Identifying your sphereDave Hershmanmarketing plan, commonality, previous customers, co-workers
The term "sphere" might be the most overused term in sales and
marketing literature. For some, the sphere is represented by one's
immediate friends, and for others, it is someone's previous
customers. In reality, your sphere includes these elements and much
more. It is when we define the sphere in the right way that we
actually find out how important our sphere actually is with regard
to our marketing plan. In the long run, our sphere should be the
basis or foundation of this plan.
First, what exactly is one's sphere? A sphere is comprised of
those you come in contact with. Put it this way: If you were
walking down the street and passed someone, would you say hello? If
you would, they are part of your sphere. In addition to this
relationship component, there is also a component of commonality.
There are those you dont know, but with whom you have something in
For example, let's say you go to church or temple. There may be
500 families and 1,000 members in the group. You probably know 50
of these people because you live near them, sit near them or have
even served on committees with them. But there are 950 people that
you don't know but are part of the sphere. The commonality
component adds the largest numbers to your sphere, while the
relationship component adds the most important individuals to your
Now that we have defined the sphere, let us look at the specific
components of a sphere. In all, there are seven all-important
segments of one's personal sphere.
I. Friends, family and neighbors
This part of your sphere is comprised of those with whom you have
the closest relationship. Author Stephen Covey would say that you
have built up an emotional bank account. This can be the most
important segment of the sphere because the members have a vested
interest in helping you succeed. And many times it is
under-utilized because call reluctance prevents some from calling
on the personal segment of the sphere.
II. Previous customers
This segment of the sphere is well-defined in practice and
literature. Sometimes this segment is interchangeable with the term
sphere. There are many customer relationship management programs
available to help sales and businesspeople keep track of and
deliver value to this segment. One important point: If you are new
in your present industry, be sure to include the previous customers
from your previous industry. These are people you have served and
with whom you have developed a relationship. Starting with these
customers puts you on second base instead of at home plate.
III. Present and previous co-workers
This segment would include everyone you have worked with in this
industry and previous industries. Many have worked with hundreds of
different people. You may have helped someone start their career.
Perhaps you have promoted someone. These relationships can be
turned into dollars because you have goodwill invested. If you work
in an industry where turnover is rampant among sales personnel (for
example, as a real estate agent or loan officer), every time
someone leaves the industry, the sphere they have built up
disappears unless you take the initiative to work with them and
turn them into a referral source. In reality, the group of previous
practitioners makes a great referral source because they are
familiar with screening prospects and they are known as having
expertise in the industry. In other words, dont let your peers go
IV. Previous prospects
Previous prospects are important for two reasons. First, if they
choose not to do business with you, they might change their mind in
the future. Perhaps they decided not to purchase at all. Keeping in
touch with this segment is essential.
On the other hand, there are prospects that you were not able to
help because of one reason or another. Perhaps they had bad credit
or no savings. You should be referring these people to those who
can help them (perhaps credit counselors) so they are more likely
to become clients in the future. Those who receive referrals from
you—that are comprised of those you couldn't help—are
helping you with your future business and can become important
referral sources on their own. It is said that "someone's garbage
is someone else's treasure."
When we described the sphere, we described both a "relationship"
and "commonality" segment. Your associations will produce targets
that represent both segments, but this category actually has the
ability to add more from the commonality segment than any other
category. Associations would include religious, academic, business,
civic or even special interest associations. Your church/temple,
alumni association, chamber of commerce, homeowners association and
even country club are all examples of these associations.
If you are not a participator or joiner, your marketing plan may
require that you start joining and participating in these
associations. An alumni association may have 2,000 members. You
might develop a relationship with only 50, but you have something
in common with all of them. If you took a sales course, they would
teach you to find something in common with prospects. Why not start
with those with whom you have something in common? That will make
the sales process even easier.
There are actually two sub-categories of vendors. First, there are
those from which you purchase. You make both business and personal
purchases. Your business vendors may include your landlord,
printer, advertiser, etc. Your personal vendors may include your
dry cleaners, favorite restaurant, etc. Every time you make a
purchase from a vendor, you are helping that vendor succeed. Our
question to you: Is that vendor helping you succeed? This brings up
an important sphere-marketing rule—stop buying things from
vendors who are not helping you succeed.
The second sub-category of vendors would include those who sell to
your targets. For example, if you are a real estate agent, you are
not the only one who calls on potential homeowners. If you are a
loan officer, you are not the only one who calls on real estate
agents. It is from this sub-category that you can find potential
synergy marketing partners. Synergy marketing partners are those
who have the same targets as you, but sell a non-competing product.
Why not coordinate your marketing efforts and share relationship
The professional category includes doctors, lawyers, accountants,
financial planners and other professionals who may be singled out
among your sphere. Professionals are very important because ...
•Professionals typically have a higher income than the
average person; therefore, their purchases of such things as homes
are expected to be of a greater magnitude.
•Professionals typically have large spheres of influences
themselves, and therefore, can make very attractive referral
•Professionals know many other professionals. For example, if
you are interested in marketing to divorce attorneys, you can cold
call them. Or you can meet many divorce attorneys through one
divorce attorney. You may know one or two, but they are likely to
know 10 or 20. They went to school with them, practice with them
and compete against them. And we all know that divorces produce
many transactions, especially in the real estate world.
By the time we identify these seven segments of our sphere, you
can see how quickly our database will grow. If you have a goal to
build a marketing plan that will produce and grow by referral
rather than through cold calling, you can see that this sphere is
the key to this marketing plan. It is hard to generate a full
marketing plan with less than 100 in your database. But this
exercise is designed to move your sphere into the thousands.
Dave Hershman is a top speaker and leading author in the
mortgage industry with eight books—including two best sellers
for the Mortgage Bankers
Association. For a schedule of Dave's classes, free marketing
samples, speaking information and articles by Dave, call (800)
581-5678, e-mail [email protected]