Real estate agents are in the business of selling homes, so viewing one as salesperson is anything but uncommon. However, most agents would prefer if buyers viewed them as more of a service than just home hustlers — but changing the reputation of an entire industry has to start from the ground up.
“Everyone has always told you that you’re a salesperson,” New York City agent Joseph Rand said. “You go to sales meetings and conferences and receive sales awards. It’s all about sales.”
But anyone who has spent months trying to find a client the right home knows there’s much more to it than that.
“Most agents are service people, too. They have to do sales, service and paperwork,” he said. “Not that you’re not salespeople. You’re not just salespeople.”
So how does an agent change his or her reputation, let alone public perception? Rand, along with Nick Segal of Partners Trust in Los Angeles and Sam DeBianchi of DeBianchi Real Estate in Miami, sat down at Inman Connect to talk about how to approach challenging a stereotype.
According to Rand, most brokerages focus their training on sales but not on the service aspects of day-to-day real estate. By training agents on marketing, client relations and inter-office communication from the beginning, a brokerage will be more than just a bunch of agents trying to move listings — it’ll be a cohesive network.
Quit trying to be famous
Sam DeBianchi is no stranger to having cameras in her face. The Miami agent has appeared on Million Dollar Homes and been featured in media outlets like Fox News, Forbes and the Huffington Post all before the age of 35. But her success and public persona wasn’t built on hashtags and selfies.
“Don’t be about yourself. Stop taking so many selfies on social media and trying to hashtag everything,” she said. “If clients look you up, it’s usually not a good look. Keep it classy or keep it private.”
DeBianchi sees old school relationship tactics making a comeback as the digital age continues to change communication, believing that calling back someone who left a voicemail instead of texting them or taking clients out to lunch are still methods that are appreciated.
“I take someone out for a meal everyday,” she said. “It hasn’t helped my weight at all, but it’s helped my job a lot.”
Know your market first
Partners Trust CEO Nick Segal says young agents aiming for fast money need to do their homework before reaching out to clients, and that’s not just learning about the restaurant scene nearby. Landmarks within the community, the average price per square foot in the surrounding area and more data on the local market’s condition are all essential before taking a meeting with a buyer or seller, he says.
“You don’t have to change the reputation of the real estate industry. Just focus on your reputation,” said he said. “You need to earn the right to ask for orders.”
Creating a reputation built on service and not sales numbers can build the referral cycle so many agents search for while showing clients the difference between agents and salespeople, Rand says.
“You don’t see many salespeople get referrals for how good they sell, but agents get referrals,” he said. “For their service.”