A real estate business is only as efficient as it's process, and it's only as effective as the methodologies it employs.
Just as the terms "efficient" and "effective" are often (and mistakenly) perceived as interchangeable, so too are the terms "sales process" and "sales methodology."
But there's a difference.
For starters, efficient means accomplishing a goal with as little time/energy/money wasted as possible. Effective, on the other hand, refers to how successfully and fully that goal was accomplished; you are effective by following the best practices and doing things the right way.
So, what's the difference between the terms sales process and sales methodology?
What Is A Sales Process?
Your process is a set of activities that you've developed specifically for your business, and that you perform consistently, on a daily basis, to accomplish specific goals in your business.
The sales process of a real estate business is always complex. And really, your process is made up of a bunch of smaller processes. On the front end, you have your processes for lead generation, lead nurturing, prospecting, and converting prospects into clients. Then, once the contract has been signed, you have your processes for listing a home and helping clients buy a home (this is sometimes referred to as "contract-to-close"). Finally, you have your process for nurturing past clients and generating repeat and referral business.
Every one of these processes is extremely complex, with lots of moving pieces and multiple people involved and a lot of conditional elements that mean no one lead conversion campaign or transaction will look the same.
But if you have every step of your process clearly defined, you manage to take a complex series of events and turn it into a streamlined, efficient, fail-safe plan of action. You won't have to worry about missing a step, it will be easier to keep your team accountable for their individual tasks, and you can ensure that you provide consistent service to each of your clients.
The best way to ensure your process is being implemented is with a CRM like Realvolve + Firepoint. Unlike other CRMs, Realvolve + Firepoint includes workflows that you can customize and automate to carry out your processes.
What Is A Sales Methodology?
Your sales methodology is the philosophy, guiding principles, or set of best practices that you apply to your process. While your process is something you develop specifically for your business, sales methodologies are often developed by consultants or coaches and can be applied universally to any real estate business (or any business in general). A single methodology is sometimes developed for just one aspect of your sales process, such as lead conversion or contract-to-close.
3 Examples of Sales Methodologies
This methodology focuses on the front end of the sales process and is tightly intertwined with marketing. With Inbound Selling, you create valuable content (blog posts, Facebook Live videos, etc.) that will allow clients to educate themselves about your real estate business. Publish this content where you know your prospects are spending time online.
Once they’ve indicated interest in working with you (by filling out a form on your website, DMing you on Instagram, etc.), you can begin an ongoing conversation in which you build rapport and gain a deeper understanding of the prospect’s challenges, goals, timeline, and budget.
Finally, you can put together a listing presentation that is tailored to everything you’ve learned about the prospect and their unique needs.
Jennifer Myers, owner of Agent Grad School, coaches her students in this methodology, describing it as "getting clients to come to you."
The Sandler System
This methodology focuses on the qualification process. When following the Sandler System to qualify a prospect, you position yourself as an advisor rather than an aggressive salesperson. During your initial conversations, ask questions to help you understand the prospect’s goals, challenges, and budget. Listen more than you speak.
By identifying challenges and potential objections early in the process, you'll be better prepared to provide an excellent experience for the client—and you'll avoid being blindsided by problems like financing issues or the client’s limited availability to attend showings.
Target Account Selling
With this methodology, real estate agents develop target personas (descriptions of their ideal clients) and use qualification and lead scoring measures to focus their efforts on the most valuable prospects. Target Account Selling involves a lot of up-front work early in the sales process, but it pays off in the long run because you’ll have a higher lead-to-client conversion rate and a pipeline full of your ideal clients. A CRM with lead scoring and contact segmenting tools is extremely helpful in applying this methodology.
How Do Process & Methodology Work Together?
Some real estate business are efficient, but not effective. They have a great process in place, their CRM is state-of-the-art—but they have no methodology guiding the way they interact with clients.
Other real estate businesses are effective, but not efficient. The agents build meaningful, long-lasting relationships with clients and get tons of repeat/referral business—but they can only manage 35 deals a year.
Top-producing agents understand that it requires both a solid sales process and a smart methodology to build a successful real estate business. Your methodology is the overarching philosophy on which you run your business. Your process is built and revised based on the principles of your methodology. If you follow the Inbound Sales methodology, your process will include all of the steps to researching target personas, developing valuable content, capturing and qualifying leads, etc.
Neither process alone nor methodology alone will allow you to reach your full potential. To achieve your greatest possible level of success, you must build a process that applies the principles of your chosen methodology.