With the natural reluctance to 'Cold Call', Realtors have been ascribing to the so called new philosophy of building relationships with prospects.
I refer to this as a so called new philosophy because, in reality the real estate business has always been - a one-to-one business!
It is not enough to focus entirely on acquiring new business. Customer retention as well as acquisition strategies should be the objective.
Relationship marketing differs from other forms of marketing in that it recognizes the long term value of keeping customers.
Every relationship has to begin somewhere. Whether we're talking about your life partner, your friends, your neighbours or colleagues, all were unknown to you at some point. Over time you formed a relationship with each of them. Again...over time...you formed a relationship!
We can't skip the 'over time' part.
That would be like the anxious suitor, who says: "Hi, my name is Joe. Will you marry me?"
Every good relationship must pass through a four step cycle if it is to be built on a solid foundation. If you check various resources on relationship marketing, they will all give you different titles for the four steps, depending on how sophisticated you would like to get with the terminology. I like to use the 'KISS' formula and just keep it simple.
Introduction: In real estate sales, there are many and varied ways to find prospects to start the relationship marketing cycle. Direct mail, referrals, networking, social media and your websites/blogs, trade shows, cold calling (does anyone still do that?) and Direct Response Hotlines. However you meet your prospect, or make prospects aware of you, the next step is...
The Meeting: This could be a series of phone calls as well as meetings or a series of extended conversations where you personally introduce yourself, your service, as well as finding out more about your prospect and his/her needs. From here, if all goes well, it may be as simple as moving on to...
The Proposal: This can be as simple as explaining your services and fees verbally or putting the proposal on paper. The last step of the four step cycle is...
The Close: When the prospect accepts your proposal. This process could take a day or two, then again it could take a year or more. However long it takes, you can never skip any of the steps.
The mistake many real estate agents make is in not understanding the steps of the sales cycle or realizing that each step must be taken. The Introduction does not jump directly to The Close. It's a process over time.
(They won't marry you until they get to know you.)
The Introduction merely gets you directly in front of your prospect so that you can begin your relationship marketing cycle.
You still have to put in the effort and work to show and prove to the prospect how you can help. And....you still have to work at building that relationship with him/her.
All of your efforts with direct mail marketing, referrals, networking, your real estate website, trade shows, real estate hotlines or cold calling, are to expose and attract prospects.
Relationship Marketing is that simple!
Agents who find this concept of 'over time' relationship marketing difficult, have no mechanism for consistent follow-up.
The Web may be a "new technology," but that doesn't mean you can't use it as a classic marketing tool to build close, loyal relationships.
Here is an example by way of explanation and illustration:
Suppose your real estate websites are conservatively generating 20 - 30 leads per week and your real estate hotlines are creating (very conservatively) 30 - 70 prospects per week.
As well, your direct mail campaigns, and referrals create another 5 - 10 prospects weekly.
If you don't have some kind of contact management system or customer relationship management software that you use to schedule follow-up calls, appointments and meetings as well as compiling notes from those follow-up calls and meetings, how can you possibly manage to develop relationships with 200 - 500 new prospects each and every month? A good CRM system will allow you to create profiles of all prospects in your database to use for your advantage. Customer relationship management or CRM can increase revenue by as much as 50%.
Unless you have a fear of success, I strongly recommend you
You can then easily and comfortably fill your pipeline. How confident are you going to be on a listing presentation when you know that it's just one of dozens of listings that will be available to you?
Relationship marketing is a very powerful, but very appropriate marketing program for professional real estate agents seeking to build or expand a real estate business with clientele.
Relationship Marketing on Steroids ... Real estate response hotlines! They attract more prospects than any other tool or marketing method with the exception of a ... prospect-pulling real estate website! Set up a hotline system ... run cheap classified ads ... attract ready-to-act buyers and sellers. It's that simple!
Use Social Media for Relationship Marketing: It normally requires more than a handful of Twitter posts to actually get clients to really feel valued. Little individualized touches help as well! A friendly call, personalized cards - things like that will definitely guarantee your clients always remember and refer you.
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