Last time I wrote, I talked about the "soul searching" that I've been doing and how it translates into changes in my business philosophy. The first step in implementing those changes is to change how I spend my time and money.
My confession -- since becoming licensed to sell real estate 4 1/2 years ago, I've continuously had some sort of monthly spend with Zillow. You may think that Zillow is around to help you to become aware of active listings in your desired market, but that is not the case. Zillow's business model actually consists of capturing your contact information and selling it to realtors who will reach out to you in an effort to gain your business. Translated, the realtor is thinking of you, the consumer, as a commodity that they can "buy" from Zillow.
That is not to say that it is that black and white for the good realtors who value relationships. Again, we do these types of things because these are the things that we are taught. We learn that the only way to establish and scale our business is to behave as a salesperson would, buying lists of "leads" who have demonstrated some form of behaviour indicative of the need/desire to buy or sell real estate. We are then taught that the top performing agents are those who are best at "converting" those leads into sales.
Clearly, to continue spending money with Zillow goes against the business philosophy that I've adopted. As my business has progressed, I've learned that there is another way! That's why I called Zillow yesterday to cancel my subscription, and you'll never believe what they told me...they said,
"Good agents like you are hard to come by. We've obviously made you money over the years, or you wouldn't have continued to spend money with us. Let's see what we can do to increase your 'impressions' in your marketplace to make you happy once again. If you choose to cancel, your business will dry up as you will not be adding to your 'sphere of influence', and since people only buy/sell every 7 - 10 years, you won't have anybody left to sell houses to or for."
I have a great example from this past week about how untrue that is. My favorite lender and I hosted a happy hour which we invited lots of people to, and the people came pouring in. And you know what? One gal actually brought a friend who we didn't know before. The party gave us the opportunity to meet her and get to know her without any regard as to whether she will ever buy or sell real estate. It was the same with all of the other people who came to spend time with us, even those we've helped or are currently helping. We weren't there to "sell" or "convert" anybody, but rather to spend time getting to know them better. For us, it was magical getting to know more about what they care about and who they are without any hidden agenda. Zillow simply can't provide, nor does it promote, pursuing those relationships.
Further, the problem isn't whether or not Zillow has "made me money". It's the fact that they are tricking you into giving them your information so that agents can bug the heck out of you until you decide to buy or sell with them or tell them to kick rocks. That's not what I'm going for at all. To continue to subscribe to Zillow would be to sell out the people I truly desire to help, and that's NOT what I am willing to do any longer. I now KNOW there is a better way to grow my network through continuing to develop relationships with people in my area, serve my community, and spend my time and money deepening the relationships with the people who I serve. And that, my friends, is what it is all about at the end of the day.
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