The real estate profession is and always has been a people business. People do business with people they know, like and trust and at the heart of the business lies the skills to cultivate and build relationships. Those who do not learn how to build relationships and gain the trust of consumers will have just as much, if not more difficulty, converting leads as they did in developing leads in the first place. There are no short cuts to developing deep and lasting relationships.
In the most recent NAR Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, consumers indicated that their largest criteria by far in choosing a real estate professional with whom to work was not experience, knowledge, price or firm affiliation, but was simply a matter of trust. Contrary to what we may believe consumers today at first contact are trying to answer one simple overriding question. “Can they trust you?”
In your contacts with consumers here is a three-part approach to beginning any presentation to help answer that question.
Use the REALTOR® Pledge of Performance and Service
NAR has summarized the Code of Ethics in a one-page document written for the consumer that talks about the Code from the standpoint of what it means to them and why they should trust it. The document sets forth promises that each REALTOR® is bound to uphold in working with consumers and stresses that fiduciary duties require that the consumer’s interest be placed above all others. Explaining to clients that they can trust us because we adhere to a Code of Ethics and that we will always protect and promote their interests goes a long way.
Explain Agency From the Consumer’s Viewpoint
Most states require some form of agency disclosure to a potential client at the beginning of the relationship. Forget about the legal requirements of agency from the standpoint of the licensee and regulatory agencies. Address agency from the standpoint of what it means to the consumer.
The reason agency really exists is to impose upon the licensee fiduciary duties that require them to legally protect the consumer. Talk about the fact that consumers can trust you because in representation under an agency employment agreement you are bound to keep their information confidential, obey and follow their lawful instructions, disclose to them material facts, be loyal to them, account for and safeguard all monies entrusted to you and bring care and skill to the representation. The consumers don’t care about regulatory requirements or the intricate nature of regulatory agency rules. They care about whether or not we are going to protect their interests and whether they can trust us. Agency obligations assure them that we do just that.
Gather and Use Testimonials
No matter how eloquent you become at your “Trust Me” presentation, you alone can’t credibly carry the message that consumers should trust you. Recent marketing studies clearly indicate that consumers believe about 14% of what we say about ourselves. They believe 78% of what other people say about us.
Take a lesson from other companies and businesses that have spent millions of dollars learning the power of consumer testimonials. Today when you go to Amazon to buy a book, what is the first thing you see? Testimonials from others. Amazon has removed nearly all of their own self-promotion of the book along with the lengthy author bios. They have realized the only people who can sell the book are others who have read it. When you look up a hotel or a restaurant, what is the leading copy you are reading? Testimonials. People trust other people’s experiences more than what the restaurant or hotel has to say.
Get a plan in place to gather testimonials from your past and current customers about the fact that they were able to trust you. Get them posted in a visible place such as Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, and your website.
The better we get at developing relationships and learning to build trust, the less your business will need to depend on lead generation services. More importantly, if you do decide to use such services you will be able to convert the leads only by coming from a position of trust. People do business with people they know, like and trust.
Len Elder leads instructor development workshops across the country and has earned one of the top certifications in the industry, Distinguished Real Estate Instructor (DREI) with the Real Estate Educators Association. He is currently the Senior Instructor at Superior School of Real Estate and is nationally recognized for conducting instructor development workshops for 20 different states. Learn more about Len in this Instructor Spotlight.