If you’ve ever seen the movie Glen Gary Glen Ross, you’d see a strong precedence of how the public thinks of real estate professionals.
Pushy, two-faced, actors who treat their customers like idiotic pawns.
As the profession has evolved, some of that imagery has stuck, and includes the investor as well. Though there’s nothing wrong with an assertive sales style, the landscape of the entire business has shifted quite mightily. Busts have bled out the bottom-feeders, and those left or coming into the business will have to continuously strive for a customer-service based agenda. The world has grown and will continue to get smaller through the availability of instant information. Embracing the change will be inevitable, possibly critical to your business. Here’s why:
1) Customers Have More Options
The information age has nearly obliterated the old-school style of networking. If someone is looking to sell, buy, wholesale, or short sale, looking for qualified professionals in their area is a point and click away. Given, those who have been marketing to (that) segment may have a shoe-in, but often times prospects will be talking to 2-3 other people they think may be able to assist their situation.
You may have taken months to develop a relationship of sorts with a prospect, but if a better option comes along for them, they can be gone in an instant. If you were able to find them, in all probability, so were other competitors. The information is so readily available that you need to have a plan in place to attract and close customers in a timely manner, softly reminding them constantly of all the benefits you offer.
It’s not about you, it’s about them.
No matter how many degrees you have, houses you’ve closed, funds you’ve issued, etc, the customer only cares what’s in it for them. Treat them like you KNOW they have options, you’re grateful for the opportunity to earn their business, and if they choose you they’d have a wonderful experience with you and your company. Reflect that in your marketing, conversation, and closing pitch.
2) You’re Easier to Research
On the tail of the last point comes the fact, you’re easier to find out about these days.
If there’s not much to see about you online, or otherwise, that may be a turn-off for customers, as well. Even if it’s a Facebook Business Page, it’s important you have something.
If you haven’t already, for God’s sake, put up a web page. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it is the bare minimum online store front for your business. Brandon Turner wrote a wonderful article on this very subject, if you’re still intimidated by the idea.
Secondly, Google yourself and see what comes up. Most likely, your LinkedIn profile, various social network profiles, and any articles that contained your name will come up. Check for reviews, feedback, customer service complaints, and things of these nature. A buzz, for better or worse, may have started about you online, and it’s important you monitor what’s being said. It will and can attract and detract future customers.
Don’t have a buzz, yet? Ask previous customers to write reviews on Yelp, Google Places, or even a simple email so you can post the testimonial online. You may promise the world to prospects, and be able to deliver, but people flock to the internet to check you out and read reviews about you to make their purchasing decision. Give them something to latch on to. Even if there’s negative feedback, address it in a professional manner and leave it up. All business’ face criticism or unpleasant customers, and it can be a wonderful example of how you handle conflict.
Realtor.com recently shut down an experimental algorithm-based tool that would ideally match up a customer with the perfect real estate agent for them, based on amount of sales, listing days on market, and other public data. This performance-based tool, AgentMatch, excludes information that can’t be found online, like off-market deals, or interpret between the lines of numerics. It has agents in an uproar, but, there is a gap missing for customers to get a full overview of their real estate professionals’ performance and capabilities. Point being, big data may be forming an opinion of you in the near future, so beat them to the punch to showcase your talents, satisfied customer base, and volume.
Got the time and customer base? Take a small camera and record 30-60 second testimonials from prior and current customers and post them on your website, social networks, etc. Videos go a long way for making an impression, so make it a goal in 2014 to at least post a handful of video testimonials to vouch for your company.
If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, or similar customer-based environment, it’s much easier to understand the idea of a “customer-first” mentality. Practicing and perfecting a confident sales style, backed with a top-notch customer service from you and your staff, will go a long way as the internet continues to sandwich your efforts with reviews, feedback, and exposure. What do you think?
Photo Credit: JSmith Photo