I don't know about you, but the past two years have been a challenge for everyone, and we are no different. It's not only made working from home more acceptable but an embraced lifestyle. People are transitioning from living to work to working to live.
So we have been on a journey at the Basilico domicile. We have been planning to downsize for a while. We have a house (and the associated mortgage) that is just too big to use and maintain for two people and a dog. It was great when our kids lived here, but it's just time. We have been exploring where. We have had enough of the crazy weather in Chicago so we started to explore some places that were more temperate but still have seasons (spring & fall have always been our favorites.) After much consideration, we have chosen Raleigh North Carolina.
Now, I know this is a business blog so I won't bore you with all the details but bear with me.
It's already shown me that running a business teaches you lessons that can be used to help in day-to-day life. Also, life lessons can help you run a business better.
The first lesson is that interviewing clients and being interviewed as a vendor has some commonalities with buying a house. It's full of choices, pitfalls, highs, lows, and decisions. As a business owner, I am constantly interviewing people who want to become vendors and interviewing people whose skills we need to better serve our clients.
When changing places to live, you have to interview people who will help you buy a house, and then people who will sell your existing one.
I've flown down to Raleigh and met to interview three different realtors. In Chicago, we conducted a one-day, five realtor, marathon 8-hour interview session. Both had some differences but I want to focus on the commonalities of each.
It's About Connections
If you need an expert in business, start by reaching out to your trusted network of people you know, like, and trust to recommend people.
In Chicago, I have a vendor who has a home staging business, who knew a very connected realtor. She had some connections in Raleigh who were realtors she knew and trusted down there. I also had some friends who live in Raleigh, and I had a couple recommend one more. So all connections had connections who they trusted.
When it comes to selling, it's often people in your network who make the best and pre-trusted connections to your business with referrals.
The one in Chicago who helped with the connections in Raleigh was in the mix. Also, I added a friend who just started in real estate. A neighbor who was great at selling homes in our neighborhood. Another who I had networked with for years. And another recommended by the home stager. Again, all connections I knew personally or were recommended by people I know, like, and trust!
In the end, two would be disappointed in Raleigh and four in Chicago, but you have to do your homework, meet in person, and pick the partner that you feel can best serve your business (or your family).
It's About Questions
I have learned many things from doing over 1000 podcast and video interviews. I know how to measure a person's knowledge by asking questions. When worded right, you can learn a lot about a person, their working style, and ultimately their authenticity.
One of the key questions I asked was, “How many buyer clients and seller clients did you serve last year?” Of course, people love to brag about how popular they are. The answer revealed to me how busy they were and aggressively adding clients. Overly busy businesses (or people) would offer less personal attention.
One thing I know I needed in a very crazy seller's market is a realtor that was experienced, but not too busy to be thorough and reactive to opportunities. I needed to be certain they were not stretched too thin time-wise, to have our best interest and top-of-mind attention.
Listing agents are hungry for homes. They will be very busy for a few weeks and then move on to the next home since they are selling often the first week they are on the market. I asked them, “What features do you feel will make this house stand out?” I wanted to see how observant they were during the initial walk-through and see how they responded to a marketing question. Were they thinking of how to best position us in the current market, or calculating the commission in their head?
It's About Answers
If you know what you are looking for in a business partner, you can rate your potential level of success by the answers to the questions you ask. If a potential client complains about their last vendor, you have to determine if that is the case because the vendor was incompetent, or the client is difficult to work for.
The same goes for buying and selling a house. With 10 or more people bidding on a property at a time, I had to create a plan of action and make sure I chose the person I thought would give us the best chance for success.
On the buying side, I know that bidding wars are tough and often money is the key to winning the bid. Buyers are currently offering 10% or more over listing price and positioning is key. I decided to go with a buyer rep who had ties to more home builders so we could swoop up a property that was backed out of and build a new home. That market is as competitive as used home sales, so I needed someone who could competently juggle both options with skill and personality.
On the sellers' side, I needed a pit bull who could negotiate the best deal. Not just focus on the highest bid. I have seen neighbors lose 10% or more by agreeing to offers where the buyer was not qualified or came back with so many concessions (reducing the purchase price) that they lost 10-to-20% of the highest bidder.
What does buying and selling a home, and running a business have in common? They both are fraught with emotional decisions. One thing is clear. Both require purpose, people, performance, product, and process to be successful.
You can control many things, but there are variables that will show up as kinks and obstacles. You will have the best chance for success if you put in the work upfront to align your 5 p's and sprinkle it with a little hope and optimism!
Success in business and in life… requires purpose, people, performance, product, and process to be successful.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how you utilize your connections and use questions and answers to build trust in your business to land the right client. Are you finding quality clients and people? Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about building connections to land the right client.
To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.