I recently finished reading Seth Godin’s Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, which is written for people still toiling away inside corporations but it offers some interesting insights that we can use as real estate and home staging professionals too.
Godin argues that every workplace has traditionally had “management” and “labor” but that now there is an important third group, which he calls “linchpins.” Regardless of whether they are low down or high up in the pecking order, these are the people who make things happen. They create order out of chaos, make connections and they lead others. In so doing, they become indispensable to their organizations because they are the essential elements that hold everything together.
I would argue that a great real estate agent or home stager is a linchpin.
Our clients are facing one of the most stressful times in their lives. We all know that moving is right up there with death and divorce as one of the most stressful life events. Now consider how many people have to sell their homes and move because of death or divorce, or other major life changes like a new baby on the way, a new job, transfer to another city, etc.
When people are in a time of change, they're stressed, feel overwhelmed and sometimes operate from a place of fear (this is not where best decisions are made). Many are just looking for someone to tell them what to do!
As a real estate agent or home stager, you can be the calm voice in the storm. The "friend" who provides advice and organization. The person who isn't emotionally involved in the situation and can provide perspective.
When I first meet a client for a home staging consultation, most of them look like a deer caught in the headlights ! I suspect you find the same if you're a real estate agent dealing with a listing presentation or when you're there to sign the contracts or negotiate an offer.
By the end of our staging consultation time, my client's shoulders aren’t pulled up to their ears, their faces are more relaxed and they know exactly what needs to happen to get their home ready to hit the real estate market. The home seller has regained their feeling of control, and that’s why the panic is gone.
When Real Estate Agents Become Trusted Advisors, They Have a Client for Life!
I believe real estate agents can do the same by taking the time to listen to their clients' and potential clients' concerns and fears and explaining what's going to happen step by step.
I've sold 7 homes in 4 cities with different agents over the years and I can honestly say that the agents who got my listing every time, were the ones who seemed the calmest and most knowledgeable. They were the ones who provided a logical argument for their pricing strategy and backed it up with facts.
But choosing an agent (like buying a house) isn't a purely logical decision, it's an emotional one too. It's the agent who shows they actually care who comes out ahead. They were the ones who took the time to show me the competition in my market and explain how we could gain a competitive edge together, through how well my home showed, the pricing and their marketing plan.
Whenever I've bought a home, the agents who won my business were the ones who seemed most knowledgable about the neighborhoods and homes I was considering. They found out what my biggest concerns and needs were and made sure they could talk to those. If any agent wasn't a parent, I still expected them to know alot about local schools. If the neighborhood was "up and coming," I expected them to be honest about that and point out which streets were trouble and which weren't.
The great agents are organized and always did what they said they would, which built my trust. When moving to different cities, I chose my agents not by referral, but by their websites (this was even before Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.).
The "Social Web" is the perfect medium to build trust with prospective clients because it gives you multiple opportunities to educate them, without having to do it all one prospect at a time!
This means you can leverage your time more effectively, which is key to building a successful long-term business. Instead of spending hours knocking on doors one-by-one trying to drum up leads, you could take those same hours and create a video or write some keyword-rich educational articles that position you as a knowledgeable and trusted advisor.
Do you think, are you a linchpin? Do you create order out of chaos and make connections for your clients as well as your own real estate or home staging business? Please add your thoughts, we all learn from the discussions here.
Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Voice of Possibility Group Inc.