Not to get all deep and philosophical about things right out of the gate, but I have a serious fear for my children and my children’s generation. It’s a lack of communication skills. Between messaging and Snapchat and emojis and texting in slang or abbreviations, I have a serious fear that the communication skills necessary for success are quickly going by the wayside. I try, the best I can, to limit screen time, make my kids tell me stories or even just about their days, and teach them to look others in the eye when they are talking to them. I want them in speech in debate as they get older. Why?
I truly believe that your ability to communicate your point, regardless of what you are doing, is pivotal to your ability to be successful.
You may be asking yourself at this point just what the hell this has to do with real estate. It’s this simple: if you really get down to the nuts and bolts of what we do, we communicate. We aren’t the parties to a transaction. We aren’t attorneys or title experts. We aren’t lenders or mortgage experts. We communicate. From discovery to service to follow-up, we communicate. We discover needs and wants, we set expectations, we relay information and documentation, we problem solve, and we close. All of that, again, at the base level, is communication.
What is brand building? What is advertising? If you can’t guess by now, it’s communication, it’s story-telling. How you communicate your value to your audience is the essential part of creating brand recognition. Creating a solid call-to-action is an essential part of lead generation and capture. Taking those leads from interest to client is a direct result of your ability to tell your story and show interest in their story.
How can you become the first thing people think of when they think of real estate? Continuous brand building and consistent messaging are key to brand awareness with your potential clients. Whether you choose to be topical, clever, or resourceful in your communication to prospective clients, your delivery of the message over time is the key to your success. Being able to do it without being annoying is also pretty important.
Servicing the Client
From the time the prospective customer becomes a client to the time you close the transaction, your communication revolves around the service you provide. Beginning with the discovery phase, you have to be able to communicate with your clients to be able to best serve their needs and wants. Once you’ve done that, and found them either the home they want to buy or an offer suitable for acceptance, your communication expertise in negotiation becomes key. After that, you become a conduit for communication between all of the involved vendors, agents, title people, lenders, and, of course, parties to the transaction. Since we have beaten the expectation setting part of this like a dead horse on this blog, I will forgo it for now, but it is vital. Holding your client’s hands through the process with clear communication is key to creating a smooth transaction. Creating a smooth transaction is key to creating a happy client. Creating happy clients is key to building your referral base.
Building Your Referral Base
Do you have a plan to create a referral engine? When you’re with a prospective client, and then a client, and then a past client, how do you approach the topic of getting referrals? When do you start? If you don’t have that plan in place, I would submit to you that your business is not working for you. That doesn’t mean that your business isn’t working. It just isn’t working for you.
A plan to build a consistent stream of revenue from your current and past clients is pivotal. It should start the first time you meet a prospective client. It should continue throughout the sale/purchase. And, here’s the important part, it should never stop. Ever. The great thing about this plan is that a great deal of it can be achieved automatically through a CRM. You have to have the plan though.
Protecting Yourself and Your Clients
It pains me to say this, but we live in a world where everyone wants to sue everyone when they don’t get their way. In case you were wondering, you are one of the everyone. In this world we live in, we communicate in an ever-increasing number of ways. While I am a huge fan of face-to-face and telephone communication, it should be noted, for your protection and the protection of your clients, that everything should be followed-up in writing. Keep texts and emails. Store whatever other medium you might use to communicate, but make sure that verbal conversations are then put into writing to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
I’ll give you an example. In our new agent training classes we have an exercise we do. The new agents pair up and sit back to back. One agent is given a simple drawing like a house or a bird or a fish. Without telling his/her partner what the drawing is, they have to describe how to draw it. The results are often comical in a classroom setting, but are a perfect example of how easily verbal miscommunication can occur. Follow it up in writing to make sure that your house or bird or fish matches their house or bird or fish.
Going back to the original point, understanding that your primary role as an agent, as a business owner, is communication will help drive your processes and systems. Being an expert communicator will make the difference in your level of success. Even if it is not your strongest natural strength, it is one that can be rather easily developed. Whether you choose to join an organization like Toastmasters or just develop and practice scripts, working on your communication plan is something that should be done daily.