As the market turns, it’s critical to keep growing your client base through a combination of hunting, fishing and farming, Inman Connect panelists explain.

As the market turns, it’s critical to keep growing your client base.

At the Inman Connect New York 2019 real estate conference on Wednesday, moderator Maura Neill, founder of Buy Sell Live Atlanta, gathered onstage with Samantha DeBianchi, founder of DeBianchi Real Estate, Mike Schneider, co-founder and CEO of First.io, Cece Blase, an agent with Compass, and Rett Harman, principal and Realtor with Century 21 Novus Realty, to discuss their top tactics for hunting, fishing and farming.

First, let’s clarify what hunting, fishing and farming are:

  • Hunting: Seeking people who don’t know, like and trust you.
  • Fishing: Outreach such as sending out post cards and geo-farming.
  • Farming: Cultivating the database you already have.

Hunting

Below is a compilation of the tips, tactics and strategies the panel gave onstage.

  • Make calls: Go through your phone and reach out to make contact and let people know about the market, DeBianchi said. “Everything leads to a conversation,” Schneider agreed. “Whatever it takes to get to a conversation and build trust.”
  • Do the grunt work: Blase remembered back to the beginning of her career as a new 24-year-old agent who didn’t know anyone who could afford a home. She advocated sitting open houses and doing floor time. She said she would even walk around in stores and ask sales clerks for help finding people with real estate needs.
  • Don’t be a secret agent: Harmon said simply networking and being active, especially on social media, are crucial strategies for simply reminding people that you’re an agent, even when you aren’t having face-to-face interactions. Being active in our personal profiles has helped me tremendously in staying on people’s radars, Harmon said.

Fishing

  • Show value: DeBianchi said. When you call people to ask them if they are interested in buying or selling, show them value. DeBianchi says there are tons of agents out there, so you need to be able to bring something different to the table and show that to clients.
  • Do something quirky: Harmon said he sent Christmas pickles to clients, which was more memorable than the average holiday card. DeBianchi piped in and said she sends holiday cards in January so they don’t get lost in the end-of-the-year flurry of mailers.
  • Create video: All of the panelists agreed that video is an excellent way for clients, and even people who don’t know you, to deepen (or begin forging) a relationship with you because they’re seeing your face, and they feel like they know you. “People like to see a face,” DeBianchi said.
    • Blase said she likes to shoot video on a whim. The self-described Facebook Live fiend recalled shooting a video from the entry gate at an open house and talking about the architecture across the street.
    • “I own seven homes, I Airbnb them, and I do extremely well,” DeBianchi said. She showcases that on video rather than the million-dollar homes she sells on the regular. She says it’s creating a new source of buyers by showing the investing side. Those million-dollar homebuyers are now buying several $200,000 homes as investments.
    • Harmon said he likes to go and shoot videos with local business owners, not a totally unheard of practice. But he says that they try to get two to three videos from each shoot that showcase what the business does and why it’s great. This is great for cross promotion on social media, as well as referrals and boosting his local content. However, one thing he does is finds family members of local agents who own businesses. Then what happens is those agents will promote the videos of their family’s businesses, and Harmon winds up all over his competition’s social media.

Farming

  • Email newsletters: Blase is crazy about email newsletters. Her new year’s resolution is to send one per week to her 1,600-person email list, a good chunk of whom are agents just outside of her network — prime referral fodder.
  • Send handwritten notes: Similarly, DeBianchi sends concise, handwritten notes that discuss what’s going on in the market. “Education is everything,” she said. Sending the notes positions her as a knowledgeable source to clients. “In any market, whether it’s up or down, there’s always and opportunity,” she said. And if you can show that opportunity, you’re their go-to agent.
  • Be consistent: Schneider said it’s all about finding what you’re comfortable with and doing it consistently. He noted that post cards don’t have a good return. Less than 1 percent of the population makes their decisions based on post cards, Schneider said.

The biggest block

Neill asked the panelists what their biggest blocks are as far as getting and keeping clients.

DeBianchi whole-heartedly and quickly answered: “Not following up.”

She noted that no one likes to tell clients their homes are worth less than they thought or that homes aren’t selling well in their neighborhood, but following up and educating is the best way to overcome that.

And working through those issues with a solid strategy, Neill added.

“People want to know that you’re going to help them in the worst of times as well as the best,” DeBianchi agreed.

“What you’re hearing over and over again is consistency matters,” Schneider added.

“My biggest block is fear, and that ties into consistency,” Blase said. “If I just hold my breath and pick up the phone … it’ll bring results.”

Email Dani Vanderboegh

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