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Realtors, answering the phone is not sexy, but…

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Answering The Phone Is Not Sexy but….

I know, I know… this has been said before and so many times.

I know, I know, we all forget.

I hate to answer the phone, I would much rather text or email, especially if I don’t recognize the number.

Recently, by picking up the phone I have received a new listing and 2 new buyers. And it is not unusual to hear them say, “oh, I didn’t expect you to answer.”

One of the buyers called from my Google Profile,two from different blog posts I had written. All moving in or selling from out of town. YAY,!…no referral fees.

We spend a lot of time on our marketing in the digital age, Our profiles are up there everywhere, we spend hours blogging on neighborhoods, and communities.

Why?

Well most of us would say, that is where the consumers are…online. But, being online is fruitless if we don’t pick up the phone. After all, these are just tools, in the age of Digital Marketing.

By the time the potential buyer or seller calls…they are ready.

Communication

Rob Hahn, recently wrote a post, What’s up with REALTORS Who Love Technology. In the post he quotes a NAR survey about what consumers want. 

93% of all consumers wanted responsiveness as skill from their REALTOR.

Recently on Twitter someone DM’d me and asked,”What is a Technology Realtor?” (That’s under my Bio on Twitter.)

Technology is the skill that we use to pull buyers and sellers to us. It is not the skill that makes them “decide” to work with us. Responsiveness from their REALTOR is high up there at 93% of what consumers want.

Smart Phones

We all have them, we brag about them, we compare them, we get the latest and greatest apps, we “play” with them. But, do we answer them?

Answering the phone is not sexy… but it works!

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Ben Goheen

    April 26, 2011 at 8:58 am

    This is the #1 item on my list of real estate pet peeves. In the past few years, I'd guess that 95% of the time I get a voicemail. The only time I don't answer is when I'm in the middle of an appointment, or it doesn't ring because sometimes phones are fun like that.

    Most of the time I regret taking the out of area calls – they are mostly solicitations. But in those cases the end button is my friend.

  2. Jeff Brown

    April 26, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Hey Missy — Your thoughts are nothing short of common sense, a bar challengingly high for a large sector of our industry. If I didn't answer my phone, I'd be asking folks if they needed help with their bags out to the car.

    I'm reminded of Russell Shaw's searing observation, "It's so simple, even a Realtor can do it." Apparently for many, figuring out that answering their phone is a 'good thing' isn't so simple for some. Most days I have at least one caller who takes the time to express their surprise and appreciation for having their phone call answered, and for the time spent with them on the call.

    Really? I get kudos for answering their call and spending time with them? If that doesn't speak volumes to some of these yahoos, I don't know what would.

  3. Missy Caulk

    April 26, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Jeff, it is amazing to me how many are "shocked" when we answer. Lately it has been well worth it and..

    Ben I think this is why I cringe but as I get more solicitations I just add them to my address book, DO NOT (first name) ANSWER (last name)

    • Ron Armstrong

      April 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Missy, Wanted to write just to say loved the idea of answering the phone but then read your comment about adding them via DO NOT (first name) ANSWER (last name)! That alone was worth the price of admission! (I know this was free but my time is not).
      Thanks,
      Ron

    • Ben Goheen

      April 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      Missy: I added a contact named 'spam' on my phone. Every solicitor that calls gets added to the list and I set that number to never ring. They don't leave a message, so I'm now oblivious to their calls.

      • Debbie McBee

        April 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm

        What a simple solution!

        Missy ~ Spot on with your post.

      • Missy Caulk

        April 27, 2011 at 6:27 am

        Nice!

    • Gina Kline

      October 7, 2011 at 6:31 am

      With the solicitors, my "smart" phone also has a smart trick: after saving the number and labeling it as DO NOT ANSWER (or I use SALES CALL) I can also set that number to automatically be sent to voicemail…and then I don't even have to listen to it ring!

      I handle answering my phone the same as you…I answer unless with a customer or in another situation where it would be rude to answer. Thanks for the post~

      about.me/ginajaxfl

  4. Mark Jacobs

    April 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Answering the phone is not sexy, but a requirement if you want to take your business to the next level

  5. Sig

    April 27, 2011 at 5:22 am

    If I didn't want to "Talk" to you I wouldn't have called you. When I call, that's your cue to pick up the phone and say "Hello". we can get more done in a 2 minute phone call than a 15 minute test. Face it, something gets lost in a text.

  6. Chris Adams

    April 29, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I don't think it can be stressed enough to pick up the phone – EVERY TIME. The one thing that gets under consumers skin the quickest is having to wait and non-responsiveness. Although answering the phone might not always be feasible (too many calls, birthday parties, middle of the night, etc.) but then it makes a lot of sense to get a virtual receptionist – one agent I knew was using CallRuby to solve that problem.

  7. stephanie crawford

    May 2, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I strggle with this. I too would rather email/text.

  8. Missy Caulk

    May 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Stephanie, I picked up two more buyers just this weekend by answering the phone. And they both told me they had called other agents and had not received call backs.

  9. Jaz Cook

    January 19, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Love your post, I couldn't agree with your more. How about trying to reach a listing agent for 24 to 48 hours and you get their answering machine or no answer. It is 30 second question that does not get answered till 48 hours later. Sellers are not aware of it, Aagh! How difficult is it to answer the phone for 30 seconds, I don't get it, Missy.

  10. Michael Walker

    February 20, 2012 at 3:32 am

    Picking up the phone is business 101. It's the clearest form of communication between two parties other than in person.

    2 years ago. I spent a low 6 figure number for a ready made brand. It included a Top-level their 1-800 custom vanity. With a matching 7 letter .COM domain name and matching twitter and Facebook accounts. I did billboard and television marketing.

    The brand was built on sound fundamentals on searched key phrases and powerful keywords. I rarely e-mail and if I do. It's only to recap a conversion. Email should never be your first communications tools. It's the worst form of communication of the planet and I never text. I'm not 12 years old.

    You guys are professionals. Carry yourself like a professional.

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How to

Where to look for your next short sale listing

As the economy shifts, short sales in real estate continue to be a commonality, and many real estate agents are learning how to improve their skills in performing these types of listings.

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real estate short sales

real estate short sales

2012 Is Still the Year of the Short Sale

Despite what the person in the office next to you might be saying, there are still plenty of opportunities to list a short sale. The Mortgage Forgiveness Act of 2007 is still set to expire at the end of the year; this means that those who want to take advantage of this program need to get their homes listed (and closed) as short sales as soon as possible. Additionally, there are still a number of great relocation assistance programs available through many of the major servicers. With these stars still in alignment, now is a great time to take a few short sale listings.

Here are a few places where you might be able to find your next short sale listing:

  • The office. Listen to the other agents long for the days of yore when listings grew on trees and everyone was making more money than they could imagine. These same agents may not consider short sales their cup of tea. Why not approach those agents and let them know that you are willing to take those transactions off their hands and will gladly accept any referrals?
  • Your accountant. Now, this will not work if you are using TurboTax. But, if you use an accountant or CPA to prepare your taxes, know that he (or she) comes in contact with lots of folks that may need the services of a short sale agent.
  • Online. There are lots of different online platforms where you can obtain pre-foreclosure data. Three popular platforms are www.rebogateway.com, www.realtytrac.com and www.foreclosureradar.com. You can obtain data on all sorts of things, such as pre-foreclosure notices, and recent divorces. Use this data when sending out direct mail.
  • Answer your phone and return all phone calls. I make it my policy to return all phone calls. I answer tons of questions from folks all around the United States about the trials and tribulations of short sales. My general good will has lead to countless short sale listings and referrals.

So the next time you are considering going out to market for more short sale listings, you do not have to go too far. Many of the tools that you need are all around you. The question is: Do is use ‘em?

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Business Marketing

Nurture your leads to turbo-charge your business growth

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Maximizing leads

You get a new lead. Now what? Do you take down their contact details? Put them in your contact management system? Simply jot down their name and phone number in a notebook or on a sticky note?

To maximize the number of leads you convert into clients, you need to nurture your leads. This involves adding them to your contact management system (or CRM) and then subsequently assigning them to a lead nurture program (once some sort of initial contact has been made).

For hot leads, during your initial contact with them you’ll of course want to try to win their business right away. But sometimes people are not ready or don’t agree to use your services immediately and this is where lead nurture programs step into the forefront.

Avoid losing business opportunities

Failure to nurture leads will result in lost business opportunities. The fact of the matter is that there are many people who will contact you to inquire about your services or to learn more about what you have to offer. There’s a good probability that those who are interested but decide not to use your services right way will do business with you in the future. They’re just not ready right now or need more time to deliberate.

So this is where lead nurturing comes into play. It’s best defined as communicating with your leads over time in a way that they would find both valuable and relevant. By doing so, you’re staying “top of mind” until the lead is ready to become a client.

A good contact management system should allow you to create your own lead nurture program or utilize a lead nurture program that’s pre-designed for you. These programs usually consist of a series of emails and phone calls at various points in time. Each time a phone call is made or an email is sent, you’re providing relevant and valuable content to the lead so they’ll come to enjoy hearing from you. Your contact management system should enable you to automate the lead nurture emails you sent out and remind you when to make a phone call.

Lead nurturing is truly a must – effective lead nurturing results in more clients, a higher ROI for your marketing initiatives, and stronger relationships with your sphere. Make sure you don’t let your quality leads fall by the wayside.

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Lead Generation

Gear up for 2012 with short sale leads – tips and tricks

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Are Short Sales Part of Your Business Plan?

With 2012 just around the corner, everyone and her (his) mother is talking about how to make more money than ever before. It’s time to start writing your business plan, putting deals together, and figuring out those new ways to be successful next year. It’s the same every single year. When December arrives, agents assess their closings for the current year, and then they jump for joy or wince uncomfortably.

That being said, 2012 will be another good year for the short sale transaction. And, if you have gotten no other message from all of my weekly columns, get this one: you owe it to yourself and to your past clients to add the short sale transaction to your bag of tricks.

You see… Kevin Bacon aside (that’s my tribute to Six Degrees of Separation), everyone knows someone who knows someone that is having trouble making ends meet right now. So, why not help that individual out of a jam, unload the property, do a good job? This might even result in more short sale leads.

Short sale leads are all around you.

Here are a few ways to get some short sale transactions into your pipeline:

  1. Market Regularly to your Sphere of Influence. It’s not rocket science. If your sphere knows that you can work short sales, they might call you or refer you to someone who needs your help today.
  2. Use Social Media to Connect. Again, I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Reach out to your online friends. Say ‘hi.’ Remind them that you exist and that you are still in the field of real estate. You might be surprised when you learn about how many did not realize that you are still in real estate.
  3. Leverage an Open House. Not sure where to begin your short sale lead campaign? Have an open house at one of your listings in a neighborhood ripe with short sale leads. Create invitations. Invite neighbors (in advance). You might be surprised. The conversation can turn to distressed properties at any given moment. Don’t have a listing? Borrow one!

Finding short sale leads is not as difficult as it may seem. The key is to get out and do something. Do it regularly and consistently, and the leads will come.

 

Photo: flickr creative commons by Orin Zebest

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