This article is a follow-up to the recent post, Mass Texting Can Cost You If Done Wrong.
My phone rings. “Mom” pops up on the caller ID. She leaves me a voicemail, so I do what any loving son would do – I text her, “hey mom, what do you want.” To which she promptly replies, “I want u to pick up the phone and call your mother!”
Right or wrong, in our digitally driven world, communication has changed. Most people use their phones more to text than to make calls. And it makes sense, we want to quickly pass along our message and not spend valuable time chatting on the phone. It’s an asynchronous medium, one in which we can read, ponder, and reply on our own time – unlike a phone call where the person on the other end of the line is waiting for an immediate response.
Text messages are also read more quickly than emails—90 seconds versus two hours. So, if you want to grab someone’s attention, texting seems to be the way to go.
I’m often asked how texting fits into the new home sales process. My answer is, “Carefully.”
Yes, texting is easy to do, but in the sales world, professionals must understand how to use this medium properly. You can’t text too soon, too often, or with TMI!
“Once a rapport is built, texting seems to be more frequent simply because it’s easier and you get a higher response rate in a shorter amount of time.”
– Robyn Breece, Ryland Homes
A Sales Optimization Study conducted by Velocify reported that the conversion rate improves by more than 100 percent when texting is used correctly, and prospects that received text messages from their sales professional converted 40 percent more often than those who received none.
But here’s the caveat: Don’t make first contact via text. The study also showed that being too quick to text a prospect dramatically decreases the likelihood of making contact with that lead.
“Is it okay if I text you?” is my go to question. I even have on my voicemail, “You may also choose to text me at the same number.” People often prefer to do that rather than leave me a message.”
– Kristie Ferguson, Prudential
Consider texting a privilege, not a right. Ask permission. When you’re chatting with your prospect, ask if you can text your contact information. Many will say yes, but how they say “yes” will reveal their comfort level. Even then, keep your texts professional, brief, and to the point. It’s a nudge, not a conversation.
You can use text to confirm an appointment, acknowledge receipt of or ask for information, report progress on an application, offer updates, and other such brief, but effective messaging. If the customer has sent you a message (text, phone, or email) and you’re unavailable at the moment, send a brief text acknowledging receipt and will get back with a reply as soon as you are able (e.g., back at the office, out of your meeting).
“I usually find a way to ask if I can text a prospect that calls me. “Can I text you the address of the model home?” That opens the door and then I try to find other reasons to engage. It’s much more casual than email and it builds trust at a much quicker rate.”
– Andy Gottesman, M/I Homes
Of course, once the customer is on contract, you’ve established a relationship and can gauge how to use your text messaging communication. The California Association of REALTORS® reported that 29 percent of customers want to communicate via texting, but only 17 percent of the agents they worked with actually used this method. At this point, you should be texting the buyer – sending photos of the construction process, videos, updates, and following up to make sure they’ve received important documents.
“I am able to send my clients quick snapshots of their home during their build process to update them on the process or just tell them I LOVE their color choices! I believe it’s another way to stay in front of them, keep them excited & it helps me stay on demand!”
– Melissa Enrico, CBH Homes
So, if you’re going to use texting in the new home sales process, here are six tips that will deliver the best results:
1) Don’t make first contact via text. Texting is an informal method of communication. Don’t use it until you’ve established a relationship with your prospect.
2) Ask your prospect for permission to use texting. Not every person wants to receive text messages. To be safe, ask politely if you can text them.
3) Keep your messages brief. Texting does not replace a detailed conversation, nor should you take up someone’s time with lengthy texts. Save it for the “quick question” or confirmation, and not to establish a texting dialogue. .
4) Leverage emojis, GIFs, and video. But don’t overdo it. There are a lot of new ways to communicate without words to get your point across, but remember that this is still a professional environment.
5) Follow their lead. If you are in conversation with a customer, texting is a viable form of communication. You’ll get the sense quickly if it is the right form of communication for the transaction. And of course, if they are texting you, then by all means reciprocate.
6) Reply in a timely manner. As I stated earlier, texts are usually read within 90 seconds of receiving them. The sender expects a quick reply, so be sure to reciprocate—unless your customer has a habit of texting in at 2 a.m. and you don’t want to encourage that by responding then (even if you are awake).
Good communication is essential to closing a sale and maintaining a good customer relationship. Texting certainly fits into the sales process. Just follow these tips and always put your customer first. And for now, texting is still a privilege, not a right.