Beth Traverso is a top agent and broker in Washington state. She started out in real estate more than 20 years ago by restoring and flipping properties. This year, her team is on track to generate $67 million in sales.
Today on Stay Paid, Beth discusses how regular communication and an amazing attention to detail have helped her create a successful business.
- It’s important to take ownership of your online presence.
- By providing concierge-level service, you’ll get incredible reviews and keep clients coming back.
- When it comes to geographic farming, consistency gets results.
Q: Introduce yourself to our audience.
I’m a broker, agent, and team leader in the greater Seattle area. I started back in 1998, which was a totally different era in real estate. Zillow wasn’t a thing yet. There weren’t a lot of ways to generate business.
Then I moved about 20 miles outside the Seattle city limits. In 2008, the real estate business was in a crisis state, and I found myself in a tough spot. While my business was suffering, so was my husband’s contracting business. Our real estate investments were suffering, too.
At that point, I decided to sit things out for a bit and focus on being a mom. We lived off our reserves for a while, but it took years for everything to blow over. In 2013, I realized it was do-or-die time. I’ve always been in real estate. I didn’t have another career.
I realized I needed to do things differently—treating my business like a business and not waiting for sales to come my way through somebody I knew. Thankfully, I paired up with a great brokerage here. The owner helped give me the building blocks.
You should find a great mentor. Watch what other people have done, and just model that.
The brokerage I joined gave me the steps. I went head-first into it. I built out a database, got a good headshot, and put my marketing out there. Every week, I’d focus on one task. I’m actually still doing that today. I’m always looking at certain things to tweak and improve. That’s really a never-ending process.
I’m always growing and changing, but it really is a snowball effect. One of my favorite authors, Darren Hardy, wrote The Compound Effect. I discovered that book and started implementing these very small steps. Looking at the enormity of building a giant business was overwhelming. But making 20 calls a week? I can do that.
Q: How should a new agent build their business?
The first thing to realize is that it costs money to build a brand. There’s overhead involved in any business, including real estate. When you scale up, it’s all about measuring your return on investment and making sure you’re investing in the proper things.
I didn’t start out with a huge amount of money. Whenever a deal came through, I’d set aside 30 percent of that money for marketing purposes. You’ll probably want to have at least 4–5 lead generation sources. You already have your friends and family, but, in order to scale, you have to build a brand.
People need to trust you to take the reins and take them through the sale. You don’t get any more personal than where a person lives.
We need to be patient and compassionate. I genuinely care for the people that I’m helping and believe that they need me to guide them through this process. Marketing is getting those people to reach out to me, especially if they don’t know me. I want them to feel like they do.
Q: What have been your most consistent lead generation sources?
One of the first things I adopted was Zillow. I still do a lot with Zillow—they have been a great partner.
I originally started with Zillow because one of my checkboxes was “claim your online presence.” A lot of agents don’t like Zillow, and I won’t argue with them. But you want to be able to claim your name in case somebody Googles you. You don’t want to be unknown when someone tries to look you up.
I’ve also been doing geographic farming. I started with one farm of about 500 houses. One thing to know about farming is that you need to commit to it for at least a year. I can’t tell you how many times I get one mailer from an agent and then never hear from them again.
I started seeing results after mailing for about 12 to 18 months. It started out as once a month, and then I went up to twice a month. I did start getting some angry phone calls, but I learned not to be afraid of those.
I’ll also include “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” cards in my farming. I’ll get 4–5 listings a year from people who feel like they know me just from getting my postcards every single month.
Q: How do you get all your Zillow reviews?
It’s taken me several years to get those reviews. I say, “I’d really appreciate if you’d let me know what your experience was like.” I usually bring it up before closing, because people are busy moving after that.
Since Zillow does screen your reviews, it’s really important that you make sure they’re authentic. Once we get under contract, I basically have a template I send out. I ask people to spend two minutes giving a review. I tell them how important online reviews are to my business. Then, I ask them to copy and paste that information into other sites.
For Yelp reviews, you cannot ask clients to do that through a link, or Yelp will screen those out. Tell them to Google your name + Yelp, then leave a review.
I’ll also ask people to leave a review on Google Business Page. I’ll let people know that I have a goal of 25 reviews. Only one in three people might end up doing it, but those people will be more likely to do it if they feel like they’re helping you achieve your goal.
Q: Talk to us about what concierge-level service means to your business. How has it helped differentiate you?
Part of how I provide that level of service is by assembling an amazingly competent team of professionals to help. If it’s a seller preparing to list, we have stagers, contractors, painters, videographers—all these people whom I’ve cultivated these relationships with and who are ready to jump in and provide the best experience and results for my clients.
Availability is also important. People will be surprised when I called them back or responded to an email in a timely manner.
Just do what you say you’re going to do. I’ll go into a sale, interested in buying something, and I’ll never hear back. Salespeople in any profession should deliver what they promise. It’s not rocket science.
Q: Are referrals still a big part of your business?
I’d say that referrals are a huge source of business. It’s grown to the point where we also get a lot of outside business, but then we definitely nurture those relationships.
I was just talking to somebody today about an internet lead that came in a few years ago that’s turned into 5 or 6 transactions since then. I sold their house, and I stayed in touch with the buyer who bought it. Then, that buyer came to me when they wanted to sell, and they bought with me, too.
You’ve got to stay in touch with people so they know where to find you—you’ve got to stay top of mind.
At least a couple of times a month, the people in my database get something from me. It could be postcards. I’m getting ready for a client appreciation event now. I also call or text people when I’m thinking about them.
If I see someone’s house that I helped them buy, I’ll text them. I might ask if they ever got their bathroom remodeled. Make it organic and specific to that person. It takes maybe one minute. You let them know you’re thinking about them, and they know it’s just for them.
Q: How big is your database?
My past client and sphere segment might be about 650 people. Then, there are all the people who’ve dropped into the funnel. They might have clicked something on Facebook—they’re long-term nurture campaigns who might filter down through the funnel at some point. I don’t even know how many of those people there are.
I’m not particularly techy. I’m more of a person-to-person kind of agent. I only know what’s working and what’s not.
Here’s another nugget for you: don’t focus on making it perfect. You don’t want to overthink things at the expense of talking to people.
Anybody can set up their marketing on autopilot. You can pay for it, and then you don’t have to think about it.
Set aside an hour a day where you can focus on those things that move the needle, like prospecting. Save those other activities for after you’ve completed those tasks.
Q: What’s a recent breakthrough you’ve had in your business?
I always know that if I feel uncomfortable with something, that’s probably what I should be doing. There was a time that doing podcasts like this terrified me. I’ve learned to be more comfortable with it.
Another thing along those lines is video. Tom Ferry suggests that agents use video as a differentiator. I don’t necessarily feel comfortable being on video. But I’ve started doing it, and I feel like it’s a pretty good move for me.
There’s also the need to be a team leader. I’m naturally kind of a lone wolf. Managing other people is a challenge, and that’s been one of my biggest breakthroughs over the last year.
Q: Which routines have driven success for you?
The one thing is constant growth, in business and otherwise. Another thing is a morning routine. I get up at 4:45 a.m. every day now, and it’s great because nobody’s bothering me. I practice mindfulness and think about how I want my day to go. This helps put me on the right trajectory for the day.
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Have faith in yourself. Believe in yourself. Look at the long-term. I feel like the first ten years of my career was a waste, just because I didn’t believe I had the potential. Find that belief, find the resources, and find the right mentors.
- Claim your online presence: Google, Zillow, Yelp, etc.
- Google yourself and see what comes up.
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