Buying a house is a huge investment in a family’s future. Home buyers are not just purchasing a house; they’re buying into a neighborhood, a school district, a community, and a way of life. Being invited into an advisory role on such an important decision requires immense trust. Your clients may choose you because they trust the person who recommended you or, perhaps, they trust your track record. But now it’s up to you to keep that trust.
How do you do that? You have to become the local expert.
GET THOSE LEADS
Let’s be honest, what you need most is leads – leads that turn into happy clients which then turn into referrals for more leads. The best leads come from the best sources – people who already know and trust you: your sphere of influence (SOI). This can be your friends and family, but it also includes coworkers, service providers and acquaintances. If you’re going to build a reputation as the local expert for your area, you’ll need to start by making the most of your SOI. Consider these suggestions.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Even if they’re not ready to buy or sell, the people in your SOI likely know someone who is. Your contacts are regularly meeting new people, which means your pool of potential clients is always growing. You’ll never know if they have someone to refer to you until you ask.
Aim for the 80/20 rule. Try to send your SOI helpful or entertaining content 80% of the time, and directly ask for business or referrals 20% of the time.
Own your space. Whatever part of the market you cater to, own it. Know your client base and position yourself as the go-to resource for their interests and needs. Promote upcoming events, volunteer opportunities and anything else that’s relevant to your ideal clients. If you can build a reputation as the guy or gal who always seems to know what’s going on in your community, your SOI will come to see you as a local expert. And when people trust that you understand and care about your community, they’ll be more likely to trust you with their home-buying journey.
Do your homework. As a local expert, you should be able to recommend high-quality service providers to your clients. Take your time creating and vetting a list of plumbers, electricians, interior designers, daycares, spas, places of worship – whatever your clients may need. The more ways you can provide valuable information to your clients, the better. Plus, as you build relationships with those service providers, they just may become a source of referrals for you as well.
Show up. Another important way to build trust and gain leads is to be physically present in your community. Get started with these ideas:
- Offer to sit at an open house for another agent.
- Attend nonprofit functions, volunteer for organizations you care about and offer free home valuations.
- Partner with local businesses for deals and referral opportunities.
Show your gratitude. If someone sends you a referral, show your genuine appreciation by giving them a thoughtful gift or treating them to lunch.
NETWORK LIKE A BOSS
By now, you understand how important being present in your community is for generating leads and growing your real estate business. So when you’re at a local function, consider these tips.
Be present – physically and mentally. You’re there to connect with humans, not potential sales. Engage with people without pushing an agenda. Be sincere. Everyone can tell if you’re not.
Learn how to work a room, naturally. If you don’t know how to work a room, tag along with someone who does. Not everyone is born with natural charisma, but it’s never too late to learn. You could also reach out to the host or an attendee you respect and ask if they can introduce you to a few people. Having another person with you can break the ice and help you feel more comfortable.
Care about each person. Get to know people as more than leads. What is the individual in front of you interested in? How does he or she spend leisure time? Do your best to remember names, vocations, goals, and personal details. Look for little things that set that individual apart. After a conversation, consider jotting down notes on the back of that person’s business card or under their contact information in your phone. Use those details to follow up in personal ways. For example, if someone you met is excited about an upcoming activity, mark the date on your calendar and reach out afterward to ask how it went. Remembering details goes a long way in building trust because it communicates that you value people and relationships.
Listen before offering. Instead of launching into your pitch, always listen carefully first. Try to understand what people want and identify their pain points. If you see a way you can honestly help, feel free to offer your services. Remember, each property that you help a client buy or sell is more than a house to them – it’s a home, and it’s a highly emotional decision. When you listen first and offer your help thoughtfully, people will realize that you have their best interests at heart.
Always have business cards within reach – not in your bag or your car. Conversations will naturally come up around what you do, so be prepared. You don’t need to sell yourself, but if the opportunity arises, don’t let a lead go without a tangible reminder of who you are and what you do.
BUILD A STRONG ONLINE PRESENCE
You already know that a strong online presence is essential to building your business. Here are a few practical steps to make your online platforms as effective as they can be.
Google Business: If you haven’t already, register your business or office with Google Business. Through Google Business, set up local service areas in the neighborhoods you want to reach. Upload images of the homes you’ve helped clients buy and sell. Ask for reviews from satisfied clients. Make your Google presence speak to your expertise. If someone is searching the internet for an agent, you can be sure they are reading reviews and looking for some happy, smiling homeowners holding keys to their new house. It’s easy to manage your Google Business listing at Business.Google.com.
Social media: While it can be time consuming, social media is a necessary part of your marketing strategy. Think about your ideal clients. Are they scrolling through social media over their lunch break or during their kid’s afternoon nap? Which platforms do they prefer? What are they searching for? Whatever answers you come up with, do your best to be present where your clients are. Whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, choose a few social media platforms and be consistent about posting. Try to keep your tone professional but also relational. Remember the 80/20 rule – 80% of your content should be helpful or fun, while 20% of your posts can feature information directly related to your business, such as photos of a home you just listed or an offer for free home valuations.
Blog: Writing blog posts on a consistent basis is a great way to share your knowledge with your community. Remember, you’re the local expert, so act like it by becoming a content marketer and building a resource center. Post about upcoming events in your area, share local news, highlight stories about community members, and promote deals from local businesses. Keep in mind that not everything you share has to be original. With permission, you can repost articles and announcements from other community members. Most likely, they’ll love that you’re helping them get the word out.
Website: Your real estate website is your online business card and an important tool for capturing leads. If your brand doesn’t offer you a website, look into an IDX website – a site that integrates with your MLS. Make sure your website and landing pages are set up to gather email addresses, and then follow up quickly with strategic email marketing. Don’t wait for prospects to call you.
FOLLOW UP CONSISTENTLY
There is much debate about how many touches it takes before a lead converts to a client, but everyone can agree that it is more than one. Following up and nurturing your leads will make or break your business. No matter how far-fetched it may seem initially, treat every lead as valuable. Always follow up. You never know where a conversation may go.
If you’re just starting out, you may have plenty of time but little capital, so follow up with a personal touch, such as a handwritten card or a brief phone call. If your time is limited, you need a marketing plan with more automation. Try an email drip campaign or an automated print marketing campaign. These options allow you to set and forget your marketing. Your clients will receive consistent, personal touches without costing you any ongoing time commitment. You can’t do it all, so don’t exhaust yourself trying. Ask for help and build a wide variety of marketing resources for your future success. To learn more about marketing automation, click here.
From one expert to another – you’ve got this!