"Finally a way to follow-up, without me."
“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.” - Peter Drucker
There I was, holding another open house early in my real estate career.
It was five minutes until game time; when the doors would open and the buyers would rush the door like it was Black Friday.
I went through the checklist in my mind, “Ice water. Check. Potential buyer sign-in form. Check. Magazine in case the hopes for a Black Friday like day dematerialize. Check.”
Luckily, by the end of the day I had a handful of interested buyers. Not counting the other interested buyers from weeks before. But still no official bites.
As I got in my car to leave the open house I wondered what else I could do differently.
I thought to myself, “how could I improve converting potential buyers into real buyers.”
The real estate marketing audio book I had in my car CD player was droning on about needing more exposure for your property to increase the conversion rates. I disagreed. I already had interested potential buyers what I needed was to build relationships with them.
The next day I devised a deal with one of our secretary’s that went something like this: I’ll give you X% of a deal that we close if you contribute to building a relationship with the purchasing buyer by following up for me.
Before I knew it I was able to offload all of the contacts I met at open houses, events and elsewhere to our office secretary for consistent and personalized follow up.
After a few weeks I had kept in touch with more people than I ever could have on my own and had a buyer within two weeks.
Much of what makes a real estate professional successful is being in the right place at the right time. Not just physically but also digitally.
Think about the last time you met a potential buyer. Did you keep in touch with that individual on a regular basis until (1) The property sold or (2) the interested buyer explicitly stated he or she was not interested?
If you answered no then you are not hustling.
Hustling is at the core of relationship marketing for realtors.
Let’s take a step in our buyers shoes’ for a second.
Buyers are busy. I was a buyer before. There is a good chance that you were a buyer at one time too.
Remember what your house hunting process looked like? Well, if you weren’t already working with an agent it was a whirlwind of hopping from house to house - meeting agents - feeling overwhelmed - feeling confused - feeling uneasy BECAUSE you were about to make one of the biggest purchases of your life.
Now - what if when you were in this vicious vortex of the MLS, CMA’s, and the hundreds of other acronyms making up real estate listings you felt that one of the agents you met really cared.
Cared not about just making a sale but about making your next house a home?
You would be more inclined to gravitate towards that agent. This is relationship marketing.
When seeking to enhance your one-to-one relationship with potential buyers be sure to incorporate a politely persistent methodology. How?
Follow these tips as derived from The PolitePersistence System.
1) Plan. It’s vital that you have a plan for keeping in touch with your potential buyers (and sellers). I’ve worked with a real estate client that was still using post it notes to ‘plan’ his relationship marketing strategy. This is unacceptable. Since you take your business seriously you need to have a structured yet moldable plan in place for following up.
Having a plan takes the guesswork out of building relationships. A communication channel plan might look like this for example: you first invite your contact to like your Facebook page, then two days later send an email, then send another follow up email three days later, then give a friendly check-in call five days later… get the idea? By following this kind of structured follow up plan you will naturally accelerate your human interaction.
According to research by Janet Polivy, our brain fears big projects and often fails to commit to long-term goals because we’re susceptible to “abandoning ship” at the first sign of distress.
Laying an internal mind structure that reminds you that, “First I will do this, then next I will do that…” will keep you on task to accomplish your goal of receiving a response, which can be perceived as a big project.
Do this when planning your relationship marketing strategy:
a) Determine what communication channels you want to use to follow up. Will you ask your potential buyers for their Twitter handle? Will you invite them to like your page on Facebook? Will you connect with them on LinkedIn? Then will you follow up with a phone call or email? List 3-7 communication channel touchpoints.
b) Determine the time between each communication channel outreach attempt. If you first send an email then how long do you want to wait until you follow up again? Document this.
c) Compose the templates you will use for each communication channel. What will you say in your LinkedIn InMessage? What will your follow up Tweet say? How will you structure your voicemail?
Remember that according to Realtor.com, 84% of buyers would definitely use the same agent again. With a statistic like that no wonder we need to have a structured follow up system to attract new buyers.
Have a plan.
2) Source. Technology is only as good as the plan it supports. You now have your plan so what kind of tools will help make your life easier? Fortunately, there are multiple players who have had similar communication issues like you and have decided to build something scratch their communication itch.
I recommend looking at your relationship marketing via a Full Spectrum Strategy in two lenses:
- Large Email List Marketing
- One-to-One Marketing
Large Email List Marketing
Many real estate agents rely on their employer marketing efforts while hoping that the leads trickle down. As an agent I didn’t hope for leads but rather expected results from my personal efforts, not my employers.
Make sure your personal brand supports a Large Email List solution. As far as free Large Email List solutions are concerned, I prefer Mailchimp and Mad Mimi mainly because of the free emails they allow you to send without even accepting a credit card. Here is a quick side-by-side comparison as of 2013.
- According to Total Market Dominator, the most click throughs in your emails come from videos (55%), then from blogs (25%) and then from Facebook (11%). Experiment by including one of each link in some of your mass email communication for reaching all readers.
- According to MailChimp, sending a message from an individual as opposed to your company saw a slightly higher open rate. Although, you may be employed by a larger real estate company you still have a personal brand to maintain. Not to mention that your own personal email list travels with you no matter what company you work for. Build a relationship between you and your readers.
- Need ideas on how to structure your Large Email List email blasts? Do some competitor analysis. Find other real estate agents in your niche and your geographic location and sign up for their newsletter. This will help give you an idea of how to structure your personal Large Email List communication.
No matter how many email blasts you send you will eventually need to transition to a one-to-one relationship building mentality.
In The PolitePersistence System we offer a Relationship Builder’s Toolkit. I will highlight a few of these tools below as they relate to your real estate relationship building strategy:
Email Management (i.e. Email Tracking, Template Analytics, etc.)
Email Follow Up Reminder Services
Personalized Follow Up Automation (selfless plug)
By leveraging the right tool above for your specific situation you can craft a relationship enhancement strategy that will propel you to the forefront of your buyers and sellers minds consistently and effectively.
When building your one-to-one relationship you always want to add value to your potential buyer or seller. Part of this value is being flexible as to be respective of your contacts time. If a face-to-face meeting or initial connection is not possible then aim for a virtual meeting. Virtual meetings can be held between you and your potential buyer or seller over Skype, Google Hangout or, if you and your contact are iPhone users, Facetime.
With Skype and Google Hangout you can perform a screen share to discuss images of properties at hand, for instance.
By leveraging the above tools and offering this convenience for your contact allows you to box out the noise that other real estate professionals are making as they vie for the attention of your contact.
3) Automate. Remember how I passed off my buyer outreach to my secretary earlier? This is, in a nutshell, automating your human interaction.
Have someone use a system, that you develop, to initiate a conversation online. Not only effective - it’s smart. (Tweet This)
Your time is valuable and not everyone will respond to your attempts at human interaction.
Outsource this task and multiply yourself.
Use these steps to get started:
1) Hire a secretary or a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant (VA) can be found anywhere from Craigslist to Elance or any other outsourcing platform. The key is wading through the muck of applicants to find an effective virtual assistant for your needs. When hiring use these tips to help shorten the stack:
- The last line of your Request for Proposal (RFQ) should state: “Please state ‘I Am Real’ as the first line of your proposal. We receive many template based proposals and want to ensure your proposal is specific to our needs.” By including this line, it will ensure that the applicants have actually read your proposal. If a proposal does not include this line delete their proposal immediately. Your VA needs to know how to follow directions.
- Ask pointed questions in your proposal that requires your applicants to answer. Remember, the goal here is to weed out the applicants who don’t follow directions. Include this line in your RFQ: “Please specifically answer these questions in your proposal by first stating these questions with your answers following the questions.” Ask questions that (1) Validate the VA’s past experience and (2) Can’t be answered with a yes or a no. I personally prefer questions that ask a VA to outline his or her process for whatever it is I am asking him or her to do in my RFQ.
- To further weed out the non-committed, ask as part of your RFQ for proposals to include some basic research of something. It can be anything. It can be related to your project but it doesn’t have to be. You want to test that the VA is serious about wanting your project and is willing to go the extra mile to distinguish him or herself from the tens of thousands of other outsourcers. In the past I’ve asked for VA’s to research 10 bloggers who I could connect with but these bloggers had to meet very specific criteria (i.e. # of readers, Alexa Rank, etc.)
2) Provide the assistant your plan and tools. In the above two steps you’ve already outlined the communication channels you want to use, the frequency between outreach and templates for each channel.
If you decided to use one or more of the tools above you can provide your assistant access to these tools in order to accelerate your outreach. Ultimately, you want your VA to complete a spreadsheet as his or her deliverable. This deliverable helps keep your VA accountable and allows you to optimize your attempts at human interaction.
Here is an example of a spreadsheet structure you can use. See the Potential Buyer tab.
Keep in mind the following: this is just a sample structure, the communication channels can be whatever you like them to be and the communication channel templates are included directly into the spreadsheet making it the one tool that will keep you and your VA on the same page.
3) Have your assistant inform you when someone responds. You’re busy. You don’t have time to follow up with those who don’t have time for you.
Shoot to have about 3-10% of the the potential buyers you reach out to get back to you by the end of all of your outreach steps.
When someone expresses an interest to:
Hear more from you about the property
Set up a virtual meeting
Set up another in-person meeting for the property at hand or another property you suggest
then you can take the reins back from your VA and continue building the relationship with this contact, all the while having your VA continue to accelerate your human interaction with other potential buyers.
What do you think?
How can you incorporate a more politely persistent approach into your real estate marketing?
PolitePersistence, LLC helps real estate brokers and agents put the ‘Muscle in their Hustle’ by helping them be politely persistent in business, leadership and life. In some instances, PolitePersistence will work with real estate agents and brokers to develop their unique PolitePersistence System for them.
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