You have a branded website. You have a system for managing your contacts, nurturing leads, and marketing your database. You’ve created profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and every other social media platform possible to maximize the reach of your business.
You generate leads, you make contact, and you get appointments – but what impression are you making once you’re in front of them? What are you doing to connect with them in a meaningful way?
When discussing the importance of building emotional connections in real estate, Million Dollar Pipeline Coach, Sheldon Rapoza said, “The best agents don’t get the best leads. They are the best at building trust and creating connections. And they do it so well, they generate referral [business].”
As digital interactions become more and more ubiquitous, emotional connections are too often lost. We’ve discussed how emotional connections win listings and, ultimately, your resume doesn’t matter. What matters is your ability to listen, learn, engage, and build trust.
Despite the abundance of expertise you have to impart on your customers, this process is about them. Listening builds trust by allowing a person to feel heard and valued, which will consequently lower their resistance and reduce defensiveness, making it easier for you to develop a real connection with someone.
Don’t be afraid of silence. It’s a natural part of the listening process and allows you to process what someone is saying. It might feel awkward at times, but silence shouldn’t be filled with empty conversation if you really want to connect with someone.
To be clear, listening is not the same as hearing. Listening is actively paying attention to what your clients may or may not be saying and will help you understand what they value most.
Once you recognize what someone values, try to understand their preferences, interests, expectations. What do they want from you? What are their expectations of the buying or selling process? Ask questions and dig beneath the surface to learn what matters most to them, how you can offer those things, and how you can guide them through the process.
Say someone is looking for a home with four bedrooms – they could want extra space to accommodate guests, grow their family, or maybe they want to care for an elderly parent; this information doesn’t necessarily change what they’re looking for, but it tells you why they are looking and offers valuable information about their emotional buying process that you can use to deeply engage them.
Engagement is where connections are built. It goes beyond the immediate conversation to forge a relationship, long-term. It’s important to ask yourself if you’re engaging with people in meaningful ways, both verbally and nonverbally. Are you following up after conversations, however brief? The simple act of sending someone a follow-up text or email can mean a lot. Whether you’re thanking them for their time or simply telling them it was great to chat, the effort can leave a positive impression and let them know that they’re top-of-mind, after the conversation has ended.
- Ask open-ended questions and give pause. Allow the other person to finish their sentences and think about the things they’re saying.
- Personalize your communications. Whether you’re face-to-face, over the phone, or communicating electronically, tailor conversations to the person you’re talking to. Identify them by name and reiterate things they’ve said so they feel heard and understood.
- Put your phone away. Having your phone out or accessible not only invites distraction, it communicates that you’re not committed to being present to the person you’re with. Let whoever you’re with know that you care by putting your phone away.
- Mirror their actions. Use body language to mimic the person you’re engaging with to build rapport and put the other person at ease. Carol Kinsey Goman, author of “The Nonverbal Advantage: Body Language at Work,” explains, “Mirroring starts by observing a person’s body posture and then subtly letting your body reflect this position… When using mirroring in a business setting, you will know that you have developed mutual rapport if your partner begins to mirror you in return.”
Master your EQ.
In his book, Sales EQ, Jeb Blount discusses the new psychology of selling and leveraging emotional connections to keep prospects engaged, differentiate yourself, and influence buying decisions. EQ, or emotional intelligence, is the extent to which you recognize, understand and manage your emotions, coupled with the ability to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. In real estate, this is central to connecting with people you don’t know, understanding what matters most to them, and guiding them through the emotional process of buying or selling a home.
Working with you becomes about the experience of working with you, not about the transaction.