Posts Tagged ‘Old School’

posted by on Jennifer's Best, Prospecting & SOI

work outLast night, I went to 24-Hour Fitness to meet a girlfriend of mine for Power Yoga. I don’t belong to 24-Hour Fitness, but she assured me I could get a 24-day free membership. Cool.

Well, of course, in order to get my free membership card, I had to sit through a sales pitch. I HATED it and y’know what? I probably won’t join just because I don’t want to give that salesy little hardbody the satisfaction. I don’t want him to think that he successfully SOLD me!

What really bugged me was that we were having a nice little time together – he showed me around the gym, we talked about food sensitivities – y’know, we’re bonding, so I thought. Then, he whips out his buyer agency agreement flip chart of why I should hire him join the club. He made his case and I politely declined to commit TODAY. Why? Because I hadn’t even tried out the club yet, I didn’t know if it would return my calls promptly suit my needs, I didn’t yet feel comfortable signing the EBA commiting to a year membership. I explained these reasons to him, but he wouldn’t give up. He had this baffled look on his face, followed by an annoyed look – implying that I’m 1) rude for wasting his time and 2) an idiot for not signing up.  Gotta tell ya, implying that I’m a rude idiot does NOT win any brownie points with me. I was waiting for him to tell me he wouldn’t put me in his car give me my temporary membership card unless I committed to him on the spot.

Anyway, I finally convinced him that I was not going to sign up, so he walked away for a minute to pick up the temporary card he’d printed for me. When he came back, he said he’d just remembered a special the club was offering! He told me about the special and then said “Do you STILL just want a temporary membership?” Oh, yes, even more so now, thank you.

Blech. This is what sales is all about, huh?

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Thanks so much for all your responses yesterday to my blog entitled “Does arguing with clients sound like a good idea?”

As promised, here’s my take.

Our clients are intelligent human beings, capable of making their own decisions. Okay, so maybe some might be more capable than others, but all deserve our respect that they have thought thru their situation (after all, they have more at stake than we do) and reached a decision they feel works for them. That’s the first step – to SHOW our clients that we respect their intelligence and their right to make their own decisions. When you immediately “argue” with your client’s point of view or decision, this sends the opposite message.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have an opinion or be allowed to voice one. BUT, if you don’t want to be accused of being argumentative, you need to take a different approach from simply saying “Are you sure you want to do that?” or “I really don’t advise that” or “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Say something like that to ME, after I’ve given MY personal situation some thought and y’know what? I’ll dig in my heels and commit even stronger to my position.

You know what else? I think I’m a pretty smart cookie. I’ll bet you do, too. In fact, I’ll bet most of the people on the planet have a healthy respect for their own intelligence. Argue with me and guess what? I might think you aren’t quite as smart as I thought you were – after all – you’re arguing with ME and I think I’m right. What does that make you? Wrong… and kinda dumb. “Poor thing, you just don’t get it,” thinks me.

So, what’s the solution? Ah, GLAD YOU ASKED. Because that’s part of the solution. Wait for your client to ASK for your opinion or advice. Once they do, they’ll actually listen to it. If they don’t ask, they truly don’t care and any advice you give that is counter to their opinion will be discounted anyway. They’re the boss, after all, and if they want to kill their deal, it’s their choice. And it IS their choice (not yours)!!!

If you show respect for your client’s position and don’t argue with it, they probably will, at some point, ask you for your thoughts. At that point, you can give it, respectfully, all the while KEEPING YOUR PAYCHECK out of the conversation or your thoughts.

So, let’s take the scenarios presented in yesterday’s blog and see how you can respond without arguing:

Scenario #1: Your buyer wants to look for a home in a less desirable neighborhood so she can get more square footage. This is a no-brainer. Show her the houses. Let her do her own soul-searching. YOU can’t predict the future anyway, so who knows? Maybe it’ll turn out to be a great financial decision, maybe not, but there is NO room for argument here. Last time I checked, adult human beings have the right to live where ever they want, without getting permission from their real estate agent.

Scenario #2: Your seller is offended by a low-ball offer and wants to reject it outright. Obviously, we want the seller to counter any offer he receives, but first, we need to show support and be offended right along with him. He’s probably expecting you to argue with him and is steeled for it, so by not arguing right off the bat, he’ll relax. Once he does (if he doesn’t, you might need to let him sleep on it and re-group the next day), you could offer to draft up an equally ridiculous counterproposal  (full price, 21 day close, whatever) and see if he’s open to that. Then maybe you can encourage him to give a little bit so the buyer doesn’t feel like a total putz. But again, if he wants your advice, he’ll ask for it. If he doesn’t ask, he doesn’t want it, won’t listen to it and will just be annoyed by it.

Scenario #3: Your seller accuses you of underpricing her home when it sells on Day One. Okay, let’s imagine what’s happening in her life. She’s telling all her friends that her house sold in 24 hours and are they congratulating her? Nope. They’re telling her that her idiot Realtor underpriced the home. Yipes. Do you defend yourself? This is a tough one because every bone in your body is screaming to. But be careful. Your seller is expecting you to be defensive, so don’t be! Agree that the home might have been under market. Congratulate her for having such a nice property and working so hard to get it ready for market. Leave YOUR efforts out of it. If you schmooze her, she’ll return the favor. Argue with her and she’ll argue back. No fun.

Scenario #4: Your buyer decides to buy a townhouse, but you know that a single family home is a better investment. Another no-brainer. If she’s concerned about investment, she’ll let you know and you can share your thoughts. But show her the respect she deserves and let her make her own housing decision.

We are in a business where egos and emotions are involved in almost every decision. Acknowledge it, work with it, use it to your advantage. And… GET WHAT YOU WANT!

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 Prospecting & SOI

DISCLAIMER: I was advised by those who love me NOT to post this blog due to the political undertones – y’know, one of those things you should never discuss in public? Well, I couldn’t help myself, but please be advised that I will freely use the DELETE button for comments that are posted solely for the purpose of promoting one party or candidate over another (not ’cause I endorse censorship, but ’cause that would get boring fast). Anyway, this blog is not intended to promote any political viewpoint; simply to comment on a tactic that got on my nerves…

The Democratic National Convention is in Denver. Being the anti-politico/anti-news kinda gal I am, I’ve barely noticed, even though it’s all taking place within easy biking distance from my house (and yep, I tried to rent out my house for $500/night, but no takers – sigh). And besides, I’m not a Democrat, although I do have “lots of friends who are Democrats.”

One of these friends invited me to a DNC gathering on Tuesday night to listen to Hillary. The gathering was held at a sushi bar here in my ‘hood, so it seemed like a good idea to go (y’know, SOI-opportunity and all). Yikes. I probably should have known better.

From the minute I arrived, I felt like a fraud and realized I should probably sneak out at the first opportunity. But alas, I was hungry and in the mood for sushi, so I stayed. As the party ramped up, I realized that the point of the party was to organize the supporters’ efforts in canvassing the neighborhood with door-knocking and cold-calling campaigns. Oops.doors

I was approached half a dozen times by the organizers of the event asking me what I was willing to do to spread the word thru my ‘hood. I felt like the atheist at church camp asked for her testimony. Not only am I not a Democrat, there’s no way on God’s green earth I’m gonna knock on ANYONE’s door or make ANYONE’s phone ring to talk about ANYONE’s political beliefs.

Why? Cause I don’t like to be bothered at home! Not by Democrats, not by Republicans, not by Girl Scouts! The only people I want ringing my doorbell are Fed-Ex, UPS and that dude with the gazillion dollar sweepstakes check.

Okay, so back to the party. I bravely expressed my viewpoint on the topic – that I don’t like to be disrupted at home and therefore will not do it to others. Oops, again. That viewpoint was not welcomed in this crowd. I was lectured; even scolded for my “perspective” and I felt like a naughty little girl (but be assured, I did NOT change my tune).

But here was the funny part. A few weeks ago, a guy knocked on my door, with an Obama pamphlet in his hand and asked me who I planned to vote for. Hmmmmm… last time I checked, this was a private matter between me and my ballot. I told this story to one of the women who was trying to get me to change my “perspective” on door-knocking – I said “a perfect stranger comes to my door and asks me I’m voting for – I think that’s obnoxious,” and she said “Well, didn’t he introduce himself first?” Uh, yeah, but since when does knowing someone’s name obligate me to share my voting record with them?

She also asserted that because we were both Democrats (shhhhh, don’t tell), I shouldn’t have been annoyed at the disruption, or mind calling other Democrats myself and disrupting them. As if belonging to the same political party changes my very basic belief that people, in general, don’t like to be bothered.

ARghghghghhghg…. I guess I have some fun times to look forward to over the next two months – dodging the doorbell, screening the phone calls. Maybe I COULD volunteer to make the calls and if the person doesn’t want to talk politics, I could always toss in a “Oh, by the way, do you know anyone who wants to buy or sell real estate?” (NOT)

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Ho hum, yet another spammer on Active Rain posted a silly comment on an old blog promoting her essay writing service or some other nonsense. Yeah, like I (or my readers) am/are going to rush right out and hire her because she posted an obviously inappropriate comment on a two-year-old blog.

I have to wonder who comes up with this stuff. Is there a professional association out there teaching their members to promote themselves using stupid internet tricks? Are there books and magazines and newsletters on the subject? And if so, who signs up to be a professional spammer? What sort of person thinks this is a cool way to make a living? Do they look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work? Did they always dream of being a spammer when they grew up?

Who ARE these people?

Actually, who cares? They don’t care about us, so why should we care about them?

Which leads me to cold-callers.

The cold-callers in the world aren’t all that different from internet spammers, and frankly, I find myself asking similar questions about them, especially the real estate cold-callers. The most bewildering question (for me) is why someone gets into the wonderful world of real estate if all they care about is high-volume prospecting. Aren’t there easier ways to make a living that would put their tough skin and admittedly admirable persistence to good use? Careers that don’t carry any ethical duty or legal liability beyond getting that contact or sale?

I got into real estate because I love the process of managing a real estate transaction. Not because I always dreamed of getting up every morning and pounding the pavement (or the phone lines) hunting for business.

<Shrug>

I guess I’ll just have to continue to Not Get It.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

The other day, a nice man from REALTOR Magazine called me up to chat about the Do Not Call list – specifically, what recommendations I, Jennifer Allan, queen of cold-calling (*snort*) might have for agents stymied in their prospecting efforts by that cold-callpesky DNC.

We had a great conversation, although it remains to be seen if any of my brilliance will make it into the final article since I really have no experience with the DNC except for being first in line to sign up.

But one of the last questions he asked made me think… and I came up with an answer off the cuff that I’m rather proud of. Thought I’d share it with you.

Question: “Jennifer, I understand that you never cold-called, but I’m sure that someone in your RE/MAX office did. If that agent were to ask you for advice on what to do instead, what would you have advised him?”

JA’s Off-the-Cuff Answer: “Hmmmmmm.”

No, seriously, I did come up with something…

“What I would probably tell him would be to get out from behind the desk and the telephone and take his naturally charming self out there into the world and make contacts face to face. No, not by knocking on doors or attending power networking events, but rather by striving to make a positive impression on as many people as possible as he goes about his day. By implementing a Quality over Quantity approach to attracting business. Instead of trying to make contact with 100 people a day, who will almost certainly promptly forget about him, try to really connect with two or three, who will be much more likely to remember him tomorrow… and six months from now.”

I’m guessing that someone who has experienced success in cold calling has an appealing personality and a confident aura of success, which would be very attractive out in the real world, too! And, frankly, being out in the real world making real friends and real connections sounds a whole lot more fun and rewarding than dialing for dollars three hours a day!

I must confess that while I think my advice is brilliant, I’ve never been approached by a master cold-caller for my opinion and I don’t expect to be in the near future. There are many paths to success and we’re all better suited to one path or another.

So, while I don’t expect the cold-calling world to suddenly shift their tactics to the JA-Way, I do hope I can inspire those who’d rather not cold-call to try the JA-Way and see if they like it!

Oh, and watch for your April edition of REALTOR Magazine to see if any of this made it in…

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

doors

Everyone has heard how you have to be in someone’s face at least 7 times before they’ll buy from you. Or something like that. The other day I read a story in a business magazine about an advertising salesperson who contacted a prospect 34 times before clinching the sale on call 35. The salesperson gleefully described how the prospect became more and more irritated with her as the calls continued, eventually asking her (that’s putting it mildly) to leave her alone and never call again. Undeterred, the ad sales babe made that 35th call… and got the sale.

A sign of a good salesperson? Maybe. But maybe not.

Why on earth is it necessary to badger someone 34 times (or even 7) in order to spark interest in a service or product? Could it be that the product or service isn’t all that compelling, or egads, the sales pitch sucks? If I call someone once, pitch ‘em and they turn me away… and I call them again, pitch ‘em and get turned away again and then do it again… and again… with the same (although increasingly hostile) result… might that not mean that I’m doing something WRONG? Why on earth would I continue to something that clearly isn’t working?

Let’s compound the insult. I do this all day long to my entire database of prospects. Day after day. Rejection after rejection. Every once in awhile I score a YES, which supposedly makes all those rejections worth the effort. But, but, but… has no one ever considered the possibility that all these rejections might be trying to tell me something?

Doing something that doesn’t work very well enough times that someone finally succumbs to the pitch doesn’t sound professional (or very efficient) to me. Maybe it’s time to toss that old marketing clichés out the window and come up with a new paradigm! If something ain’t good enough to work the first time, maybe it’s just not good enough!

So, is there something you’re doing over and over and over… without much result, but assuming that your persistence will eventually be rewarded? Maybe it’s time to rethink that approach…

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I was interviewed Monday on Real Estate Radio USA (listen here) and in the middle of the interview, I had an epiphany about Referral-Begging… (I love epiphanies, don’t you? Although perhaps in the middle of a live national radio interview, the timing might not have been the best).

Anyway. Back to my epiphany. It’s about whether or not to ask/beg/bribe your friends for referrals, which as you probably know, is a practice I’m adamantly against.

Yesterday, my seller client (whose house sold in TWO DAYS, yay!) sent me an email asking permission to give my name to two friends who are looking for a real estate agent. ASKING MY PERMISSION! As if I might be far too busy to handle even more clients.

I giggled to myself because that’s exactly the impression I want to leave with my world. Of course, I told her I’d be thrilled if she gave my name out and thanked her profusely. Maybe too profusely, actually, but oh well.

But here was my epiphany. By not letting my client know that I <Heart> Referrals, I took the chance that she wouldn’t know to send me any. I took the chance, that, egads, she might send her friends to someone else! Oh the horror!!

However (and I’m sure my regular readers know where I’m going with this), I’d MUCH RATHER take the chance of losing potential referrals out of innocent ignorance than to take chance of annoying, pestering or otherwise damaging my credibility with my SOI by constantly reminding them to send referrals my way.

Besides, if I do a great job for my clients and treat them respectfully, they will think of me when the topic of real estate comes up in their social interactions. If they don’t think of me, well, it has nothing to do with whether or not I pestered them lately about it…

www.SellwithSoul.com  

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

soi

Most agent training programs insist that Selling Real Estate is a Numbers Game – that is, in order to bring in enough business to keep the home fires burning, you have to touch as many people as you can with your name & number. The more people you touch, the better your chances of procuring a buyer or a listing.

We’ve all heard the mass-marketer’s philosophy – you have to contact X number of people to get a lead and you have to have Y number of leads to get a listing (or a buyer) and you have to have Z number of listings (or buyers) to get a paycheck. Therefore, it takes X(Y-Z)x 25 contacts to have 25 closings. (I’m really bad at math, so that formula is totally made up – don’t try it at home). During the course of all these cold calls (or door knocks or postcard mailings, etc.) you’ll encounter loads of rejection, but the gurus claim that since it’s all part of the game, you actually ENJOY each rejection because it means you’re one step closer to paycheck.

Sounds delightful.

According to the Direct Marketers Association, the highest return rate you should expect for a direct mail campaign is 2%; for a cold-calling campaign, 5.53%. Keep in mind that these figures reflect how many people simply contact the advertiser, not whether or not they purchase anything. So, if you send out 1000 postcards, you can expect, at the most, 20 inquiries from your effort.

Your cost? Let’s say each postcard costs you $.58 cents plus a set-up fee of $100 = around $700 total. Not bad if it gets results, but tough on the new agent’s pocketbook!

Well, as you may know, I preach a slightly different approach – that is – building your business based on the personal relationships in your life… the relationships you have now as well as those you’ll have in the future. I advise against asking for business or assaulting the people you know with your sales pitch and I teach agents to draw business TO them without ever pestering a soul. I believe you can bring in good leads one warm body at a time without ever treating anyone like a number (and you’ll have a heck of a lot more fun selling real estate).

But, the idea that selling real estate successfully is a numbers game is so deeply entrenched in the psyche of the real estate agent, I figure… if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. 

So, let’s play the Numbers Game of Relationship Prospecting.

Let’s say that instead of sending out 1000 football schedule postcards, you send ten of your friends a personal, non-salesy email. Just a “hi, how ya doing, great weather we’re having, how’s the puppy, let’s do lunch” kind of thing.

Of those ten emails you send, what do you think your response rate will be? I don’t know about you, but I’d expect 100% response rate – that is, every single person I wrote to would write me back, as long as my email was personal and even mildly interesting (this does NOT apply to mass-forwards or emailed infomercials). But let’s say that two of your friends are on vacation, so you hear back from eight. That’s an 80% response rate.

Now let’s say that you followed up on your offer to “do lunch” and went to lunch with all eight in the next month. That’s two lunches a week, if you treat all eight times, you’ll spend, maybe, $200.

Will any of those eight friends buy or sell a house with you anytime soon? Maybe, but probably not (however, I can guarantee you that if they do, you’ll be #1 on their list). But here’s where it gets fun.

How many people do each of those eight friends know? How many do they work with, play with, talk with, drink with? Twenty? Thirty? One hundred? And how many people do THOSE people know?

See, here’s the thing. By personally interacting with just those eight friends, you have effectively touched everyone they know. And with these eight lunches, you’ve also increased the possibility of being included in the social lives of these eight people. You’ll be invited to their Super Bowl party or afternoon BBQ. Where you’ll meet more of their friends…

Out of all those hundreds of people your friends know and their friends know, some are going to have a real estate need today, tomorrow and next month. A personal referral from someone they know is going to carry a heck of a lot more weight than a mass-mailed postcard received from a stranger.

Because, when you do a mass-mailing or other mass-marketing project, you aren’t hoping for referrals from the recipients of your promotional material; you’re simply hoping that one of those 1000 people has a real estate need and doesn’t know anyone besides you to call. You certainly aren’t expecting them to shout your praises to their circle of friends because you sent them a football schedule.

What if you took eight people to lunch every month?

Wow – Selling real estate IS a numbers game! I want to play!

 

Tricky Realtors

Apr
2008
24

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Yep, the world loves us.

Got my nails done yesterday. The nail lady, who barely spoke English, asked me what I did for a living. I told her I write about real estate (she asked because I always have my nails cut way down for typing-purposes). She then laughed and said "Oh, you teach real estate agents how to trick buyers into paying too much for houses!"

Yipes.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I just moved to Denver and apparently something about that activity has opened up the floodgates for cold phonecalls. One company calls me 6 times a day, at least according to my caller ID. I've had 7 calls for security systems ("this is not a sales call – we're doing a promotion in your area!"), 4 for water purification systems and at least 20 trying to get me to subscribe to the newspaper.

Well, this morning (Saturday) at 8:15, I got a call from the Fireman/Policeman fund people. Okay, so do these guys really lay on the guilt trip, or what? But, sorry, I don't know this guy from Adam and just because he calls and tells me he's from so and so or such and such charity, I don't feel the need to happily open my checkbook. Especially when he calls early on Saturday morning.

Now, truth be told, I typically get up around 4am, so an 8am phone call isn't exactly jolting me out of bed, but still. It could have!

So, I politely tell the caller that I was busy (which I was) and that this wasn't a good time. He kept pushing me. I said that I wasn't interested. He kept pushing. I said I didn't appreciate being cold-called at 8am on Saturday morning. HE KEPT PUSHING. I said, again, more loudly this time, that I DIDN'T APPRECIATE BEING COLD CALLED ON SATURDAY MORNING! And hung up.

I'm sorry to all the cold-callers out there, but this is rude. I know we all have a job to do and if your job is to invade my home to sell me something, so be it. But when I say I'm not interested, let me go. PLEASE.