While stopped at a gas station on a road trip I asked my husband to grab me a bottle of water while I took the kids to the restroom. I didn’t just request any water, but a specific brand.
My oldest, and the most observant six-year-old I know, says, “Mom, why do you always drink that type of water?”
“Well, honey, I trust that brand of water and think it’s a better quality than the others.”
“What if they don’t have that kind?” she asks, not letting this water thing go.
“Well, then I chose this other brand, my second favorite. If neither of those is available, I have to gauge how thirsty I am and possibly settle for one I don’t really feel good about drinking.”
This is real conversation folks, and yes, I understand I might be a little crazy when it comes to bottled water!
But it got me thinking. I choose my brands, be it water or my vehicle, based on trust—and the same applies when people choose their Realtors.
When we build trust with people, they’ll go out of their way to make sure they work with us every single time.
If we’re not available, they may move on to their next choice of agent.
If we have no branding at all, have zero trust built with the people we want to do business with, we’ll get bypassed, or worse, people may settle on using us and then dump us as soon as someone they trust comes along.
Unlike water bottles where trust is built from quality of ingredients and packaging, we build trust these ways as real estate professionals:
- Through relationship. By definition, relationship is “a connection, association, or involvement” (dictionary.com). Be involved in the lives of the people you know. Truly connect with them on personal levels. Learn ways to help others (not just through real estate, but on personal levels). We all crave connection. When relationship is built, a bond of trust forms and you become top-of-mind. Relationship is the most important element because it doesn’t depend solely on your relationship with the people you want to work with, but their outside relationships as well. This is how you receive referrals from people excited to work with you—someone you’ve built a relationship with has a relationship with another person where trust exists and when they refer you, there’s weight in their word.
- Through integrity. The people you build relationships with watch how you hold yourself and how you conduct business. They may like you on a personal level, maybe you’ve known each other for many years, but they may not want to do business with you because they question your ethical principles. We have a strict Code of Ethics to follow in this business, stay in line with those and make sure your actions reflect that to everyone around you, and people will trust doing business with you.
- Through branding. You may build a trusting relationship with those around you, but if you haven’t branded yourself as the go-to agent, they may forget to send business your way! It’s likely that you aren’t the only Realtor someone has a good relationship with, so your next step is to make sure they remember you as the top-notch expert when it comes to their real estate needs. There’s a delicate balance between building trust and branding. If you make the relationship all about “me, me, me” it becomes one-sided and the relationship crumbles. People need to know what you do and why you’re passionate about it without shoving it down their throats. Instead of always asking for referrals from others, find out how you can refer people to them, or help in other areas of their lives (building that relationship) and they’ll want to return the favor. Talk about your passion for helping people with their real estate needs in non-invasive ways, but make sure it’s not a secret either. For example, invite friends to like your business page, but don’t let your listings’ posts be the only time they hear from you.
The three elements above build trust in the minds of others and bring you more business. But, there’s one more thing I learned that day at the truck stop. When I left the restroom and met my husband at the water case I saw a new brand of water—one that had even more benefits to drinking it (pH balancing, for example). Being the health nut I am, I was intrigued, plus it had all the other elements I like about my favorite brand. So, I returned my usual brand to the case and opted for this new one.
Did I feel different or better after drinking this new water? No, I couldn’t tell the difference really. Will I opt for it over my tried and true brand if they’re in competition again? Yeah, probably, I’m a sucker for health benefits.
This taught me that as real estate professionals we have to always be at the top of our game. We may build strong relationships with people, exude integrity and be well-branded as an agent, but when it comes to buying and selling something as important as a home, people want a real estate professional who has the best means to getting the job done. If your listing photos are all taken with a cell phone and your marketing is sub-par, you’re going to lose business to the agent who has all the trust-building elements AND is hiring a professional photographer.
I know what some of you are thinking. I go above and beyond for my clients and have the best marketing features with all the newest technology. Yet, I still lost my neighbor’s listing to their cousin who’s only a part-time agent! What gives?
Yes, you may be the “better” agent, but don’t forget to skip those trust building steps. If you’ve ever lost a client to another agent, analyze if any of the four elements above were missing. Did the other agent have more trust with that client than you—a deeper relationship, higher sense of integrity, or was branded more heavily in their minds as the go-to agent? Did they have better marketing techniques?
Begin with trust and stay on top of the best business practices and trends, and you’ll see more business from the people you know and receive their referrals.
Need help with building your client base? Learn how to build a solid career in real estate with Prospecting with Purpose.