What are these people doing that you aren't? - BY ANNA JOHANSSON
For most real estate agents, referrals are the best way to generate new business. A warm referral not only puts you in contact with a prospect immediately, it also sets the stage for a more trusting mutual relationship.
Advertising, networking and prospecting are all good ways to increase lead flow, but creating a relationship with a client that has the potential to introduce you to three more clients is efficient, inexpensive — and highly effective.
How can you create this kid of working relationship? Aside from trying your hardest, how can you improve your client relationship to increase your chances of earning more referrals?
The most-referred real estate agents
The most-referred real estate agents exhibit the following qualities in their client relationships — qualities you can emulate.
1. Genuine care. There’s no artificial substitute when it comes to caring about your customers. If you genuinely care about getting them into the right home, it’s going to show.
Not only will you be more committed to your work, you’ll also come off as more dedicated and friendlier, which are indispensable qualities for the agent trying to get more leads.
Any real estate agent can buy or sell properties, but only some make you feel like they genuinely want you to succeed — and your clients will want their friends, coworkers and neighbors to have the same experience.
2. In-person connection. These days, real estate agents can be almost exclusively virtual.
You can forward lists of properties to your clients, give virtual walk-throughs and rely on texts, emails and phone calls to exchange the majority of your information. However, we still forge our strongest human connections when we meet face-to-face.
The subtleties of body language, tone, and even personal touch (such as handshakes) are irreplaceable and will help you create a stronger, more personal relationship with your clients. They’ll want to pass that on to anyone else they know going through the same experience.
3. Accommodation. Some of your clients are going to be picky. Some are going to be a pain. The real estate agents with the most referrals aren’t the ones who try to force these clients to change their ways; they’re the ones who are more accommodating of these special preferences.
If your clients seem to shoot down every home you try to offer, keep digging until you figure out exactly what they’re looking for. If they prefer to walk through as many homes as possible, do what you can to let them.
Your job is to empower your clients. If you do so, they’ll want to spread the word about it.
4. Follow up. Even if you’ve done a stellar job for your clients, and have exhibited every other quality on this list, there’s a chance your clients will forget about you. That’s why it’s important that you remain top-of-mind by following up with those clients on a periodic basis.
For starters, if you help a client close on a new home, consider throwing them a small housewarming party and encourage them to invite their neighbors and contacts. Your clients will probably remember you forever — and you’ll also get the opportunity to meet some of their contacts in person.
After that, make it a point to follow up with a quick phone call or email to ask your clients how satisfied they are with their purchase (and maybe fish around for any leads).
5. Openness. People appreciate transparency. The more open and honest you are throughout the experience, the more people are going to trust you.
Don’t be afraid to give your client bad news or tell them something that’s hard to hear — if anything, they may respect you more because of it. They’ll realize that you’re out to give them the truth and the right information, rather than just trying to make them happy or doing whatever it takes for a profit.
As the Harvard Business Review notes, we live in an age where consumer trust is at an all-time low, so transparency is more important than ever.
Plus, when you find that your clients respect your transparency, you can be more honest with them and ask them directly for referrals.
Adjusting your approach
Every client is going to have different needs and different desires for a professional relationship, so you’ll likely have to adjust your approach for each one.
For example, some people might strongly prefer to keep communication as digital and remote as possible (for convenience), and there’s not much you can do about that.
Over time, you’ll get better at reading your clients and giving them the relationship they want — and as a result, you’ll earn far more client referrals.
Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant specializing in entrepreneurship, technology and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn. Email Anna Johansson