Realtors are busy. Constantly running around, prepping, talking, planning, convincing, closing, all while juggling hundreds of emails and phone calls. In addition, in order to be successful, realtors must have a captivating online presence, smooth meet and greet skills, and clear, client-focused communication.
So how, exactly, did those on top of the real estate world dominate with such lucrative success?
We reached out to a slew of the very top real estate producers in the US including Fredrik Eklund, John Gomes, Josh and Matt Altman, and Paula Del Nunzio to name a few. From our conversations, three common themes emerged: branding, networking, and killer communication. Easier said than done? The truth is, developing those assets can take quite a bit of time. Though there are countless ways to become successful, we have outlined three golden principles and broken them down step by step so you can work smarter, not harder.
You may have heard in the past that establishing a strong brand is key. We’re here to tell you this is true. Oh, and also to tell you how to do that through your online presence: website and social media.
The first thing potential buyers are going to Google your name. They’ll make judgments about your credibility, your work, and your potential based on what they find. This is your chance to make a positive first impression, so give them something to remember: a professional website. Not all agents have beautiful websites, so this will give you an edge over the competition. Make sure it’s clean, inviting, and reflective of your personal style. Your listings should be easy to find with consistent, high-quality photos. Take the Eklund Gomes Team site for example:
It’s clean, clear, and simple to navigate. It allows the viewer to effectively and instantly move around to find what they’re looking for, whether it be listings, services, or property history. Though you’re looking to show off your personality and competitive advantage over other agents, make sure to give plenty of headline space to your properties.
Listings should include beautiful, high resolution photos that make sellers proud and buyers dream. Your website should ease both seller and buyer stress, and show them that their fantasies, because of you, are in reach. You also want to give them these emotions via social media.
Social channels are still undervalued today, and are the most aggregate form of communication and promotion available. Think: trending Twitter #’s, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. The best agents think of social media like they think of all their in person interactions– as opportunities. It’s an opportunity to show who you are, why you’re different than the rest, and why your work is the best.
Social media reaches a much larger audience than your physical community, allowing for increased presence and involvement. You might be thinking, “How can I fit all of this in when I’m running around all day?” Fear not: we know time is always of the essence, so we’re recommending tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and IFTTT to automate your posting ahead of time, so you can focus on doing you during the day.
Building your brand isn’t confined to a virtual presence, however. Realtors are fantastic in-person marketers. They’re amazing at getting to know their clients on a personal level and picking up on their needs, likes, and dislikes.
Perhaps the most important part of your brand is how you take clients through the buying and selling process. How do you present yourself? How do you make them feel? Having a distinct, positive personality and good energy will go a long way.
“Our primary mission is to have fun at work every day while selling as many apartments as we possibly can. I think that’s why people enjoy working with us so much.”
–Million Dollar Listing’s Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes,
Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Take some time to figure out what you want your brand to be, and how your brand is unique. Building a good reputation, while difficult, will pay off in spades. And remember: it just takes one bad review or comment to tarnish it.
Step 1: Build an awesome website.
Choose a domain name that makes sense for your brand. Typcially: .com or realestate.com so it’s easy for potential customers to find you. Though you may already know about Placester, here’s a good comparison of some other great real estate hosting websites. If you need some more inspiration, check this out.
Step 2: Get active on social media.
Make a Facebook page: add a description of your company, images of your listings, and local news updates. Utilize it to send invitations to open houses, private showings, and more.
Over a billion people are on Facebook, and most of those people are active daily. This is your chance to build credibility, as people can “like” and leave reviews on your page, and share it on their profiles.
Twitter allows you to write quick “tweets” of 140 characters or less, so this is a good place to write short pieces of relevant content to your audience. Remember the 80/20 rule here: 80% of your content should be valuable information for your followers, and 20% should be about yourself and your listings.
This is your chance to show your passion and know-how of real estate to those hungry to learn, and prove your credibility in the process. To gain followers, follow other related accounts including both local and famous realtors, real estate media outlets, and customers.
Instagram is another great tool as it’s very visual. It’s all visual, in fact. Instagram is popular amongst a younger demographic: most users are between 18 and 24, perfect for the college rental market. If your audience is older, age 40 and above, they’re not as likely to be on Instagram. However, Instagram can still do a lot for you brand by showing your eye for style and design. So if you can make a profile full of creativity, personal style and video, it will be a positive addition to your image.
Step 3: Check out the competition.
When you’re finished with Steps 1 and 2, ask yourself “is my activity on these channels helping me create a unique brand?” If yes, great job! You’re on your way to standing out from the crowd. If no, check out some famous real estate agents’ social profiles (like this one) and see if you can pull your own trends and inspiration.
Let’s get to it. You might be sociable, but who are you networking with? This is a good time to familiarize yourself with Tai Lopez’s rule of 33%. Simply put, your time networking should be broken down into three equal parts: 1) people you can mentor, 2) those on your level, and 3) people who can mentor you.
“The key issue is not the number of people in a group or network but the depth and caliber of each participant”
–New York’s top luxury real estate agent, Paula Del Nunzio
Let’s break it down:
Mentees: Let them stroke your ego. Work can be challenging, but you’ve already made it through a good deal others haven’t. It’s nice to be on top for once.
Colleagues: Build a referral pipeline and focus on quality over quantity. Focus on partnerships with complementary agents as opposed to agents in competing territories. For example, your specialty may be ski condos, so you’d network with agents whose specialties are beach houses or remote desert escapes. That way when your clients need a hot getaway, you can provide them with a vetted new agent you already have a relationship with.
“…It may take years to assemble the most effective list of experts to assist sellers and buyers. The whole point is to provide our clients with unparalleled resources and service.”
–Paula Del Nunzio
Mentors: You don’t always have to be the first to break new ground. You’re not the first realtor to close a great deal or face complex challenges. It’s good to draw inspiration from the greats, such as Eklund + Gomes, the Altman Brothers, and Del Nunzio.
You’ll need someone seasoned, at least ten steps ahead of you career wise. This might take you a bit out of your comfort zone, but the discomfort will be outweighed by the amount that you’ll gain. You do, however, need to show that you can give them something in return. The first thing you should do when looking for a mentor is to ask what you can do to help them. A little pro bono work goes a long way.
Step 1: Mentees
Thousands of real estate licences are issued each year. Find some local new talent at your firm or in a complementary field and offer to lend a hand to their growth.
Send them a quick introductory email and see if they’d like to have coffee. From there, you can talk about their biggest pain points and lend them some of your valuable knowledge. You could also offer to let them shadow you for an afternoon.
Step 2: Colleagues
Referrals are a great way to build your network of clients, realtors, brokers, owners, and building managers. You never know which interaction or peer is going to lead to your next big career jump, so be keen to give before you get. Be open: send referrals to others you think are capable, and soon enough they’ll naturally return the favor. Try HubSpot’s free CRM tier to track and maintain your professional relationships.
Step 3: Mentors
Here’s the most challenging step: finding a mentor. Some of the most popular mentors talk openly about how much they dislike cold emails from people asking for mentorship. Many of them feel that a mentorship should gradually and naturally evolve through a contact you already know. If you don’t have that resource at your disposal, you can create a “looking for a mentor” post on popular real estate blogs. As you can see, Carlos had some great luck finding Carl. In an ideal world, you know someone ten career steps ahead of you and you can gradually start to ask for guidance after offering them some pro bono help.
In reality, maybe you don’t have the right real estate contact yet. Make one by attending local events targeted at the real estate community with accessible speakers. We suggest that you do some light online stalking to inform yourself so you can come prepared with questions. Worst case scenario– still do your homework on a potential mentor and then send them a short email to start building a relationship. Don’t forget to always start by offering your help!
3. Communication with Technology
Communication is absolutely the most critical attribute a real estate agent can have. Clients expect immediate responses via phone call, text message, email, or whatever their chosen channel is. Every second that passes after that first inbound message is a second where a potential client is also reaching out to other realtors for other listings that piqued their interest.
Make a small financial investment in tools that will help you be most efficient. There are some great tech communication tools out there to help make your job easier.
Mobile: Simply be mobile. No matter where you are, you should have the tools to immediately respond to a client and set up a meeting. What tools are on your smartphone to facilitate this? Do you have stock messages saved or keyboard shortcuts to populate key phrases? Is your smartphone’s calendar up to date and synced with your email calendars? Do you know who’s calling you and where your leads are coming from, or are you sending everyone to your personal cell phone number?
Client Focus: Listen. To. Your. Clients.
“It’s important to build trust through ‘client focused communication’ especially since ‘managing clients’ expectations is one of the keys to success”
–Josh and Matt Altman, Million Dollar Listing stars and two of LA’s leading agents
You should know your clients’ motivations for buying, renting, or selling. Never let your personal agenda precede that of the client.
Customer Relationship Management: This is two fold; you have to follow up both before you’ve closed a deal and after. Keep reaching out to potential customers until you get a “no”. If you happen to close the deal it’s time to follow up with a nurturing email containing resources for that customer. What do they still need? You could refer a moving company, a cable/internet contact, the phone number for the local energy provider, information on renters insurance, or even fun local events to attend if they’re new to the area.
What you do next:
Step 1: Mobile
Your smartphone is your greatest tool. Make sure your calendar and address books are kept up to date and organized. Calling app Flyp can help you manage your contacts, inbound calls and client communications.
“Flyp has organized my calls in a way I never imagined.
I love having the interaction of my clients calling, texting,
and leaving voicemails in one thread. It makes my life so
much easier since I’m licensed in two states.”
–Juan Aracena, Sotheby’s realtor and CEO of JRNYC Luxury Marketing Group
Step 2: Client Communication
Constant client communication can be facilitated through your use of a Virtual Assistant to help set meeting times, inquire about specific customer requirements, and send follow up emails. Try: UpWork to get a virtual assistant with some real estate experience.
Step 3: CRM
Drip campaigns are great ways to maintain relationships with clients. A renter today may be a buyer tomorrow, and let’s not forget the value of referrals!
Right after you’ve closed a deal is the perfect time to utilize the HubSpot platform you set up in the “Networking” section of this article. Make an alert for yourself to follow up with a customer on a specific date. If they’re a renter, set it for a few months before their lease is up. Maybe they want to move or are ready to buy.
Brand: Your brand is what differentiates you from your competitors. Your website and social handles are a great way to project your image and credibility to potential clients. Keep them simple, image heavy, and up to date.
Networking: Whom you network with matters: leverage people of all ages in your industry. Be flexible in how you approach them. Consider their needs and life stage: do they want to grab coffee (young single professional) or would they rather you popped over as they’re setting up an open house (working parent)?
Communication: Communication is key, but with so many hours in a day, it’s time to leverage technology. Whether you choose to automate an email campaign, segment clients and vendors by phone number, or hire a virtual assistant to help manage your schedule, you’ll sleep better at night.
There’s no reason that you can’t rise to the top with some determination and a little elbow grease. Top real estate agents aren’t at the top because they got lucky, they’re there because they work hard. Differentiating yourself from the pack, building strong ties, and asserting your excellence is the only way you’ll rise to the elite level.
About the authors: Tori Farley and Margo Lee are content marketers at Flyp, a Boston-based communications startup. They are graduates of Northeastern University, and specialize in content strategy with a focus on real estate and entrepreneurship, as well as social media, blogging, and banana-chocolate chip muffin-baking.