by Sandy Geroux
Do you want potential customers who call you to have more control over your life… or would you rather have more control over who calls you in the first place?
I recently read an article that shocked me, in which a real estate trainer claimed that if agents didn’t want to be 24/7 REALTORS, then “that was their choice… if they wanted to LOSE BUSINESS!!”
What? Did I read this correctly? Are we actually advising people that they must be on call 24/7 or “be prepared to suffer the consequences?” On the contrary, I submit that you must be prepared to suffer the consequences if you DO try to be 24/7 – because this feat is literally impossible for any human being… not to mention, completely unreasonable for any customer to expect from you.
The article mentioned that most buyers and sellers who called around trying to find an agent ended up working with the first agent with whom they made contact. This was the major criteria that determined if a buyer or seller chose an agent. In response to this, a suggestion was made that agents publish their cell phone numbers – and home numbers – in an effort to “be available” whenever and wherever a potential customer calls, so that you can get their business.
- Does this mean that you’ll answer your cell phone, even if you’re with another customer?
- Does it mean that you’ll interrupt your family dinner, or your children’s evening events, whenever the phone rings?
- Does it mean that you can’t ever take time off, lest you LOSE THE BUSINESS of someone who doesn’t even know you?
Do you see the impossibility of this type of thinking? Let’s face it – even if you publish every possible phone number you own, you simply CANNOT be available every minute of every day that a stranger might try to call you. You are only fooling yourself if you think this is the answer to increased business. It is only the answer to increased frustration, quickened burnout and heightened family trouble.
In all fairness to the writer of the article, the reason for this is that so many “professionals” (in every industry) don’t return phone calls that potential customers are understandably unwilling to leave messages because they assume they will lose valuable time waiting for a call that, in all probability, will never come. However, since many professionals (at least successful ones!) don’t, and can’t, sit around their offices waiting for the phone to ring – and simply mustn’t interrupt important customer and family appointments to answer their cell phone – there must be a way to overcome this.
Fortunately, there is! There is a way to become the professional of CHOICE versus the professional of CONVENIENCE… a way to stop being a commodity (someone or something that looks like every other someone or something in its class)… a way to get someone to call you because they want you – and only you – rather than anyone who answers a phone the instant they call, and they trust you to call them back when they leave a message. It’s called “Referrals and Repeat Business” and we all know how it works, yet we often forget these valuable lessons:
- You tap into your base of loyal customers – if you don’t have one, build one; if you used to have one and have lost contact with them, reconnect. Stay in contact with everyone who absolutely loves the service they received from you – or who knows and trusts you on a personal level, even if they haven’t had business dealings with you
- You do such a thoroughly professional and exceptionally competent job EACH AND EVERY TIME you get to serve a customer that they can’t help but say, “WOW!”
- You obtain testimonials from each satisfied customer (obtaining their permission to publish their comments) and publish them EVERYWHERE – all over your website, in your marketing materials, advertisements, and sales letters
- You plant the seeds for future business by asking for referrals and repeat business shortly after your business is concluded. A very easy way to do this is through an Evaluation/Feedback Form that you mail to the customer about 1-2 weeks after the sale is concluded. Ask open-ended questions they can answer with great “testimonials” you can use elsewhere (provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope for them to use to mail it back to you)
- You NEVER lose contact with another happy, satisfied customer again
When you are recommended by someone a potential customer knows and trusts, this carries so much more weight than simply being there at the other end of the phone when a stranger calls! You may even be able to overcome the natural skepticism of strangers by telling them how different you are right in your voice mail message. A sample message could be:
“Hi, this is Sandy Geroux, and I’m sorry I missed your call. However, as you probably realize, I serve my customers best by being with them, rather than sitting behind my desk. If you will leave your name, number and a brief message, you will discover, as have my 352 past clients, that I am very diligent about returning my calls. Thank you for your call – I look forward to working with you soon and demonstrating my commitment to your success.”
How different does this sound from the usual message that simply tells people the date they’re calling and the fact that you aren’t at your desk… and often mentioning the wrong date on the message, proving that you aren’t even diligent about changing your outgoing message, never mind returning your calls!
Be brave… dare to be, and sound, and act different from the rest! Send out a different kind of message – one that gets to the point, tells them something about you that they don’t know, establishes the fact that you have XX number of past clients, and makes a promise (but one that you MUST keep, or you’ll lose all credibility with them)! Then work on getting more and more people to refer you and use your services over and over again, so that most calls you receive will be from people willing to wait for a trusted professional, rather than those who don’t give a hoot who they hire… as long as their first phone call is returned!
Have a great week –
Sandy has been a national speaker, trainer and coach since the year 2000, speaking to organizations and individuals across the U.S. to help them achieve breakthrough performance in sales, customer service and personal and professional productivity through effective risk-taking.
She is a member of the National Speakers Association, is a former Dean of the Speakers’ Academy for the Central Florida Chapter of NSA and now serves on the Board of Directors for that Chapter. For more information, visit Sandy’s website at http://www.sandygeroux.com.