Every day there are potential clients looking for a real estate agent to represent them. Many ask their friends and family for referrals, some scour the web to find a match, while others choose blindly. What does it take to get potential clients to hire you to represent them in the purchase or sale of a home? Let's look at some ways you can make a lasting first impression, when a prospect calls you over the phone, so you can set up an in-person meeting and get them to choose you as their agent.
Most prospects will interview a variety of real estate agents before settling on one. To be successful in convincing these leads that you are the agent for their needs, you need to be well prepared for the interview process, which starts with the first phone call.
First impression. The prospect's first impression may start online vs. over the phone as they research you before calling or meeting face-to-face. Make sure your personal/office website and profiles on social media are up-to-date. Nothing like having a prospect look at your profile on LinkedIn, only to see a limited profile, an old headshot, or no work history past 2006.
When you receive a call from a prospect looking to find an agent, remember this is your chance to make a great first impression. Always answer the phone with a smile on your face and confidently respond to their questions. Let your personality shine. Leave them feeling like their questions are of great value ("I'm glad you asked"; "That's a great neighborhood and I would be happy to share some insights."
Stay in control of the conversation if they begin asking a barrage of questions. Gently interrupt and encourage them to set up a face-to-face meeting. "You mentioned wanting to meet face-to-face. Let's set up a time when I can answer all of your questions and show you more information about the neighborhoods you mentioned." If you can get them in to your office, you will have a better chance of convincing them to hire you.
Probing questions. Before ending the call, ask questions about their wants and needs. Are they looking to buy or sell? Where are they currently living? Rent/own? Single/married? Favorite neighborhoods? Condo or single-family home? Pre-qualified? Urban or rural? (see graphic)
Research prospect. Before the face-to-face interview, do a little bit of research of your own. Look at their LinkedIn profile to learn more about their background and interests. Look at what they're posting on Facebook. If you're lucky, you'll see posts of homes they've already shown interest in (research the homes before the face-to-face interview) or images of their current home. Knowing this information will help you make a stronger, more personal connection with them.
Body language. If you ever participated in speech in high school or college, you likely received feedback on your body language. I remember being told that I shift my weight from foot to foot (I had no idea). If you've never had someone look at your body language, you might consider videoing yourself in a client interview. This will give you an opportunity to correct things like fidgeting (nervousness) or crossing your arms over your chest (defensiveness). Overall, you want to stay relaxed, lean in at times to show you're listening, and mimic their body language (ex. ankle crossed over knee).
Mentally prepare. Go into the interview confident that you will be a good match. Picture them as your client. Visualize them hiring you and signing a listing agreement / buyer's contract.
Knowledge. Prospects will not only want to hear about your background but what you know about the local housing market. They need to know they're hiring someone with experience, who knows the neighborhoods they're interested in, and someone who understands their housing needs (ex. suburban setting vs. downtown living).
New agents. If you're a new agent, you might consider talking to an experienced agent to get tips on what it takes to convince hesitant prospects to hire an inexperienced agent. You might even consider having an agent (mentor) join you for the interview to help instill confidence in the prospect. If you decide to do this, let the prospect know ahead of time.
In-person interview. When you first sit down to be interviewed face-to-face, you will most likely start by answering questions about your background and experience. While sharing your experience, you can begin to tie in the information they initially shared over the phone. "On the phone, you mentioned an interest in the Bellingham neighborhood. I have sold an extensive amount of homes in that area over the past 10 years and would be happy to answer any questions." This shows that you're a good listener which, in turn, establishes faith in your abilities as a professional, organizational skills, as well as trust.
Be a good listener. If you listen first, you'll be able to answer their questions and tie in additional, relevant information they need to know about you and your services. Ask open-ended questions and avoid interrupting. When a prospect feels heard, they are more likely to trust and hire you.
Emphasize your strengths. What do past clients love about you? What compliments have you received from your colleagues? Share quotes from clients, which emphasize why they would want to choose you over another agent. Again, if you can tie this in while answering questions, you will improve your chances of winning them over. "You mentioned your last agent seemed to rush through the process of showing you homes. I recently had a client compliment me on my patience as we looked at nearly 30 homes before finding the 'one'. I enjoy giving clients the time to really take in a home before moving on to the next".
Sales history. Prospects will often ask about your sales record. How many homes did you close in the last year? This might be a good time to share your negotiating skills to further backup your numbers.
References. Be prepared to share at least 3 references who are not related to you. You could even refer prospects to your website to look at reviews. You could have a printout as part of your introductory binder.
Technology. Younger buyers are more tech savvy than ever before. Be prepared to address questions about finding/selling homes with Smart technology. If technology is a priority to a buyer, having knowledge about cell phone dead zones and high speed internet availability can leave a positive impression on prospects, possible swaying them to choose you as their agent.
Being prepared to be interviewed by prospects will increase your chances of gaining new clients and a boosting your sales funnel. Update your online presence, ask probing questions during the initial phone conversation, research the prospect before meeting in-person, practice good listening skills, and deliver the information they're seeking. By being prepared for the interview, you will be the last agent they need to interview because they will quickly realize you're the best choice. TIP: For safety reasons, make sure someone else is in the office when meeting a prospect for the first time.