How long have you been an agent?
Why should I do business with you?
How are you going to find/sell my house?
Whether you’re preparing for your first listing presentation or you’ve already been through your first presentation and are suffering some mild trauma, I want to put you at ease by sharing some positive news.
According to the 2020 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 73% of buyers interviewed only one real estate agent during their home search, while 77% of recent sellers contacted only one agent before ﬁnding the right agent they worked with to sell their home.
Why is this such good news for the inexperienced real estate agent? Well, if you’re the first agent to contact a prospective client and arrange an interview with them, then regardless of your experience, you already have a better shot at winning that client than the agent who waited.
A willingness to hustle can be your best advantage . . .
Before getting into the three critical questions to which every new real estate agent needs well-rehearsed answers, let’s talk a bit about how your first prospective clients are likely to find you. Once you’ve got that information, you can then strategically plan what the client experience will be and give yourself another advantage.
Prior to meeting, make a positive first impression
Let’s review some of the methods, listed in the table below, that buyers use to find their agents. We can then discuss how you can use this information to form a positive first impression before you meet to talk business.
Referrals and repeat business
Being relatively new to the real estate industry, you can’t rely on the two most popular methods by which people find their agents—referrals and repeat business.
It makes sense that you have less chance of being referred since you haven’t developed a base of clients yet. However, if you’re lucky enough to have some persuasive friends or relatives, then you’ve inherited some credibility to help counteract your newbie status—92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know, and consumers referred by a friend are four times more likely to buy.
Cold calling and email marketing
A good percentage of people found their agent because the agent reached out. This is also positive news for the inexperienced real estate agent because you can control what you say on a call and what you write in an email—thereby shaping a lead’s first impression of you. (Hint: sounding confident matters.)
We offer helpful tips for cold calling prospects in our free e-book, Guide to Cold Calling. Simply click the link or image to download.
Your website and social media pages
Across age groups, except for the most elderly, using the internet to find an agent ranks as either the first or second most popular method.
Your website could very well be the way most of your prospects first meet you, so you want it to be professional—clean, well-written, and easy to navigate. It should feature exceptional images and have a blog that positions you as the subject matter expert in your market.
If your website isn’t quite up to snuff but you feel confident that with a little guidance you can make it better, then do an internet search for “best real estate website builder.” You’ll find a wide range of companies that provide the hosting platforms, templates, and other tools you’ll need. Just remember, you may need to do some hunting to find one that is sufficiently specialized to provide a great real estate website.
If you don’t want to spend the time and effort to improve your website yourself (after all, you need to be generating leads), you can outsource the work.
Hire a company or an individual designer who specializes in real estate websites to give yours a makeover or to create one from scratch. An internet search for “best real estate website developers” will give you results with lots of opinions as to which qualify. Shop wisely and compare your options.
As for your social media pages, they’re an opportunity to reveal a more personal side of yourself. People want to do business with those they know, like, and trust, so use social media as a way to let your audience get to know you. Shannon Gillette uses Instagram to connect with her sphere in a very authentic and personal way—and closed $50M from followers who called her.
Social media is also a place to provide value and share information that depicts you as an expert. One easy task would be to post a list of FAQs with the answers. You can connect a PDF to a form requesting visitors’ contact information and then add them to your database as leads you can continue to drip on.
If you get a chance to host an open house for a busy agent or broker who would prefer to spend their Saturdays watching college football rather than showing a house, then do it. Each time you do, you’ll get another shot at making a great first impression with buyers who haven’t selected an agent yet and curiosity seekers who one day will need an agent.
First impressions—those snap judgments—exert a powerful influence on how people perceive and respond to you. At an open house, you have control over how you dress, how you greet visitors, the appeal of your table and collateral, and your willingness to be helpful. Start on the right foot, and download our free open house kit. Use it to appear like a seasoned professional who has hosted dozens upon dozens of open houses.
At this point, I hope you realize not having much experience doesn’t mean you have to come across as an unprepared novice. There are opportunities for you to persuade your potential prospects that you are sufficiently credible to warrant an initial meeting.
But as you know, looks aren’t everything, and first impressions alone aren’t enough to convince prospective clients that they should hire you. For that to happen, you’ll need more—like having a compelling answer to each of the three tough real estate questions below.
1. How long have you been an agent?
Understandably, this question worries the inexperienced real estate agent the most. But it doesn’t have to.
Let’s think for a minute about what a person who is interviewing real estate agents is really asking when they want an answer to any of the following questions:
- How long have you been an agent?
- How long have you had your license?
- How many homes have you sold (in this neighborhood)?
- May I have a list of referrals?
When all is said and done, what people want is to feel that the agent they select is the right agent to help them find or sell their home.
Your experience, or lack thereof, is only one relatively small indicator that you’re the right fit.
Helping your prospect make a decision they feel good about
You’re probably familiar with the idea that buying decisions are foremost driven by feelings and later justified with logic.
In his book How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, (#ad) Harvard University professor Gerald Zaltman argues that as much as 95% of our purchasing decisions are based on unconscious motives—the most influential being our emotions.
The role of emotions in decision-making of all kinds is so critical that one of the world’s foremost neurology scientists, Antonio Damasio, found that patients whose brains couldn’t generate emotions, either as a result of brain surgeries or medical conditions, also had severe difficulties making decisions.
Interesting stuff, but what has it got to do with convincing a lead that you, the inexperienced real estate agent, is the right choice? In a word, everything.
If you know how to appeal to the appropriate emotions, you can improve your odds of having a prospect feel you are the right agent for them.
In a study reported by Zoovu, SMITH (an “experiential commerce agency”) suggests there are eight emotional mindsets that drive customers’ buying decisions. There are two that new real estate agents are likely to encounter more often than the others. Understanding these emotions, you can use the strategies suggested below to help prospects of different minds picture you as the right choice.
Of the North American shoppers surveyed by SMITH, 20% were motivated by a need to validate their choices. These consumers don’t want to make a wrong decision, and they sometimes find it difficult to make up their minds. What typically works to convince this type of prospect to do business with you is your expert advice and other people’s opinions (e.g., referrals and social media conversations).
Your strategy. Proof of your professional expertise rests in you knowing your stuff—market conditions, details about the neighborhood, etc.—and there is no excuse for not knowing your stuff. However, your prospect will think your limited experience means that your knowledge is also limited—and it is. But that’s okay because your job is to convince your prospect that even if you don’t have the answers, you can get them.
Talk about the top-notch team you work with, use the credibility of your broker’s brand, borrow experiences other agents have had, but, most importantly, speak with confidence. People are persuaded by how you say something (the paralinguistic cues like volume, pitch, and how fast you speak) at least as much, and likely more so, (#ad) than by what you say.
You can also point your prospects to your social media pages or website, where they’ll find useful and valuable information that will give them even more confidence that you have the expertise they want.
In addition to directing your leads to the list of FAQs (as I suggested above), another idea to encourage perceptions of your expertise is to post a list of questions to ask a potential REALTOR® and then explain what they should look for in the answers.
As for sharing other people’s opinions and referrals, you should make growing your sphere a top priority.
An online resource for real estate agents called Become a Local Leader suggests you start by interviewing local business owners. You could livestream your interviews on social media. Afterward, you can publish and promote them in your blog. The felt need to reciprocate will kick in, and the business owners you interviewed will start to refer you. You can also request that they share the interviews with their networks (giving you more exposure!).
When someone is primarily motivated by a desire to avoid feeling remorse, they’re more likely to make routine purchases (because they feel safe in their decision) or they will purchase brands that mirror their values and beliefs. And just as much as people want to avoid buyer’s remorse when purchasing a home, they want to avoid it when selecting an agent too.
Your strategy. Learn as much as you can about your prospects, and take every opportunity to make them feel safe by illustrating that how you do business supports their values and beliefs. This is not a suggestion to portray yourself as something you are not. If your prospect is a staunch liberal and you are a loyal conservative, don’t say you voted for President Biden if you didn’t.
A safe value to reflect is honesty. Tell your prospects that you will tell them the truth, whether it’s what they want to hear or not. Another is reliability. If you promise to deliver some data by “this evening,” then make sure you do.
You can also create an outstanding client experience to encourage them to further consider hiring you.
Make their first meeting with you memorable. If you’re meeting in the morning, bring along some coffee and doughnuts. Many agents will simply show up with their business cards and launch into their pitches.
Additionally, don’t ask a lead if they are preapproved before agreeing to show them a house—no one buys the first house they see, but many agents will decline if the lead hasn’t been okayed for a mortgage.
The key to answering questions about your experience is to do so confidently. You can speak about your resourcefulness, use your knowledge of emotions and persuasion, and point to evidence of your expertise, but if you don’t believe you’re the right choice, then your prospects will pick up on that and find another agent.
2. Why Should I Do Business with You?
This question, or some variation of it, is typically included on internet lists of “questions to ask a potential real estate agent.” Even so, I’m not sure how many agents actually get this question, but that isn’t the point.
The point is your answer would be your value proposition—and you MUST have a value proposition.
A value proposition reveals to your prospects the benefits they’ll receive from doing business with you rather than with another agent. So even if it’s not an answer to a direct question, you should always find a way to work your value proposition into your conversation.
(A quick note: people will sometimes use value proposition and “unique selling proposition” or USP interchangeably, but they are different.)
Your brokerage may have a value proposition that they encourage you to use, and that’s fine. But you need to have your own too. You are your brand, and your clients will be working with you. They’ll want to know what makes you special and what they should expect from you.
Determining your value as an agent may or may not be a tough challenge, but articulating it so that your prospective clients understand it is most definitely a challenge.
And because buyers and sellers will have different ideas about what is a benefit, you’ll need a different value proposition for each.
Tyler Smith is the CEO of SkySlope, a transaction management company, and he recommends an exercise you can complete to discover your value proposition:
- Create two columns on a piece of paper. Label one column “Buyer” and the other “Seller.”
- List everything you do for buyers and for sellers under the appropriate column—the typical things and the special things.
- When you’re done, select the top three entries in each column that make you stand out. These are things you feel you do really well and feel enthusiastic about.
- Take those six entries and write why you’re good at them. Is it special training? Lots of practice? Is there a story here?
- Memorize and practice talking about these things until you are super comfortable; “they should roll off your tongue.”
Examples of value proposition statements for REALTORS®
Use these USPs and value proposition examples for real estate agents, collected and published by Hootsuite, for inspiration in developing your value proposition (the value proposition is in bold italic font for each):
- From The Mike Brown Group: Boasting an impressive record of top performance in sales, Mike and his team employ their extensive knowledge of the industry, Boise real estate trends, Idaho real estate regulations, and local business and financial markets, to make navigating the sometimes troubled waters of real estate mediation a smooth and successful journey.
- From the Jills Zeder Group: The Jills Zeder Team is closely affiliated with Coldwell Banker® and reaches international buyers across 43 countries and territories through the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury® program. Furthermore, The Jills Zeder Team also works with the International Luxury Alliance and Hamptons International–London to reach ultra-high-net-worth luxury buyers from all over the world.
- From The Hudson Advisory Team: Their rapid ascension within the New York City brokerage community is founded on three primary tenets: creative marketing solutions, client transparency & communication, and a highly comprehensive “boots on the ground” approach to the market. The Hudson Advisory Team covers the full spectrum of properties, handling both sales and rentals at any price point, specializing in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Hamptons.
3. How Are You Going to Sell/Find My House?
If someone asked for my advice about the questions you should ask a REALTOR®, then this would be the first one I’d suggest because, all else aside, selling or finding a house is the job they’d be hiring an agent to do. Below are some typical as well as more unique marketing tactics you can use and share with your prospective clients.
Real estate marketplaces: Demonstrate you’re prepared, experienced, and knowledgeable
Sellers will want to know how you will market their homes. You can run through the usual outlets (MLS, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, etc.), but don’t stop there—explain why; i.e., the advantages, of using these platforms and what makes each one a little different from the others. Your prospective clients may not care (they just want to be sure their houses will be seen), but with your explanation you have another opportunity to demonstrate you are prepared, experienced, and knowledgeable.
Open house: Demonstrate your creativity and hustle
Ask if they’d be willing to allow an open house (some people may still be wary of COVID-19). If the answer is yes, then let them know you’ll be promoting it not only on social media and by email, but also locally to encourage neighbors to drop by. Neighbors often talk to potential buyers about the neighborhood, how nice the house is, how well it’s been kept up, and other points that could help with the sale.
You might also give your prospects a taste of your creativity and hustle by suggesting themes for their open houses. Consider these enticing options to draw a crowd:
- Try a BBQ. Hot dogs and (veggie) burgers are simple. Make sure you put out plenty of trash cans for the paper plates—you don’t want garbage to be left around—and restrict eating to outside the home.
- Create a holiday feel. Think about decorating with flower colors that match the holiday; for example, use red, white, and blue carnations for Independence Day.
- Think sports. Is the local team doing well? Set out party favors that feature their colors, logo, or star players. If possible, put out some lawn games for the kids. Will there be a big game on the day of your open house? Rent a large-screen television, and play it while fans stroll throughout the home.
And don’t forget to use our FREE open house kit! It includes a welcome sign to greet attendees, a sign-in sheet to ensure you collect information to add to your sales funnel, a survey to solicit feedback, and even coloring pages for parents with children in tow. (Sorry; crayons not included🖍.)
Personally branded magazine: Demonstrate you’re a professional
Trust me on this—having your own beautiful, personally branded magazine with your image, logo, and contact information printed on the cover will dispel all doubts and immediately quiet your prospects’ concerns about your status as an inexperienced real estate agent.
We offer three such magazines, but here’s the kicker—you can tell your prospects that you can:
- Advertise their home on the back cover with a custom ad, AND
- Write a custom letter for the Front Inside Cover that talks about your home in detail.
Tell me that wouldn’t push your credibility through the roof and make a positive, lasting impression!
Let them know that:
- You mail your personally branded magazine to every address in your sphere.
- You’ll display it at their open house and make sure everyone leaves with a copy.
- You provide a copy to all your new buyer leads.
Each of our magazines is a gorgeous, 48-page, glossy publication filled with eye-catching images and includes six places for your personal branding—the Front Outside Cover, the Front Inside Cover, the Back Outside Cover, the Back Inside Cover, and two Tear Out Cards—and they are an unbeatable way for you to circulate your brand for less than the price of a Hallmark® card!
On top of that, 58% of recipients have reported they referred the agent who sent them a magazine!*
Exclusive-promotion website: Demonstrate your sophisticated strategy
People love to feel special, and a great way to accomplish that, make a property stand out, and impress a prospect even more than you already have (assuming you’ve taken the advice given so far) is to create a single-property website.
Single-property websites are, as the name implies, one-page websites devoted to showcasing a single property listing. They are designed to encourage visitors to complete a form requesting that the listing agent send them more information. It’s also a nifty way to get more prospects into your sales funnel.
Again, this is a project that’s best outsourced. Fit Small Business offers its review of six single-property website builders that you may want to check out.
A final word—know your why.
There are, of course, a plethora of other questions you are likely to be asked. Our mission is to help you close more deals and retain more business, and, in addition to our magazines and other tools like postcards and digital marketing products, we have a large library of FREE resources, including webinars, ebooks, success guides, checklists, and blogs to help prepare you to answer them. We also have free lead magnets and printable door hangers designed to entice prospects to contact you.
Starting any career can be anxiety provoking. I hope this blog gives you solid, practical actions you can take so that you and your prospects feel confident about putting their trust in you.
But when you feel frustrated or a bit out of your league, go back to why you became a real estate agent. Was it because you remember how you felt moving your young family into your first home, and you want others to have the same experience? Was it because you saw how relieved your grandparents were after they downsized, and you want to help other retirees find what’s right for them? Whatever it is, your reason for becoming an agent is a resource you can rely on to inspire you to get back in the game.
If you need a little help putting your why into words, check out Stay Paid episode 281. It features Jamie Hopkins, managing partner of Wealth Solutions at Carson Group. At around minute mark 8:00, he starts to talk about the benefit of knowing your why and how you might discover it. He also shares his personal why at the beginning of the episode when he’s introduced by the hosts. (It’s a moving story.)
No worries. You’ve got this.
*2019 ReminderMedia Reader Study conducted by GfK MRI