Archive for the ‘Prospecting & SOI’ Category

Here’s everything I’ve ever written about finding clients to serve with your wonderfulness!

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 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!

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

A good friend of mine dabbles in the online dating world from time to time. And as an old married woman, I get to enjoy the “fun” of singlehood vicariously through her dating adventures, online and otherwise.

Anyway, the other day she sent me a promotional email she received from a new online site she’s trying out – basically, it’s a form letter the site graciously supplies that, with the touch of a button, you can send out to “thousands of other singles” introducing yourself to get the romantic ball rolling.

Um, well.

My friend had already received a few of these introductory form letters and was, shall we say, less than impressed. Call us sensitive, but we women like to think that a man who has an interest in us might actually take the time to peruse our profile (yes, I’ve been out there too) to see if, indeed, there is some potential for romance…and then take the “trouble” to actually comment on something they saw there.

Okay, okay, I know the argument. Dating is a numbers game and the more stuff you throw against the wall and all of that, but don’t we say the same thing about marketing our businesses? And then implement the stuff-throwing and numbers-gaming strategies… and wonder why they don’t work? Or why we feel like we’re doing more annoying-the-public than inspiring-the-public (to support our business)?

There IS a better way! Yes, it takes more time and energy to approach ONE person at a time, whether that’s with a “I’d like to know more about you” note or a “I’d like to see if I can help you” offer, but at the end of the day… would you rather have annoyed (or been ignored by) 100 potential mates/clients… or impressed one?

And imagine if you “impressed” one person a day…for a year… versus annoyed 100 people a day…for a year…

Impressed approach: 365 people who think you’re cool

Annoyed approach: 36,500 people who think you’re annoying (or have totally forgotten about you).

 

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Romancing the ‘Hood? What on earth does that mean?

You’ve heard of geographic farming, right? Where you blanket an area with your marketing in hopes of becoming the go-to agent in the neighborhood because the homeowners there recognize your name and know how to reach you when they have a need for real estate services? Well, Romancing the ‘Hood takes that a step further so that all those homeowners not only know your name, but they also LIKE you, or at least, they like what they know about you and therefore are even more likely to hire or refer you.

That was the topic of the most recent teleseminar show in the SWS Virtual Studio. At the end of the show, we polled the audience for their favorite ideas, strategies or tips… and here’s what they told us:

Favorit-est Tip #1
Order ‘hood-specific “Top Ten” Magnets to mail out and make available at open houses. This not only guarantees your magnet will be of value, but may also endear you to the local shop-owners featured. Read more here.

Favorit-est Tip #2
Be authentically YOU in your ‘hood marketing – don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your mailings, advertising or self-promotional material. Use common sense (e.g. you probably don’t need to share your opinion on the pro-life/pro-choice debate), but neither should you try so hard to be liked by everyone that you’re just boring!

Favorit-est Tip #3
Do open houses in the ‘hood and pre-market the heck out of them. Don’t use your open house to “pick up buyers” (that attitude scares visitors away); just promote the house itself and be non-predatorily pleasant to everyone who comes in the door.

Favorit-est Tip #4
Choose the ‘hood to romance based on your comfort level relating to the people who live there, or want to live there, not just based on the price range.

Favorit-est Tip #5
Become a “regular” in the ‘hood’s restaurants and shops. Find non-cheesy ways to let the business owners and staff know you’re in real estate (e.g. “I need to find a closing gift for a client who just moved to town – do you have any suggestions?”)

– See more at: http://activerain.com/blogs/sellwithsoul#sthash.LLRpWElP.dpuf

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Seen recently on a Facebook post of a SWS-minded real estate agent (an agent who follows Sell with Soul philosophies):Script

WHY THE SCRIPTS!? Are we not past this yet as business owners and marketing professionals? As humans? Really!?”

Hold that thought.

I went to the chiropractor yesterday – my hands have been aching lately and I was hoping to find some relief. When I checked in, the receptionist asked me a series of questions related to the Reason for my Visit – “What would you rate the pain on a scale of 1-10?” “Is the pain constant or intermittent?” “How long ago did this begin?” etc. etc. etc. She recorded my responses in my file and then asked me to take-my-seat, the-doctor-would-be-with-me-soon.

Fine. I’m sure she asks these questions a dozen or two times a day.

So, the doctor-met-with-me-soon and asked me a similar set of questions as she was poking, prodding and twisting me around. “Does this hurt?” “Do you feel any tingling or numbness when I do this?” “Would you describe the pain as shooting or stiffness?”

Fine. I’m sure she asks these questions a dozen or two times a day.

In the hands of the receptionist, the questions are a script since she (probably) doesn’t know much about what my responses to her questions actually mean. Not a problem; it’s not the receptionist’s job to cure what ails me; simply to gather information for the file.

But when the chiropractor asks these questions, she’s not doing it as part of a memorized spiel she learned in her chiropractor training – her questions are intentional and my responses are meaningful. Because… she’s a professional. She understands the Big Picture. She knows what she NEEDS to know and how my responses fit into that Big Picture.

With me?

Okay, so back to the Facebook comment referenced above.

The comment was inspired by a training program the SWS-minded agent was participating in (“was” being the operative word here; she demanded her money back) that pushes memorized scripts for every conceivable prospect-or-client encounter. Her reaction was exactly the same as mine when I hear of this nonsense – “Seriously?? We need a SCRIPT to guide us through a CONVERSATION with someone we’re hoping to inspire to trust us with a significant financial transaction? WHY? Do we not know what we need to know… and what we need to share…? Are we, as licensed real estate agents incapable of having an intelligent, meaningful conversation with a potential client? Are we, as adult human beings incapable of having an intelligent, meaningful conversation with another adult human being?”

If you know what you’re doing, you don’t need a script to do it. Period.

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Last Thursday, we did a show in the SWS Virtual Studio called “It Really IS That Simple – Low-Tech Ways To Build Your Business with SOUL.” The gist of the show was that while gizmos and gadgets and programs and systems are fine and dandy and fun and interesting, success in a real estate business is much less complicated… and less expensive… than the companies who are marketing these gizmos, gadgets, programs and systems would like us to believe.

Basically… the more people who KNOW you… and LIKE you… and TRUST you… the more successful you’ll be. Simple as that. So, how do you get yourself more of these people who know you, like you and trust you?

That’s what the show was about… six simple strategies to increase the number of individual human beings in the world who KLT (know/like/trust) you. At the end of the show, we asked the audience to vote on which strategy was most meaningful to them and here are the results:

Favorit-est Tip #1
“Impress One Person a Day” – if you make a positive impression on just one person every single day, that’s 365 people in a year who think a lot of you as opposed to just a whole bunch of people in the world who sorta recognize your name.

Favorit-est Tip #2
“Forget about Branding, Focus on Bonding” – instead of trying to brand yourself as the ________ Realtor (Hiking, Biking, Golfing, Dog-Rescuing, etc.), get out on the world and hang out with people with similar interests. Once these people get to know you as a person, they’re far more likely to want to support your business than if you’d simply targeted them to market to.

Favorit-est Tip #3
“Be Pleasant to 10 People a Day” – In order to increase the number of people in the world who know you, just get out there in the world (where these people are!) being a bright little ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone whose paths you cross.

Favorit-est Tip #4
“Be an RCHB (Reasonably Competent Human Being)” – Anyone who is self-employed and hoping for the support of his or her friends and acquaintances needs to realize that they are always on display. While our friends may love the heck out of us as a friend, if our behavior when socializing gives them reason to doubt our professionalism, it WILL affect their willingness to support our business.

Favorit-est Tip #5
“Prioritize Properly” – Always put your current clients at the top of your priority to-do list. Yes, even ahead of prospecting.

Favorit-est Tip #6
“Go to lunch with friends” – note, I didn’t say TAKE your friends to lunch, I said GO TO LUNCH with your friends. As a FRIEND, not as a “hungry” (pun intended) real estate agent on the prowl for business. When you GO TO lunch as opposed to TAKING someone to lunch, there’s no obligation for you to pitch your business, nor for your friend to listen to your pitch.

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As we often do, after last week’s “SOI for Advanced Practitioners” show I collected feedback from the audience as to their SOI“Favorit-est Tip(s)” from the show. Below are the results.

If you’d like to read more about what the show was about, you can do that here, but in a nut, we discussed various approaches to inspiring the people you know and the people you meet (your “sphere of influence” or SOI) to think of you as someone they’d trust with their business and referrals. And no, doing that has nothing at all to do with bombarding them with bi-monthly postcards or incessantly reminding them of your affection for referrals. No, it’s much simpler than that; in fact, THAT was one of the underlying themes of the show – that there really isn’t any such thing as “Advanced” SOI! The simpler and more authentic… the more effective your SOI efforts will be. The more complicated or sophisticated they are… the less effective they will be.

If you’d like to listen to the show in its entirety, you can do that by becoming a member of Club SWS (www.clubsws.info) or you can purchase a recording of the show in the SWS Bookstore.

So… here are the Favorit-est Tips!

Favorit-est Tip #1: Avoid the “Predator” Approach (thank you Deb Stephenson!)
When you go out into the world hoping to inspire the people there to think of you as someone they’d trust with their business or referrals, avoid the “predator” approach – that is – if what you’re doing makes you feel like a mountain lion crouched on the desk ready to spring on his prey, DON’T DO IT. When you’re talking to someone about life, love or your business, always check your intent… if your goal is to pitch your stuff… it will come across exactly as that… an annoying pitch that the person on the receiving end will want to flee from… and avoid in the future. Yes, you can talk about your career, but do so authentically, not with the goal of subtly marketing yourself. No such thing…

Favorit-est Tip #2: Reward ALL referrals immediately (not at the closing, again, thanks Deb Stephenson!)
If someone sends you a referral, whether it’s a great one or a crappy one, reward the BEHAVIOR right away, don’t base your “reward” on whether or not the referral goes to closing. You want to thank people for thinking of you when the subject of real estate comes up, not just when you make money. TIP: if you’re going to send a thank-you gift for a referral, send it to the referrer’s place of work, not their home! As they’re sharing the brownies or cookies or smelling the flowers you sent, they’ll obviously mention you and your wonderfulness… and that’s a very good thing.

Favorit-est Tip #3: Get out and have fun with people who enjoy the same things you do (instead of trying to market to them!)
A lot of real estate agents want to “brand” themselves with their hobby or passion – for example, maybe they love horses so they want to brand themselves as the “Horse Realtor.” Or they love to hike, so they market themselves as the “Hiking Realtor.” A much more effective approach is to go out and DO that thing you love to do WITH other people who love to do it too… create a community of friends and acquaintances with whom you have a natural rapport and at some point when they find out what you do for a living, they’ll be happy to support your business because they know you, like you and trust you, not because you came up with a catchy tagline!

Favorit-est Tip #4: Don’t market to your SOI
A common myth in traditional SOI teachings is that because your friends like you and care about you, they’ll be more receptive to your self-promotion, but that’s just not true. First, most people in your SOI are not your bestest buddies, and they don’t really care on a day-to-day basis what you’re up to, and second, no one really likes to be “marketed to” whether by friend or stranger. But at least when strangers do it, we can ignore them, however, when a friend or acquaintance markets to us, we feel we have to listen, to be polite, even though we’re annoyed. Related to Favorit-est Tip #1, you really can’t “subtly” market to anyone without their realizing they’re being marketed to.

Are we saying that you shouldn’t let your friends and acquaintances know you’re in the real estate business? Of course not, but when creating your SOI business plan, leave the word “marketing” out of it and focus on doing things that: “Inspire the people you know and the people you meet to trust you with their real estate business and referrals.”

Other Favorit-est Tips

  • When going out for lunch or coffee, let the other person pick up the check (if they offer) which creates an opportunity for you to reciprocate.
  • Always ask a new acquaintance what they do for a living, which will inspire them to return the favor, thus creating the opportunity for you to…
  • When asked what you do, say: “I’m a real estate agent!” as if it’s the coolest job in the whole world. No other cleverly-crafted “elevator speech” comes close to authentic enthusiasm.
  • Categorize your SOI (in your contact management system) into Group 1 (social network) and Group 2 (everyone else). Keep it simple!

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On July 19th, I did a teleseminar show in the SWS Virtual Studio about running a Sphere of Influence (SOI) based business. Not that I hadn’t talked on this subject a time or two (or 100), but for this upcoming show, I wanted to tackle it from a different direction – and from the perspective of someone who has never heard my thoughts on the matter.  

I quickly realized that making an elevator speech out of my approach to SOI is not an easy task. Why? Because it’s not simply a system to follow, or a tool to implement or even a letter to write. You can’t order an SOI Business Model over the internet, or pay someone else to do it for you. You can’t add “SOI” to your daily to-do list and later check it off as complete. Running an effective Sphere of influence business is not cut-n-paste, point-n-shoot, one-size fits all. 

It’s not a System. It’s an Attitude. A Lifestyle, even.

Oh, there are some who would like to convince you that you can buy an SOI-Business-in-a-Box; that you can “build relationships” with postcards, calendars, magnets and magazines; or inspire loyalty with gimmicky promotions.  And yes, some of these things can be a part of an effective SOI business model, but they don’t make the model a success alone.

Generating business from one’s sphere of influence is a more of an approach to life than it is a system to learn.

It requires that you do things every day to inspire the people you know and the people you meet to think of you as a Reasonably Competent Human Being who is capable of handling their real estate business and referrals.

It involves being authentic and natural (which is definitely NOT something that comes in a box!) and attracting people to you with whom you have things in common.

It’s about remembering that every single person who crosses your path on a daily basis could be (or lead you to) your next biggest client… but never, ever treating ANYONE as if all they are to you is a potential lead.

It requires that you are GOOD at what you do… and that you KNOW you are good at what you do… and that you continually strive to get better at what you do.

Inspiring the people you know and the people you meet to care about and support your business is much easier than you may think… Just be YOU… just be GOOD… and show up every day with a smile…it really can be that simple!

;-]

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voicemail“You have reached <insert pause> 850-xxx-xxxx. Please leave a message at the sound of the tone.”

That’s the greeting I received yesterday when I dialed the phone number on the rider perched atop a For Sale sign. I wasn’t calling to buy the house, but rather to let the listing agent know that her vacant listing appears to be squatted in – that someone might be living there without the blessing of the owner.

As I dialed the number on a Sunday morning, I assumed I’d get voice mail since this is the south and a lot of people tend to hang out at church on this day and time of the week. But I laughed out loud when I got the “standard greeting with your telephone number telling callers you are not available” on a real estate agent’s direct line! Seriously?! Someone goes to the trouble of printing up custom sign riders with their name and number and then can’t even bother to record their NAME on their voicemail greeting, never mind a warm, friendly, inviting personal greeting?

I must confess the snarky side of me was tempted to play dumb and say something like “Oh, um, I thought I was calling a real estate agent, maybe I dialed the number wrong. Well, I’m looking for Judy Smith – it’s about the house on Luna Way – if this is the right number, please call me back…” But I managed to restrain my snarky side and left a detailed message with my concern about her listing, included my name and phone number (what a concept!) and invited her to call me back if she’d like.

I’ll give ya three guesses as to whether or not she did. Not that she needed to, but it would have been a nice gesture. Hey, you never know where you’ll meet your next biggest client and if someone takes the time to call YOU with information you might appreciate, it’s probably a good idea to call them back. What the heck.

But that’s not my point; I’m sure anyone reading this blog would have already made that Thank You call. My point is that maybe, just maybe this agent doesn’t realize her voicemail is the “standard greeting telling callers you are unavailable” – after all, how many times do we call our own number? Maybe she USED to have a warm, friendly, inviting personal greeting on there and somehow it was erased? And she’d be stunned to find out some snarky real estate writer was criticizing her on a public blog? It’s possible!

So, don’t let this happen to you! Take a moment right now and dial your own direct line; lines if you have more than one. Make sure the outgoing greeting you hear IS a greeting and one that would inspire YOU to leave a message if you were in need of real estate assistance! Might be the best investment of 60 seconds of your day today!

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I was listening to some ho-hum non-real estate-specific sales training seminar a few weeks ago – don’t know why I was listening to it, considering it was as ho-hum as they come; maybe I was subconsciously looking for material to blog about!

And voila! I found something!

During the seminar, the speaker was spouting traditional numbers game fluff. Basically, the same old “The more people you touch with your sales pitch, the more you’ll sell of whatever it is you’re pitching.”

One of the examples he used was actually from the world of real estate. He was talking about real estate agents procuring listings and made the statement that: “If you could go on 10 listing appointments this month, that would be good, wouldn’t it? But what if you could go on 100 listing appointments, wouldn’t that be even better?”

Hmmmmmmmm.

Really? 100 listing appointments this month?

Oh, I get his point and since he’s not a real estate agent, perhaps he doesn’t realize that going on 100 listing appointments in one month would be nearly impossible for a normal human being. But he seemed to know enough about the real estate industry to understand what a listing appointment entails and the reason for doing them, so I’m going to assume that, practical considerations aside, he believes that MORE is always BETTER when it comes to prospecting for business.

I disagree.

Here’s the thing. Regardless of the number of appointments you shoot for, if your primary goal is one of QUANTITY over QUALITY, I personally think you’re wasting an awful lot of time and energy. I mean, think about it. Let’s say that it’s possible to do 50 listing appointments a month – that’s about 2.5 appointments every week day. Now, I’m assuming that if you’re going on 2.5 appointments a day, you’re doing very little preparation for each appointment and basically going in with your well-rehearsed presentation followed by an expedient pitch for signature.

Hold that thought.

The speaker who was espousing the quantity over quality approach proclaimed that one of the great things about his approach was that when (not if) you get turned down, you won’t really care that much because you have plenty more fish in the kettle – that is – another listing appointment or two later that day, and 2.5 more tomorrow.

Hmmmmmmmm.

That sounds exhausting.

But how about the other approach – the one the speaker implied was “just okay?” Where you “only” have ten listing appointments a month; therefore every one of those appointments is going to be far more important to you and much more disappointing to you if you don’t get the listing?

BINGO!!!

D’ya see where I’m going with this?

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Yesterday I read yet another (ho hum) article about how important it is for real estate agents to remember that their primary obligation (to whom?) is to prospect for new business. Every day. Before they do anything else.

Blech. Frustrated

This attitude literally nauseates me. The article went on to say that (I’m paraphrasing) since the non-income producing activities (specifically client service) we “have” to do are typically the activities that give us the most grief (um… really?) and create the most frustration in our lives, we should spend as little time as possible on them and relegate them to the hours of the day when our energy level is the lowest so as not to “waste” our high-energy hours taking care of those pesky clients who have the nerve to want our attention after they’ve hired us.

Wow.

Now, if the author of the article was saying that a natural rainmaker should go out and make rain all day long and bring the results home to a more client-oriented PARTNER (not assistant) to actually care for, I might be less critical. But nope, that wasn’t the gist of the article – it was simply to say that because client service activities are not directly income-producing (although I’ll argue that one all day long!), they should be the lowest priority on your daily to-do list.

I’ve ranted about this before and if you’d like to read more, check out the links below. But for now, I’ll just ask this…

If you were to sit down right now and write up a business plan for the next twelve months where you outlined your business development (i.e. prospecting) and client service goals and commitments, and then created a mission statement based specifically on that business plan… would you be willing to share it with your clients and potential clients? 

If the mission statement you create from your business plan reads anything like: “Taking care of my current clients will NOT be done until I’ve run out of energy to search for new ones” – would you be proud to post it on your website, your blog and in your listing presentation?

RELATED RANTS

How do you think your clients feel about your 80/20 plan?
80/20? Let’s turn that around!
If Real Estate is so easy, how do you justify your fee?

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THANK YOU THANK YOU AR Gods for featuring my little rant last week about whether or not an 80/20% business model (where 80% of one’s time is devoted to prospecting and 20% devoted to client care) is a wise course to take in a real estate career. I can’t say enough how encouraging it was to hear so many commenters jump on the “clients-first” bandwagon, proclaiming that while they acknowledge prospecting for new clients must be done, it should NOT be done at the expense of one’s current clients!

Yay!

In the original blog, I promised to return with some more thoughts of my own on the matter, but most of those thoughts were already spoken within the nearly 100 comments. But I’ll make good on my promise and share mine anyway, even though they’ll likely just echo the brilliance provided by those who participated in the discussion.

Thought #1
If you are a new or struggling real estate agent and don’t have any (or many) clients to care for, then I suppose you should be spending some signficant time looking for some – in other words, you probably can’t fill up all or most of your working hours serving the clients you don’t yet have. HOWEVER… hold true to the philosophy of putting clients first – when you get up in the morning, make darn sure that your current clients and prospects are fully taken care of before you even think about prospecting. GET INTO THIS HABIT EARLY and it will pay off for you big time in the future. I promise.

Thought #2
As many pointed out, taking great care of the clients you have is a FANTASTIC prospecting strategy. Those who neglect their current clients so they can pursue their future ones darn well better enjoy that pursuit because they’ll be doing it their entire careers. In other words, very few referrals cometh to agents who don’t take good care of their clients when they have them.  

But maybe that’s okay for the 80/20 crowd. Maybe they’re so awesome at prospecting, they don’t need the trust, affection and referrals of their current and past clients, so it doesn’t matter if their clients don’t think much of them during and after their time together. The 80/20’s just spend the rest of their career devoting 80% of your time prospecting! Hey, it’s one business model that many subscribe to and they make it work, so if that sounds like fun to you, knock yourself out!

Thought #3
As many mentioned in the original blog, a 20/80 model (20% prospecting, 80% client care) IS a viable strategy once you have enough clients to care for. Spend your days taking great care of your clients and then stay in touch with them on a reasonably regular basis afterwards (which probably won’t take even 20% of your time) and I promise you – you’ll be golden. 

Thanks for such a great discussion, my friends!