I received a message last week – “Miriam, how’s the sale of your house going?”
Our house is on the market. And the truth is, it’s all moving too slowly. The recent election killed demand stone dead in our area, and it’s only just picking up.
That’s why, last week, we decided to bring a second estate agent on board, to speed things up a bit. But who to choose? There were the three agents I originally interviewed, who we didn’t pick. Their pitches had all been broadly similar and it was hard to remember which was which.
Then there was the agent I hadn’t originally approached, who saw a comment I left on a real estate group on Facebook a few weeks ago – and sent me the message above.
“Miriam, how’s the sale of your house going?”
No pitch. No offer to help. Just a simple question — which I answered.
He checked in again the next week, asking if there was any progress. And the next week, too.
In the end I rewarded his persistence (I hadn’t heard from the original three agents since our house went on the market). So that’s marketing lesson #1 – stay in touch with your leads! Persistence pays off.
But he did something else very right, too.
He didn’t start selling to me straight away. Instead, he started a conversation.
And that was smart.
You see, if he had immediately started telling me that he could do a better job than the other guy selling my house, my guard would have been up. Every message would have had “sleazy estate agent” written all over it. I would have felt nagged.
Asking me a question and getting me to talk took the pressure off me. I didn’t feel I was being sold to – even if I knew, rationally, that of course I was.
As we chatted on FB Messenger, I asked him a few questions about market conditions, gradually becoming more comfortable. Eventually I asked him for data about his track record selling houses in my street.
And since he had already pumped me for information about how our sale was progressing, I have no doubt that he was able to tell me exactly what I needed to hear to be invited to value our house……..
Too many marketers – online and off – take the opposite approach, going straight in for the ‘kill’.
If you’re on LinkedIn, I’m sure you’ve been the recipient of messages from newish contacts or even total strangers, asking you to book an appointment with their sales rep or go directly to their sales page. We’ve all seen blunt email messages from people you barely know offering their services.
Offline, the guy at the networking meeting who only wants to talk about what he has to sell is a recognisable stereotype.
It’s too much, too fast. Most of these people are probably dismissed out of hand.
So what’s the alternative?
If you’re in the type of business where you need to sell 1-2-1, lower your sights. Your first aim should be to start a conversation with your prospects – nothing more.
Think about what simple questions you can ask that really hit home. Get them talking, get them comfortable and keep the conversation going with more questions.
In fancy online marketing terms, it’s called ‘engagement’. But getting your foot in the door, establishing rapport and trust – and listening to your leads before pitching to them — is also just smart selling strategy.
As for our new estate agents, I can only hope that they are as smart with the buyers as they were with the sellers (us)!