This article was originally published in Real Estate Agent Magazine Twin Cities, written by Charity Malmberg, Founder and President of Trademark Title
Cruise control is a wonderful invention. It allows us to simply press a button and maintain the speed of our desire, take our foot off the pedal and relax into a nice rhythm as we drive. However, it can be just as easily dangerous. It can cause us to disengage from surrounding traffic, perhaps getting too close to the car in front of us or missing our exit altogether!
Often sales professionals set their sales process on cruise, enjoying the pace and settling into a comfortable process that may work ‘well-enough.’ In Erik Therwanger’s book Dynamic Sales Combustion, he warns against this, instead challenging us to “focus on the deliberate acceleration needed for success.”
“Every buyer is different. Not every style will work with everyone.” (Therwanger, 2018)
Do you treat each perspective buyer/seller the same as the last? Is the ‘presentation’ of your process and services almost identical each time you make it? Each buyer and seller have different goals, concerns, fears, motivations. It’s your job as real estate professionals to truly get to know your clients, so you can be sure to meet those needs and desires.
“Your presentation is an opportunity to communicate your belief level in what you offer and demonstrate your personal commitment to your client.” (Therwanger, 2018)
Nothing could ring truer for real estate agents. Without a physical ‘product’ to offer, you are presenting yourself as the product—so how much do you believe in yourself and to what ends will you go to in order to serve your clients? These are the questions your presentation needs to answer.
When a homeowner or buyer decides to go with you as their agent, what comes next? Do you have a process in place to meet their needs, to keep their trust and establish rapport? Or is this the step when you set the cruise, certain you have a sale already? According to Therwanger, three steps are essential in setting up your client: guidance, processing their order, and gathering referrals.
In real estate, the first few days, and sometimes weeks, of a new client relationship is a tender time of building trust and ‘guiding’ your clients. You’re still learning about their wants and needs, and they are observing your process. Therwanger compares this time it to the first year of a child’s life—fragile—as they watch to see how you’re going to take care of them, building trust as you meet their needs.
The next piece is delivering. Whether it’s their dream house or their ideal buyer, you made a commitment to your client and it’s time to follow-through. For agents, this can be a grueling, maddening time: lots of showings, lots of emotions, little progress. But eventually—with persistence—you can be the person who coaches them across the finish line, and if you do it well, they won’t forget.
“I do not consider a sale completed until I have received at least one referral from my new client and that referral has become a new client.” (Therwanger, 2018)
Is this your mentality? Maybe it will help you to know that the buying rate from referrals is 300 percent higher! Or that referrals are 2 ½ times more likely to refer you in the future! Asking for referrals may seem awkward at first, but if you’ve truly met the needs of your clients, they’ll be happy to help you.
For those of us in the real estate business, once the sale is complete, it’s easy to lose touch. The relationship between buyer/seller and agent may feel like a one-time transaction. But what if it wasn’t? Does it surprise you to learn the average homeowner lives in a home for only ten years, with the average millennial living in a home for just six years? (White, 2017) This means you may help a buyer purchase their first, second, even third home—if you keep the relationship strong.
Following up with your buyers/sellers shows them not only that you care, but that you’re the person to call when a friend or relative needs an agent. Perhaps to do this well, you’ll need to use a client database, or schedule reminders to call previous clients and check in. Perhaps it’s sending a bottle of champagne on move-in-day or writing a hand-written note of congratulations as their family grows.
Follow-up can be creative or basic but shouldn’t be non-existent. It may just be the one thing distinguishing you from the other agents on cruise control, who have forgotten all about their past client and are moving on to the next.