By Alan Shafran and Rick Bengson
Without good communication, you don’t have a business. Whether you’re staying in touch via telephone, face-to-face, IM, text or email; communication is the interpersonal ‘glue’ that holds everything together, cementing the foundations of your team, and sealing every crack to create a seamless and cohesive unit.
By paying close attention to what you say and how you say it, this communication aspect of being a REALTOR® is vital in perfecting your sales relationships with other agents and the clients who buy and sell homes.
There are many unique relationships involved in each of the 100 transactions of your growing business. These will require excellent communications between the listing agent and showing agents, the agent and seller, the agent and buyer, and the agents on the team in your office.
Fundamentally, without taking the initiative to improve and maintain high standards of communication, any business will fall apart. Yet, communication is especially important in real estate. There needs to be ongoing team work and you need to keep customers in the loop, and happy, at all times.
If you want to have any hope of creating a business that can successfully achieve 100 deals then, absolutely, communication is one of the most important building blocks.
Email, direct mail, word of mouth, and telemarketing – these are the tools in your arsenal. Like any well-equipped tool box, you should use all of these tools together to get the job done, but always consider where to put your emphasis.
When asked to rate the effectiveness of marketing tools, using a sliding scale, real estate agents concluded the following, with 1 = extremely ineffective and 5 = extremely effective:
• Word of Mouth (referrals): 4.52
• Personal Sales: 4.05
• Email: 3.72
• Direct Mail: 2.89
• Signage: 2.33
• Telemarketing: 2.04
(Source: Investigating Media Effectiveness in Residential Real Estate Marketing: The Agent’s Perspective.)
Utilized together, these comprehensive tools will help to market and drive your business through active communication.
Good Communication is Good Business?
• Yes, good communication means drastically increased revenue.
• Effective communication is a leading indicator of financial performance.
• Companies that communicate effectively significantly outperform their peers.
• Companies with effective internal communications show 57 % higher shareholder return compared with organizations with less effective internal communications (stats from Watson Wyatt, Communication ROI Study, Communication World, May/June 2008).
• Agencies that communicate effectively are 4.5 times more likely to report high levels of worker engagement.
• According to Gallup polls, workers who have an above-average attitude toward their work generate 38% higher customer satisfaction scores, 22% higher productivity, and 27% higher profits for their companies (Source: Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Transforming Your Workforce from High-turn-over to High-Retention, Gregory Smith, 2005)
What is Good Communication?
Communication in real estate needs to be often, it needs to be flexible to accommodate the client’s lifestyle and characteristics, and it needs to be efficient.
Client Communication – Success Requires Transparency
Communication with clients today hinges largely on the transparency that you provide them. This transparency is basically giving clients the ability to see what’s actually going on with the purchase or sale of their home.
In our marketplace, sellers are increasingly demanding a transparent relationship. They want to know what you are doing to sell their house. They want to be informed during every step of the process or they would like to know that, at least, they can go somewhere and check up on that process.
Guarding this kind of information is a practice that is dead. Today’s sellers demand partnerships with their agents. You must rise to this challenge, or face the prospect of complaining clients…
In fact, the top three seller complaints are ALL related to poor communication:
• The agent doesn’t return phone calls.
• The agent doesn’t call unless we call first.
• We don’t know what the agent is doing to sell our property.
Remember: bad communication is the biggest contributor to low productivity and negative client relationships.
Sellers don’t care if it’s time-consuming – they expect good, consistent communication from their agents! For instance, email is an effective, low-cost and trackable way to keep in touch with clients and prospects. Below we will look at how you can automate this communication tool to better serve you – and your clients.
Your crankiest customers are broadcasting to the world! And, nowadays, word of mouth isn’t limited to their closest acquaintances… Real estate agent rating sites are proliferating on the internet, making it fast and easy for unhappy clients to share their complaints with potential customers in your area (and around the globe!). Zillow.com now offers agent ratings and sites like www.agentratingz.com allow consumers to rate their REALTOR®.
Of course, there are also Twitter, Facebook, Yelp.com, blogs, and an onslaught of other social media avenues for broadcasting complaints to a huge audience today. Inevitably, these online complaints mirror these top three seller complaints. For instance, here are several real complaints from a real estate agent rating site:
“This real estate agent was extremely unresponsive and would take weeks to return calls and emails. We decided to move on to someone more efficient and knowledgeable.”
“Agent failed to communicate while house was on the market. Waited until the market fell so bad in my area, I was unable to sell. He never called to let us know the market conditions, failed to communicate weekly…”
Similarly, sellers who don’t hear from you on a frequent basis will speak out:
“Did not answer emails or phone calls, or text messages.”
“…does not provide updates even when requested and avoids phone calls…It takes her several days (or never) to return calls.”
“In today’s market, communication and customer service skills are key to keeping clients. I am moving on to another REALTOR®… not because my house hasn’t sold, but because I do not feel the quality of service I desire is present.” (Source: http://www.realestateratingz.com)
Research shows that people will tell others about negative experiences two to three times more often than they’ll mention a positive experience. While a happy customer will tell no more than five people – if that – on average, an unhappy customer will tell 15 people! Then those 15 people will tell five more each… and the poison pool spreads, getting worse in the telling. (Source: How damaging is negative word of mouth? – Marketing Bulletin, 1995)
Therefore, if a client is particularly unhappy with your service, you will lose not just the current listing, but future ones. We have seen that 18% of buyers and 26% of sellers will use agents they have used before. Multiple studies have shown that it costs 5 to10 times more money to replace lost customers than to retain current customers. (Source: Profit Brand, by Nick Wreden)
Furthermore, over a half of the 3,500+ consumer respondents in an Accenture survey reported their expectations for better service have increased over the past five years. A majority of consumers reported that they had quit doing business with a company due to poor service.
The bottom line is: clients will leave for your competition if they aren’t treated well, so pay close attention to every aspect of communication and strive to foster positive relationships with these walking, talking advertisements.
Also in this chapter: How often should you communicate with clients; the team approach to communication; staying on script; nurturing leads and much more.
To learn more about or purchase “Blueprint for 100 Deals or More Than $1 Million Per Year in Income,” visit: http://www.blueprintfor100deals.com/.
Rick Bengson is the CEO and Co-Founder of ShowingSuite, Inc. a leading real estate productivity software company, and Co-Creator of HomeFeedback.com. Alan Shafran is the owner of The Alan Shafran Group, selling up to 175 homes per year. To learn more about “Blueprint for 100 Deals or More Than $1 Million Per Year in Income,” visit: http://www.blueprintfor100deals.com/.
Editor’s Note: “Blueprint for 100 Deals or More Than $1 Million Per Year in Income: The exact systems and technology to sell 100+ homes, every year—no matter the market,” is a new book by leading real estate industry executives Alan Shafran and Rick Bengson that outlines how to build your business as well as make more money, please more customers and improve your overall quality of life, whether you are a novice or climbing the ladder in the real estate business. For the next several weeks, RISMedia will be running portions of each chapter every Wednesday or Thursday, highlighting the in-depth information and invaluable resources the authors have compiled in this exciting, new publication.
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