Posts Tagged ‘Rants & Ridiculousness’

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

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

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.

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Until about six months ago, I wasn’t much of a fan of Facebook. Oh, I wanted to be since it seemed like the Place to Be, but I just couldn’t get interested in what really did appear to be simply a collection of those cliche’d “what I had for breakfast” posts. In my quiet moments (i.e. when I was bored) I’d log on and desperately try to find entertainment there, but almost always failed in that endeavor.

So, what happened six months ago? Well, I got involved in animal rescue and now Facebook is my new best friend. I’ve found a community of similarly-obsessed people, both locally and across the country, and together we make miracles happen every day for abandoned dogs in kill shelters. It’s honestly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and Facebook is a HUGE part of enabling us to do what we do.

Now, I’m sure that I’ve “lost” a lot of Facebook friends since my personal page was taken over by doggie chatter and I’m fine with that, truly. I’d much rather someone block my posts than be annoyed with me on a daily basis! By the way, if you want to see the rescue FB page I run, you can visit us here:www.SavingWaltonCountyDogs.com. We truly are making miracles happen every single day.

But enough about me.

I’ve noticed a trend on Facebook of posting “cute” little postcard-like graphics with provocative, sometimes even offensive quotes. Hey, I’m no prude and sometimes they make me LOL, but some of them, well, don’t. And given the nature of what I do, I see a disturbing number of these posts on real estate agents’ pages.

Here are a few examples I’ve seen in the last week:

Drunk 1

drunk

gps

Funny? Yeah, I guess. But are these REALLY the messages these real estate agents want to be putting out there for all their friends to see? That they spend their days anxiously awaiting happy hour and calling people names?

I know a lot of people say that they keep their FB “friends” list intimate so that they can let their hair down and truly be themselves without worrying about offending potential clients, but guess what?! Our friends CAN be a tremendous source of business for us and in my humble opinion, implying that we live for happy hour  and can’t control our mouths might give even our friends the wrong impression of our professionalism. Like it or not, when you’re self-employed, you’re always on display. And while someone may think you’re a hoot to hang out with (and drink and curse with), the fact is, we choose our friends using a different set of expectations than we choose the people we hire and refer to.

Just something to think about!

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

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!

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

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?

posted by on Positive Thoughts for Tough Times

Every once in awhile I hear or read something along the lines that those of us who worked in the real estate industry during boom years (or even stable ones) were simply “order-takers” who showed up to work most days and cashed juicy commission checks. That all we had to do was put a sign in a yard and voila! Perfect offers from well-qualified buyers poured in, we sorted thru them at our leisure, selected the most perfect one and scheduled the closing. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am and we were off to our next sign-in-a-yard installation and another easy payday.

Um. Well.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I remember it. I worked damn hard in the 1990’s and early-to-mid 2000’s to earn my paydays, while agents all around me were dropping out like flies – perhaps not in the numbers they’re dropping out today, but certainly in the 80% and higher range. I had my share of difficult sellers and demanding buyers and remember, the flip side of a strong seller’s market is the challenge of trying to even GET to a new listing to show it before it’s under contract.

Was it “easier” to make a living in real estate back then than it is today? Yes, it was, absolutely it was. But it was never easy and the abysmal drop-out rates from the time attest to that.

What’s my point? I dunno, really. Maybe to ask those within our own industry to stop publicly disparaging and disrespecting what we do. Maybe to assure those who were successful in years past that it wasn’t just luck and good looks. Maybe to alert the agents who have entered the field during these tough years that when things improve, this business will continue to require hard work, creativity and a willingness and ability to deal with frustration and disappointment.

There’s so much more to enjoying a successful real estate practice than simply being able to find clients to serve. And a heck of a lot more than just putting a sign in a yard. Don’t insult yourself and your colleagues by implying anything else!

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

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!

posted by on Jennifer's Best, Prospecting & SOI

There was a featured blog here in the Rain a few weeks ago advising agents to devote 80% of their time prospecting for new business and 20% dealing with current business (i.e. active buyers and sellers). This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this advice and it won’t be the last; in fact, most Big Name training programs proclaim that a real estate agent’s primary job is to prospect; that agents should vigorously resist the temptation to abandon their daily prospecting when clients call with pesky, administrative, non-income-producing problems to solve. Salesperson

But I can’t help but wonder… If a real estate agent’s primary job is to prospect… and if the job our clients have hired us to perform for them can be done in a few hours a week… how on earth do we justify charging fees in the thousands and thousands of dollars?

Hold that thought while we return to the advice to devote far more time to prospecting than to serving…

Let’s say that all this focused prospecting is paying off, and an agent is gathering an impressive book of real estate business – 5, 10, 20, 40 active buyers and sellers. Bravo! 

But, hmmmmm, just because the agent now has more clients to serve doesn’t add hours to the day, so if he insists (as he’s advised to do) on sticking to his 80/20 plan (because it’s working so well!), his current clients are obviously going to be receiving smaller and smaller slices of his care and attention.

“But,” the Power Prospector protests, “if I don’t make prospecting a priority in my business and I do focus on my current clients, down the road I’ll find myself with an empty pipeline and I can’t have THAT! So, even if I’d like to do the job I promised to do I’d prefer to provide great service to my clients, I can’t because I need to ensure that I always have new business coming in.”

Well, um…

I’m guessing your current clients wouldn’t think much of this argument, especially as they’re feeling more and more neglected by the agent who promised them the world in service – and isn’t delivering. I’m guessing they aren’t singing his praises around the water cooler or at yoga class. I’m thinking that if they knew his business model was predicated on spending the vast majority of his time searching for, preparing for and pitching to his future clients instead of taking care of THEM, his current clients, they might have thought twice about hiring him in the first place.

Here’s the thing. Taking proper care of your clients takes time. Your need for a full pipeline doesn’t change the fact that you made promises and commitments to the buyers and sellers who believed you would take great care of them and their real estate needs. Believe me, they did NOT hire you because they were impressed by your prospecting prowess; they hired you because you assured them you’d take better care of them than any of the other agents they considered honoring with their business.

The bottom line is that if you can’t handle more than X number of active buyers and sellers without sacrificing your service to them, then I guess you shouldn’t be looking for more business when you already have as much as you can properly take care of.

Now let’s go back to the first concept in this blog – if you’re only devoting a few hours or even a few minutes a week to your clients, don’t you think they might start to wonder what on earth they’re paying you so much money for? And IF WHAT WE DO FOR OUR CLIENTS IS SO EASY THAT IT ONLY TAKES 20% OF OUR TIME OR WE CAN HAND IT OFF TO A $12/HOUR ASSISTANT, are our services really worth the fees we charge?

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say, on one hand, that client care is simply a collection of administrative tasks that can be handled in your spare time or by an assistant, and THEN in the next breath declare that your client-care services are extremely valuable and should be well-compensated.

For the record, I don’t believe that what we do is easy and I do believe we deserve to be well-compensated… as long as… we’re doing the job we were HIRED to do and giving it our full attention.

I’ll continue this soon, but please share your thoughts with me!

RELATED RANT
If Real Estate is So Easy, How Do You Justify Your Fee?

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I’d already been rather distressed this last week about something – and the timing is unfortunate because I have so many other things to do besides rant and rave and whine and fuss about my Issue du Jour (or du Week?) … and then I saw Leslie Ebersole’s excellent featured blog called “Mocking Me Won’t Make Me Buy” and was inspired to put my rantings and ravings and fussings on “paper.”

In the last 7 days, I’ve received no fewer than 12 emails or calls from real estate agents who are frustrated with the messages they’re getting from their high-priced “coaches” telling them that WHO THEY ARE isn’t good enough and unless they change WHO THEY ARE, they’ll fail. They’re paying Big Bucks for this message to be delivered to them on a regular basis and they seem to think the advice is warranted – that they truly aren’t good enough.

What a number that message is doing on their psyches! I have to wonder… maybe this is being snarky… but I have to wonder if that’s the intent – to play on the agents’ insecurities so they’ll keep forking over the $200/month, $500/month or even $1,000/month for coaching that seems intent on convincing the coachee that they’re, well, not good enough!

Now, I’m not talking about simply encouraging these agents to work a little harder, or work a little smarter or be a little more consistent. No, as far as I can tell, these programs are advising agents to venture WAY out of their comfort zones into places that they REEEALLY don’t want to go – and for some reason the agents aren’t making the connection that something that creeps them out might be wrong for them!

Here’s the thing. Hiring a coach and writing him or her big check doesn’t change who YOU are. If today you’re creeped out by an approach to prospecting or deal-closing, don’t think it’s going to be any different tomorrow just because you signed up for an expensive program. You’ll still be creeped out, I promise.

As I’ve said once or twice or a dozen times… if something feels wrong to you; if something makes you feel icky and dread getting up in the morning – it’s WRONG for you! And you don’t have to do it to succeed, no matter how much money you just paid someone to convince you that you should or how much they try to make you feel inferior for hesitating! You CAN succeed by being wonderful, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind YOU, I promise!

Okay, rant over. For now.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Door knocking

Imagine the scene…

A real estate writer is sitting at the computer in her beach house (yeah, life’s rough). Out of the corner of her eye, she sees movement outside her front door. It appears to be two adults, one carrying a clipboard. Uh, oh, she thinks. Not a good sign.

Her (four) dogs see them as well and of course, make their presence known, barking their heads off, jostling with each other for the best barking position at the shuttered glass door.

Their owner, who is positive she has not the slightest interest in whatever it is these people might be selling, scurries off into the bedroom where they can’t see her and waits for the doorbell to ring.

It does not. And it does not some more. She waits a few more minutes, the dogs settle down and she gets the nerve to peer around the corner of the bedroom door to see if they’ve left. They have – she sees them walking down the street toward her neighbor’s front door.

Why didn’t they ring the bell? She has no way of knowing but she gives them the benefit of the doubt and assumes that they realized what an inconvenience it would be for her to get four barking dogs under control so she could safely answer the door and sigh – listen to their pitch.

And you know what? She was so impressed with their consideration that she briefly (okay, VERY briefly) thought about chasing them down to see what they were selling.

Contrast to a door-knocker who came by her house a few weeks ago selling carpet-cleaning machines. The dogs, predictably, went nutso when she opened the door – and one of the door-knockers was clearly afraid of them, so she felt compelled to apologize and chase them (the dogs!) around the yard trying to corral them in and quiet them down. This took about 10 minutes and the guys just stood there waiting for her to get her dogs under control so they could pitch to her.

Okay, so maybe her dogs should be better behaved; she accepts that. But door-knockers… when you walk up to a house and hear multiple dogs barking on the other side of the door, show a little consideration and walk away. There really isn’t much chance the dog-owner on the other side of that door is going to welcome your visit.

Thank you

posted by on Consulting & Compensation

Fair

For the record, let it be known that I have no problem with real estate agents charging their clients as much or as little as they care to, nor do I have any fuss with the manner in which they do it, as long as it falls within legal limits and doesn’t conflict with their brokers’ policies. Oh, and, AS LONG AS 1) they’re providing good value for the dollar paid, whatever that dollar amount is; and 2) they demonstrate integrity by playing FAIR – that is – not charging one person less than another as a business-buying strategy!

Anyway, a few months ago I wrote a couple of blogs about real estate compensation – specifically our traditional model where we are paid based on the price of the home we help our clients buy or sell. I questioned the appropriateness of this approach since the value of our service really isn’t based on the value of the product.

You can read those ramblings here:
“No, I Won’t Reduce My Commission, Do You Expect me to work for FREE?” 
Alternatives to the Commission-Based Model – and yes, we still make a good living

Today I want to pontificate about the comments left on those blogs that were along the lines of “Yeah, sometimes we make too little and sometimes we make too much on a specific transaction, but it all evens out in the end…” and “50% of Something is Better than 100% of Nothing.”

While quite common among real estate practitioners, I believe these two attitudes are a little dangerous, and even border on unethical in my opinion.

(Ooooh, such melodrama, Jennifer!)

Let’s start with “It All Evens Out”
The fact that it “all evens out” may be true FOR US, but is in no way fair or reasonable to the person paying the bill – that is – our buyers and sellers (and yes, buyers help foot the bill of our commissions just as much as the sellers do; some might argue they’re the ones who pay it).

When our clients pay for our service, they have every right to expect us to charge THEM fairly, which in their minds, has nothing to do with that $50,000 condo buyer we spend 9 months on last year and therefore need to “make up for” when we work with clients in higher price ranges.

“50% of Something is Better than 100% of Nothing”
Is this true? Absolutely! No question, if you do the math, that statement is 100% true, 100% of the time!

BUT

Again, is it FAIR to our clients?

In most cases, no.

Implied in that statement is that, if pressured, we’ll give into a buyer or seller’s demand that we accept less in payment than we normally would, because, shoot, something is better than nothing, especially when it comes to a paycheck.

But is that FAIR to our clients who do NOT request/demand that we accept less than we normally would? Is it ethical to charge one client your “full” price simply because he was too polite to ask for a discount, while charging someone else less because he was a little bolder? Sure, it happens every day, but is a part of the reason our industry is lumped in there with used car salespeople (who everyone knows you must negotiate with)!

Am I saying that you should charge everyone the same “rate?” Not at all. I think every real estate scenario is deserving of individual evaluation and “rated” according to its potential degree of difficulty, among other factors. But to simply discount your fee because someone asks you to while holding to your fee when someone doesn’t reeks of unprofessionalism and even a lack of integrity.

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 Prospecting & SOI

Okay, so I’m reading my latest edition of the Broker/Agent News.

Came upon an article entitled “The Four Pillars of Prospecting.” Well, I never prospected much (Thank you, SOI!), but now that I’m a writer and consultant, I figure it’s good to learn how the other half works. 

Tip 1:  “Set a daily time and place for prospecting.” Got it.

Tip 2:  “Fight off distractions.” Fair enough… oh, wait… what’s this?
“The truth is most agents welcome distractions taking them away from prospecting obligations. An inbound phone call, a problem transaction, a home inspection question, an incoming e-mail or a broken fingernail, anything will do. It’s called creative avoidance and agents generally excel at the art.”

Now he has my attention… continuing…

“What do you do when distractions hit? Do you postpone prospecting while you put out a fire? Do you make just a few calls to settle the pending issue….? To fight off distractions, you have to bar their access….”

You may recall that on the home page of the Selling Soulfully group I make the statement that soulful agents “care as much about the clients they have today as the clients they hope to have tomorrow.” I take that philosophy VERY seriously.

“So,” the author asks, “Do you postpone prospecting while you put out a fire?” Uh, YEAH. My current clients pay me darn good money to care about them and their fires. One silly cold call, even two, will never be more important to me than the good will and appreciation of my current client.

Which, I dare to say, is why I never HAD to prospect.

www.sellwithsoul.com

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

posted by on Jennifer's Best, Prospecting & SOI

You’ve heard the cold caller’s philosophy…for every 100 phone calls you make, you’ll get five appointments; for every five appointments you go on, you’ll get one listing. Therefore, if you make 500 phone calls, you can count on five listings as a result. If your average listing commission is $5,000, then every phone call is worth $50 since it takes 100 phone calls to get a listing. Supposedly you will actually start to enjoy each rejection, because you realize that every 99 “no’s” equals a “yes” which leads to a paycheck, since every “no” means you are one step closer to a “yes.” Sound fun?

Not to me. In fact, it sounds like an awful way to make a living. Pestering people for three hours a day asking the poor sap who answers the phone if he “knows anyone who’s thinking of buying or selling real estate?” Being rejected 99 times out of a hundred, voluntarily? Ick. Phooey. Blech.

So tell us how you really feel, Jennifer!

Okay, thanks for asking, I will.

The State of Colorado’s Division of Real Estate did not grant me a real estate license so that I could be a professional prospector. I have to assume that good old DORA intended for me to spend a significant amount of my time serving the clients I am honored to have today instead of tracking down the ones I hope to have tomorrow. Taking good care of my listings and my buyers. As my first priority. Not as an afterthought when I can squeeze them in around my prospecting and networking efforts.

But, but, but….!

Yeah, I know. As self-employed types, we have to ensure ourselves a steady stream of business to keep the home fires burning in the style to which we intend to become accustomed. Hey, believe me, I never took a vow of poverty and I don’t sell real estate out of the goodness of my heart. I’ve had $50,000 months before, more than once, and I could happily get used to that!

But you know what? I have never cold called, I have never knocked on a stranger’s door… in fact, I’ve never even asked a stranger for business. Ever. No, not even FSBO’s or expireds.

For ten years I have depended on my SOI for 100% of my business. And they have generously delivered. Sure, I’ve picked up the odd client here and there from floor time or open houses; maybe two or three a year, which is nothing to sneeze at. But the vast majority of my business comes directly or indirectly from the people I know or meet.

And every client is special to me. Even precious. Okay, admittedly some are a pain in the ass, but I still appreciate their business and the juicy commission checks I get as a reward for putting up with them. But most of my clients are pleasant people with a real estate need who simply want to be treated as if their business is valuable to me. Not like a number.

When you depend on your SOI for business, you bow out of the numbers game. And it’s wonderful. No more dragging yourself to the phone for your daily cold calling session. No more searching the real estate ads for your next FSBO target. No more beating yourself up because you’d rather take a nap than finish up your 10 HouseValues CMAs that are due today.

When your pipeline is running low, you have a little Super Bowl party. Or send out some friendly personal emails. Or ratchet up your “take-a-friend-to-lunch” campaign. You don’t need 20 more clients today; just two or three good ones will restore your mood. And pad your bank account.

SOI business is good business. It’s loyal business. It’s fun business. The success ratios are more like 50%-75%, compared to 5-10% from traditional lead generation (and that’s being optimistic!). So if you get 100 leads from your SOI, that will result in 50-75 closings from you.

So how does it work exactly? Glad you asked.

SOI business comes in one lead at a time. But the leads are good leads, leads that will likely result in a closing. And, depending on your market and your broker split, each lead-that-will-probably-result-in-a-closing is worth thousands of dollars to you.

So let’s say you have 20 close friends. If you have implemented a respectful, consistent SOI campaign, you, obviously, are the agent of choice for most of them if any happen to need a real estate agent this year. Maybe that will only get you one or two sales; or maybe your friends are a restless bunch and you’ll get five or six.

You should also get the family business of your 20 nearest & dearest. Katie’s grandma moves to town to be closer to her grandchildren. Fred’s brother-in-law needs a referral to a Las Vegas agent. Maria’s sister gets engaged and needs to sell her condo. Her fiancé wants to sell his too. There’s a good chance you’ll get first dibs on this sort of business. So let’s say you pick up three family members.

Let’s not forget everyone else your 20 friends know. If just half of your friends refer you to just one person, that’s 10 more clients for you. What if all of your friends refer you to one other person? Or if three of your friends each refer you to five of their friends? What if you have 30 friends? 50?

Oh, and what about everyone else in your SOI? The other 150 people you know and stay in touch with? Your husband’s assistant? Your dog trainer? Your massage therapist? Depending on the strength of your SOI campaign, you might see 5-15 sales a year from these folks.

And we haven’t even talked about the NEW friends you’re going to make over the next 12 months! If you’re out there in the world, with your antenna up, you will run into people who happen to be in need of real estate services. If you approach them right, that business is yours. Maybe that’s another five sales for you.

So add it all up and you’re selling some real estate! All without treating anyone like a number.

Unless you’re striving to be a mega-producer with 10 buyer agents scurrying around underfoot, you really don’t need to go after every buyer and seller in town. This is what I mean when I say that Real Estate is Not a Numbers Game. The business that you can generate from your SOI and from your own social encounters really ought to be enough.

And the best part? If you spend a few years building a strong cheering section (i.e. your SOI), you can coast through the rest of your real estate career. NO prospecting, NO marketing budget, NO sleepless nights worrying about where your next closing is coming from. Now, that’s a lifestyle I could get used to (and I have).

http://www.sellwithsoul.com/ 

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

 

posted by on Positive Thoughts for Tough Times

I like to think of myself as an Outside the Box creative thinker. I love to look at a situation and come up with a different angle or solution to what traditional thought has come up with in the past.

But I’m finding, much to my frustration, that most people don’t seem to frustratedapprove of this approach.

Quite often when I share my latest idea or epiphany with other real estate agents, they immediately tell me all the reasons it won’t work. This drives me crazy.

First, show me some respect that I’ve thought this through for more than 30 seconds (the length of time THEY’VE considered it before they criticize). Yeah, I already thought of THAT and I probably have an answer.

Second, open your mind to the possibilities of breaking tradition and trying something new. Maybe I’m onto something, maybe I’m not, but at least give it a chance to percolate in your mind before dismissing it. Might be life-changing!

Third, many in our industry are failing, yet they seem to be the ones most resistant to new ideas. I love it when someone who hasn’t sold a house in six months tells me why my idea won’t work…

Okay, rant over. Thanks for listening!

 p.s. after thinking this over some more (post rant-mood), I realize that what annoys me is the IMMEDIATE dismissal of a new idea. If someone were to stew over my idea overnight and then come back to me with some constructive criticism, I’d be flattered and impressed. But the immediate negative reaction drives me up a wall…

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I was approached a few weeks ago by an agent asking my opinion on starting up a "green" real estate company – that is – a company that uses recycled products, provides information on greenenvironmentally-friendly alternatives and knows where the Built Green properties are in his marketplace.

Hmmmmm. Okay, please forgive the upcoming cynicism.

While I don't doubt the guy's commitment and enthusiasm for the mission, he admitted that his primary intent was to attract a certain type of client (i.e. more "upscale") and to take advantage of the public's current interest in protecting the environment. Nothing wrong with that, exactly, but it just rubs me the wrong way.

Why?

Because I think that if we real estate agents want an "angle" to generate business, that angle really ought to include something about providing really good real estate service.

Any person on the planet can choose to protect the environment in their everyday actions and decisions. People who care will notice; people who don't, won't.  Is the "green" angle compelling enough to attract consumers on its own?

Maybe I'm missing something.

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

I just got off the phone with the listing agent of a house my buyer has written an offer on. The seller countered and my buyer is waffling. She needs to talk to her parents and since interest rates bumped up this week, she’s not sure she can still afford the house. Certainly that’s her prerogative.

So, I called the listing agent and told her that my buyer is considering the counterproposal and that we’d get back to her as soon as we could. She throws a little tantrum that she’s going out of town on Saturday and doesn’t want to be putting this deal together at 8:00 Friday night.

Uh…. and this is MY problem? My buyer’s problem?

When she first said it, I laughed and said “Yeah, isn’t that how it always happens?”, but she wouldn’t let it go – she really wanted me to know how displeased she was with the situation.

Okay, so I’ll call my buyer and pressure her into making a decision (which could very well be negative because she’s not ready to do so) because the other agent has vacation plans… yeah, that’s exactly what I’m going to do…

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

It’s funny how we human beings think. If we’re told by an “expert” to do something a certain way… and we do it… and it doesn’t work for us, what do we do? Try something else? Nope. We do “it” (whatever “it” is) MORE.fat

For example, let’s say your doctor tells you that in order to lose weight; you need to eat less fat. (Don’t get me started on the wisdom of listening to an MD for advice on nutrition, with their 3 credit hours of elective nutritional training in med school.)

But anyway, your doc advises you to eat less fat, so you obey.

You feel crummy, you’re hungry all the time and you’re not losing weight, so you figure… “Hmmmm, I must not be cutting out ENOUGH fat.” So you eat even less fat, you feel worse, you’re even hungrier and you’re still not losing weight, so what do you do? Blame yourself. You aren’t doing ENOUGH of what you were told to do. You suck as a human being. You’re an utter failure.

Same thing with selling real estate. We’re trained to cold-call, door-knock, advertise, farm, pester our friends for referrals and create a killer website. When these prospecting approaches don’t work, we’re advised to do it MORE. “You aren’t calling ENOUGH strangers, you aren’t sending out ENOUGH postcards, you aren’t annoying your friends often ENOUGH, you need to spend even MORE money on your website.”

I call BS.

If something isn’t working, why not try something ELSE? Sure, there’s honor (and some wisdom) in being persistent and patient, but I think we’re all smart enough to know when something ain’t right for us. If you’re eating low-fat and you feel crummy (and you’re still fat), try low-carb. If that doesn’t work, try raw. If that doesn’t work… try something ELSE.

Find what works for you. Find what’s fun for you. Find what makes you smile and feel GOOD about getting up in the morning.  Because I can promise you, blindly following the crowd in our business is crazy… when you consider that the vast majority of that crowd is failing…

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)