Whether it’s an up market or a down market, the basics are still the same. To be a successful Realtor, you need a few simple tools. While these are all pieces of the overall theme known as good old-fashioned customer service, here are six specific sales tools that belong in your top drawer.
I used them during my sales career. It enabled me to be the top sales person in my office. It also made earning a healthy living possible.
- It’s all about You, Inc.
- Be S.M.A.R.T
- The phone is your friend
- Pricing, pricing, pricing
- Follow up, follow through
- Keep up with technology
It’s all about “You, Inc.”
Yes, that is the title of a book (written by marketing guru Harry Beckwith and wife Christine Beckwith) and it’s well worth reading. But we’re not here to sell books. The point is this: to be successful, you need to think of yourself as a small business owner. Yes, you probably work for a broker. But within that framework, YOU are a business and you need to manage yourself accordingly.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling peanuts or property, the most important component of the product is you. This means good time and life management skills are a must. Real estate can be a 24/7 business much like any small business. However, you need to create balance by also managing your personal life including family, friends, physical health, and stress-relieving activities.
The first step in managing any small business is goal setting. You’ve probably come across this acronym before, but if you’re not using this system regularly, now is a good time to start. The S.M.A.R.T. method says your goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. And we’ll add one more: Written. (Kind of screws up the acronym, but you get the idea).
- Specific means – “Obtain three new listings in the next thirty days,” not “Work on getting more clients.”
- Measurable answers the question – “How will I know when I’ve done this?”
- Attainable means – You can see yourself doing this. It’s not so far out of reach that it’s discouraging.
- Realistic means – It is within your skill set and abilities to achieve. You probably can’t dance Swan Lake at Lincoln Center, but you could become the top producer in your firm.
- Timely simply answers the question – “By when?” If you don’t set a timeline, the goal lacks urgency. It’s about showing progress toward the goal, not beating yourself up if you don’t make the deadline.
- Writing – And putting it all in writing lets you keep a visual reminder that you can review and revise on a regular basis. Written goals have power.
The phone is your friend
Make it a practice to either return every call within five minutes during normal business hours or to leave a “by when” message. Today’s smart phones give you the ability to be in touch and be available. Text an immediate response if clients are receptive to that. Have a voice mail that’s dated and specific. “Hi, you’ve reached Marcia. It’s Tuesday, July 1st. I’m out showing property until noon, but I’ll return your call this afternoon.”
If you have front office staff people who take messages, be sure they know where you are and when you’ll be available, and that they communicate this information when clients call.
And by the way, smart phones are not just for talking any more. You can take photos or videos of properties while you’re viewing them and send emails directly to interested clients. You can send out relevant Tweets or post to your Facebook page too.
Pricing, pricing, pricing
Yes, it used to be “location, location, location,” but in today’s market pricing takes first place as a key element in effectively selling property. Or as one savvy broker told a prospective seller, “Do you want to list your property, or do you want to sell it?”
When a new listing comes on the market it will get plenty of attention in the first few weeks. If it’s overpriced from the start, you’ll miss out on the new listing advantage. Then, like a falling stack of dominoes, the listing ages, buyers think the seller is getting desperate, and the offers get lower and lower.
Compare a potential new listing with nearby, similar houses that have sold within the last six months. Then advise your client to price the home on the low side of the average for comparable sales. Yes, it may be damaging to the client’s ego, and you may even lose a few listings. But that’s not as bad as building a portfolio of properties that have been on the market for months (or years).
Follow up, follow through
Unfortunately, it’s just about Complaint #1 that consumers have about Realtors. “Once we gave the agent the listing, they put the sign in our front yard and we never heard back from them again.”
Just about the single most important trait of any good salesperson is the ability to follow up with an interested buyer or seller. It is very frustrating to try to work with a sales professional only to be ignored once the process begins. Have a tickler file on your computer or smart phone. If nothing else drop an email or text message, even if it’s just to say, “Nothing’s happening right now.” It lets the customer know he’s not hanging out there all alone. If an offer is pending or counters are being exchanged, there’s no such thing as too much communication.
Keep up with technology
The possibilities are virtually endless here (pun intended). For example, you can get great internet exposure with property videos on Youtube. Or you can create a virtual tour to post on one of the real estate virtual tour websites (or on your own).
You can post your listings for free on sites such as Craigslist or Zillow. You can create your own blog about your properties and post frequent, regular entries. Then of course there are sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and dozens more. We’ve posted other blogs with details on these social media, so please refer to those for specific tips and techniques. Whatever medium you choose, learn basic techniques for using it and keep it current.
— Richard Hartian (@moneypress) April 17, 2012
This is not an easy time to be a Realtor. But this cycle will end eventually and if you use these simple tools now, you will be well positioned to take advantage of the next up-trend.