This article was originally published in RE Magazine:
Listings are gold in this inventory-starved market. While the majority of vendor pitches that REALTORS® receive involve marketing to unknown buyers in broad locations, they’re far less effective in garnering listings.
Let’s be blunt. Many buyers are just looking for a home and they find a REALTOR® later. Sellers, though, are looking for professional guidance from the start. They want a neighborhood expert, an experienced personal referral, or someone they already know and trust.
Don’t think that today’s cutting edge digital tools can’t help you create or strengthen those relationships. While tried-and-true personal networking systems still work, big data and digital tools are amplifying their benefits, and giving the REALTORS® who use them a competitive advantage in the listing relationship game.
Global digital reach
Do you know a lot of REALTORS®? So do your clients. When someone’s thinking of selling, they probably get multiple referrals from friends. They’re Googling the names of those referrals. Your past clients may have vouched for you, but this potential new client wants to see who you are before deciding who to call.
Do you have your profiles updates on major search and brand portals? Have you gotten reviews to show that other clients will vouch for your experience publicly? Your latest referral wants to feel comfortable making that call. An updated photo, bio, and a handful of positive reviews go a long way toward helping them pick up the phone.
Don’t let fear of bad reviews stop you from getting started. The longer you wait, the more likely your first review will be one you don’t like. Ask your current clients for reviews. Don’t be afraid of an imperfect score. Consumers trust a 4.7/5.0 more than they do a 5.0/5.0. They know the 4.7 is based on real consumers, and not someone gaming the system.
Digitize your connection to your sphere
You know Jane. You know she loves basketball and Italian food. But did you know her daughter just left for college? Do you know when her husband will get relocated for work?
There are digital tools to keep track of what’s happening in your sphere’s lives. Databases of information from consumer to financial, educational, even criminal are tied together in new products that can track your sphere of influence and alert you when a life change makes them most likely to be a candidate to sell their home.
Sure, it feels like digital stalking, but that’s par for the course online these days. You can use tools like first.io and Revaluate to be immediately aware of events in your clients’ lives. Make sure they are promptly contacted when they need a real estate professional the most. Being the first one in the know can make you the first of their many REALTOR® friends to get in touch at just the right time. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to secure the listing.
Your clients are on social media. Following all of them can be difficult, but new Customer Relationship Management platforms can help. Contactually is one CRM that ties your sphere’s social activity to your follow-up plans. More than just scheduling emails, letters, and calls, systems like this can tell you each morning who to contact first, and what’s happening in your clients’ lives.
Digital tools are focused on efficiency. Connecting with the most likely sellers in your sphere on the most valuable day, is key to converting more of your sphere on a regular basis.
Making the digital contact professional
Based on my experience of speaking to REALTORS® across the country, at least half of you are using Gmail, Hotmail, Comcast, AOL, etc. for your business communications. It’s time to upgrade. It’s inexpensive, and easy, thanks to the REALTOR® association.
To be clear, using personal email services for your business is dangerous. Your liability in any sort of fraud case will be higher if you haven’t used business class email for your correspondence.
More than that, this is a core component of prospecting. Every email you send can be a prospecting touch, or it can be a missed opportunity. If your email is generic, it’s a miss. If your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, every message you send is prospecting.
Through Google’s business email platform (G-Suite) and dotRealtor, or with any other domain name you choose, you can have business email for $70/yr. It’s $10/yr for your domain name and $5/mo for the email platform. Call the Washington REALTORS® Tech Helpline at 1-866-610-8939 and have them help you set it up. The call is free to you as a member.
Whether it’s sending a note about a play date for one of your children, setting an appointment with your doctor, or scheduling a group happy hour, everyone is reminded of who you are and what you do. Just communicate and prospect via your professional email account.
The simplest digital drip
Want to easily connect with your sphere digitally and provide them long-term value? Call everyone in your database. Say “hello” and ask how they’re doing. Then, ask:
“Can I keep you updated on what’s selling in your neighborhood?”
The answer will be almost 100% yes. They’ll give you an opportunity to set them up on a customized listing drip. It doesn’t matter that they’re not buying/selling right now. People want to know what’s happening with their neighbors.
Whether you use a tool from your MLS, brokerage, or an outside vendor, put a very specific geographic area on a drip for them, let them know that they’ll be receiving updates on their neighborhood from you weekly, and pay close attention to their feedback. Forget the recipes and personal accolade drip campaigns. Give your clients valuable, dynamic, personalized information.
At the listing presentation
Are you delivering the same listing presentation as you did 10 years ago? Why not use big data to wow your clients and get them to tell their friends how amazing your knowledge of the community is?
Research local data online so you can tell a seller where their buyer is most likely coming from. The zip code, demographic, and employment information about the most likely buyers coming to your community are all online for the taking. Explain how you’ll use specifically targeted marketing based on this data. You’ll expose the listing to the most likely consumers to actually buy it, making your marketing spend far more effective than others.
Don’t mail in the listing presentation just because you know your friend will list with you. Blow her away with big data, and have her become your evangelist for future listings.
Smart home technology
Are you talking to your potential listing clients about smart homes? Consumers see your value when you can present them with information they otherwise haven’t been exposed to.
Smart locks, thermostats, lights, windows—talk to them about what’s available today, what buyers are looking for, and how some of this technology can set their listing apart. They may or may not heed the advice, but they’ll know you’re informed and savvy, and that you’re leveraging today’s technology to represent them at the highest level of the industry.
Sam DeBord is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth and was the 2017 President of Seattle King County REALTORS®. You can find his team at SeattleHome.com and BellevueHomes.com.