In real es­tate, calls that go unan­swered doom a sale

Easy email links can also put you in touch for ini­tial meet­ing.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - BUSINESS - By Alan J. Heav­ens Philadel­phia Inquirer

I was try­ing to reach a real es­tate agent for an in­ter­view re­cently, and the num­ber he had given me sim­ply didn’t work.

Now, the agent has been in the busi­ness for, as I re­call, three decades, so it is un­likely that he is not well-known in his of­fice.

Yet each time I called the main num­ber and punched in the ex­ten­sion, the elec­tronic voice on the other end of the line con­tended that there was no such num­ber.

When I fi­nally reached the agent a half-hour later, us­ing email to do it, he was apolo­getic, and per­plexed, as well.

“I am go­ing to have to find out what is go­ing on,” he said, em­pha­siz­ing the im­me­di­acy of his task.

Coin­ci­den­tally — re­ally, coin­ci­den­tally — I re­ceived an email from the “au­dio brand­ing spe­cial­ist” PH Me­dia Group, which in a sur­vey of 2,234 Amer­i­cans found that only 28 per­cent were sat­is­fied with the way real es­tate busi­nesses han­dle their phone calls.

On the other hand, in­surance com­pa­nies per­formed the best (41 per­cent), the sur­vey re­spon­dents said, while cus­tomers of ar­chi­tec­tural firms are the least con­tent, as only 20 per­cent of their cus­tomers are happy with call-han­dling stan­dards.

I have my own opinions about this, but I needed a quick one from a Re­al­tor, so I emailed John Duffy, who al­ways replies, it seems, as soon as my elec­tronic mis­sive goes “ding” on his iPhone.

“Doesn’t sur­prise me,” said Duffy, pres­i­dent of Duffy Real Es­tate in the Philadel­phia area. “I heard years ago that you only have seven to 10 sec­onds to make an im­pres­sion on the caller, ei­ther fa­vor­able or un­fa­vor­able.”

There is too much “She’s not in, I’ll put you into her voice­mail,” Duffy said, adding that “com­mon cour­tesy and good phone man­ners are very im­por­tant.”

I have al­ways pre­ferred meet­ing the peo­ple I’m in­ter­view­ing in per­son, and I do so as of­ten as hu­manly pos­si­ble. But time and dis­tance — too lit­tle of one, more than enough of the other — some­times make it im­pos­si­ble.

Email has been a great as­set, but I use it prin­ci­pally to in­tro­duce my­self to peo­ple I have never met as a way of mak­ing first con­tact.

Oth­er­wise, they think I’m try­ing to sell an ad, or a sub­scrip­tion to earn ex­tra money.

The PH Me­dia sur­vey was for a Bri­tish com­pany that pro­vides tar­geted tele­phone mar­ket­ing mes­sages for busi­nesses, so email wasn’t cov­ered, and that leaves me won­der­ing.

Some real es­tate agents’ web­sites make it easy for the pub­lic to send emails. Drag­ging the mouse over the word email brings up the ad­dress, which can be copied onto Hot­mail, Gmail, Ya­hoo, or what­ever.

Other sites make you send a whole lot of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to a gen­eral ad­dress at the bro­ker­age, which makes you won­der who else is read­ing it and what they will do with what you’ve sent.

Un­der­stand­ing that this is a way bro­ker­ages can win­now the real clients, it still must give a lot of peo­ple al­ready con­cerned about In­ter­net se­cu­rity con­sid­er­able pause.

Per­haps to the point where they are go­ing to agents whose con­tact meth­ods are less open to un­wel­come eyes.

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