Be A Better Listener In 3 Easy Steps

Good listeners are worth their weight in gold. Being a good listener shows the people around you that you’re sincere, caring, attentive and more. In the business world, it could make the difference between closing the deal and losing the sale.

Take a look at what TheBalanceCareers.com has to say about being a good listener:

Active listening is especially important in the sales world. That’s because prospects are often ignored or talked over because the focus is on making the sale, not the person making the purchase. When salespeople show that they value the prospect’s needs and opinions, it is far easier to build trust and ensures that the conversation results in a mutually-beneficial experience.

If you’re not a great listener, don’t fear. Forbes.com has some great tips on increasing your listening abilities and letting your clients know how much you care.

  1. Build Rapport

    Building a strong rapport with a customer let’s them feel like they’re in good company. You’re creating a safe environment for them to be themselves. Forbes suggests physical body mirroring (matching your posture to theirs) and keyword and gesture backtracking (using similar words and actions) to appear more attentive. These subtle action can go a long way in earning trust.

  2. Use The Meta Model

    When your client uses phrases like “This is too difficult” or “I’m frustrated,” these can often seem like signals used to end conversations. However, this is a great opportunity to truly understand where your prospect is coming from. By asking questions like “Can you elaborate on that?” or “What do you mean, specifically?” you’re offering them a chance to open up and be better understood. This will allow you to see the world from their perspective instead of imagining how they’re feeling.

  3. Make It Easier For Them To Express Themselves

    It can seem difficult to share thoughts or feelings in many situations. Forbes suggests that feeling a lack of safety, belonging, or mattering are the root causes for this kind of difficulty. Let your conversations be a safe haven where opinions are heard, respected, and understood.

     

Do Yourself A Favor And Start Delegating These Tasks

Sometimes, as business grows, so does discomfort. There’s an awful in-between place for growing businesses where agents are too busy and successful to handle all of their mounting responsibilities but not quite busy enough to justify a new full-time employee. But there is a third option: Outsourcing! As you struggle to keep your head above water, consider the following tasks for outsourcing.

Marketing

There are plenty of companies and freelancers looking for new clients. If you love your work, but struggle to stay on top of important dates and opportunities to market your services, finding a firm or a contract professional to help you on your way is a huge weight off of your shoulders. Marketing professionals can run about $50/hour, but if you’re paying them for just a few hours a week, you’ll be in good shape. Outsourced marketing personnel can handle creating a marketing schedule, communication with vendors, mailings and more.

Data Entry

Whether you’re looking for someone to input your information into the MLS or clean up your email database, a data entry professional can help streamline your work. A freelance data entry contractor can charge between $12-20 per hour, depending on their skill and experience.

Graphic Designer

Even great tools and apps like Canva and Snapseed can frustrate the technologically-challenged agent. Graphic design professionals are available at a variety of rates and skills. If your needs are simple, you may want to hire an art student to whip up Open House flyers in their free time. If you’re looking for more consistency in your look, an independent graphic designer will usually charge between $45-75 per hour, but may be available for less on a retainer.

Search Engine Optimization

If you’ve read anything on getting traffic to your website, you know that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial. If you don’t understand SEO, you’re not alone. It can be confusing without professional help, but implementing the right keywords and techniques can put your business at the top of search results. An SEO expert will probably charge one rate to analyze your website and set up your pages for success at the start, and then an ongoing monthly rate. These rates vary greatly depending on how experienced the professional might be, so be sure to shop around.

Content Writing

One great way to improve SEO is with consistent blogging and content creation. Search engines like to see that websites are being regularly updated and blogs are the way to get there. Most people start with big plans to blog, write consistently for a few weeks, then let it go. An outsourced blogger can help you stay consistent and top-of-mind with your clientele. Expect a good, experienced blogger to start at $75 per blog.

Social Media

Now, to be honest, the best social media is personal. If your goals are to create engagement and develop relationships, it is always best to handle your own social media. However, if you are short on time, and looking for someone to keep your page up-to-date and consistent with posts and current events, hiring someone isn’t a terrible idea. Most social media gurus will ask for a monthly retainer, varying from $25-75 an hour.

Ready, Set, Blog! 5 Great Tips for Beginners!

You’ve probably heard it said in plenty of marketing workshops and classes. Blogging is a fantastic way to get traffic to your site, declare yourself an expert in your field, clarify your brand, and add value to both prospective and former clients.  However, despite it’s multitude of benefits, it’s a tool very few real estate agents use. If you’re ready to take the next step and gain a competitive edge, here’s where you need to start.

Pick Your Platform

While there are many options available to you, you’ll want something that isn’t a chore to access, especially if you’re new to blogging. If you already spend a lot of time on LinkedIn and connect with friends and prospective clients there, using their blogging feature is a natural choice. If you log on to your broker-provided website back end frequently, using a connect blog is a better idea. You might want to look into Facebook notes or even set up something new that you can brand well by choosing a page name on a site like WordPress or Blogspot.

Get Visual!

Think about the way you spend your own time online. When scrolling through social media, pictures and videos catch your eye. Be sure to take advantage of this when planning your own content. Great info can be helpful, but good images or videos can grab and keep your audience’s attention. Be sure you own the rights to the images you’re using – taking an image without permission or payment could result in copyright infringement and easily cost you over $1000.

Tell Your Story

We all know people tend to do business with people they know well. Let your audience feel like they know you by being available to them through your blog. By letting people in to your “real” life, you’re giving people an opportunity to relate to you on an emotional level. You don’t have to get deeply personal to tell a story. Tell your followers about a listing from your own perspective, write about how you got into real estate to begin with, or share info on a restaurant or business in the neighborhood you love. People will appreciate the chance to get to know you better.

Offer Value

Be sure that your content is both useful and original. In the examples above, the content is useful because it allows your audience to know who you are. You can continue offering value by giving helpful tips, interviewing local business owners, feature trendy areas, and more. Don’t blog for the sake of blogging – blog to be a resource to your followers.

Don’t Get Upset If Your Phone Doesn’t Ring Off The Hook

Sales are great – but we can all spot an insincere salesperson from a mile away. You won’t win any business by pushing the hard sell in blogging. In fact, it’s a quick way to lose your audience. Make your goal to get engagements. These can be in the form of comments, shares, or likes on social media. This kind of engagement encourages visibility on your social media platforms, putting you in front of new potential clients with a chance to build relationships and credibility. Engagement leads to sales. It may take a little bit of time, but the connections you’ll make are more than worth it.

Marketing Your Business In May

How is your marketing plan shaping up this year? Here are some ideas to focus on for the month of May.

Prepare for Summer Holidays

There are lots of ways to celebrate in the coming months. Prepare your marketing materials, promotional items, and mail outs for holidays like Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day. Don’t miss out on the general relaxation of summer months. Sending a pack of movie tickets to your favorite clients can continue your relationship and give them a way to get out of the heat.

Community Partnerships

There are many small businesses that cater to summer entertainment for children, from dance camps to swim lessons to summer classes. Partner with these businesses to reach a new audience. Consider hosting a giveaway for a free week of camp with a particular business, or sponsoring a lunch for kids taking part in summer sports. You’ll be marketing yourself as having strong connections with the community and care for the next generation.

Social Media Focus: School’s Out

As children are finishing the school year, take an opportunity to send parents information on fun summer activities. This is another opportunity for you to build positive associations and relationships with local businesses as you can share their content to help your audience narrow down their summer plans.

Social Media Challenge: Schedule Your Big Days

This month, take an hour or two to prepare your posts for the summer months. Create images, write a blog or two, and schedule articles that will inform and entertain your audience. Too often, we feel that the big (and most marketable) events have snuck up on us. Use your time wisely and you’ll be grateful you prepared ahead of time.

5 Ways To Win At Your Next Networking Event

Networking is one of the most powerful tools you have in building your business. Meeting and talking to the right people – potential clients, colleagues, friends, and more – earns you benefits like free advice, inspiration for your own business decisions, and referrals. When done correctly, it can also add to your credibility and expertise. Avoid simple networking mistakes below, and you’re well on your way to business growth.

Don’t Be Shy

There’s a temptation to stick with people you already know, especially for more introverted professionals. Speaking to friends and colleagues you’re familiar with won’t grow your network or help your business.

If you’re timid about meeting new people, introduce two of your connections to each other. You’ll be building value in their minds and chances are your introduction will encourage them to do the same. You can also look around for someone who may be feeling as intimidated as you are – they’ll be happy to have company and conversation and a new connection.

Don’t Speak To Only One Person

By limiting your interaction to just one person, you’re limited the experience for both of you. Keep conversations under 10 minutes before politely bowing out with something like, “I know there are other people here who would love to talk to you, but let’s reconnect later.”

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

No one wants to appear ignorant, but it’s scientifically proven that people who ask questions look more intelligent to their peers. By asking questions, you look like you are gathering information and growing your own expertise. You’ll also flatter the person on the answering end of your question.

Don’t Self-Promote Too Much

People are more likely to do business with friends and people they like. Blatant self-promotion is annoying to your colleagues. Use the opportunity to focus on creating social connections that can grow into a business benefit later. Even better, connect with people you may be able to hire as a vendor or refer to someone. You’ll be guaranteed a follow up with little work on your own.

Don’t Forget To Follow Up

Few of us have extra time on our hands. When work is busy, following up with someone you met at last week’s luncheon becomes a low priority. Take responsibility and do the following up on your own or it may never happen.

Can These 4 Ideas Help You Sell a Home?

Postcards, websites, knocking on doors…while these ideas are tried and true, marketing ideas are changing quickly. Below are some unique selling ideas that we’ve been seeing and hearing about – let us know what you think!

Text Message Marketing

By using a service like TextRock.com you can get a unique text code that sends home information to users’ phones – they opt in by texting your special number, found on the for sale sign in the yard. You can help prospective buyers learn about open houses, price changes, and more, while building your list of leads. A service like TextRock costs around $99/month.

Airbnb

Let people try before they buy by using Airbnb. This is truly unique and requires an open-minded seller, but it’s a plan that would definitely make a splash. The current homeowner would need to make their home available through Airbnb, but this isn’t difficult. Airbnb is such a trendy service – this kind of offer makes you appear to be a cutting edge agent and gives buyers confidence in their purchase.

Blog Partnerships

With blogging being big business these days, it’s a great idea to seek out partnerships with local home decor and design bloggers. If you’ve got a beautiful or unique home, ask one a blogger to view the property and post a review of the home. You’re instantly getting new, interested eyes on the property.

Neighborhood Tour

Part of selling a home is selling the neighborhood, right? Take your social media followers on a virtual tour of the neighborhood. Move beyond the features of the home and take some live videos of restaurants, stores, playgrounds, and other nearby features of the neighborhood. Live videos are all the rage on social media – viewers spend 3x the amount of time watching live videos than they do watching uploaded videos.

Ready to Run Better Ads?

Running ads on social media can be hit or miss, especially when formats and algorithms are constantly changing. If you’ve run an ad on Facebook before, you know that they are relatively easy to set up. But, easy to set up doesn’t mean they’re easy to optimize. Here are some tips to get the most out of your Facebook ads.

  1. Combine Multiple Objectives

    Smaller businesses, or businesses with a smaller customer base, should consider using their ads for multiple benefits. For example, use your ad space to advertise your service while linking it back to your website or blog. Make sure your website or blog is up-to-date with good information so that you can maintain the interest of your visitors after they click through. If they like what they see on your site, they are much more likely to “like” your Facebook page.

  2. Take Advantage of Targeting Features

    Facebook will send your ad across the United States by default if you don’t add targeting features. To create an ad that performs well, you need to narrow down your audience. You’ll avoid spending money sending ads to people who won’t be interested in your business or who are outside of your area. Through targeting features, you can set parameters for age, location, and even the interests and income of your audience.

  3. Do A Split Test

    If you are unsure about exactly who to target, or what approach to take with your ad, run a few similar ads for a limited time to get an idea of what is working and what isn’t. Facebook’s ad prices are flexible enough to run a test without breaking the bank. Try different zip codes, age ranges, and check back when the campaigns have run their course to see what you want to spend a larger amount of money on.

  4. Add Special Offers

    Obviously, our ears perk up when we hear about special offers. It’s a classic marketing technique and it works. Special offers boost your sales while giving your audience an incentive. Consider something you may be able to offer to your prospective clients. Maybe it’s a free sellers’ consultation, providing a complimentary service, or running a contest for your followers. Your ad should entice your audience!

Ready for more advice? Check out this great article on the latest, greatest Facebook Ad tricks!

Marketing Your Business In April

How is your marketing plan shaping up this year? Here are some ideas to focus on for the month of April.

Get Ready for Upcoming Holidays and Events

As we head closer to summer, there are some obvious holidays to pay attention to like Mother’s Day (May 13) and Father’s Day (June 17). We also can anticipate the end of the school year, Flag Day (June 14), Cinco de Mayo (May 5), Memorial Day (May 28), and even a slew of summer weddings (growing families may mean a change in housing). If you want to have a little more fun, find a way to focus on Star Wars Day (May 4), Teacher’s Day (May 8) or National Gardening Week (April 30-May 6).

Social Media Focus: Family and Children

With the school year coming to a close, families planning vacations, looking for summer camps, and more, family activities are on the brain for many people. Highlights family-friendly events in and around town, day trip ideas, etc. Your audience will begin to see you as a resource for their family needs.

Social Media Challenge: Social Media Takeover

Try offering a social media takeover for your Facebook or Instagram feed to increase visibility and relationships. A takeover usually involves a day of access to your platform. Allow a representative of the group you’re trying to connect with to post to your social media for a day. The swim team can post pics from a race, a PTA Association can highlight what they’re doing for the community. They get to promote their group. You build relationships and show your followers that you’re involved in the community. Everyone wins!

Want More Referrals? Here’s Why Top Agents Are So Successful!

In the world of real estate, referrals are crucial. Most people tend to turn first to their network of family and friends when they’re choosing a professional to work with. The opinion of someone a potential client can trust carries a lot of weight. The best way to earn referrals is to develop strong working relationships – and sometimes even friendships – with your clientele. So how do the most-referred agents do it?

Anna Johansson of Inman.com writes that the top skills are:

Genuine Care

Johansson writes “There’s no artificial substitute when it comes to caring about your customers.” People can sense insincerity a mile away. When you have a true commitment to your clients’ happiness, it shows in the work you do and the service you provide.

An In-Person Connection

There’s a lot that you can automate and handle virtually, but having a face to face connection with a client is important as you build a relationship. Part of this is because emails and text messages cannot convey tone of voice and the natural warmth of your personality. Skip the text every once in a while and take the time to have a real conversation.

Accommodation

Each client has different needs. Some will require your full attention and some will want a hands-off approach. Some will need to see every listing in the MLS, and some will make up their minds right away. Your attitude toward their preferences will make a huge difference. As Johannson writes, “Your job is to empower your clients. If you do so, they’ll want to spread the word about it.”

Follow Up

You hear this advice often enough, but here it is again – don’t let them forget about you! There are many ways to stay connected in your clients’ lives, from remembering birthdays and anniversaries, to throwing a housewarming party, or sending a personal note to remind them to file for their homestead exemption.

Openness

Now more than ever, consumers want and expect transparency. Let them see the real you and help them understand the ins and outs of the home buying or selling process. They’ll appreciate honesty so much more than a sugarcoated picture. Openness translates easily into trustworthiness.

 

Is Your Team Losing Interest? Keep Them Invested With These 3 Tips.

In our last blog, we wrote about how to handle an employee who becomes a competitor. While there are steps you should take if this ever happens to you, there are also ways to prevent it from happening. Employees and team members who feel valued and respected don’t feel a need to leave.

Keep The Focus On The Team

As the head of a successful team, there may be a temptation to view your own position as the most important. The truth is, your position relies on your team members and employees for growth and continued success. Almost everyone has been at the mercy of a boss who didn’t value employees and it typically ends in separation. Know what is going on with your team. Respect their time, skills and obligations and recognize their achievements so they can see how important they are to the success of the whole.

Make Room For New Leaders

Just because you can do a job doesn’t mean you’re the best person for it. If one of your team members excels in a certain area, look to them to lead the other members of the group. By placing them in positions of leadership, even just by the way you treat them, you are transferring a bit of ownership. That sense of ownership turns into investment and, in the long run, your employees will understand their value.

Speak Clearly

If you’ve ever worked with a boss who didn’t make their expectations clear, you’ll recognize the importance of this point. Without strong communication, employees are left feeling confused and disconnected, unsure of how to please you or make improvements. Be direct and clear about what you need to see so they can see how they’re contributing to the big picture.