What’s wonderful about writing, blogging, and/or journaling, is that it forces you, amongst other things, to consider clear answers for yourself — After working on the topic of competitive advantages (http://mattcparker.com/2015/08/what-is-a-competitive-advantage/), I had to think, well, what is my true competitive advantage? What can I really show a customer that other people can’t/don’t attempt to offer? Why should they really use me?
The answer is a function of what I look for in people I do business with, and, I think, what a lot of people look for:
SOMEONE WHO LISTENS
Nothing turns me off more, when I am shopping for a service, than someone who is not focused on truly listening to me with the intent of understanding me. They might be giving me lip service. Maybe they interrupt our conversation to use their phone. Maybe I can hear them typing emails while they chat with me on the phone. All of these immediately raise my guard to hiring someone.
HOW DO I SHOW PEOPLE I CARE, TRULY CARE, through listening?
- I never use or answer my phone during meetings.
- I ask multiple clarifying questions (to the customer – “Can you please explain what you mean by ‘quick sale?’ How ‘quick’ is ‘quick’ to you?”)
- I show respect for their concerns, no matter how “weird” their concerns are.
The end result, from these and other factors, is that people feel, and truly are, cared about. This is simply what I look for in my service providers! Does this person listen to me, understand what I am saying, and incorporate it into what they are trying to sell me?
What’s amazing about listening is that it is a free competitive advantage. It does not require paid advertisements, comprehensive understanding of complicated technology, or inclusion in seemingly elite social groups. Yes, it’s important to be in tune with the reality of how your marketplace works. But, this is less important to the customer than hiring someone that understands their distinct emotions and needs.
I ran into my first real estate trainer, whom I truly respect, at Red Robin last week. I was having a late dinner with my family, and he approached my table and said:
“What, you can’t answer my call? I called from my table to give you a hard time!”
“I don’t have my phone on me, so you just made a funny ringing noise in an empty car.” I replied.
While this made for a laughing moment amongst us, it spoke to the main “law” he had given me about ten years ago with regard to selling real estate — to always answer your phone. To this law, I told him:
Then and now, I do not take my phone into restaurants or on vacation. Or, while walking with my mom, or in the gym. In fact, I screen most of my calls. The science is not in question: Being “connected” all the time is not healthy, productive, and necessary for success. Here are the main reasons I manage my cell phone use:
1. I am in charge, not my phone. One day I won’t be with my family, them or I having passed, and on that day, I don’t want to think about all the dinners I spent texting other people.
2. Multi-tasking, including using your phone, and, bouncing in between tasks, has proven over and over again to produce worse results and more mistakes. When we are dealing with real estate, these mistakes cost people their life’s work and savings.
3. Big topics require attention and time. Who likes the feeling of a service provider wanting to get off the phone with you? No one. Who likes it when a service provider is frantically doing other things while they discuss big money with them? Again, not many people I know. The truth is we need relaxed and intelligent conversation to understand and direct financial decisions, not trite, short, forced dialogue.
4. I get way too many sales calls (and you do to!). Title and escrow companies, lenders, more sales calls –I know you get them because I get dozens per week. I simply don’t like wasting time on them, or, the awkward interchange with salespeople (whom I respect because I am one!).
5. It makes it very hard to relax. Once you get going in real estate, you have 10-40 customers who can and will contact you around the clock. There is simply no way to relax if you respond immediately to all of this contact! Relaxation, stillness, and peace are necessary parts of a healthy life. These customers chose you to be smart, deliberate, and honest, and there is no way to do this if you are “on” all the time.
Generally speaking, business people want meaningful conversation the same day, or within a day, of leaving a voicemail. Simply setup an office system whereby you can intelligently direct people in the biggest financial moves of their lives.
Doing it with ranch on your fingers in a Red Robin might not be the best way.
Happy Labor Day (Leave your phone at your office!)!