Originally published on inman.com.
Given today’s situation, there are some concerns when it comes to communicating with clients. There are a lot of different thoughts and guidance surrounding this issue. The tricky part is applying those tips to the people you serve in your business.
We need an approach that’s specific to the communication type so we can make sure that we’re having the right conversations with people and providing them with what they need.
When it comes to real estate teams, having clear direction on when and how to connect and communicate within our business and community is key. Our goal is to stay committed to keeping our promises and serving together, to the best of our abilities. As we move forward, we need to adjust our goals with the knowledge that we’re planting more seeds for later and harvesting less now.
For a team with active lead gen, training is vital to staying focused, especially when you have accountability and metrics that allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of what is and isn’t working. Lead gen is only as good as the way you communicate to nurture relationships, and that communication is only as good as how it resonates with the public.
Right now, your communication needs to show empathy. You can’t under-communicate with your clients. You want to make sure they’re hearing your perspective, and that you’re proactive with their immediate concerns. In times like this, bringing care, concern and goodwill to the market is vital.
Teams and businesses are still getting leads, and it’s necessary to respond to those leads. You need to adjust your set system for response time, frequency and contact type, because these people are requesting something real-estate specific from you.
Keeping small agreements is a key factor in establishing trust. If someone requests information from your platform, make sure you’re reaching out to help.
If you’re calling a follow-up from before the COVID-19 outbreak, then definitely build a stronger rapport. Have a softer call, and ask how they’re doing. Ask if they need anything. Only then should you feel out and consider talking about real estate. It would be very insensitive and tone deaf to call and only discuss real estate, as if nothing has changed in our world.
Don’t forget to stay organized and write detailed notes in your CRM. Active buyers and sellers need to hear from you. They need to hear your new, reformatted protocol for how you’re supporting buyers and sellers safely, and what requests you’re making for outside agents showing the property.
Sending out emails is a wonderful way to keep your clients connected. Talk about the updates on tax deadlines and mortgage rates, and keep them in the loop. With so much happening, it’s important to keep your circle informed and proactive.
It’s nice to want to wait until we have all the information, but things are changing daily — sometimes hourly. It’s OK to realize that your strategy from yesterday doesn’t work today and that you need to update it.
It’s important to remember the four buckets of key contacts you need to communicate with to ensure you’re reaching out to the right people, while putting them at ease and letting them know you can help them virtually.
1. Active clients
If you have active buyers or sellers right now, they’re going to be turning to us for positivity and guidance. They’re probably at a point where they’re freaking out, especially if their home is on the market or about to be on the market.
We need to let them know the measures we’re putting in place to protect them and their family, while still making sure that they’re taken care of.
They need to know that despite what they’re reading and seeing in the news and media, things are still happening, and while it’s not business as usual, there’s still movement in the industry. We’re still operating, and we’re working with the same efficiency as before. There are still homes being bought and sold. Real estate is still happening, and we’re offering a high caliber of service.
2. COI/SOI and past clients
There is such an underlying fear of reaching out to people. Obviously, you don’t want to be looked at poorly, but at the same time you need to reach out to keep your business going. Most people don’t have a secondary full-time job that can help generate income when real estate jobs run low.
Now’s the time to make sure we’re calling each and every one of our COI and past clients. In this scenario, because we’ve already built a relationship, we want to be checking in to see how they and their families are doing.
Do not use this time as a hardcore “asking for referrals” moment. It’s better to have a personal call to check up on them and make sure they’re doing well.
If real estate does not come up during this call, that’s perfectly fine. You’ve reached out and created your touch point. What’s important now is that you update your notes on what you spoke about. Create that follow-up in your CRM, and check back in a month or two. At that point, you can go back to asking for referrals.
If one of your COI or past clients brings up the real estate industry and asks what the state of the market is, then you can use the opportunity to speak about how the real estate business has been pivoting during this time (like, the increased use of virtual resources).
You can also delve into how you’re helping and ask if they know anyone who needs help. Ask how you can contribute your high level of expertise to ensure they’re not putting themselves at risk.
Follow-ups are people who you haven’t necessarily done business with in the past. You may have met them as a new lead or at an open house. They’re people you’ve spoken to, and ones you’ve acknowledged might become a viable opportunity at some point.
They might have discussed moving with you and asked to stay in touch. In that case, you need to figure out if you should follow up with them or if it’s insensitive to do so right now.
That said, it might be considered more insensitive to promise someone a follow-up, then completely abandon the conversation you had scheduled or planned.
You’ve built somewhat of a relationship with these people, so while following up, you need to use the right language to ensure you’re still being sensitive and empathetic during this time.
We always make sure we use the Kathleen Black Coaching and Consulting (KBCC) four-step follow-up approach. We call people to remind them when we last spoke and what we spoke about. Then, we also remind them that they asked us to follow up with them before asking how their plans are going.
4. New leads
These are people who we haven’t built any relationships with. These are also people who put their hand up online. They entered their information and are expecting a call back.
We want to make sure that we do the bare minimum of what we’re supposed to do and call these people back. What’s important when you call a new lead back is that you’re coming across as a consultant. You want to set the stage of reciprocity and ask them questions.
It’s important for you as a professional to guide them and educate them after they’ve submitted their request. It’s also crucial that you don’t get in your own way. So many agents call these new leads and get in their own way by starting the conversation with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s the thing — everyone is more than aware about the COVID-19 situation. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to go down the pandemic path. They might just talk to you as if it’s a normal day.
The most important thing, however, is that we ask key analysis questions when we do get into a conversation with these new leads. I want to know things like: When are they hoping to move? Are they a first-time homebuyer or an investor? Do they already have a home?
You want to ask all of these key questions in order to analyze what you’re going to do with them and this information.
The open lines of communication are there, and it’s important to help people understand that even though there’s a change that’s occurring, it’s not stopping you from providing them resources over email, phone or a zoom call.