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CRM skills

Managing Time for Client Communication

May 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Stop watch image.Successful Agents Schedule Rapport-Building & Client Communication as a Priority Task

In keeping with other areas of managing their real estate careers, agents who work primarily by referral credit scheduling time for rapport-building efforts as a major factor in their success.  Following the maxim, “things which get scheduled get done,” these agents set aside time on a daily or weekly basis to ensure they stay on top of staying in touch with their clients and prospects in a meaningful manner.

Though the specific times vary, most report good success either early in the morning or after mainstream business hours, citing that an hour of uninterrupted focus time pays greater dividends than a stolen few minutes between calls or appointments.

With time set aside for client communication, agents generally opt to spend the time either gathering deeper data about their clients and prospects (or entering in data gathered “in the field”), or dedicating themselves to sending out personalized letters, emails, or handwritten notes.

List of takeaways.The incremental approach pays dividends over time.  Agents who follow this “a letter a day is 365 touches a year” mindset send out, on average, over 10 times the personal letters than their competitors.  Though the results from these drip campaigns can’t always be fully quantified or forecast, interest tends to be sustained throughout the year.

Prior to engaging in a regular, systematic approach, many agents found that managing response to “batches” or “waves” of mailings (done sporadically and in bulk) frequently caused them to fall short of client expectations due to unanticipated work load.

Scheduling rapport-building activities keeps the overall task of staying in touch manageable.  Given the time it takes to cultivate trust (and the longer cycle between opportunities), a good number of market leading agents wish they had simply started the process earlier.  Many cite personal letters as the reason they have been able to sustain their business through the real estate downturn of 2008 – 2011.

An additional benefit to blocking off time for relationship building and using a CRM system to track “touches” is the ability to plan ahead for scheduled communications while adding in a periodic mix of spontaneous “one off” messages which are more timely—i.e. framed around current community events, local news, or chance meetings.

According to agents, the key to maximizing the time set aside for personal communication is ensuring that there are ample ideas available for when the time comes to reach out to clients.  Facing a blank screen is one of the most time consuming aspects of staying in touch.

Some agents keep a “swipe file” of past letters which they can use as inspiration or templates for custom communication.  In rare cases, agents with significant cash flow and support staff employed assistants to help craft content specifically for their marketing and personal communication strategy.

[Click here for a free copy of the 26-page report from which this post was originally taken, "6 Key Findings: How Successful Agents Build a Referral-Based Business"]

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CRM skills

Helpful Guidelines for Real Estate CRM Usage

May 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Successful Agents Utilize their CRM System/Client Database to Enhance Personal Connections

Helpful CRM GuidelinesAt the core of every top producer’s business is a well-maintained CRM (client relationship management) system.

While the specific system varied from agent to agent depending on platform preferences and technical expertise of the agent, all systems contained the following features at a minimum:

  1. Robust, customizable contact data fields
  2. Ability to form groups or “tags” to organize records
  3. An unlimited, searchable notes field for each contact
  4. Integration with an appointment calendar or “reminder” system
  5. A means of recording “date of last contact” information
  6. Mobile access to editing and search

(More sophisticated systems also integrated direct mail/email management, automated letter campaigns, and social media interfaces.)

The differentiator between top producers and lower performing agents centered on essential difference:  Whether or not agents made liberal use of the “searchable notes” feature of the CRM system.

While all agents used their system for contact management, and most used their system for various mail merge and advertising functions, top tier agents kept detailed historical notes on their clients and prospects.  In this manner, their database not only provided a record of who to stay in touch with, but how to stay in touch with the greatest degree of personal relevancy.

In this way, successful agents use their CRM system as an “engine of thoughtfulness.”
With simple keyword searches, they are able to not only craft more personal communication with their contacts, but also make helpful connections between their contacts.  Records showed that agents who frequently cross-referred clients and prospects to one another were more likely to receive referrals from those contacts in the future.

Agents with a high degree of familiarity with Facebook and other social media platforms also used data found there about their contacts to further enhance the quality of the data in their own CRM system.  By keeping in “peripheral awareness” of their contacts through Facebook and their own searchable notes, they were frequently best positioned to time communications around the real-time lives of their clients.  Using Facebook as a listening post for major life changes (births, weddings, relocations, job changes) gave top producers “on the ground intel” about who might be most likely to need real estate services.

At the core of a rapport-building strategy is a robust collection of personal data.  This practice of adding “granularity” within contact records (i.e. gathering and refining the grains of information about clients’ and prospects’ interests) was cited over and over as a major reason agents were perceived as thoughtful, attentive, and experts when it came to attention to detail.

[Click here for a free copy of the 26-page report from which this post was originally taken, "6 Key Findings: How Successful Agents Build a Referral-Based Business"]

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CRM skills

How to Begin Great Meetings

April 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

4 Great Ways to Open a Meeting

Engage people immediately with these techniques

4 meeting starters How many office meetings have you been to that left you feeling energized, inspired, and fully engaged in thought? You can probably count the number on one hand. Meetings are notoriously abused because they create the impression that work is being done. Seth Godin has spoken extensively on this topic, and has a great article titled “Getting serious about your meeting problem” which you should definitely read if you want to improve your meetings.

If you do have to hold a meeting, you should do your best to engage your participants right away. Rather than a ho-hum review of an agenda, why not kick it off with one of these attention grabbing methods?

1. Cite a shocking statistic relevant to the meeting topic. Odds are you’re addressing a problem or facing a group challenge in your meeting. Is there a statistic you can find which will focus attention? If you can find one that gets a “Wow” out of your participants, you’re on the right track.

2. Create a picture in their mind. Beginning a meeting with a strong, visual description can engage your participants. “Picture this…” is one way to begin the conversation. Place them in a scene at the center of a situation. Engage the senses with brief, effective description– sight, smell, hearing, touch, etc.

3. Share a great quote. This is one we use all the time in the Tuesday Tactics newsletter and it also works well in meetings. A bit of wisdom, well said, is great for drawing people into the meeting. The catch, though? It must be relevant to the topic of the meeting. Otherwise, you’re just wasting precious minutes.

4. Ask a question. Questions get debate going, they get discussion flowing. Even if they’re rhetorical questions which have obvious answers, they can move people’s minds into the topic at hand.

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CRM skills

Writing that Gets Results

May 7, 2010 by · 20 Comments 

Writing  that Gets Results eBook cover

Dear Real Estate Professional,

Did you know you can spend less time writing and get more productive responses from clients, friends, and family?

Like it or not, the written word is the most-used form of communication online.  In a business which used to be almost entirely “belly-to-belly” and “phone-to-phone,” more often than not conversations are happening via email, Facebook, text message, and live chat.  Though video email, video chat, and other multimedia channels exist, the king is still the written word.

This free guide will teach you:

  • How to ensure timely responses to your email
  • The keys to writing respectful messages that get you what you want
  • The deadliest sins of writing online that can sink you
  • Keys to productive Facebook updates and comments
  • How to cut your writing time in half

Tune up your communication skills and write more effective, efficient messages today!

An excerpt from the guide:

“How you “sound” to others depends on how well you write.  This guide was written to help you become a more efficient, effective communicator.  It will attempt to cure you of bad habits, help bring your writing focus, and cut down on the amount of time you spend writing each day by advising you on concepts of brevity, clarity, and tone.

In addition to email “dos and don’ts,” you’ll find a specific section on writing for Facebook, as well as a handy tech tip which will save you literally thousands of typed words in the future.”

Get your copy of Writing that Gets Results instantly delivered to your mailbox. Just fill out the form below.

Cheering you on to greater success!

Scott Levitt
Scott Levitt
President
Oakley Signs & Graphics, Inc.
FreeHelpForRealEstateAgents.com

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