Transactional vs Cumulative Business Growth

Sometimes you're so focused on getting things done, you don't realize you aren't making progress on your goals. It's the old saying of not being able to see the forest because of all the trees!

Image Credit - flickr Andrei Zverev


I took calls this week from two different telemarketers who had completely opposite styles and business plans.


One call was from a Realtor who was interested in helping me sell any real estate my uncle's estate might have or need help with.

She had a transactional business plan: Call lots of people who have recently lost a family member and convince some of them to let her list their real estate.

The upside

She gets to control her business - make more calls, get more listings.But she has several downsides:

  • If she does well and generates lots of business, she risks getting too busy to continue her marketing efforts, resulting in a business slow-down.
  • If she takes a vacation, her marketing stops, and then her business stops.
  • She's so busy finding her next deal that she's not working to build long-term business growth.


The 2nd Realtor who called me was from a smaller, vacation-style town in a different part of the state - a town where people went to escape the summer heat and play in the winter snow. He explained that he knew his town inside-out, and was the expert to call if I ever knew anyone who needed help in his area - second homes, vacation rentals, whatever they might need. (and he would pay a generous referral fee.)

He understood that I might not have a referral for several years, but maybe one day in the future I'll have a need for his services. And he asked if he could email me once every couple-few months - just a short email about some news from his town - as a way to keep in touch.

"Sure", I said. No skin off my back, and who knows - I might even need his number someday.

In reality, this Realtor is building an army of lead generating salespeople

Each day when he makes his calls, he's adding to his list of people who will likely refer business to him at some point in the future.

When he has a busy month (or chooses to take a vacation), he might not get to add to his cumulative list of referral sources, but he's every bit as likely to pick up a new lead from someone already in his vast network of contacts.

Transactional or Cumulative - Which one are you?

Both of these Realtors are making their living through the phone. Their business plans demand they make a certain number of phone calls each day, and they're both working hard towards their goals.

The Transactional Realtor has a much harder call, in my opinion. She is looking for a commission right here, right now, from this very phone call. Each call is a chance to list a house.

The Cumulative Realtor, on the other hand, is more about conversation. Talking to other Realtors is easy, and he's offering what seems like a "something for nothing" opportunity. It's much easier for him to get to yes, and each time he does, his future business grows.

So, as you draw up your business plan for the year, and you list out tomorrow's goals in the evening - spend a few minutes thinking about your end game. Are you searching for a transaction, or an accumulating business base?

Oh, and one more thing - if you're going with cumulative, and you're adding more and more email addresses to your contact list each month, I'd love to help you send out a monthly newsletter - just give me a shout..

- Chris Butterworth