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5 Reasons There's No Replacement for Personal Interaction

March 07 2012

Today’s real estate agent faces a daily avalanche of emails and voice messages. It gets so overwhelming, it’s so tempting to retreat to your office and start typing replies and returning phone calls. That’s one of the biggest mistakes an agent can make!  

Real estate is a people business. Agents will only be successful if they really get to know their customers and colleagues. Many of my clients are so busy that they now prefer texting to even emails or calls. Conference calls and audio calls are convenient and create the illusion we’re actually having a meeting - but nothing beats the power of a truly personal, face-to-face connection. 

What can you learn from an in-person meeting that you can’t from a virtual one? 

1. Private conversations are gold! In real estate offices today, there are few private offices. Many of agents work in cubes and can’t have private telephone conversations with clients or anyone else. The same is probably true at your client’s office. This means that when an agent talks on the phone to a customer at work, they might not get to hear the most important information. The client is sneaking in a personal call about a very personal matter – their home purchase. Consider meeting your client for a latte or a walk around the block, your clients can let you know more - with more color - than they can over the telephone or in an email. 

2. Casual conversation is a building block of success. Most real estate conversations are focused on buying or selling a home quickly and efficiently, while relationships are built when people take the time to share and learn more about each other. That happens more naturally in person than over the phone or in an email. What cements a bond between people? Small talk about a favorite sports team, passion for pecan pie, parenting challenges, and the other bits-and-pieces that make us unique and interesting. 

3. Make an impression. An agent friend of mine bought a new handbag. It’s faux ostrich and it’s pink. Really pink. She received compliments on it from every woman (and one man) that she met with in the past two weeks. She had worried it was perhaps not professional enough for business. But the style and color were bold, “spring-y” and made me smile. Who knew a $60 knock-off handbag would be such a great conversation starter and deliver such a strong personal statement? How do you do that over Skype? 

4. Watch for body language. Facial expressions often communicate so much more than words. It is the facial expression that makes your customer unique, not their search criteria or selling price. In their eyes and in their body language, you can see confidence, empathy, fear, friendliness or sincerity. That ability to “read” a client beyond their property results is a huge competitive advantage for a REALTOR®. 

5. Stay fluent in the community. Agents find out so much when they visit one of their customers in person. The environment they live in speaks volumes, and may factor into your buyer or seller presentation or plan. By understanding the living dynamics around your customer, you can relate more effectively to them, and better meet their needs.

New technologies are great. Laptops, tablet computers, Smartphones, agent websites, agent CRM solutions, drip marketing campaigns, you name it – we love it. There is no doubt that these tools make agents more productive and successful. But as a REATLTOR®, try to remember customers want to work with someone they can relate to, not just buy from.