Coaches Corner Newsletter - Issue #972
 
March 6th, 2020
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Words of a Champion...

When you evaluate a Champion Agent’s prospecting and lead generation, you will find these people have more than one lead generation source.  Our objective is to establish a lead triad.  A lead triad is at least three sources of business that generate leads that account for at least 15% to 20% each of your overall revenue or units.

When I evaluate most Agents’ businesses, they either have one source that they rely on too much (creating an imbalance of leads and a vulnerability to their business), or they have too many lead sources that generate low levels of leads and business.  They have ten lead sources, and most represent less than 10% of their business.  These are bookend errors that are equally disastrous.  We need to have three to four lead sources that can account for a substantial amount of business.  When you have a lead triad in position, if a prospecting and lead follow-up source dries up or diminishes because of competition intensifying, marketplace or industry changes, or just the breaks, you have already established, tested, and proven methods of prospecting and lead generation that you can shift your resources to.  You can ramp up those sources to a high level quicker, which saves you stress and a cash flow crisis.

If you don’t have a lead triad, your probability of weathering the storm is lower.  It will take a greater toll on you to navigate the storm. If you have too many sources, you have to pick one or two, without knowing if you selected the right ones or if your strategy will work.  With only one solid source, you are starting from scratch, attacking the steepest part of the learning curve and hoping for quick results.  Either one of these approaches can be deadly.

If I am describing your business, I have one word of caution for you; don’t try to add too much too soon.  The natural tendency when I talk about implementing a lead triad strategy in one’s business is to rush to add two, three, even four sources now.  The better approach is to select one and commit to that one.  Track the results and make the changes and requirements necessary to increase the results.  Don’t change your source or add another one for six months until the strategy, tactics, and implementation have been fully tested.  We all need to achieve a lead triad of strength in our business.  Just as a table needs three legs at a minimum to have stability from falling, so does your business.

To Your Success,

Dirk Zeller

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Primary Tool For Realtors
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We have had tremendous advancement in our industry in the last twenty years.  Realtors have more tools at their disposal than ever before.  We have Internet sites, MLS, contact managers, blast e-mails, smart phones, and social media.  These are all great sales tools, but they aren’t the best.  The best sales tool, after all of these changes, is still the phone.  It’s also the tool used most infrequently by the majority of agents for prospecting and lead follow-up.

For anyone in sales, there are only four ways to increase production.  Those four are: number of contacts, method of contacts, quality of prospects, and quality of the message.  The phone directly relates to number of contacts and method of contacts.

The phone allows a more efficient means of personal contact than other avenues.  Agents need to understand . . . numbers matter in real estate sales!  We are in a full contact sport.  If we make more contacts, we make more money . . . period!

The method of contact also matters.  In the early 2000s in real estate, agents used more mailers and e-mail blasts as their primary form of communication with prospects and clients.  This decision to be less personal hadn’t shown up in the box score of sales, only because the market was incredible.  Nothing ever remains the same – markets change.  We must always increase the personal contact in our business - the personal contact of the phone and face-to-face appointments.

No matter what profession you analyze, there is one primary tool and a large group of secondary tools.  My father was a Dentist for over 30 years.  He had one primary tool and many secondary tools.  The explorers, dental chair, gold, amalgam fillings, drills, polishers, and assistants were all secondary tools.  His primary tool was his hands and the skill they contained.

As Realtors, we have laptops, smart phones, Internet sites, MLS, CMA’s, e-mail, and marketing pieces.  These are all secondary tools.  Our primary tool is our words and how they are delivered.

The agents and companies that embrace a sales focus will dominate their market.  The agents and companies that decide to take dead aim on sales skill improvement in prospecting, lead follow-up, appointment settings, and client consultation appointments will see growth in revenue and market share.

In our technology driven industry, the phone is still the greatest sales tool ever.  It’s natural to hope that any new-fangled gizmo will help us avoid the hard work of the phone, but we have lost sight of its importance.

 
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The Buyer Counseling Interview
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The Buyer Consultation is centered on a planned presentation process.  This process can easily follow these nine categories of service value.  A Champion Agent softly leads the client into questioning through foreshadowing the next few steps.  Here is an example of a script that will lead you into your questions.

"My experience has been that, if we spend more time on the front end by clearly understanding your needs, it will take less of your time in a car.  I surely don't want to waste your time by showing you homes that you won't like."

Too many Agents skip this part of the buying process.  They move straight from an initial phone discussion with a prospect to showing property.  In fact, I used the word "discussion" because I don't think that most people even use interview, counseling, or consultative techniques on the first contact call.  They are so excited that they have a live prospect that has some level of motivation they lose their head and rush to show property.

The initial section in a Champion's Buyer Interview is defining their role in the process.  The average consumer knows very little about the role of a Real Estate Agent, other than they drive people around and find homes for them.  

The fundamental role, when representing Buyers, is to help them select and acquire their next home.  This includes evaluating the marketplace.  You must blend this with their desires and wants and factor in the financial parameters with the overall goal of selecting the best property for them and their family. 

We have a very defined role, yet if you asked most Agents to articulate what they do or what their role is in representing the Buyer and what value they bring to process, they would be hard pressed to articulate it.  This would be true even for the most established and experienced Agents. 

If you are still skeptical, at your next sales meeting for the office, ask the general question, "How would you explain our role in the transaction when talking initially with a Buyer?"  You will hear some of the goofiest thoughts and cornball responses you have ever heard in your whole life.  I guarantee it. 

"My job is to help you evaluate the marketplace, evaluate the opportunities and values in the marketplace, and make the best selection for you and your family.  Then I can help you acquire the home that meets your family and financial needs in a manner that reduces the stress and anxiety that is associated with a new home."

This script, if you practiced and perfected its use, would set the stage, within a few minutes, that you are a different kind of Real Estate Agent than they have ever met before.  You could further define your role for ad calls, sign calls, open house attendees, or even floor time.  The sooner you can position yourself as different, the more willing they are to consider working with you.

It is our job to better educate the consumer as to our role and function.  They know it's changed because they have been reading about the change in the newspaper a few times a month for the last four to five years.  Now, all the information is available on the web; they think that their use for Agents (especially full fee Agents) is a thing of the past.  The better we can define our role and function and convey it quickly and early in the relationship, the higher the probability of our earning a fee from a satisfied client.

Once we define our role for them, and they agree that is our role, we need to explain our services.  Most Agents talk about the features of their service at best, but Champion Agents start with how they are different and proceed to the discussion of benefits and competitive advantages the Buyer will receive when working with them exclusively. 

The vast plethora of Agents start blathering on about what they will do.  They talk about searching the MLS; they might also explain the prospect matching feature on the MLS that e-mails the Buyer new properties that meet their pre-determined criteria and their tools or a given feature of this service.  The prospect match feature of most MLS systems is certainly not an exclusive service to this Agent; it is available to every member of the MLS.  The benefit of the system is that it helps them pinpoint what to sell to the prospect.  It provides increased frequency of communication with the client; it increases the market knowledge for clients to see new properties that come on the market.  It puts them first in line for all the new properties that come on the market, since the best properties sell first.  They will be able to see the best properties in terms of price, location, and amenities of the home before anyone else, so it dramatically raises the probability of them purchasing a high demand home over anyone else in the marketplace.  While this type of discussion is essential to convert the Buyer to an exclusive right to represent contract, it is a discussion that is premature at this juncture.  To start with a feature and not take it deep to the benefit level, like I have illustrated, is a grave mistake. 

The Buyer Interview, Buyer Consultation, or Buyer Counseling section (which ever term you want to use to describe your meeting with a Buyer face-to-face in your office to secure an "exclusive right to represent" contract before you show property), for most Agents, is less structured and planned than a Listing Presentation.  Most Agents completely "wing" this critical meeting that will set the tone for the working relationship with the Buyer.

If you had a simple agenda for the meeting that you handed to the Buyer previous to beginning your discussion, it would enable you to conduct the meeting and convert and commit the Buyer to your service quicker. 

Buyer Counseling Interview Agenda

  1. My role in helping my client
  2. My specific services and benefits
  3. Current and emerging market conditions
  4. Your financing options
    1. The value of pre-approval
    2. Earnest money deposit
    3. Life of a loan
  5. Discussion of your wants and needs in your next home
    1. Preferred style
    2. Preferred features
    3. Preferred location
    4. Price and payment penalties
  6. Selection assistance services
  7. Representing you to the Seller
  8. Professional negotiation as your Agent
  9. Communication and closing coordination
  10. Servicing you after the sale for life
  11. Exchange of commitments

After establishing your role with the prospect, then move into a segment of the discussion of your services.  This is provided you have already asked them sufficient questions to qualify their desire, needs, ability, and authority to proceed in a purchase.  An option before you define your services and benefits is to take a refresher trip down the qualifying trail to confirm your understanding of their expectations. 

 
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What Prospecting Is - And Isn't
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Prospecting is one of the easiest but most misunderstood concepts in the field of sales. 

Sales trainers are always trying to sell their “prospecting-free systems” on worldwide speaking circuits by saying, basically, “You will never have to prospect again if you use my system.” And, because salespeople secretly don’t want to prospect, they readily buy into the too-good-to-be-true, no-prospecting philosophy.

Our readiness to take the easy bait makes us like the wolves that are hunted above the Arctic Circle. The wolf hunter dips a sharp knife in blood and freezes it.  He repeats this over and over until the knife is thick with layers of frozen blood that attracts the wolves’ keen sense of smell. They begin to lick the knife, working themselves into a frenzied rage to find fresh blood.  Eventually, they succeed, taking their passion for the knife even higher. What they fail to realize is that the fresh blood is actually their own. They bleed to death from their own actions.

As salespeople, if we buy into the myth of a prospecting-free sales system, failing to learn sound prospecting approaches and abandoning the need to continually develop new leads, we risk ending up like the wolf – chasing false promises and endangering our livelihood in the real estate business.

Webster defines prospecting as “seeking a potential customer, seeking with a vision of success.”  Notice there’s nothing in that definition about waiting or hoping. The definition revolves around action being taken by the salesperson, starting with the word “seeking.” Prospecting involves finding people to do business with.

The other key phrase is “with a vision of success.” Prospecting requires positive expectations. It requires a positive-results mindset, in part to overcome the influences of all the other agents who don’t prospect, don’t value prospecting, and stand by to negatively influence your vision and expectation of success. 

As a new Realtor in 1991, I joined an office full of experienced agents who were doing well. I knew that to succeed I needed to prospect. I didn’t know much more than that, but I understood the value of prospecting based on the results I’d experienced in my previous sales jobs.

I’d come into the office at 7:00 a.m. and by 8:00 I’d be talking to expired listings, FSBOs, people within my sphere of influence, whoever I could reach on the phone. The snickering from the other offices didn’t escape my notice, nor did it redirect my efforts. The laughing died down within six months when my listings and sales put me on top-performing lists – and it stopped altogether when I made over six figures in my first year in the business. I became the number one agent in that office after my third year in the business. And my commitment to prospecting hasn’t stopped yet. 

What Prospecting Is:

  • Calling past clients 
  • Calling people in your sphere of influence        
  • Calling expired listings      
  • Calling FSBOs       
  • Cold calling for listings and sales 
  • Knocking on doors  
  • Hosting open houses        
  • Calling absentee owners   
  • Cold calling from lists of names   \

What Prospecting Isn’t:

  • Mailing magnets, calendars, and almost anything else
  • Setting up a website
  • Joining service organizations
  • Wearing your name badge
  • Placing magnetic signs on your car
  • Sponsoring a community sports team
  • Doing floor time
  • Answering e-mails
  • Pinning your business card on bulletin boards

While marketing is all well and good, prospecting is the pathway to sales success.

 
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