When my neighbor gives me the phone number of his brother who is moving to Atlanta, I have something that I don’t have when I’m trying to convert an internet lead into a client.
My neighbor knows me and though I may not have ever spoken to his brother, I come equipped with some degree of trust in his eyes. I know his brother. His brother trusts me enough to refer him to me. The first two requirements needed to be successful in selling real estate have been met.
I have generated a lead and I have some level of value and trust already built in even before the first words are spoken to this new client.
Internet leads are very different. With an internet lead, I have the first requirement that I will need to be successful in that the lead is there, but, that is where it ends.
In fact, internet leads might be thought of as slightly on the negative side of trust on a scale compared to a referral lead from a friend or neighbor. To convert them, we need to be polished in our phone skills. We are already fighting against the idea that we will be calling someone who might see us as salespeople and that’s a battle best fought if we are concise, polite, helpful and knowledgeable on the phone.
But where phone skills can really come into play is not so much when we are calling, but, when a potential internet lead calls us. These are people who have taken the time to pick up the phone and call a stranger for information. If we can’t demonstrate our value to them, they can call someone else just as easily.
As we begin the last month of 2008, I am bringing my brand new Atlanta real estate website online. At the beginning of 2008, there was me and my website with an occasional outbound referral to agents in areas of Atlanta that I did not service.
Now it is me plus 4 agents with more on the way in early 2009. The number of leads that I had at the beginning of 2008 was roughly the same as it is today. What changed was my recognition that to convert these leads, I would need to be able to demonstrate my knowledge and therefore my value within the first 10 seconds that I was on the phone with a lead.
So, I will be placing a priority on improving the phone skills of myself and of every member of our group. As I think about what we are doing right and what we need to improve upon, I am placing emphasis on 2 areas specifically; tone and confidence. Information can be provided by anyone in front of a computer and I believe that the conversion ratio begins to diminish as we get passed the first 10 seconds of the conversation. With that in mind, I believe that the way we sound is more important than what we say – at least at first.
People want to hear confidence, professionalism a good mood and people can very easily tell if you are smiling and sound happy. Here is what I am focusing on and I know many HomeGain Blog readers and fellow bloggers may have more to add.
When answering the phone, keep these things in mind:
- Sit up straight or stand up – a caller can hear the difference.
- Smile when you are on the phone.
- Do not say um or yeah.
- It’s O.K. to laugh.
- Be precise with your words.
- Don’t worry about not knowing the answer before it’s asked.
OK. Be specific here if you have anything to add. I realize that some of these things may seem obvious to some of you, but, for others and for us to be successful we all need to remember to do these things on a consistent basis. Internet leads require it.
This may be the only time we ever get to build rapport and trust with a potential client. I think that it is essential that we constantly improve our phone skills to meet the expectations of todays online real estate home buyers and sellers.