Over the last few months, I have had the chance to catch up with a few of our top performing real estate clients that average over 100 sales a year. These chats tend to wander across a wide range of topics, but my purpose is generally the same. I want to answer two questions: what problems do they have that I can help solve, and how has iRealty helped them achieve success. In this process, I have been surprised to uncover a few reoccurring themes that seem to connect directly with their achievement. I came to realise that these themes could be further reduced to three simple principles that, if followed, would lead any agent to improve their marketing, win more listings, and sell more properties.
1. Relationships trump transactions.
You may have heard the old farmer’s saying, “Don’t eat your seed corn.” It cautioned against a common but ill-thought out desire to enjoy all the fruits of your efforts today, saving nothing for tomorrow. In a way, this sums up the transactional marketing approach as well.
In general, transactional marketing is all about making the sale, while overlooking, or sacrificing, other potential benefits, like relationships and future business. In the past, this approach in the real estate industry came with little cost. Then, the internet knocked on the door.
Today, buyers and sellers want agents and businesses that they can trust, and that align with their values. What they don’t want is an agent that’s willing to sacrifice their client’s needs for a quick sale. And research sites like Ratemyagent help people identify trustworthy agents, and avoid the rest. That’s why a marketing approach that places relationships above transactions is superior. First, savvy researchers will trust agents with positive feedback. But perhaps more importantly, it will lead to more referrals and return business. That’s where the gold is. Instead of constantly chasing deals, relationship focused agents create a steady flow of business that grows over time.
Our top performing clients know this. In their words.
“Old clients have increased their trust, and they want to come back to me. So that’s what we all want to achieve in real estate, but you have to earn it first. Being five years in the industry now, I’ve seen those people come back to market with me, and it has been a very rewarding experience for me.”
Another said this…
“It’s about developing relationships, building relationships, and having a genuine intention to help people. That would be my best advice, and business will come from that.”
So, if you want to increase your sales and gross commission, prioritise relationships over transactions.
2. Build all-star teams and use proven technology to reduce workload, and focus on what matters most.
To say the real estate industry is competitive is a bit of an understatement. More like a blood sport. As such, agents that micromanage all aspects of their business will be out-competed by teams with specialised individuals. Top performing agents know this, and wisely focus their energy where it matters most, and find talented team members to carry the rest of their load.
One client shared this transition with me when he said…
”You know, I wore out the shoe leather on my soles when I started, I probably had calluses on my hands from door knocking, and I blew up a few printers from printing so much. Those days have changed for me. It’s much more a team environment.”
Unfortunately, teams are expensive. However, technology can also help reduce cost and workload by cutting manual tasks that eat up resources. These days you don’t need to canvass your entire database in person to stay top-of-mind. You can use apps like iRealty to keep in touch en masse and identify individuals to target.
That’s how another client did it. In their words…
“Everything that we did on a print media scenario is more propelled into the digital world now, and I feel like people are getting the information from me, while I am actually employing and outsourcing the digital interaction. And it’s creating more opportunities without chasing it as much as we used to.”
Once you’ve built a solid team, and have effective tools, your workload should drop enough to focus on your strengths as an agent. That’s what happened for this top Sydney agent…
“We have minimal time to spend on things like this. My job’s more well spent with listing and selling, speaking with people, rather than spending time on social media and creating ads. For me, it’s more about engaging prospective clients and pre-existing clients, and to service them, providing the right advice.”
3. Focus teams and systems on improving the client journey.
The single largest purchase for most Australians will be a home. For those who have been through the process, they’re familiar with the doubt, excitement, stress, fright, frustration, and final relief. For this reason, home buyers and sellers desperately want an experienced guide to lead them through their journey.
These days, this journey begins long before they walk through your office doors or a Saturday inspection. It begins with online exploration and research of their property market. From the earliest phase of this process, top agents offer their expertise to develop trust as soon as possible. That way, when a homeowner decides to sell, their choice of agent is already made.
In one of my recent conversations, our client made this clear…
“Not everyone’s in real estate mode, you see. There’s only so many people in the market that are in real estate mode: listing, selling, buying, investing, or whatever their situation. For all those other passive people, you need to be able to work with them. Start that relationship early. They can ask you questions about what you’re doing, see some of your sold properties. They are going to be your next sale.”
Here’s the bad news. This approach requires effective systems. Agents don’t have time to coddle every contact in their database. First, they must identify who to target their attention on, then how to effectively engage them with minimal effort. With the right lead detection app, agents essentially replace cold calls with targeted, meaningful conversations. As one of our clients explains…
“Lead Alerts are basically alerts I receive once an email has been distributed… What that does is tells me who is opening what, and what type of content they’re reading, which is important, because if someone’s constantly opening my videos, or sales appraisals, or rental properties, you understand a pattern of who is interested in what. Making a call with an intent of understanding regarding what someone is interested in is better than a simple cold call. It’s a warm call coming from a trusted advisor’s position.”
Once this trust is gained, agents effectively walk into the listing presentation in isolation, since no other agent can compete with their relationship. From there, they communicate with their clients often and continue educating them through the entire process. Again, much of this is done digitally, which allows top agents to manage multiple clients with ease.
After a successful purchase or sale, smart agents will keep in touch with their past clients with occasional, relevant messages instead of their standard property newsletters that no longer apply. These can be happy anniversary messages a year after their purchase, their suburb market report, or nearby sold listings. These help increase both return business and referrals.
“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.” I’m not sure who said it, but the agents I spoke with recently understand this well. They are not waiting for business to appear out of thin air. They are acting. Doing. Building. Systemising. Repeating. The principles I’ve outlined above demonstrate this. If you want to improve your real estate business, reduce your tasks, identify leads, win listings, and sell more properties, follow the strategies of Australia’s top agents. To summarise in their words…
“One of the things that we’ve talked about, quite a lot, is how we use digital marketing to build relationships, and that’s what the industry is really yearning for, and wants. Having leads come in give me the ability to start that relationship. If you don’t do the digital marketing, you’re not going to get the leads, yeah? If you keep just letterbox dropping, and door knocking, you’ll only get those people who are actively in the market. Some people take their time to enter the market, start their research. It might be six months. I think agents out there need to address every lead and foster that relationship. And that’s what we’ve done with our team, with these leads. And we’ve converted people that have clicked on properties into sales, and we’ve nurtured relationships with people who six months ago clicked on ‘The Process of Selling a Home,’ and converted them into a sale. Some of them are instant, and some of them take a little time. But that’s what the industry wants. That’s what customers want. And you know what, as an agent, that’s what you should want as well, because you want to go into an appraisal in isolation, and not in competition, and the more that can happen for you as an agent, the better your strike rate is going to be.”