With everything we have at our disposal as real estate professionals today, those of us who remember the days of buying and selling without all the social media tools are rethinking how we go about generating leads, contacting potential clients and ultimately, doing what our main goals is: To sell real estate.
Which is more important--your social skills or your social media skills? Is one more important than the other and if you’re lacking in one area, are you the right agent for the job in the 21st century?
I found a video on Tech Savvy Agent that discusses that topic. It’s humorous (albeit lengthy--over 30 minutes), but if you’ve got some spare time, I’d recommend it. It’s a “smackdown” between two experts; Mike Ferry, Real Estate Coach of the Mike Ferry Organization and Matthew Ferrara, CEO (the tech-savvy, gadget guru) of Matthew Ferrara & Company.
Both have great arguments. Mike Ferry refers to 2010 as “the year we stopped talking.” He believes that our jobs as successful sales people are to communicate. He poses the question, how do we do that? His answer: TALK to people. All the Tweeting, Facebooking, texting and advertising in the world can’t take the place of face time (getting to know a customer, building trust and closing the deal.) Ferry said that he deals with over 600 agents and generally, most of them talk to 25 people a day.
Ferry’s absolutely correct about that. It’s important to build rapport with clients, but Ferrara brought up some facts, stats and info to challenge Ferry’s methods.
According to Ferrara, how we adapt to the social media platforms we have at our disposal is the future of selling real estate. He believes that we have to initiate a different strategy in order to get to those clients. Here’s his acronym for the future of selling real estate in the 21st century:
F - Forward-thinking
U - Understanding your customer
T - Targeting methods of communication
U - Universal sales--the world’s smaller and we can sell globally
R - Rapid referrals
E - Engage the marketplace
Each one, he believes, ties directly into using social media--Twitter, Facebook, email, texting, etc. He touted some impressive numbers as well:
- Most customers are under the age of 45.
- Forty-five percent of those customers don’t have phones.
- Twenty-five percent of Miami real estate deals came from overseas. (Foreign clients make use of social media in order to buy, get to know a realtor, etc.).
Ferrara believes that the customers of today and the future are more prone to respond to a text or email than a phone call. That “Do Not Call” list takes cold calls out of the picture! His answer to face time? Skype. Whenever you are, you can schedule face time on your desktop, your laptop, mobile or iPad.
But, is that real face time? Is everyone comfortable with that?
Ferry argues that if we get so caught up in Tweeting, checking our Facebook and email (most of which he says is “crap”), then we lose valuable time on pursuing those clients that are in the market to buy now.
Ferrara’s response--you can build a relationship, through social media, with a client who’s not quite ready to buy, but what about six months from now? Through “connecting” with him/her, you’ll build a rapport and more than likely receive several leads or referrals from that source.
Not only that, you’ll learn about what’s going on in their lives and why do people buy? Most often, it’s because of some kind of life change--marriage, divorce, retirement, etc. Most consumers go online and if they’re putting that much time into searching for a home, an agent better know how to use social media tools to respond. He believes that the internet is the “largest potential source” for leads. According to him 60% of buyers go with the agent who first got back to them.
Can you respond to a buyer quicker if you find them through social media channels?
From the breakout sessions from Keller Williams’ Family Reunion this year I learned some other interesting facts about buyers’ use of the internet:
- The first step all buyers used in the buying process was the internet.
- In 2010, using a real estate agent was at the top of the list for finding a home at 48%; Using the internet, 37%.
- Most important aspect to customers when viewing a realtors website? Property photos were number one (85%) and detailed info about properties a close second (83%).
But, the number one way in which buyers found their agent? A referral by a friend, neighbor or relative. What do buyers want most from an agent? The overwhelming majority is to help them find the right home to purchase.
Most important factors in choosing the right agent for the job? Honest and trustworthy was number one and reputation of the agent, a close second.
What we have to determine is how to take the best from each method of selling. I’m certain that we’ll have to hone our social media skills, but we can’t forget the importance of getting in front of a customer, shaking his/her hand and connecting on a human level as well.
It’s a delicate balance and at the end of day, my opinion is we’ve got to do both without one taking precedence over the other. All things in moderation and let’s not forget the most important element within all this technology and/or “old-school” arguments--our customers come first.
What’s your opinion on social media? Have you used it to increase your business or generate leads? Do you spend more time in social media or in socializing face-to-face with clients? Leave me a comment and/or voice your opinion!