There is a high expectation of Realtors - hyper-responsiveness, extreme attention to detail, and incredible expertise - but for good reason: you’re in the business of supporting people during a huge turning point in their lives: buying a home. Coupled with the fact that this industry is fiercely competitive, how will you differentiate yourself for the other Realtors in your area? One answer is this: simply by supporting the clients you win in both the ways that they expect and going above and beyond their expectations.
Here are 3 ways you can provide next-level support to your clients today.
1. Be Their Thought Partner
Barbara Stanny defines a thought partner as someone who “challenges your thinking” and “provokes you to innovate or otherwise leads to value creation in your business, career or life.” Being a thought partner to your clients means getting them to think - while listening to their wants and needs, you should also ask probing questions and read between the lines in order to provide the right support for them specific to their situation. He’s how you can be a thought partner to your clients:
- Stay Informed with the Latest: Knowledge is power; and you’ll be better able to answer questions and provide detailed information if you’re constantly in the know. org and Inman provide both news and continuing education-type courses and resources. In addition, major newspapers like WSJ, NY Times, and Washington Post have real estate-specific columns for nation-wide industry news.
- Invest in You: Attending conferences and local meetups and joining professional organizations tackle two important goals: growing both your professional network and your expertise. For instance, organizations like the NAR have many member-only programs and market-research resources that can get you – and keep you – ahead of your competitors.
- Genuinely Listen: In order to get to know your client and where they are throughout this process, you must connect with them by listening. Genuinely listening will not only get you their preferences, needs and wants. You’ll also learn about their personalities, the dynamic coloring their interactions, as well as subtext that may be hiding in the background.
- Educate Them: Many homebuyers are millennial first-timers, each with their own challenges. One of the best ways to help them through this process is to guide them with advice based on your expertise, and provide resources to build their understanding of the process. In this way, you can arm them with the knowledge to make the most informed decisions that they can – throughout this process and future ones.
- Make suggestions: It’s easy for your clients to become narrow-minded during their search. Unfortunately, that approach can also narrow their field of options. Synthesize and offer suggestions by combining their wants and needs with your expertise. This can open additional, unexpected opportunities.
Though you act as your clients’ guide on the journey to buying their home – much of the work must to be done by your clients themselves. A great way to support them is by being their accountability partner: “a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment.”
- Encourage them to “do their homework”: Home-buying is made up of many small steps and decisions, each with its own hurdles, and the process can make it tempting for your client to settle in order to ‘get it over with’. Encourage them to do their own research and gain knowledge in order to make a better, more informed decisions for their long-term benefit.
- Create and stick to a timeline: One of the most daunting parts of the home buying process is the timeline. There are many variables throughout the process that can prolong the wait to get into a new home. Go beyond letting your clients know what the process is, by working with them to determine a timeline and hold each other accountable to move through the process smoothly.
- Play the devil’s advocate: Help your client avoid pigeonholing themselves into a decision by asking them questions that will get them to think about how this decision fits into their “bigger picture”.
Realtors are in the business of helping other people – so it’s natural that you’ll meet and connect with many people throughout your career. Though not everyone in your network can help you directly, they may be able to help one of your connections and it would be in your best interest to connect them to one another. Malcolm Gladwell defined these types of people as connectors: people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions.
- Tap into your network: When a particular client has challenging specifications to meet, or there are questions you are unsure how to answer, crowdsource. Whether its finding listings you weren’t aware of, getting additional information on schools in the area, or advice about the neighborhood itself – leverage the knowledge of the people you know.
- Grow your clients’ network: Regardless if they are local or not, it’s often difficult and stressful to move into a new neighborhood. Offer to introduce your clients to other locals you may know within the area to help get them comfortable and welcome.
- Help them settle in: The papers may be signed but that doesn’t mean your relationship is over. Now that their home’s purchased, inform them of any final steps in the process. Did they buy a fixer-upper or talk about renovating that second floor? Offer to introduce them to designers, architects, or contractors to help them get started.
Bringing It All Together
The first rule in networking is give more than you get. By acting as a thought partner, accountability partner, and connector to your clients, you’ll not only showcase your industry expertise but provide value that will help boost your brand and, in turn, your business.