What real estate clients really need: usable, high-quality information and regular, personalized follow-up

Business tips from Long & Foster's Alyssa Hellman

In the world of technology, real estate agents and brokers must always be curious and ready to learn. In this interview with Alyssa Hellman, I had the chance to talk to her about how technology fits into her business, what apps she relies on, and how technology helps her provide value to her real estate clients.

Q: Alyssa, tell us about yourself. 

Alyssa Hellman, right, with a client. Image via alyssahellman.com.
Alyssa Hellman, right, with a client. Image via alyssahellman.com.

A: I started my career with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. in 2010. Even as a large company, what attracted me to the firm was the community approach that it took to the business. I always say, “I don’t intend to reinvent the wheel, but I do intend to redesign the process.” This approach has led to my success along with the amazing group of mentors and industry professionals that I have surrounded myself with.

In October 2013, I was named sales manager of the Arlington office of Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.

Q: What apps are you playing around with right now?

A: The following:

  • Pocket: I use this to help curate content for my site, blog and clients. There are so many sources for content these days, and trying to read articles as they happen just isn’t realistic. Pocket helps me organize the important stories that I know I want to follow up on. Not all of them are for sharing — some just help spark an idea for a blog. Others I use as a segway to reach out to clients. Sharing content before, during and after a transaction is a really meaningful way for me to interact with my client base.
  • Videolicious: a cool video tool for quick, clean videos. I have toyed with this and don’t do nearly as much video as I should, but Videolicious provides a really easy platform to create great-quality videos.
  • Sitegeist: This is one that I got from Jeff Lobb at Agent Reboot Boston. This app pulls data based on your location. It is not necessarily one that I use personally, but it is one that I refer my clients to use. The app will pull housing, demographic and even environment data. It is a great way to provide quick data to someone exploring different areas. I’m all about providing value to my clients, and this is a great way to give them insight into a neighborhood.
  • Circle: This app is similar to Sitegeist, but it is user-populated. So users post articles, stories, etc., based on a location. The app allows users to filter information based on various categories. This has a much further reach than, say, a Facebook post. I’m intrigued by this app.
  • CO Everywhere: You can draw locations (i.e., radius around your home, work, school, etc.). It also lets you follow popular locations such as a concert venue, stadium location, etc., worldwide. From there, the app pulls data from users in conversations as well as local businesses. Sort of like Yelp! but fewer reviews and more tips by locals. In a time where everyone is connected, people are sharing content and information with each other in ways they never have before. I love the idea of interacting with your community via an app.

Q: Finding technology that you actually use and that works for you is so important. What are the things that keep you running/organized?

A: Without a doubt, the best technology is what you use. It just has to work for you. Technology is simply a tool to enhance your business and your interactions. It cannot replace them, so if you are able to conduct business with your technology, you don’t need to adopt the next big thing. Here are the tools I use:

  • Contactually: I use Contactually as my CRM. There are other great providers, but Contactually is what works best for me. It ranks my performance in terms of contacting my sphere. This isn’t only my clients — I go as far as to put my family in there to make sure my parents get regular calls and emails (sorry, mom and dad). Life gets busy — not just transactions — so this helps me ensure that I am being the person I want to be, not just the agent. Overall, I love how easy Contactually makes it to connect with my circles.
  • Google Drive: I use Google Drive for all of my file storage. Not only do I have it integrated into my desktop screen on my MacBook Pro, but I also have it on my iPad and iPhone. If anyone needs anything from a photo to a contract to a settlement statement, I can have it to them from any of those devices within seconds. It also allows me to easily integrate others with my documents either to view or edit. This allows my clients to pull documents without asking me, should they choose to do so. That sort of transparency and access is extremely valuable to clients.
  • Evernote: I love my Evernote. I use it for everything from showing notes to talking points. Most importantly though, I use it to save my checklists for my clients. The moment I start working with clients, there are so many things to tackle. Add in a few more clients and it is a lot to manage. Having a list where I can track their progress is valuable to me. I didn’t want to automate this process because no transaction is the same. I simply use these checklists as guidelines that I then input in my calendar. Again, on my phone, which syncs to my computer and iPad so I know where any client stands, at any time, from anywhere.
  • Doorsteps: a fantastic platform that I use with homebuyers. Doorsteps provides a hands-on way for homebuyers to educate themselves, with me, about the homebuying process. It uses high-quality sources for unbiased information, and presents it in a consumable way that allows clients to make sense of it and refer back to through their journey. Use of this tool allows me to get to know my clients beyond bedrooms and bathrooms and actually learn about their life, their comfort zone, their wants vs. needs, their motivations, and so much more.