I do a great deal of relocation, and as a result most of the initial contact from folks who are considering a move and looking for help comes via email. No doubt this is true for most of us, given the fact that most buyers and sellers are using the Internet for their research and searching for homes.
Initial contact by email is convenient, as it can be done at any time, from just about anywhere, via PC, laptop and phone, and it works well if folks are not yet ready to make a commitment to an agent and/or prefer to not have a phone conversation. And for many, it IS their preferred way to communicate, like it or not.
I imagine some folks are bothered by this and want that contact by phone, but I find that email can be a great way to engage your prospects so that they then become your clients.
First and foremost, a quick response is needed (and deserved), and with technology these days this should not be too tough (I get all my email on my Blackberry and can respond immediately, even with only a short note so they know I am listening). I have found that many inquiries are from buyers or sellers who are also querying others, so the first person to respond (or maybe the ONLY one to respond) is the winner. And what a great impression that makes. Not to mention that the consumer DESERVES a quick response if possible. This is not unlike answering your phone (which many agents, and others in our business, seem not to do) - there have been several occasions when I got thanked for picking up my phone, as recently as last night.
Make it real time. Sometimes you and the prospect will be on-line at the same time, so why not have an email conversation. You can write back and forth in a way much like talking...in real time. And if it feels right, suggest a phone call rather than continue to dialog in writing.
Provide the information requested. That's a no brainer. Granted, some requests are off the wall, or perhaps rather difficult or time consuming to respond to. But getting back to the prospect with some information they are seeking can work wonders, since so many do not.
Provide a surprise by sharing some additional information that is relevant to their request. It could be a tidbit of market data, or some other information that may pique their interest, but I like to step above and beyond what was asked. Some buyers and sellers do not even know the right questions to ask, and since we are the supposed experts, we should be able to take this to the next level pretty quickly.
I typically share information in a couple of emails, rather than just one, to continue the potential conversation. And when you are getting a response back with other questions or requests for information then you can simply continue on, as you have been given permission for further dialog.
Share links to blog articles you have written that are relevant. For me, with my focus on relocation and with most folks out of the area, I like to share community profile links and market reports. But certainly share other sites that may be useful, say information about the first time home buyer tax credit.
Listen to what the writer is saying. Really - listen. It's not quite the same as a face-to-face conversation, but sometimes people will tell you things that can be useful and important to know, or hint at something that you can address. So you don't want to focus on only what YOU think they need to know but respond to what they tell you they want to know. There's a difference.
And how about these thoughts?
I also try to respond in a way that seems to fit with the writer's style- some messages are very cryptic, which suggests they don't want to read a 500-word email back, or they have a very precise question - while others are more detailed, or perhaps more general in nature. It's not unlike trying to mirror the behavioral style of folks when you meet them so the conversation is comfortable.
And it's important, as in our blog posts, to be conversational, and not blather on about how wonderful we are, or imply that we are the only agent they ought to be considering. If you share the information well, and the conversation is comfortable, in all likelihood it will progress to that point.
Be mindful of your grammar and spelling, especially early on. I made a typo in one email and the writer called me on it. While I suspect many folks make an error here and there, it is an impression, often a first one, so try to avoid blowing it.
Auto-responders - I am going to take an approach that may not be popular, but I do not like these. My opinion. Use them if you feel they work for you. But I prefer a quick personal note rather than something that is automated and clearly comes across that way. And the worst thing is, like those voice mails we hear, to say how important the email is and you will be back in touch, and then don't follow-up.
Make sure your email signature provides links to relevant websites and blogs you have so folks will have the opportunity to learn more if they are interested. But don't overdo it - an email signature that is 20 lines long may just get ignored. Once set up you don't even have to think about it unless it needs updating.
There are other things I do but hopefully this gets you thinking about how you might alter the way in which you can use email. No one will likely argue that it is not the same as a personal call, but done correctly and consistently, I have found that engaging folks this way works.
If I can provide more information about Carlsbad real estate and surrounding areas, or the housing market in general, or otherwise assist you in your homes search, please contact me by phone or text at (760) 840-1360 or email me at JDowler@remax.net.
All content copyright © 2009 Jeff Dowler Carlsbad Homes and Real Estate Tidbits