Archive for the ‘An Exceptional Agent’ Category

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 An Exceptional Agent, Random (Un)Common Sense

If you follow my blog, you know that from time to time we do a “Favorit-est Tips” post where I share the feedback I got from a recent Sell with Soul teleseminar. This installment is from the show we did earlier this week called “Guiding Your Clients to the Right Decisions” where we discussed various strategies for helping clients, well, make good decisions in a real estate transaction!

Are you asking if it’s really our job to assist in the decision-making process? Aren’t we just supposed to give them three options and let them decide? And advise them to contact their attorney if they have questions? Or conversely, aren’t WE the experts so shouldn’t WE just tell them what to do?

In my opinion, no. Part of the job description of a professional real estate agent is to help our clients understand their options and respectfully guide them to the right decision for THEM. NOT the “right” decision for us and our paycheck, but to truly be looking out for their best interests, even if that means a delay in our own payday (hey, I didn’t make the rules, but that’s how it works in our business).

Anyway, at the end of the show, we polled the audience for their favorite tip or tips of the day and here’s what they told us:

Favorit-est Tip #1 (by far): When talking with clients, always use “we,” “our,” “us” and “let’s.” This put you on the same side as your client, both in your mind and in theirs. Try it, it’s incredibly powerful.

Favorit-test Tip #2: Give your client a back door. Always give your client an “out” when discussing their options. The bigger the “out” the better. Reassure them that they can say no, walk away or do nothing. The less pressure a client feels from you, the more open they will be to suggestions and the less likely they are to actually use the back door!

Favorit-est Tip #3: Don’t try to “bust” a buyer’s objections. If a buyer is complaining about features of a home, it’s actually a sign they are interested in it. Don’t argue with them about their objections; in fact, agree with them! “Yes, the closets are a little small, aren’t they?” Your buyers aren’t stupid – they know no home is perfect and need to work through their objections without being argued with.

Other tips from the show:

  • Use reverse psychology so clients don’t feel pressured or coerced by you
  • Offer alternatives to a price reduction (e.g. staging, cleaning or making improvements to the home)
  • Offer to “try that price for two weekends” when a seller wants to price higher than your recommendation
  • Be mad with your client when the other side annoys them – help them blow off steam

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

I’m going to pose a situation to you and ask for your honest feedback as to how you would respond if this situation were presented to you. 

Sometime in the next year, my husband and I will be selling our home and buying a new one. Since I’m not licensed in the state of Florida (and have no desire to be), we will be seeking the services of a local real estate agent.

Honestly, this scares me to death. I have rather high expectations for an agent who represents me – well, actually I don’t feel my expectations are unreasonable, but my past experience with hiring listing agents has been discouraging – my ‘I-consider-to-be-reasonable’ expectations weren’t even close to met and I spent a lot of my time frustrated.

So, how do I ward this off? I don’t WANT to be frustrated! But I want my agent to have a clear understanding of what I expect… and to be willing to live up to my I-consider-to-be-reasonable expectations.

Here’s my idea… to make a proposal to the agents we interview, outlining what we expect from them in terms of pre-market pricing research, photography, communication, marketing, ongoing market research, etc. And see who, if any, are interested in our business… 

How would you respond if someone took this approach with you? (Caveat – this “someone” has real estate experience and has maybe even written a book or two on the subject.)

Would you be offended and irritated? Or conversely, challenged and inspired?

Your thoughts?

Here’s a little survey on the matter – would love your input! http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e68ydadch5pidebu/start

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

Last Thursday, we did a little show in the SWS Virtual Studio about Mastering Your Market for Fun & Profit. The format was that my guest and I (thank you, Chiara Petro!) took turns sharing our tips for Market Mastery and asked the audience to vote on their favorites.

By far, the most favorit-est tip was to “Leave the GPS at home.

Here’s why you might want to do that. To become a true “master” of a market or neighborhood, you need to be able to get TO it and THROUGH it, and understand how it fits into the Big Picture of the area, without relying on that little computer on the dashboard to guide you.

When I started selling real estate in Denver in 1996, we had no choice but to learn our way around town, or risk looking like idiots when we put buyers in our cars. And that knowledge served me well, very well, throughout my career. 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.

The funny thing is… now that I don’t live in Denver and I don’t sell real estate anymore, I have no clue how the town in which I currently live is put together. After more than two years here, I still need the GPS to get to Walmart, the health food store and the dog park. If someone tells me they live “west of downtown” or “north of I-10,” I have absolutely no mental picture of where that might be. And if I were trying to sell real estate here, that would drive me nuts.

One of my definitions of being a Master of Your Market is that when someone tells me where they live, I can mentally “place” their home on a map and have a reasonably accurate idea of what their neighborhood is like. If you’ve been relying on your GPS to navigate your way around town, it’s likely that ability and familiarity will never fully develop.

So, as you’re working toward Mastering your Market, try it the old fashioned way. Yeah, it might be a bit frustrating and take more time, but you’ll be glad you made the effort, I promise.

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

On Thursday, we held a show in the SWS Virtual Studio entitled “Mastering Your Market for Fun & Profit” where my guest Chiara Petro and I discussed WHY being a Market Master is something you might want to be and HOW to go about becoming one!

My definition of being a Market Master is that if someone tells me where they live, I get a mental image of their neighborhood, subdivision or condo building. I don’t necessarily know what year their house was built or how big it is, although I might be able to guess pretty accurately, but I have a general sense of the overall ambience, what amenities are nearby and I probably have a real estate-related anecdote or two about the area I can toss out. I call it being “conversationally familiar” with the Market when I can easily and confidently chat about the real estate in an area without resorting to the tired old “Well, I don’t really know, but I’d be happy to find out for you!

At the end of the show, I asked the audience to send in their favorite tip-of-the-day, and here are the results:

Favorit-est Tip #1: Leave the GPS at Home!
As you’re working toward becoming a Master of Your Market, leave the GPS at home to force yourself to learn how to find your way around without relying on that voice coming from the little box on your dash. Not only does this give you far more credibility when buyers are sitting in your car, but you’ll also have a much better mental picture of your market area and how the various neighborhoods, highways and commercial districts relate to each other geographically.

Favorit-est Tip #2: Preview, preview, preview!
If “previewing” is allowed in your market, take advantage of it… as often as you can! There’s no way you can become a Master of Your Market by memorizing MLS statistics or even looking at pictures – you need to be out IN it. And your previewing tours will be far more effective if you practice “opinionated previewing” which means you look at similar homes (i.e. similar price range, vintage, architecture, etc.) and compare the homes to each other as opposed to just heading out and looking at a bunch of unrelated properties.

Favorit-est Tip #3: “Averages” are meaningless; instead, research the “ranges
The “average” price, square footage, days on market or list-to-sold ratio statistic in a market area is likely a meaningless indicator of what’s really going on there. When researching a Market to become a Master of it, focus on identifying the “ranges” – highest and lowest price, largest and smallest square footage, highest and lowest days on market, etc.

Favorit-est Tip #4: Identify alternatives to the Market You’re Mastering
As you’re Mastering one Market area, try to identify alternatives to that area that a buyer might also consider. For example, perhaps a buyer loves a certain style of home that can be found in the neighborhood you’re mastering, but needs a larger lot than is typically available there. Or perhaps they can’t quite afford that neighborhood, and would appreciate knowing what other parts of town offer similar homes and amenities for less money. Being conversationally familiar with the alternatives will give you tremendous credibility when talking with buyers.

Favorit-est Tip #5: Patronize businesses in the Market You’re Mastering
Hey, you gotta shop somewhere… you gotta eat sometime… you gotta get your hair cut, your dog groomed and your dry-cleaning done, so why not do it in the Market You’re Mastering? Not only will you be likely to meet people who have real estate needs in the area, but you’ll also be able to speak intelligently to clients about the local businesses and amenities.

Favorit-est Tip #6: Identify all landmark buildings in the Market You’re Mastering
Drive around the Market You’re Mastering and make notes of the buildings you see that aren’t readily identifiable. Schools, churches, rest homes, etc. Find out what they are so when you’re working with a buyer and the buyers asks “What’s that?” you’ll know the answer!

Other favorit-est tips from the show included:

  • Blog and create market reports about what you learn while previewing
  • Read other agents’ blogs & newsletters
  • Know school district boundaries & statistics
  • Choose one geographic area at a time to master
  • Know your office inventory

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

smaller_daisy

Last month, I stopped by my bank to make a minor change to my business account. The gal who helped me was Really Nice. Friendly, chatty, made good eye contact and seemed truly interested in making sure I had a great experience in her bank that day. I left thinking lots of warm thoughts about her and my bank. She was Really Nice.

I emailed her the next day with a question about the change we’d made to my account. No response. I called and left a voice mail. No call-back. Called again. No call-back again.

A few days later I tried to use the account we’d made the change to and something was wrong. It wasn’t “working” right. I stopped by the bank for help. She identified the error she’d made and corrected it. Or so I thought. Actually, she corrected one mistake but created another.

I’ve now been in the bank four times and spent at least three hours with three different bankers trying to get my bank account to “work.” All of them were Really Nice and I left the bank thinking all was going to be well.

Not sure if it is, indeed, “all well” yet, but I’m hopeful.

Anyway, here’s my point. Last month there were some fun discussions here in the Rain about whether it’s more important to be knowledgeable or to be likeable as a real estate agent. And when we say “important,” we’re referring to an agent’s likelihood of success in this extraordinarily difficult industry we call home.

I proclaimed that knowledge and competence trumps likeability, assuming one has to choose between the two, which of course, is not always or even usually the case. But if I had to choose a real estate agent to represent me, I’d want one who will Get the Job Done as opposed to one who will be my New Best Friend but doesn’t have a clue how to manage my real estate transaction. Besides, being likeable just gets you in the door; it doesn’t sell houses and doesn’t lead you to a payday if you aren’t competent to manage the business your likeability earns you.

I believe that if you are confident in your competence, even if you are NOT the friendliest person in the world, that confidence will be more compelling to potential clients than just being a likeable guy or gal. So you win both ways – you GET business because your demeanor inspires trust, and you GET PAID because your competence gives you a good shot at getting your transactions all the way to the closing table.

So, yes, being Really Nice gets you in the door and may win you lots of friends. And if a real estate transaction starts to sour maybe being Really Nice can even charm the client into not being too upset. But wouldn’t being Really Good be a better approach? Something to shoot for?

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog called “Nine Attributes of an Exceptional Real Estate Agent” in which I listed nine competence-related skills and services I’d want my real estate agent to bring to the table if I were in need of real estate assistance.

None of the nine attributes had anything to do with being nice, friendly, likeable or compassionate; they were all related to taking exceptionally good care of me and my real estate transaction.

Several of the 120+ commenters called me out on that – they felt strongly that I should have included what they called “people skills” and what I call “compassion factors” (e.g. being a good listener) in my list of attributes.

I disagreed. NOT because I think real estate agents should strive to be a$$holes with atrocious bedside manners, but rather because what we do, if we do it right and especially in today’s excruciatingly difficult market, requires a fairly high level of competence, expertise and good old fashioned hard WORK to properly serve the clients who have honored us with their business.

Being nice, likeable, friendly and empathetic isn’t enough. It’s just not. Yes, maybe having great people skills gets you in the door, but if you don’t have the knowledge and expertise to get the job done that you were hired to do, all the people skills in the world aren’t going to change the fact that 1) your client is going to be disappointed and may very well share that disappointment with anyone who will listen; and 2) if you’re paid on a contingent commission basis and can’t get the job done, no payday cometh for you.

No one wins… not your client, not you, not your struggling real estate market that could really use some exceptionally competent real estate agents out there getting the job DONE!

What dismays me the most about this discussion is the heavy emphasis in our industry on personality being the key factor in success. Who cares about market knowledge, contract mastery or negotiating skills? As long as you’re likeable, you’ll be just fine! And we wonder why the failure rate in our industry is so freakin’ high?

It takes more than a mega-watt smile, a firm handshake and a sympathetic ear to properly serve your clients. If you don’t believe that, then I’ll go out on a limb and say that your clients aren’t being properly served, and I promise you, they notice. Oh, they may still like you personally, but inside, they’re wishing they’d hired that other guy or gal who (as my biggest client ever used to say about me) “…isn’t the friendliest person in the world, but she gets the job done.

So, my friends, let’s go forth… and be Exceptional … and Get the Job DONE!

(If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on the matter, read my comment #39 on the blog referenced above).

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

Before Christmas I posted a blog about a show we did in the SWS Virtual Studio called “Are You the Best Real Estate Agent You Know?” In that blog, I described three reasons you might WANT to BE the best agent you know, and promised to continue the conversation with some concrete attributes or characteristics that someone who IS the best agent they know might possess.

So, ’cause I usually keep my promises, below are nine attributes (skills, services and masteries) of what an agent I’d be excited to hire to represent me should bring to the table:

1. Market Mastery – the agent understands the nuances of the local real estate market – at least the segmentNeighborhood of it that affects ME!


2. MLS Mastery
– the agent is intimately familiar with the MLS and therefore makes pricing recommendations based on data that is complete, relevant and accurate.


contract3. Contract (and Disclosure) Mastery
– the agent understands and can explain each and every provision in the contracts and disclosures I’ll be asked to sign, and ensures that I understand how each provision affects me.


4. Pricing Expertise
– related to #1, the agent understands the nuances of the specific market area(s) that I’m buying or selling in, and how various features and amenities (or lack thereof) affect the market value of the properties there.


5. Photography Skills
(or willingness to hire a photographer) – the agent understands the importance of having great photos online and is willing to invest the time and money to either take great photos him or herself, or hire someone to do it.

handyman
6. Basic Understanding of Home Construction, Repair and Local Architecture
– while I don’t expect my agent to be a licensed contractor, I do expect them to understand basic issues of home construction and repair so they can speak intelligently to me about issues that may arise during our transaction. This knowledge will enhance their credibility with me tremendously.


7. Good Problem-Solving and Negotiating Skills
– the agent doesn’t fall apart and go all drama-queen (or king) on me when the going gets a little rocky. They stay calm and focused, and tackle the problem head-on. They are skilled, confident negotiators.


8. A Great Team –
the agent has a great team. If I need a referral to the best lender, inspector, handyman, house-cleaner, structural contractor, roofer or painter in town, my agent knows who that is and will set me up.


9. Great Systems in Place to Track Transactions 
– the agent has detailed checklists and follow-ups in place so that things don’t slip through the cracks or get forgotten when they get busy or distracted.

So, whatcha’ think? Do these sound like the characteristics of an agent you’d hire to take care of your real estate transaction? Any others you’d like to add… or any of these you don’t think belong on the list?

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

On Thursday, December 15th, we convened in the SWS Virtual Studio for the last time of the 2011 season for our final show entitled “Are You the Best Real Estate Agent You Know?”

Fun was had by all (well, I had fun anyway), as we discussed the reasons one might WANT to be the best agent they know and HOW to tell if you are, indeed, an exceptional real Bestestate agent.

By exceptional, I should probably explain that I don’t necessarily mean “top-producing,” although you certainly may be. I don’t mean that you have a gazillion For Sale signs around town (unless the majority of them have SALE PENDING riders on top of them). I don’t mean that you have a well-oiled machine in place to efficiently “care for” your current clients so you can devote 80% of your time to prospecting for new ones.

No, by “exceptional real estate agent” I’m refering to someone who is competent at managing a complicated process (i.e. a real estate transaction) with its many moving pieces and parts and personalities and emotions, and who consistently EARNS rave reviews from his (or her) clients for his (or her) exceptional client service and satisfactory results.

(Whew, that was a mouthful).

So, to put it more succinctly: Competence + Compassion = Exceptional.

Anyway, during the show I described three reasons one might strive to be an Exceptional Real Estate Agent, aka, the Best Agent They Know.

Reason #1
Confidence. When you’re great at what you do and you know you’re great at what you do, that confidence will be apparent to others. You won’t have to come up with a compelling elevator speech, create clever business cards or use magic trigger words or gestures to inspire people to trust you; the people you meet will be able to tell that you are capable of handling their (or their friends’) real estate needs. No sales pitch required.

Reason #2
When you’re a great real estate agent, your current clients will notice – and they won’t be able to help themselves from singing your praises to everyone they know. Unfortunately, the bar in our industry is set rather low in the customer satisfaction department, so if YOUR clients are satisfied and they talk nicely about you behind your back, referrals will come. I promise.

Reason #3
The third reason you might want to strive to be an exceptional agent is a very practical one. More paydays. Exceptional real estate agents enjoy more visits to the closing table because they know how to get the job done. They know how to put and hold real estate transactions together! Their contracts don’t fall apart when things get sticky because 1) they’re keeping a close eye on things as opposed to chasing after new business and 2) they know what to do to solve those potentially deal-killing challenges that inevitably arise during the contract-to-closing period.

So… how does one become an Exceptional Real Estate Agent? Well, it’s not a class or a certification or an event; it’s a process. It’s making the commitment to BE great at what you do and then DOING what you need to do to be great.

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

double your businessSo… whatcha’ thinking I might be thinking here? More lunch dates? More blogs? More Facebook, Twittering or Linking In? Or, egads, more cold-calling, door-knocking or referral-begging?

Nope.

Here’s a reeeeal easy way to double your business every single year.

EARN one referral from every single client.

If every buyer and seller you serve, every year, were to send just one buyer or seller your way in the twelve months following your time together, you’d double your business, wouldn’t you? And of course, if your buyer or seller is that tickled with you that they’ll send one person your way, I’m guessing they might do it again… and again… and maybe even again!

So, how do you go about inspiring your buyers and sellers to refer business to you?

Expensive closing gifts?
Nope.

Incessant reminders of your affection for referrals?
Nope.

Monthly newsletters and postcards showcasing your listings?
Nope.

Boilerplate greeting cards on the one month, three month, six month and one year anniversaries of their closing?
No again.

A contract signed at closing where your buyer or seller commits to sending you at least three referrals?
OMG, no.

Gifts, drips, cards or contracts won’t inspire anyone to send you business. Oh, they might remind someone that you exist and how to find you, but unless they already think highly of you as a real estate agent, ain’t no business coming your way as a result of said gifts, drips, cards or contracts.

It’s so, so, so simple. Just be great at what you do. Take care of your current clients as your very first priority. Go the extra mile (where, to paraphrase Roger Staubach, there’s not much traffic). And then stay in touch just enough to remind without becoming a nuisance.

And watch your business grow…

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

We real estate agents long to be respected by the general public. We ache to be considered as worthy of acclaim as our CPA, MD and JD friends. We fuss among ourselves when our clients appear to disrespect our time, our knowledge or, worse, our gasoline.

We claim that even though doctors and lawyers and accountants (oh my!) may have a few more years of education compared to our month (or maybe two) of real estate school, that doesn’t mean they are any smarter, more dedicated or more qualified to practice their craft than we real estate agents are to handle one of the most important financial transactions most people will ever make.

We encourage our new agents to charge a full commission “because they’re worth it!”, even though they’ve yet to hold an open house, prepare a market analysis or successfully negotiate a low offer.

Okay – so now you know where my brain has been all weekend. I talked myself out of writing this blog a few times in the interest of winning the first annual Active Rain popularity contest, but after reading a few other blogs this morning (which shall remain nameless), I could no longer restrain myself.

So… finally… here’s my point. Wander through any real estate forum… read your latest Broker/Agent news, even peruse the conference schedule of the NAR National Convention – most of what you see is advice on how to PROSPECT! More Customers! More Referrals! More Leads!

Apparently, that’s what our business is all about. At least, as far as I can tell from the topics that seem to interest our industry. In fact, most trainers come right and say that Prospecting is Your Number One duty as a professional real estate agent. Hmmmmmm. Is that really why it’s a licensed profession? Because our JOB is to be great prospectors?

But back to my opening statement. We want to be respected just like doctors and lawyers and such. But I’ll venture to guess that the professional journals, the annual conventions and the online forums of these industries aren’t focused on cold-calling techniques, farming campaigns and web-lead generation. I’ll bet that their memberships’ interests lie more in being BETTER physicians, more KNOWLEDGEABLE lawyers and more COMPETENT veterinarians. While there may be an article or a seminar or a thread devoted to business development on occasion, something tells me that it’s a wee bit more, dare I say it, RESPECTABLE, than what we tend to obsess over.

Where are the sexy seminars on being an effective Buyer Agent? (And no, I don’t mean the ones telling you How to Sell a Buyer a House in One Trip or Less or How to Convince Your Buyer to Offer Full Price so You Don’t Waste Your Time). I mean the ones that actually teach you how to be a GOOD buyer agent. Where’s the article on how to successfully negotiate a tough inspection, or prepare for an appraisal on a unique home? How to properly price a custom home in a tract home neighborhood?

Hey, we all know that doctors and accountants and veterinarians are business-people, too. They, just like us, need a steady stream of business to keep their doors open and their Beemers gassed up. They, like us, need to promote themselves and their services to the public. But somehow, they’ve managed to do it without being called a salesperson. They are “Professionals.”

We real estate agents need to make a choice. Either we’re salespeople, and we accept our role as such. Our job is to prospect, prospect, prospect. We’ll leave the details to our assistants who actually care about the clients we bring in.

Or, we can leave the salesperson persona behind and strive to become professionals who attract business by being competent, knowledgeable and, most of all, RESPECTABLE!

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

Two nights ago, I did a presentation for a local Exit real estate company on Prospecting without a Sales Pitch. When I got to the part about why I think it’s more important to be a good real estate agent than to be a good real estate prospector, a hand went up in the back of the room.

“What exactly do you mean by being a “good” real estate agent?”

Ahhhhhh…. I’m SO glad you asked.

Our industry celebrates production. Therefore, if you have lots of that (production), you are “good.” Eh, I don’t agree so much. I’ve known many a successful real estate agent who I would not in a million years accuse of being “good.” Oh, sure, they get plenty of business, but what they do with it after the paperwork is signed? Not much.

So anyway, back to the question from my audience. “What makes a real estate agent GOOD?”

My mouth could barely keep up with my brain. What I said was something like this:

“You know your market, your systems and your contracts. You are a good negotiator. You put your clients’ needs above your need for a paycheck. You know how to properly price a home. You know what your seller needs to do to get his home ready for market. You know how to build rapport with your seller so that he trusts you. You know how to take decent photos. You know how to write an appealing MLS description. You return phone calls promptly. You preview listings so you don’t waste your buyer’s time. You know how much it costs to replace a 50 year old furnace. You have a handyman, a cleaning service and a good HVAC contractor. You’re pleasant to other agents so they’re happy to show your listings or accept your offers. You keep your brochure boxes full. Your lockboxes work…”

To me, THIS is a good real estate agent. Do you agree? Or do you think that being a Master Prospector is the key to “good?”

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

Taking a little break from the Confident Rookie Series (which shall return tomorrow)…busy

A lot of agents I’m talking to are seeing a glimmer of hope – that is – they’re busy! The phone is ringing! The email’s jangling! Listing contracts are being signed and buyers are getting approved! Woo hoo!

I always say that when you’re busy and feeling like hot stuff, go look for more. You have momentum, you have MoJo and that’s apparent to everyone you meet. Even if you’re feeling overwhelmed, do more of whatever it is you’ve been doing to generate business, with a smile on your face and gratitude in your heart.

BUT

Don’t lose sight of the fact that since you actually have clients, this is a wonderful opportunity to knock their sox off with your service. The very very very best source of future business is your Satisfied Past Clients, so even before you run off to do “more of what you’re doing that’s working” make sure all these current clients are tickled pink with you. Stay in touch, keep that brochure box full, hold an extra open house. Return phone calls quicker than you have to. Aggressively pursue and deliver feedback.

There’s no better prospecting strategy than taking exceptional care of your current clients! If you’re busy right now, don’t miss this opportunity!

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

I read a featured blog the other day written by an agent who was regretting not insisting on a buyer agency agreement and was subsequently ditched by the buyers she was working with. She was disappointed, and in her blog, reconfirmed her commitment to always get that agreement in place before investing much time in a new buyer client.

Fair enough. I disagree with the agent’s conclusion that the solution to being ditched by a buyer is a written contract, but that’s okay. To each his own.

But one of the many comments on the blog caught my eye. It was something about how now that we’re in a new decade; it’s a perfect time to set new priorities. In this case, the commenter meant that he or she intended to be even more committed to getting those agreements signed before working “for free.”

Again, fair enough.

But it occurs to me (yep, here comes a soapbox) that it would do us and our industry far more good if we set our priorities a little higher. If we set them based on what the customer wants and needs, rather than on what we want and need. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about looking out for #1, but when you put your customers first, my experience has been that Your Favorite Real Estate Agent benefits right alongside!

So… how about instead of making it a higher priority to be more diligent about contractually obligating your buyers to you… you commit to making yourself indispensable to your buyers so that no contract is necessary?

How about instead of making it a higher priority to more efficiently beat the streets looking for more and more and more and more listings… you commit to figuring out how to sell the listings you already have?

If we shift our industry’s priorities away from the face in the mirror and focus them on the consumer we’re licensed, hired and well-paid to serve, I promise you we’ll all benefit. Our buyers will buy and our listings will sell, so we’ll attend more closings and see more repeats & referrals.

It really might be that simple!

RELATED BLOGS
How to chase away your perfectly qualified, perfectly loyal buyers
Any idiot can give his house away…

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

Oooh, I SO wish I could elaborate, but that would be indiscreet.

I’ve often complained about the lack of training for our rookie agents, and the subsequent lack of competence displayed by first and second year agents. But I can forgive them – I did my share of stupid things in my rookie-hood and I’m sure you did, too. Things that now seem laughingly obviously wrong, but at the time, eh, not so obvious.

But lately I’ve seen “experienced” agents pull some stunts that have no other possible explanation than sheer incompetence… or, put a little less eloquently – stupidity. Jaw-dropping antics that leave me speechless. Where you can’t do much else but shrug your shoulders and forgive them because they clearly don’t have the brainpower to do any better.

Of course, when presented with such stupidity incompetence , it’s darn near impossible to be so philosophical about it, especially when it affects your business and your livelihood. So you can try to point out to the incompetent one what they did wrong. And why it bothers you. And what they should do to fix it.

And what will you get for your efforts? Probably just more proof of their incompetence. Explanations that don’t make any sense. Promises (that usually go unfulfilled) to rectify the problem. And so it goes.

Thanks for listening.

posted by on An Exceptional Agent, Jennifer's Best

Because I teach real estate agents how build a business based on their Sphere of Influence (SOI = the people they know and the people they meet) as opposed to marketing-to-strangers, I’m often approached by new or newer lenders asking how they can successfully persuade US (the REALTOR community) to give them a shot.

Frankly, I’m always stumped by the question. Traditional lender prospecting techniques simply don’t work – at least in my experience. Offering daily rate sheets or open house brochures won’t do it. Nor will weekly newsletters – printed or emailed. Sure, I appreciate (and will use) the information, but it’s not going to get a lender on my preferred vendor list.

Even lender-modified SOI techniques probably won’t work. Take me to lunch or coffee? Great! But I can’t promise you a return on your investment. Pop-by my office to chat? Eh, please don’t. Especially if your “chat” has anything to do with “earning” my business.

How about sending me buyers? Well, that sounds fabulous, but I’ve yet to have a lender do that, so I can’t speak to the effectiveness of it.  Hmmmmm… well, stay tuned – I’ll share my thoughts on that in a sec.

So, how do I find my favorite lenders? Ah, that’s an easy question. There are two ways I’ve found my lenders-of-choice:

  1. My buyer brought his lender to the deal and the lender impressed the heck out of me.
  2. The lender on the other side of the deal (when I’m the listing agent) impressed the heck out of me.

So, I guess my not-so-helpful answer to lenders seeking REALTOR loyalty is to… well… impress the heck out of the REALTORS you have the opportunity to get in front of. Do your job, do it exceptionally well and then stay in touch with the agent without ever pestering her for business or referrals. Once you have an impressed REALTOR, then you’re free to implement your other loyalty-inspiring activities – newsletters, lunch dates, rate sheets, etc., but without that first step – proving your competence – it’s probably wasted effort.

Speaking of lender-to-REALTOR referrals… I don’t expect my lender to send me referrals and I certainly don’t make it a requirement of my loyalty. A great lender (who is what I want on my team) probably has dozens of REALTORS he works with and it’s far more important to me that he take care of my business  than that he send me business. However, I will say that if a fledgling lender does send me a referral and then impresses the heck out of me with his handling of the deal, well, then, he has a good shot at making my preferred list!

 

SOMEWHAT RELATED BLOG: Dear SOI, Thanks, but I don’t want your loyalty!

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

The Secret of Joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” – Pearl S. Buck

Holy Moly. I found this quote on the December 30th page of my Franklin Planner and I’m blown away by its eloquence and simplicity. I’ve struggled for almost three years now to succinctly describe what “Sell with Soul” means to me.

Ms. Buck perfectly captured the essence of Selling with Soul.

I have nothing else to add.

 

sws

 

 

 

www.SellwithSoul.com

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

A long time ago, in my early 20’s (egads, nearly 20 years ago), I was dating an equally young lad from Ireland. He was planning a “holiday” (as they say in Ireland) back home for three weeks. As an insecure young lass, I was terribly worried that he would meet back up with his high school sweetheart and, OMG, CHEAT on me.bf

So, I did what every other immature young woman with a boyfriend does… I whined, I pouted, I threatened, I begged him not to cheat on me while he was gone. Every day for a month, I “reminded” him that he had to be good while away. Ugh. I’m embarrassed just thinking about it.

Then one day, my slightly more mature roommate said the magic words to me: “Jennifer, you need to BE the person your boyfriend wouldn’t dream of cheating on.”

Wow.  WHAT A CONCEPT.

Okay, I promised this would relate to real estate, so let’s rewrite my little story.

A long time ago, in my early late 20’s (egads, nearly 20 12 years ago), I was dating starting up a real estate career in an equally young lad from Ireland Denver Colorado and was trying to drum up business for myself He was planning a “holiday” (as they say in Ireland) back home for three weeks. As an insecure young lass new real estate agent, I was terribly worried that he my friends would meet back up with his high school sweethearts refer their business to someone else and, OMG, CHEAT on me.

So, I did what every other immature young woman new real estate agent with a boyfriend does… I whined, I pouted, I threatened, I begged him my friends not to cheat on me while he was gone when they had a house to buy or sell. On the first Monday of every Every day for a month, I “reminded” him them that they he had to be good while away should remember how much I love referrals and how hurt I would be if they cheated*. Ugh. I’m embarrassed just thinking about it.

Then one day, my slightly more mature roommate inner voice said the magic words to me: “Jennifer, you need to BE the person agent your boyfriend friends wouldn’t dream of cheating on.”

Wow. WHAT A CONCEPT.

You can whine, pout, threaten, beg or just “remind,” to get what you want OR you can simply BE such a terrific girlfriend real estate agent that your boyfriend friends wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else.

*I’m stretching the truth here for dramatic effect. I actually never did implement these referral-begging tactics in my career, but it makes the story much better to say I did…

ja