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Conversation With Bill Risser

How does someone who has never sold real estate become one of the trusted voices in the industry?

How does someone who has never sold real estate become one of the trusted voices in the industry? Easy, when that someone is Bill Risser. Bill is in the title business, and his voice is featured on his podcast, The Real Estate Sessions, on which he interviews various movers and shakers. And that’s one of the reasons I couldn’t wait to talk with Bill in first person. Particularly since he’d already interviewed me.

So how did a title guy start a real estate podcast? It all started with a book.

“I heard an interview with Brian Grazer, a real famous film producer,” he told me. “He wrote a book called A Curious Mind. And it really resonated with me. I love finding out where people come from, especially people that I've either met or heard about.”

Hmmm. Sounds familiar….

Bill noted that most folks in real estate come from other careers first, with varied backgrounds that bring unique perspectives to their role in as agents and brokers. And he learns more about them on his podcast.

How Bill got into real estate (indirectly)

So let’s learn a little bit about Bill’s background.

A San Diego native, Bill, and his family, lived in Phoenix until very recently, when they  relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida. Today, he’s a trainer and educator at Fidelity Title, traveling all over the south west Gulf coast area.

And if you follow him on social media, you’ll get to see Bill’s video series, “Random Thoughts on a Walk.” But you won’t see many other updates from him. Bill is very active on social media -- as a listener.

“I really work hard on listening,” he told me. “You won't see me posting a ton unless I'm at a conference or I'm on the road or something.”

The value of a good list

And Bill is extremely focused as he listens socially. He has custom lists on Twitter and Facebook that allow him to zero in on the people he wants to.

These lists are very specific to interests, both personal and professional. He has a top 10 prospect list. He has a ‘gold’ list. He has a Streisand list. And of course, he has several sports-related lists.

It gets better.

Then I have the sales team I work with. I've created lists that are for each salesperson -- their top targets. So after I meet with somebody, I want to be able to follow up with them. I can't just meet with somebody, give them some ideas, maybe help with their business, and then just ignore them.

Relationship marketing as an anecdote to overpromising and under-delivering

Bill is out to prove there is a better way than overpromising and under-delivering. It’s how he builds trust. And in a relationship-driven business, that’s the key ingredient.

There are a lot of people that are trying to sell and bring ideas to the table that are not relationship-based. Take a walk through a startup alley at an Inman or go down to where the vendors are. There are a lot of people that are still trying to -- I'll just say it -- sell leads.
But I'd say one or two percent, my number, one or two percent of REALTORS in this country can work those strategies successfully. It's a tiny number.

Bill cautions against shiny object syndrome -- any new tool or tech that promises to generate exponentially more leads and take you away from the tried and true: relationships.

Look, with all the technology that's trying to bring about more lead generation style business, I think the pendulum has kind of swung back. I think we're coming back towards a more relationship-driven style.

Using technology to empower relationship marketing

Rather than leads, technology can, in fact, support that style. While agents can’t automate relationships, they can use solutions like First to be more intentional and data-driven with their time.

And if used correctly, Bill notes that technology can help agents do the simple tasks that are actually the most effective.

I still think the most important thing our phones do is call people. All these things that we're doing are trying to get more phone calls, more in person, you know, meetings. And so, as much as I talk about new media and technology and all this great stuff that's happening, I will, at every opportunity I have, say, ‘Pick up that phone and call five people today you haven't talked to in a while.’ Why would you not do that?

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