Are you looking for ways to improve your real estate firm’s client experience?
Many clients have a love/hate relationship with sales and salespeople, so a great place to start is understanding aspects of the sales process that are commonly disliked.
From here you can evaluate the process in your own firm – are any of these common pitfalls occurring?
Purchasing a property may be one of the biggest investments your client will ever make, and many have big plans for their new home.
For example, in some towns vacation rentals are a popular source of extra income for investors. If this is a goal for your client, you need to understand exactly what that entails. There are often local ordinances restricting the location of vacation rentals, so there’s no sense in showing a property that cannot be used for that purpose.
Other common local regulations are zoning or environmental protection rules, which could impact whether or not a property is a suitable choice for your client. These laws govern the way property owners can build out and maintain their homes. People hate to fall in love with a property only to find that they can’t use it for what they intended!
Clients cannot stand when it’s obvious that the agent has not done their homework before showing them a property. Sometimes the property may have been a good match on paper, but there are issues with it that only come to light upon visual inspection.
Successful agents will inspect all properties before showing and take note of even minute details which may annoy the client. This way they are prepared to answer any questions.
There’s an old stereotype of the salesperson, one who has a gift for verbosity and could sell their own grandma. Many people seem to believe that success in sales comes from your ability to talk… and talk… and talk…
If you’re doing all the talking, when will you have time to listen to the client? Talking too much gives the appearance that you are not confident in the property, or have something to hide. Besides, how frustrated do you get when someone talks so much that you can’t get a word in?
Commissions are a common complaint from real estate clients: many feel that they are unjustifiably large. The “unjustifiably” part is the keyword here…
Agents need to demonstrate immediate, upfront value to clients, to the point where they wouldn’t question the commission. This means doing their homework on properties and client needs, preparing to demonstrate their experience (past sales, length of time properties are on the market before being sold…) and could even include a presence on online real estate portals, especially if they have good reviews.
Another great way for agents to demonstrate value to clients is to prepare customized reports of properties for their clients. It’s the attention to detail and clear understanding of their needs that clients appreciate.
This concept follows on from client perceptions about real estate commissions. Most are acutely aware of how agents make their living from real estate. This means they can be predisposed to feel that the agent is using “hard sell” techniques.
Transparency is the antidote to any feelings from the client that they are being pressured. Agents should explain why and how each milestone of the process works, including why there could be times that a quick decision is required.
More assertive techniques should be reserved for the marketing of properties, not communication with the clients.
Are you up to speed with how online portals such as Zillow work? Chances are good that clients today have done some homework online, and have probably narrowed down a few properties in the area based on their search, or looked up their own if they’re selling.
This means they’ll have questions from their online searches and expect you to answer them. For example, Zillow has the “Zestimate” feature – sellers and buyers alike will want to know what it means and how it affects the sale price.
Like it or not, online real estate sites have become a part of doing business today. If you understand them and are prepared for the questions that come up about them from clients, you will help people trust and feel a sense of value from you.
Most agents have busy schedules with multiple clients and tasks to get through, but this isn’t an excuse not to respond to clients in a timely manner.
A Realtor Mag article shows that 75% of online leads received by real estate professionals were either ignored or responded to too late. Another thing real estate clients hate: when agents “pull a Houdini” and disappear until closing day once the client has decided on a specific property.
As with any customer-serving industry, you need to start with the customer’s perspective in mind. For them, their potential property is a big investment and often one that has been a long time in the making. A slow response can cause their confidence in you to waver, and you may lose their business altogether.
A great way of understanding the client is to have them fill out a questionnaire prepared beforehand – a template could work well for your agency. What are the key attributes that are important to them in their property? Do they need to be within a certain school zone or within a certain distance of work?
If you get this preliminary homework on the client right, you will narrow down exactly which properties to show them, communicating to the client that you value their time and opinions.
Want real estate clients to love you? Start from their perspective.
This includes understanding your local regulatory environment, having knowledge of listings online and conducting a visual inspection of properties yourself.
Create a list of any potential issues you notice with the property so you’re prepared to be transparent with the client. Attention to detail goes a long way toward creating trust with the client – this goes for renters too if rentals are a part of your business.
This goes hand-in-hand with understanding the client’s needs – remember the old “two ears, one mouth” saying and use them proportionately! (Or as Zig Ziglar said, “stop selling, start helping”).
When clients feel pressured or that you are just pushing to close the deal and get your commission, it’s either because you’re being overly aggressive or they are missing or not understanding vital information about the sales process. Give them the space to freely speak about any of their concerns and ensure that you are transparent in addressing the whole process.
You are guaranteed to see better results if you let the client talk more while you listen. This communicates that you value their perspective.
“I like to think of sales as the ability to gracefully persuade, not manipulate, a person or persons into a win-win situation” – Bo Bennett
If responding in a timely manner is challenging for you, setting up systems such as autoresponders could be helpful. Likewise, if you have a number of tasks to complete and need to keep track of them all, organizational or to-do systems are valuable.
The client is looking for an acknowledgement, so even an autoresponder explaining that you are attending to an appointment but will get back to them is better than total radio silence.
There are many apps available to provide auto texts or emails, depending on the device you are using…
There are also a few different tools available for CRM, including task management in the real estate industry (Follow Up Boss being one of them!). With so many options available, you may want to check out our article on picking tools that will optimize your sales process first.
The key to avoiding things that clients commonly hate about the real estate sales process is to start by putting yourself in their shoes.
How do you prefer to be treated when making a major sale or purchase decision?
If you understand this, do your homework on properties first and conduct yourself with transparency throughout the process, clients are more likely to enjoy doing business with you, come back for more and refer their friends!