As I am constantly in search of constant promotion and link love, I recently ventured over to Trulia Voices.
I love the format. Consumers post questions about real estate and anyone who subscribes to a certain criteria that you choose, will receive the questions via email and then you have the opportunity to post your answer to the consumer…to the consumer!!
Great idea, great concept, and in its simplicity, a great way to interact with the consumer in a honest and open fashion. You are allowed to suggest an answer according to how you would handle a certain situation or dilemma that the consumer may have or be facing in the near future.
Of course, it is to be expected, that with a gazillion Realtors on the planet, that one answer may differ from another’s answer. We all have different life and vocational experiences that we can look to for our answers.
That’s what makes blogging so special. I may have one belief, you may have another and we can truly voice (no pun intended) our opinion as to what we feel is a suitable response to the consumer’s inquiry.
How wrong I was. Why did I ever go over to Trulia Voices? Yes, I probably received some of my sought after link love (no I didn’t check the “no-follow” tag), but I was not prepared for my other bonus.
Vilification as if one was an interloper! I began answering the questions that were being asked directly. I was giving the answers that I felt best solved the consumers problem or inquiry. I did not know that isn’t the way to respond.
Excuse me for speaking my mind and responding openly and honestly to an inquiry from the public. I didn’t see the response guidelines that said there was a specific manner in which to communicate with the consumer according to the amended Code of Realtor Mandated Responses on Trulia Voices. I now realize what I was supposed to do. Now I need a shower.
Most of those who choose to answer over at TV seem to be following some golden oldie real estate agent playbook. Most of the answers seem to be straight from the NAR manual for Standard Operating Procedures. There indeed must be such a book.
If I could find that book I am sure it would read as follows:
1. Never answer a question directly. Always make the consumer think you know more than you do by actually avoiding the question by telling the consumer to seek out a local professional.
2. Always, and I do mean always, tell the consumer that they need to seek out a local real estate professional for any question. (did I say this already…now you are getting the point of Trula Voices)
3. Never, ever, tell a consumer that any Realtor will EVER take a reduced commission.
4. Never say another Realtor was wrong (but secretly submarine him by clicking the thumbs down button)
5. Always tell the consumer that they received a lack of responses because they just don’t understand how the business works
6. Always be sure to tell the consumer how much a Realtor does to make sure the transaction goes smoothly and to reinforce the need to have a “local Realtor involved.” (regardless of the question the “local Professional will always have the answer..like the Ace Hardware man.)
7. At all costs, try not to DIRECTLY answer the question. That would be way too easy!
8. An issue previously discussed by Jay Thompson and Jonathan Dalton, Always answer as many questions as possible, even if you have no idea as to the answer or don’t live or work in the area. It does not matter. gotta get those points and improve those “rankings”. Seems I have hear about people commenting for the sake of points elsewhere…hmmm.
Actual Question courtesy of TV: “Looking for a Realtor willing to take a 2% commission on a new construction and give 1% back after closing.”
Written by an actual Buyer looking to do a deal and not one response was an affirmative “I’ll do it!”.
An Actual Answer: ” The lack of responses to your question should tell you a great deal, but I’ll try to bring it down to laymen’s terms. Imagine your boss coming to you and asking you to work a full 40 hour week, plus another 10 hour’s overtime. But after he pays you and you receive your check, he wants you to give the overtime payment back to him.
If you did agree to that, might you be inclined not to work as hard or diligent? If you do find such a hungry and desperate
agent, look at the bigger picture – not just the monetary aspect.”
Wow..Thanks, Sparky..I bet the consumer who asked that question feels fulfilled. You certainly told him, albeit “in laymen’s terms“. If you were unwilling to do as asked..why did you bother answering? Oh yeah, must be that darn playbook!
Another Answer: “An agent who is willing to take a 2% commission; share it with a selling agent; and give back 1% would actually lose money. You would need to find a real dumb agent to accept such a deal and I would not want him or her representing me.”
You would actually lose money?? I’m sorry…did he ask you to come out of pocket with any cash? Did he ask or state that this was the entire commission? C’mon, do these people even believe the words they are typing? I am not a mathematical genius but 1% of something is a lot more than 100% of nothing.
Rudy and the guys at Trulia came up with an amazing concept. A way for the consumer to interact with the consumer directly. An open line of communication wherein an agent could simply anwser a question and like writing a blog post, become an authority figure.
By answering a question with a clear and concise answer the agent could build credibility not just with the person asking the question but with other consumers reading the answers.
Instead, on TV we see question after question answered in party line talking points telling the consumer to “call me”, or ” work with a local Realtor” or “let me send you some information”.
This is a Web 2.0 world people! You can’t force old school marketing down the throat of today’s consumer. Everyone knows the stat, 84% of prospective homebuyers begin their search on the Internet. While we know that to be true, we can not be sure where that search actually begins.
If it is starting on TV you are wasting a valuable resource and not working with a clear understanding of today’s instant information age.
Not to digress , but I love Twitter. I have just 140 characters to convey a message. That’s it, no more. Better make it clear and concise or the message is lost.
Today’s consumer doesn’t want to hear the mumbo jumbo that most Realtors are serving up on TV. If they wanted to consult a “local professional” they already would have!
They want an answer to a question. Answer it! Don’t use the space to advertise yourself or defend your profession or talk down another answer. Answer the question asked. Period!
Expose the others as professionally inept. Go ahead, this isn’t Romper Room…take the opportunity that the consumer is giving you to shine and DIFFRENTIATE yourself from the rest.
This is your moment on stage. You have direct communication from a consumer who is casting a line in the water looking for the most credible, authoritative person he or she can find. Don’t blow the opportunity with a talking point crafted response.
It might sound good to the other Realtors but it’s going to make you look just like what the consumer thinks you look like. We’ve all seen the studies, it’s obvious that now is the time to break from the pack and howl like the big dogs!
Trulia has given you the opportunity to be a purple cowand most agents just aren’t seizing the opportunity. You don’t get a second chance to impress. You have that one moment to answer the question and after you’ve answered..it’s over. You had better make it work.
I assume, even though I should not, that the reason people answer questions on TV is to make money. The eventuality of the Q&A is to lead to a consummated transaction. That being true, the opportunity is forever wasted if you do not give the customer that what they are looking for.
Trulia Voices is like a great restaurant, with great food and a wonderful ambiance. Unfortunately the wait staff doesn’t understand the menu and won’t serve up what the customer is looking for.
Like all restaurants in that predicament, the customer moves on un-satiated and quite unfulfilled. In doing so the wait staff goes home with sparse tips.
It’s not the restaurant (TV) that seems to be the problem here, it’s the quality of the service. In the end the customer relates the two as one.
While there are undoubtedly a number of agents who are using TV to their advantage (Ines from Miamism for one), there are far too many agents ruining the dining experience, if I may continue my metaphor.
I urge those Realtors who are willing to provide clear and concise answers and who have learned through their blogs what being an authority figure can mean to your business, to venture on over to Trulia Voices.
The consumer needs you.11 comments