I entered real estate with a very bad stigma in my head about real estate agents. They were all obnoxious overbearing cheesy salesmen that belonged on a used car lot. In response to that stigma (which of course was an overblown stereotype… sort of) I conducted my practice on the far other end of the spectrum. I gave respectful distance to a fault. And it bit me in the butt; in a couple million ways. My sheepish business practices lost me upwards of $3,000,000 of sales -- multiple buyers and sellers that went in the direction of whichever real estate agent was around them when they decided to make their move. However, after some frustrating trial and error, I found a comfortable medium where my business practices were strong but not obnoxious.
The "I'm not ready right now" Myth
We hear that a lot from clients, right? "We don't plan to sell our home until next year." "We are still saving for a down payment so we probably won't buy for a while." And then, low and behold, the house is listed with another agent the next month and your buyers bought a condo with the money their parents lent them. Apparently while we were taking clients at their word that they "didn't want to buy/sell right away" other agents were cleaning up!
People aren't liars; they just don't know what they don't know
My first thought when these issues started happening was to assume my clients were bad people, lying to my face with an evil agenda. But of course that wasn’t the case; most people aren't malicious or even smart enough to pull that off. What I found is that 1) people don't know what they want until they see it and 2) no one ever does anything… until they do. Scenario #1: A buyer has no intention of seriously looking but stumbles into an open house on a Sunday afternoon. They fall in love with the place and the parents who said they'd never help with the down payment come in clutch. Scenario #2: Sellers don't want to sell immediately but have an unexpected death or divorce that changes their options. One quick incident or decision quickly changes their plans and they have to move.
Neither of these scenarios paint pictures of bad people. People are simply living their lives and suddenly circumstances change -- and that is ok! As real estate professionals we simply need to understand this and find a way to be our clients’ helpful hands at every stage of their lives.
"I'd rather have a conversation about how weird I am than not talk at all."
A very practical example of this dilemma came up just last week. A newer member of my team asked me if it was ok to call an Internet lead about a property she was looking at online. You see, our CRM platform allows us to see exactly which homes our leads are looking at. The agent on my team was nervous that the lead would see it as a weird Big Brother invasion of privacy. I responded with, "I'd rather have a conversation about how weird I am than not talk at all. The lead will likely understand how our portal works and if you two chat you at least stand the chance of gaining their business; if you don't call I assure you the business is gone." He laughed, nodded and then called the lead.
The Answer: Pleasant Persistence
I still ere on the conservative side of business practices -- I don't door knock, cold call, or wear a name tag (we're not at summer camp people, lose the name tags!) to show respect to the general population that doesn’t care about my real estate career. However, I drastically increased my sales aggression with a method I call "pleasant persistence" because I refuse to lose any more valued clients. Here are 3 practical applications of pleasant persistence:
1) CALL just to say hello... And truly mean it. Ask about their kids, travel plans, life in general. Remember, our clients are real people and their lives matter way more than any commission so it should be easy to chat with them as friends.
2) EMAIL new listings they may like or are in their neighborhood. People love this. If it is a listing in their neighborhood it helps them know the value of their home. Or if you know they love a certain style of architecture, send them the new mid-century modern listing across town (for example).
3) CONNECT with them on social media to stay top of mind. This is money. The easiest and best way to maintain the top of mind awareness you want with clients is through social media. You can see each others' families, interests, and lives while connecting on a more frequent basis.