Marketing

Your Contacts - Your Clients

15 years ago there were a lot of Realtors competing for business, but there wasn’t that much competition for each transaction. When someone wanted to buy or sell a house, they called one of these people:

  1. The neighborhood specialist - the Realtor who farmed the neighborhood by sending out fliers, postcards, and newsletters to every house, every month.

  2. Their current agent - the Realtor who helped them buy their current house. (If that person did a good job, and if that person kept in contact over the years.) Or, the Realtor who is listing the house they’re standing in front of.

  3. Their neighbor’s agent - the Realtor who sold the neighbor’s house last year. (If that neighbor spoke highly of their agent, and if that agent met the neighbors and passed out business cards.)

  4. You - their good friend who’s a Realtor.

Maybe they even called all 4 of these people and held interviews for the job.

The point is, if you were good at your job AND stayed in touch with your sphere of influence, you had a very good chance of getting their business - almost every time.

Today is Different

Fast forward to today and our inter-connected, social-media, online, cloud-based world, and things are different.

Online onslaught

Your friends and contacts are being tempted to call the Realtor on their screen, hundreds of times during their search. And it gets worse, not better. Once Google and Facebook know they’re thinking about moving, they’ll start seeing even more ads and opportunities to click on a different Realtor every time they open their phone.

Keep your Contacts

You’ve networked well enough to have a decent number of contacts in your list, along with all the former clients you’ve helped buy and sell their homes. Now you get the advantage of “selling” to these people long before they even know they need your service.

  • Consistent Contact - a monthly e-newsletter is a great way to remind them about yourself, month after month. Just make sure it provides value, rather than being an advertisement.

  • Personalized Contact - posting to social media is fine, but how often are you reaching out to your contacts individually, sharing a story or information that pertains to them personally?

  • Face Time - when was the last time you arranged to stop by and see that beautiful home you helped them buy? Or sat down for coffee with an old friend? It’s a digital world, but people are still people, and face to face goes a long way towards building and maintaining relationships.

You might not be able to sustain your entire business from your sphere of influence, but these should be the transactions that come your way without having to chase down flaky leads. These people already know you and trust you - it would be a shame to not help them buy or sell their next home…

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- Chris Butterworth

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If you need help with your monthly e-Newsletters, please consider 8DollarFarming. Feel free to give me a call if you want to talk in more detail; I’d love to help. And if you need an idea of something personalized to send, consider sharing a Simple MLS Chart as an icebreaker.

 

Focus on the Process Like Coach K

March Madness is kicking off today, so let’s bring some college basketball into today’s discussion.

Coach K and Duke Basketball

Everyone has heard of Duke Basketball, Coach K, and/or Mike Krzyzewski (pronounced Shih-chef-skee.) Coach K is arguably the best basketball coach in history, building Duke into the most consistently successful program over the last 35 years. But that almost was not the case…

Awards and Honors

  • 5 Olympic Gold Medals (3 as head coach, 2 as asst coach)

  • 5-time NCAA National Champions

  • 12 NCAA Final Fours

  • 15 ACC Conference Tournament Championships

  • Most NCAA Tournament wins (94)

  • First male head coach to win 1,000 NCAA Division 1 games.

  • First head coach to win 1,000 NCAA Division 1 games with the same team.

  • All-time winningest coach in college basketball history at any level, men’s or women’s, with 1,123 career wins (and counting.)

In the beginning - Slow Results

No one expected greatness when Duke hired a 33-year old kid to be their head coach in 1980, considering he had won less than half his games over the prior two seasons as the head coach for Army.

Duke went 6-8 (in conference play) in his first year as head coach, and was invited to play in the 2nd-tier NIT tournament at the end of the year.

In his 2nd season (1982), Duke went 4-10 in conference, and some of the alumni didn’t think he was the right man for the job.

Season 3 was even worse, with a 3-11 conference record, and the calls for Coach K’s firing were getting louder and more frequent.

The Process Is What Matters

Those inside the program and the university, however, saw the whole story.

Coach K had an unwavering belief that doing things right, consistently over time, would lead to positive results. He was committed to details, and to teamwork, and to individual growth. He preached, and practiced, 5 simple principles:

  • Be passionate.

  • Be prepared.

  • Be organized.

  • Be unselfish.

  • Be yourself.

Those around the program could see changes coming. The kids were playing hard and enjoying the game and each other. There had been several “almost wins”, where the ball just didn’t quite bounce the right way.

The process was moving the program in the right direction, but the results had yet to follow suit.

Results Will Follow

The results finally caught up in year 4, with a 7-7 record in conference play, 24-10 overall, and their first bid into the NCAA March Madness Tournament. And they haven’t stopped since…

1984 Tournament Bid
1985 Tournament Bid
1986 NCAA Finals - runner up
1987 Sweet 16
1988 Final Four
1989 Final Four
1990 NCAA Finals - runner up
1991 NCAA Champion

Most schools’ fanbases would give anything for an 8-year run of results like Duke had in the late 80’s - forget about the fact that this was just the beginning and the next 25 years have been more of the same!

You Control the Process (not the results)

Build the processes that are going to make you successful, and then follow them!

Whether that means joining new groups to meet new people, making cold calls to FSBOs, going over-the-top with customer service, writing each day, or staying in touch with all your contacts with a monthly e-newsletter. Find the right process for YOU, and then follow it religiously.

Don’t worry about the short-term results, or about any individual deal/prospect. Some people are going to list with another agent. Others are going to decide not to sell at all. That’s ok - you can’t control their actions any more than Coach K can control whether or not an opposing player makes a free throw.

Set up good processes, then give your best effort. Every day.

The results will follow.

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- Chris Butterworth

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Ps: Honestly, if you’ve been thinking about writing a monthly e-Newsletter as way to stay in touch with your contacts, please give 8DollarFarming a look. I have the processes in place to deliver a high-quality, full-featured, turn-key newsletter for you, at a very affordable price.

Pps: Before you start calling me a shill for Duke, I am NOT a Duke fan. (My allegiance runs Arizona Wildcat red & blue.) But I admire and respect Coach K as a coach, and a person, and wish there were more people like him in big-time sports.

 

How Diverse is your Contact List?

Diversity makes for a good contact list.

Think about the real estate needs of an average up-and-coming young person today (if there is such a thing..)

  • Young person buys a first house - a small starter home, or condo, probably on the outskirts of the neighborhood they really want to live in.

  • Young person gets married - the couple decides to sell one of their homes and live in the other one.

  • Family grows - a couple of kids later and the house is too small; the family needs to sell the starter home and buy a larger, more family-friendly house.

  • Pause - for many people, this will be the last house they need for a long time, as their focus turns towards raising their family.

  • Career grows - those fortunate enough to be climbing the career ladder (or whose businesses are thriving) may have one more purchase - the big house in the good neighborhood, before they pause to focus on family (and saving for college, and retirement, and vacations, and...)

So, from early 20s to mid 30s it's not uncommon for a person/couple to buy 2, 3, or even 4 houses. But then they might have a period of 15-20 years without needing any real estate help.

Sure, there are other reasons people need to buy and sell homes:

  • Job transfer / Relocating

  • Marriage / Divorce

  • Lifestyle Change (wants a condo, or doesn’t want a pool, etc.)

  • Empty Nest / Retirement

There becomes a trade-off, where younger people may buy and sell homes more frequently, but older people (let’s call them more mature, or more established people) may buy and sell more expensive homes.

If you’re going to be in this business for the long term, it’s a good idea to have a diverse mix of people in your contact list. Keep adding younger people to your list, as they will grow into mature people eventually. (Most of the time. Hopefully.)

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-Chris Butterworth

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And if you need help staying in touch with the large, diverse group of people you know, please consider my e-Newsletter service - I would be happy to help!

Service, not Systems

My wife and I bought a new car last month. (Yay - new car! Boo - spending lots of money!)

The car is awesome. The experience was… meh.

Here’s the short version: We spent 6-8 weeks deciding whether we wanted a big or mid-sized SUV, and we looked at several different brands. We stayed in touch with the sales guy for each dealership throughout the process, either by answering their follow-up calls, or calling them with questions, or stopping by to see the car in person (again.) Eventually we narrowed our list down to a couple of options, and bought the one where we were able to negotiate the best deal.

That’s it. The process was over. We have a new car, and each dealership’s sales guy knew if/when they were out of the running. End of story - or at least it should have been the end of the story. But it wasn’t.

We then received multiple sales emails over the next 2-3 weeks, from the dealership where we had just bought our car:

  • Hi Chris, it looks like you missed an appointment you had scheduled with (sales guy’s name). Did you want to reschedule your appointment to a more convenient time?

  • Hi Chris, we are having a big sale this weekend on (model name). Please give (sales guy) a call to schedule an appointment to come test drive a new (model name) and get a great deal on a great car.

  • Hi Chris, it looks like you haven’t been by our store to see (sales guy) in a little while. Please give us a call or stop by anytime if there’s anything we can do. We would love to help get you a great deal on a great car.

Finally we called the sales manager and asked to stop sending us emails.

This was worse than bad customer service - it was insulting.

We spent two months in constant communication with your sales guy, then spent a lot of money at your dealership, and you can’t even move our contact information from your “prospect” list to your “customer” list?

It’s a good idea to use systems to help increase your efficiency and stay in touch with as many people as possible.

It’s a bad idea to take the customer, and the service, out of a customer service business.

Systems are great; personal is better.

- Chris Butterworth

 

Every Phone Call Counts

To build a tribe, and have a raving group of fans (contacts) out there who wouldn't even consider working with somebody else, you have to do something to create that raving fanaticism... Make every phone call count!

image credit -  flickr eric kilby

image credit - flickr eric kilby

 

Today I spend far more time typing than talking - text messages, messenger, email... I make fewer phone calls than I used to.

Which makes every phone call that much more important!

Each phone call is a personal interaction, where the person you're talking with can hear and feel everything you're giving to the conversation - both verbal and nonverbal cues, regardless of the message.

  • Energy Level - are you the Energizer Bunny, or are you yawning while last night's lack of sleep catches up with you?
  • Mood - are you upbeat, uplifting, positive, and friendly, or a Debbie Downer?
  • Outlook - a cool head and a calming presence, or frantic-frustrated-discouraged?
  • Focused - is this phone call the most important thing in your life right now, or are you talking to other people at the same time while clicking on a keyboard and/or shuffling papers around?
  • Prepared - do you know the history, the details, the options, and the potential outcomes and alternatives, or are you just winging it?

It's easy to come across as the hero when the news is exciting:

Great news - the Buyers want to give you more than your asking price! ... Yep - they’re going to pay cash, which they’ve already deposited into escrow. Oh, and they can close by the end of the week but are willing to let you stay in the house as long as you need to until you’re ready to move! :)

Tribes are built, however, on the other kinds of news:

  • "They didn't accept your offer, but I'm confident we'll find a similar house in your price range soon."
  • "The buyers' loan has been delayed, so they can't close on time. Here are some options to consider as this will relate to your moving date..."
  • "The offer is lower than we had hoped for. Let's look at the comps again and discuss the benefits & drawbacks of accepting this offer compared with waiting for another, potentially better one."

Every time you pick up the phone, whether you're sharing good news, bad news, or no news at all, the goal should be the same: At the end of the call, when the other person hangs up, they should be happy they talked with you.

So pause. Take a deep breath. Smile. And say hello.

- Chris Butterworth

Ps - One way to pre-sell your contacts on your knowledge, ability, and helpfulness, is to send them a monthly or twice-monthly eNewsletter - every month, like clockwork. I can help you do this, if you want - it's what I do best..

 

The Customer Service Moat

image credit - flickr oatsy40

What moat protects YOUR business?

Does your business have a moat?

Awesome customer service and long-term consistent communication act as a moat to protect your contacts' business from your competitors; why would your contacts ever call another Realtor after all you've done for them over the years?

- Chris Butterworth

 

MORE READING / PREVIOUS POSTS

No One Ever Regrets
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1 year ago: What your email address says about you - part 3
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100 posts ago: Make it Easy