October 24, 2016

Make Prospects Choose You Over the Internet

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Make Prospects Choose You Over the Internet

The online experience has made in-person shopping more obsolete for many consumers, and that has affected the way real estate professionals connect with customers as much as it has bricks-and-mortar stores. With more house hunters doing the bulk of their research on the Internet, what can you do to get them offline and in front of you faster? (Because, obviously, you can give them better information about their market than the Web can.)

What You Can't Get Online

How to Beat the Listing Portals

11 Questions to Help Agents Win Listings

The Relationship Business

You may be able to glean some insight from the struggle physical retailers have faced getting shoppers off the Internet and into their stores. Online retailers have cut into the profits bricks-and-mortar stores once; in a similar fashion, real estate portals have grabbed attention from individual agents and brokers. In order to fend off the threat from the Internet, retailers have to rethink the experience they offer in person. That means offering something that can't be bought online. So how can that concept apply to your business?

"The [retail] categories that do well are ones you can't buy online — restaurants, bowling, theater, and groceries," says Wayne Caplan, senior vice president at commercial real estate group Sperry Van Ness in Chicago. "You can order food online, but people like to pick out their own."

For other retailers, the challenge is to come up with a new way to sell in person. "It can be as simple as a furniture retailer making coffees or cookies," Caplan says. "Stores that want to stay relevant have to create experiences. It can't just be a place to buy goods."

For real estate practitioners, that translates into offering prospects a bigger incentive to arrange an in-person meeting than a buyer or seller consultation. While part of your value proposition is that you can give market information that's more accurate than what prospects will find online, it's still not information a good researcher couldn't obtain themselves. So start thinking about what experience you can give your clients from the very beginning that can't be replicated on a computer or mobile device.

Need more inspiration for ways you can get prospects offline and into your office? Read more about how physical retailers are fending off the Internet, and see what principles you can adapt to your business.

—REALTOR® Magazine