Can We Talk?

by Nick Bastian on July 27, 2010

Remember when a phone was just a phone and people actually used phones to talk to people? You might have to think back a few years, but there really was such a time. It was a time before listing agents had comments in the remarks section that say, “Do NOT call me. Send a text or email only to 602-IM 2 COOL.”

While the agent-to-agent thing is one pet peeve of mine, this is just one of several examples of how “un-cool” it can be to talk on the phone these days. I’ll admit, I am kind of a geek. In fact, many of my friends are hard-core geeks. Often, we will send MANY text messages or Twitter DMs (direct messages) instead of talking on the phone. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE having the ability to text and DM people for quick questions and certain conversations. For example: Someone sends a text, I respond. But when this is followed by a dozen or so text messages, a simple two-second conversation would have been much more efficient.

Can we  talk?The thing is, I am still kind of “old school” when it comes to communicating with people. I really have no problem racking up a few thousand minutes in a month on a cell phone. But today, many people “prefer” not to be “bothered” by a phone call. Heck, you see this photo of a phone below? It has a CORD, and it sits on my desk. I even USE it once in a while. I can hear the grumblings from some of the geeks now. You still use a corded phone? Really?

The fact is, there has been a shift in communication for many people over the past several years. My friend Jay has two teenagers; they can send 80,000 text messages in a given month. Hey, I probably text more than the average (old) guy, but I seriously doubt I’ll ever come close to those kids.

As real estate agents, we need to learn to adapt to however our clients want to communicate. If we don’t, it is very easy for them to find someone who will. Phone calls, text messages, Twitter, Facebook, email or carrier pigeon, I really don’t care how people prefer to communicate, I just want to know how to best help them, and I think that should be our focus. I prefer to let someone lead in the beginning. Heck, I know several people that I don’t even have their number or email address in my phone, but we can carry on conversations via messaging. It works for me, does that work for you?

I do a LOT of talking while driving. ( Thankfully, that is still legal in Arizona. ) The drill goes something like this. I get in a car, I immediately have someone on the phone. It’s just the way I am wired. I “try” not to text and drive, but sometimes I will sneak in one or two at a stop light. While I am driving, I hate to “waste” time that I could be following up or reaching out – it’s what works for me.

I’m curious to see what agents think of communicating with customers or clients today. Do you force them to communicate in a way that is quick, easy and convenient for you, or do you still pick up a phone once in a while?

I have a lot of opinions about this stuff. If you want to chat about it, “just call Nick.” I’d love to hear your $.02.

Oh, if you don’t like to talk, you can always leave a comment below. We geeks think that’s really cool, ya’ know.

Phil Sexton July 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm

I hope you get a lot of voicemails from this one. I left you one! 🙂

I can remember the pre-texting and emailing days of the telephone, they were great. I don’t mind texting though, it’s all the noisy emails that I really don’t need to immediately respond to that get to me.

Recently, I had my work email drop off my phone because of a server upgrade or something. I didn’t fix it. I am still able to respond to people via the computer in a timely enough manner for what I do and it has improved my relationship with my phone.

Again, good read.

jim little July 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm

How about this Nick, I had a billing dispute with a tech company.
Not only do they not have a billing link, but the RECEPTIONIST HAS VOICE MAIL.
Net result since I couldn’t talk to anyone and they wouldn’t return my email inquiries was to call my bank and declare an unauthorized charge.

jim little July 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm

PS: in answer to your question, I answer the phone!

Nick Bastian July 27, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Thanks Phil! Iit was great to talk to you today!

Hi Jim, thanks so much for you .02! 🙂

Sandy Hershey July 28, 2010 at 1:11 pm

As designated broker to over 100 agents, I am a huge advocate of the “text me, don’t call” method of communication. My reason? Texts are logged, dated, timed and can be reproduced. Too often, verbal conversations lead to misunderstandings and problems down the road. My first broker and mentor taught me many years ago that “the palest of ink is better than the most retentive memory.” In my humble opinion, it’s just good business.

Nick Bastian July 28, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Thanks for the .02, Sandy. It’s interesting to see how people here and on Facebook seem to have focused on that particular section of the blog post. I do think it is an excellent topic of discussion. Heck, I ( or others ) could probably write a LOT about the topic. There are many ways to log, date, and time our conversation logs, and I would not disagree that these are “good business”.
Thanks again, great food for thought.

Michael Regan July 29, 2010 at 11:46 am

Hi Nick,

I found your post to be refreshing. I operate in a similar fashion and find myself using drive time to talk (vs radio). I use my car’s blue tooth wireless so I can drive without holding anything, but like you I do text at a red light…

I agree that texting can get rediculous – I try to use it for short one or two bits and that’s it. Otherwise, the phone is best. I apply this rule to e-mail as well – I remind my team to avoid using e-mail for conversations. We use e-mail like the old “fax cover sheet” – just the basic facts. Again, if it requires too much dialogue, then please pick up the phone.

However, Sandy points out my favorite reason to use electronic communication – it is a great running log to resolve any confusion later when people “forget” that they had a conversation…

Bottom line: a fine line of balance may be best. Good post!

Nick Bastian July 29, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Hi Michael,

Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words. You make some excellent points and I completely agree that “a fine line of balance may be best.”

I should probably just pick up the phone and call you one day to chat about it. 🙂

Cherie Fishburne August 20, 2010 at 10:21 am

Hi Nick!

I have to say that while texting is a great way of communicating, calling someone who does not answer their phone can be quite frustrating. Sometimes you just want to have a conversation with someone. I have many situations where having a conversation on the phone with another agent opened some doors to them being more receptive to our business dealings. Sometimes we hit it off and the personality that comes through via a phone call can sometimes be a very valuable tool to getting a deal closed.

So my $.02 is that while texting is a great mode of communication in some situations, I feel that posting “DON’T CALL ME” on your listings is very unprofessional. Sometimes you NEED TO CALL! 🙂

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