Last week I wrote about a simple real estate business strategy: answering the phone. I promise that this article will not repeat the phrase "answer the phone" over and over, even though it is probably worthy of repetition.
My article was the truth; I do answer the phone, but I understand why others do not. Some of our readers decided to put me to the test and give it a try by calling. One called while I was on the phone and laughed because I didn’t pick up. I returned his call a half hour later.
The caller wanted to sell me something. He started his sales pitch with reference to my article, so I felt that I had to talk to him or at least listen. My husband happened to be in my office and overheard my half of the conversation.
He pointed out several instances where I could have used my words to verbally annihilate the caller, as is my habit with such calls, but he could tell I was holding back. I can be horrible to callers if they are skilled enough to keep me on the phone for more than 30 seconds.
My phone is on the Do Not Call Registry. Yes, a phone that is used for business can be put on this list. The people who need to call me still can and do, of course — it’s just a way to block calls from telemarketers.
There isn’t a way to sell to people like me. We buy things everyday but don’t like being sold to. Does anyone really like being sold to? You can call me right now, and argue about it if you want to, but the people have spoken on the whole telemarketing issue — which is why we have federal and local laws to block sales pitches.
If you want me to buy, you have to have something I want. Chances are, if your product or service enhances my services to clients, or if it makes my job easier, or saves me money, or even if it is just plain cool, or is made of chocolate and tastes good, I may buy it.
I find out about many of the items I buy through friends or family, or I read about them on the Internet. If they are big-ticket items I will often spend hours doing research on the Internet.
Last month I bought a clothes dryer. It was an ordeal because I needed one right away and there were so many choices, brands and models that it took me hours to decide which one to buy.
The machine I bought had the right features, was on sale, easy to buy, and it was available for quick delivery. …CONTINUED
Buying anything these days is a challenge. And even though there are Web sites with appliances for sale, each time I try to buy one online I end up having to call someone and engage in a lengthy conversation that I have no time for.
Amazingly, if I call the company that makes a product, like I did with the dryer, I get little or no information. (The company) either puts me into an automated system or I can’t find anyone who knows anything about the product. It is like they are saying, "Don’t call us, we will call you."
If I were the one selling, I would put ads on Web sites that had links to useful information about the product or service, including product reviews. I would also find out who my friends are and who influences me and them.
I would find out what people like me buy and how much we spend. I know that is far more complicated than picking up the phone, but you will have to deal with it.
In my business, that is precisely how I get business from total strangers. I publish useful information for homebuyers and sellers every day. There are reviews about me and my services on various Web sites written by clients.
My clients will recommend my services to friends and they do. I stay in touch with past clients so they don’t forget my name when someone asks for the name of a local Realtor.
I would never invite myself into someone’s home through the telephone while they are eating dinner. That just ticks people off, and I don’t want to tick people off. I am a salesperson who is always looking for ways to get my message out, but I don’t have to break laws to do it.
Yes, you can call me today. And if you are an Inman reader I will answer the phone and I will talk to you. I enjoy the conversations some of my articles start, and that really is the point of writing them in the first place.
I won’t turn you in for calling a number that is on the Do Not Call Registry, but I may say something to you that you don’t want to hear.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.