In a recent keynote speech, Gary Vaynerchuk asked, “How many people are mad when another human being calls them?” Nearly half of a room seated for 700 raised their hands, thus confirming that they often experience feelings of frustration literally anytime the phone rings.
In a brazen tone, Vaynerchuk continued, declaring “You’re mad because you understand technology has gotten to a place where it doesn’t have to be that way. You’re mad because they could’ve texted you and you could’ve gotten back to them on YOUR time, not them bothering you on THEIR time.”
MY Time Versus YOUR Time:
Vaynerchuk’s point is, perhaps, a bit extreme. We’re not actually mad every single time the phone rings (at least I hope not). Even so, there is merit to what he said. His point, which in essence, emphasized the contrast between “my time” versus “your time,” rings true. Because the truth is, whenever my phone rings, I look down at the caller I.D. and—if I’m being 100% honest—sometimes think, “Oh man, what does he want now?”
If I dare slide my thumb to the right, thus answering his call, I expose myself to whatever topic he decides is up for discussion that day. Hence, call screening. I’m on his time, not my own. If, however, he texted me, when I reply, I do so knowing precisely what topic is being discussed. I don’t have to wonder, “What does he want this time?” I’m making an informed response on MY time.
Americans LIKE Texting:
A Nielsen report says that Americans send or receive twice as many text messages as they do phone calls. Now, I’d imagine there are many reasons why this is so—one being that the two types of communication differ from one another and shouldn’t be compared directly. They’re apples and oranges, so to speak. A typical phone call may be worth 25 text messages; it’s hard to say, really. Regardless, what I do know is that text messages suit some situations better than phone calls and vice versa.
Imagine, for instance, you’re hosting an open house, which, by the way, is a wonderful method for meeting new prospective clients. Let’s pretend nine unrepresented prospective clients (i.e. buyers or sellers) signed in on your attendance sheet and provided you with their contact information.
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A conventional measure for following up with these folks would be to call them the next day. So for example, you dial one individual’s number—the phone rings, rings, rings, then you hear—“Hi, this is Emily!” [A brief pause.] Seeing your opening, you jump in with all the enthusiasm you can muster, “Hey Emily, this is Jason Pantana! The agent from…” Then, before you could finish the sentence—“BEEP”—a piercing sound cuts you off. For a second, you’re confused. Quickly though, you realize Emily has one of those tricky voicemail messages that make you think the call is live when it is not actually. Side note: I hate those!
In mere nanoseconds, you perform a quick visual scan of the office to ensure no one witnessed this embarrassment, take a deep breath, resume your composure, and finally, leave your message. “Hi Emily, this is Jason Pantana, the agent from yesterday’s open house at 123 Main Street. I really enjoyed meeting you and would like to schedule some time to follow up. Please call me back at your convenience and have a wonderful day.” [End call.]
A Phone Call to Get a Phone Call:
Let’s evaluate what just happened. Basically, you called Emily to ask her to call you back. I feel like we’ve initiated a game of tag Emily, perhaps, doesn’t care to play.
Now, it’s not that phone calls are bad or obsolete—not at all. However, a text message might have been a more effective option in this type of scenario. For example, after the open house wraps up—after you’ve tidied-up the property, shut off the lights, locked the doors, and retrieved all your directional signs—then, why not send everyone who signed in a text message? Not a group text!
You might text, for example:
“Hi Emily, it was great meeting you at the open house this afternoon! As promised, here’s a link (http://_______) to its MLS report. I really enjoyed our discussion today and would like to continue learning more in order that I may provide value to you as you begin taking steps toward purchasing a home! When is a good time to speak over the phone this week?
(Jason Pantana, REALTOR®)”
“Thanks Jason! I can speak this Tuesday morning!”
One Step Closer to Converting the Lead:
Your goal with this text dialogue is simply to set a time to speak over the phone. That’s all. If you get a face-to-face—terrific, but that’s not the play.
Here’s the big takeaway: when Emily agreed to speak with me on Tuesday morning, I went from playing defense (i.e., expending precious phone time in a feeble attempt to get, well basically, another, more formal phone call) to offense (i.e., Emily and I get on the phone at a set time and it’s mutually understood that we’re talking about her real estate goals and my services). Offense versus defense.
It’s Not Texting Versus Calling:
Don’t misinterpret this, I’m not suggesting that texting is an easy pass or that it’s always an appropriate activity. Prospecting for business is hard work, period. If you’re fearful of making phone calls, for instance—one, know that you’re not alone. Two, understand that texting should not be thought of as a substitute. To me, it’s all about context and what communication medium makes the most sense given the circumstances.
In the case of the open house example above, a text message seems like an appropriate measure for an initial follow-up with a prospective client. Sometimes, however, we automatically choose to dial a number even when we have nothing of substance or value to say in the event the recipient actually answers the call. “Hi so and so, guess what? I’m in real estate. Okay, bye!”
When that sort of interchange doesn’t work for us, we get a little traumatized, and consequently, incur a fear of making phone calls. We say, “They’re a waste of time!” Then, eventually, we stop following up altogether. Instead, you should ask yourself “What is the best medium for reaching out?” Perhaps it’s a text message, an email, a phone call, or a drop-by. Then ask, “What can I say or do that provides substance and value?”
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Photo by the talented, Pat (Cletch) Williams
Jason guides real estate professionals through current and emerging trends in consumer behavior, sales and marketing, and entrepreneurship. To invite Jason to speak or to schedule a consultation, visit: www.JasonPantana.com/Contact