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“Can you please help me?” my client asked. Her face dripped with exasperation. She was at the end of her rope.
Let me back up here.
My client and I scheduled a Tuesday morning meeting. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, having some coffee and reviewing my notes for the day. I love coffee shop meetings. My client arrives, looking like she’s running for her life.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
She was driving through a neighborhood. She noticed a “For Sale” sign in the front yard of this cute home. She did what has become the norm. She pulled out her phone to get more information. Her app of choice: Zillow.
I have nothing against Zillow. People should use the tools that they feel most comfortable using. Wanting more information, she put her contact information and hit the submit button.
That’s when all hell broke loose.
Zillow is more than just a website – it’s a business. The lifeblood of any business is money. How does Zillow generate it’s money?
I’m glad you asked.
Agents pay Zillow to advertise and receive people’s contact information within a specific zip code.
This isn’t exclusive to one agent per zip code. Oh no! Zillow wants roll large. Be fat and happy. Like a clown car, Zillow packs as many agents into a zip code as possible.
A person is looking at a house on Zillow. They enter their information. Within seconds, dozens of agents get a notification on their phone. “Janet contacted you about a property. Do you wish to call?” Two buttons: OK and Cancel.
The agent stops whatever they are doing. Shoving a fat burger in their mouth. Sitting on the toilet. It doesn’t matter. They all push “OK”.
For my client, it happened almost immediately. A phone call from a number she didn’t recognize. She sent it to voicemail. Then it happened again. And again. Then again. Different numbers from all over LA and Orange county area. Text messages popped onto her screen.
Within 15 minutes, she had 25 voicemails and text messages from at least 10 different agents.
Thanks to some institute of higher learning, called Stanford, they released a sales report that if Mr. Salesman doesn’t contact a person within 5 minutes of them leaving their information the chances of selling anything go down 80%.
But the phone calls didn’t stop. Over the next few days, my client’s phone continues ringing.
That’s because of another sales study. This one says that 80% of successful deals take place after the 8th point of contact. The more calls you make, the more successful you’ll be.
There are only two types of people who call this much. Telemarketers and stalkers.
This is what agents are taught. An instructor, real estate guru, beat those numbers into their heads. These agents build their business based on numbers. They call this “prospecting”.
It feels like harassment.
My model focuses on relationships. For my client, I met her almost a year ago. Every now and then, she’d email me a question to which I’d answer. She read my newsletters. She liked my stories. This is how relationships start and grow.
One day, she sent a text and said she was ready.
Shortly thereafter, she suffered the wrath of Zillow.
“Is there anyway to stop these phone calls?”, she asked.
“Yep,” I replied. “Text them back and say ‘I have an agent’.” If agents can’t smell a deal, they will disappear.
Gotta call within 5 minutes. Keep calling/emailing at least 8 times within the next week. Agents defend these tactics. Fiercely.
One real estate guru said, “Don’t be afraid to piss people off. That fear will inhibit your success.”
Funny. I never thought that my success was related to the number of people I piss off. But I guess that’s the difference between someone who focuses on building relationships versus someone who treats people like numbers.