Welcome to the whole new
world of the Internet Empowered Consumer (IEC)!
They represent a fundamental change in the way we, as
real estate professionals, deal with potential
customers. In fact, for the first time in the
history of the real estate profession, the consumer
(i.e. the IEC) is in control.
The IEC has control (of
their own situation) because the Internet provides them
- A shield of anonymity
--which protects them from unwanted, intrusive,
or "pushy" behavior
- A buffer from
the 80% or more non-verbal communication that
occurs face-to-face and 40% or more non-idiomatic
communication that occurs on the phone --which
protects them from feeling dominated by powerful
- Nearly unlimited
amounts of information concerning
properties, financing, and the overall transaction
process --which gives them the confidence to
feel they are not entirely helpless
The advent of the IEC
brings out an interesting irony in our business.
Many of us have been taught to "take control"
of situations with prospects when meeting them for the
first time, either face-to-face or on the phone.
We probe, ask qualifying questions, mirror, request
their name and contact information, and try to get them
to work with us exclusively. While this process
can work well with the traditional real estate consumer,
it can be counterproductive with the IEC.
In fact, the very things
we've been taught to succeed in sales with the
traditional real estate consumer, will actually work
against us with the IEC!
Relationship, Not Control
Once you give up the
notion of "control", the only thing left is relationship,
which ultimately is a much more powerful way of working
with clients and prospects.
There are four principles
of creating relationship online, and each one implies a
certain behavior or attitude shift in order to be
successful when working with the IEC:
#1: The IEC is in control, and they like it
that way! - don't "push" the IEC to move
faster or reveal themselves sooner than they are
ready, otherwise you are likely never to hear from
#2: The IEC expects their online privacy to
be sacred - you build trust by explicitly
reassuring the IEC that you will respect their privacy
via a privacy statement link on all your Web site
#3: The IEC values: a) their time; b)
saving money; c) having choices - be
flexible and ready to tailor your services and fees to
meet the needs of the IEC rather (e.g. Fee for
services) than force them into a "one model fits
#4: The IEC will not do business
with you until: a) they trust you; b)
feel you have their best interests at heart; c)
know you have the expertise to help them - you
build relationship by giving the IEC what they
want (i.e. information, advice, etc.), without
requiring them to reveal themselves and in a way that
let's them know you are the expert
I refer to the process of
creating relationship online as the Art Of The Thread
Of Relationship™. It is interesting that
Internet-savvy professionals who have mastered this
process often report that their online client
relationships are far stronger than if they had
met them face-to-face or on the phone first. I
prove this non-intuitive result at every full-day
seminar I conduct around North America.
Old Habits Die Hard
What all this means is
that real estate professionals who are used to doing
tons of business in the traditional way, via taking
"control" of the agent / client interaction,
may find it difficult to successfully transition to
doing business with the IEC. The desire to take
control can be a hard habit to break.
professionals who already work from the position of
"relationship" in traditional real estate,
will find the transition to working with the IEC quite
natural and satisfying. Typically, these folks are
already enjoying top success because the business comes
to them seemingly effortlessly.
Doing business on the
Internet is less forgiving than the offline world,
because the IEC (and not you) is in control.
Learning how to work with the IEC effectively through
the process of relationship is undoubtedly one of the
most important skills you can acquire as we enter the
new millennium. One that will result in more
business as you work with clients who will, more often
than not, also become your friends --what a concept!