Cultivating Relationships – What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Cultivating Relationships

Successful client relationships don’t happen by accident. They happen by design. There are four specific steps you can take to nurture those all-important relationships after the sale is completed.

  • Have a plan
  • Do the unexpected
  • Maintain a schedule
  • Walk a mile in their shoes

Have a plan
Of course your clients can keep up with you by checking out your Facebook page or following you on Twitter. If they want to. If they have the time. But the more time that elapses after the sale, the less likely they are to be checking you out. So you will need to take the initiative. This starts with a complete information sheet on each client and family, which you should get in your first or second meeting. Include as much biographical data as they are willing to share, but be alert for interesting information in casual conversation, such as kids’ hobbies and sports interests, places they’ve traveled, names of pets. Make a note of special dates, including birthdays, anniversaries, move-in dates, and graduations.

Do the unexpected
Nearly everyone can be counted on to send out Christmas cards. Thanksgiving has become almost as popular, so that the “We Give Thanks for Our Clients” cards are practically a cliché. Break the traditional mold and do something different. If the person’s Irish, (or you are) send a St. Patrick’s greeting. Memorial Day or July 4th is a great time to salute veterans. Send a card or note if you hear they’ve achieved something special, like a promotion, or a child who’s become a sports standout. Put your creative thinking to work and come up with at least one or two points of contact for every client every year. And guess what? This can all be done electronically. You should have a tickler file in your data base to remind you of special occasions, and there are even services out there that will send cards (hard copy or electronic) that you can schedule a year in advance.

Maintain a schedule
And speaking of that, how often should you keep in touch after the sale? That depends on the client. There are some clients who will be your friends for life and you’re probably still meeting them for coffee five years later. You have no trouble cultivating those relationships. For those who’ve dropped off the radar screen, you need a different strategy. You ought to clean up your database once a year anyway and that’s a great reason to call people you haven’t heard from in ages. Make it low key, not fishing for leads. “Hi Margie. I’m just cleaning up my database and I wanted to be sure I had all your current information on file. How are things going?” This kind of conversation may provide you with some news that merits a follow-up note or card. Again, no pressure, just a friendly “keeping in touch.”

Walk a mile in their shoes
A lot of sales trainers will tell you that real estate is a numbers game. Maybe it used to be, but not anymore. More than ever we see that it needs to be a people game. In other words if you take care of the people, the numbers will follow. Instead of being known as the hard-charging sales person, why not become well known for your generosity and understanding? Now because of social media, word-of-mouth spreads incredibly fast and that can work in your favor. So stop worrying about doing 10 calls a day or 30 transactions year. Instead, worry about creating the ultimate buying or selling experience for every client you work with.

Think about it this way: what is the core message you want to send out to the world? For instance, “I am here to help people find and live in homes they love.”

Get to really know your clients, past and present. Find out what their biggest challenges are, and ask what you can do to help. There’s a lot of wisdom in the old adage (attributed to Theodore Roosevelt): “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

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