By Lee Davenport
As a young real estate pro, you may be stumped on how you can standout in a sea of agents, particularly when some of those agents have more than 30 years of sales experience. Unfortunately, as a broker and trainer, I have witnessed younger agents, whether new to real estate or not, lambasted for their lack of experience in both life and sales. In those sad instances, lack of experience becomes “larger than life,” which myopically and erroneously become the only skill trait that matters. I marvel and cringe in those situations, but I am quick to interject with a vital characteristic that can trump experience any day of the week – a characteristic that can help a rookie agent land a listing and make a sale that the veteran missed out on.
Before I come right out and say what this imperative sales trait is, check out the following statistics and see if you can guess what it is:
- Real estate is the second most searched topic on social media but ranks lower than the government in response rates, according to Sprout Social’s Consumer Engagement Index. (As sluggish as the government can be, this is deplorable!)
- According to Real Trends 2013 Online Performance Study, 89 percent of consumers say response time was very important when choosing their agent.
- The Real Trends study also says 45 percent of consumers expect an initial response from an online inquiry within 15 minutes.
- And 56 percent of consumers expect a response from their agent within 30 minutes, according the the Real Trends study.
- Yet according to the 2014 National Association of REALTORS® report, The Intelligent Internet Lead, the average agent response time was about 15 hours. (Is anyone else gasping for air?)
I am sure you guessed it – the quintessential skill to possess that can actually make experience pale in comparison is responsiveness. When you are a well-trained agent (whether young, middle aged, or in your golden years) who exudes professionalism and makes responsive communication your point of differentiation, you win!
Here are four reasons why responsiveness should become your new normal, if it isn’t already:
1. You expect it.
The hallmarks of professionalism are doing what you say you will do and timely follow-up. You expect (and probably even demand) this when dealing both in and outside of the real estate arena, so let’s practice what we preach. Make the very crux of your professionalism be responsiveness. How many times have you chosen a product or service provider because he was “Johnny-on-the-Spot”? Perhaps your favorite lender does not have 30 years of experience but she follows up promptly. So for you, and probably many others, responsiveness trumps experience. Or, on the personal side, maybe your dog sitter never ignores your oddball requests, even if he cannot accommodate you each and every time. Responsiveness can go a long way in clinching new clients and making sure that past clients choose and refer you again and again.
2. It gives a boost to your reviews.
Time and time again, positive online reviews give an agent a powerful online footprint and virtual legacy that is hard to erase. Many of us buy products or choose services in our personal lives now because of the sentiments expressed in online reviews. The real estate industry is no different. But if you have ever had a hard time getting current and past clients to post a glowing review of you, maybe, just maybe, they were not impressed with your level of professionalism and they are taking the high road of not saying anything if they cannot say anything nice. This, of course, is not the only reason our clients elect to not be our online “raving fans” – sometimes they are too busy or maybe there were other glitches in their transaction that left them sour. But when all else goes well, check and see if your responsiveness was not up to par and work on it going forward.
3. Other agents are hungry.
It is no big deal if you connect with an inquiring real estate prospect in a few hours or the next business day, right? Well, if you are absolutely the only agent and online portal system servicing your entire area, then you may have that luxury. But more likely than not, you are not the only agent left on Earth or the only way for information about a real estate property to be obtained. Translation = you have competition.
Hopefully, you have been on the receiving end and not the losing side of being the first to connect with a prospective buyer or seller that delivered the critical three Cs (Client, Closing, and Commission). But whatever your historical stance has been, choose now to be on #TeamResponsive and respond to ALL inquiries within the desired 15-minute window to increase your chances of converting ominous leads to actual clients that close and generate commissions for you.
4. Automation is easier and less expensive than back in the day.
It is 2015, so there are no excuses to not respond to EVERY inquiry within minutes. Why? Because of automation! Automation is painless, fairly inexpensive, and, frankly, half the battle. You still have to build rapport but this makes it easier. IT not only puts you in the running to capture a new client, but may very well push you to the front of the pack.
And let’s address the elephant in the room: As much as agents do not want certain web portals taking their leads, those portals have automated their responses. We are in a responsive, drive-thru age so many folks want what they want, when they want it. Technology allows us to accommodate this without losing our sanity and neglecting our families so let’s use it.
Texting is no longer taboo in the home buying and selling process for many. If you have not taken the time to do it yet, I encourage you, as a bare minimum, to make sure you have canned text messages (for unknown numbers as well as those that may be current clients, vendors, friends, etc.) that can be sent to every caller.
Have you tried IFTTT yet? This handy app can help you automate responses from your phone.
With emails and your various online sites, go back to turning on your autoresponder or use services like ManyContacts or MailChimp to send fancier looking emails to specific contacts from specific places.
There really is no limit to the tools you can use for automation, so I encourage you to explore them online today and also share in the comment section below the ones that work miracles for you.
By the way, follow me on Google+ and Facebook for more tips and techniques. Also, if you are a real estate agent or manage agents, learn how to GROW or RE|VAMP your business with us today. Here’s to your success!
Lee Davenport is a real estate broker, coach, and trainer with Agents Around Atlanta Plus, which offers customized, relevant, and affordable one-on-one coaching, webinars, and in-office trainings for brokers and sales agents throughout the U.S. Connect with Lee at www.AgentsAroundAtlanta.com.
By Erika Villegas
I recently moved to a new neighborhood in Chicago where I had only sold a few homes. I didn’t know many people there, but more importantly, I didn’t know enough women.
From my experience in real estate, women are often the ones that make important decisions like when and where to purchase a home. I wanted to grow my business in my neighborhood, so I needed to meet more people; I needed to meet my neighbors.
After thinking about marketing options like the local newspapers, social media, online marketing, postcards, or good old door knocking, the light bulb lit while enjoying a glass of wine: I could combine two of my favorite things – real estate and wine.
A women’s wine social was the solution. A gathering of women who enjoy a glass wine and interesting conversation as much as I do. An event to “wine” down for a few hours with other women who juggle work, kids, and all the other responsibilities that come with being a parent.
As I started planning, I was mindful about two things: the location and a recurring date. I wanted a date that would work for as many people as possible. After considering my own schedule, I also looked at days off from school. I chose the third Friday of every month. The location was an easy – I decided to ask a different business in my neighborhood each month to allow me to host at their location. This allows me to meet new people and grow my brand within the community while also supporting other local businesses.
The kickoff wine social was January 16 at a local restaurant, and more than 30 women attended. I had cases of wine delivered, a lender donated goodie bags for my guests, another local restaurant prepared the appetizers, and I ordered the dessert from a local mom. As I stood back and watched all the women talking, laughing, and enjoying good conversation with their glass of wine, I knew I had made the right decision about how to market myself. At the end of the night, the restaurant had to kick us out because no one wanted to leave.
Real estate is about people; it’s about making connections and making sure everyone you come in contact with knows that you can help them achieve the dream of homeownership.
A few days after the first wine social, a woman who had attended decided that I was the right REALTOR® for her and we started looking at homes soon after. I am glad I decided to go with an unconventional way of marketing myself. I found a way to mix two things that I love: wine and real estate.
What would you mix with real estate? Perhaps a dog lovers’ gathering or maybe a book club? Go with what feels natural and easy to accomplish. As with any type of marketing, stay focused and consistent and the business will follow.
Erika Villegas is a broker associate with ERA Mi Casa Real Estate in Chicago. Connect with Villegas at www.erikavillegas.com.
By Brooke Wolford
I recently had a conversation with other real estate professionals about the industry’s lack of women in leadership roles. For an industry comprised of almost 60 percent women, this doesn’t make sense. I have been blind to this issue because I am fortunate to work for a broker who’s management team consists of mostly women. The culture within our office is also very diverse.
Out of curiosity, I did a little research. I pulled demographics and surveyed a small group of people within the industry, all of whom are from different areas of the country and work at different companies. The results were mixed.
This is not an issue that only affects the real estate industry, but rather a workplace issue in general. Just the other day there was an article in the New York Times about the Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins case and the small percentage of women who are venture capitalists. The story also highlighted the lack of female leaders in Silicon Valley. I found this report by Catalyst, which is further proof that we have a long way to go in terms of female corporate leadership:
Now, I believe there are solutions to this problem, not only at the company level, but also at the individual level. Let’s seize this as an opportunity. Here are some points based off of the research I did with my peer group, as well as some statistics I found:
- Many in my peer survey suggest that women are very motivated and have additional skills that can be great in leadership.
- Many real estate pros surveyed said there is a lack of female leaders at the brokerage level. When asked the average number of people in upper management at their brokerage, they said seven, and the average number of females in upper management: one.
- Some said that their companies have had the same people in leadership roles for many years (10 to 20 years or more).
- According to NAR, 57 percent of REALTORS® are women.
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 61 percent of the U.S. workforce; they earn almost 60 percent of all undergraduate degrees and 37 percent of all MBAs, yet many companies continue to lag in placing females in executive positions.
- Many people I spoke to suggested that some women are motivated to advance but they seem to get stuck in the middle management limbo.
- Several studies I read show that women are often held to a higher standard than men.
- According to the U.S. Census, women account for a little over half of the population.
- In 1980, the portion of female leaders of the top 500 companies was at 11 percent, and today, that number is roughly 18 percent. That’s only a 7 percent increase – in 35 years!
As I look at myself and look back at my history, I see that I made a lot of sacrifices to get to where I am now. I sacrificed sleep, health, and having a personal life to run a business while simultaneously being a single mom. There were times that I only slept a couple hours a night. A lot of this was my own doing. I also didn’t have a strong support system, like family to help, a supportive significant other, etc. But why should I not be able to have it all? When there are 12 million single parent families in the U.S. as of 2014 – and more than 80 percent are headed by single mothers – working toward success both professionally and personally is clearly not uncommon.
I could go on and on about this, but I think it’s more important to stress that there is an opportunity here. Being the diverse and constantly changing industry that real estate is, there is plenty of untapped talent and ways to improve.
The best chance of changing obstacles in business is to tip the gender scales in leadership.
To all the women reading this: Become the leader of your own career and life. Be authentic authors of your own lives. Take responsibility for your professional development. No one has a greater investment in your success and satisfaction than you. Don’t depend on the traditional management structure of your organization to put you on the path to achievement. It’s up to you to direct and protect your career and to develop your own potential. You cannot afford to be passive or to accept roles assigned to you. Know what you want and why you want it, then be prepared to take action to make it happen. This means maintaining your focus on your goals in spite of any feelings of discouragement. Tell yourself this: I simply will not give up. If your goal is to become a leader and to help real estate industry become truly diverse, then don’t give up. Your leadership is most needed.
Our industry has a huge opportunity. The real estate industry can be the trendsetter; we can create a ripple effect that will carry over into other industries. Let’s not wait for this to happen, lets make this happen.
Brooke Wolford is a real estate practitioner with RE/MAX Results in Eden Prairie, Minn. Follow her blog at www.thehousingword.com.
By Bill Gassett
What do you think LinkedIn is for? Is it just for people who are trying to find a new job? Should you only visit it if you want to recruit somebody? Or is it one of the best ways to grow your real estate business? If you chose the third option, you are correct. In fact, HubSpot, reports that LinkedIn is three times more effective at generating business leads than Facebook or Twitter. And since leads result in more sales and more money in your pocket, it is clear that LinkedIn cannot be ignored.
Here are 10 ways real estate pros can effectively use LinkedIn to increase their online exposure.
1. Remember, It’s Not Facebook
First, it is crucial to realize that LinkedIn is not like your other social networking sites. This one is all about business, and you better keep things professional. So no sharing that funny meme your Aunt Linda showed you, and no posting pictures of what you are eating for dinner or your funny cat. There are plenty of other sites for that.
2. Make Sure Your Profile and Company Page Are Complete
Since you are a real estate practitioner and independent contractor, you have your own professional brand, thus, you should have both a personal profile and a Company Page. Each one should be filled out completely. Not only should every detail be included—like your website, links to your other social media profiles, any awards or certifications you have, and past companies you have worked for—but it should be displayed in a way that is easy to read and engaging.
3. Include Keywords
Just like you do with your website and blogs, your profile and Company Page should be keyword rich. When people want to find a “real estate agent in Massachusetts,” for example, you want to make sure you show up.
4. Share Plenty of Content
When you are deciding which content to share on LinkedIn, always have the goal of helping others, but make sure the type of information varies. On one day, post an informative article on a new development in real estate, and on the next, share an opinionated blog post about what agents are doing wrong. Make sure you’re not just sharing your own content. Those who are successful in social media understand that it can’t always be about YOU.
5. Publish Directly on LinkedIn
Not only should you be sharing loads of information, you should also be writing your own. One thing that makes LinkedIn unique is that it allows you to publish your content for all of LinkedIn to see. They are referred to as long-form posts, and you definitely need to be taking advantage of them. Not only does it make you look more credible when you have them on your profile, but they are searchable both on and off LinkedIn. People do not have to be in your network to view them, and they are able to connect with you directly from the post. This is an invaluable tool for growing your network and establishing your expertise in the real estate industry.
6. Study Your Analytics
LinkedIn is very generous in the amount of information they provide to you. They tell you exactly which of your posts received interactions and which ones didn’t. You should study these analytics thoroughly so that you can capitalize on what people like and avoid the stuff they don’t.
7. Connect With Everyone
There has never been, and never will be, a rule that you are only allowed to connect with people that you know on LinkedIn. You should do searches for locals in your area, other agents, home appraisers, mortgage brokers, and anyone else you want. The thing is, there is no such thing as too big of a network. You never know where each connection will lead you. Over the years, I have seen some really shortsighted agents who say, if they don’t know them then they won’t connect. This might be prudent thinking on Facebook, but not on LinkedIn!
8. Capitalize on LinkedIn Real Estate Groups
One of the hidden gems on LinkedIn is the group feature. They are the difference between agents who really drive traffic back to their website and those who don’t. However, there is a proper way to use them.
- According to the Social Media Examiner, you should look for groups within your industry—or groups that contain your target niche or market—that have enough members to get you exposure, but not so many that you get lost in the shuffle. Aim for between 1,000 and 5,000 members. You can also join a few of the larger groups for when you are sharing something of a more general nature.
- When you interact within the groups, remember that you are there to add value. You should respond to others’ questions, give your opinions, share advice, and ask questions that make people think. You should not post links to your site unless it is something of value.
- Don’t post your listings! I cannot emphasize this one enough. Real Estate agents are notorious for only thinking about promoting their listings. Social media is about forming relationships, not trying to sell to people. Do you think anyone goes to Linkedin groups to buy a home? I hope you realize the answer is no. This is one of the most annoying things real estate agents do in social media. What’s worse is there are some groups that spell out the fact you can’t post listings and some practitioners do it anyway. This is the perfect way to look like a fool in front of your peers.
- Don’t try to be active on too many groups at once, or you will not be able to provide anything useful to any of them. Instead, choose three or four that you really think could boost your exposure and make sure to check-in with them several times per week. Some excellent real estate groups to take a look at joining are The National Association of REALTORS®, Real Estate Professionals Group, and Real Estate Professional Referral Group.
- Once you are part of a conversation, don’t leave it unfinished. Always go back to see if anyone has responded to what you said.
- After you have established yourself within the group, you can start asking your own questions and solicit feedback. If you ask one that garners a lot of attention, you will even be featured as a top contributor within the group, increasing your visibility tenfold.
9. Start Your Own Group
If you are really ambitious, it could be time to found your own group. This puts you in the driver’s seat, and, if done correctly, can really catapult your recognition in the real estate industry. In order to set the precedent, you should set up an auto-email that goes out to all new members welcoming them to the group and setting the ground rules (like no soliciting). You can also let them know that you will be sending out weekly or monthly emails with industry resources and tricks of the trade.
10. Help Others
Finally, you should take a few minutes each day to endorse and recommend other people. They will appreciate the gesture and may even return the favor.
These are some of the best ways a real estate agent can use Linkedin to get meaningful results. Do you have any tips for successfully using LinkedIn? Share them in the comments below.
Bill Gassett is a nationally-recognized real estate leader and one of the top RE/MAX salespeople in New England. See all his real estate articles at www.maxrealestateexposure.com.
By Jay O’Brien
We’ve all received the calls, opened the letters, and deflected the in-person pitches. Real estate is perhaps one of the only industries that attains its workforce through blind recruiting rather than interviewing.
It’s quite simply a numbers game for many brokerages, and the strategy becomes less about value creation for agents and more about the bait.
How do brokers attract more agents and (hopefully) retain them? Unfortunately, the most common misconception is the one that revolves around what truly motivates people: money. If money is truly the greatest motivator, the success of real estate agents would be through the roof since selling a home is the one and only way to get paid. Clearly, this is not the case. But when agents are looking to make a switch, we still hear the question time and time again: “What’s the commission split?”
This is not the question you should be asking. Let’s not forget, 90 percent of zero is still zero.
The relationship between a brokerage and an agent should be mutually beneficial, and monetary rewards should not be top priority. Don’t put the cart before the horse. First, start by asking yourself these questions:
- “What has my business looked like in the last year?”
- “Did I do more business each year? How much more?”
- “What are my biggest challenges right now?”
- “Where do I need coaching?”
- “What are my goals for this year, and the next, and the next?”
If you do not know the answer to all of these questions, how in the world is your broker going to know?
In such a heavily self-disciplined environment, it’s very easy to notice when a real estate agent becomes complacent. If there is a problem, struggle, or challenge, it’s very difficult to identify it and face it alone. Instead, an agent is more likely to think they are in the wrong office or behind the wrong brand. They might think an office change will correct their productivity.
It is paramount for an agent to position themselves with a person, or people rather than a brand, company, office, etc. The genuine growth of a real estate professional cannot be quantified in purely commission splits. Remember the saying, “You get what you pay for?” Often, if the commission split ratios are dramatically skewed in the favor of the agent (especially from day one), then usually there is very little value being added from the brokerage. It’s simple business 101: You can’t spend more money than you make.
I am constantly looking to grow in various aspects of my own life, so I have a personal coach for several things: golf, yoga, CrossFit, AND business. If an office has promised you the moon and the stars along with a compensation plan that is too good to be true, something probably doesn’t smell right. I would venture to guess that most agents reading this would agree that doing 25 deals a year at 75 percent is much better than doing two at 90 percent.
With that, find your person, your mentor. Find someone who can hold you accountable and coach you to greatness. It is absolutely critical to your success. Take that path, and watch the money follow.
By Alyssa Hellman
Sometimes it seems like new real estate products are released every day. It’s easy to become distracted by trying every new marketing tool or tech gadget, but over time the luster fades and you’ve got to get back to business. Here are my five tips to tighten your real estate tool belt and decide what products you really need.
1. Get in touch with your local and state association. Your association doesn’t charge their dues just for membership. Most associations offer a slew of services that allow agents to operate their businesses effectively, yet many of these tools & services go unused simply because agents don’t know they exist! Explore your association’s offerings to see if there are free or discount offerings of tools you already use or things that would be helpful moving forward.
2. Have a plan and commit. Without a concrete plan of what you want to do, you make yourself susceptible to “shiny object syndrome” – using tools just because of hype rather than utility. Knowing what you want to deliver to clients (e.g. your niche or specialty, special services, company culture, or brand) should be guided by your plan with an eye on new tools, not the other way around.
3. Master your craft. I wouldn’t trust someone with a drill who has never used a screwdriver. Before you add to your tool belt, make sure you have mastered the tools that you already have. Or, make sure you contract with someone who has mastery of the tools. You don’t have to be a jack of all trades to deliver great service. Master your own craft and don’t be afraid to partner with other masters of their craft to deliver great service.
4. Network with your peers. Sure, you want to stand apart from the competition, but you can gain a lot from working with each other. Your clients choose you for you. I have learned about some of my favorite systems from my peers and continue to actively engage with them to learn from each other and grow professionally.
5. Know when to hold em’, know when to fold em’. Don’t feel the need to stay signed on with something you never use. As your business grows, it will evolve. Your tools will need to evolve too, so something that worked at one point, won’t always work later on. Be flexible in your business and evaluate your tools regularly to make sure they are still helping you, not holding you back.
Regardless of the products you choose, you must remember that they are just tools. At its core, real estate is a relationship business and your tools should always help you enhance, not distract, from your relationships.
Alyssa Hellman is the Go Leader at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Go Realty based in Cary, N.C., serving Raleigh-Durham and surrounding areas. You can find Alyssa on Twitter @AVHellman or visit her website www.alyssahellman.com.
By Charlie Allred
Having a blog can be a killer online strategy for your real estate business. A vibrant blog can be the very top of your online funnel. But your potential clients must feel understood when they first arrive at your site.
Last month, I talked about creating a niche to strengthen your online presence. By all means, you can address several niches on your blog. However, you have to start somewhere, so start with one niche.
I believe all real estate blogs should be as community oriented as possible. Your blog should show that you’re a resource for the community. For instance, you could publish articles on your market’s parks, schools, or restaurants. Write articles about community activities or local places. Think about anything your potential clients would want to know before they moved to the community.
Here are four tips for creating a vibrant blog:
- Address your niche; always address your niche. Think about what people in your niche market would want to know.
- Write consistently. I generally say posting one article a week is ideal, however, if you know you can’t commit to once a week, commit to every other week.
- Answer questions. You are the expert, so answer questions your clients ask regularly.
- Create lists. Create lists of information your potential clients would want to know if they are moving to the area. For example:
Notice the list above goes from a broad subject – moving to Phoenix – to the more narrow focus of Old Town Scottsdale homes. One of my niches is the Old Town Scottsdale neighborhood, which includes even smaller market niches of zip codes 85251 and 85250, as well as the McCormick Ranch area of Scottsdale. I could break this down even further into subdivisions. I suggest, if you can, make your niche market a subdivision, write four or five articles on each subdivision, then move on to the next subdivision.
Focusing your expertise on a specific neighborhoods is much easier in newer communities because they have subdivision names that are often searched online. I specialize in an older area of town where subdivision names aren’t used much, so they I try to use keywords that are associated with my area.
To get started with your killer online strategy:
- Choose your market niches.
- Make a list of questions, articles, lists, photos, and videos you can publish to your blog that addresses each of your niches.
- Don’t forget to add keywords associated with your market niches for each article.
- Start writing your blog posts, but manage your time. I recommend limiting yourself to one hour max per week writing, 30 minutes making graphics or taking photos, then publish the article.
Charlie Allred is a Phoenix-based designated broker for Secure Real Estate and author of the book “Pinnable Real Estate: Pinterest for Real Estate Agents.” She is a Pinterest expert coaching agents on how to gain more leads, followers, and clients by using Pinterest. Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.
By Dave Robison
Creating a successful real estate team is a lot like cooking. You have to add certain ingredients to the pot – a little of this, a little of that, more of another thing to make it sweet. The temperature and how long you cook it has to be watched, otherwise you risk it coming out cold or burning it. Some people are naturals at cooking, others not so much. Some can’t cook for the life of them.
So, is there a secret recipe to building a team? Absolutely not. There are too many different ingredients (some limited in quantity). Often, you end up having to work with what you have. But you do have to pay close attention and make sure your ingredients (team members) work well together.
First, to successfully “cook up” a team, you are going to have to get good at different things. Here’s a quick list:
1. Know yourself. How well do you know yourself? I’ve taken a lot of different personality tests over the years. I’ve also spent countless hours reflecting on what it is that I do well, what I do fast, and what I don’t do well at all.
2. Know other people’s strengths. This is sometimes very hard – I have messed up a few times giving the wrong tasks to the wrong people because I didn’t know their strengths. So I have implemented a few different tests and indexes to get to know people around me, including DiSC and Kolbe. I want to know what they do well and how that aligns with my strengths and weaknesses.
3. Develop a resilience. I love what Barbara Corcoran says: The main trait of successful people is they don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves when something bad happens. You have to learn to deal with set backs, failures, disappointments, etc.
4. Learn how to work through conflict. Looking back, I see there where times that I failed by not taking action when other members of my team had a disagreement. It may sometimes seem easier to get rid of someone or ignore a problem than to work it out. This is where many teams lose their members. There will be times when members of your team will be highly emotional. This is a critical phase: if you get your team members through it, they will often become highly commitment to you. Individuals shouldn’t quit at first disagreement, and sometimes you will have to help them work through it.
5. Love them, help them, love them. Everyone makes mistakes. You have to allow people to make mistakes. Help them through it and then be sure to show the love again. People won’t stick their neck out on the line for you if they know you will cut it off. They will stay safe. And if you want to grow your business, have to allow them to make decisions even if it’s not the one you would make.
Stay focused on these things and the team you cook up will be one of success.
Dave Robison, known as “Utah Dave,” is broker/owner of UtahDave.com Neighborhood Experts.