your number one thing you do every day to generate business, but when it comes to marketing your sphere, that’s where you want to start. Be very active on social media. Don’t be a secret agent. There’s a lot of people that are in real estate and never let anyone know that they’re in real estate. It’s the worst thing you can do.
I would say first and foremost, starting with your social media, secondarily calling your sphere on a regular basis. And both of those things are free essentially, they only cost time. Now when we get into spending money, there’s a company called Ylopo that I use, that creates my website and they also do Facebook marketing. So essentially what they can do is create a target audience built off of your sphere through your Facebook friends and a list of your database with emails. And they can create a target audience based off of your sphere and your database and your Facebook friends and people that know you and know who you are. And then you can actually run a paid advertisement.
I like to call it like a digital billboard. So you think of a billboard, people drive by it every day, right? And they see whatever it is that’s advertised there. With Facebook or Instagram, it allows you to basically have these digital billboards to where your ad or your billboard is popping up all the time in front of people that already know who you are and know what you do. And now they’re seeing, “Oh wow, there’s that James Shelby guy again. There’s his billboard, his digital billboard again,” and you’re staying top of mind.
And then lastly, something I’m doing a little bit more is I’m actually physically mailing out old school mailers to just my sphere. So instead of casting this huge wide net and mailing out randomly to 300 random homes, I’m starting to dial it in and mail to people that already know who I am, friends, family, and past clients.
Even if it’s a just listed or just sold or some sort of a holiday greeting, something once a quarter or maybe once a month that you’re sending out. It’s not like you have to send thousands of them. Just to whatever your database is. Maybe it’s 300 or 400 or maybe it’s 200 or maybe you just pick, “Hey, these are our top 50 people that I know would refer business to me,” and you’re mailing them on a consistent basis. So those three, four avenues is where I would start and it’s really not going to cost very much money and the results are going to go a long way.
What works really well when working with your sphere?
There’s things you can do that cost a little bit more once you build your business to that next level. I always recommend doing client appreciation events once or twice a year. This means getting all your clients together and saying thank you. I just did one where I rented out a movie theater and showed the new “Toy Story” movie to like 200 of my past clients and a couple of close friends.
From that I have already generated two leads or people that said, “Hey, you know, we need to sell in the next couple of months.” It cost me $1,800, so it was kind of expensive. But one of the leads is in a place called Ocean Side near the beach. So that’s a $500,000 sale and 3% of that is 15 grand. And then the other one was a $300,000 home that they needed sold. So the ROI is well worth it. Just make sure you’re reaching out after these events and thanking them for coming and asking that million-dollar question, “Hey, I appreciate you coming out to my event. I hope you guys had fun. Did you have a good time?” “Yes, we did.” “Okay, cool, I appreciate it. Million-dollar question. Who do you know that needs my help?”
A lot of times they’re gonna think a little harder because you just provided not only some value on the phone call, but also, a great client appreciation event for them and their family to enjoy. So they almost feel like they need to reciprocate at some point. And that’s not the only reason you do them, but it’s a huge, huge way to generate more leads
How do you determine to spend more money?
Some things you’re throwing against the wall to see if they stick. Not everything is an exact science, but when it comes to maximizing profit, there are so many different things. Especially when you first get into real estate, you’re being bombarded with companies. There’s all these different companies that call you and say, “Hey, pay us $300, $400 or $500 a $1,000 a month and we’re gonna send you these leads.” A lot of the internet leads in those lead generation companies are very weak and a lot of money is wasted.
If you’re a new business or even an established business, you never want to be wasting money. So the less of these types of things you start chasing the better. And the more you’re leveraging the people you know and your time, by dialing for dollars, cold calling, door-knocking. These are all things that are free and you’re able to maximize your profit. So don’t chase the shiny objects. When you’ve done 10, 20, 30 transactions, then it’s time to give back with a client appreciation event. That’s money well spent.
Use all the free avenues first, your time, your social media, your effort. Those are all free things. And then once you start having a little bit of success and you don’t have as much time because you’re busy, then you can start using things like Ylopo, to have your digital billboard, you can start mailing out your mailers to your sphere, and you can start doing your client appreciation events because they’re always gonna pay off in the end.
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