Fifteen years ago the idea of purchasing a home without a REALTOR® was unthinkable, let alone undoable. You needed a real estate agent just to have access to the homes that were listed in your area. That has obviously changed — it’s no secret that the majority of home searches start online. Today, a client could show up to a home knowing more about it than the REALTOR® representing them. The Internet has already grounded travel agents, shredded year books, and taken some of the swagger out of car dealers. With all these “middle men” going the way of dinosaurs, what does the increase in Internet usage mean for the REALTOR®?
Recently, I began the process of interviewing REALTORS® to help me with the purchase of my first home. This experience has been quite an eye-opener. Every REALTOR® has been quick to tell me why they are clearly the best REALTOR® for me. Whether it’s the large volume of homes they helped close last year, their winning smile and customer care, or simply that they won’t rest until they find me the home of my dreams. Yet they are all still missing out on the biggest question...
Why do I EVEN need a REALTOR®?
Don’t kid yourself by thinking that people aren’t starting to ask themselves that very question. I believe we can all agree it’s something that has been brewing in our age of optimization and small, agile work flows.
If I’m starting to sound condescending, or like I’m making fun of the REALTORS® with whom I’ve been working, that’s not my intention. What I’m trying to do is serve as a wakeup call. Sometimes we get so focused on our “daily grind” that we completely miss the 10-ton elephant in the room … even when he’s charging right at us. I know I’ve done it. There have been plenty of sales calls where I immediately jump in and start talking about paper poundage, ultraviolet coating and print quality, and forget to ask if the person even needs or wants business cards! We spend so much time in our marketing trying to tell prospects why they should choose us. Yet, we hardly spend any time at all asking ourselves why they even need our services.
Let’s face it, you don’t NEED a REALTOR® to buy or sell a home. If a person decided not to use a REALTOR®, they’d have to be a braver (or more foolish) man than I. Chances are, your prospect has gotten along so far in their life without you, (or me for that matter.) The status quo can really be the biggest hurdle we have to jump, yet it is probably the one we prepare for the least. So, now is the perfect time to change that.
Recently I was invited to a Bellator Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight. After the event, as I was talking to one of the judges, he said something about “knock-outs” that really stuck with me. He said, “The first thing every fighter asks after he recovers is, “What happened?” It’s always the ones we don’t see coming that put us down.”
I challenge you to take this opportunity to make sure your “pitch” includes the following three things:
1) Explain to the prospect why they WANT to do business with you. Make sure you’re focusing on their wants, not needs. We’ve established that the prospect doesn’t need you, or any REALTOR®, for that matter. That’s a good thing, because people get more excited about things they want, especially when they’re emotionally invested. Play to their emotions by calming their fears and overcoming their objections. Just as it is with a lawyer … you don’t ever need one, (you can represent yourself in court,) but you definitely WANT one!
2) Keep the prospect at the center of everything you do. For many of you, this is just a reminder of something you already know. However, it is very much worth repeating. In 2012, even though 42% of home buyers say they found their home online, 89% still used a real estate professional. This means that public opinion is very much in support of REALTORS®. We want to keep it that way. If public opinion ever swings the other way, and REALTORS® fall out of favor with the public, we’re all out of a job. So, don’t simply stop with what you can do for a prospective client, but focus on WHY they want a REALTOR® helping them in the home buying or selling process.
3) Be a consultant not a salesperson. What’s the difference between salespeople and consultants? Salespeople are “yes men,” they never say no and will tell you just about anything to close a deal. Just think of the stigma of the “used-car salesman” — we don’t want that stigma attached to REALTORS®. Consultants are trusted advisors who care about quality service and their reputation more than the current “deal.” This might sound backwards, but your client wants your expertise. Expertise and service are the only things you have to offer, without them, you’re sunk. Your clients don’t want to be sold a home, they want to buy a home. Meet client expectations whenever possible, but be realistic. Don’t be afraid of telling a client what they may not want to hear, even if it leads to some friction. In the end, when your expertise has led to a better outcome for them, they’ll thank you … or they may not. Either way, your reputation will remain intact, which is crucial to your business.