The Ask

We all start off the same way: literally begging for business. We go into real estate offices and ask the agents to recommend our inspection company to their homebuying clients. It can’t hurt to ask, we reason.

Actually, it can hurt. Especially if we ask the wrong way. Asking without proper preparation. Asking with getting permission first. Asking without setting the stage to ask properly. It hurts because we may never get another chance to ask the right way.

Every once in a while, asking out of the blue does pay off. Every once in a while, someone catches lightening in a bottle. But they’re the exception, not the rule.

So, what’s the answer? We know that we need to initiate outreach; we’re not going to corner the market by just sitting around waiting for clients to find us.

Instead of just acting like every other new inspector, bombarding agents with cards and brochures, candy and donuts, and desperate cries for some attention, what if we earned the right to ask for their business? What if we did our research, and learned a bit about how the real estate industry works? Instead of begging for business, what if we asked them what their pain points are when it comes to home inspectors? What if we slowed down a bit and tried to get to know them? What if we took the time to develop some trust, using that small bit of marketing time those donuts bought us to generously offer our knowledge? What if we took the time to educate them on our industry (and ourselves) and offered to help them solve their problems instead of going right in for the kill?

Relationships take time to grow. Trust isn’t won in five minutes, no matter how many breakfast biscuits you’re bringing to the table. Giving someone the time and space to develop confidence in us and our abilities takes courage on our part. It’s risky. It may not work. Our efforts may fall flat.

So what?

What do we have to lose? Especially if our half-hearted efforts are already falling flat? If we never try initiating something new, inflexibly sticking to a failing plan simply because we’re stubborn (or worse, scared), we’re only hurting ourselves.

Paraphrased from the writings of Seth Godin in the book Poke the Box

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