Coaches Corner Newsletter - Issue #980
May 14th, 2020
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Words of a Champion...

I like this statement from Oliver Wendell Holmes.  He said, “To reach the port of success, we must sail; sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, not drift or lay anchor.” 

This quotation and thought led me to break down the approach for sailing toward a successful life.  The first step for a successful sailor is to have a specific port he is trying to reach.  We who seek a successful life must also have an objective.  The objective must be clear and concise, crystallized and definite.  Too often, we are very fuzzy as to our main objective in life.  Our main objective is beyond what we do.  It’s beyond the income, sales, and money we earn.  It’s beyond our business and all the challenges that surround it.  Too often, the objective is monetarily based.  To earn X amount of dollars or sell so many homes, in my perspective, is not the main objective in life.  It, at best, is a goal to be obtained along the way.  The desired end is not the money itself.  It could be what the money can do for us or the lifestyle it allows us to have in the future. 

One of my favorite speakers of all time was the late Jim Rohn.  Jim talked about it not being the money that makes the millionaire.  It is what that person became in order to attract the million dollars.  It’s the skill, mindset, discipline, and character that person developed that are truly valuable.  The money can be fleeting, but the other skills of character, mindset, and discipline last forever.  

One of the hardest tasks in life is to set that clear objective.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  Everyone would achieve success.  We are often stopped by the difficulty of the task.  The difficulty should be viewed as an advantage.  Now that’s a novel mindset, isn’t it?  The more difficult the task, the fewer people who will master it.  The fewer people who have mastery, the lower the level of competition will be.  Few people have mastered success.  That’s why there is so much opportunity.  Studies have shown that the peak earning years for people are in their 50’s and early 60’s.  For many, it takes that long to master success.  It takes years of trial and error to get it right.  Most people never hit the mark or get it right.  If we are progressing, learning, and moving forward, we are successful…provided we have a definite aim or objective.

The second key point in the Oliver Wendell Holmes quotation is the section that refers to ‘against the wind or with the wind.’  There will be days when things go smoothly, and we are with the wind; when we are hot, and everything we touch turns to gold.  We gain appointments easily.  We create trust effectively with our prospects and clients.  A skilled sailor will sail long and hard on those days.  He will ensure that he makes the most miles he can by sailing longer, harder, and with more focus and intensity.  How often do we let up when we have things rolling, and the momentum is with us?  When we have favorable wind, do we take a mental break?  Do we let up?  That’s the time to pour it on.

It seems human nature to let up or to ease back on the throttle of success.  People often neglect what they did to create the momentum in the first place, but you must not.  Carpe Diem…Seize the day!  Seize the opportunity when the conditions are favorable.  There will also be days, weeks, and maybe longer when the wind is against you; when you feel like you are right in the middle of a squall.  A highly skilled sailor just realizes that this is a passing storm.  He may not know the length and breadth of the storm, but it will pass in time.  When the storm hits, you need to understand that it will pass on.  You can weather the challenge.  A sailor will also go back to basics in a storm.  He will take down the spinnaker.  He may remove the jib.  He might even lower the mainsail slightly.  He focuses all his attention on the most important thing to get him out of the storm.  He focuses on the mainsail. 

What’s your mainsail in life?  What’s the mainsail in your business?  Do you focus intently on the mainsail in times of trial, or are you concerned about the spinnaker?  There will always be peripheral stuff in your life and business, but don’t take down the mainsail. Keep working the wind. Use your mainsail…weather the storm. 

The last essential is for you to not stop, never quit.  Perseverance leads to success.  Champions don’t stop when they encounter adversity.  They keep focused on the objective and don’t let the tides drift them off course.  You can learn a lot from a skilled sailor.  The skills and challenges are the same in sailing as in real estate.  Decide on an objective.  Plot the course.  Navigate the winds and challenges.  Celebrate when you arrive.

To Your Success,

Dirk Zeller

Business Clarity

One of the most difficult tasks in life is defining your purpose.  The pay off of clarity of purpose is enormous.  In working with some of the top Agents across North America, I have found that clarity is a big concern.  There is a direct correlation between clarity of purpose and success.  The more clarity you have in your business, the more profit you will make, and the time spent in business mode will be reduced.  The people with clarity achieve more with less time worked.

The most successful people spend time thinking, evaluating, and re-evaluating their progress.  You need to spend a minimum of half an hour planning and evaluating daily.  Agents should evaluate where their business is coming from and the trends in their market.  Why not know the trends in the market, so your labor will be fruitful?

Far too often, I see the market adjusting, and Agents not adjusting with it.  If the high end is not selling, why list lots of homes in the high end?  Always move the bulk of your listing to where the market is most active.  This will provide you an opportunity to move the product quickly and effectively with little time, money, and energy invested.  You want to have inventory in all price ranges and all areas, but you want the bulk of your inventory in the hot selling pocket.  Having inventory in all price ranges enables you to track the market better and react quickly to changes.  You do not want too many listings in a market segment that is not moving.  Spending time planning and evaluating is critical to success and growth in this industry.

To create clarity in your business of real estate sales, you need to determine your area of competitive advantage or expertise.  Is it buyers or sellers?  Is it expireds, FSBO’s, investment property, or new construction?  What is your area of excellence? If you do not have an area of excellence, I would suggest you work on one or two areas in real estate that you enjoy.  You need an area or two that you do better than most of your competitors.  You need to develop something that will differentiate you from the competition.

Once you have decided, you need to determine the one or two skills that will translate into success in that particular discipline.  As an example, in my career I worked expireds very heavily.  I did 60% to 70% of my business from expireds.  The areas of discipline I needed for success in expireds were a strong command of scripts and dialogues (sales skills) and solid evaluating and qualifying skills.  These sales skills enabled me to set a few appointments daily with people who needed my services.  The evaluating and qualifying allowed me to cancel the unmotivated, overpriced, and overly confrontational people before I invested the time to do a presentation with them.  What are the skills you need to achieve massive success in real estate?  Once you identify them, dedicate yourself daily to becoming highly skilled in those areas.  Set specific goals to improve those disciplines.

When you are in your daily planning block, you need to evaluate your skills and determine where you can improve.  If you have a staff, evaluate them.  What are the skills they need for you to increase your business by 20%?  Sometimes the difference in how we handle and coach our staff can increase our business dramatically.  Clearly define their roles, so you both know how they are going to help you achieve success.  Too often, we throw them into the firestorm without clear direction and the guidance to improve and prosper.

One of the most crucial functions of the planning time is future forecasting.  Spend time viewing the future of your life and your business.  In my coaching sessions with clients, we spend a lot of time initially looking down the road three to five years.  Most of my clients had never looked further than this year, if at all, prior to working with Real Estate Champions.  It is hard to achieve clarity when you first view things on a daily, weekly, or even yearly basis.  You have to view long term then work backwards.  You must work to craft the vision for your life and your business.

It is critical to decide what your business or life will look like in the future.  If you do not make that decision, you are just making it up as you go along.  Success does not follow people who make it up as they go.  Success looks at your long-term plan.  Then it says, “That looks good; I will follow you.”

The long-term plan will act as a target or a magnet.  You will be drawn to it.  Creating the plan is not enough.  You need to clarify it and work backwards to the present day.  You need to create the steps for you to get from where you are today to where you want to be in the future.

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Setting Yourself Up For Making Sales Calls

Just as with any professional, a sales professional using the telephone must go through preparation steps before the first call of the day. Using motivational CDs or motivational music to prepare your mind through your morning routine is extremely effective.  Engaging your mind and your auditory and visual senses to prepare you for your day of calling can really improve your attitude.  Listening to an inspiring message, sales training, or goal-setting CDs can help your day start out correctly.  You might also use affirmations to help you prepare like:

  • I am a great person
  • I love to sell and help people

You might also use visual stimuli like a picture of the new car or home that you want to buy.  Place that picture on the mirror where you have to see it each day or in your car on the sun visor or on your office computer.  A successful telephone salesperson begins preparing for the first call hours before he picks up the phone.

When you arrive at the office, your homework process begins.  Review your list of appointments for the day.  Is there any homework or preparation for these that is not complete?  Which ones have the highest probability of converting into a sale?  What are the key benefits I need to clearly convey to the prospect for each of these appointments?  You have invested time, effort, emotion, energy, and marketing dollars to guide the prospect to the appointment level.  Take the extra few minutes in the morning to raise the conversion rate because you are doing your homework in advance, not on the fly.

Also, before each call, we need to invest time in our homework.  We need to review the previous call, materials received from the last call, our primary objective of the call, and our secondary objective if we have to assume a fall-back position.  If the call is an initial call, we might need to do some internet research about the prospect.  This is a sales professional’s preparation process.

To be smart and more efficient about your prospecting process, follow a few rules.  You want to batch your calls together to increase your effectiveness.  For example, if you can call all of your prospects that are expireds all at once, you will be more effective than if you called one of them, then a FSBO, then a past client.  The more you can batch the calls to similar prospects, the more your rhythm and dialogue, prospect challenges, and value and benefits of your product or solution will be aligned.  Your delivery will improve because you won’t be changing it radically, and the objections should have a similar time and consistency, as well.

You also can batch based on the stage in the sales cycle you are in with the prospect.  All presentation appointments should be batched together, so you can deliver them one after the other.  This, again, raises your performance.  If you close a sale, then your confidence will increase in the next presentation.  You can batch initial calls, lead follow-up calls, client service calls, client referral calls, or any other stage of the sales process.
In prospecting smartly, you also need to know your limits.  There is no one who can be on the phone for eight hours straight without taking any breaks.  To maximize your production and energy level, I would set a system where you are on the phone straight making calls for an hour.  Then, take a 10 to 15-minute break to stretch, run to the restroom, and grab a snack.  An hour to 75 minutes is really the maximum time to be calling back-to-back.

By having a routine that you execute on a daily basis, you will reduce the influence of call reluctance.  We all get call reluctance during our sales careers.  It will come less frequently and less severely if you operate from a set schedule, set preparation routine, and set daily goals and benchmarks.  Clarity of purpose is one way to beat the call reluctance problem that all salespeople face.

There are a number of time alligators that chomp time away from telephone salespeople.  One of the largest is the time span between calls.  I have observed many of a salesperson watching the phone lines light up. It’s really a fascinating experience.  At times, you will see a short time between calls when the salesperson’s line will light up for less than 15 seconds.  At other times, you will see 3, 4, or 5 minutes go by before the phone lights up again.  There is a huge loss in time and productivity when this happens.  Watch the time between calls and shrink the gap.

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The Purpose and Hierarchy of Value of Prospecting

The purpose of prospecting is to develop prospective clients for your business. The real estate prospecting process involves two-steps.

  1. Identify and create leads by establishing contact with people who have interest in what you are offering and the ability to become clients.

  2. Secure a face-to-face appointment for a pre-determined time in the future.

Real estate agents seek two categories of clients: sellers, who become listing clients and buyers, who become real estate purchasers. The following sections provide tips on how to prospect for clients in each group.

Prospecting for listings

Listing leads come from past clients, those in your sphere of influence, expired listings, FSBO conversions, open houses, lead cultivation, and door knocking – but they rarely come without some effort, and here's why. The tendency when people are sending you referrals is to send you prospective buyers.  The public's perception is that Real estate agents sell houses; that we put people in our cars and drive them around and find them a home to buy.

To generate listing leads, you have to do some pretty active prospecting work:

  • Listing referrals do not come naturally. Specifically ask those within your sphere of influence, your circle of past clients, or your referral groups to share the names of people who need or want to sell real estate.

  • To achieve a greater listing inventory and develop a specialty as a listing agent, cultivate listing prospects by working expired and FSBO listings.

  • To prioritize your efforts, follow the Prospecting Hierarchy of Value for help assessing which sources of listing leads are the most productive for your business.

Prospecting for buyers

Prospecting for buyers is easier than prospecting for listings, partly because referrals arrive more naturally, and partly because open houses attract prospective buyers and provide you with such a great prospecting platform.

If you are short on buyer prospects, increase the frequency of your open houses. The type of houses you choose to show will determine the kinds of prospects you generate. Obviously, higher priced and more exclusive properties draw more discerning buyer prospects, while lower priced properties attract less affluent prospects. 

To build your business quickly, work to generate leads from more first-time home buyers by planning more open houses in the low range of your marketplace. The benefits of developing first-time buyer prospects include:

  • First-time buyers can be sold into homes quickly, as they aren't burdened with the need to sell homes in order to make purchases possible.

  • They lack experience with other Real estate agents. They do not have current agent affiliations, nor do they approach a new agent relationship with baggage that may have been acquired from a less-than-stellar past experience.

  • They acquire strong loyalty when good service is rendered, allowing you to establish a long-term relationship that may span 10-15 years and multiple home sales and purchases over that period.

  • They provide you with an opportunity to establish relationships with their friends who are also considering first-time purchases.

  • To prioritize your efforts, follow the Prospecting Hierarchy of Value for help assessing which sources of buyer leads are the most productive for your business.

The Prospecting Hierarchy of Value

In prospecting, some approaches involve a shorter contact-to-contract cycle than others, therefore delivering a greater return on time investment and higher value to your business. In order, here are the factors that most influence the value of your prospecting approaches:

  1. Past Clients. The highest-value form of prospecting is calling past clients and those in your direct sphere of influence. These people have either used your services in the past or know you and your character. Asking them to do business with you again is described as canvassing. Asking them to refer their friends is described as prospecting for referrals.

    These calls are the easiest to make because they reach those with whom you have established relationships. Typically, Real estate agents experience less resistance when placing calls to this group than to any other. They also make the calls with high expectations that their efforts will generate leads.  How long it takes to acquire leads using this approach varies greatly.  You could secure a lead on your very first call or on your 100th call, so the ratio of leads generated to time invested is difficult to anticipate.

  2. Expireds. I could make a case for this being the #1 highest-value prospecting approach, as well, due to the ease of locating expired listings and the relatively quick contact-to-contract cycle. Expired listings come up in the MLS daily, along with all the information you need to make the contact. Many go back on the market with another agent within a week, so the sales cycle is short, which is a key reasons that expireds offer such a high rate of return for the effort.

    Few agents engage in calling expireds, largely because the sellers, who have not experienced success with their last agents, can be hostile toward new agents, as well. Many agents feel "it's beneath them" to contact these prospects – which further contributes to the opportunity for the ones who do.

  3. FSBOs. Converting for sale by owner contracts requires more work than securing expired listings. You have to seek them out through newspaper ads or FSBO subscription services like Landvoice. Once you target a FSBO property, figuring out whom to call takes another round of effort, which is why FSBOs are further down the value hierarchy than past clients, those in your sphere, or expireds.  

    The sales cycle for FSBOs is four to five weeks on average. FSBO sellers generally try to sell by themselves for that time frame before engaging the services of a real estate agent.  Over that period, you must be willing to do lead follow-up weekly in order to secure an appointment four to five weeks away.

  4. Open Houses and Door Knocking. These face-to-face techniques provide greater time investment than phone contacts, simply because you can't see as many people face-to-face as you can speak with over the phone. The advantage: It's harder for people to reject you face-to-face.

  5. Cold Calling. This technique, tried and true since the advent of the phone, has lost effectiveness over the years due to the preponderance of two-income, busy families and the onset of No-Call laws.  But there are agents who still make money, and a lot of it, cold calling.  It is not something I recommend highly, since there are so many other techniques that provide higher returns with less effort.  It is, however, better than waiting for the phone to ring

Following these tips on how to prospect for seller and buyer clients will help you maximize your efforts, thus delivering a greater return on time investment and higher value to your business.

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