Your guide to connecting with the next 40 years of real estate buyers. Hint: it’s not the phone.
According to Realtor.org’s 2014 home buyer study, the median age of a home buyer is 44 years old. Generationally speaking, Generation X is today’s sweet spot for home buyers.
Baby Boomers still represent a significant slice of the pie but that slice shrinks as they grow older. Millennials take a smaller slice of the pie but their slice will grow much larger.
Here are some generational communication preferences that we researched from dozens of credible studies. A few of the sources are noted below.
Millennials – born between 1982 and 2000 (15 to 33 years old)
- Dominant traits: mobile phones, texting, IM, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
- I don’t like email, don’t even try calling me
- Primary communication: Text me!
Generation X – born between 1965 and 1981 (34 to 50 years old)
- Dominant traits: mobile phones, tablets, texting, Facebook, Twitter
- I don’t like voicemail
- Primary communication: Email me!
Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964 (51 to 69 years old)
- Dominant traits: – land lines, mobile phones, tablets, voicemail, email, Facebook, fax
- I Don’t text or IM
- Primary communication: Call me!
THE CONUNDRUM – those of us who are Millennials and Gen Xers admit to a reluctance to answer the phone, especially when it’s from a number we don’t recognize. Yet we still continue to reach out to our leads – other Millennials and Gen Xers – by phone!
Isn’t it time we pursue different ways to connect?
I’ve just become a new best friend of everyone who detests dialing for dollars. But not so fast, the answer isn’t completely giving up phone calls. The phone will eventually be needed if other methods don’t produce results.
It’s also important to note that we are talking about early sales process engagement; how to connect with prospects and build rapport in ways they are more comfortable with. This is not a strategy that professes to completely eliminate the need to call prospects.
Talking live with your prospects on the phone will continue to be your primary method of communicating with Boomers and will most certainly happen with all generations of buyers as you move closer to closing the sale.
Based on our years of experience selling real estate developments as well as lead response research we’ve put together a new recipe for connecting with the most new real estate prospects possible.
You receive a new lead notification, here’s what you do:
Step 1: Research the lead
You can do this with a simple Google search of an email address. Some CRMs provide this service for you. FullContact does this for you as well.
Look for age – if you can’t find a birthdate in Facebook then just approximate.
Browse social activity – where are they most active? Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn?
Step 2: Determine your initial response approach:
Baby Boomer: pick up the phone
Generation X or Millennial: get to know them in social media first, then begin your response protocol.
Step 3: Response protocol
Baby Boomers: Make the phone call, leave a voicemail if necessary and offer to help answer questions and get to know them. Repeat as needed up to 10 times as your time allows. Leave a voicemail only twice.
Millennial / Gen X Option 1: Send them a text. You’ve got a good chance of reaching them or getting a response that way. Rather than the typical attempt to set up a call, start a dialogue right there and find out if your new prospect is real.
Good start: “Hi Kathy, I’m Eric with ABC Community. I see you signed up for more info – have you been to Costa Rica recently? ”
Not-so-good start: “Thank you for requesting information from ABC Community. We’ve won awards and the prices start at $1 Million. We’ve got a two-bedroom Villa available now! Wanna buy it?”
Many traditionalists will fight me on the concept of texting first, but more than likely those traditionalists are Boomers.
Millennial / Gen X Option 2: It’s not too tough to find your prospect searching Facebook or Twitter. Once you do you can follow them and/or send a direct message.
If options one and two don’t trigger a response then send an email. If email doesn’t work then try a phone call.
Schedule these follow up attempts in your CRM’s task list or on your calendar. They are important to help you connect with as many leads as possible. A study from Marketo says we only speak with 27% of our web leads! Much of the reason stems from subpar response efforts and poor timing.
Timing: The One Constant
Once someone indicates interest by requesting additional information, get back to them quickly. Especially Generation Xers and Millennials. They want and expect information now and are not used to waiting for anything.
An automated email response is a great way to start. Email is still widely used – the majority of your leads will be Generation X and Baby Boomers. Even though Millennials don’t prefer it, they will more than likely still receive your email.
Send something of value in that email, additional information not found on your website – good article here. This will give them what they want, more information, and keep them engaged in their own due diligence process while you’re connecting with them personally.
1. The more social online the less social on the phone. The younger the prospect the more open to communicating via IM, Facebook, Twitter or text.
2. The younger the faster – Millennials and Gen Xers expect info instantly. Set up an automated email response or immediate access to a private web presentation.
3. Send more information they can use for their own due diligence. Buyers want to complete 70% of product research on their own first.
4. Five minutes of research will let you determine your follow up approach based on age and interests.
5. Follow up accordingly as soon as you have the opportunity – try different methods beyond the phone call.
6. Continue follow up until you’ve tried at least 8 to 10 times. No more than 2 voicemails and only if your client is a Baby Boomer.
Data used in this post was taken from multiple studies including: The Handbook of Intergroup Communication, edited by Howard Giles; Gen Xers and Millenials by Vann Morris, Generational Differences by Melissa Sherrod.
Clearview Elite creates custom, web-based presentations for real estate sales teams, delivers them instantly and automatically and sends notifications as to which prospects are reading them, when and how often. Watch our video!
About Eric: Real Estate Sales & Marketing veteran and Founder of Clearview Elite. Driven to make life easier for real estate salespeople. A very lucky husband and Dad, slightly above average golfer, and food and wine fan. Lives in Boise, Idaho with wife Julie and kids Nicholas and Grace.
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