Try this: Treat them with the same professionalism you treat everyone else
For the past few years, I have attended endless Realtor training sessions, and numerous seminars on the subject of “How to better sell to millennials.” It has reached the point at which I simply cannot stay silent on the wasted time real estate agents waste “studying” this, nor the absolute waste of time and money attending these seminars.
Background – The real estate industry has changed dramatically in the past few years, as we all know. Much of this change is not for the better. The one change that every real estate brokerage seems to accept is the need to categorize potential buyers and sellers according to their age bracket, and “teach” their agents better marketing skills geared at the likely behavior and thought patterns of people in each age bracket.
To conduct this same type of training by “teaching” agents how to best market to any other type of buyer/seller profile would be considered discriminatory, and rightfully so. Can you imagine any of the following: “If you are trying to list a house with a black couple, you should ______.” Or this: “When dealing with white women professionals, you should market this way:_____.” Or this: “Latinos take more time making a decision, so market them this way:______.”
As ludicrous and unlawful as any of the above may seem, it has been open season on blanket categorization of people who are in certain age brackets, with the expressed purpose of defining: who they are; what behaviors they likely exhibit that you can exploit; the types of entertainment they enjoy (so you can make the proper “small talk”); or maybe how often/how quickly you need to respond to the people in each bracket (you see, millennials have a shorter attention span and need to get a more immediate response….or so I am told).
The training of real estate professionals has deteriorated over the years to focus mainly on marketing and sales techniques and games, and moved further from efforts to develop a higher level of expertise and professionalism, which is what clients really want. Endless cottage industries attempt to get in our pockets with better “lead generators” or seminars with “marketing experts”, some of whom are embarrassingly similar to the Hollywood depiction of pushy 1950’s salesmen.
It is 2017. People are tired of attempts to “market them.” They see through such attempts, and want to know that there is significant steak behind the sizzle. But the overwhelming amount of training these days focuses on creating better sizzle. Nowhere is this more true than in the declarations of how to market yourself to “millennials.”
I am a Baby Boomer generation guy, yet I have done quite a bit of real estate activity with “millennials.” I have found they want the same thing every other person wants: professionalism; market knowledge; honesty; less fluff; accessibility within reason; a professional who is easy to talk with and informative of the real estate contract process, from beginning to end. I do not try, and they do not want me to try, to impress them with my knowledge of what “cool concert” is coming to town, or force some faux knowledge of the entire local restaurant scene. They understand when I am at dinner and request to call back in a short while (unlike the training courses, most of which claim that millennials demand an instant response, lest their impetuosity cause them to leave you and go to another “more responsive” agent.
Despite all this “training,” here is what I have found: People of all agents expect the same things from their real estate agent. And within each category, I am likely to find as many differences among people as I will find when jumping across an age category.
- Authenticity sells.
- Knowledge sells.
- Negotiating ability, and proven track record of working well with other agents, sells.
- Cost/price matters, and cannot be explained away with phony boastfulness.
These are constants across the board.
So rather than knocking ourselves out trying to be more in tune with different age categories of buyers, I recommend the following.: Be a consistent professional. This will do more to help you gain references and sales than any gimmicks or false “research” on the habits and desires of different age groups.
I look forward to hearing your feedback from this post.
Ray Wedell, Realtor
Chartered Financial Analyst, CFA