In the first part of this series I detailed the 6 traits of successful agents (as I se it) and in the subsequent posts I have focused on trait number 5 at least as it pertains to some of the hardware and software systems they use.
In this post I want to talk some more about trait number 5 – They create and nurture networks of people. What does that mean? In simplistic terms, it means that successful agents know how to get to know people, get known by people and avoid being forgotten once they are known!
Once that has been accomplished, the successful agent has means and methods to communicate the message that they are in the business of assisting people in completing a real estate transaction.
As I mentioned in the first post, there are many ways of doing this, nearly as many different ways as there are licensees. But, there are some threads of commonality woven through out all the different methods.
If your cash flow situation will support it, there is always advertising as a means of attracting people to you. Certainly we see many examples of advertising at work today. It’s a time honored tradition to advertise listings in the newspaper or in the homes magazines. So much so that we continue to do this even though the returns have been diminishing over the past years.
Then there is the sign. With a brochure box. And a rider with our names or the URL of our blog, web site or single property web site. In years past the sign was the number one method of attracting buyers to a listing (behind the MLS). Survey after survey tells us that this just isn’t so any more.
But what if you don’t have listings to advertise? What if you do have listings but your cash flow won’t support advertising? What if you are a buyers agent?
You do what most of today’s successful did when they were starting out. The compiled a list of everyone that they knew and they contacted them to let them know that they now knew a real estate agent! That contact was done by mail, by phone and in person. Then a referral was solicited. Since this required a lot of care and finesse so as to not drive people away, many agents tended to not want to utilize this method. Consider that by staying away from this method many agents doomed themselves to losing out on business that could have been their’s if only it was known that were an agent! I call this being a secret agent. Being a secret agent is great if you are James Bond, Jason Bourne or Agent 99, but in real estate it’s slow death.
Because developing a list of people who will refer business to you is so crucial to a successful agent’s business, several entrepreneurs built very successful businesses out of teaching agents how get business by referral. Joe Stumpf and Brian Buffini come to mind (Disclaimer: I am a Brian Buffini Certified Mentor).
Although we could go on and talk about other methods of prospecting I won’t do that since I want to stay on the idea of agents connecting with people as a means of growing and sustaining a business.
All of this is wonderful and has certainly worked well in the past for many people and will no doubt continue to work well in the future, but I believe that the reason it has worked so well is because the successful users of these systems have learned how to listen as well as to “talk”. Most advertising is interruptive in nature and because we know that we only have a few scant seconds to deliver a message, we tend to just deliver it and not attempt to set up a dialog.
Take a few minutes and watch this video from Microsoft:
This is the Achilles heel that stops many folks from achieving success using “referral” systems. We tend to employ many of the methods used by the “Advertiser” in the video, when what the “Consumer” wants is a relationship or perhaps more accurately, a dialog.
This an area that the top performers have mastered. They engage their family, friends and acquaintances to the point where the conversion to client is almost seamless and effortless.
In short, they have become expert social networkers. In fact, I’ll go on record as saying that successful real estate agents were the original social networkers! As it turns out, many of the skills used by top performers to connect with people are totally transferable in the Web 2.0 world. After all, no matter how you get an introduction to someone, you will still have to meet with them face to face at some point, and it is at that point that the sale can be won or lost.
Next time we’ll talk about what needs to happen so as to not drive someone away and some of the ways you can engage the consumer so that you both get what you need. In the meantime, watch that video a few more times. It’s extremely well done and delivers a powerful message in a humorous fashion.
And then think about the message that you deliver…is it interruptive or is it consultative? How do you know?