Whether you like them or not, online rating Web sites are a reality for today’s real estate professionals. Those sites, in addition to Facebook and other social media outlets, create a powerful tool for spreading the word about you and your services. But to do it right, you need your customers’ help.
The advent of social media has brought on the era of the educated real estate consumer. These days, customers go online not only to look at property listings, but also to research your experience, qualifications, and attitude. If you handle it right, the trend could present a major opportunity.
Here are nine ways to encourage your best clients to shout your name on the Web (and maybe even link to your site).
1. Be a problem solver.
The first thing you have to realize is that no amount of technology will get you a referral if you don’t earn it—and no one will know you’ve earned it unless you tell them. Most of us try so hard to keep all the dirty details away from our clients because we want their stress levels remain low. To them, it looks easy. While it’s important to make the transaction a smooth customer experience, it wouldn’t hurt to tell clients about all the effort we put in to resolving problems. They can’t appreciate all we do for them unless we share the fact that we handled the problems. Make sure you get the credit (and referrals) you deserve after you’ve solved them.
2. Ask for the referral.
The customers who love you, really love you! They may want to be able to give something back to you for all the hard work you put in on their behalf. They just don’t know how. Each time a client expresses how happy they are with you, ask them to do something to share that experience with the world. If they agree, explain how they can give you good online ratings and referrals.
3.Tweet it to the world.
If they express an interest in giving you a referral or testimonial, ask them to put it on Twitter or Facebook. Or even better, show them how Ping.fm will update all of their social media platforms at once. You can offer to help them set it up and then ask them to make their first universal ping about how much they appreciate you. (With a link to your site of course—that’s great for search-engine optimization!)
If they want to do more, see if they’d be willing to fill out a review for you on Yelp or LinkedIn (preferably both, but don’t make it too hard or they won’t do anything).
5. Encourage them to use an online review site.
When you are coming close to the end of your transaction, ask your clients to give you a good review on one or two of the major real estate practitioner review Web sites. Send them an e-mail with links to the sites so that they can find them easily. If possible, set up the account for them and do everything except fill in their review. (Remember, it’s all about making the process easy for the client.) Some of the most popular review sites are:
6. Get the transaction testimonial.
At the closing, get a signed testimonial letter from them. How do you do this? Take all of the things that they ever said to you—or put online for you—and create a testimonial that reflects their experience as you understood it. Present it to them like this: “I know you’re busy, so I try to make giving me a testimonial easy. This is what I heard you say over the course of the time we worked together. If you agree, could you sign it for me, so I can have it for presentations in the future? Of course, you’re welcome to write your own if you prefer, I just wanted to make it easy for you.” Most people will sign it on the spot. The others will go home and write you a letter that’s even better than what you could have written.
7. Contact past clients.
Need a good reason to contact a loyal former client? How about asking them to put a referral into an online system for you? (You’ve been sending them valuable information for years—they’d love a chance to offer you something in return.) You could take a previously written referral from the person, type it into an e-mail, and send them the links to the Web sites you want your review on. The person can then just cut and paste their review into the sites. Again, make sure you include an active hyperlink to your Web site—it will make it easier for prospects to reach you and increase your SEO (search-engine optimization).
8. Create a system.
Put in place a system today that will get you and keep you on track for having great reviews of you anywhere and everywhere a prospect could look. Know which sites you’ll ask to be reviewed on and have e-mails pre-created and ready so you can simply send them out without too much effort on your part.
9. Ask for what you want.
Just like you can’t be afraid to ask for the sale if you want to sell, you can’t be afraid to ask for the referral if you want to get one. After the asking, the key is to make it easy for a client to say “yes”. If you follow these simple steps, you’ll see your personal cache´, your number of incoming leads, and ideally, your Web site ranking skyrocket.