Ep 77: These 20 People Will Take You to the Next Level (with Sean Carpenter)


Sean Carpenter is a real estate agent with 20 years of experience, who Inman once listed as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate.

In addition to working as an agent, he now shares his wisdom with agents nationwide through his many speaking and consulting engagements. His philosophy is “build relationships, solve problems, and have fun.”

Today on Stay Paid, Sean discusses the power of exceptional customer service and frequent touchpoints, along with the routines that have helped make him so successful.

Key Points:

  • Start each day with activities that develop your business, rather than support it.
  • Figure out who the 20 biggest supporters of your business are, and contact one of those people every day.
  • Great customer service is expected. Work to create exceptional, “blogworthy” experiences that people will actually talk about.

Q: Introduce yourself to our audience.

I was born in Billings, Montana. My father got a job at Cornell, so I grew up in the shadow of Ohio State. I eventually went away to college at the University of Florida. After school, I golfed professionally for three years. Then, I moved back to Columbus, Ohio, and worked at the local Miller/Coors distributor.

I tried to figure out, “What would be a job where I can drink beer and play golf?” So, I became a real estate agent! I sold properties actively for four years. Then, my wife and I had our first child. I was asked to become a branch manager. I loved the coaching and training part, but I hated the managing part.

I met with our boss, who realized my passion was on the coaching and training side. I was named the director of training of our company in Cincinnati and Columbus, in charge of training 1,300 agents. Not long after that, I spoke at my first Coldwell Banker conference.

If something worked for me, I wanted to share it with the rest of the office. I remember back in the day, someone asked why I told everyone my secrets. I said they’re not my competition, they’re my teammates. No one is going to steal your ideas, because they can’t steal you.

Q: Explain what your tagline—build relationships, solve problems, have fun—means for real estate agents.

The have fun part is optional. Every single day in sales, you should be building a new relationship with someone you’ve just met or deepening a relationship with someone you already know. You can help solve their problems. If people are willing to buy, they’re willing to repeat business. If they’re willing to give repeat business, they’re willing to refer.

Q: What does your approach look like in everyday practice?

There are two things an agent does with their day. They do business development or business support activities. Most agents spend most of their time on the business support activities. They do this because there is no rejection involved in business support. But if you spend all your time on business support, there soon will be no business to support. You have to treat your business like a farm—plant seeds, work the field, and be patient as you wait for those plants to grow.

Here is what I do every morning to develop my business.

4H Club

  1. 5 Handwritten Notes.Every morning, I select five people from my sphere and send them handwritten notes.
  2. Hot sheet. I check the MLS for new listings and see who I know who lives nearby. I let those people know about the listings.
  3. Happy Birthdays. I see which of my friends have birthdays. Most of your friends don’t wish you happy birthday. What I do is write more than a simple happy birthday. When someone goes to look at all the greetings, they see that I’ve written more than the bare minimum, and I’m top of mind in that moment. For close friends, I will send a video text message.
  4. High fives.Five likes and five comments on Facebook, five retweets or comments on Twitter, five likes and comments on Instagram. Five random texts.

Once I’ve done my 4H Club, I go to Starbucks as a reward for putting those seeds in the ground. By 9 a.m., I’ve touched as many as 45 people. That’s 45 touches, and only three were about real estate. I’m mostly trying to get my name in front of people, so they might think about me when it’s time to do a real estate transaction.

This allows me to do my service and support activities in the mornings and afternoons, so I can get out and do showings and other things in the afternoon.

Q: How has this turned into leads for you?

Because I’m not actively pushing a sale, all I’m trying to do is earn that top of mind awareness. Our business revolves around problems—the good (kids being born, promotions) and the bad (divorces). Either way, we’re solving someone’s problem. My job is to be someone people think of when they think of real estate. There are people who buy leads from third parties. I’d rather do business with a friend than a stranger.

The ripple effect says that if I know 100 people and they know 100 people, I’m two steps away from 100,000 people.

Get to know the five people closest to you, so that you can get to the 500 people behind them. I’d rather know fewer people better than connect with random people less frequently.

Four Levels of a Successful Business:

Database. Whether it’s on a legal pad, CRM, or in Excel, this is a list of anyone you have contact information for.

Sphere of influence. I know them, and they know me. They’re all a part of my database, but not everyone in my database is in my sphere.

Clients. They’ve done business with me in the past. I call them clients, not past clients—the same way a doctor or dentist would.

Bullseye. These people want my success almost as much as I want it myself. You should have 20 people in your bullseye. Make sure you touch base with one of these people every single work day. These people are listening for opportunities for you. They will call you when they hear about them.

Be so good at delivering memorable experiences to a smaller group of people that you pull more business in automatically.

Q: What is the biggest mistake that agents make? Why are 87 percent of agents failing?

It’s not just about great service anymore. That’s expected. Memorable experiences are worth talking about. When people get into real estate, they don’t realize it’s a sales business. It has nothing to do with the house—it’s the people in the house. People want to get as many leads as they can in their funnels, regardless of whether they know, like, or trust them. Instead, you should put the right people into the funnel. When they go through the process, they have such an amazing experience, they want to tell everyone. Those people will become repeat customers and will become the disciples who help you grow your business.

Find the people who are worth talking about, and aspire to be more like them. I was at a conference in San Francisco. I was posting on social media. The speaker gave us an hour and a half for lunch. Everyone left to get lunch. As I started to walk out, I looked back at this huge, empty ballroom. As I walked down the middle aisle, I saw an employee lining up the chairs, touching every single chair. Row after row, he lined them all up. I was so impressed by this guy’s commitment that I went back and wrote a blog post, “Are You the Chair Man of Your Business?” I wrote this post, and I hit publish. I ran to meet my friends. While I was ordering, all my friends read my post and shared it. This went further, faster, and freer because I shared what I call a blogworthy experience. It made me want to be the person other people would write or post about.

The consumer thinks we’re all the same. We need to differentiate ourselves.

Action Items:

  • Follow Sean’s 4H strategy. Connect with people so that you stand out in their minds.

Connect with Sean:




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