Trying to purchase something that you cannot physically be in person to touch, feel and experience is a tough experience and one that many people shy away from when it comes to bigger purchases. Often-times there is not a single bigger decision to be made than “where am I going to live”. And trying to find a new place to live when there is a long distance to be moved adds new forms of stress and challenges – both to the potential new renter or buyer and to the agent they’re working with. This is an area that does not need to add new stress though and is where technology combined with a little extra know–how on the part of the agent can save time, money and hassle for everyone involved.
Today’s buyers and renters have more confidence than ever to bite the bullet on real estate without ever even visiting the property in person. How much confidence? According to a new survey from high-tech brokerage Redfin, one out of three make a decision on a property without seeing it in person.
Is that not the reality for your multifamily community? Well, it can…no…should be. There are many tools, tactics and technological solutions out there for multifamily professionals that play right into those scenarios where prospective residents are moving from afar and unable to physically get to a property to see it. Upon much review, here are a few of the best sales tactics to employ when distance is a barrier:
1. Proactively Propose, Don’t Wait
When a lead comes in for a new prospective resident, act immediately. Whether your first interaction is an email, text or phone call, propose a time to connect. Though your current habits / process / instinct may be to send a bit of information their way, then leave it up to them to find time to visit the property, you can no longer afford to wait for that prospect to get back to you. What do you think they’re going to do the second they hang up the phone with you? Look at the property right down the street or around the corner. And if that agent acts immediately and gets a date / time on the calendar to connect with that lead to show them their property, you may have just lost that person forever. Untrain your mind and retrain it to understand that any interaction with a prospective resident is the most important interaction and needs to be capitalized on. If someone is moving from out of town, they are often busy, professional people and, as such, have a lot of distractions in their lives. The second you hang up with that lead and they haven’t seen what they wanted to see, you will instantly be out of sight and out of mind. Proactively propose to send them videos or walk them through the property on the spot via a live video tour. If neither of those are welcome options, then take the next step of proactively proposing the next meeting with a specific purpose. For example, “Will Thursday at 2pm work for you? I’ll have information on our available units and pricing information for us to discuss by then.”
2. Use Creative Digital Strategies
When a prospective resident is moving any significant distance, that likely means that their source of finding your property is at the mercy of a Google search or listing platform. If your team and community are setup to actively assist and close those out-of-market buyers and renters, it could be a successful strategy to pursue geography-specific digital advertising, retargeting and social media marketing. If you know that you have a large volume of leads moving in from specific geographies, you can even target consumers from those geographies to make sure your community is front center and top of mind for them. Don’t make your adds stagnant though. Showcase your property with engaging video content that pops and captures the attention of those scrolling past it. Maybe even go as far as catering the messaging in the ad to out-of-market renters and buyers touting your team’s expertise in handling those scenarios and how easy you can make the process for them. Want to truly get creative and personalized with your digital marketing efforts? Consider hosting a live video open house or series of video open houses online that consumers can RSVP for and join from the comfort of their home, office or anywhere.
3. Know, Analyze, & Resolve Objections In Advance
This is a common sales tactic that spans industries and can work particularly well with a potential resident moving a long distance: objection handling. Say, for example, your property is right next to a busy highway and noise could be a potential concern. Proactively plant key words and phrases into your marketing or sales pitch about the quality of construction and thick windows that only let in the abundant natural light and nothing else. Online, include maps of the area touting the abundant restaurant and entertainment options that the proximity to the highway provides and switch the conversation to the highway being an asset for residents versus a liability. That is just one of many examples of objections that potential renters or buyers may come into a first conversation with and setting your team up to handle those in advance could make the difference between winning or losing that specific lead. When distance is a barrier, the biggest thing to instill is trust and transparency into the process. There’s no better way to be fully transparent than going live with them to walk through the property in real time. They don’t believe that you can’t hear the highway noise? Walk them into a unit via live video and just stand there with the volume up. Show them versus telling them and you’ll instantly take that sales conversation to the next level.
4. Use Current Residents
One of the best sales tactics around is the customer testimonial. As mentioned above, trust is one of the most important factors to instill into any sales process. If you have a lead that you are trying to sell on why they should live at your property, but you have never met them in person, trust will innately be lacking in those conversations. One of the best ways to instill that trust into the process and back up what you’ve been telling that prospective resident is to let your current residents do the talking. Whether via live or recorded video, or written testimonial, capturing positive testimonials about what it’s like to live at your community, how nice the amenities and staff are will be invaluable assets for your team to send to prospective residents. Today’s renters, particularly the Millennial generation, trust the opinions of their peers. Encourage, or incentivize, your residents to provide testimonials and it will pay dividends for your sales efforts.
5. Use the Neighborhood
There’s a reason why people like visiting a property in person. Part of that reason is to see exactly what they want to see and be able to truly touch and feel the space, but the other part is being able to experience the surrounding neighborhood. The community is just as critical of a factor for many buyers and renters as they consider where to relocate. School, parks, interstate access, coffee houses, active nightlife – these are all key considerations that weigh heavily on where someone will choose to live. So how do you feature the neighborhood and surrounding area for those prospective residents that are moving from out of market? Walkscore and integrated maps on the website showcasing exactly where the property is and the key landmarks within the area is a great start, but that’s (literally) a 10,000 foot view. Get personal with your community and create a series of videos showcasing the coffee shop on the corner or park down the street. Create a video of the neighborhood farmer’s market or residents taking their dogs to the nearby dog park. Capturing the attitude, heartbeat and liveliness of a neighborhood goes beyond maps and data — it’s emotional and personal. Use the neighborhood topic as an opportunity in any meeting with a prospective resident to get real and get emotional and down to the heart of what they truly want in their next neighborhood.
6. Focus Your Follow Up
Follow up is, of course, at the top of the list when it comes to sales tactics that produce results. This relates straight back to tactic number 1 though about proactively proposing your next steps. Staying concise and focused in your follow up will produce the greatest results for you and your team. A confirmation email stating that you’ve received their inbound request and will be in touch is great, but adding a touch of personalization to that follow up with videos of potential 1 bedroom units that would fit what they’re looking for or a link where they can request a personalized live video tour will change it from purely information to proactive. The same thing goes for every follow up interaction you have with a prospective resident — make the touch point as personalized and concise as possible. Did you just complete a tour with a prospective resident? Send them a personalized video in your follow up recapping your tour with them, the conversations that you had and providing a bit more value with a look at the coffee shop on the corner since you found out they’re a coffee fanatic. There is nothing more powerful than physically being together with a prospective resident and able to build a relationship with them. Follow ups are your opportunity to build a relationship and continue adding value to those out-of-market leads and stay top of mind with them until your next meeting. Make the most of those moments.
Sales can be tricky to begin with. Add the complexity of your lead being halfway across the country or world and every single interaction becomes critical. Take any of the above tips and tactics to heart and use the technology that is already available for your industry and you can easily change your sales game for the better to get the right resident into the right property, no matter what the distance.
Have any questions or want to learn more? Please do reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org — we’re here to help!
Until next time…keep it real!