Get Back to Basics with Face-to-Face Communication Skills | The Zebra Blog

Get Back to Basics with Face-to-Face Communication Skills

What did we ever do without email? Remember the days when we actually had to pick up the phone and have a real conversation every time we needed to convey some information?

It feels like yesterday, but it’s been a while.  Email has cemented itself as the standard communication tool of not just real estate agents, but business people from all walks of life.  Heck, I know people who are two desks away from each other who email each other all day long instead of standing up and talking.

Let’s face it.  We all love email.  It’s easy.  We can write a message, press a button, and—presto!—the guilt you feel about not contacting this person is alleviated.

Email has provided us with a quick and easy method of communication that doesn’t require much effort.  However, in this techno-oriented world, are we losing basic face-to-face communication skills?  I think we are.

I remember when communication between agents and clients was much more personal and immediate—because it had to be.  While email is a convenient way to communicate, it isn’t the most effective way to communicate.

It’s time to get back to basics.  It’s time to put technology in its place and embrace face-to-face skills again.  We need to communicate better with our clients—and the best way to do so is in person.

I’m glad to report that smart agents are figuring this out on their own.  They are returning to the old-fashioned communication basics.

They’re picking up the phone and calling more often.  They’re having more face-to-face meetings.  They’re making their points through body language, voice tone, and inflection.

There’s nothing more powerful than genuine human communication.  Sometimes more can be said with a gesture or a glance than could ever be sent in an email.

Email just doesn’t clearly show the emotion of what you’re trying to say.  You can’t put an urgent tone into an email unless you capitalize everything—and that just looks rude.  It’s only when you meet with someone to say something important that the message truly gets across to them on all levels.

Now, I’m not saying you should always avoid email.  Email is great for conveying numbers and facts that don’t require a face-to-face meeting.

It all depends on the importance of the communication.  The more important the message, the more the scale tips in favor of a face-to-face meeting.

As an example, I recently tried an experiment with a group of my own students.  I asked them to list all the people that they have been having trouble connecting with.

Then, I asked them all to contact them again and report back to me.  Guess what most people did?  That’s right.  They sent emails.

Almost all of them told me a variation of, “Denise, I emailed them.  Some have responded back to me, but most haven’t.  What do I do now?”

I told my students to note how interesting it is that the response rate to email is so low.  But when you get on the phone and make an actual call, the response rate is much higher.  So I advised them all to go back to that same list and start calling.

Did they fare better?  You bet they did!  The response rate increased from about 5% to 95%.  That’s a huge jump.  In almost all cases, the agents were able to catch these people live.

One of my students had a potential client that she had been emailing for months with no response.  She finally called this person, who responded by saying, “You know, I’m just not really good with email.  I get so many at work.  I apologize.  But yes, I want to get my house on the market.  Let’s get going.  When can you come over?”

That secured a live meeting, which in turn secured a live listing, which in turn secured the potential to make some money.

This email cat-and-mouse game that agents continue to play with clients is futile.  It’s a waste of time and energy, not to mention not nearly as effective.

If you want to take your business to the next level, you need to ask yourself, “How much face-to-face or voice-to-voice time am I spending with my clients this week?”

You may think you don’t have the time.  But I’m willing to bet that you spend a huge chunk of your time reading and responding to emails.  All you need to do is convert that time into phone calls instead.

I know it is more daunting.  I know it takes more energy and effort.  I know it’s more challenging.  All I can tell you is that it’s worth the effort.  You’ll see what I mean as soon as you meet the challenge and try it.

If you’re hiding out behind your computer while using email as your communication excuse, then it’s time for you to get back to basics.

Now go pick up that phone.

By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI

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