Selling Soulfully with Jennifer Allan


"Dear Jennifer, I Don't Wanna SOI - I'd Rather Work With Strangers"

Door knocking

"I don't want to work with my sphere of influence, I'd rather work with strangers!"

As the self-proclaimed Master of All Things SOI, I hear this a lot. Agents write to me (and occasionally call) to tell me why they don't wanna sell real estate for or to their spheres of influence. They explain that they don't want to risk their friendships, they don't want to mix business with pleasure, they don't want to discount their fees for friends and family, they don't wanna, they don't wanna, they don't wanna... yada yada yada.

And that's fine with me. To each his or her own - there are many paths to success in a real estate business and an SOI business model is only one of them. Shoot, there are many paths to success in an SOI business model even!

But I cain't help myself from arguing just a little with these agents. Not because I think I'm so smart (well, maybe...), but rather because I don't think they truly understand what an SOI business model is.

Selling real estate to and for your sphere of influence doesn't just mean your friends and acquaintances hire you to be their real estate agent on a consistent-enough basis to keep you in business. It doesn't even mean that they shovel enough referrals your way to keep you in business. 

Yes, those things will happen, but in today's market, that's not likely to be enough consistent business to keep the dogs fed and the toenails polished.

No, a 21st Century, post-mortgage-meltdown SOI business model is much broader than simply relying on your friends, family and acquaintances to supply you with leads.

Your sphere of influence is potentially comprised of every living breathing human being who crosses your path on a daily basis. Of course, not every living breathing human being who crosses your path will BECOME a member of your SOI, but the potential is there. I'll probably expound on that concept in an upcoming blog, but for this one, let's talk about all those "stranger" leads these "I don't wanna SOI" crowd is hoping to sell houses to and for.

With me?

Even if your business model is based on prospecting to strangers, I have to assume you're hoping that someday you'll meet these strangers, preferably in the context of a real estate transaction. And once you've met them, I have to assume you want to do a great job for them so that they'll tell all their friends about you. And once your transaction with them is over, I assume you'd like to get their future business and referrals, which is best accomplished by staying in touch with them (after you did a great job for them, of course).

So, if these assumptions are true, it sounds as if you're running a sphere of influence business model to me!

Of course, if these assumptions aren't true for you; if you'd rather continue to pursue strangers for your future business and let anyone you've already met face to face go because they're now a member of your sphere of influence (and you don't wanna SOI) well, okay!


It's Here!


The More Fun You Have Selling Real Estate, the More Real Estate You Will Sell! 
(True Story)
Order Your Here!









Comment balloon 14 commentsJennifer Allan-Hagedorn • December 06 2010 08:13AM


Although I don't want to lose friends by taking their business I will take their referrals!!  I have tried to sell for my friends and it hasn't always worked out that well but they are still my friends and they give me referrals because I did a good job for them even though they weren't successful in completing the sale the reasons were not my fault and I would not set aside my morals and ethics to complete the transaction and they were thankful and respectful of that.  Interesting how the world turns sometimes.

Posted by June Piper-Brandon, Piecing Dreams One Home at a Time (Long & Foster Hampden) over 9 years ago

Good points.  I am one of those who believe that Thanksgiving comes every year and that ANY issue that is caused by working with friends and family will always make its way to the dining room table each year.  Asking for referrals is another consideration..................chris

Posted by Christopher Pataki, Hockessin Delaware Real Estate (RE/MAX Associates) over 9 years ago

The SOI model isn't so much about who you know, it's about who THEY know.  Their roladex is the SOI you are trying to sell too.

Cindy in Indy

Posted by Cindy Marchant, "Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate (Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 over 9 years ago

Enjoyed the post. Made me think there are some people that I know i have not added to my SOI... gotta get on that... but there are some I will never add... not because they are friends either. Friends are ok by me.... so are relatives... the point is touch as many people as you can... (or at least for me...).

Posted by J Perrin Cornell, Broker, ABR, VAMRES (Coldwell Banker Cascade Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Perrin - Yep, that's pretty much it!

Cindy - Absolutely correct. And it's also who you meet serendipitously as a result of the people you know.

Chris - In my entire career, I never worked with family because I didn't have any around, but I'm pretty sure family is a whole different animal from friends and acquaintances (and friends and acquaintances of friends and acquaintances!). That's another thing I see agents doing - lumping them both together and declaring their SOI to be "off-limits!"

June - I always felt just the opposite about friends. I wanted their business, not so much because I wanted their money but because I arrogantly thought I was the best real estate agent in town... so I wanted to take great care of my friends - of course knowing that they'd be even bigger fans once they saw how awesome I was ;-] Like I said... I'm rather arrogant!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) over 9 years ago

I just recently read your book.  It was recommend to me by a fellow agent in my office.  I really enjoyed it.  I've already started putting a lot of your suggestion to work in my business.   I'm having a lot more fun with my business plan now.  I'm also starting to see more momentum in my business.  Thanks!

Posted by Madonna Moody, Realtor - Southern Indiana (RE/MAX FIRST Jeffersonville, Indiana) over 9 years ago


I agree with your take on the SOI model.  In fact, I try to hand out one business card per day to someone who crosses my path.  Everyone must be a winner on our teams of influences... g

Posted by Cherise Selley, Colorado Springs Realtor (Selley Group Real Estate, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jennifer - I think you said it all when you said that our SOI is every single human that crosses our path.  Real Estate is a "Relationship" business.  If they trust me they will do business with me.  I build my business on relationships & trust.  When I hire a professional... I definitely want to trust and have some kind of rapport with whomever I choose to hire rather it be a dentist, doctor, electrician, etc.  I think that's what makes us so passionate about the work we do for a living.  Why not impress those that know us with our knowledge? 

Posted by Kelly Cordova-Armer, Selling with Soul amidst the Utah Mountains! (Cornerstone Real Estate Professionals ) over 9 years ago

It appears that everyone has a different concept of SOI!

I dont bug "friends" about business... my true SOI ---- My past clients....

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 9 years ago

I don't bother my friends about business; however, they all know I am a Realtor and most have used me.  I have zero problem doing business with friends and family or doing it at a reduced rate for them. 

I agree with you however, that SOI is everybody you know or will possibly know and doesn't have to just include those that know you well :)!  Great post.

Posted by Brenda Mullen, Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!! (RE/MAX Access) over 9 years ago

So, I want to say that those folks maybe have not been following you and really don't get it.    I feel it is more about being authentic, real, kind, considerate without all the pushy, cheesy salesy stuff.  

The only issue I've seen you "push" on anyone is treating your current clients better than the next big sale.  And that is just plain common sense.


But, this is a personal business and everyone has the right to run it the way they wish and feel comfortable with.

I also don't believe that family and friends expect to have the commission discounted, I think that is self inflicted.  I have personally found that my friends and family really want to help and support me.  I don't sell anything to them.  I just try to provide value. 

Posted by Christine Pappas - REALTOR®, eXp Realty - Because Experience Matters (eXp Realty) over 9 years ago


There is more then one way to succeed, and having a strong and active sphere of influence is one that works.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) over 9 years ago

Jennifer, you got it, I get it and I work my SOI consistently!!

Posted by Renée Montgomery, Northern Virginia Real Estate (Century 21 New Millennium) over 9 years ago

Jennifer, one of the reasons I blog is to develop more SOI.  It works, too!

Posted by Sally Lawrence, Broker, CHS, e-Pro, SFR, REALTOR® (Advantage Real Estate) over 9 years ago

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