How Many Clients Are in Your Top 100?

Today, I will fully define "Top 100" and why this collection of relationships is the only thing with long standing value in your business.  It should be treated like an investment and managed like a long term financial asset. I will show you, if managed properly, how it will give you a predictable return on your time year in and year out.

You've probably heard the story but right after I had my real estate heart attack in February of 2008,  I did a Google search on "SOI real estate" and pages and pages of content came up. The content consistently described the importance of managing your sphere of influence if you wanted to build a successful real estate brokerage business. One real estate coach's content caught my eye during my initial research.  Joe Stumpf has coaching company called "By Referral Only" and he teaches a Top 150 relationship model and at the time (still does), this concept made sense to me.  I needed something tangible that I could quantify and base my business goal setting around.  I used the Top 150 model to double my business 4 times in 5 years by going from 11 contacts in 2008 in my Top 150 to 137 in 2013, the year I got into leadership at Jameson. What I found later is that you don't need 150.  I agreed to wind down my business down when I took my current role so I cut my Top 150 from 137 to 68 thinking that it would quickly slow down my business but the result was quite the opposite.  When I put my focus on the 68,  my production actually increased.  Some of my best years in brokerage came after I became a manager.  Because of the momentum I created in 2008 to 2013,  it took almost 4 years to fully pull away from the business.  Because of that, I switched the number I coach from a Top 150 to Top 100 in 2016.  I realized that if a higher level of attention was put on top tier clients, a real estate business (or any other business for that matter) would grow faster and with more strength.

The Top 100 concept also perfectly addresses the "Law of Compensation" which states that your compensation equals the value you provide in your business x the number of people you provide that value.  The stronger a Top 100 along with providing a continued higher level of service, one's compensation will increase. This "law" provides a spigot mechanism. You can turn the spigot higher or lower based on your life style choices and desires. (You can easily scale it as needed).

Now that you know the history, let me dive into a few minutes of teaching and define the makeup of a Top 100 and its importance.

A TOP 100 is made up of "the vital few" clients that know you, like you and trust you as their real estate broker.  This list is segmented and marketed to differently based on the strength of relationship and their importance to your business.  100 clients has been proven to be the highest number of clients that you can manage in an authentic way. All other contacts should be categorized as “Fringe” contacts.

Because of how I define my TOP 100, I decided to segment that group into separate and defined categories (Platinum clients, Gold clients and Silver clients and then contacts 101+ were my Fringe contacts). You’ve probably seen other categorization concepts using letters like A+, A, B etc). I wanted to create my own theme so I used the American Express card categories with a few twists.

 Platinum Clients: The people that refer you multiple times a year or consistently do business with you like a developer or investor. They are the top 20% of your Top 100.   I made a point to “touch” these clients every 21 days.

Gold Clients: The people that refer you occasionally or have done business with you randomly over the life of your career and introduce you occasionally. They are the next 30% down in your TOP 100.   I made a point to “touch” these clients on a 30 day cycle.

Silver Clients: Prospects and past clients that have the potential to refer or do consistent business with you over the life of your career. This is the bottom 50% of your TOP 100.  If they were a prospect,  I wanted to send them content at least every 5-7 days and if they were a past client,  I would put them on a 45 “touch” schedule.

Fringe Clients: Everyone Else. They should remain on your low cost marketing campaigns like email marketing and direct mail marketing.  You should develop an email marketing campaign, segmented, with content delivered every 2 weeks.

Here are some things to consider as you build out your Top 100:

  1. You don't need 100 clients to get the desired results.  I've seen agents build profitable businesses on 40-50 clients and in some cases less.
  2. Building out a Top 100 takes time. It's a marathon and not a sprint. You should give yourself 5 years if newer to the business, or 20 clients per year on average, to create you list.
  3. If you successful maintain a drum beat of touches and meaningful conversations with your Top 100 over the course of the year,  you can expect a 20% return on database.  This means should see 2 referrals/introductions a year for every 10 clients you have on this list.  You can improve that percentage by strengthening your database.
  4. The top 20% (Platinum),  will be responsible as "the seed" for 80% of your business.  For some,  you may just want to focus on your Platinum's.
  5. Yes,  you need to create a list to manage your Top 100.  A CRM solution is preferred but I've seen successful agents manage their businesses off of spreadsheets.  The best CRM is the one you are going to use.
  6. The contacts on your phone is not considered a CRM.
  7. Managing your Top 100 is the ultimate high impact, low cost, easy to implement solution.
  8. New agents,  start on Day 1.  It's never too early to start.
  9. Experienced agents,  it's never been too late to start.  Start now.  Organize your lists and start the reconnection process. You will not recognize your business this time next year.
  10. Your database is the only thing of value you could sell when you sunset your career.  I have helped agents build a retirement "annuity" by setting up a master referral program based on their database.
  11. Your clients want a relationship.  They don't want to have to identify a new broker every time they buy and sell but if you "one night stand" them, out of principal they are going to move on.
  12. To do it right, you only need an hour a day of concentrated and intentional effort.  You don't need 100 people to create a really nice business.  You can turn the spigot on and off based on your lifestyle goals.
  13. Your database should remain yours and you should never give up your names to anyone who might use them for their own benefit.
  14. Working with people that know you, like you and trust you leads to a much more predictable and enjoyable business.
  15. You should be looking at the "results" just like you would look at an account balance or a valuation of any investment.

The question I get a lot is "How do I get started?"    Use this incredibly simple action plan if you are starting from scratch:

  1. Create a simple spreadsheet with the basic contact information.
  2. Pull a list off of the MLS of all of your closed sales as far you can go back.
  3. Review the contacts on your phone to remind you of anyone that you might have missed.
  4. Review any other list you may have created over the years including email marketing lists
  5. Take all of these sources of data, review and start adding your "top" people.
  6. To be on your Top 100,  you must be able to recognize them in a grocery store.
  7. If they don't qualify for TOP 100,  put them in "Fringe" and market to this group via your email marketing.
  8. Once the list is together,  start the reconnection process by "Categorizing" your contacts, doing research on each client and start doing your reach outs.

Team,  implementing and executing on a Top 100 is the one operating process that you should consider non-negotiable in your business.  Your niche will be unique to you, your marketing strategy will have a different twist than others as you identify your strengths and your CRM and other tech you use will be different from broker to broker and between brokerages.  A Top 100 is more of a strategy concept than anything else. It's a commitment to execute in a way that creates "meaningful moments,  provides touches throughout the life of your relationship with a client and maintains meaningful conversations on topics that matter to your clients.  I've been stress testing the Top 100 concept for 15 years and it works in every market while gaining strength over time.

To end today's call, I want to ask you potentially the most important question you should be able to answer when asked:

"How many clients are in your Top 100?"

It's the one metric you must track if you want to create and run a predictable and enjoyable business. No other strategy even comes close.

For those of you on my email list, you'll get the recording, notes with links to supporting articles and podcasts and tomorrow morning.  If you'd like to subscribe, just email my team at [email protected] and they'll add you.