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 licensed real estate broker, business doctoral student, trainer, and coach. Learn more about her training and 1-on-1 coaching programs by visiting www.AgentsAroundAtlanta.com.