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First Person

Conversation With Katie Clancy

Katie Clancy is a terrible employee.

At least that's what she says.

“I'm not really good at punching someone else's clock,” she laughed.

Katie is the team lead for The Cape House, a team with William Raveis Real Estate Company in Massachusetts. “I'm the worst.”

But when a real estate friend suggested Katie try selling homes, she balked.

“I was like, ‘Well, I would never be a REALTOR. I mean, those people, they eat their young! Present company excluded, of course.’”

But her friend was persuasive, and Katie tried it out. First, at a small brokerage and then at a larger one. But it wasn’t clicking.

“I hated it,” she told me. “ I took all the classes and everything. And all the classes were like, leads and prospects and funnels and all this. Like, it just felt dirty. I didn't like it at all.”

Lead generation is a hot topic in the industry with  more than half of agents reporting that spending on leads is the No. 1 place their marketing dollars go to.

Automation helps agents take a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to their business, all though it costs a pretty penny. But it wasn’t for Katie.

Doing real estate differently

“I started to meet people who were doing it differently. And I realized I could do it my way. I started just living a little bit differently, approaching everything with a different perspective. And I started to like the business a little bit better.

The more she liked the business, the more business she got. That correlation wasn’t lost on her. “I was like, ‘Hmm. I might be onto something.’”

And that something was one of the big reasons I wanted to chat with her in first person.

That different approach perspective is borne out today by the various connections Katie has created in her community.

She isn’t thinking leads and funnels.

She’s thinking about relationships when she meets someone new. Even when starting cold.

Like, right now, all I know is your name. But you know what else I really do know about you? You went to school. You had parents. You might have a sibling. You have a job. You have hopes and dreams…. Which should give me some compassion towards you and some understanding.

Ditch the funnel, focus on the person

This mindset is a powerful position for Katie. She treats every opportunity as just that. it’s not about a funnel, touching, dripping or poking. It’s about relating. And often, it’s about listening.

If you're going to have a conversation with someone, you have to remember two really important things: the person who talks the most comes out of the conversation with the higher opinion of how it went. And the person who talks the least comes out with the most information. You will decide which one you want to be.

Relationships are work.

There is no question about that. If you’re going to nurture relationships in real estate, you have a bit of an uphill climb to create that sought after element: trust.

Honesty as a trust builder

More so than purchasing virtually any other type of product, it’s critical that an agent builds trust with a prospective client.

Katie says that is because no transaction is simple. Real estate is messy. It’s personal. It requires a level of transparency that is, well, scary. So Katie offers that transparency right back to her clients.

You're going to expose yourself to me. You're going to expose why you're moving, you’re going to expose your fears. You're going to let down your guard for me in order for me to help you but you can't do that unless you trust me.
So, I'm going to let down some guard too. I'm going to be authentic.

That means owning up to slip-ups. Being honest about what you know and what you don’t. Being a human being, warts and all. That’s why Katie took the stage at Inman 2018 and made a significant announcement.

“I'm done buying leads!” she said.

Katie sees the writing on the wall. The leads-focused, transactional-heavy method of real estate is done.

And I can’t say I disagree.

The (very big) downside of a transactional approach

“If you think you're a boss in the transactional piece, and ‘I'm so good and I get this and I get it so fast,’ I got news for you. You're about to lose your job.”

There is too much automation for an agent to compete. Consumers are empowered with information more than ever.

The only way agents can differentiate is by focusing on building relationships.

You can’t ‘own’ the data. You can’t ‘own’ the listings. You can’t even ‘own’ the financing.

The only thing a realtor owns is her relationships.

“It's the only asset you have,” Katie explained. “You have to keep paying that lead source. If you stop next month, it stops.”

Employing a civic marketing approach

But relationships pay dividends on the investment you make.

Katie’s approach to that investment is three-fold. The first is something she refers to as civic marketing. Here’s how it works:

You need to go where your people are. So the people that you want to work with, you need to go be involved in their organization. Whether that's the land trust or the PTO or whatever it is.
You need to be there.

And you have to believe in that organization, because you’re going to be investing in it with your most valuable asset: time.

“You've got to be ready to give. Otherwise, you look like you're just there to get business.”

Giving back, really giving back

But it’s not just time. Katie says to put your money where your mouth is. You need to give back financially. Commit a portion of your commission to the group. Get their approval. And give it time to get started.

Her second approach to that investment is something fun and social. In Katie’s case, it’s at a local wine bar. “I used to celebrate after each closing at this one wine bar with my team. We would have a drink after each closing.” It became such a regular event, the wine bar named the drink after them, The Cape House Martini.

“I made it cooler,” Katie shared, “because every time you order one and you post it online, I give five dollars to the Dennis Conservation Trust.”

Katie’s third community strategy is like a local scavenger hunt. When she has a buyer in her community, she gives them five envelopes with gift certificates to local businesses.

“They've got to go to those businesses, hand that envelope to that business owner, and then what happens next they'll find out when the envelope opens!”

Katie’s approach involves engaging -- in her community, with her clients and with the agents she works with. I think Katie is right that she’ll be in business long after agents that solely focus on buying leads are long gone.

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