The first "first impression..."
Today in real estate, and in many other professions, your initial “first impression” is either via a prospecting letter or card in the mail, a blog post, or a page on your website.
That means your words need to be “right.” They have to sound friendly and conversational, and be free from glaring grammar, word usage, and spelling errors. They don’t have to be the kind of “proper” that would please your High School English teacher – and in fact shouldn’t. That kind of writing is not friendly or conversational. It’s generally stiff and boring.
(If you feel shaky about grammar, check out the posts listed here.)
Your words also have to be focused on your readers, and on how their problems can be solved or their desires fulfilled when they have your assistance. Please, please, please never begin a letter with “I want…”
You do need to convey your expertise, but you can do it subtly through the information you present, and you can share it in your agent bio – the only page on your site which should be “About You.” And yes, even that page should focus on how who you are is a benefit to your clients.
If that first impression is a good one, you get to make a second “first impression:” The phone call.
Be Prepared. While answering inquires at lightning speed is desirable, if you know why they’re calling, as with an inquiry about a specific listing, take 45 seconds to look up the information and have it in front of you. Review it while the phone is ringing. If you get inquiries from potential listing clients, keep a copy of your latest market report handy for quick referral.
Have your appointment book handy, so you can schedule a meeting.
Think a pleasant thought and put on your smile before you answer or dial the phone. A smile does show over the phone, so don’t dial without it!
Of course, if this was an Internet lead, you may not have a phone number to call. But if you do, make the most of it! If you're emailing back - smile and feel gratitude for the lead before you begin to type.
And now – the final “First impression.”
This time it will be in person. Here’s how to make it not just good, but great:
Dress appropriately. I can’t tell you what that is in your particular market, but I can tell you what it is not, because I’ve seen it many times. It’s not baggy sweatpants. It’s not an old t-shirt that you’d wear to wash the car. It’s not a 3-piece suit or a dress and heels if you’re going to list or show farm land or horse property. It’s not a slinky cocktail dress. (Yep, I saw that at 10 a.m. in a real estate office.)
Be on time. There’s no better way to make a bad impression than to show up late. I don’t know if being late and unapologetic, or late, apologetic, rushed, and frazzled is worse. Both can ruin your chances of a good relationship.
If something happens (like a flat tire or a wreck on the road ahead of you) and you can’t make it on time, take the time to call. Never leave people sitting there waiting and wondering if you’ll show at all.
Wear a smile. You’re glad that you have the opportunity to meet and work with new clients. Show it with a genuine, warm smile. Let them feel that you’re happy to meet them.
Again - Be prepared. Whether you’re going to a listing appointment or meeting with a buyer, prepare yourself. Have the information you need on hand.
If it’s a listing and the home has been listed before, have information about those previous listings. Know the assessed value. Know about the school district. In short, be able to confine your questions to information you can’t get on line or at the County recorder’s office. Then – know the comps in the neighborhood.
Of course – have listing or purchase paperwork with you and be able to explain every paragraph.
If you’re meeting with a buyer, be prepared to talk about buyer agency and have the form with you. Be ready to take notes on their preferences. If you have buyer want/need forms, have them handy.
If you have an appointment to show or discuss homes in a certain neighborhood, know the answers to common buyer questions about that neighborhood.
Being prepared will impress your potential clients in two ways. With the information, of course, but also with your relaxed and confident attitude – the attitude that comes from being prepared.
Note that there’s a huge difference between confident and cocky. We trust confidence while we shy away from cocky. So don’t spend time bragging about yourself and your accomplishments. Instead, focus on your prospects and show them what you can do for them in more subtle ways.
Pay attention to body language. If you’re talking too much, your prospects will start to fidget, look at the time, or show other signs of wanting to get away. Stop and put the focus back on them. Do they have questions? Ask them.
Be positive. No one but a total grump enjoys being around a Negative Nellie, so take a positive approach, even if there are some negatives to handle.
Pay sincere compliments. Whether it’s about the house, about a buyer’s or seller’s preparedness, about their cute dog, or about how well their children behave, find some good things to say. Remember that their first impression of you will be greatly influenced by how you make them feel.
Ask good questions. This, of course, goes back to being prepared. Have a list of questions in your head, but then adjust it to fit the conversation. You don’t want to come off sounding “canned.”
You don’t need to restrict your questions to their need to buy or sell. Show an interest in them, as well. Ask about their careers, their hobbies, their fields of expertise. When you let people talk about themselves and their interests, and pay obvious attention to what they say, you’ll be known as a nice person and a great conversationalist.
After the meeting … one more step. Write a Thank You note.
Thank sellers for showing you their home. Either thank them for listing with you and tell them what comes next, or if they haven’t made a decision yet, thank them for considering you.
Thank buyers for allowing you to show them homes. If they’ve signed a buyer agreement, thank them for that and assure them that you’ll be in touch regularly.
Hand-written thank you notes are rare, so you'll stand out from every other agent your prospects have met.
Hopefully, this meeting will result in a listing or a relationship with a buyer, if not an immediate offer.
If not, stay in touch regularly. Whether that should be weekly, twice per week, or even daily depends upon the prospect and their urgency.
Mailbox Image courtesy of Felixco, Inc. @freedigitalphotos.net
Ringing phone courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Thank you note courtesy of Morgue File