posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

I believe this is segment 5 in my little series about the realities of Real Estate in the Olden Days – before the advent of all the technological gizmo/gadgets we enjoy today. Back when we had toget OUT there in our market to learn about it… and to stay on top of the MLS for our clients… and to actually know our way around town without the nice voice speaking to us from our dashboards!

Today I’m going to share with you how we did contracts, disclosures and other important paperwork back in the day…

…brace yourself…

We actually met with our clients. In person. Face2face, voice2voice. In a serious pinch, we MIGHT fax, but it was frowned upon and all faxed signatures MUST be followed up upon immediately with real live inked signatures.

Yes, you read that right. We had to DRIVE to our clients’ homes or workplaces (or have them drive to us), sit down in the same room and TALK… voice2voice… about these somewhat significant pieces of paper we were asking them to sign. In ink, preferably blue.

No emailed contracts, disclosures or amendments. No Docusign or her cousins. Real paper, real ink, real people.

In the spirit of this series, I believe the forced face2face interaction served us old fogies very well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a fan as anyone of NOT getting in my car and driving anywhere I don’t have to, especially if the drive involves rain, snow or traffic. Or, as was often the case in Denver, blinding sunglare.

But since we didn’t have a choice, we did it. Why do I feel this was a good thing? Ah, let me count the reasons…

1. Meeting face2face with your clients more often than less often is better for the relationship. And since discussing contractual issues is an important part of a real estate transaction, it seems to me to make sense to have these conversations in the most conducive environment most to facilitate full discussion and understanding.

2. Perhaps I’m overthinking this, but it seems to me that having a face2face conversation about contractual matters (as opposed to shooting off an emailed file with instructions to sign here, here and here) would give the client the distinct impression that you know your stuff. That you ARE an expert in contractual matters, which you will demonstrate as you review the document they are about to sign provision by provision.

3. Related to this, it seems beneficial to be face2face with the client while going over the documents so you can more clearly tell if they are confused or concerned about a particular provision. And, of course, they will be more likely to ask you questions if they feel they have your undivided attention in a face2face setting.

4. And finally, since the main objective of putting a contract together (whether that’s a listing agreement, a purchase offer or a counterproposal) is to come to agreement on the best strategy to move forward with, it seems that being face2face to do said strategizing might result in a BETTER strategy than one discussed over the phone or email. Or, egads, text!

So, that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. Thoughts?

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

To continue this FUN discussion of how real estate agents worked back in the age of the dinosaur, let’s talk today about the GPS… or lack thereof.

We didn’t have one. We didn’t even have Mapquest. Nope, the best we had was the handy-dandy Pierson Guide which was a big book of maps for the Denver Metropolitan area, divided into 270-some inter-related pages. If you didn’t know how to get from place to place, you referred to your Pierson Guide, figured out which page was relevent and planned your route.

Which, as you can imagine, is difficult, not to mention dangerous to do while driving (perhaps this was the 1990’s version of texting and driving). Yeah, I did it. But perhaps worse than being difficult and dangerous, it was also kind of embarrassing when you have clients in your car! I mean, you’re a real estate agent! You should know your way around town! Right??

Right.

Well, along comes the GPS which makes the Pierson Guide obsolete. Whew!

Not so fast.

One of the benefits of not having a GPS was that it put pressure on real estate agents to actually be able to navigate their way around town, especially with buyers in the car… or risk looking like an idiot (or worse). Compare the credibility factor of an agent who is constantly pulling over to look back at her map versus one who effortlessly drives from property to property, making intelligent conversation about the various parks, shops and landmarks as they pass by.

Now, sure, taking instruction from the GPS isn’t quite as disruptive as pulling over, but it still gives the clear impression that the agent doesn’t know her market all that well.

But there’s more! When you don’t rely on your GPS, you are forced to develop a mental picture of your town – how it lays out, how the parks, shopping centers, major highways and byways relate to each other. To this day, I can draw a fairly accurate picture of the City and County of Denver, placing all neighborhoods, major cross streets, parks and shopping districts. I understand how the neighborhoods, highways, attractions and commercial districts relate to each other geographically which gave me tremendous credibility and confidence when talking with buyers about their location preferences and needs.

So, the moral of the story… if you do rely on your GPS when showing buyers, try to, well, not do that. For a month. TURN IT OFF and force yourself to get around town the Old Fashioned Way!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

To continue the discussion of real estate TODAY versus real estate 20 years ago, I want to chat a bit more about the benefits of NOT having information about homes for sale readily available at the touch of a button or click of a mouse.

Back in the olden days, buyers (and sellers to a degree) were far more dependent on their real estate agent for information. Only WE had access to the precious MLS and while we could certainly fax our clients the spec sheets on listings (or even surreptitiously loan them our Big Book of Listings), the only way for our clients to get the full story was to hire a competent, hard-working real estate agent who was regularly out in her market previewing!

And I believe this was a very good thing. NOT just for the reason you might be thinking – not that holding the golden key to the MLS, buyers (and sellers) were forced to come to us, but rather…

…because I WAS the keeper of the MLS information; my clients relied on me for it – which forced me to stay intimately involved with the inventory! I got on the MLS several times a day; I previewed several times a week – and having that up-to-the-minute market knowledge served me well… very well throughout my career, but especially in the early days.

But this doesn’t mean that even though consumers now have access to maps and pretty pictures that there is no need for you to be out there IN the inventory. I have personally been a buyer many times in my life and while I like looking at the pictures and reading the descriptions, I probably don’t know enough about the area to make a wise decision about what house I want to buy  – or even what houses to look at. Just last spring, my husband and I wanted to rent a beach house in the Tampa area and we were overwhelmed just looking at all the listings on the VRBO site!

So, the moral of the story today is that while we won’t ever go back to the days of being the Keepers of the MLS, we can still provide a LOT of value to our clients (and therefore to ourselves) by being conversationally familiar with the local real estate market and the only way to do that is to be out in it!

 

Real Estate the Old Fashioned Way – the Series
A Series with Soul
Remember the Big Book of Listings?
The Keeper of the MLS

 

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

As promised, today I will begin a series of ramblings on what life was like in the olden days for real estate agents – before ZTR, Docusign, GPS and smarty-pantz phones. And contrary to what you might assume, I believe real estate agents were BETTER equipped (in some ways) to be successful when they WEREN’T equipped with all these gizmos, gadgets and techno-toys!

Let me set the stage. Back in late 1996, I hung my shiny new real estate license on the wall of my first brokerage firm – Coldwell Banker Van Schaack in Denver, Colorado. By the end of the year, I’d had four closings and in the next 12 months, enjoyed 25 visits to the closing table. Maybe not set-the-world-on-fire numbers, but it was good enough to get me Rookie-of-the-Year runner-up and, heck, I was pleased with myself.

This was back in the day of the Big Book of Listings – remember that? Every Tuesday, the real estate board would distribute the Big Book with grainy pictures of active listings and the bare basic specifications of each. Or, for the more technically-inclined among us, we could log onto the DOS-based MLS and scroll through the listings (no photos included).

Sounds dreadful, doesn’t it? How on EARTH could a real estate agent possibly keep up with the market when the only information available about a listing was a grainy black and white photo and a brief just-the-facts write-up?

How, indeed?

WE GOT OUR BACKSIDES OUT INTO THE INVENTORY AND LOOKED AT IT! TOUCHED IT! SMELLED IT!

Instead of perusing property profiles online, we had no choice but to go out and preview. And preview. And preview some more. In fact, that’s how I spent my very first day as a licensed real estate agent – previewing property with two other agents ’cause that’s what you DID to learn your market. It was a habit I got into early that served me well, very well, throughout my career, even after color interior photos, virtual tours, videos and google earth hit the scene.

I was lucky that in my Denver, Colorado market, previewing was accepted, even encouraged. I was stunned when I started writing for real estate agents and discovered that previewing was not mainstream in all markets; in fact, in many, it Simply Isn’t Done.

The moral of the story – if previewing is allowed in your market, even if it’s frowned upon but technically allowed – DO IT. You will be a far better agent for your effort!

***

Related Blogs at Searchable Soul: http://swsconnect.com/searchable/soul/tag/market-mastery/

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

A little while ago I hosted a teleseminar called “Real Estate the Old Fashioned Way” where I described the life and times of a real estate agent in the good ol’ days before the advent of all this whiz-bang, fancy-schmantzy technology. I was listening to a recording of the show recently and thought (in my never-to-be-humble opinion) that there was some good stuff in there I should share!

Here was the promo for the show:

“With all of today’s fancy-schmantzy technology, tools and systems, you’d think real estate agents in 2016 would be selling circles around those of us who practiced back in the olden days when a fax machine was the latest and greatest time-saving device! But that doesn’t appear to be the case; in fact, even in strong markets, most agents struggle to close even a dozen properties a year – and that’s only one per month! Why is that? Heck, I dunno, but as an agent who sold 25 houses her first full year (back in those olden days), I thought it might be fun to explore what’s different about the business of real estate now… and then!”

Sound fun? I will officially get started tomorrow, but as a teaser, can you imagine life as a real estate agent before…

  • … your MLS included 25 interior photos?
  • … your clients had access to those 25 interior photos + google maps + property videos +++?
  • … you could rely on your GPS to get you from home to home?
  • … you could fax/email/docusign contracts and disclosures to your client?
  • … you could text/email/Facebook your clients instead of calling them on the phone?
  • … potential buyers and sellers could find out about you on the Internet?
  • … Facebook???

Contrary to how dreary you may think life was for us old-timers (OhMyGoodness, you actually had to drive across town to get a contract signed??), let me assure you that it was NOT! In fact, I attribute a lot of my early and ongoing success to the fact that I started my real estate career before the advent of most of the technology that agents rely on today – and it instilled habits in me that endured throughout my career.

So, stay tuned. This will be FUN!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

A few weeks ago, I came across one of those enlightening Facebook quizzes that promised to “determinemy dominant personality trait” based on my responses to a number of questions. Okay, I’ll bite.

I took the quiz. Here was my result:

“Your answers reveal that kindness is your most dominant personality trait. You are very sensitive to others and rarely have a bad thing to say about anyone. People are constantly impressed by your thoughtfulness. If someone is having a bad day, you always seem to know how to make it better.”

Huh.

Now, lest you think I am sharing this with you to brag how awesomely well I’m doing on my 2016 New Year’s resolution to Be Kind, well… I’m not. As much as I would like to claim that I’ve been a little ray of sunshine everywhere I go since making my Resolution to Be Kind, I can’t, at least, not with a straight face.

The truth is…I’m finding it very hard to Be Kind. Oh, sure, it’s easy to Be Kind to people who behave themselves; people who aren’t inconsiderate, incompetent or otherwise irritating, but… well… nearly every day I find myself failing miserably when I encounter inconsiderate, incompetent or otherwise irritating humans.

But as they say, the first step in solving a problem is to admit you have one. So, here I am, publicly proclaiming that I’m having a problem Being Kind.

I want to do better. So here is how I’m going to try to Do Better at Being Kind:

  • I shall try to remember that when I choose Kindness, I don’t have to fret about seeing the person I was unKind to and feeling weird;
  • I shall try to remember that when I choose Kindness, I don’t have to worry about what others who may have observed me being unKind are thinking about me;
  • I shall try to remember that when I choose Kindness, the person I am Kind to might have been expecting an unKind response and be grateful not to have received it;
  • I shall try to remember that when I choose unKindness, I hurt myself as much as the other person, due to the emotional state I put myself in (related to the above three factors!).

Off I go to Be Kind!

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I had an interesting conversation last week with a gentleman who wanted to pick my brain about how Itransitioned from a full-time real estate career to a full-time writing and training career. He was thinking maybe he’d like to do the same.

So, we chatted. I regaled him with my story of going deeply into debt (read more here) and then to lighten things up a bit, I shared what I believe to be the SECRET of success in such an endeavor, at least in my experience.

Wanna know what it is?

“Nah, not really, I have no desire to be a real estate writer!” 

Keep reading!

I told him that I believe the Simple secret to my success as a real estate writer and trainer is my mailing list. To put it bluntly, the bigger my mailing list, the more money I make. So that’s what I focus on – building my mailing list AND nurturing that mailing list. If I do those two Simple things, I have found that everything else falls into place.

I encouraged my aspiring writer/trainer friend to do the same. To focus on building his fan base, not by “buying” loyal followers with expensive advertising, but rather by offering his potential audience something they want, thus inspiring them to WANT to hear more from him. Thus, inspiring them to sign up for his mailing list. And most importantly, to STAY on his mailing list because they have found value there.

Hold that thought.

As I was espousing this nugget of brilliance, it occurred to me that it’s exactly the same in a real estate business.

While there are many approaches to building a successful real estate business, nearly everyone agrees that having a supportive Sphere of Influence is among the very best. And, in a manner of speaking, Sphere of Influece = Mailing List, right?

So, with that in mind, what if, instead of focusing your time, energy and marketing dollars on finding buyers and sellers who MUST BUY/SELL NOW, howzabout you focus that time, energy and $$$ on building a supportive Sphere of Influence (without regard to whether or not anyone you know needs a real estate agent at this very moment)?

Get out there and make friends. Get out there and make acquaintances. Behave in ways that will inspire those new friends and acquaintances to want to hear from you again. And when they do hear from you, be sure that what they’re “hearing” is something they will enjoy and want more of.

It Really Is That Simple :-)

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Everyone knows that Staying in Touch is a critical component of a Sphere of Influence (SOI) approach to running a successful real estate business. Of course, everyone has a different opinion of exactly what “staying in touch” entails – what, specifically, to do, how often to do it and how on earth to REMEMBER to do it that often! 

I am of the opinion that Staying in Touch should be Simple. Not fancy, not complicated, not overwhelming for either party – neither the Stay in TouchER nor the Stay in TouchEE. No need to remind someone of your existence every 35 seconds (or even every few weeks) – if you are that unmemorable, you have bigger problems than making sure you Stay in Touch!

But that’s a topic for a different day. Today’s topic is about using a real estate-specific contact management system to help you Stay in Touch with the Very Important People Who Know You. Not DO your Staying in Touch FOR you, but rather help you remember to do it yourself!

So without further adooooo… here are the first three of the Ten Simple Ways to Use Your Contact Management System to Stay in Touch

Simple Way 1:
Track birthdays and anniversaries and use your contact manager to set up reminders to give you plenty of time to acknowledge the special day.  Be creative with anniversaries – not just a “Happy One Year in Your Home” card, but rather use the anniversary as a reminder to make contact. Perhaps call, text or email something like: “Hey, guess what we were doing one year ago today?!” and suggest getting together for a drink to celebrate.

Also consider tracking “sad” anniversaries for your closer friends – the death of a parent, a pet or some other life event where your reaching out to comfort your friend would be appreciated. This may sound a bit morbid, but I always say that good contact management actually helps you to be a better friend. Everyone WANTS to be there for their friends, but our own lives get in the way and we forget…

Simple Way 2: 
Use your contact manager to remind you to connect with everyone in your “Group One” (defined as anyone you’d enjoy having coffee with). Make it your goal to have a personal interaction with your Group One once a quarter. “Personal interaction” means a face-to-face, voice-to-voice or at the very least email-to-email. Print out a list of your Group One and go through it every Monday, reaching out to the people on the list who inspire you to connect that week. Maybe 2-3 per week. Suggest coffee, happy hour, a walk in the park. Do it again next week. And the next. At the end of the quarter, you should have made contact with all your Group One’s and can all start over!

Simple Way 3:
Related to Simple Way 2, after you’ve made contact with your Group One’s, think of something you talked about that you can follow-up on afterwards to “see how it went.” Add it to the task list in your contact management system with the date to do your following-up. For example, perhaps your friend told you her husband was having a medical procedure on Friday. Call on Monday to check in. Maybe your friend is going on vacation next week. Call afterwards to see if he had fun. Did your friend get a new puppy? Email in a few days and ask for pictures!

These are things you really mean to do, but using your contact manager to help you remember to do it ensures that it does get done!

Simple simple stuff… but oh, so effective…

Stay tuned… more Simple Tips to follow!

p.s. Want to watch the entire webinar? Here t’is! 

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

In the comments on my post yesterday about What to Do (and not do) on Facebook, Robert Hicks mentioned that he “gets a little too political” in his Facebook conversations and implied that he might need to tone it down.

I have some thoughts on the matter… I hope you don’t mind if I share…

I lean toward the conservative side of the aisle. Not 100% – I couldn’t care less who marries whom or changes their body parts to suit them, but generally, yeah, I’m a right-winger.

(Lefties, are you already getting a bit ruffled? Fellow right-wingers, do you like me a little more now? Ah, we’ll get to that).

Sometimes when I’m surfing my newsfeed and see an opinionated post from a liberal friend, I get a bit irritated. Not because I don’t respect his or her right to his or her opinion, but rather because political posts tend to imply (or outright state) that the “other side” is stupid. And when I’m on the “other side,” I feel insulted. And when I feel someone has insulted me, I tend to not like that. Further, since I don’t agree with my liberal friend’s opinion, I might even think a bit less of his or her intelligence, because, well, I think they’re wrong!

(Stay with me here.)

So, it seems that if that is the case, it would be wise for a self-employed person (for example, a real estate agent) to avoid political pontifications and stick with discussing the weather, what they had for breakfast or their most recent listing.

Right? Right??

Not so fast.

Sometimes when I’m surfing my newsfeed and see an opinionated post from a conservative friend (as long as they aren’t bashing marriage freedom or B/C Jenner), I perk up. I smile. I might even comment positively. And, go figure, I feel complimented because this FB friend o’mine is implying that I’m smart because I agree with him/her AND since I do agree, I think a little bit higher of my FB friend as well!

So, if THIS is the case, it seems it would be wise for a self-employed person to embrace political pontifications…?

Hmmmm, what to do, what to do?

Your choice! Think about it… if you have strong political views, doesn’t it make sense that you might connect better with people who think along the same lines? (however right or wrong you may be, JUST KIDDING). And, further, that you might have “issues” with folks who have equally strong views that conflict with yours?

So perhaps… just perhaps… political pontificating might be a fantastic way to attract the perfect clients for you!?

Thoughts?

 

Somewhat Related Blogs:
Is Transparency a Good Thing in Your Personal Marketing?
Should You Take Real Estate Advice from a Republican?

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Last week we did a show in the SWS Virtual Studio about Facebook… some Simple Do’s and Don’ts for real estate agents who want to take advantage of the Power of Facebook to build their businesses.

As I often do at the end of the show, I asked the audience to share their favorite tip or tips from the program and here is what they told me!

Favorit-est Tip #1: Share other agents’ awesome listings! Not only will this be good content, imagine the warm fuzzies and reciprocal good karma you might enjoy.

Favorit-est Tip #2: Casually mention a great referral you received and/or thank a friend for referring you… withOUT, of course, any mention of how much you LUUUUUUUV referrals (no referral-begging allowed!).

Favorit-est Tip #3: Use Facebook to connect, reconnect and stay connected with people you know and meet. Period. Do not use it to market yourself to strangers (or to your friends for that matter).

Favorit-est Tip #4: Be passionate about a hobby and find a local Facebook group to join and participate in,

Favorit-est Tip #5: Turn OFF your business page if you aren’t using it or seeing any benefit from it.

Other tips… NO whining! Be sure your status as a real estate agent is visible somewhere on your profile. Don’t use four-letter words or share posts that use them.

Want to hear the whole show? Join Club SWS and have access to nearly SIX YEARS of teleseminar recordings! www.ClubSWS.info.

 

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

To conclude (?) this week’s series on Drip Mail Campaigns (to drip or not to drip?) here are somethoughts on communicating with people who find you online – affectionately known as “web leads.”

***

I had a nice conversation the other day with a newer agent who called me looking for help managing his web leads, specifically asking if I knew of any drip-mail campaigns that had the SWS Seal of Approval. In other words, could I recommend a “canned” approach to communicating with online leads that didn’t sound canned?

Well, sez me, not really, for obvious reasons. Drip-mails are, by definition, impersonal and yes, canned, although I’m sure it’s possible to come up with verbiage that is warmer, more interesting and more sincere than your average drip.

I encouraged my new friend to consider responding to each potential client (I hate the word “lead”) individually, with a personal reference to what the potential client seems to be interested in. For example, “I see you’re looking at homes in the Washington Park area – I used to live there and loved it.” or “I noticed you tagged that awesome mid-century modern home on Belmont – I was just in it the other day and it’s fabulous.”

“But,” my friend protested, “I don’t have time to respond personally to everyone. Wouldn’t it be better to make sure every single lead gets something from me, even if it’s a little impersonal, instead of just responding to a few?”

Eh… couple of thoughts here.

First, no, I think you’ll have a far better success ratio if you respond personally to a relative few than impersonally to a whole bunch. Considering that the other agents these potential clients are writing to either are 1) not responding at all, or 2) sending out canned crap (sorry), your personal response will really stand out in the crowd.

But second, how much time are we really talking about here? Half an hour? An hour? It’s not as if you have to write a book to each person, just a warm note acknowledging their inquiry (which, frankly, you could probably copy and paste from one to the other), along with SOMETHING personal in each that shows it’s a real human being responding.

If you’re currently using an auto-responder or other canned approach to Internet leads and aren’t thrilled with your results, give the personal touch a try! If you already use this approach and would like to share an example how you respond personally to inquiries, I’d sure love to see it :-)

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Earlier this week I posted a blog asking the question “if YOU were a potential seller, would you beimpressed that an agent took the … ahem… ‘time’ to put you on an automated email campaign?” with the promise to return and elaborate on my statement that “Professionals Don’t Need Drips.”

Let me share a personal story with you.

Earlier this year I approached a real estate agent about listing a property of mine. The property was tenant-occupied and would be for another month or so, so it was not readily accessible for viewing and obviously not ready to be marketed.

But this agent and I (I will call her Mary Beth Bonacci* since that’s her name) chatted a bit about the property and she promised to drive by it soon, do a little research and get back to me with her preliminary thoughts.

Later that week I heard from her with some comments on the location (“wow, very close to the highway but how awesome that it’s within walking distance to the pedestrian bridge,”); her thoughts on who the ideal buyer might be and an assurance that she’d preview the competition over the weekend.

“Cool,” sez  I. “Looking forward to your feedback.”

As promised, Mary Beth emailed me on Monday with the details of her previewing expedition and gave me a ball park range of where my property might fall.

The following week, she contacted me to ask if I knew when the tenant would be moving out.

A few days later she told me about a new listing that had come on the market in the same complex as my unit and promised to preview it right away.

The next day she emailed me to let me know she had previewed the property and that it showed very well. And that there were already multiple offers on it.

Fast forward a month or so. After my renter moved out, Mary Beth took a look at my property, and afterwards emailed me with her suggestions on what needed to be done to it before marketing, and offered up a few service providers.

A week later she contacted me to…

Get the picture?

At no time did she send me an email espousing the importance of hiring the “right Realtor,” warning me about the Dangers of Overpricing or even gently reminding me how much she LUVS referrals. No, she communicated with me as the real estate professional she is… and as a real live human being who actually cared about my upcoming home sale.

“But Jennifer, all that personal communication takes time! Imagine if I took that much interest in all my clients?! I’d never have time to prospect!”

Well, um…

Thoughts?

ore thoughts here: http://swsconnect.com/searchable/soul/professionals-dont-need-drips-but-what-about-web-leads/

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

A few years ago I wrote a blog called “Professionals Don’t Need Scripts” where I pontificated on my strongly held opinion that someone who is an expert in their field (or even reasonably competent) should not have to (or want to) rely on scripts when interacting with clients or potential clients.

So today, a mere 2.25 years later, I’d like to expand upon that notion with a discussion of the emailed script, aka “drip emails.” Let’s start with a definition of “drip emails.” A Drip Email Campaign (for the purposes of this blog anyway) is a pre-written series of emails that you send to someone you have met or had a conversation with about real estate. In all likelihood, you can “personalize” the emails with the person’s name (“Dear Matilda,”), but otherwise, the emails go out automatically with the exact same message to each recipient.

So, let’s say, you visit with a homeowner about selling their home. The conversation goes well, but the homeowner isn’t quite ready to make a decision. You head back to the office, knowing you will need to stay in touch with the homeowner so they don’t forget you when they are ready to sell. You add them to your “Seller Nurture Campaign” drip mail which will send them two emails per week until they list with you, list with someone else or die. And you promptly forget about them and move onto other prospects.

But your emails go out so that the potential seller doesn’t forget about you! Twice a week, they hear from “you” with reminders about how important it is to hire a Realtor (the RIGHT one of course!), helpful tips about preparing their home for market and the like.

“So what’s wrong with that, Jennifer? Aren’t we s’posed to follow-up?” Absolutely! At least, if you want a chance at inspiring that seller to want to be YOUR seller once they’re ready.

BUT… Remember the definition of “drip” – a pre-written message or series of messages (crafted by you or purchased from a marketing company) that go out automatically without any personalization other than the salutation.

Seriously?

Let’s say I’m considering selling my home sometime in the next six months, and therefore in the market to find a real estate agent to represent me. I meet with an agent and we have a productive meeting. I like her, but I haven’t committed to her yet. It’s still early in the process, but I’m looking forward to hearing from her with her thoughts on our home and updates on the State of the Market.

Do I hear from her? You bet! Every three days I get a “Dear Jennifer and Bruce” email with a fancy banner and signature block… and a canned message that has nothing at all to do with our home or situation.

Let me pause for a moment (as I see I’m coming up on 500 words already), and ask YOU… if YOU were the potential seller, would you be impressed that this agent took the … ahem… “time” to put you on an automated email campaign?

Click here to read some further thoughts on the matter…

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Okay, so if you’ve been around SWS any time at all, you know how we feel about Referral-Begging. Don’t do it. Ever. Just don’t. Ever.

But, but, but…

Yeah, I’ve heard all the but but buts. No need to reiterate them here. (But feel free to search the Referral-Begging tag cloud over there on the right.)

Here’s the thing. If you aren’t enjoying a referral-based business, I promise you, I swear to you, I give you my solemn oath on a stack of Sell with Souls that it is NOT because you aren’t asking for them.

So, um, Ms. Smarty Pantz JAH, why is it so, then? WHY am I not getting the referrals I so fervently desire?

I dunno.

(Real helpful, right?)

No seriously, I don’t know why YOU aren’t getting the referrals you want, but here are some far more likely reasons a real estate agent might not get a steady stream of referrals than a lack of asking for them:

1. He doesn’t know enough people to generate enough referrals to live on (shoot for at least 200);

2. She doesn’t stay in touch with the people she does know on a reasonably regular basis (and rest assured that doesn’t mean every 35 seconds);

3. His stay-in-touch materials are cheesy, predictable, unmemorable and/or boring (aka Dorky)

4. She doesn’t provide refer-worthy service, but rather focuses on prospecting for new clients;

5. His friends know him primarily as a party animal, career-switcher or just a generally likeable but flaky guy;

6.She pesters her friends constantly with reminders to send her referrals which a) annoys them thus inspiring them to avoid her and b) makes them wonder why she’s so desperate.

Of course there are those who protest, saying “But I’ve always asked for referrals and I’ve always gotten them!” And if that’s the case, keep it up if you choose.

But I will challenge you to consider this: How many MORE referrals might you get if you do NOT ask for them? Because I’ll bet you that the referrals you’ve gotten you’d have gotten anyway, without asking for them… but maybe, just maybe your Referral-Begging strategy has pushed people away who otherwise would have been happy to refer…?

 

 

posted by on An Exceptional Agent, Prospecting & SOI

I’m having a great conversation in a private group on Facebook about the joys of running a referral-based business where the majority of your Current Clients (CC’s) come to you as a result of referrals from your Very Satisfied Past Clients (VSPC’s).

And trust me, when your business gets to that point, it truly IS a joy.

But of course, to get to this point, you have to:

1. Have a robust database of VSPC’s; and

2. Make sure your CC’s become VSPC’s!

Now the only way I know of to ensure that your Current Clients become not just PC’s but rather VSPC’s is to give them a heck of a client experience with you during your transaction together. Which means (as we’ve discussed a time or two around here) that you prioritize taking care of them first, before tackling any prospecting you feel you need to.

What does this look like? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every day you make sure all of your Current Clients are taken care of. Their needs met. Their calls returned. Their files reviewed. And yes, their fires put out, even if it means you <gasp> put off your prospecting to put out said fire.

Take Great Care of Your Current Clients and They Will Take Great Care of You Forever and Ever.

Okay, sooooo….

“But Jennifer, I do take Great Care of My Current Clients but they aren’t generating enough referrals for me to live on! What am I doing wrong?”

Probably nothing!

Here’s the thing to understand about a referral-based business. Well, a couple of things.

First, while I shudder writing these words, when it comes to a referral-based real estate business, there is a bit of a numbers game reality involved. Not everyone you WOW will refer you, either because they simply aren’t the sort of person who refers, or they just never have anyone to refer. So, the more VSPC’s you have, the more referrals you will receive, since your VSPC-to-Referral ratio will almost certainly be (much) less than 100%.

Put another way, let’s say that you are in your fifth year selling real estate and you have 100 VSPC’s in your database. If 25 of them hire or refer you, that’s a 25% VSPC-to-Referral ratio and I would consider that pretty darned good! And if you were to survey the other 75 who never referred you (please DON’T) I bet you’d find that the majority of them would tell you they’ve never referred anyone to a real estate agent, so it’s not personal.

Or, of course, they might say those dreaded words “Oh, shoot, I FORGOT you were in real estate!” (Different subject for a different day.)

So, yes, enjoying the benefits of a strong referral business based on the good will and enthusiasm of your VSPC’s will, by definition, take time because you don’t begin a real estate career with any Past Clients, Very Satisfied or not!

That said, this brings up a few more points to ponder.

First, there is a difference between a Sphere of Influence (SOI)-based referral business and a VSPC-based referral business. As a new agent, you most certainly CAN find enough clients to serve within your Sphere of Influence if you Know enough people who Like you and Trust you, even if you don’t have a lot of Past Clients yet. You’ll have to prove yourself to them in other ways, but yes, your SOI can be your primary source of clients literally from Day One.

Now what if you don’t have enough Current Clients to take Great Care of? What should you be doing?

Here is my suggestion. Commit to working real estate at least 40 hours a week (more is fine!). Fill up those hours FIRST with Client Service. Anything and Everything you can think of that will make your Current Clients think you are the Best Thing Ever. If your Current Client load is not sufficient to fill up those 40 hours, THEN get out there and fill those remaining hours doing what you need to do to find yourself some Clients to WOW.

But if you have enough Current Clients that you can consistently fill up your 40+ hours a week with Client Service, I’ll bet you’re very close to being able to rely on your VSPC’s for most of your future business.

Sound good?

 

 

 

 

 

posted by on Positive Thoughts for Tough Times

As we often do, after a particularly insightful :-) SWS/Simple teleseminar we survey the audience to get feedback on what they felt were the most meaningful, helpful or motivating tips or strategies from the program.

Last week’s show was called Resetting Your Mindset where  Blake Farley and I shared more than a dozen tips & strategies for cultivating and maintaining a more positive outlook on life, thus creating a more positive reality in life! It was a fabulous show, if I do say so myself!

And… here are your Favorit-est Tips!

Favorit-est Tip #1: The unbelievable power of your words – the words you use in speaking, writing and thinking. Speak/write/think negatively… and you’ll get more negativity in your life to speak about. Speak/write/think positively and watch wonderful things unfold!

Favorit-est Tip #2: “Silver Lining Thinking” – when challenged, always take a moment to look for the bright spots (silver lining) and/or what valuable lesson this problem/situation/challenge taught you.

Favorit-est Tip #3: The power of the personal mantra. When faced with a problem, instead of freaking out and assuming the worst, say to yourself: “I will figure this out; I always do,” or “I will get it all done; I always do,” or “I will find the money, I always do.”

Favorit-est Tip #4: When in a stressful situation (especially when others are involved), “change the scenary” – step away and return to the issue later.

Favorit-est Tip #5: Stop sighing and smile!

Other tips from the show included:

  • Set and quietly enforce boundaries
  • Don’t vent (NO! Venting is NOT good for the soul!)
  • BASK in your successes

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense, Working with Buyers

I just realized I promised a to be continued on an earlier blog post and, well, never continued.

The blog in question was called “To Pop-Tart or Not to Pop-Tart” and was related to the disappearance of Beverly Carter, the Arkansas real estate agent who was later, sadly, found murdered, allegedly by a buyer she agreed to meet at a vacant property.

At the time (and since) I have publicly said that if I were still in real estate, I would probably still be willing to Pop-Tart. Here’s why:

Every day in our businesses and our personal lives, we take chances. Most of the time, either consciously or subconsciously, we weigh the potential risk of our activity against the potential gain and make our decisions accordingly. When we get in our car to drive to a listing appointment – not knowing if a drunk driver is heading the same way; when we walk into Walmart – not knowing if a psychopath is shopping there today; when we’re the first one to arrive at the office – not knowing if we might be interrupting a burglary in progress…

In my rescue work, I interact with shelter dogs I don’t know on a daily basis, not knowing if one of them might be so frightened or unstable as to take a bite out of my face.

Risk. Reward. We make those decisions every day.

Presumably, Ms. Carter made the decision on that fateful Thursday that doing her job (as she perceived it) was worth the statistically unlikely risk that she would be harmed. Real estate agents across the country do it every day and the vast majority of the time, nothing bad happens; in fact, very often something good happens!

So yes, even after the murder of Beverly Carter, I would still include Pop-Tarting in my business model, using Reasonable Caution.

Reasonable Caution? What might that look like?

Reasonable Caution Tip #1: Use common sense when scheduling appointments. Don’t show homes at night or, frankly, any time of day to anyone who gives you the creeps over the phone.

Reasonable Caution Tip #2: When talking with the potential buyer, casually mention you will be bringing your husband (for women) or partner with you. No need for explanation, just say it. Or, related to this Tip, casually mention the owner may be home for your showing.

Reasonable Caution Tip #3: Carry mace or another legal, easy-to-use self-defense product on your keychain. Ensure that the buyer sees it, but make sure you don’t set it down where they could grab it!

Reasonable Caution Tip #4: Don’t go into basements with strangers, or be the first one to enter a room. Always keep the exit available to you.

Reasonable Caution Tip #5: Make it your personal policy to take a picture of the buyer’s driver’s license and text it immediately to your office (or shoot, just to anywhere!). Tell the buyer ahead of time you will be doing this. Be sure to do this for ALL buyers so you won’t be accused of profiling.

And finally, Reasonable Caution Tip #6: Realize that 99.999% of the people you cross paths with as a real estate agent mean you no harm (other than your ego from time to time). Even if you gave them every opportunity to abduct you or otherwise hurt you, they wouldn’t dream of doing it. MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT MURDEROUS PSYCHOPATHS! Please don’t go out into the world thinking the worst of people; what you expect to see is what you WILL see.

I have a few more thoughts on this subject, but will save those for another day…

 

posted by on Introverts Are Awesome!

The subject of the final SWS teleseminar of 2014 was…socializing! Without fear! For introverts!

During the program my guest Susan Haughton and I shared 101 tips (well, maybe not 101 but a lot) you can use in your own socializing to make getting out there in the world where other people happen to be fun and productive. If you missed the show, you can find it in the Simple VIP Lounge Here: http://www.itreallyisthatsimple.com/#vip-lounge

After the show, I polled the audience for what they felt were the most interesting, meaningful and valuable tips of the day and here’s what they told us:

Favorit-est Tip #1: Offer to help the host of the party – ask them to give you a “job” to do. Come early to help set-up, serve drinks or food, take pictures, etc.

Favorit-est Tip #2: Honor your comfort zone when socializing. Don’t feel pressured to do things that don’t sound fun, unless you WANT to push your comfort zone.

Favorit-est Tip #3: Before socializing, visualize yourself having a great time.

Favorit-est Tip #4: Not really a tip, but a lot of attendees commented on the discussion about the difference between “introverted” and “shy.”

Favorit-est Tip #5: Have an exit strategy going in. Just in case…

Favorit-est Tip #6: When out and about, make an effort to smile at strangers and make eye contact. “Be Pleasant.”

Favorit-est Tip #7: Leave your business cards in the car when socializing so you won’t be tempted to push them on people.

Favorit-est Tip #8: Buy things (event tickets, girl scout cookies, etc.) and give them away.

posted by on Working with Buyers

As I write this blog, the real estate world is in turmoil over the recent disappearance of Beverly Carter, a real estate agent in Arkansas who reportedly vanished after meeting a stranger at a listed property.

While attacks on real estate agents are thankfully rare, they do happen often enough to inspire much debate around the www. as to how agents can (and should) better protect themselves when showing property or, perhaps, even abandon the notion of showing property all together without a body guard, permitted weapon or other protective measure.

Hold that thought.

Last Thursday, coincidentally the same day Ms. Carter disappeared, I did a teleseminar in the SWS Virtual studio entitled “The Art of Strategically Wasting Your Time” where I suggested a variety of activities real estate agents might consider doing even though traditional wisdom considers them to be a “waste of time.”

One of the activities I recommended (I even called it my favorite one!) was the practice of what many in the business derisively refer to as “Pop-Tarting.” To Pop-Tart means that the agent responds to an inquiry from a buyer who wants to see a home Right Now; she pops up out of her chair, fires up the Realtormobile and races out to meet the buyer right away.

Well, in the wake of Ms. Carter’s disappearance, you might be asking if I have re-thunk my stance on Pop-Tarting.

Actually, no. No, I haven’t.

Seriously, Jennifer??? Seriously??? You would STILL race right out to meet a perfect stranger at a home and risk your life for a silly commission check?

Well, when you put it that way it does sound kind of silly, doesn’t it? But let me back up a bit and explain my history with Pop-Tarting…

When I was an active real estate agent, I was happy to Pop-Tart and I did it often. And you know what? I got a LOT of great buyer clients as a result. Why? Because (the buyers told me) I was the only real estate agent who acted as if I welcomed their call. The only one who didn’t scold them for not being pre-approved or lecture them about signing a buyer agency agreement. The only one who didn’t require them to come in for a 2-hour buyer consultation prior to looking at houses.

They just wanted to see a house. And I was the only agent who seemed happy to do that for them.

And thus, they stuck with me and we made our way happily to the closing table more times than not.

“But, but, but… Jennifer, let me ask again, are you saying a commission is worth risking your LIFE for?”

To be continued…

 

 

posted by on Prospecting & SOI, Working with Buyers, Working with Sellers

Just this week I was asked three times essentially the same question: “What do I do with a backburner prospect (BBP) to stay in touch and not lose his/her potential business?
For example:

  • “I met with a homeowner who wants to sell his home ‘sometime;’ maybe by the end of the year.”
  • “I hold frequent open houses and meet many visitors who have ‘just started looking;'” and
  • “A friend asked me to ‘keep an eye out’ for a particular kind of home in a particular neighborhood.”

Since they asked, here are my thoughts on the matter!

First and most important…DO NOT put the BBP on any sort of drip campaign or systematized follow-up!!!! Puh-leeeaze! That’s what every other real estate agent is doing (and yes, they are likely talking to several) and trust me, being added to a drip campaign doesn’t endear you to anyone.

What to do instead? Howzabout this? Follow-up personally each and every time you do follow-up (to be discussed shortly). Put a reminder in your planner at appropriate intervals to check in with your BBP, no pressure or pitches, to remind them that you’re ready, willing and able to help when THEY are ready (see below).

Second, add the BBP to your regular Sphere of Influence communications if you do any – i.e. your mass email distribution list or snail-mail/doo-dad list.

Third, when you do follow-up with your BBP come armed with something of value (besides just “Are ya ready to buy/sell yet? Huh? Huh? Huh?”). This should be easy enough – if it’s a homeowner wanting to sell at some point, let her know when a neighboring property comes on the market, goes under contract or closes. And if previewing is allowed in your market, make a point to preview new listings in the area as they come up.

If it’s a BBP buyer, just keep an eye on the market he’s interested in. Put yourself on an auto-search for them and make an effort to preview new listings that come up so you can speak intelligently about them when you follow-up. Again, don’t just put THEM on an auto-search and hope they contact you if they see anything interesting… be more proactive than that!

And finally, when you do check in, never pressure your BBP that they need to BUY NOW or SELL NOW. In fact, just the opposite. Be casual, low-pressure, patient… “Just checking in – when you’re ready, I’m ready!”

Now, what if your BBP doesn’t respond to your check-ins? Don’t fret! They may have changed their minds about buying or selling and it’s nothing personal. Or they might have other things going on right now and you are a low priority for them (again, it’s not personal). But if you’ve checked in several times with no response, just make a final call/email saying “I don’t want to bug you, so I’ll leave the ball in your court. Just track me down when you need me and I’ll be ready!” I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how often they will call you to apologize for not being responsive!