Are you still proclaiming that you are "the local real estate expert"? If so, you may be surprised about how few people actually give a hoot.

According to the National Association of Realtors, approximately 50 percent of real estate Web leads go unanswered. The reason is twofold. First, Web leads often expect instantaneous response. Second, they may take months of intensive follow-up before they will contact you to do business.

Are you still proclaiming that you are "the local real estate expert"? If so, you may be surprised about how few people actually give a hoot.

According to the National Association of Realtors, approximately 50 percent of real estate Web leads go unanswered. The reason is twofold. First, Web leads often expect instantaneous response. Second, they may take months of intensive follow-up before they will contact you to do business.

At a recent conference, a speaker was explaining how she converts her Web leads into closed business. The speaker’s solution was to contact the Web lead and to say the following:

"Congratulations on choosing a professional real estate expert to assist you in finding the perfect home for you. The next step is to call me for a 10-minute evaluation of your wants and needs. As a top agent, I have access to all the properties on the MLS as well as good deals that aren’t listed. I know where the best properties are at the best prices. If you want to find the best home for you, call me."

The agent then repeated some other variations of this theme, including, "I can help you get the best mortgage and the best rate — call me," and "If you need help with a short sale, I’m an expert — call me."

Sadly, this approach is a perfect example of what NOT to do in today’s Web 2.0 environment. Any agent who markets this way will be in for a rude surprise as their business dwindles into nothingness. To keep this from happening in your business, here are the key points you must know. …CONTINUED

1. The "me-me-me" show is dead
As you read through the comments above, count the number of times this person used the words "I" or "me." The whole commentary is devoted to "how great I am." The tone is also condescending: "I’m the expert, you’re not." To avoid this arrogant approach in your business, eliminate "I" and "me" and substitute the word "you." The goal is to be of service and to focus on the client’s needs, not on how great you are.

2. "Experts" are out — "trusted resources" are in
People born prior to 1965 (baby boomers and traditionalists) value expertise. However, they want to be in control of the decision-making process. Clients don’t want to be told what to do by their agent. Instead, the expert model has morphed into the "trusted adviser" model. The agent’s role is to supply clients with the best possible information so that the clients can make the best possible decision.

In contrast to boomers and traditionalists who do value expertise, nothing turns off Generation X (those born 1965-76) more than claiming that, "I am the expert." Gen Xers distrust expertise. They are highly independent, slow to trust, and insist on doing their own research. As one generational expert put it, "Members of Gen X believe they could pilot the space shuttle if they had a computer and access to Google."

Self-proclaimed experts have virtually no value for Gen X clients. Instead, supply Gen X with plenty of resources, including Web links where they can do their own research. Be the trusted source for "great information."

Gen Y (born 1977-1994) also doesn’t value expertise. Gen Yers trust their circle of friends (sometimes called a "posse.") Like Gen Xers, they will investigate things online, but their first level of investigation is to query their posse. When you’re working with Gen Y, invite their posse to be part of the process.

With this group, "expert" means "parent." Avoid parenting and behave more like a member of the posse. Send them interesting photos and videos of any properties that you have previewed for them. Once a Gen Y buyer has identified the top two or three houses that they may buy, encourage them to invite their friends to see the house and to provide their input. It’s easier to overcome an objection that is surfaced in front of you than it is to overcome a negative Facebook post or text message.

3. Don’t call us — because we won’t call you
Perhaps the most surprising part of this agent’s approach is her expectation that a Web lead is going to pick up the phone and call her. Most Web leads will surf to another site if they have to register any personal information. Furthermore, Gen X and Gen Y won’t even talk to their parents on the phone, much less some agent who is trying to solicit their business on the Web. As one Gen Yer put it, "Talk on the phone? That’s way too confrontational!"

If you want to connect with people on the Web, be a trusted resource for all things related to the specific real estate niche that you serve. Your expertise is valuable, but announcing it is not. Let your actions speak louder than your words. Furthermore, become a lifestyle expert in the areas you serve, whether it’s the great little place to get the best homemade desserts or who is the best dog groomer. The resources and the service that you provide to others are what will keep your business strong now and in the future.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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