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Getting to know you, getting to like you

This article was originally published in EAToday

Based on the results of a recent mio survey, almost 50% of home movers selected their Estate Agent because they liked them.  Our MD, Emma Vigus, explores how to make your business likeable.   

Digital personality

You need a great team and an effective marketing strategy to encourage prospects to engage with your business and discover how likeable you are.

Irrespective of your business model, the first encounter someone has with your company will probably be online.  It could be your Facebook or Instagram account or your website.  What does your online profile say about your business?  Is it likeable, engaging and responsive?

Does it show your support for local businesses or charities? Is it full of interesting content and great reviews?  Do your team have website profiles that say a bit about their lives outside of work? Do you respond quickly and politely to enquiries?  The expression ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’ applies online just as it does offline. 

We need to feel valued

Your response to a lead may determine whether you win the business.  Make your prospects feel valued from the outset; simply responding quickly might not be enough in a competitive market.  Think carefully about who responds to leads and how they respond.  Yes, you want to book the valuation, but the first phone call is a great opportunity to start building a relationship with your prospect and discover those small details that will help you win the listing.  If you follow up with an email, please proof-read it before hitting send.  Spelling someone’s name incorrectly won’t help you win the business!

And keep feeling valued

Imagine how you’d feel if you had a great first date and then everything went quiet. That’s how lots of businesses treat prospects after the first conversation.  Leads are a really valuable asset, but they are often thrown away due to a lack of follow up.  Some people engage with Estate Agents months before they list their property so having a plan for maintaining contact is vital. 

This is where a great content strategy really helps.  Don’t just repeatedly tell everyone how great you are at selling houses.  Share useful and engaging content that encourages people to build a connection with your business, for example recommendations for great local tradesmen or stories of local heroes. And…. pick the phone up occasionally and ask them how they’re getting on!

Effective follow up is also about developing trust.  If you commit to do something by a specific date; do it!  Great organisational skills are a rarity despite being a basic requirement for most jobs.  Don’t leave it to chance with your team.  Ensure they are all using a digital task manager to keep on top of their to do-list.   

Sniffing out the people we like

A range of factors like smell, voice and hormonal balance determine if we like someone. But you’re looking for a client not a date so reflect on why you like certain people. You trust them; you share similar interests; they are interested in you and they’re there when you need them.  How do your team create a similar feeling with prospects?

Building trust in a business relationship is about competency, honesty and reliability. Your team need to reflect those behaviours and you should evidence it in your marketing. Using case studies is a great way to achieve that.  

Establishing shared interests particularly if you only meet a client once or twice is hard.  However, visiting someone’s home can provide plenty of conversational triggers from pictures of a favourite football team to a love of music. You may know nothing about the topic, but you can still ask a few questions.  Note the word ‘few,’ there’s a subtle difference between being interested and prying.

Treating peoples’ homes with respect should be a given but, we’ve all heard stories about Agents walking into homes with muddy shoes or leaving doors unlocked after a viewing.  It doesn’t matter if the place looks like a bombsite, treat every property as if it was not just a palace but, your palace. 

Attentiveness is as important in business as it is in our personal lives. In business, it simply means demonstrating that you haven’t forgotten someone.  Stay in touch with your leads; take note of that crucial personal detail they gave you and make time to ask if there’s anything you can help with.

These basic skills are increasingly scarce due to a perceived lack of time and an over reliance on digital communication. They should be simple to get right and they will make your business stand out.

Let your team shine

Billions are invested in developing business brands but, in a service industry, it’s the people on the front line who define how clients and prospects perceive your company. Hopefully you’ve employed a team of thoroughly likeable people, so let them shine. 

Give all of your team a personal profile on your website; encourage them to write content; help them develop their professional social media profiles and when the time is right, encourage them to network. 

It can take a brave manager to do this, particularly in Estate Agency where staff turnover is high, but a business with a really good team is more resilient and valuable than one which relies on one superstar.   

Encouraging and rewarding likeability  

Pressure can alter the most likeable person’s behaviour radically.  Preserving service levels might be your first priority, but you also have a duty to look after your teams’ mental health and changes in the way one of your team interacts with the public can be a clear early warning sign.    

You should also ensure you are encouraging and rewarding the right behaviours.  Call centres used to be notorious for incentivising employees to make as many calls as possible with scant regard for the tone, quality or outcome of the call.  Twenty minutes invested in a good quality phone call that secures a listing is far more valuable than sending numerous emails that produce nothing.

A viewer today, a seller, tomorrow

We often remember bad experiences for far longer than we remember the positive.  Don’t treat your sellers like royalty whilst treating those who view properties like dirt.  Everyone your business deals with could be a future client so remember that reputations take years to build and minutes to demolish.

Welcome to our branch

If you have a branch, does it feel like a welcoming place to visit? It isn’t an accident that some high street banks feel like coffee shops.  You might not be able to re-create a Costa Coffee in your branch, but you can ensure it’s clean and tidy and that every person who walks in receives a friendly welcome.    

It’s the simple things that count

Fortunately, we’ve moved on from the 80’s when power and aggression where seen as strengths and likeability was a weakness. So, embrace your inner niceness and take time to offer help or invest an extra minute in chatting to a prospect.  It’s very simple to do and you might be surprised by the results.

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