Rules for CORE Agents #12: Whenever Possible, Get Digits

The single most important thing you can do to build your real estate business over the next ten years is simple: get digits.  When you meet people, get their mobile phone numbers, and get their email addresses.

Why? Because even while we live in a world of “over-sharing” that has become increasingly open and less private, it’s actually tougher to reach people you don’t know than it used to be.  Years ago, if you wanted to track someone down, you called them on their home phone.  If you didn’t know their number, you looked it up in the phone book.  Easy, simple, foolproof.

Then what happened?  People started unlisting their home phone number.  Then they started screening their calls with their voicemail and Caller ID.  Then they simply stopped getting a home phone number. At this point, the phone book is simply a big, tree-killing doorstop for most of us.  I haven’t picked one up in years.

So now if you want to reach people, you either need their mobile phone number, their work phone number, or their email address.

Here’s the problem: there’s no directory for mobile phones, or business numbers, or email addresses.  That might seem odd to you, since you plaster your phone number and email address everywhere you can – online, in ads, on park benches, on supermarket carts, etc.  But that’s because you’re in “sales”, and you want people to be able to reach you.

People who aren’t entrepreuneurial, though, don’t generally put their personal contact information out in the world for everyone to see. Now, that might surprise you, since you’ve probably read somewhere that people are more likely to share than ever before on Facebook and LinkedIn and their blogs and all that.  But what that really means is that they’re more likely to share with people they already know.  If you’re not already in their circle, you’re not likely to find a good way to reach out to them.

Which is why you need digits.  You meet someone, you get their business card.  You get their digits.  Every time.

If you get their digits, you now have something that most other real estate agents in the market don’t have – a way to reach them.  You have a way to get them in a drip campaign, you have a way to give them a quick call, you have a way to establish a relationship with them that could lead to a piece of business.  That’s a real advantage in today’s marketplace.

The person with the most digits wins.

 

This post is part of a series of what I call the “36-1/2 Rules for Client-Oriented Real Estate Agents,” a collection of short takes on the CORE concept that I’ve developed over the years of discussing and teaching the system.  We’ll count up to the 36th rule over the next few months, and then the 1/2 rule.  You can get the full list of rules by clicking on the “36-1/2 Rules for CORE Agents” category on the blog – scroll from the bottom if you want to read them in order.

Rules for CORE Agents #11: People Never Complain About Getting a Call From Their Doctor

You know you’re supposed to make phone calls to help build your business. They’re essential.  A personal phone call is truly the best, sometimes the only, way to develop a contact into an active lead or cultivate a relationship with someone in your sphere.  We all know that.

And yet many agents are afraid to make that call.  Indeed, call avoidance is one of the best ways to get everything else in your life done.  You’ll do your laundry, or clean your desk, or rearrange your files, or really do ANYTHING while you’re avoiding just picking up the damn phone to call someone.

Why is that?  Because you’ve convinced yourself that your call is unwelcome, that no one wants to hear from you, that you’re imposing yourself on someone else.  You don’t like it when people do that to you, and you’re uncomfortable doing it to someone else.

The problem is all in your head, because you’re thinking about the call in the wrong way.  You’re thinking that the only reason for the call is that you’re trying to extract business from them.  If you change the way you think about the call, you’ll improve the likelihood of making it.

So think of it this way: as a call from your doctor.  Do you mind when you get a follow-up call from your doctor, or lawyer, or dentist, or financial planner, or anyone else that you do business with?  Generally, you don’t mind, because you perceive that call as a SERVICE to you, not as an attempt to extract business from you.  Even if the call is designed to maintain or cultivate the professional relationship you’ve developed, you still don’t resent the call.

That’s the attitude that you need to make when you’re reaching out to people. Stop thinking like a mercenary, and start thinking about the service you can provide to whomever you’re calling.  Get into your head that you have a dual purpose in every call you make: (1) to generate business, and (2) to provide a service.  Obviously, every call you make is an attempt to build your business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have the more altruistic, client-oriented purpose as well.

If you’re calling someone in your sphere, or calling a potential lead contact, have something interesting to tell them about the community or the market.  Bring something to the table.  Provide a service. If you can legitimately find a reason for the call, you’ll find it’s easier to make the call.

Don’t think like a salesperson, think like a service professional.  Make the call.

 

This post is part of a series of what I call the “36-1/2 Rules for Client-Oriented Real Estate Agents,” a collection of short takes on the CORE concept that I’ve developed over the years of discussing and teaching the system.  We’ll count up to the 36th rule over the next few months, and then the 1/2 rule.  You can get the full list of rules by clicking on the “36-1/2 Rules for CORE Agents” category on the blog – scroll from the bottom if you want to read them in order.

Rules for CORE Agents #10: People Love Giving Referrals, So Make Them Happy

People just love giving referrals. We love recommending restaurants to our friends.  We love posting our favorite movies on Facebook. We love telling people that we “have a guy” if they need a plumber or an electrician or whatever.  Indeed, hugely successful websites like Yelp and Angie’s List have been built around our natural impulse to share our opinions with other people.  Basically, Yelp and Angie’s List are just big databases of referrals that people selflessly take the time and energy to write for strangers, all for free.

Why is that? Why do we love making referrals so much? Part of it is that we just like sharing our opinions on stuff with other people.  Part of it is that we like to support businesses we like – we’ll write a review on Yelp for a restaurant, or tell people about it, because we want it to succeed.  And part of is that we like validation of seeing other people agree with our opinions.

But the biggest reason people like making referrals is simple: we like being a hero.  If I need a plumber, and you refer me someone great, I owe you one. If I was looking for a great restaurant, and you recommended one to me, I now have a higher opinion of your taste in food.  Basically, if you give me a great referral, you’re my hero.

And you’re not just my hero, but you’re a hero to the person you referred me to.  I have become a very active Yelp reviewer in my hometown, reviewing most of the restaurants that I like.  Recently, when I went to a Chinese restaurant that I love, the owner’s daughter came over to tell me how grateful they were for my review. Even better, they sent me home with a bucket of free ice cream!  Why?  Because I was their hero!

So the lesson is this: you need to stop being so self-conscious about asking people for referrals.  Don’t be afraid to put it out there, because people absolutely love giving referrals.

Here’s the key, though: we only give referrals to people we think are really great at their jobs.  We don’t recommend restaurants that we think are just okay.  We don’t refer friends to plumbers or electricians that do mediocre work.  And we’re not going to refer someone to the real estate agent who never returned our calls, regardless of how many refrigerator magnets she sends us.

People only refer the best.  So be the best.  And if you are the best, then don’t hesitate to give people the opportunity to refer you to their friends, family, and anyone they know.  If you are indeed really good at your job, they’ll refer you.  Not because they want to help you out, but because they want to be a hero.

 

This post is part of a series of what I call the “36-1/2 Rules for Client-Oriented Real Estate Agents,” a collection of short takes on the CORE concept that I’ve developed over the years of discussing and teaching the system.  We’ll count up to the 36th rule over the next few months, and then the 1/2 rule.  You can get the full list of rules by clicking on the “36-1/2 Rules for CORE Agents” category on the blog – scroll from the bottom if you want to read them in order.

Rules for CORE Agents #6: Stop Annoying People!

The real estate industry has become very good at annoying people.  Anytime there’s a new technology for communicating with people, agents seize on the new medium to inundate their clients, friends, and random people they don’t even know with information that those people don’t care about.

Take, for example, those emails that go out to announce your new listing to a thousand random people.  Face it – there are only two people that care about your new listing: (1) you, and (2) your seller.  No one else wants to see it clogging up their inbox or Facebook feed.  If I’m in the market to buy something, I’ve already set up email alerts to tell me about properties I might like.  If I’m not in the market, I couldn’t care less that you just got a new listing that’s 200 miles from me and not in my price range.

It’s become like an arms race: a new communication medium evolves, then agents start to abuse it with their annoying stuff, and then people find a way to block all those agents.  They get answering machines and Caller ID to screen out calls asking them, “when do YOU plan on moving.”  They open their mail over the trash can so they can throw out your “Just Listed” cards.  They set up spam filters to block your emails.  They set up their Facebook feeds to “ignore” your posts about your open house this weekend.

They tune you out.  Why? Because you’re sending out information important to YOU, not to THEM.  You’re not engaging them by providing them with something useful, you’re just using phones, emails, mail, or Facebook to promote and market yourself.  You’re sending them listings when they’re not on the market, announcing open houses that they don’t want to go to, calling them to ask them for referrals without offering something helpful in return.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t engage in marketing or lead generation.  You absolutely should.  My point is only that you’re much better off if you provide information that is engaging and useful, rather than self-promotional and annoying.  Stop making it all about you, and make it about them and what THEY need.

So call them because you have some information about the market you want to share.  Email them an interesting news article that they might like.  Post something on your Facebook page about design ideas, maybe using one of your new listings as an example of a great kitchen layout.  You’ll find that if you provide people with interesting and useful information, you won’t annoy them.  You’ll engage them, and the more you engage them, the more likely they are to remember you the next time someone mentions that they need a real estate agent.

 

This post is part of a series of what I call the “36-1/2 Rules for Client-Oriented Real Estate Agents,” a collection of short takes on the CORE concept that I’ve developed over the years of discussing and teaching the system.  We’ll count up to the 36th rule over the next few months, and then the 1/2 rule.  You can get the full list of rules by clicking on the “36-1/2 Rules for CORE Agents” category on the blog – scroll from the bottom if you want to read them in order.

 

Rules for CORE Agents #5: Always Show Up With More Than a Knife and a Fork

Imagine that you were invited to someone’s home for a dinner party.  You ring the bell, the door opens, the host looks out, and sees you standing there with a smile in your face, holding nothing but a knife and a fork in your hands.  “Let’s eat!,” you say, waving your knife and fork.

That’s unthinkable.  Whenever we go to someone’s house for a party, we always bring something: dessert, flowers, a bottle of wine, whatever.  We never show up empty handed. Even if the host insists that she doesn’t need anything, we still bring something.  It’s just the way we’ve all been raised: if you get invited into someone’s house, you bring a gift to show respect.

I remember my Italian grandmother telling me about this custom, explaining that it was an “Italian tradition.”  Then my Irish grandmother would pull me aside and explain that it was really an “Irish tradition.”  What I’ve since learned is that pretty much EVERYONE has this wonderful tradition, and that no culture promotes the idea that you can show up at someone’s house for dinner holding nothing but a knife and fork in your sweaty little hands.

And yet real estate agents try to generate leads every day with just a knife and a fork.  The prospect people armed nothing with scripts designed to try to trick people into setting an appointment with them. And that’s why they fail, not only because they’re not really offering anything valuable or interesting for the prospective client, but because going out day after day to badger people with nothing other than a knife and a fork is a soul-killing regimen that few people can maintain with any kind of regularity.

So whenever you’re trying to cultivate leads, bring something to the party besides a knife and fork. Instead of calling an expired seller with nothing but some boilerplate come-on about how long until they interview a new agent, drop off an up-to-date CMA or market report.  Instead of calling your past client to ask for a referral, send them something about the market that gives you a reason to follow up with them.

It doesn’t matter what you bring, no more than it matters whether you bring flowers or a bottle of wine to a dinner party.  it’s just important that you bring something.

Not only are you more likely to stand out from the crowd of other “knife and fork” agents by actually providing a service to people, but you’re also likely to feel better about what you’re doing: essentially you “earn” yourself the right to contact that client, because you actually did something for her.

In other words, you would never show up at a friend’s house empty handed.  So why would you ever approach a potential client that way?

 

This post is part of a series of what I call the “36-1/2 Rules for Client-Oriented Real Estate Agents,” a collection of short takes on the CORE concept that I’ve developed over the years of discussing and teaching the system.  We’ll count up to the 36th rule over the next few months, and then the 1/2 rule.  You can get the full list of rules by clicking on the “36-1/2 Rules for CORE Agents” category on the blog – scroll from the bottom if you want to read them in order.