posted by on Positive Thoughts for Tough Times

Readers of Sell with Soul may recall that I always had a Guardian Angel* who protected me throughout my real estate career… in ways that didn’t always feel like protection.

Thankfully, my Guardian Angel is alive and well and still looking after me.

The Law of Attraction teaches that when you’re doing something RIGHT, it feels easy. It’s like swimming DOWNstream. Everything just seems to fall into place. It’s called Inspired Action. (Here’s a great blog on LOA by James Holmes)

However, when you find that everything is a struggle, when you’re not having any fun, when you’re running into brick walls at every turn… as if you’re swimming UPstream… then you need to back off, be still and wait. You’re heading down the wrong path for you and your Guardian Angel is trying to warn you.

In real estate, the Guardian Angel protects your listings from selling when a sale would be detrimental to you or to your seller. At the time, of course, everyone is frustrated and upset and pointing fingers of blame. But later… after all the dust has settled… it makes sense. You know, those moments where you fall to your knees and thank God that the house didn’t sell… or the buyer walked away from the deal… or that your loan fell through at the last minute? Yeah, that’s your Guardian Angel.

In my world, lately, I’ve been a basket-case of frustration. Things aren’t happening on my schedule, people aren’t showing up as promised, everything is taking way longer than it should.

And now… I understand why. And I’m on my knees thanking my Guardian Angel for his protection.

The sense of peace is amazing!

 * in the interest of political correctness (ugh) I refrain from introducing any religious viewpoint into this blog. Please feel free to do so on your own if you like!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

My whole adult life, I’ve been told I need to create a business plan. Anyone who has been involved with me professionally has said so. “Jennifer, you really need a business plan, let me help you create one.”

Never done it. Oh, yes, I pretend to listen respectfully, and I acknowledge the well-meaning advisor, but I know full well it ain’t gonna happen. I don’t need a business plan! I don’t want a business plan! As a super-organized, creative, imaginative, born entrepreneur, I don’t want to be tied down to a PLAN. I love waking up in the morning with a new idea, dropping everything else and bringing that idea to life! I do it all the time.

This philosophy has served me well in my 40.5 years on this planet, in both my business and personal life. Well, I guess it has, since I don’t have anything to compare it to.

But here’s what smacked me in the head this morning.

What’s a business plan?

Frankly, I have no idea. I never stopped to ask. I have my assumptions about what it is, but it’s dawning on me that I might be wrong.

The reason I’m asking at this late date is because I’m venturing into unfamiliar territory right now. I’m doing things I’ve never done before. I don’t much like this trial and error nonsense and am starting to understand why I might need a more structured approach.

So… my friends… what is YOUR definition of an effective business plan? And how does it help you?

posted by on Working with Sellers

I wrote two unrelated blogs yesterday – one about how I would rule the (real estate) world and another about how we real estate-types are put in an awkward position when negotiating our commission with sellers.

After a day and night to ponder my blogs and the commentary, I realize that these two blogs are indeed, very closely related!

To summarize blog #1 – I am currently negotiating a contract for a book deal. The person I’m negotiating with will also be my editor, if we come to agreement. So, this guy has to first wine me and dine me (cyberly-speaking) to pique my interest, then he has to put on his a&&-hole hat and negotiate against me – but after that, we have to work closely together over the next year to produce a killer product (my book). So, he has to build my trust, then shatter it, then build it again.

queenBlog #2 was a little ditty about how if I were Queen (that is, a managing broker), I would require my agents to convince me that their listings are worthy of my sign in the yard. Thus, any seller who wants to be honored with my sign has to sell US on HIM! Instead of the other way around.

So here’s my point.

We real estate agents are in the exact same position as my potential editor. We have to build the rapport that encourages our prospects to like us and trust us. Then we have to risk trashing that rapport and trust while we negotiate our commission and list price. If the seller hires us, we have to somehow rebuild the trust and rapport so that we can work together to get the home sold. It’s a tough job description.

What might be really cool would be to apply the car dealership technique of requiring management approval on any deal struck between buyer and seller, that is, listing agent and seller prospect. Here’s how it would work…

Agent meets with seller and builds rapport. Once rapport and trust are established, the financial discussions begin (commission and list price). Agent and seller work TOGETHER to come up with a proposal for the Queen to approve. The agent cannot accept a listing without that approval. Together, the agent and his new best friend, the seller, create a marketing plan which includes the list price, the agents’s commitments to the seller, the seller’s commitments to the agent, along with a proposed commission to be paid upon success. Both parties know that they have to present a reasonable proposal to the Queen or it will be rejected.

Let the Queen be the bad guy! It lets the agent off the hook, while bringing the seller more into the process of selling the home. Best of all, the agent never has to switch hats!!!

Under this scenario, I, as Queen, would be tickled to market the hell out of any listings that are deemed worthy.

I love it. Do you?

posted by on Working with Sellers

Okay, that’s a little melodramatic and I don’t have time to talk about everything I would change. And, frankly, I have no interest in ruling any world.

jaSo, let me rephrase that. If I ruled my real estate company…

I’d pass this law: Any agent who works for me will have to prove to me, their queen, that the sellers they allow to hire them have either a strong NEED or a strong DESIRE to sell. No market-testers allowed.

My company’s listings would be 100% marketable. My company’s listings would sell. Buyer agents would flock to show my listings first because they are priced right, easy to show and smell good. Or if they aren’t easy to show and/or smell awful, they are priced accordingly.

We’d take 60 day listing agreements and not a day longer. That’s plenty of time to sell a home and frankly, I don’t want my real estate sign sitting in front of a house any longer than that.

Sellers would have to sell themselves to my agents. My agents would have to sell their sellers to me. 

If an agent didn’t like my law, they could leave. But I think they’d love it once they understood it.

Read Part II Here

 

posted by on Positive Thoughts for Tough Times

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock since August of 2007, you know that the real estate market in most areas of the country has sustained a massive blow to its ego. Not that things were booming before August, no, we were all a little nervous about and frustrated with our slow-moving inventory, but we figured we’d snap out of our doldrums soon enough.

BAM!

Along comes the mortgage crisis and, just like that, a good chunk of the home-buying public is suddenly un-mortgage-worthy. Crap.

So here we are.

As I write this, it’s late 2007. Sellers are slashing prices, buyers are making ridiculous offers and closings are crycanceled without warning when the lender closes its doors two hours before. Sheesh.

Not fun.

So, what’s a nice real estate agent to do?

1. Cry
2. Quit
3. Adjust

I’m going to assume that anyone reading this has decided to Adjust. And you know what? If you make it through this crisis, you’ll never look at the career of real estate sales the same way again.

Because, in order to survive, you’re going to have to Get Good. Really, really good. Forget about prospecting, forget about networking, forget about lead generating. You need to focus on Selling Houses.

Yeah, Selling Houses. You know, that activity for which you are licensed?

Trouble is, Selling Houses in a Sucky Market is a lot of work. You’re going to have to do things you’ve never had to do before. You’re going to have to solve problems that, at first glance, seem unsolvable. You’re going to have to communicate difficult concepts to people who don’t want to hear them.

In short, you’re going to EARN your commissions. And you’ll be a much better agent because of it.

And… when the good times return (and they will), you’ll have set a higher standard for yourself … and for your business … and you will be an exceptional real estate agent. Not just good… Exceptional.

Go, you!

www.sellwithsoul.com

 

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

The other day I wrote a blog, basically admitting that I’ve lied all this time when I said that virtually all of my real estate business came directly or indirectly from the people I knew, otherwise known as my sphere of influence (SOI).

As part of my re-entry into the wonderful world of real estate sales, I’ve been more closely analyzing where my business came from the first go-around and had an AHA moment of… “wow – I got a lot of business from strangers!” Now, don’t get me wrong, I hadn’t forgotten about these Very Important Clients; I just kinda forgot how I met them since, of course, they all ended up in my SOI and many became friends or semi-friends.

But the difference is… I never prospected for the business of strangers. Never cold-called, door-knocked; rarely advertised or farmed. I never, ever approached a stranger with the intent to prospect to them.  All of my Business from Strangers was serendipitous

They say that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. BINGO!

Opportunity: Being out in the world with a smile on your face and your antenna up.

Preparation: Being ready to hand out your business card and spout your elevator speech? NO!!! Preparation means being ready to speak intelligently and knowledgeably about the local real estate market without a hint of a sales pitch.

Don’t want to prospect? Then don’t. Spend that time learning the heck out of your market. Preview, preview, preview. Read neighborhood newspapers. Preview some more. Visit neighborhood grocery stores and shopping districts. Preview. Visit new home communities, attend meetings on Transit Oriented Development. Preview. Know your office inventory inside and out.

When a Stranger Calls…(on one your listings or while you’re on floor duty), you’ll get ‘em. When an open house visitor expresses in an interest in the neighborhood… you’ll get ‘em. When another guest at a wedding wants to talk real estate investment… you’ll get ‘em.

KNOWING YOUR MARKET is the best way to “prospect” to strangers. No fancy business card, well-rehearsed elevator speech or slick closing technique will beat the confidence that exudes from you when you know your stuff. It’s magnetic.

 

p.s. remember the part about leaving out the sales pitch. If you impress someone with your market knowledge, then hit ‘em with a sales pitch, you’ll likely un-do all the good you just did. When you’re confident and enthusiastic, people will ASK for YOUR business card. It’s a beautiful thing.

posted by on Working with Sellers

Got a note from a SWS reader who is dismayed by her listing ratio – that is – the number of listings appointments she goes on versus the number of listings she gets. She described her listing strategy as such: 

I deliver a pre-listing package that is first class. I just created a Comparative Shopping analysis where I compare my company to the 2 others that I always am competing against. I give it to the seller and tell them to use in their other interviews.

I do my presentation with my last question to these sellers for my close; ‘if we agree on price will you let me handle the sale?'”

Here was my response…

I don’t know you personally, obviously, but some of the things you mention sound a little pushy and counter to your personality – therefore, perhaps you don’t sound sincere or “real” when you say them. I never try to “close” anyone during a listing appointment unless I can tell they’re ready to be closed. I think it puts people off – at least it would put ME off and any warm fuzzies I was feeling toward that person would fade. I try to go into listing appointments with the attitude that I’m there to help them, that I’m the best man for the job (if I am, I’m not always!) but it’s completely their choice as to whom they feel comfortable with.  

As far as offering a comparison of the other two companies – I dunno. A few things come to mind. First, sellers hire individual agents, not companies. By bad-mouthing another company (even subtly), you’re not doing anything to make the seller love YOU; you’re just putting down the competition. In my market, every agent offers something different, even agents in the same company. I know that my listing services blow away what the guy next door to me offers, but we both get plenty of listings. It’s really more about an emotional connection between the agent and the seller.

Another thought I had about this is that by insisting that your company is better than the other, you’re almost insulting the seller’s judgment for even considering the other company and no one likes to feel that someone is questioning their judgment.   I think that having the competitive information organized in your brain is good, in case a seller asks you a specific question, but using it as a sales tool sounds risky.  

I hope this isn’t too harsh – I don’t mean it to be. I just think that sometimes we agents get so focused on the goal (GET THAT LISTING) that we forget we’re dealing with human beings who have their own sensitivities and opinions. Just be YOU, reliable, competent, knowledgeable, lovable YOU and you’ll win more than you lose!  

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

Got this question today from a reader who is signed up with the Buffini program…

“Hey there Jennifer,   So I’m working through my Buffini ‘phrasing’…for how I’m qualifying those in my database…and wow–it’s just not flowing right for me i.e. not my style.   What are your thoughts about qualifying your database i.e. this goes back to ‘to ask or not to ask’ for referrals………  I have a coach through Buffini and I know that their systems really work…AND I need to find a way that also fits me.  Have you worked with anyone else in rephrasing the questions that you ask those in your database? Any suggestions?”

Here’s my answer…

“Well, Mr. Buffini and I differ dramatically on this point, so I may not be able to help you.   First, as you probably know, I’m adamantly opposed to asking for referrals in any way, shape or form. I’m even more opposed to qualifying a database based on whether or not you think someone will refer to you.

Referral patterns can change over time, especially if you make an effort to build a PERSONAL relationship with someone that is not based on their “value” to your business. If you spent the next three months truly building relationships with the people in your database instead of figuring out who and how to ask for referrals, your business will explode. When someone asks me for referrals, no matter how subtly, my respect and affection for them goes down significantly.  

When I group my contacts, I do it based on how comfortable I feel socializing with them. For example, I have 43 people in my “Group One” which is made up of those I’d be okay asking to coffee. Whether or not they will refer to me is not relevant. If I build a relationship with them, they WILL refer to me eventually, or at least invite me to their parties, putting me in a position to meet their friends (of course, I’d never ever pester them for business or referrals either).  

If you’re good at what you do… if you love what you do… business will come. You don’t have to ask for it.”

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

As most of you know, I recently sent out an email to my entire mailing list offering up my SOI mass-emails. It went out to 1700 people, so I got lots of autoresponses back. Here are a few of them…

“This is a response to let you know your e-mail has been recieved and if a reply is warranted, please allow until the following morning to here (sic) from me.”

“Thank you for contacting us. 

I respond to emails at 9am, 1pm & 6pm daily. 

If you’re seeking an immediate response, please feel free to call us at xxx-xxx-xxxx. 

Thank you and have a great day!”

“Out of office until April 2 and unable to respond to your email.”

Here’s a decent one, IMO

“Thank you for your email. Please feel free to call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx if you need me. I am never too busy to talk. Have a great day.”

If you use autoresponders – send an email to yourself to make sure that the message that’s going out is truly friendly, not snooty and 100% error-free!

posted by on Especially for Rookies

A few days ago, I posted a blog about the importance of actually ATTENDING your inspections with a buyer client. I was stunned when I purchased my first out-of-town home and my Realtor did not attend the inspection, especially since I couldn’t be there. My respect and appreciation for him took a huge hit and I never referred anyone to him.

Anyway, in my twelve years of selling real estate in historic neighborhoods, I’ve gotten pretty darn good at holding my hard-fought deals together through the sometimes brutal inspection periods. When you work with 100+ year old homes most of the time, it’s rare to sail smoothly through the inspection process. So, you get good at it, or you fail. I once had a string of 25 sales get through inspection and to closing without falling apart which must be some sort of record in this market!

So, here are some of my secrets to surviving inspections…

  • ATTEND your inspections (see yesterday’s blog)
  • Never, ever belittle your buyer’s concerns. Never say “Well, it’s an old house, you can’t expect it to be perfect.” Your buyer isn’t an idiot, he knows that. The minute he thinks you’re trying to talk him out of being concerned about an issue, he’ll feel you’re more interested in your paycheck than in his purchase. You’ll lose his trust, and thus, his future referrals.
  • Take your directory of contractors with you to the inspection. If issues arise, it’s helpful to have phone numbers on hand to make phone calls on the spot for answers. For example, in one of my inspections last week, we came across an asbestos tile roof (in 12 years I’ve never heard of such a thing). The inspector expressed serious concern about it and my buyers were freaked out. I was able to call my roofer and get more information about asbestos roofs which put everyone’s mind at ease… and the inspection continued. I also had the phone number of my insurance agent with me, so we were able to call him to ensure that an asbestos roof was insurable (it is).
  • If you don’t have a handyman on call, make this your top priority. You MUST have a great handyman in your back pocket to be a great real estate agent. I often call my handyman during inspections with a question and he’s been known to even drop everything and rush over to check it out… thus putting my buyer’s mind at ease or at least making me look fantastic.
  • If an inspection goes poorly, let your buyers sleep on it. Inspections can be exhausting, but after a good night’s sleep, your buyers may feel much better.
  • When preparing an inspection notice for the seller, never, ever use inflammatory language. Just state your requests clearly and succinctly, without embellishment.  For example, instead of saying “Seller shall repair the leak under the kitchen sink to avoid further mold and mildew damage to the cabinet, flooring and possibly the basement ceiling.” Simply say, “Seller shall repair the leak under the kitchen sink.”
  • Keep your inspection requests to as few bullet points as possible. Group your requests into categories; for example, all plumbing issues go under one bullet, all electrical items under one bullet.

It can’t be emphasized enough… always support your buyer, not your paycheck, no matter how badly you need that paycheck. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and advise accordingly. The brownie points you win by truly being on his side will pay off big time for you; not only in this transaction, but for years to come when he tells everyone he knows what a great Realtor you are.

Go get ’em!

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 Introverts Are Awesome!

I struggle with the personal phone calls. Don't know why it's so hard, but it is. I guess it's because I really don't like to talk on the phone myself, so it's hard for me to impose my voice on others! But whenever I do get brave and make the call, I almost always feel good that I did.

Except, as I've mentioned before, when I call a fellow introvert (who probably doesn't like talking on the phone any more than I do). So, unless I have a real good reason to make that call – I don't. My introvert friends get an email.

Also, as I think I've suggested, before you make your SOI phone calls, make a few purely "business" calls to warm up. Like – schedule a dentist appointment… call your credit card company to protest a charge… if you've moved recently, make a few phone calls updating your address. Once I've have a few successful phone calls under my belt, it's much easier for me to make the personal, or even difficult ones. (Like calling your seller to explain why you haven't had any showings this week).

I usually make my calls in conjunction with my lunch date goals.

I have noticed, however, that I get a much better response to my emails than to voicemails. Anyone else notice this? Maybe we really are moving toward a digital world and away from voice to voice. Any thoughts?

Just remember (yeah, like I have to remind THIS crowd), don't call your friends looking for business. Don't even mention real estate unless you have a darn good reason to.

 

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 Prospecting & SOI

Ahhhh, music to a real estate agent’s ears… “Can I have one of your business cards?” Or even better, “Do you have time to work with me?”

Regular readers of my blog know that I vehemently advise against accosting people you meet with your elevator speech or pushing your business card at every poor sap who happens to say hello to you at a party.

I believe with all my heart that if YOU believe with all YOUR heart that you’re a great real estate agent and you love your job, that’s enough to drive business to your door. No, I don’t mean that you can sit on your sofa eating Twinkies and wait for deals to land in your lap; what I mean is that if you are confident in your abilities and enthusiastic about your career, that will be clear to the people you know and the people you meet… and they’ll want some o’that!

The trick to getting in the position to demonstrate your expertise and excitement is to subtly let people know you sell real estate for a living. If they’re interested, they’ll tell you. If they aren’t… no biggie. Just talk about something else (y’know, like a “real” person would who isn’t in prospecting mode).

Here’s an example from my world.

Yesterday, I’m getting my toenails polished at a cute little Korean shop here in town. The toenail-polisher-guy tells me how he has to re-take his cosmetology exam because he accidently let his license expire. I laugh sympathetically and say “Oh, I know what that’s like, my real estate license expired a few years ago and it was a real pain to get it re-activated!” (That’s not really true, but it seemed like a natural thing to say under the circumstances).

The woman sitting next to me immediately asks me if I sell real estate and I acknowledge that I do. We start talking about the real estate market, yada yada yada and the next thing I know she’s asking for my business card. bcard

Why did she ask? Because I sales-pitched her into it? Nope. I guess I just sounded as if I knew what I was talking about and I didn’t whine about the market. Maybe I even seemed like a pleasant person to do business with.

I can’t remember the last time I offered someone my business card, but I get asked for it all the time.  When you love what you do and you know you’re good at it… you’ll attract plenty of business your way… without ever asking for it. It’s a beautiful way to make a living!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

I love lists. I love lists. Checking an item off a to-do list gives me a rush. Always has.

As a result, I'm pretty darn efficient. If something gets on my list, it gets done. I've always patted myself on the back for my organization skills and my ability to get lots of stuff done in a timely manner.

But then it occurred to me… isn't list-making a form of checkmarkVisualization?

I'm a Franklin Planner kinda gal. Have been since 1992 when my employer Great-West Life included a full day of Franklin Planner training in their orientation program. I'm not remotely interested in switching over to a PDA/Blackberry/Treo or whatever, although I will confess I do love my Top Producer to-do lists…

So, every morning, I write down my list of things I need to do that day. With my very own hand, my very own pen. And most of the time, everything I write down gets done; if not that day, usually by the next.

‘Cause I'm so cool? Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe it's just Visualization in Action – I write it down, I look at it several times throughout the day, I get great pleasure from checking it off.

I just looked at my Dry-Erase board on my wall. A few months ago, I wrote down a bunch of projects that I wanted to get done when time permitted – for example, finish up my Charming Old Denver website, create the index for the 2nd edition of SWS, come up with a new subtitle for the 2nd edition of SWS; stuff like that. And whaddya' know? Almost ALL of the items written on that board are done! Yowsa!

I love this stuff.

 

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

I must be honest – getting fan mail from loyal readers is my very favorite thing about being a writer. I wake up fan mailevery morning to several emails from people who have read my blog or my books and just want to say thanks. To all of you who write … I hope you know how much your notes touch my heart.

Often in these notes, the writer tells me his or her story and often asks for advice. I’m happy to give it, when I can, and those who have written me can attest that I do almost always respond. It’s fun for me and heck, I have books to sell, so the more happy customers I have, the more books I’ll probably sell.

I hesitate to continue because what I’m about to say may make some of my readers a little uncomfortable.

Reading between the lines of the notes I receive, I’m pretty sure I can tell who is going to make it and who isn’t. Now, I obviously don’t have any cold hard data to support this claim, but I’m confident I’m right. There is a HUGE difference in attitude between agents who have the mojo to survive and those who don’t. Between the agents who truly understand (or at least truly WANT to understand) the process of exchanging real estate and those who just want to know how best to get clients FAST. Between agents who have the confidence in themselves they’ll need to project a can-do attitude… and those who are just desperate for a sale.

I wish I could provide some examples so you could see the difference, but obviously that would be uncool. My point is that if it’s this obvious to me that someone is struggling — simply thru their written word, I imagine it must be even more obvious to those in their day-to-day world – those who (whom?) the agent is depending upon for his or her professional survival.

Mojo is really important. Confidence is really important. Knowledge is really important. And you wanna know how you get some Mojo? It’s not that hard… Knowledge… leads to Confidence…leads to Mojo.

Keep those cards and letters coming (yeah, right, I probably just scared most of you away!)

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 Prospecting & SOI

For almost twelve years, I’ve run a nearly 100% SOI business – that is – most of my clients have come from the people I know, the people they know, or the people I meet. In other words, I’ve done very little formal lead soigeneration with the goal of attracting the attention of strangers.  It’s worked for me.

As many of you know, I have a somewhat organized, yet unconventional approach to keeping my name in front of my SOI. I don’t bombard them with cheesy mailers; I don’t pester them on a monthly basis for referrals; I don’t sort them according to whether or not they will commit to sending business my way. Nah, I just stay in touch, as a real person who happens to sell real estate for a living. Oh, and I take great care of my clients… as my first priority – not as an afterthought once my prospecting activities are done (that’s straight from my profile – kinda catchy, eh?).

And… business floods in. My phone rings (or email jangles), I answer it, and voila! I have a great new client.

But what has pleasantly surprised me since my recent return to real estate after two years away is how many of my past clients, some of whom I haven’t spoken with in years, still consider me their Realtor-of-Choice. Just in the last week, I’ve been contacted by four past clients – all of whom bought or sold over five years ago – wanting to talk real estate. Three out of four of the calls came from people I didn’t think really liked me much since they’d never responded to my stay-in-touch efforts. I figured I’d done something to make them mad and many times considered striking them from my database.

Nope. Not the case at all. They had lives to live and didn’t need a real estate agent that day. But when they did… they knew who to call. (That would be ME.)

So, why do they remember me? I ask myself the same question. I really don’t have a personal relationship with them, obviously, since we haven’t actually spoken since the closing in many cases. Yes, I have included them in my postal mailings and emailings , but I’m sure they’ve met other agents through the years and probably get bombarded with Just Listed! and Just Sold! postcards on a regular basis. What’s so special about me?

In the interest of research, I got up the nerve to ask a few of them. And the answers warmed my heart.

They called me because I did a good job for them and they knew how reach me when the time came. Simple as that. Now, if I had done a lousy or even mediocre job for them, but stayed in touch, I doubt they would have kept my card around, but since they were happy, they did. Oh, I’m sure that I’ve lost people thru the years who did happen to meet other real estate agents who befriended them more than I did, but overall, I have to say that I’m tickled with my retention rate.

Do a good job. Stay in touch. Pretty easy stuff, huh?

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I got a facial the other day. Some fancy schmantzy European Spa Facial with a massage. Yummy. It was really good. And, I swear, I look ten years younger.

So, I’m lying there trying to enjoy being cleansed, exfoliated, moisturized and massaged. Yet, I’m tense. I’m waiting for the … facial-ist(?)… to ask me if I’d be willing to send her referrals. Maybe I just have referral fever on my mind ‘cause I’ve written about it so much lately, but I was truly upset about it! Seriously, I could hardly relax preparing myself for the inevitable sales pitch.

I pondered this behind my moisturizing mask. Why was I so opposed to her asking me for referrals? Not because I wouldn’t refer her – she was definitely refer-worthy, and I was actually kind of excited about handing out her business card to my friends.

But I wanted to refer her on my OWN terms, not because she asked me to! I wanted to surprise her with my referrals. I like thinking that this wonderful facial-ist doesn’t desperately NEED my referrals; but she would certainly appreciate them, as one professional to another.

This story has a happy ending – she did not try to sell me anything – not an expensive cleanser or moisturizer or serum; nor did she beg me for my future business or referrals. And… I grabbed a handful of her cards on the way out!