I had lunch with a new real estate agent a few weeks ago, and he was complaining that it was hard to get business from his friends and family. In fact, most people he met saw him as something other than a Realtor® - a member of the neighborhood association, a parent, or a friend.
I started realizing that that’s a problem for a lot of Realtors®. Just like the tomboyish girl in high school, or the guy who’s got all the female friends but no girlfriend, we get put into the “friend zone” and people don’t even realize we’re Realtors®.
Fortunately, you don’t have to stay in the “friend zone”. You can make yourself known as an agent and actively solicit business. Here are three techniques you can use – it just takes a little self-confidence.
Friend Zone Buster #1: Talk about Work
Everyone seems to talk about their job. Why not you? You don’t have to join the complain-and-groan sessions. In fact, talk about how happy you are in your job. When they inevitably ask what you do, explain that you’re an agent. Talk about what you love about the business – except money. This is not the time to talk about great pay or unlimited income.
After you’ve expressed why you love real estate, ask how they felt the last time they moved. Ask if they used an agent, and why. Ask if they know anyone who’s moving right now and needs help. Do all of this naturally in the course of conversation, not as a rapid fire interview, of course.
Why this works: First of all, it gets the word out that you’re a real estate agent, which can be really important when people know you in other contexts. Secondly, it shows you’re happy and successful in your work. When someone wants an agent, they will want one that loves the job and exudes confidence and excitement about the buying and selling process.
Friend Zone Buster #2: Ask Friends and Family for Feedback on Your Marketing Materials
This one is kinda sneaky, but it’s a great way to get honest feedback from your sphere of influence while also spreading the word that you’re an agent. Ask people what they think of fliers, business cards, leaflets, postcards – anything! Ask if it would influence them to choose you as an agent.
This is a great way to find out if your marketing is actually effective to the people you’re trying to reach. If they react poorly, ask them why. Maybe they will bring up objections about Realtors® they have that aren’t related to your materials – you can talk to them about it, or you can consider addressing those concerns in other marketing outreaches.
Why it works: No one likes being sold, but everyone loves to be an expert. When you ask your friends and family for feedback, they will be happy to give you their $0.02, where if you just gave them a flier as marketing they would probably just throw it away. The more of your materials they see, the more cemented you are in their mind as a professional agent, not just a friend.
Friend Zone Buster #3: Be an Expert on Local Happenings and Real Estate
Now, I’ll start right away by saying I’m not talking about the boorish expert who turns every conversation to their real estate expertise – the one people flee from at parties as soon as they have a chance. I’m talking about a being real, friendly, go-to person about your target neighborhoods.
It’s important to connect this expertise with your real estate work. You’ll want people to know you’re an expert because you’re a Realtor®, not just because you’re a social butterfly. Again, it takes some tact and grace to make this one work. But when you get it down, you’ll be non-threatening, but known as a knowledgeable and professional agent, not just a friend.
Why it works: Everyone likes to know what’s going on in their neck of the woods, or even in neighboring towns. A festival, new restaurant, or new development is a worthy topic of conversation to most people. It’s a very non-threatening way to make sure people know you’re an agent without feeling like you’re “selling” them on your services.
As a Realtor®, you can’t afford to be in the “friend zone”. You need folks to know that you are an excited, knowledgeable, and professional real estate agent. However, you already know that trying a hard sell with your friends and family drives people away. By using the three techniques above, you can soft sell your circle of influence and bust out of the “friend zone” for good.
How do you stay out of the “friend zone”? Share in the comments!