As realtors, we are in relationship business. Relationships lead to referrals, which helps us grow our business. Our marketing dollars go farther when our referral business is strong.
The art of building meaningful relationships doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take time and patience.
4 Steps to Building Long Term Relationships
Meaningful relationships are established over time, but there are four key steps you must follow:
- Prospect becomes aware of you. The person has seen one of your advertisements, seen you online, seen you around town, or heard others mention your name.
- Prospect knows you. You have met in person, maybe shared a coffee, had a small conversation, or traded business information. This can happen online but will take longer so in person is best.
- The person likes you. You have gotten to know each other a little, found some things in common, and shared a little about yourself. They know enough to decide they like you.
- The person trusts you and will even seek your advice and counsel. You engage with each other regularly, have demonstrated your expertise and have perhaps even done some business together.
Do you focus on advertising, open houses, signage, and cold calls? Although this is a great place to start, its only the start. This gets people simply aware of you. Few agents will work on advancing to Step 2 where people get to know you. Some will attempt Step 2 through newsletters and emails. The Maher triangle, from 7 levels of communications, shows us that these types of communications, although they can be helpful, are not the best methods to build a relationship.
Advertising, direct mail, and electronic communications can have their place, but to get the most impact on building relationships we need to move up the triangle whenever possible.
How important is it for prospects to know, like and trust me?
It’s more important than you think. Many times people choose a friend or someone they know to be their real estate agent. You have to keep top of mind for someone to really trust you. Simply being aware of you or knowing your name is not enough. Often, they also need to like you as a person and trust you as a real estate professional.
This can be done online or in person, but the most important thing is consistent interaction that shares your personality and shows you are interested in them. Be honest and show you really care and that will lead to them liking and trusting you. This is really the key to getting referrals and repeat business over and over again.
Seek to be helpful first
Before people will trust you, they want to know that you care. So you can’t wait to help them after you have the contract. You need to seek to help them first. Can you refer business to them? Can you help them in any way to reach a personal or professional goal? Can you share your knowledge and experience with them? The more you help them, the more they will want to help you. This is reciprocity in action and this is where true relationships are born. Get good at this and you will build a real business that will keep paying you dividends for many years to come.
This also results in a real estate business that you can be proud of and makes you a real member of the community.
For an excellent book on building relationships I highly recommend, The 7 levels of Communication by Michael J. Maher and, of course, the classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.