Posts Tagged ‘Rookie Training’

posted by on Especially for Rookies

From time to time I post a blog about the abysmal state of rookie real estate training in America.

Do I have an agenda? Eh, maybe. Yeah, I sell books about real estate training and I even have boot-camp type program specifically for rookies, but that alone doesn’t inspire the contempt, yes, SWS Rookie Schoolcontempt I have for the real estate training industry.

I’m disgusted by the “fake it til you make it” attitude. I’m annoyed by the focus on prospecting competence over, well, COMPETENCE competence. I’m frustrated by the stories I hear of promises made during the recruiting process that are broken as soon as the rookie shows up to work. I could go on and on.

But today, I’m asking. WHY? Why is it this way? It occurs to me that if 80-95% of our new agents fail within the first year, then something isn’t working and maybe we ought to try something different. Like… training? REAL training, not some fluffed up, time-wasting, sales-pitch-disguised-as-education to promote some product or another?

Here are the reasons I’ve heard for NOT training our new licensees.

1.       Not a good use of resources. Since the majority of new agents will fail, it’s a waste of money and time to implement a decent training program.

2.       Not a good use of resources, Part II. Since the agents who do not fail will likely leave their first broker in search of a better deal elsewhere, why would Broker 1 spend time and money training the rookie to be his future competition?

3.       That’s the way it IS. This is a sink or swim business. If you don’t have the drive to learn the business yourself, you shouldn’t be here at all.

4.       That’s the way it IS, Part II. “We” didn’t have our hands held and we somehow survived.

5.       Real estate agents are competitive; therefore, there’s no real motivation to help someone who will become your competition.

It’s easy for us Old Fogies to brush off the need for training – after all – we don’t particularly want any more competition. And besides, “we” didn’t get formal training and we came out okay. But then in the next breath, we complain loudly about “the guy (or gal) on the other end of the sale who doesn’t know what he’s doing and is screwing up my deal.”

Maybe it’s just that we’ve forgotten how much there is to learn in your first year and how complex the process really is. I talk to rookies every day, so I’m reminded of their pain and confusion… and their utter frustration with the lack of support they receive from the broker or trainer.

So I’m sincerely asking – WHY do we seem to care so little about quality training in our industry?

posted by on Especially for Rookies

Tea

Okay, I’ve heard it all.

I have a friend who just started selling real estate. She hired on with a Big Name company that promises lotsa training. So far, my friend is underwhelmed, but the other night she called me almost hysterical.

My friend can’t get anyone to help her role-play writing an offer, yet she was encouraged to attend “Charm School.” Charm School? Yes, Charm school. As part of her training.

What, you ask, is charm school?

Well, as far as I can tell, it was a corporate-sponsored training class where agents were instructed on the niceties of life. Such as,  “Get a good haircut.” “Make sure to wash your car before taking buyers out.” “Don’t swear in front of customers.” “Dress appropriately.” And my favorite – “Make sure your fingernails are clean. “

Are you kidding me? Seriously, someone in power thought it was a good idea to ask grown-up professional men and women to attend a class on fingernail maintenance?

To make it even more comical, my friend’s office is in a rather ritzy part of town – one where I doubt it’s necessary to encourage the local adult human beings to spend money on personal grooming. This is an area where the cheapest car in the lot is a Lexus, and $600 handbags on sale for $399 are considered a steal.

I can’t imagine that this presentation didn’t offend every real estate agent without shouting distance.

The training offered to newbies in our industry never fails to entertain me.

 

posted by on Especially for Rookies

That’s the response my first-month real estate agent friend got from her Big Name broker when she emailed to say she had a $1.5M buyer lead.  “Good for you, let me know if you need anything.”

Are you kidding me?

My friend, smart as she is ;-] can barely spell MLS. She doesn’t know what radon is, she doesn’t know any inspectors, she doesn’t yet have a relationship with a lender. She doesn’t know how to select the best homes to show her new buyer.math

But of course, she’s been thoroughly trained on scripts, farming and other prospecting strategies as part of her Big Name training package.

We’ve all been there, and it’s a scary place. An exciting place to be, for sure, especially when a $1.5M buyer comes to call (hmmmmm… yeah, I can do that math). And yes, being new implies a level of scariness when presented with one’s first customers. But Puh-leeeeaze! To tell a brand spanking new agent to “let me know if you need anything” is criminal, in my opinion. Okay, that’s melodramatic, so if not criminal, let’s say irresponsible. Heck, how about downright STUPID? My friend is on a 60/40% split, so the broker’s take on this deal is… how much? A LOT. And the chances of my friend closing this deal without help are slim-to-none. Oh, and the guy is qualified up to $3.5M but claims that he’s “cheap,” so he asked my friend to try to stay around $1.5M.

My friend calls me for help. Of course, I don’t know her market or her contracts or her MLS or her local customs, but so far, I’ve been a hell of a lot more help to her than her on-site, stands-to-make-$20k-on-the-deal broker.

I won’t name names, but this is a national company that recruits rookie agents and promises them world-class training. I’m underwhelmed, to say the least.

Thanks for listening.

posted by on Especially for Rookies

qA few weeks ago, my trainee came into my office all flustered. He’d been out with his buyers over the weekend and felt that he’d made a fool of himself by not being able to intelligently answer his buyers’ questions. It almost sounded as if he was ready to throw in the towel – at least until he knew more about what he was doing!

Calm down, I told him. First, trust that it will happen to you thru-out your career. Don’t panic. Don’t make stuff up, but don’t panic.

I asked him what the questions were that he couldn’t answer. And guess what? Most of the questions were really good ones – that is – chances are that even a more experienced agent wouldn’t have known the answers either! But the problem with being new is that you don’t know what you SHOULD know and so you figure you should know it all.

This is where not panicking comes in.

Take a deep breath and really think about the question. Is this something you should or could know?

For example, let’s say you’re showing lofts downtown and the buyer asks: “What are the pet restrictions in this building?” Well, unless you live in the building yourself or unless you make a habit of memorizing condo rules & regulations, you couldn’t possibly know the answer. Or how about if a buyer asks you where the property lines are on a rural property? If you aren’t the listing agent, this is probably not something you can accurately answer.

This doesn’t mean it’s not your job to get the answer – it is. But if you don’t know the answer off the top of your head, it’s okay!

So, how do you respond?

First, DO NOT use those tired old words “I don’t know the answer, but I can certainly find out for you!” in that prissy, almost defensive voice. You know what I’m talking about don’t you? That cheerful, oh-so-helpful voice that clearly tells your client that you don’t have a clue, but wish you did?

Instead, try this. Relax, and VERY casually say “Hmmmm, I don’t know. Lemme find out.” Write it down, and move on.

Or, how about this? “Wow – I’ve never gotten that question before. I’m looking forward to finding out the answer!” Write it down, and move on.

Or, in the above scenarios when you’re working with a buyer and he has questions about the property you’re looking at, take control and call the listing agent immediately.  That will make a great impression on the buyer.

Of course, sometimes you’ll be asked a question you should know the answer to and you don’t. This is happening to me more often lately as I venture deeper into the world of foreclosures & short sales. My stock answer has become “Y’know, I should know the answer to that, but I don’t. I’ll find out for you.” This somewhat self-deprecating approach seems to be working – at least – no one’s fired me yet for saying it!

 www.SellwithSoul.com

Hope you enjoyed the Confident Rookie Series! Now… go get ’em!

  1. Know Your Systems
  2. Practice with Your Printer (sounds silly, I know)
  3. Preview, Preview, Preview
  4. Drive Your Route Ahead of Time
  5. Cheerfully Waste Your Time
  6. Find a Handyman
  7. Let Your Seller Prospect Do Most of the Talking
  8. Get Comfy with Your Commission
  9. Admit that You’re New
  10. What to say when you don’t know the answer

posted by on Especially for Rookies

new

Here we are – the second-to-last installment of the Confident Rookie Series!

A lot of new agents worry about being taken advantage of by experienced agents, if the experienced agent were to find out that they’re new.  So the obvious solution is to pretend that they aren’t new, right?

Unfortunately, no. The thing is – if you’re new, it will almost certainly be obvious to the agent on the other side of the table, whether you own up to it or not. And the more you try to fake experience, the more obvious it will be. When I’m on the other side of a transaction from a rookie agent who is trying to pretend she knows what she’s doing, she almost always embarrasses herself. However, if the rookie agent tells me upfront that she’s in her first year and to bear with her if she goes overboard crossing her t’s and dotting i’s… I’m a lot more willing to make the experience pleasant for her.

And I think you’ll find more agents with this mindset than not. Yes, there are some amazingly jerky people in our business and if you happen to run into one of them early in your career, they may very well make that transaction miserable for you… but the good news is that – think about it – you’ll only have a handful of “first deals” so chances are good you’ll have a decent agent on the other side. Just be upfront with them about your lack of experience, confidently, and they may even go out of their way to help you. The same goes for inspectors, appraisers, attorneys, closers and lenders.

However, what if you do run into a jerk on your first or second sale? I did – my third sale actually and 12 years later I still remember him vividly. He was abusive and condescending and said some pretty nasty things to me – you can read about him in Chapter Eleven of Sell with Soul. And he did intimidate me to the point of embarrassing myself in front of my client. Turned out that he later checked into a mental facility for “anger issues.”

An abusive agent is going to abuse everyone he comes in contact with – it’s not just you and it’s not personal. He’d abuse me, he’d abuse Johnny and he probably abuses his mortgage brokers and title reps on a regular basis. Keep your cool, follow your instincts and you’ll get thru it.

But this doesn’t mean that your inexperience as a new agent won’t be used against you, even by a nice-guy opposing agent. That other agent has a duty to represent his client’s best interests, so don’t believe for a second he’s going to help you negotiate against him or his client. If you don’t know how to help your buyer determine if a listing is overpriced, if you don’t know how to get your buyer what he wants at the inspection, if you don’t know how to appeal a low appraisal, the other agent will definitely take advantage of you. It’s his job.

So if something sounds fishy to you – AT ALL – ask for help from someone in your office. Even if it doesn’t sound fishy, have someone review what you’ve done… or better yet, what you’re getting ready to do before you do it!

posted by on Especially for Rookies

Last August I held a 3-hour workshop in Denver called “The Confident Rookie – Ten Secrets to Looking as if You’ve Done this Before!” Fun time, good crowd.ja

For whatever reason, my inbox & forum have been flooded lately with questions from new and newer agents on many of the topics I covered in this presentation, so what the heck? I’ll do a blog series here on the Rain and score some easy points ;-]

A little disclaimer… despite the title of the series; I’m not going to tell rookies how to trick their clients or prospects into believing that they’re a competent real estate agent, capable of handling someone’s real estate needs, so that they’ll allow the rookie to practice on them and learn what he’s doing. Nope. What I am going to cover is how to BE a competent real estate agent who IS capable of handling someone’s real estate needs, so that the rookie will have the confidence to sell himself to prospects and yes, get the experience he needs.

But I will never, ever ever advise anyone to “Fake it til you Make it” as a business philosophy. Will it happen? Oh yeah, it’ll happen every day, this year, next year and for years after that. I’ve been selling real estate for 12 years now and I still have to bluff my way through situations on a regular basis. But that’s actually one of the topics covered – HOW to do that, without jeopardizing your credibility or your license.

Here are the Ten Secrets According to JA:

  1. Know Your Systems
  2. Practice with Your Printer (sounds silly, I know)
  3. Preview, Preview, Preview
  4. Drive Your Route Ahead of Time
  5. Cheerfully Waste Your Time
  6. Find Your Handyman
  7. Let Your Seller Prospect Do Most of the Talking
  8. Get Comfy with Your Commission
  9. Admit that You’re New
  10. What to say when you don’t know the answer

Stay tuned…

 

posted by on Especially for Rookies

We all talk about how tough a new agent’s rookie year is, but once they’ve survived those 12 months, they’re good to go. And in the old days, I would agree. I sold 25 houses in 1997, 35 in 1998 and close to 50 in 1999. So, by the end of my third year, I’d sold over 100 homes and most of my surviving rookie friends (the ones who started the same time as me and were still in the game) had similar track records. I think it’s safe to say that once you’ve sold 100 houses, you probably have a pretty good idea what you’re doing (although every day almost always STILL gives me a learning experience or two!)

But the rookies and first-year agents I’ve been talking to lately have a much different experience. Most sell fewer than 5 houses their first year and maybe double that in their second.

I met with a 3-year agent the other day who has only sold 19 houses in his career and seems moderately happy with that. What struck me about this 3-year agent was how inexperienced he came across – I was trying to help him negotiate multiple offers on his listing and was stunned at his level of, (how else can I say it?) incompetence. He’d never heard of a back-up offer or understood the issues that might arise with an FHA loan on a fix-up property. He thought he was supposed to take down his For Sale sign and lockbox as soon as his listing went under contract.  He hadn’t yet selected a preferred title company to work with. He didn’t know that he had to change the status from “Active” to “Under Contract” in the MLS within 24 hours of accepting a contract.

I can see how a brand new agent wouldn’t know any of these things and you don’t call that incompetence – you call it inexperience (and hope she has good broker guidance). But all of these things were issues I learned about in my first year – and by my third year – heavens – this was kindergarten-level stuff! But it all seemed new to him.

First and second year agents – how comfy do you feel in your REALTOR skin and at what point did you start to feel that you could handle pretty much anything tossed your way? Or DO you feel that way yet? Old Fogies – is my experience unique? Or did our “generation” have a better opportunity to get up speed faster?

posted by on Especially for Rookies

money

Most new agents are terrified about the prospect of discussing their commission with a potential seller. If this is the case for you, you’re going to need to be 100% comfortable with the commission fee you’re going to propose. If you aren’t, you’re dead meat. If you have concerns that you’re overcharging for your value, it will be crystal clear to the seller prospect. In my first year, almost all of my listings were taken at a very low percentage because that’s all I thought I was worth, due to my inexperience. As my experience and expertise grew, I became more comfortable proposing (and sticking to) a higher fee.

I’m not being real helpful yet, am I? On one hand, I’m shooting down your confidence, yet on the other, I’m telling you that you must HAVE confidence to negotiate effectively! Well, that’s the cold hard truth. But I won’t leave you hanging… here’s what to do.

You need to convince yourself that you’re worth it before you can ever convince a seller.

On your first few listings, commit to yourself that you will go way above and beyond what is typically expected of a listing agent in your area. Commit to yourself that you WILL earn your fee, if not with your experience, with your enthusiasm and effort. Spend your own money marketing your listing if you have a great idea that you think might work. Spend as much time as you need to properly price the house. Do open houses all weekend long. Pay for a home-stager to consult with your seller. Include a home warranty. Be willing to bring in help if you’ll need it – even if you have to pay for it.

In short, take this opportunity not only to blow the sox off your seller, but to actually experiment with various listing techniques to see what actually works. If, at the end of the day, you spend your whole paycheck on your experiments, that’s really okay! The lessons you learned and the impression you made on that seller will serve you well in your future… and pay you back many times over.  

Another way to help make the commission discussion go smoothly is to disclose your fee upfront – on your website if you have one. This is what I’ve done for years and it works beautifully. I don’t beat around the bush about my fee – I simply direct the seller to my website where I explain how I charge and what I do for that money. You can check it out here.

posted by on Especially for Rookies

New agents are always nervous before their first listing appointment. Probably before their second, third, tenth & twelve, too. It does get easier, I promise, but here are some tips for getting through those nerve-wracking firsts…

My absolute best advice to first-time listing appointment-ers is to LET THE SELLER DO MOST OF THE TALKING! Two reasons for this.

First, this seller has probably already endured two or three sales-pitches from other real estate agents who barely took a breath to let him talk. They very likely didn’t express much of an interest in him and his situation – they just directed his focus to their fancy-schmantzy listing presentation. Have you ever sat through one of those? BORING. I’d tune it out in about five minutes if I were a seller.

Second, you need to know as much as you can about the seller’s situation and motivation before you can properly advise him. Heck, you need to know this stuff before you can decide if you even want the listing! So, besides the fact that the seller will love you if you let him talk more than you do, it also gives you the opportunity to better understand if, and how you can best help.

So, here’s what to do when you get to the house. Have the seller show you around, ask questions, take notes, and really listen to the seller’s answers. If this is the first time you’ve seen the inside of the seller’s house, you can’t really be expected to tell him what it’s worth – you have to go home and do your homework. Nothing wrong with that. But the more you listen and show interest, the more that seller will be impressed with you – seriously! LISTEN, and the seller will trust you. Leave your sales pitch in the car.

That said, you do need to be prepared with a marketing plan in case the seller asks for one. You might be surprised how often they won’t, but if they do, it’s probably a good idea to have an answer. This is where the process of putting together a formal listing presentation is helpful. It forces you to figure out what the heck you ARE going to do to get that house sold and what services you’ll offer. There’s a sample listing presentation at my website – just go here.

RELATED BLOGS
To Present or Not to Present?
Houses Aren’t Pet Rocks!

posted by on Especially for Rookies

One of the very first things I advise rookie agents to do – well, at least in their first few months – is to find a handyman. A good handyman will save your backside and your commission over and over again and make you look good. I don’t know how any real estate agent functions without a handyman on call. Find him, give him work, make sure he’s paid promptly. Bob is my handyman and he’s saved more of my deals than I can count.bob

How can a handyman help you look more experienced? Well, just the knowledge that you have someone on your team who can take care of home repairs for your buyer or seller gives you a Can-Do attitude. For example, when I work with buyers who are nervous about all the little maintenance items their inspector points out, I sweetly tell them “We’ll just put that on the Bob-List” so they know they won’t have to go to the yellow pages. When your sellers get a laundry list of repairs after the inspection, I comfort them by explaining that we’ll have Bob come over and give us an estimate (today). When I’m helping a seller get ready for market, I look like the hero when I bring Bob in to get done in a day what would take the seller a month to do… and usually for under $1000 (less than a mortgage payment!)

How do you find a handyman? Put up your antenna! Ask other agents in the office. Send out an email to your Sphere of Influence. Call some property management companies. If you know anyone in construction, ask them. Ask at Home Depot. When you get a few names, give ‘em a test drive in your own home.

FIND YOUR BOB.

posted by on Especially for Rookies

Regular readers of my blog know how I feel about wasting time. I’m all for it! Especially for rookies. This is one of the main reasons I’m opposed to rookies jumping into the biz only half-way (that is, part time) – when you have to carefully guard your time, you can’t risk wasting any of it… and that’s a shame.

Even as an almost-thirteen year agent, I still cheerfully “waste my time” every chance I get.

What do I mean by that?time

I mean that you should take every opportunity to be out there in the world talking about or looking at or learning more about real estate. If you are doing something that accomplishes one of these items, that’s  time well-spent, even if the activity is not leading you directly to a paycheck. Not only are you learning more about being a real estate agent, you’re also putting yourself in front of people who could end up being your biggest fans.

When you’re new, take every opportunity to learn something, even if it takes time, even if it takes gas. Think about it – would you rather practice on someone who may NOT buy or sell right away, or someone who will? Sure, on the surface, you’d rather work with someone who is leading you to a paycheck, but there’s certainly a strong argument for perfecting your technique on non-clients first!

So, what might be some “time-wasters” to embrace?

  • Showing an office listing to an already-represented buyer who calls off the sign?
  • Helping a friend protest her tax assessment by providing sold data?
  • Helping a friend protest a low appraisal for a refinance?
  • Meeting with a potential seller when you know full well he isn’t going to hire you?
  • Showing homes to a buyer who can’t yet qualify to buy a home, but thinks he can in six months?
  • Helping a relocating renter identify the right neighborhood for him or her?

All of these activities teach you more about your market and give you practice communicating market data to potential clients. They also give you an opportunity to impress someone who might end up being your biggest client and/or referral source. Sounds like a good use of time to me…

Here’s a snippet on Wasting Time from a Real Estate Radio USA Interview I did last summer.

 The Confident Rookie Series: 

Stay tuned…

  1. Know Your Systems
  2. Practice with Your Printer (sounds silly, I know)
  3. Preview, Preview, Preview
  4. Drive Your Route Ahead of Time
  5. Cheerfully Waste Your Time
  6. Find Your Handyman
  7. Let Your Seller Prospect Do Most of the Talking
  8. Get Comfy with Your Commission
  9. Admit that You’re New
  10. What to say when you don’t know the answer

posted by on Especially for Rookies, Working with Buyers

Related to yesterday’s installment about previewing, today’s Confident Rookie Secret is to ALWAYS drive your route before meeting with a buyer. It’s mortifying to get lost with a buyer in the car and even worse if drivethey’re following behind you. Unless you’re showing in a neighborhood you know intimately, always always always drive the route ahead of time, even if that’s at 6 am before you meet your buyer at 9am.

Driving Your Route is not the same as Previewing. When you preview, you’re ruling out properties – you might start with a list of 12 or 15 homes and narrow it down to the best 7 or so. Therefore, your previewing route will not be the same as your showing route. KWIM?

A GPS is not the answer. You need to be able to get from house to house smoothly and effortlessly, as if you know every thoroughfare and side street in town… without that nice Garmin lady interrupting your conversation every 30 seconds. Of course, a printout of Mapquest Directions is even worse! Being able to talk with your buyers as you navigate from house to house will do wonders for your air of professionalism. And of course, becoming increasingly frazzled as you make u-turns and wrong turns will have the opposite effect!

Sometimes you don’t have much time between making the appointment and the appointment itself, so you might be tempted to rationalize that you simply don’t have the opportunity to Drive Your Route. But I promise you – you’ll wish you’d made the time. I’ve gotten up at 4am and hit the streets at 5am to ensure I didn’t make a fool of myself (and I’ve been doing this almost 13 years!). The good news is that there’s much less traffic at 5am!

Remember, the goal of these Ten Secrets is to give the rookie real estate agent the tools to look and feel confident and knowledgeable in situations he or she may not have been in before. We can’t prepare you for every single contingency, but the more you are prepared for the aspects you can control, the less stress you’ll put on your antiperspirant!

The Confident Rookie Series:

  1. Know Your Systems
  2. Practice with Your Printer (sounds silly, I know)
  3. Preview, Preview, Preview
  4. Drive Your Route Ahead of Time
  5. Cheerfully Waste Your Time
  6. Find Your Handyman
  7. Let Your Seller Prospect Do Most of the Talking
  8. Get Comfy with Your Commission
  9. Admit that You’re New
  10. What to say when you don’t know the answer

Stay tuned…

posted by on Especially for Rookies, Working with Buyers

Moving on from yesterday’s rant, here’s the third Secret to Being a Confident Rookie – Preview, Preview, Preview!! house

Before you go out with a buyer for the first time, preview every single house you’re considering showing him or her. I promise you, you’ll rule out more than half of them and will be relieved that you did. If you show a typical buyer a house that shows poorly, smells funny or has a crazy floorplan, he’ll figure you don’t know what you’re doing, because buyers think we know every house in town.

Even with interior photos and google earth and virtual tours, you cannot properly evaluate a house without going to see it. I mean, think about it – if a house has a major flaw, do you think the listing agent is going to spell it out for you in the MLS description? Or make sure that it’s highlighted in the photos? Uh, no.

As a new agent, making a habit to preview-before-showing will give you tremendous confidence as you work with your new buyers. You’ll look far more experienced and self-assured, and won’t be caught off-guard by a mis-advertised or fatally-flawed property.

Oh, and you’ll also ensure that you don’t get lost with your buyer in the car! More on that tomorrow

The Confident Rookie Series:

  1. Know Your Systems
  2. Practice with Your Printer (sounds silly, I know)
  3. Preview, Preview, Preview
  4. Drive Your Route Ahead of Time
  5. Cheerfully Waste Your Time
  6. Find Your Handyman
  7. Let Your Seller Prospect Do Most of the Talking
  8. Get Comfy with Your Commission
  9. Admit that You’re New
  10. What to say when you don’t know the answer

Stay tuned…

posted by on Especially for Rookies

Picking up from yesterday’s blog about how important it for rookies to Master Their Systems before they need them; today I’ll add just a little bit more to that project.printer

Practice with Your Printer. This may sound silly, but when you’re writing an offer for a buyer, it’s nerve-wracking if you can’t get the printer to work. Seriously.

I wrote my very first offer back in 1996 at 6:00 pm on a Friday night in my Coldwell Banker office. I called my broker away from Happy Hour to help me (yep, he was a bit looped). I’d had training on the contract software and was pretty comfy there, but had never actually printed a contract.

Using my own brand new contract software (registered under my name & all!), I created the contract with my broker’s help, and then went to print it out. Oops. Great big DRAFT watermark across every page. Hmmmmmm. Tried again. Same thing. My buyer was sitting in the conference room waiting for me, but neither I nor my broker could figure out what was wrong. And, being Friday night, there wasn’t much chance of finding any customer service at the software company.

I was a mess and felt like an idiot. I ended up re-writing the entire contract on pre-printed forms and life went on. Turns out that I needed some activation code to remove the DRAFT watermark.

But there are all sorts of things that can go wrong when printing from new software, aren’t there? Especially if you’re in a networked real estate office.

So, as you’re practicing with your contract software, be sure to also practice printing out the contracts. Please don’t hesitate to waste paper. If your software requires legal paper, be sure you know where it is and how to load it. If you have the option of either legal or letter, be sure you know how to select the one you want. Know how to “insert” or “remove” n/a’s and such.

And… always have a back-up plan. Here’s mine:

  • Plan A:  Business as usual – use the regular office printer
  • Plan B:  If that fails, try the other printer at the office (we have two)
  • Plan C: If both of those fail, email the contract to the receptionist to print out
  • Plan D: If I’m really crashing & burning, know where the pre-printed contracts are and write it up manually.

Again, I know this sounds trivial and even silly, but just wait until YOUR buyer is sitting in the conference room waiting to sign his offer and you can’t produce anything for him to sign!

The Confident Rookie Series:

  1. Know Your Systems
  2. Practice with Your Printer (sounds silly, I know)
  3. Preview, Preview, Preview
  4. Drive Your Route Ahead of Time
  5. Cheerfully Waste Your Time
  6. Find Your Handyman
  7. Let Your Seller Prospect Do Most of the Talking
  8. Get Comfy with Your Commission
  9. Admit that You’re New
  10. What to say when you don’t know the answer

Stay tuned…

 

posted by on Especially for Rookies

How comfy are you with your systems? Specifically, your MLS and your contract software? For me, if I’m not proficient with my tools of my trade, it’s easy for me to shy away from using them. Well, in OUR trade, shying away from using the MLS or your contract software is pretty much fatal to your chances of bringing in a paycheck. KWIM?contract

Last year, after two years away from the trenches, I re-activated my real estate license. The RE/MAX office I joined had a new fancy-schmantzy contract software program I’d never used before. Well, the heavens smiled on me and I got a buyer off my blog literally the first day back. We went out looking at houses and they found one they liked and wanted to make an offer on it.

YIPES! I had no idea how to even fire up the program, much less navigate through it, so… get this… I put them off with some stupid excuse until two days later so I could get a crash course on the software. But even with the crash course, I was a bit of a basket-case writing up the offer, from a technology perspective.

For a new agent, I imagine this would be doubly or triply unnerving! At least I’d actually gone through a purchase contract with a buyer a couple hundred times, so I wasn’t nervous about that… but the actual technology of it just about shut me down.

So, the first step is admitting you have a problem. When you run an MLS search for a buyer, do you trust your results? When you’re looking for comparables to price a home for a prospective seller, are you sure you found them all? No? Then practice practice practice. And get some training, either from the local MLS provider/board or from another agent in the office. Do 5 practice CMAs* on 5 office listings. Do a CMA on your own house. Search for homes Just Like Yours and go preview them.

If you use contract software (as opposed to handwriting your contracts), GET SOME TRAINING. These systems are not intuitive and you’ll be a basket-case like I was if you’re sitting down with a buyer to write an offer and can’t figure out how to print it out. Or how to auto-populate the fields from contract to contract. These programs are typically pretty powerful and can do a lot of things for you… LEARN THEM.

Yeah, yeah, I know that Learning your Systems isn’t nearly as sexy as learning how to prospect, but unless you’re a master fake-it-til-you-make-it-er, those prospects you bring in won’t be worth much to you without a decent knowledge of your systems.

Tomorrow: Secret Two – Practice with Your Printer (more important than you might think!) 

* CMA traditionally stands for Competitive Market Analysis or Comparative Market Analysis, however, I recently a much better definition, compliments of Broker Bryant – “Compilation of Market Activity.” A CMA is a report prepared by a real estate agent to determine the market value of a home.

 

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

CE

In mid-May, I spoke at the F.C. Tucker CE Extravaganza in Indianapolis. I was one of four speakers who each delivered a 2-hour CE-approved presentation on a topic (hopefully) of interest to the crowd of 250 or so real estate agents.

The first speaker of the day was Michael Russer – aka Mr. Internet. He talked about Dominating Your Online Market. Up next was Dirk Zeller who spoke on The Top Ten Things to Build and Grow a Successful Real Estate Team. Then me, talking about Turning For Sale Signs into Paychecks. Last, but not even close to least was the delightful John Hamilton who kept the audience awake after a long day of classes with his lively discussion on Negotiation.

Four different speakers. Four very different voices. Different philosophies, messages, approaches and strategies to accomplish basically the same goal – success as a real estate agent.  

After my presentation, several audience members pulled me aside to tell me that they loved what I had to say and that my message resonated with them “more than the other speakers’ did.” Now before you think I’m just telling you this to gloat, I’m 100% positive that the other speakers had similar post-program conversations.

And that’s cool. Because you know what? There isn’t one path to success in a real estate career. No, not even “mine.” There are a gazillion different personalities who enter this business and it seems patently obvious that no One Approach Fits All is going to, well, Fit All.

But I guess it isn’t obvious to many corporate real estate training directors. I can’t tell you how many agents write to me in frustration that their office pushes a certain brand of training (usually affiliated with one or another Big Name trainers), to the exclusion of any other approach. These agents are usually asking me for advice on how to break it to their brokers that they are followers-of-SWS and won’t be knocking on doors or begging their friends for business, but this dilemma applies to any agent, regardless of their preferred prospecting style.

In fact, every once in awhile I’m approached by a real estate broker/owner asking if I’m interested in helping him or her put together a SWS-based training program. Am I interested? You betcha. But I always tell the broker/owner that I don’t think it’s a good idea because not every agent is a good fit for Selling with Soul, and I hate the thought of my beloved philosophies being shoved involuntarily down anyone’s throat.

So, first, hat’s off to Kathy Collings and F.C. Tucker for bringing in a variety of voices to speak to their agents about successfully selling real estate.

And second, if you’re in charge of your company’s training program, please give some thought to offering your agents a variety of training philosophies; not just the one that resonates with you, or is, ahem, highly recommended by corporate. You might find your agents happier, more productive and more likely to stick around! Everyone wins!!