Quick! Name one business tool that you couldn’t live without. If you said your smartphone, we’re not surprised. In today’s on-the-go real estate market, your phone is your connection to your clients.
Whether you’re answering a call from someone who saw your yard sign or conversing with a long-distance client, how you conduct yourself on the phone is a large part of your professional image. This is no place to skimp on your manners. Agents who have good phone etiquette differentiate themselves from agents who make a bad impression, inadvertently or not, whenever you get them on the line.
To help you put your best foot forward over the phone, here’s a selection of our top telephone tips for real estate agents.
First and foremost:
Anywhere your name is, your phone number should be, too.
You can’t build a relationship with someone who doesn’t know how to reach you. Do not pass go until you’ve taken a moment to make sure that your phone number is on every page of your website, included in your email signature and easy to find on all of your offline marketing materials – from brochures to pens to postcards.
And now that we’ve got your number out there, here’s what to do when it starts ringing off the hook…
Always: Answer your phone whenever possible
The most common complaint we hear from consumers is that they feel like their agent never answers their calls. Now, we’re pretty sure it’s a few bad apples spoiling the bunch but please, if you can answer your phone, do it!
Sometimes: Put your phone on vibrate mode
That said, we know many agents who would never dream of not answering their phone… let alone be separated from it for even a few minutes. While that kind of dedication is admirable, don’t let your loyalty to your smartphone negatively affect your real life interactions. If you’re showing a house to a client, handling a transaction at the bank or at a family function, be courteous to those around you and put your phone on vibrate mode.
Never: Have an inappropriate voicemail message or hold music
This should go without saying, but we run into it more frequently than we should! Make sure you have a professional voicemail message, not only on your office phone but also on your cell phone. Even something as simple as, “Hello, you’ve reached Fred Agent with Home Brokers. Please leave me a message, and I will get back to you as soon as possible” is a huge improvement over an automated or impersonal – or too personal – message. And if you use hold music, be careful with your selections. (Hint: Burning Down the House by Talking Heads is probably a bad choice.)
Do: Return phone calls promptly
When a lead or client leaves you a voicemail, return their call promptly to let them know that you value your relationship with them. We’ve hear many homebuyers say they chose their agent based on who responded to their initial inquiries the fastest. Of course, there will always be that client who calls you more frequently than others or at unusual hours. Setting realistic communication expectations at your first meeting should help you work out a system that suits everyone.
Don’t: Talk over the caller
Buying or selling a house can be a stressful times in one’s life. Although it may be tempting to cut a worried caller’s concerns short, allow your clients to express themselves fully and then let them know they’ve been heard by repeating key points back to them before you answer. An agent who is a good listener is more likely to get referrals.
Embrace: A professional greeting
Always introduce yourself when answering your business and cell phone! Say “Hi, this is ___” or “Hello, ___ speaking” or even “Good afternoon, you’ve reached ___.” Anything that lets callers know they’re actually speaking to the person or business they intended to call.
Avoid: Goofy ringtones
Nothing says unprofessional like a pocket that suddenly blares a Justin Bieber tune or, worse still, this at full volume. Choose a classic ringtone and stick with it.
What are your best phone etiquette tips for real estate?