People buy retail items from total strangers without giving it a second thought.
Generally the sales person is only collecting money for goods they have. It requires a minimum amount of trust. With very expensive items such as cars and jewelry, buyers are a little more skeptical and even distrusting. People buying real estate are in many cases, making the largest financial investment in their life. They need help from someone who possesses knowledge of real estate values and can guide them through the process of buying. They want to deal with professional people with integrity, which they can trust. They buy through people they have established a relationship with.
There are many ways to create a first step to a relationship…
but they all begin with us giving of ourselves. We pass up opportunities every day of our life to begin a relationship with people. It’s either because we don’t want to have a relationship with them, or we fear possible failure in making that first move. We need to understand that the initial move toward a relationship beginning is a simple action. It might be as simple as opening a door for someone, or asking someone for directions to a particular place.
Relationships begin with an introduction.
Marriage is a relationship isn’t it? It began with a simple introduction by one party to another. Through time, the relationship was enhanced to the point that indelible love was formed. We form relationships with friends, family, people we work with; because trust and respect was forms through time and various actions performed by both parties. I guess all relationships begin with a simple “Hello.” I have even heard of relationships begin by two people bumping into each other. I’d call that a simultaneous initiation.
For now, I want us to focus on establishing relationships in sales; particularly focusing on real estate. How do we develop a new sales lead into a productive, lasting relationship? Naturally it begins by one party introducing themselves to another party. One of the mistakes some sales people make is by going directly after the sale. This is largely caused by a lack in ability to make conversation. What we need to realize is that we are just people talking to other people of which both are somewhat uncomfortable to begin with. I limit my first call to only 3-5 minutes to eliminate pressure. During that time I try to learn a few things about the person I’m talking with and I end that conversation by promising to send them something of value. My next step is most important. I keep my promise by immediately sending them something that is a real value to them. It may be a small, inexpensive gift or it may be information, but if it’s the later, I make sure the information is of real value to them; not a value to me but valuable to them! Even if I send them a gift, I will include information about my company, myself, and the services I can provide them.
The next step is to contact them within 72 hours
of their receiving the items sent to make sure they received it and answer any questions they may have. It is very important that the impression I leave on them is a sincere interest in their needs; not mine. During this conversation I will engage them in general talk about their needs and wants making sure to include the entire family. I want to stay as far away as possible, from tying them to a particular property or even a group of properties until I have gathered all the pertinent information necessary to move forward. We are still strangers to each other. We’re getting to know each other and the main ingredient is conversation. I will initiate a minimum of one conversation each week until we have reached a favorable plan of action to accomplish mutual goals. Each conversation is designed to create trust, respect, and to provide them information of value. Use the information you gain during conversations to compliment them personally. Think about all the opportunities you have in your business to give something of value to your prospects and clients. When you give of yourself, they will reciprocate by giving you the real information that you have been wanting. Since today market is supported by the Internet, buyers may want to move a faster pace because they have already been searching properties and they want specific information about a particular. I try to slow them down so we begin a relationship. Besides, if I give them everything they want immediately, I’m no more than a tour guide, and they’re in control. Few sales close without the agent being in control of the complete buying process. That’s our job; right?
We get caught up in daily activities at work and we’re also involved with our own personal lives, we fail to recognize and appreciate those around us. People enjoy recognition; their little fame to glory. Take a moment to think of various ways you can show appreciation to your clients. For example, have a “Buyer of the Month” award. Use your computer skills to create a certificate with the clients name in print and send it to them. Something so small will enhance your relationship and will also produce referrals for you. Let your mind run wild on ways to recognize people for accomplishments.
The Internet places a world of knowledge at our finger tips,
and makes it possible to communicate 24/7, at our own convenience. Social Networks expand the ability to communicate with total strangers but this type of communication is very general. It is a good first step for a relationship to begin but it is too impersonal. Real relationship will not develop until live conversations take place. It’s easier to make a statement in an email or post because we don’t have to respond to their response. Much good information can be delivered and gained using the Internet but a live conversation produces more accurate information because it requires an instant response. Opening one door in live conversation usually opens other doors for discussion.
I speak from experience when I say the reason many people have poor communication skills because they aren’t listening to what the other person is saying. I catch myself thinking of what I am going to say next rather than paying attention to the conversation. I don’t mean to offend anyone but we all talk too much and listen too little. We learn by listening; not by talking. Prewritten scripts provide a great guideline to follow when communicating with strangers. Scripts aid you in controlling a conversation but we tend to read a script through without allowing time for a response. Rather than using a script of words to say, I created a document that lists all the information I need to gather. I let the conversation dictate which information is gathered. All information is not gathered in one conversation. I will gather bits and pieces in each conversation. At the end of a conversation, the missing information provides me with a reason to call them at a later date. Remember, our communication should be all about them.
Our conversations should be personal
but they should also be professional. Buyers aren’t looking for new friends. They want to deal with a professional with great product knowledge, trustworthiness, selflessness, highly ethical, and possesses a good business reputation. There is a delicate balance between being good ole Joe and a professional. We need to develop a good phone presence. Our character and personality is transmitted to the receiver through voice tonality. In my first time conversations, I try to break the ice as quickly as possible with an off-the-wall statement. It’s usually a comment to set the person I’m calling at ease. I am however, prepared to turn the conversation into one with a professional atmosphere as soon as I hear a comment that demands it. I rarely call a new lead sounding professional. I make conversations personal because I want to get to know them personally. I want to establish a relationship that will last for the remainder of my career. On the other hand, when they ask me a question, I always answer it as a professional.
The focal point of my conversation is to obtain information from and about them; the entire family. Gathering this information will provide me many opportunities to touch them consistently, in many different ways. My interest is in them, not a sales transaction. Learning all about their family, puts me in a better position to provide the quality service they want and need.
The question often arises,
how often should you contact a prospect? That totally depends on the strength of the relationship. After my initial contact, I am going to send them something. Within 72 hours I contact them the second time and if the sign an agency agreement for me to represent them, from that time forward, I will touch them every day. I’m not talking about drip campaigns; I’m talking about a personal way. Let me explain. I divide all my clients into two groups; Hot and Cold. I make a 3×5 index card for each client that is placed in my shirt pocket, in one of the two groups. That way they are always on my mind. I keep a hard file copy and an electronic copy of everything I do with each client. I constantly refer to my index card all during the day. These cards represent my top priority of things to accomplish. I place post-it notes on each card during the day when ideas for touching them arise. Each night I catch up my files and take the appropriate actions. If I know they aren’t going to buy for the next six months, I will touch them once a week for the first five months. At the beginning of the six months I’ll begin touching them daily.
Here is the key ingredient to this message.
If you close a sale without establishing a relationship, which is done by so many agents, you will probably only earn one commission off that customer. If you establish a real relationship, and enhance it by continually touching them at least once a month, and have a live conversation with them every 90 days, for the rest of your career; they will send you many, many referrals over the coming years. So take advantage of every opportunity to establish relationships with people so you can reap reward forever.
Should you have specific questions concerning various issues, please let me know and I’ll research the answer for you. I also want to encourage you to subscribe to our “News & Updates” weekly report so you can stay abreast of issues that might affect you when buying or selling real estate. If you haven’t visited my website, please go to www.AlabamaRealEstateInstitute.com and view previous articles.