About the Author: Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama to two precocious kiddos from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s the founder of Horkey HandBook, a website geared towards helping others find or become a kickass virtual assistant. Gina’s background includes making a living as a professional writer, an online business marketing consultant and a decade of experience in the financial services industry.
When you’re thinking of making a new purchase -– be it a gadget, a family car or even a five-dollar app – what’s the first thing you do? The very first thing…
Do you head out to the nearest dealer and take the car for a test drive? I’m willing to bet that comes later in the buying process.
Most likely, the first thing you do is open a new tab in your browser and do a quick round of research about what kind of reviews your desired product is getting. In fact, when was the last time you made a significant purchase without reading at least a few reviews first?
We’re hardwired to pay attention to what others think about a product or service because we want to make sure we’re making the right choice. This is called social proof, and it’s a shortcut that our brain takes when we’re overwhelmed with too many choices and having to make too many decisions.
Inherently, we believe that because other people have bought a product, they’ve already done their homework on vetting it.
But here comes the disconnect.
While eighty-six percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses (source), and testimonials didn’t even make the top 5 list of things most commonly found on a real estate company’s website, according to the Real Estate in the Digital Age Report released in 2018 by the National Association of Realtors (source).
Reviews are a goldmine, but it can feel awkward to ask for them and frustrating to get a dull one that doesn’t even send the right message to our ideal clients or customers.
And with so many moving parts to a real estate transaction, collecting reviews and testimonials often falls by the wayside during a hectic work day.
Here’s where working with a real estate virtual assistant to collect reviews can help you take advantage of the sales-boosting power of testimonials, without adding more items to your to-do list.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to add “find virtual assistant” to your to-do list either. Horkey HandBook will send qualified virtual assistants straight to your inbox through their free VA Finder service if you want.
Here are four steps that a professional real estate virtual assistant can complete to help set up and manage a system for collecting website-worthy reviews and testimonials – from making the initial ask, to making it easy for your reviewers to say yes and a few ideas on how to incorporate the reviews into your marketing materials.
Knowing the right time to ask for a testimonial will significantly improve your chances of getting one.
Think about it – when is your client most likely to write a glowing review for your services? When they’re satisfied with the results of your work, of course! Which usually occurs once you’ve sealed the deal for them.
I.e. When they’re moving into (our out of) their home. That’s when your help is most likely to be remembered and appreciated.
However, don’t wait until you make ‘the ask’ to mention the testimonial. As soon as you start working with a client, you can start bringing up the fact that you’ll ask for a review once the transaction is complete (plant those seeds, baby!).
The Follow Up Boss crew have put together a list of scripts that you can use at different stages of the sales process to prepare your client for writing a review.
Don’t despair if a reply doesn’t come right away.
Your virtual assistant can follow up with a gentle reminder or two, keeping in mind that moving can be a stressful process for your client. Adding another task to their to-do list (writing real estate agent reviews) might not be a top priority for them, but a timely follow up might provide just the right nudge.
Since you’re asking your client to invest time and energy into writing a testimonial, you should do some of the initial work yourself.
Don’t just email them saying, “Hey Betty – can I get a review from you?” Instead, your virtual assistant can compile a list of ways in which you’ve helped them through the selling or buying process.
Have your VA add notes of all of the times they’ve thanked you, or praised you in person. And don’t be afraid to go into detail – this will help jog their memory!
Another way to make it as easy as possible for your clients to deliver a stellar review is to provide them with a structure.
Don’t think of it as fishing for compliments. It’s just you trying to help your clients remember how you’ve worked together.
A super easy way for a VA to collect the answers is by setting up a Google Form.
You can ask your clients to reply via email, but sending a Google Form with the questions can look more professional, and ensure that all of your questions get an answer (plus they’re compiled all in one place!).
While it looks more professional, a Google Form can come off less personal – you’ll have to make the decision for yourself of automation vs. personalization!
With so many different clients using so many different platforms in the house hunting process, there might be reviews about your services already floating around out there.
One of the tasks that a real estate virtual assistant can help you perform is a monthly audit of what’s being said about your business online. Don’t assume that what your clients are saying to you directly is the whole story. They may have left a review on your Facebook page, your Google Business page, Yelp, Zillow or Trulia.
Your VA should mine the web for reviews on all of these various platforms, and collect them in one place. But don’t just copy-paste the reviews from these platforms. Instead, your VA can take screenshots of the reviews in their original forms, which will look more legitimate than you adding the text (since anyone can do that!).
Once your virtual assistant has secured the testimonials, there’s no point in letting them linger in a folder on your computer.
At this point, your goal should be to get the reviews in front of as many people as possible. Even if the people reading them are not currently on the market for a realtor, they might remember your glowing reviews at the right time, or pass them on to friends or family who are thinking of hiring an agent.
Here are a few ways to showcase your reviews:
Your VA should add the most convincing reviews to your landing page (or the homepage) of your website. Often, potential clients don’t read past the first page, so you want to make sure that they see the nice things that past clients had to say about you.
Don’t crowd your homepage with too many reviews though. A better idea would be to have your VA add a testimonial slider widget – your reviews will constantly rotate to a new one as your website visitor is reading the page.
You can also have them create a dedicated ‘Review’ page to showcase all of the social proof you’re receiving from satisfied customers.
Want to make sure that your testimonials get in front of as many people as possible?
Social media is where it’s at! Your virtual assistant can post the reviews on Facebook, including adding your view on the experience of working with the client if you want. A photo with your client and a “just sold” sign makes a great one-two punch!
Your VA can share reviews to your social platforms as they trickle in, or as a way to bring attention to a new listing. “Here’s what the last client that I helped sell a house in this ZIP code had to say about working together.”
They can also keep track of who sent what review when and follow up with clients over time to ask them to copy/paste their initial review as a Facebook page review or LinkedIn recommendation. Multi-purpose reviews – but don’t ask too many “favors” too fast!
There’s a high chance that people who subscribe to your email list are on the market for a realtor in the near future.
The fact that they’re allowing you into their inbox means that they trust you already. Why not reinforce their trust by showing them how you’ve helped your other clients. It might just be the confirmation they need that you’re the perfect choice for a realtor.
In conclusion, working with a real estate virtual assistant to set up a solid system to ask for, collect and display testimonials is worth the initial time investment. Once you set this process in motion (and reviews start coming in!), you’ll be able to start reaping the rewards!