Coaches Corner Newsletter - Issue #955
 
October 17th, 2019
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Words of a Champion...

One of the most frustrating things for you, as an Agent, is to deal with a client who does not respect your time - one who is late for appointments or cancels at the last minute. 

The best way to handle these people is to avoid them in the first place.  You cannot help everyone with his real estate needs, nor should you try.  Where most real estate agents struggle is when they compromise their values and time because there are not enough leads.  They try to take bad leads and try to convince them to be “good leads”.  When someone is a bad lead, dump him and move on.  There is a famous four-letter word in sales.  Do you know what it is?  NEXT! 

This week’s Coaches Corner goes through a few steps to insure you minimize these clients who do not respect your time and value.

To Your Success,

Dirk Zeller

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Respecting the Agent and their Time
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One of the most frustrating things for you, as an Agent, is to deal with a client who does not respect your time - one who is late for appointments or cancels at the last minute.  Here are a few steps to insure you minimize these people in your life.

The best way to handle these people is to avoid them in the first place.  You cannot help everyone with his real estate needs, nor should you try.  Where most real estate agents struggle is when they compromise their values and time because there are not enough leads.  They try to take bad leads and try to convince them to be “good leads”.  When someone is a bad lead, dump him and move on.  There is a famous four-letter word in sales.  Do you know what it is?  NEXT! 

One of the keys to successful sales is getting enough opportunities with motivated buyers and sellers.  If you were a baseball player and you were ninth in the batting order; what are the odds that you would get more hits than the first player would in the batting order?  The odds are about zero.  Here’s the truth…the guy batting first will have 100 more times at bat in a 164-game year than you.  Your batting average would have to be extremely high to get more hits than someone who gets at the bat 100 more times than you.

As a real estate agent, if you have more leads and opportunities, you will produce more.  You will be able to be more selective in the clients you work with because you know more leads are coming.  Work to create more opportunities.  That is the first rule.

Confirm all appointments the day of the appointment is the second rule.  Make sure to get enough contact information about the client, so you can reach him easily.  Get his home, work, and cellular numbers.  If you are working with someone who struggles with being punctual, call him before you leave the office to make sure he is going to be on time.  The script could be, “I know you are very busy.  I was just confirming that you are going to meet me at ______.”  He will usually indicate that he is just heading out the door or he is going to be 15 minutes late.

Rule three is to lay your cards on the table.  I encourage our clients to do this up front at the beginning of their relationship with their prospect.  If you are working with someone who is non-respectful of your time, tell him so.  The script could be, “______________, I am here to help you achieve your dreams of a home.  I am committed to providing you the level of service you deserve.  Understand that you are hiring me for my knowledge of real estate, and I am providing that and my time.  All I ask in return is your loyalty to me as your Agent and respect for my time and our appointments.  Can you do that?”

If the prospect says, “yes”, then you have a client that will be enjoyable to work with.  If he says, “no”, then you have saved yourself a lot of wasted time and frustration.  You shouldn’t grovel for your commission just because you get paid after the closing and do a lot of work before payment comes.

The real key is the first rule.  The more leads and clients you have, the less you are willing to compromise your values and beliefs.  Work every day to generate new leads and clients so that you can remove the poor ones out of your life.

 
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The Pre-Listing Package
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The reason that I was so successful in the listing process was preparation.  This is where you will win or lose the listing.  It’s what you do before you walk in the door that carries the most weight.  If you prepare properly and have solid skills, you will win more than your fair share.  A Champion Agent has better preparation than other agents.

Just as championship teams in any sport win the championship from preparation, you will take the listing based on your preparation.  Championship teams win before a game.  You will take listings based on the way you practice, prepare yourself, and prepare the seller.  Preparing the seller means sending out information ahead of time in a pre-listing package. 

I built my first pre-listing package in 1992.  Mind you, it was not pretty because it didn’t have to be.  I was the only one doing it in my marketplace.  By the time I added a video in early 1994 of me sharing my marketing and pricing strategy, my pre-listing package had gone through half a dozen revisions.  A Champion Agent uses a pre-listing package to sell themselves before they step into the door.

The pre-sale or pre-listing package is an essential tool in today’s marketplace. Most agents have not taken the time to construct an effective pre-sale or pre-listing package. It gives you an opportunity to sell the prospect before you ever walk through the door. It also shows the prospect you are organized and professional.

The pre-listing package is similar to a stockbroker sending you a prospectus on a stock you are considering purchasing. The seller is investing his time in you.  Just as the prospectus tells you about the track record of the stock, the trends, overall market information, and proposed future return, your pre-listing package needs to reflect that view as well.

Create an Effective Template: Your package needs to be automated. You must be able to print them off easily on a laser printer or have a printer do a large quantity at one time. The best way to print your pre-listings is in-house. This will allow you to customize to the individual seller.  It will allow you to make small adjustments easily.

Dynamic Delivery: Most consumers favor the phrase “right away” when used by a salesperson. The faster you provide a valuable service, the more value the consumer places on your service. You want to deliver the package as quickly as possible. You can use an outside courier service to deliver. They will usually deliver your package within a couple of hours for a nominal fee. I had my Field Coordinator deliver the package. This was one of their daily responsibilities. Personal delivery makes a strong lasting impression.

Enhance Your Credibility: This is where you have a chance to pre-sell yourself before you walk through the door. You will want to include a bio on yourself, along with credentials. Remember to tie in the benefits and not just the fact that you have a GRI, CRS or any other designation.  We have to show the client the benefit of a CRS or GRI designation.  Use statistical evidence regarding your success. Use the comparison of average list price to sales price of the board against your success.  Also, include your average days on the market compared to the board, and insert three to five testimonials. Testimonials are a powerful way to express the results you have achieved for other clients. The best way to use testimonials is to align them to the person you are presenting to. For example, if you are doing a listing presentation for expireds, use testimonials from previous expired clients you had success with. This will position you as a successful problem solver and results generating agent.

Let the education begin!

Here you need to start educating them on two things: 

  1. The significance on pricing their home properly
  2. The fact that you are different from the other agents in the marketplace

This section should be straightforward and easy to understand. I encourage the use of charts and graphs that show the contrast between days on the market and showing activity or even days on the market and reduction in sale price. You need to create a strong correlation between selling and market time.  You can easily acquire these types of graphs from your broker, NAR, or other agents.  This type of educational material about pricing is readily available,

Paper Work Preview: If you enclose a few of the documents that they need to fill out, regardless of whom they list with, you have created an advantage.

I always include the property disclosure forms, the lead based paint disclosure form, and any others that are necessary. In most states, they have to provide these forms to the buyer even if they sell FSBO.  Encourage your customer to complete the forms.  This information is important for you to know at the listing appointment. Some of their answers could affect the value of the property.  Telling that to the seller raised the number of people who had them filled out before I walked in the door, and the statement is true.

When you arrive for your appointment, and the forms are filled out, you know three important things:

  1. They follow directions well
  2. They have a reasonable amount of motivation to sell
  3. They are seriously considering listing with you

Your confidence level should go way up at this point. You have an excellent chance of taking the listing.

Introduce Pricing Philosophy: You want to start warning them of the dangers and pitfalls of overpricing. This gives you a strong advantage over other agents, since you are not originally bringing up the bad news. Also, most consumers believe more of what is in print than what is spoken. They place more credibility on what is printed. They give it an implied endorsement of truth.

There are effective videos on the market about pricing your property. You might consider investing in a few to prepare your client. You might, as I did, produce your own pre-listing video that highlights your credentials, benefits, dangers of overpricing, and the service you provide.

Position Yourself: This section focuses on your position in the marketplace, or your company’s position.

You can also list your training and formal education. Make sure to tie in the benefit to the client. You must remember that, to them, GRI is a bunch of letters at the end of your name. You might include your market plan for properties. This will help you limit the decision on marketing at the actual listing presentation.

Strategic Partners and Team: Show them they have more people on their team than just you.  Illustrate how you provide more value through great vendors who provide exceptional service to all your clients. Try to arrange special or negotiated pricing with the vendors to offer your clients.

You have many people you direct on each transaction; put them fully on your team. They are your Lender, Title Company Representative, Escrow Closer, Attorney, Termite Inspector, Home Inspector, Roofer, Home Repair person, and any Assistant or Buyer’s Agent who works with you.

The pre-listing package can have a powerful impression on any client or prospect. It can do a strong positioning and sales presentation before you meet or speak with the seller. It is a very effective stage setter.  The other advantage is you will reduce the amount of time you need to invest at their home.

 
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What Do Real Estate Agents Sell?
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What do real estate agents sell?  When I ask that question in public I get a wide variety of answers.  I most often hear; ourselves, service, professionalism, houses, and the dream of home ownership.  All those are minor features of our service.  In terms of our product, I think that in order to be highly profitable and respected, we sell two things:

    • Our time
    • Our knowledge

Those are our two primary assets.  Any other response you could possibly come up with fits under these two classifications.  These are tangible assets you trade for the money you earn. 

Our time

For years, we primarily sold access to consumers.  We used our personal bank of time in large quantities to show we cared about a prospect.  We would tell them we were available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  “You just call, and I will be there.”  “I am there for you.”

Many agents are still stuck in this trap.  New agents sell accessibility because they have limited skills and knowledge.  The problem is when we gain the skills and knowledge we are too scared to take the professional approach to business.  I believe we have a larger group of 24/7 agents than ever before.

Access does not equate to value.  It’s also not a way to create differentiation from other agents.  We only look like everyone else when we do that.  A Champion Agent doesn’t tread the same path as all other agents.  A Champion Agent’s time has tremendous value.  Access is the most common way that agents try to convince people to hire them.  My competition in real estate sales was always trying to paint a picture of me as unreachable, unapproachable, and too busy; that their 24/7 access was superior to my professional office hours approach to business.  I was quick to point out that if their approach was indeed better, then their results should also be better . . . which they weren’t.  They also connect access with a higher level of concern or care.  Yuk!  I care so much for my clients; I take time off, so my family life is sound; I’m recharged for the next week of work, so I can do the best job for my clients. 

Champion Agents don’t have enough time to work with everyone they come in contact with.  They are focused on working with only the highest level of people they can provide service to.  By only working with the highest level, it saves them time.  The time saved can then be spent on another person.  There are really three categories of people you can invest your time in: Prospect, Customer, and Client.

The Prospect - This is a person you are investing your time in with the hope of moving him to a client.  Prospects need to be evaluated based on their level of probability of generating a commission check.  There are four key evaluation questions:

  • How much time will you have to invest?  The amount of time might be the same, but one prospect will commit and buy or sell now.  Another will be six months away.  The one who is six months away has less value.  I didn’t say “no value”, I said less.  Too many things can change in six months. 
  • How much effort will it take?  What kind of energy and effort will you expend to transform this prospect into a client?  Just as many other Champion Agents do, I preferred working with sellers because of how long and how much effort it takes.  I found the control, timeframe, and effort was significantly less representing the seller, rather than the buyer. 
  • What are the odds of them becoming a client? The Champion Agent evaluates the odds continually.  Low odds prospects create low odds commission checks.  Are your odds better than 50/50?  If they aren’t, you will need to question why you should proceed forward in servicing them. 
  • What is the long-term residual value?  The purpose of a real estate practice is to generate long-term residual value from your past clients and sphere; to provide a service level that encourages repeat and referral business.  Some people have lower long-term residual value because of their behavioral style, sphere of influence size, types of jobs, and outside interests.  The question is; is this person you are investing your time in an AAA referral source or a D level referral source? 

Too many agents provide too much service to prospects in hopes they will miraculously become clients.  My view is that prospects are worthy of limited amounts of service.  The length, duration, and quantity of the service you provide them must be limited.  You will notice I didn’t say quality of the service.  My belief is the quality of the service must be at the highest level. The adjustments come in how long they will receive this high-quality service.  If you degrade the quality of your service, you will look just like all the other agents vying for their business.  The quality must be at the level you would provide for a client.  The key question is, “Do you want to continue receiving this market knowledge, responsiveness, and expert counsel long-term?”  If the answer is “yes”, they must become a client. 

Our job, in sales, is to attract prospects and convince them to become clients.  The natural tendency is for them to want to stay as a prospect if their motivation is low.  If their motivation is mid-range, they want to become a customer.  If their motivation is high, and you have tangible benefits that point them to why they should hire you, they will want to become a client.     

The Customer - I am going to be bold in my stance with customers.  Customers have limited value.  In a service business, customers can pay the current bills, but that’s it.  A customer has limited residual value.  You can earn a commission check if all the factors are aligned in terms of timeframe, motivation, and market conditions.  If you are an agent who has hit a plateau at a specific production level for the last few years, it’s generally because you have been working with too many customers, not enough prospects, and not driving the prospects to client status.  It’s easy to get into the habit of just working with customers; you don’t have to prospect as much.  It feels like you are making progress, but you are only treading water. 

I also believe it is more difficult to move a customer to a client position than it is to move a prospect to a client.  The prospect, if done correctly, knows they will lose quality services if they don’t commit to exclusivity.  Provided that they want and desire your exclusive quality services, you can move them to an exclusive client relationship in a short period of time.  The customer that has been receiving valuable services for a long period of time, but has not been asked to make a decision of exclusivity, will become confused when, in their mind, all of a sudden, you change the rules on them.  Moving a prospect to a client is easier than moving a customer to a client.  Most people who hang out at the customer level will never make an exclusive commitment to you.  In most cases, they are unwilling to commit to anyone.   

The Client - This level of person has exchanged commitments with you, preferably in written contract form.  They expect counsel, guidance, service, and the fiduciary duties of an agent.  They are willing to trade commitments of loyalty and exclusivity because of the advantages you create for them in the marketplace.  You provide them representation, counsel, knowledge, interpretation of the knowledge, analysis, and greater equity or money.  They know they have the edge over the competition of other buyers and sellers because they are working with you. 

Because the selling game in real estate has changed significantly in the last fifteen years, the advent of the Internet has lessened the monopoly of MLS information.  The consumer has access to real estate information in local markets at similar levels to the agents.  The media has been on a rampage in the last half dozen years about how we should be charging less and our value is diminished because of the technology changes in information about houses for sale, transaction management advancements, and the propagation of discount real estate models.  Working with clients is more important today than in the history of real estate sales.  How we position our time, knowledge, and connect them to value will determine whether we achieve a Champion Agent’s production and quality of life. 

Our knowledge

I think this is the area that really separates Champion Agents from everyone else.  Champion Agents sell their knowledge and, specifically, the value of their knowledge more effectively than even great agents do.  This is the arena that needs dramatic improvement.  Intelligent people who are forward thinkers will pay for knowledge. One of the fastest ways to increase your leverage, earnings, and quality of life is to use other people’s knowledge to get there. 

If we can clearly demonstrate for a prospect that our knowledge gives them an advantage in the marketplace, they will be more likely to quickly decide to use us as their service provider.  Most agents are unable to convey how their knowledge creates an advantage for their clients.  If they are able to accomplish creating some kind of inside track to the client, it’s relationally based.  Too many agents rely too much on the relational connection rather than “expert” connection.  A Champion Agent works to establish both.    

A Champion Agent’s knowledge creates quantifiable benefits to their clients.  By empirically proving your advantages to prospects, customers, and clients, you raise the probability of your success.

A Champion Agent’s knowledge translates for their clients as:

  • More money for the sale of their home.
  • More efficient, less hassle transaction.
  • Better strategic positioning of their property to attract more buyers.
  • Stronger property demonstration to enhance value and sale price for their sellers.
  • Effective price verses value counseling. 

These are examples of tangible benefits that clients receive from Champion Agents.  This is merely a short list to use as an example.  We have identified well over thirty clear benefits that clients receive from Champion Agents with ways to prove them empirically.

All these above services relate to dollars in your client’s pocket.  All these are achieved through the value of your knowledge and skill.  That’s what separates the Champion Agent from the others.

 
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