Winning business without the sales pitch
Some agents aren't natural salespeople, but tapping into your interests and a desire to make authentic connections can be a highly effective way to gain leads.
- Be yourself while showing your value and expertise. Clients want to work with someone relatable.
- Create or participate in events or causes that feel true to who you are.
- Give the community something they’ll remember — and they'll remember you, too.
Cold calling is Will Draper's worst nightmare.
"I didn't get into real estate to be a telemarketer," he says. "I just never saw the appeal of calling people who don't want to be called."
Now a team leader at Living Wake Forest NC Real Estate and a business coach for the Tom Ferry organization, Draper got into the business to help people. "My first year I really struggled because I didn't want to be a salesperson," he said. "Then I realized you have to actually make sales in order to help people. That's when I decided I had to find alternative ways to reach potential clients."
Buying leads and other traditional lead-gen tactics work great for lots of agents, but it can also be expensive and feel discouraging when so few leads translate into sales. Draper and others have, instead, focused on growing their businesses by forging connections and providing value to their communities in authentic, non-sales pitchy ways.
Showing your value, and your personality
Draper, for one, began posting videos about his local market, the homebuying process and neighborhood information. "I never asked for business, but I wanted to show my value," he says. He also routinely shares videos in which he tells Dad Jokes. "It has absolutely nothing to do with real estate, but I probably sold a half-dozen houses last year because people saw those videos, they laughed, and they must have thought 'He's a good guy' — the kind of guy they wanted to work with."
He has also focused on relationship-building through common interests. An avid home brewer, he partnered with a local brewery to create a club where beer-lovers could gather. The endeavor wasn't business-focused, but it allowed him to make connections. He earned direct sales, referrals, and even found his best friend and business partner through that club.
Giving the community something they'll remember
Ty Morris, sales associate with Coldwell Banker Lifestyles in New London, N.H., worked as a chef prior to becoming a real estate agent. "I love to cook on a large scale and I love to please people," he says. "Nothing speaks to people in quite the way that food does."
So, it was only logical that while brainstorming ways in which he could expand his sphere and connect with members of his community, he settled upon food. He now hosts three free community meals each year in the town's community building — all are welcome. It's not a time to talk real estate, but rather a time for neighbors to gather over good food and conversation.
Morris, who holds numerous leadership roles within his community, also sponsors the hydration station at the town's Fourth of July celebration. He provides cold water in branded bottles to anyone who makes a donation. He then uses those donations to help buy food for his annual Stuff-A-Truck food drive.
"I know people who are really into marketing schemes and that's fine," he says. "I prefer to focus on altruism. I want to give something to the community that they'll remember. Then, later, they'll remember who gave it to them — when the time is right."
Gaining exposure through local organizations
Jessi Davidson and Danielle Sette are Team Sette Davidson with ERA Justin Realty in Rutherford, N.J. They're an energetic duo focused on growing their business organically. They're involved in community organizations including the Chamber of Commerce. "The Chamber exposes us to potential clients but in a really natural way," says Davidson. "We attend grand openings and get out and support new businesses and restaurants — I mean, we have to eat."
They're also members of their local Elks club, for which they've sponsored several events. "We're not selling anything, but for the cost of some food and supplies, we get to spend time getting to know some really great new people," said Sette.
During the pandemic, the two wanted to find a way to bring some happiness to their community. They started a Facebook group called 07070 It Takes a Village. The group, described as "fostering community through daily acts of kindness and encouragement," now has 3,100 members. Daily posts run the gamut, from summer camp announcements to facts about local history.
"It's been such a great place for people to connect and offer encouragement," says Sette. "Again, we're not promoting ourselves, but we're focused on community support and our little faces pop up every time we post something, which often comes back to us in the best possible ways."
3 ways to create authentic connections
Looking to authentically connect with potential clients? Here are some additional strategies you might consider:
1. Expand your network
Develop relationships with others in professionals in complementary fields. Get to know interior designers, contractors, home stagers and more. Not only will you be able to connect clients to these professionals, but you can cross-promote each other's businesses to tap into new client bases.
2. Sponsor a local event
Is there a festival, food drive or fun run you can sponsor for a minimal investment of time and energy? Could you spend a few hundred dollars to buy uniforms for a youth sports team? If there's not an event or cause you feel passionate about, could you start one? You don't need to advertise your services for people to see your commitment to your community.
3. Conduct educational seminars
Perhaps you want to work with first-time homebuyers. Provide some basic tips and an overview of the process, then give folks a chance to ask questions. You could do something similar for investment properties or vacation homes. Or, perhaps, you want to offer free tours of different neighborhoods. Focus on providing information rather than promoting your services. By demonstrating your knowledge of the industry and local market, you'll establish yourself as the kind of agent clients want to work with — without the hard sell.