Maybe “location, location, location” is the Realtor’s tried and true slogan. But from a client’s point of view, it should probably be “communication, communication, communication.”
The #1 complaint clients make about their Realtors is, “He/she got my listing and I never heard from him/her again.” Don’t let it happen to you! Here are four important ways you can be a competent communicator, from your client’s point of view.
- Be timely
- Listen actively
- Be a partner, not an opponent
- Market yourself
Of course you are tech savvy, with a smart phone and other electronic communications devices that allow you to check, receive, and respond to communications instantly. Your potential clients will pay careful attention to how quickly you reply to either their initial phone call or email. If you do not get back to them for hours, it’s a definite red flag.
If you are unable return a call immediately, change your voice mail and let clients and potential clients know when you will be available. “Hi, this is Richard Hartian, I will be in a meeting today until 2:00 PM and unable to return phone calls. Your call is important to me. Please leave your name and phone number, with area code, and I will call you back right after two o’clock.” If your client or potential client hears this and you follow through, your on your way to earning their trust.
Above all else, your client wants to be heard. Buying or selling a home is stressful. You can go a long way toward relieving that stress if you listen actively. First, ask your client open ended questions, questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Then listen (which means internalize and digest) the information you receive.
When you’re meeting with clients in person, look them in the eye. Take notes and ask questions—not just about their needs but about their concerns as well. If you’re on the phone, be an active listener by replaying what the client says. “So if I’m understanding you correctly, three full baths is an absolute must-have?”
Be a partner, not an opponent
The sailing will not always be smooth when it comes to client relationships. Part of being a good communicator is keeping your cool when faced with a difficult client or situation. There are several client types that demand infinite patience in the communication process, including:
- The expert
- The diva
- The looker
The expert has already researched the market and knows exactly what his selling (or buying) price should be. Congratulate your client on doing his homework! Make him feel like he’s making a valuable contribution to the process. You’ll probably find that he’s suddenly more open to your suggestions. Be prepared with current market information to share so that he can see for himself what’s going on with home prices in the area. This strategy will put you in more of a partnership with the client than coming across as a challenger or an adversary.
The diva expects you to jump through hoops for her and still is never satisfied. She feels that it’s her right to call you any time day or night, wants endless impromptu home tours, and constant hand-holding. You need boundaries with this client. It’s important to set them early in the relationship and it’s equally important to frame them in the positive. “The best time to reach me is between noon and 5 p.m. on my cell phone.” Not “Don’t call me after 8 in the evening.”
The looker often sees the Realtor as a source of free information but feels no obligation or loyalty to the relationship. A favor or two is not out of order and can build a foundation for future business. But like the diva, the looker needs boundaries. Tell him that you are happy to keep him updated on a regular basis with a subscription to your email list and references to your blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed.
What will happen if a client Googles your name? You should have several pages that come up on the top ten listings of any Internet search. Why? Because if you’re not doing a good job of marketing yourself, how are you going to market your client’s property effectively?
Be sure your social media house is in order. Keep your Facebook page up to date. Tweet regularly. Blog about current market conditions and interest rates. Post virtual tours on YouTube. The way you use all these tools will let prospective clients visualize what it will be like to work with you.
All clients—difficult or not—want and deserve to be treated with respect. Always make sure that they feel like they’ve been heard. Active listening and consistent communication can turn almost any client into a lifelong customer and a solid source for future referrals.