This has been a wild week for me ... lots of activity going on with the surge in real estate sales.
I've noticed in the last few days, I've gotten a lot of "those" phone calls ... the ones that are out looking for business, I think.
The reason I say "I think" is because sometimes it is REALLY hard to tell what these folks want. Maybe you know the call:
"Hi, I'm Blah with Blah Blah and we do Blah Blah Blah for lots of companies like yours. I'm not calling for an order right now, but I'd like to be able to call you in the future if that's OK?"
After answering the phone for the 5th or 6th time that day, I asked one nice gal, "Well, what do you want?"
She told me that she was hired to "just find companies that were willing to talk to their sales people," so I asked her what she thought she was.
She wasn't sure, but she knew she was temporary. I think she was right!
I sure don’t want to be temporary! BEFORE I pick up the phone to have a conversation with anyone, I'm going to be sure that I KNOW why I'm calling and what I want the outcome of the conversation to be.
Here are three things every REALTOR® should know before picking up the phone.
1) The purpose of the call – When calling anyone, especially a prospective client, it’s important to be brief and to the point. Not everyone wants to just chit-chat. Make sure you state the purpose of the call early. Once you get to know your client, then these calls can become more personal when it’s appropriate.
2) Your professional greeting – “Hey, it’s me,” is a terrible way to start a phone call. While many phones do have caller ID, it’s not a good idea to rely on it. People sound different over the phone and your recipient will need time to mentally establish who they are talking with. So, make sure you always state your full name and company at the beginning of your relationship.
3) Next steps – These are similar to the purpose of the call, but not exactly the same. It’s important to know what the follow-up to the phone call will be. A meeting? An inspection? Do they need to fax you something? Make sure you communicate these next steps clearly by the end of the call and your client understands them. It also helps to set deadlines for when these next steps should take place.
You might say that I’m a contact hoarder. I simply don’t delete them from my contact list. In fact, I still have my old Rolodex. It’s not on my desk anymore, but I still know exactly where it is in case I need it.
I never know when a situation may present itself that offers me the opportunity to make something happen, either for my company or for someone else.
Think about the number of people you’ve developed professional relationships with over the course of your career. If you’re like me, there are those you keep in steady contact with, some are no more than postcards during the holidays, and some you did one transaction with but haven’t talked to since.
Those are the people who are the most difficult to pitch an idea to. Obviously they know who you are, but they aren’t someone that you’re going to have lunch with. So you need to walk a fine line when reconnecting.
A while back, someone sent me a long email. “Hi, Hollie! How are you? It’s been a while …” and proceeded to catch me up on his life story since we last spoke. He reconstituted the business dealings we’d had before and said something about getting together to “bounce some ideas around.” It wasn’t until the last paragraph that he said he was working with a company that was developing a QR code generator for the restaurant industry to promote a customer program.
It was painful to read. And a reminder of how not to re-establish contact.
Avoid these mistakes when reconnecting:
Don’t be overly friendly.
Don’t waste their time rehashing old events.
Don’t act like they are a top-tier client.
Don’t disguise your pitch as a friendly offer to reconnect.
Don’t remind them how long it’s been or that you haven’t spoken in a while.
Don’t assume that they remember you.
Don’t assume that they will be interested in what you’re offering.
Don’t forget to follow up with them.
Relationship marketing is a very personal thing. It’s not merely one of the real estate marketing strategies that I support; it’s the most important. I talk about the concept to everyone who works in any industry. Even that guy who sent me the long, sprawling email. I talked to him and put him in contact with a friend who works in marketing for a restaurant chain. They met and the pitch was successful. Turns out, my old colleague sells a good product; he just doesn’t reconnect very well. We’re still working on that.
I was lucky enough to get to know my great-grandfather. He lived in a small town in Tennessee and was the definition of a Southern gent. A carpenter by trade, and a horse trader at heart, he built his home with help from other tradesmen by exchanging his labor for theirs.
He lived only a few blocks from the town square and when we’d go to visit, we’d walk down to see his friends at the hardware store. Pete’s Hardware wasn’t the only hardware store in town, but it was where Granddaddy and all of the more seasoned craftsmen gathered.
Although all were drawing a pension, none would admit to being retired. They would do occasional odd jobs to make a little extra money or to help out friends. Many times, they’d collaborate on big projects. All of them had their personal business cards hanging on a cork bulletin board in the doorway.
We’d hang out with the other old-timers and they’d talk shop while playing penny-a-point Gin Rummy. People from town and the surrounding area would stop in to say, “Hello.” They’d have a cup of coffee, look at pictures of each other’s grandkids, share news about what was going on around town, and ask advice about their projects. Many times, they’d hire one of the old gents to do their project, or they’d walk out of Pete’s with what they needed.
That experience shaped my philosophy as an implementer of social media for real estate industry professionals. Pete’s Hardware added value to their customers’ experience. And for that reason, it would be decades before the big home-improvement chains could get a real foothold in that small town.
I would argue that what they were doing is no different from what I encourage my clients to do with their Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook strategies. It really isn’t, except that my clients can reach a much larger audience. REALTORS®, who use social media to develop relationship marketing, add value to their customers’ experience and consequently will see an increase in client retention and an improvement in real estate referrals.
When you really think about it, it’s odd that something seemingly insignificant at the time can impact your life years later. If there is something from your past that has shaped your business philosophy, we’d love to hear about your experience. In the meantime, to learn more, call us at 800.458.8245.