The Seven Levels of Communication How to build a business based on referrals: Awesome summary by ebookhike

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Author: Michael Maher 

The Seven Levels of Communication: Go From Relationships to Referrals Michael J. Maher 2010

7L: The Seven Levels of Communication
The Seven Levels of Communication

Businesses built on relationships (The Seven Levels of Communication)

The Seven Levels of Communication: Michael Maher is the most recommended realtor in North America. He created a movement called the Generosity Generation (“generation of generosity”) and wrote an unusual business book, dedicating it to his late father. Agree, unexpectedly sounds like the advice to “refuse all types of advertising” in order to succeed. But the results that Michael Maher himself achieved by using these principles are impressive: in the third year of his work in real estate, he earned more than $1 million.

The main principle of his methodology is to invest time and effort in human relationships and develop a network of contacts in order to have a constant stream of recommendations. How exactly to do this, and what strategies, techniques, and resources to apply, are described in this summary.

Seven levels of communication

The power of trust cannot be overestimated. Ultimately, any transaction is concluded only when the seller has achieved the confidence of the buyer. And there is no better source of trust than the recommendation of a person in your circle – an acquaintance, an acquaintance of an acquaintance, a neighbor, or a relative. These connections are strong and natural, and when used skillfully, they become the driving force behind your business. How effective this tool is, is especially noticeable in times of economic recession, when the market narrows, the significance of each transaction grows and only those specialists whom clients recommend to each other can stay afloat. The author of Seven Levels of Communication managed to grow his real estate business during the infamous U.S. mortgage crisis—and he did, 

How many customers can you get, relying only on the living word? The author gives such arithmetic. According to statistics, in the United States, a person changes his place of residence every five years. In the database, consisting of 150 contacts, 30 people a year need the services of a realtor. They both sell and buy, which means that the database of only 150 contacts provides 60 transactions per year. If you take into account the acquaintances of these 150 people – for example, those whom each of them invited to the wedding, the number is already in the thousands (150 contacts of 250 guests at an average wedding = 22,500 contacts, or 4,500 moves and 9,000 transactions per year). 

In order to properly distribute your efforts, you need to stop wasting money and time on the bottom of the communication pyramid: the effectiveness of advertising, direct mail and e-mails are very low. If your business belongs to an area that affects the most personal aspects (family, money, health), the response at the bottom of the pyramid will generally be vanishingly small compared to what “zone of influence” tools can give.

To generate valuable leads, dozens of strong contacts are more important than thousands of reach.

Important preliminaries

Don’t fall into the trap of constant learning. Take action and stay focused – this is how you achieve everything. Don’t give up if you fail. By correcting the mistake, you will reach a new level. 

Leaders not only do better, they make more costly mistakes. 

The Seven Levels of Communication

If your sellers are not selling and your buyers are not buying, you are the problem. It is not they who are not motivated enough, but you yourself. To keep your spirits up, remember that life is finite. Sooner or later you will be buried – and it depends only on you what will be written on the gravestone. You create this inscription daily, here and now. Treat your business as a legacy that you will leave, and motivation will always be with you. 

The most important conversation in your life is a conversation with yourself. What you believe in shapes your world, your life, and your business. Therefore, daily affirmations are so important, which will give direction and logic to all efforts.

And remember: the night is darkest just before dawn. As you move down the path of change, the underlying stress will most likely be expressed through a sudden illness or a series of setbacks. This can happen at every stage of progress. It is important not to retreat and persistently go forward – then everything will work out.

Starting the path to success

Seven tricks to get recommended

1. Set a goal: specify it in exact numbers and set a specific deadline. Say it out loud, making sure that your voice sounds confident and decisive.

2. Create some positive affirmations about your goal and your path to it. Write affirmations on sticky notes and post them prominently. Try to overcome skepticism: the author assures that this method works even with those who do not believe in any affirmations.

3. Start each morning by writing down five things you are grateful for.

4. Write a short epitaph that you would like to see on your grave. Imagine four people who will say good words at the farewell ceremony for you – who are they?

5. Take care of your body: physical energy is also needed to move towards the goal. Sports, fitness, long walks – anything that will strengthen your body is good.

6. Stay focused. Members of the generosity generation wear a bracelet for this purpose, which is touched in cases of difficulty or loss of motivation. This is a kind of anchor, touching which they mentally say “do it now” and are filled with energy and determination. 

7. Learn the Ideal Sales Affirmation: “Every day, someone in this city needs my services. My job is to find that person.” 

Remember about psycho types 

The author divides people into four main types and advises using this classification in all communications. 

1. Those for whom Leadership is most important are interested in the result. They go straight to the goal and do not like unnecessary words and long conversations.

2. Those who value Influence are oriented toward human connections – they are open, sociable individuals who are especially impressed by everything related to emotions.

3. Stability is the strong point of people who value predictability and safety above all else. They like it when the system works flawlessly.

4. Those who love Order will gladly give their money to someone who acts according to the rules and in strict accordance with the procedures. From them, you can most often hear a phrase like “we are not in a hurry, the most important thing is to do everything right.”

Use the rituals of the day

In addition to the activity schedule, rituals will help you:

•  Morning – affirmations, thanks, gymnastics or jogging, fees for work.
•  Evening – clean up the table, and write a list of 10 important calls for the next morning.
•  Before going to bed – this is your personal ritual, which you will make yourself from the activities that you like: reading, yoga, stretching, and visualization. The purpose of the ritual is to help you go to sleep and get a good night’s sleep.
•  Sunday – before the start of a new work week, you take a look at all the appointments, check clothes, and prepare sets for each day. Some people also make menus, but it’s best to start with the wardrobe – it takes minutes but saves a lot of time and energy over the course of the week.

Letters and calls

Letters of encouragement

These are letters that you will write to everyone you met and from whom you took contact.

You will write them by hand on paper without any extraneous characters – these are personal letters, and they should serve to establish and strengthen trust. If the paper is branded, it should be your brand.

•  Write in blue ink – it inspires confidence. Check your spelling carefully.
•  Use the word ‘you’, not ‘I’, ‘mine’, ‘mine’.
•  Be precise. Describe the specific unique quality of your recipient. Indicate that you would like to develop it in yourself as well. 
•  Formulate easier – as in oral casual conversation, and not like in a textbook.
•  Ask the recipient for a specific action: for example, call you or write an email.

You have to write about 50 of these letters a week – and your phone will ring, even if before that you had no orders for a long time.

Success stories

This is a special kind of content that you can share with all your contacts in various forms – whether in the form of letters, mailing lists, and blog posts, as well as talking about them on the phone, at events, or in person. 

Here’s how to write them:

1. Names of clients and the situation they are in.

“Jane and Michael were looking for their first home.”

The Seven Levels of Communication

2. What they risked and what would have happened if not for you.

“They were completely unmarket oriented and almost bought a house located on a busy highway, which would devalue their investment.”

The Seven Levels of Communication

3. How did you help.

“I told them how to choose the right accommodation so as not to lose money.”

The Seven Levels of Communication

4. What was the result of your efforts.

“Thanks to this advice, they chose a wonderful house on K Street, close to a prestigious school and amenities that add value to this purchase. This is an ideal area for families with children, and real estate in it will only rise in price over time.”

The Seven Levels of Communication

5. What the client said.

“Jane and Michael were very pleased with my work and recommended me to Chris, who is also looking for his first home of his own.”

The Seven Levels of Communication

6. What recommendation do you need.

“Which of your acquaintances is currently looking for their first home or has relatives who want to buy, sell, rent or rent a home?”.

The Seven Levels of Communication

7. Ask for specific assistance.

“Please share with me the contacts of such a person – I will gladly help him solve his problem and provide the highest quality service that he deserves.”

The Seven Levels of Communication

Type 12 such stories. You won’t have to look for options for a long time.

Phone contacts

You should spend 80% of your working time at the top three levels of the communication pyramid, talking to people in person or by phone.

To maintain the ability to work normally, plan your time clearly, by the hour, like lessons at school. Reserve hours when all phone calls go to voicemail. When you are free, you will call back everyone who got in touch. Provide two slots for answering e-mails and messages from the answering machine: at 11.00 and 16.00.

Also, one hour a day should remain free – this is a reserve for maintaining flexibility in the schedule.

Every morning, when you come to the office, you should make 10 phone calls – this is your Time of Power when you communicate with people important to you: colleagues, friends, partners, family, and everyone you haven’t called for a long time, but you should.

If you find it difficult to call people, then you are thinking about this contact from a selfish point of view (“what will it mean to me”). Shift the focus of attention from yourself to the interlocutor (“I want to please this person”) – and the hand itself will reach for the receiver.

When talking on the phone, try to be the person you want to talk to: inspire and share. Let people happily pick up the phone when they see your name on the phone display. The more willingly you give, the more you receive.

Do not strive to say more: the conversation is controlled not by the one who says more words, but by the one who asks more questions. Say “tell me more about this” and “what is most important to you here?” to deepen the connection.

By the end of the conversation, you should find one thing you can do for this person today. Promise it and do it. 

Now let’s meet in person

Personal meetings

Choose a place where you can make appointments with people. The author suggests that such a place will be a restaurant in which you will appear often, leave generous tips, and know the names of the employees who serve you. Their cooperation and kind attitude will come in handy more than once when the schedule of meetings is tight and you need small favors and courtesies. 

Both the restaurant staff and your other interlocutors will feel as comfortable as possible if you talk with them on four topics: family, leisure, work, and interests (SORI). This list will help you have a relaxed conversation with anyone, even if you are a complete introvert and always get lost in communication with strangers. 

•  Memorize the information that people give during these conversations. The next time you ask about your children’s athletic performance or your pet’s well-being, they’ll be happy to hear about it.

•  Schedule appointments. At the same time, keep in mind that one guest may arrive earlier, and the other may delay the meeting. Ideally, at such intersections, a future client and a person who can say a few kind words about you will meet at your table. This is a priceless opportunity that should not be missed (the words of the “third party” are perceived with much more credibility than what you say about yourself).

•  Focus on 100%. You turned on the answering machine on your phone for a reason: you need to be present “here and now” in order to create an atmosphere of trust and not miss any important details of the meeting.

•  Prepare a presentation of your services – it is important that it takes only one page! You give it to the person you meet. 

•  The purpose of your meeting is to find out as much as you can about the other person’s concerns and what you can do for them. By offering him a description of your services, you can no longer worry about self-presentation and focus on getting information.

•  Try to adapt to the style and pace of communication, which is inherent in your interlocutor.

The best script for the first meeting with your potential client is a detailed description of the process that he will have to go through. Tell how he will look for a solution to his problem, what he should pay attention to, and what pitfalls he may encounter – this is how you show your professionalism and create an atmosphere of trust.

If you want to give a gift, it is best to choose the right book.

Participation in events

To get the most out of the event you’re attending, set yourself the goal of making new contacts that will expand your referral circle.

A great opportunity to do this is to contact the organizers and ask to be introduced to one or two important participants in the event. Do this in advance, and then come up to the site and remind: “I am the same NN that you were going to introduce to such and such.” 

Check the list of participants in advance and google the people you would like to meet. Memorize any information that will be useful to you in a personal meeting. Use the topics on the SORI list to establish informal contact.

After meeting

The follow-up system that Michael Maher recommends has several components.

Within seven weeks, you must call the person you were meeting with at least four times, write them a “letter of encouragement,” email them, and send them a direct mail.

•  Never ask for recommendations directly as a follow-up. When making a recommendation, a person feels that their own reputation is also at stake – so it is much better to ask just to introduce you to those to whom you can be useful.

•  Leverage the power of “third party” opinion – let your potential customers learn about your strengths from their acquaintances among your clients, friends, and colleagues.

•  Respond positively, even if the clients didn’t choose you. Of course, you will be upset when you find out that the people you once helped have chosen a different specialist, but keep yourself in control. Rejoice that things worked out just fine without you, and ask what competitive features or services your former customers are most pleased with. This will strengthen the bond and encourage them to think of you again when they find out that someone in their circle needs the services you provide.

Community strength

Ambassadors, champions, and communication plan

The community you build is the engine of your business. 80% of contacts with these people are in the “zone of influence” and require your personal work and time. Therefore, in the “zone of influence,” there should not be people who are not ready to recommend you. Clean up your contact list, leaving only those people who can be considered your ambassadors (recommend you several times a year) and champions (once a year).

As a rule, the differences between these two types of people are due to their psychological portrait: ambassadors are extroverted and constantly bring people together, while champions have a narrow circle of contacts and therefore give fewer recommendations. But both of these types are important to you. 

At the initial stage of work on clearing the contact list, in addition to people of these two categories, there will also be those who could recommend you, but have not yet done so. Your task is to write them a motivation letter with the question: “Would you recommend me to your friends and acquaintances if you find out that they need such services? If yes, please do so. If not, tell me why.”

You will receive responses to this letter and/or call the people to whom it was sent. According to their responses, you can either move your contacts to a higher category or delete them from the list of people to whom you constantly pay attention.

Then, make a communication plan, marking on the calendar a certain frequency of calls and meetings with ambassadors and champions. The author proposes a scheme of “one personal or telephone contact per month with ambassadors, four contacts per year with champions.” 

Plan your calls a year ahead and set up reminders to make it easy for you to add them to your “10 Important Morning Calls” list. Don’t forget the birthdays of your ambassadors and champions.

Meetings with ambassadors should also become a regular component of your schedule – arrange them every two months. From time to time, you can convene a “council of ambassadors”, introducing them to each other, treating them to lunch, and advising on what you can do next to build on your business success.

Email, instant messengers, and social networks

These are extremely convenient communication tools, but you must always remember that they are on the border between the “zone of influence” and the “information zone”. 

Never use email, instant messengers, and social networks to make appointments, transfer documents, or close deals. These tools do not provide an opportunity to receive adequate feedback and serve only to confirm personal agreements already reached and to convey additional information. 

In the author’s practice, there was a case when clients refused the transaction at the last moment, after they were sent an agreement requiring signing by e-mail. These people were buying a house for the first time in their lives and just got scared when they saw a contract with numbers. If the realtor had not been too lazy to hand over the documents at a personal meeting with the relevant explanations, the transaction would have taken place. 

The Seven Levels of Communication

Connect with your ambassadors and champions on social media. Check their updates daily. 

Use Google Alerts to keep track of information about your contacts and find reasons to chat and chat with them.

The “digital footprint” cannot be erased: keep this in mind when writing emails and on social networks. Do not touch on the topics of religion, and politics on your page on the social network, and do not post “funny” photos that can damage your reputation.

At least once a month, make a post or newsletter with a success story, a story that you were recommended to a new client.

Use video whenever possible: it makes contact in the virtual world more personal.

Include in your email signature a warm and uplifting phrase like “I’m here to help/Always at your service/Happy to be of service.” 

Remember: electronic communications cannot replace your activity on the top three levels of the communication pyramid. Social networks and emails will not replace calls, personal letters, and meetings.

Use the power of the community

You spend a lot of energy creating and maintaining activities in your personal community. It responds to you by helping you grow your business.

Feel free to ask for help from the people who are included in it. It is possible and necessary to broadcast not only successes but also needs.

For example, your community will be the best place to find a helper when your business grows to the point where you need a helper using Michael Maher’s system. To make the assistant easily and productively involved in your work, schedule time for coaching and mentoring in the same way that you schedule time for calls and letters. And everything will work out.

Top 10 Thoughts

1. The main engine of business is the recommendations of people who personally know each other. Such connections provide a level of trust that guarantees a high percentage of closing deals.

2. All channels of communication with potential customers can be divided into seven types, the importance of which increases as their privacy increases: advertising, direct mail, electronic communications, handwritten letters, phone calls, meetings at exhibitions and conferences, and face-to-face meetings.

3. Advertising, direct mail, and emails are tools that don’t sell. They are for informational purposes only. If you need to influence, convince and sell, you need to use the phone and face-to-face meetings.

4. 80% of each of your working days should be devoted to phone calls and face-to-face meetings.

5. Good planning will help keep you motivated and efficient.

6. You can communicate pleasantly and productively with each person, discussing with interest four important areas of his life: family, leisure, work, and interests. 

7. You can opt out of all types of advertising, both online and offline if you take the time and effort to build your own community of referrals.

8. Be clear about your goals, use positive affirmations, write down five things you are grateful for every morning, and be physically active to help you be efficient and focused on success.

9. Communication in social networks must be strictly controlled because the “digital footprint” you leave cannot be removed. 

10. The most important point of all your communications is your desire and willingness to serve people. The more you give, the more you receive.

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