How to lose a customer in one day

Using technology to develop leads is an art. But seriously, is it an art just to have a conversation? More often than not, I find it is. Here is an actual exchange of emails I’ve had with a real estate company. I started receiving emails after landing on one of their listings on Edgeio.

(I’ve copied and pasted from my email so forgive the various fonts…)

May 15, 2007
Good Morning.

The link below is the new property inventory on the market that matches your search specifics this morning.

Are these properties that I’m sending to you what you are looking for? I would appreciate some feedback from you, I want to make sure my parameters are correct.

xxxxxx

Real Estate Professional

Hi xxxxxx,

I am not looking to buy a home right now. I am a marketer/educator and was doing research on Edgeio.

Thanks for checking though,

If you are interested in learning about new ways to connect with today’s consumers you can check out this site or come to one of my clock hour classes.

June 2, 2007

Hello Tami,

Click the link above to view the new property inventory on the market that match your specifics.

Are these properties that I’m sending to you what you are looking for? I would appreciate some feedback from you. I want to make sure my parameters are correct.

New xxxxxx agent
Real Estate Professional

June 6, 2007

Hello Tami,

Click the link above to view the new property inventory on the market that match your specifics.

Are these properties that I’m sending to you what you are looking for? I would appreciate some feedback from you. I want to make sure my parameters are correct.

xxxxxx
Real Estate Professional

Hi xxxxxx,

Just to follow up again ( I think we spoke on the phone last week…at least someone from xxxxxx realty called me). I’m not in the market for buying or selling right now. So you don’t need to send these.

Out of curiosity, are you familiar with the kingsgate neighborhood in Kirkland?
Tami

June 8, 2007

Hello Tami,

Click the link above to view the new property inventory on the market that match your specifics.

Are these properties that I’m sending to you what you are looking for? I would appreciate some feedback from you. I want to make sure my parameters are correct.

xxxxxx
Real Estate Professional

Notice the underlined text. I was asking about the neighborhood because my neighbor is getting ready to sell her home and is interviewing agents. I had a lead! What’s the response? Just the same old auto responder.

Acquiring leads is pointless if you aren’t going to have real conversations with them. It seems ridiculous to be talking about this but not as ridiculous as it has been to receive constant auto-responders. I’m not naming the company (in the above email exchange) because quite frankly this is not the first time this has happened. I frequently shop websites and I’ve had this experience with a number of companies. The one commonality is they are all companies who pride themselves in their use of technology and provision of leads to their agents.

The mentality here must be that lead generation is a numbers game. How else do you explain this? Whatever is is – it is definitely not Web 2.0.

The companies and agents that are winning with today’s consumers have learned to engage customers and have taken a genuine interest in what their customers are saying.

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June 11, 2007 at 10:59 pm 2 comments

Home Seller Experience

“So what’s the buzz on realtors? In short, they’re trailblazers. Instead of utilizing “just another website” to promote their business objectives and expertise, they’re fully using the methodologies behind Web 2.0 (blogs/podcasts/RSS) to further promote the services they provide. There are a slew of articles about companies/organizations using blogs and podcasts to promote the mission, vision, and communication structure of their business objectives, however, real estate is the leader. ” Impressive. Especially coming from a consumer who used a blog to share the good, the bad, and the ugly, when he put his house on the market. HomeSellerExperience.com

Every real estate agent could learn something from reading this blog. There are a couple entries that are really, really insightful. Real Estate and Blogging, Home Selling and Technology, and Scenario-Style Questions for Agents.

This seller also talks about wanting feedback (from people who had gone through the open house and showings) and was completely disappointed with his agent for not being more proactive in communicating. In his words, “Recently, we’ve had some concerns about our agent. Nothing serious, but some little items we feel should be addressed. Our first concern is the handling of showing times. We prefer to have our agent coordinate the phone calls from other agents and then relay the information to us. It was going smoothly until this past weekend. Twice we had showings that he “forgot to mention” to us and it was quite frustrating. We asked our agent to please let us know every showing time that has been scheduled. Second, we’ve have not heard any discussion from our agent regarding feedback from other agents. I’m sure its a little extra work and often generates the same answer, but we’d like to get a sense of what other agents feel about our home. Third, we feel that the marketing of our home is quite lacking in terms of what other agents are doing/offering for their clients. There are a slew of alternative sites to market a home and our agent simply either doesn’t recognize them or knows how to use them.”  Full entry is found under New Twist. 

Digest that and then check out this entry on ActiveRain:  Feedback – lawsuit 

Things that make you go hmmm! Finding a way to provide good feedback (with everyone involved) could be a great differentiator to an agents portfolio of value…

What do you think?

June 6, 2007 at 9:00 pm Leave a comment

CREA Mother-In-Law

Connecting with consumers Option 1: Use humor

June 4, 2007 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

Sneak a peek at the future

Google maps is adding street view

Street View gives you navigable 360-degree street-level imagery in Google Maps for selected cities. You can see images for a spot and take virtual walks along that street. So when you’re trying to find the perfect outdoor cafe for lunch with friends or want a glimpse of the neighborhood you’re considering moving to, use Google Maps to see what the spot actually looks like, as if you were right there in person.

Currently Street View imagery is available for the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Las Vegas, Miami, and Denver; and we expect to launch this feature in many more cities soon.

Check out San Francisco . Seriously, you have to interact with this to really get it.

Or follow the Google’s demo link in the left panel of the Google Maps page.
http://maps.google.com/help/maps/streetview/index.html

June 1, 2007 at 6:19 pm Leave a comment

Blow off a little steam here


Link: PlayMyGame

May 29, 2007 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

Real Estate Talk

Last week, on May 22, the Bob Rivers radio talk show brought up the topic of Refin and the MLS turf war. The debate was mainly about information and consumers affinity for companies that provide it.  You can listen to the show via podcast from the show website.

Listening to conversations, where ever they take place (radio, Starbucks, blogs) provides a look inside the mindset of today’s consumers. If you listen without becoming defensive, you hear what is really being said. Check out The Buzz Machine by Jeff Jarvis and John Cooks Venture blog for more examples. 

If you follow the common thread through these discussions, consumers are saying that they want access to information. They like Zillow. All the discussion about how bad it is – how far off the zestimates are – doesn’t really make a difference to consumers who like using Zillow and its features. Most consumers want to gather information on their own. They like Redfin.  The more information a company gives, the more the consumer trusts them. At this point, consumers are just happy with information. They don’t seem to care that it isn’t “as good” as the agents CMA or the agents great depth of knowledge about the local area. An agents knowledge is meaningless to a consumer if they have to pick the brain to get a piece of it out.

There are conversations happening all around us. Listen closely.

May 29, 2007 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

The Aftermath

A couple comments on the Redfin 60 minute interview.

From a consumers perspective Redfin came out looking like a great alternative or at least something to check out. Those who are saying “when Redfin fails”, just don’t get it. The gaping void is the gap between what consumers think and what real estate agents think they think. Redfin, is stirring up the market because they are appealing to the cravings of the connected consumer. To a large extent, the connected consumer is young, tech-savvy and a niche group that is easily overlooked. But this connected generation is changing the rules, reinventing the infrastructure of the marketplace, and shifting revenue models and expectations.

Lisa Johnson explores new rules of engagement with the connected consumer in her book, Mind Your X’s and Y’s, in which she writes, “Imagine for a moment that the market has always been a play-ground-a place where people go to buy, sell, learn, engage, share, and socialize. The the past, this playground had a few toys and lots of rules. There was always someone carrying whistle, ready to stop the fun. Today, a new model is infusing this stagnant market with life, and in many cases creating new opportunities that no one imagined possible.”

Today’s consumers have a desire to get out there and try new activities, explore, have a part in the process. Redfin understands this. The traditional agent on 60 minutes doesn’t get it. Experience is the new currency. The conversations at cocktail parties have shifted from talking about material possessions to exchanging information about engaging activities. It turns out there are a lot of consumers that want to actively participate. People are tired of being treated as if they are incapable of learning on their own. They are tired of auto-responders and fake conversations. They don’t like being treated as a prospect and are leery of the hard sell. Today’s consumers are savvy, innovative and looking for ways to stop unnecessary, interrupting, or irritating messages.
There’s been a lot of discussion between agents about Redfin and the debate over full service vs discount service or limited service. The real question is what are consumers saying? What works for them? A model like Redfin will appeal to consumers because Redfin invites participation, they have a clear value proposition, and they have features that make the home buying and selling process more transparent and consumer-friendly. Perfect? Absolutely not. Appealing to the connected generation? Absolutely. Of course Redfin isn’t for everyone. But talking about its demise is like talking about the demise of the traditional agent.

Who’s going to win? The Clue Train Manifesto puts it best. “We ask questions about the future of the Web because we think there’s a present direction that can be traced into the future. But in fact, the questions we ask aren’t going to predict the future. They will create the future.”

Bottom line is this isn’t an either or conversation. It’s learning how to bring the off-line world and on-line world together. It’s learning how to be a professional on-line and off-line to serve the needs of clients and boy, do we have a lot of work to do. New models, competition, new ideas and thoughts eventually makes us all better, in our own way. What would happen if we responded to Redfin entering the market as a source of ideas and inspiration, not one of intimidation and defensiveness?

May 21, 2007 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

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