Links for Mar 28 – Apr 10

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Mar 28 through Apr 10, 2010. The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals. We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter & Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.

Newsletter March- 2010: Building a World-Class Operation

By Amy Stoehr

What does a world-class real estate operation look like? Over the years a consistent model of success has arisen for all teams I’ve coached. A world-class real estate operation:

1. Rewards its clients with world-class service that they not only count on, but also enthusiastically tell others about.
2. Operates with a net profit. Period.
3. Runs on systems that are constantly being fine-tuned and enhanced.
4. Offers a happy and productive environment that everyone looks forward to participating in daily.
5. Looks, smells, and feels like a world-class operation.

For those of you who’ve read Good to Great by Jim Collins, you’re already familiar with the concept of making sure that first, you have the right people on the bus, and second, you make sure everyone is in the right seat on the bus. Having the right people on your team, in the roles where they excel the most and benefit each other the most, is paramount.

Your goal as a team is to work together to make sure that all actions going forward support your world-class vision. Each member of the team deserves to be happy, productive, and valued. If you’ve never heard of the Canoe Theory by Dave Hibbard, I suggest you pick up a copy. It takes the concept of Jim Collins’ bus and expands on it further, and if you can get your hands on a copy, the audio format is worthwhile for everyone on the team to listen to individually and later discuss as a group.

An important component of world-class operations is clearly-articulated consistency. Examine your standards of operation in the next week. How consistent are you being as a team? Do you have a clearly articulated dress code? Hours of operation? Script for answering the phone? Time-off policy? All of these things communicate to the world what your team is about. I’d be willing to bet that if I asked each of your team members separately their perception of what each of these examples currently are, they would likely generate varying (inconsistent) responses.

People and standards come first. When those are solid, you’ll find it exponentially easier to work together on the five components above.

Newsletter March- 2010: Top 10 Common Selling Mistakes

By Patti Kouri

Do you wish that your quest for clients and customers were more fruitful? It will be if you avoid falling into these common traps. Ask yourself these 10 questions to find out if you are making any of the Top 10 Common Mistakes in Selling.

1. Does selling feel like begging?

Too often, real estate professionals fail to think of their time with a prospect as an interview to find out whether that prospect qualifies to be a client. Instead of asking the questions to learn whether it’s possible to move the prospect to the level of customer, salespeople find themselves hoping…wishing…and even begging for the opportunity, and then maybe making a sale.

Instead of a salesperson, think of yourself as a doctor. A physician examines the patient thoroughly before making a recommendation, using various instruments to conduct the examination. In selling, questions are the instruments that will help you conduct a qualifying examination of the prospect.

Don’t sell … solve
Don’t pitch … probe

2. Do you talk too much?

Real estate professionals who are too focused on their pitch end up monopolizing the time with a prospect, while the prospect must listen whether they’re interested or not. As a result, for every hour spent in front of a prospect, only five minutes is spent selling the product or service, and 55 minutes saying things that might actually be buying it back. No listing, no deal.

When you hear, “I need to think about it,” and “I want to interview other agents,” talk less. The goal should be to get the prospect to do 80 percent of the talking, while you do only 20 percent.

Don’t talk … listen
Don’t tell … ask

3. Do you make too many assumptions?

Most real estate professionals understand that they are no longer in the business of selling but of providing solutions. This is fine, except that too often salespeople try to tell the prospect the solution before they even understand the problem! If salespeople were seen as accountable for their solutions, as doctors are for their prescriptions, they would be forced – at the risk of malpractice – to examine the problem thoroughly before proposing a cure. The salesperson must ask questions up front to get a thorough understanding of the prospect’s wants and needs.

Don’t talk … listen
Don’t tell … ask

4. Do you answer unasked questions?

When a customer says something like, “Your commission is too high,” real estate professionals often switch into a defensive mode. They’ll begin a lengthy speech on quality or value, or they might respond with a concession or reduction. If customers can get a discount by merely making a statement, they will reason that they can get you to contribute from your own pocket throughout the entire transaction. “Your commission is too high” is not a question; it does not require an answer. Ask questions to find out what is the real objection and then deal with it.

Don’t pitch … probe
Don’t sell … solve

5. Do you fail to get prospects to reveal their budget up front?

How can a real estate professional possibly propose a solution without knowing the prospect’s priority on a problem? Knowing whether the motivation to purchase is driven by money or time frame can help distinguish someone who is ready to solve a problem from someone who is merely fishing around. The amount of money the prospect is willing to invest to solve a problem will help determine whether a solution is feasible, and if so, which approach will be best.

Don’t talk … listen
Don’t tell … ask

6. Do you make too many follow-up calls?

Whether because of a stubborn attitude that every prospect can be turned into a customer, or ignorance that a sale is truly dead, real estate professionals sometimes spend too much time chasing prospects that don’t qualify.

Don’t sell … solve
Don’t pitch … probe

7. Do you fail to get a prospect’s dedication to purchase before making a presentation?

Some real estate professionals jump too easily at any opportunity to show how smart they are by making a presentation about their product’s or service’s features and benefits. They forget their true goal – to make a sale – and end up merely educating their prospects, who then have all the information they need to list with your competitor or go FSBO.

Don’t tell … ask
Don’t leave … close

8. Do you chat about everything and avoid starting the sale?

Building rapport is essential, but not if the small talk doesn’t end and the sale doesn’t begin. Unfortunately, the prospect usually recognizes this before the real estate professional. The result: the real estate professional is back on the street wondering how he or she did with that prospect.

Don’t talk … listen
Don’t tell … ask

9. Do you prefer to hear “I want to think it over” rather than “No”?

Prospects frequently end a sales interview with the standard “think it over” line. The real estate professional too often accepts this indecision. It’s easier to tell a manager or convince yourself that the prospect may buy in the future than to admit that the prospect is not a qualified candidate. After all, isn’t it the professional’s job to go out and get prospects to say “Yes”? Getting the prospect to say “No” can make you feel rejected or a failure. But a “No” actually allows you to go on to more promising prospects.

Don’t sell … solve
Don’t leave … close

10. Do you have a systematic approach to selling?

When you find yourself ad-libbing or pursuing a hit-or-miss approach to a sale, the prospect controls the selling process. Real estate professionals who are disorganized in their presentation often leave a presentation confused and unsure of where they stand. This happens because they don’t know where they have been and what the next step should be. Following a specific sequence, and controlling the steps through the selling process, is vital to an organized, professional sales effort.

Don’t sell … solve
Don’t pitch … probe

Do you see the pattern here? If you want to turn more prospects in to clients and close more sales, remember these simple but powerful tactics:

Don’t talk … listen
Don’t tell … ask
Don’t pitch … probe
Don’t sell … solve
Don’t leave … close

Links for March 14 – March 27

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Mar 14 through Mar 27, 2010. The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals. We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter & Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.

Links for Feb 28 – March 13

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Feb 28 through Mar 13, 2010. The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals. We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter & Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.

Links for Feb 21 – Feb 27

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Feb 21 through Feb 27, 2010. The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals. We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter & Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.

Newsletter February – 2010: Maintaining Control of Your Contact Points (3/3)

Part 3 of 3

This is the final article of our three part series on controlling your contact points. Click here to read our first article where we discussed the importance of cell phones and here for our second article where we covered personalized email addresses. This article will touch on the use of a personalized website as an important way to maintain control over how your customers interact with you.

As you are aware, the Internet has revolutionized the way people buy and sell property. According to the National Association of REALTORs of all the serious home buyers, 87% start their search for a new home online. This shows there is an outstanding number of prospective customers available for those agents who are savvy enough to know how to attract and capture their contact information.

Many brokers provide a template based website solution for their agents with a sub-domain that utilizes the brokers Unique Domain Name (UDN). For instance, let’s assume that the broker owns the unique domain name – http://www.brokername.com; a sub-domain would be http://agentname.brokername.com. In most cases, the broker is providing a great service to you as an agent. However, the problem arises when you leave the company and as a result, lose that website address. You have lost a valuable contact point that you have possibly been directing clients to for months. In our previous article we discussed how to register your own Unique Domain Name. By registering your own Unique Domain Name (UDN) you are now able to prevent the situation described above. As the owner of your own UDN, you have total control over where your customers are directed and what content is displayed when they type in your website address. This functionality is called “Domain Forwarding” and every Domain Registrar (i.e. GoDaddy.com) allows their customers to choose where their Web site address is directed to. With this feature, you can register your UDN and then ‘Forward’ it to the website address you want, regardless of who owns the content or website. If you change brokerages, all you have to do is update the “Forward to” address in your Domain Registrar to your new website.

By making use of this low-cost, relatively simple solution, you can provide your personal website address to all of your contacts without the worry of having to notify everyone of the change or even worse, change marketing material should you change brokerages.

If you are interested in learning more about owning a highly professional personalized website with the functionality needed to capture those serious buyer leads, as well as the ability to own your Internet presence, we would love to talk with you about REDX’s Agent Sites solution. Feel free to contact one of The REDX’s prospecting specialists to discuss your options at 1-800-731-7339 option #1.

Newsletter February – 2010: FSBO’s OR EXPIRED’s, THAT IS THE QUESTION

FSBO’s OR EXPIRED’s, THAT IS THE QUESTION

By Mark Leck

In this ever changing economy, agents throughout the country have been employing a myriad of different tactics to help bolster their business to avoid going bust. The once taboo practice of working expired leads has, out of necessity in most cases, become an integral part of most successful agents’ business strategy. Similarly, more agents have also begun prospecting FSBOs, who only a year or so ago, would never have volunteered for that type of abuse! In the past, I have frequently been questioned about the merit of prospecting in general. However, now more than ever before the question is less about whether or not to prospect and more about what to prospect.? I would like to help answer that question, by comparing and contrasting the differences between your two major lead choices.

Expired Leads

I have always been surprised by how many agents get caught up in the question of going after another agent’s expired listings as opposed to focusing on selling a home for a potential new client interested in moving. Expired listings represent an incredible opportunity for agents that are capable of tackling the problems inherent with this type of lead source. However, understanding this lead type is the key to not getting frustrated in the process.

Q. What are the pros of working expireds?

A. First and foremost, this is a lead that wants to sell their home and has already demonstrated a willingness to work with an agent. They understand the value an agent can bring; they just have not met the right agent yet. So get in there, and let them know you are the right agent for the job! Another pro is that many agents do not meaningfully work expireds, so there is often little to no competition in any given market.

Q. What are the cons?

A. The first problem you are going to encounter with Expired Leads is trying to contact the owner. In most cases the only information you have is an address, and unfortunately, not every address has a phone number associated with it. If you have ever prospected Expireds on your own, you will understand that finding the owner information is not a science, but an art. Expect disconnected numbers, wrong numbers, and tenant numbers. It is all part of the game. Like panning for gold, you have to sift through the dross before you get to the gold nuggets – and gold is exactly what good expireds are. Using an automated system to do most of this legwork can save you a tremendous amount of time and give you a real competitive advantage. You will still have to make the calls and sift through the dross of wrong/disconnected numbers, but in the end it will be worth the effort when you find those golden home owners.

Once you get in contact with the homeowner, the second likely obstacle you will encounter is “the dissatisfied customer.” They have been hoping to sell their home for the last six months – their agent swore on the Holy Grail they could do it, but they did not deliver. What makes you any different? This, however, is not as difficult of an objection to overcome, and may actually help with the next hurdle: price objections.

By far, the number one cause for a listing to expire is due to a poor listing pricing. Unfortunately, most real estate agents allow the homeowner to act as the professional and set the listing price on their home, instead of the other way around. Far too few agents are willing to walk away from a listing, when they know that the seller has an unrealistic price and that the property will not sell. What is the result? The listing expires, and the agent ends up with mud on their face because the homeowner blames them. If more agents had the courage to walk away from these types of listings, they could save themselves the disappointment of an unsatisfied seller along with its associated repercussions. Down the road they might also be surprised to find that the homeowner is willing to work with the agent on their terms, once they have seen that the agent predicted their folly.

In today’s market, this problem has been exacerbated significantly by the depressed home values. Homeowners are in denial that the value of their home has dropped substantially and they frivolously hope they will be the exception to the rule. The ensuing disappointment felt by the homeowner, however, can actually work to your advantage. Many times, the homeowner of the expired listings has already experienced a reality check and is now more willing to do what it will take to sell the home.

All in all, if you understand that finding homeowners is an art, not a science and that correctly positioning the home is the key to selling expired listings, you will find this lead source an incredibly commission-rich opportunity for you as an agent.

For Sale By Owner Leads

For Sale By Owner (“FSBO”) leads are another excellent source of listings for the willing agent. Void of the taboo felt by some agents towards expired listings, FSBOs provide agents with an opportunity to compete for listings that have yet to be spoken for. This perk does not come without its price, however, and many agents have been led unsuspectingly into the challenges of FSBOs merely because of their desire to avoid working expireds. The key to these leads, as with all leads, is to clearly understand the obstacles you will encounter before you begin your prospecting.

Q. What are the pros of working FSBOs?

A. As I mentioned before, FSBOs represent a source of potential listings that have yet to be claimed by an agent. Once you have aggregated your list of FSBOs, they are relatively easy to get in contact with. Unlike expired listings, locating the contact information for the homeowner is relatively easy because just about every listing has a phone number. When calling FSBO listings, you rarely experience disconnected or wrong numbers because the individual selling it is expecting phone calls from interested buyers.

Often times, FSBOs experience the difficultly of selling their home solo; this experience can often make them more open to your professional advice and experience. With the right approach, this new found humility can be your ticket to acquiring a golden listing with a seller that is ready to work with you on pricing.

Q. So what are the cons?

A. The difficulty in working with FSBOs often depends on the individual, but one thing you can count on with any FSBO is objections. Typically anyone that puts their home up for sale also considers working with a professional who makes a living trading those assets. Something has made this person choose to go solo, and your task will be to determine what it was, and then resolve their concerns. Most likely they have a concern related to pricing and the cost of commissions, but it could also have been a negative experience with another agent, or a new found streak of independence. This article is not intended to be a treatise on resolving those objections, but instead to point out that there will be objections.

Prospecting FSBOs also tends to be more popular than prospecting expireds. As a result, you may find more competition. This should not deter you from prospecting them, but it may cause you to consider alternative strategies (such as prospecting “aged” FSBOs that are 30-90 days old, using mail-outs, etc).

Aggregating a list of FSBOs in your area can also be a challenge if you are doing it on your own. However, utilizing a FSBO leads provider can easily help you overcome this obstacle and help you get on the fast track to prospecting this valuable lead source.

Conclusion

Agents who find success in this ever changing industry are not afraid to work; and while prospecting definitely takes a higher degree of commitment, energy, and even skills; the return from these golden nuggets makes it worth sifting through the dross. No longer are agents asking “should I prospect”, but instead: “what should I prospect?” Understanding the differences between FSBOs and Expireds will help to prepare you to prospect either one – or both! So get after it! – Good hunting!

Mr. Leck is the Founder/CEO of Real Estate Data X-Change, Inc. (REDX)

Should I use Social Networking in my Real Estate business?

If you have been struggling with this question you are not alone. Many agents are asking themselves the same question, and if it’s not that particular question chances are it’s somehow related to it: which social networking sites should I use, how do I incorporate social networking into my business, how much does it cost, etc?

The fact that you are even asking the question means that you have heard about or read about social networking; that you have at least a basic understanding of what it is, how it works and now are interested to learn more. You may be surprised to learn that you’ve already been using social networking and just didn’t know it.

Do you have a blog, or a Facebook account? If you do, have you ever commented about your business; or perhaps posted information about a completed transaction? If the answer to this question is yes then you have already used social networking in your business.

As a real estate agent the very nature of your business is social networking. For many agents the confusion surrounding social networking – or social media as it is sometimes referred to – lies in the fact that these new forms of ‘networking’ take place on-line using websites that, on the surface, do not appear to be tools designed for business; but rather were created for fun. While it is true that most of the websites that comprise the social networking landscape were created for leisure it doesn’t mean they can’t be used to help you grow your business. In fact you can and should make use of all the tools available to help your business succeed regardless of their initial design or intent.

So to answer the question posed up above “Should I use Social Networking in my real estate business?” the answer is Yes; yes you should!

If you would like to learn more about Social Networking for Real Estate Professionals send an email to socialmedia @ theredx.com and we will place you in contact with some of our preferred partners who specialize in helping REALTORs get started with Social Networking.

Links for Feb 14 – Feb 20

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Feb 14 through Feb 20, 2010. The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals. We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter & Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.