What is my Competitive Advantage?(!)

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What’s wonderful about writing, blogging, and/or journaling, is that it forces you, amongst other things, to consider clear answers for yourself — After working on the topic of competitive advantages (http://mattcparker.com/2015/08/what-is-a-competitive-advantage/), I had to think, well, what is my true competitive advantage?  What can I really show a customer that other people can’t/don’t attempt to offer?  Why should they really use me?

The answer is a function of what I look for in people I do business with, and, I think, what a lot of people look for:

SOMEONE WHO LISTENS

Nothing turns me off more, when I am shopping for a service, than someone who is not focused on truly listening to me with the intent of understanding me.  They might be giving me lip service.  Maybe they interrupt our conversation to use their phone.  Maybe I can hear them typing emails while they chat with me on the phone.  All of these immediately raise my guard to hiring someone.

HOW DO I SHOW PEOPLE I CARE, TRULY CARE, through listening?

  1.  I never use or answer my phone during meetings.
  2. I ask multiple clarifying questions (to the customer – “Can you please explain what you mean by ‘quick sale?’ How ‘quick’ is ‘quick’ to you?”)
  3. I show respect for their concerns, no matter how “weird” their concerns are.

The end result, from these and other factors, is that people feel, and truly are, cared about.  This is simply what I look for in my service providers!  Does this person listen to me, understand what I am saying, and incorporate it into what they are trying to sell me?

What’s amazing about listening is that it is a free competitive advantage.  It does not require paid advertisements, comprehensive understanding of complicated technology, or inclusion in seemingly elite social groups.  Yes, it’s important to be in tune with the reality of how your marketplace works.  But, this is less important to the customer than hiring someone that understands their distinct emotions and needs.

Good luck!

Cell Phone Management

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I ran into my first real estate trainer, whom I truly respect, at Red Robin last week.  I was having a late dinner with my family, and he approached my table and said:

“What, you can’t answer my call?  I called from my table to give you a hard time!”

“I don’t have my phone on me, so you just made a funny ringing noise in an empty car.” I replied.

While this made for a laughing moment amongst us, it spoke to the main “law” he had given me about ten years ago with regard to selling real estate — to always answer your phone.  To this law, I told him:

“No.”

Then and now, I do not take my phone into restaurants or on vacation.  Or, while walking with my mom, or in the gym.  In fact, I screen most of my calls.  The science is not in question: Being “connected” all the time is not healthy, productive, and necessary for success.  Here are the main reasons I manage my cell phone use:

1.  I am in charge, not my phone.  One day I won’t be with my family, them or I having passed, and on that day, I don’t want to think about all the dinners I spent texting other people.

2.  Multi-tasking, including using your phone, and, bouncing in between tasks, has proven over and over again to produce worse results and more mistakes.  When we are dealing with real estate, these mistakes cost people their life’s work and savings.

3.  Big topics require attention and time.  Who likes the feeling of a service provider wanting to get off the phone with you?  No one.  Who likes it when a service provider is frantically doing other things while they discuss big money with them?  Again, not many people I know.  The truth is we need relaxed and intelligent conversation to understand and direct financial decisions, not trite, short, forced dialogue.

4.  I get way too many sales calls (and you do to!).  Title and escrow companies, lenders, more sales calls –I know you get them because I get dozens per week.  I simply don’t like wasting time on them, or, the awkward interchange with salespeople (whom I respect because I am one!).

5.  It makes it very hard to relax.  Once you get going in real estate, you have 10-40 customers who can and will contact you around the clock.  There is simply no way to relax if you respond immediately to all of this contact!  Relaxation, stillness, and peace are necessary parts of a healthy life.  These customers chose you to be smart, deliberate, and honest, and there is no way to do this if you are “on” all the time.

Generally speaking, business people want meaningful conversation the same day, or within a day, of leaving a voicemail.  Simply setup an office system whereby you can intelligently direct people in the biggest financial moves of their lives.

Doing it with ranch on your fingers in a Red Robin might not be the best way.

Happy Labor Day (Leave your phone at your office!)!

 

 

 

Listing Marketing Ideas

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Recently, listing blog posts have been getting a lot of traction, as have any podcasts I have heard or been a part of that related to listings.  To supplement the fantastic dialogue about “getting listings,” and, to give examples of listing marketing (Chapters 19, 20, and 21 in The Real Estate Sales Secret), here are seven examples of listing marketing you can use, and subsequently show during your listing presentations:

1. Drone photography – If the listing has interesting features and/or land not evident in still photos, hire drone photography for about $250 (email me about the laws regarding hiring drone service).

2. Outbound electronic mail to top agents – Gather the emails of top local agents and send them electronic advertising for your listings.  This both markets your listing, and, develops a social network for you.

3. Local television – This week, I reached out to a local news magazine (t.v. show) that has a weekly spot on cool real estate.  They decided to shoot a listing of mine, for free, because they needed content.  A one-time ad on this same show for real estate was about $10,000.  Sellers LOVE this type of advertising.

4. Local print media – Again, are local newspapers or magazines looking for content?  Find a reason one, or some, of your listings are interesting, and, pitch a story.  I would bet if you send out five inquiries, you will get one “yes,” to write a short story about a home of yours. 

5. Blogs – Reach out to prominent bloggers and ask if they (not you) want to do a piece on one of your homes.

6. Floorplans – I don’t think it will be too long until floorpans are included with all listings.  Get a simple floorpan made of your listings, and sellers AND buyers will be impressed with the amount of useful information you are giving customers.

7. Champions – Develop an email list of people you know will promote your listings.  Then, send them a first glance at your listings, the second you put them on the market, so they feel privileged and excited to share your listings first.

These are just a start!  I guarantee the other agents in your office aren’t using all of these.  Use them as a competitive advantage: Blog on Competitive Advantages.

HAVE FUN!

What is a Competitive Advantage?

By | Agents, Listing Agents, Listing Presentation, Listings, marketing, New Agents, Uncategorized | No Comments

Recently, I noticed a small dead hummingbird laying on a warm concrete paver outside the window of the building I live in.

Raised by a mother who prefers soil to diamonds, I felt pulled to walk outside, pick up the soft little bird, and nestle his innocent green body in a bush as a proper burial.

Have you ever picked up a hummingbird?  I hope you don’t have to.  If you do, you will be amazed at how light it is.  It’s hard to imagine a hummingbird weighs more than a paperclip (although technically it may).  How did this tiny little creature make it through six billion years of life on this planet?

The same way every single organism, and human, has:  distinct competitive advantage (and a little help from whatever higher power you acknowledge!).

Hummingbirds are meaningless in size.  As a result, they require relatively little heavy calorie consumption and are so fast that scientists still struggle to discern exactly how they flap their wings so quickly.  Can you imagine an eagle, the grandest of physical avian creatures, threatening a hummingbird?  Or a lion?  What about a snake?

None of these can come close to impeding the life of a hummingbird, though, ironically, it might be considered the feeblest of avian creatures.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 7.37.17 AM

 

A competitive advantage is easily defined.  For any salesperson it answers the question: “Why should your customer choose YOU specifically?”

Let’s be honest — there are a lot of good, skilled, worthy, and moral real estate salespeople.  Having said that, you deserve your piece of pie, your sip of nectar if you were a hummingbird.  You deserve your best life too.

So, why should your customer choose YOU specifically?

What have you done to educate your customers about your competitive advantage?

Karri Flatla (http://karriflatla.com/playbook) sent me a piece of marketing material that, if she used it in my market, would probably get her a call before me (this is just to say it really shows a high level of professionalism).  In all honesty, I can’t specifically recite what she had in there, but, if I were a consumer I would remember holding this example of marketing skill and professionalism.

Competitive advantage in this case = unique, high quality marketing, the likes of which, I had not seen.

We all have, or can develop, competitive advantages.

The eagle?  VISION, STRENGTH, SPEED

The hummingbird?  EFFICIENCY, NIMBLENESS

Mario Jannatpour?  One of his is HONESTY (http://mariojann.com/podcast-2/)

Karri?  One of hers is high quality MARKETING.

All work.  So, it’s not important what yours are, but, that you have them.

(We talked about this in the podcast http://mariojann.com/2015/07/get-more-listings/)

 

 

 

Getting Started

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Photo cred. Naim Ferguson

(I’m the smaller, paler guy, not the strong one!)

Just this week, this standup paddle race in Lake Union, Seattle, WA, reminded me how hard it is to “start” things.

To simply… start… moving.

To be completely honest, whenever I lineup to race against a world class athlete, which Chuck Patterson (photo) clearly is, my stomach feels queasy.  I lose my appetite for about an hour before every race.  I also get a huge adrenaline rush as the start horn sounds, then about two minutes later a huge energy drop and every muscle in my body tenses up and feels weak.  It’s really a pretty diabolical physiological experience.

The thing is, by about four minutes into the race, I’ve completely forgotten about starting and I just settle into a nice zen rhythm of continuous motion that takes me through the next twenty to sixty minutes of competition.  My body starts to feel in sync with the standup board, I start to notice the weather, and sometimes I even start chatting with the competition.  Those first five to ten minutes are tough!

Starting sucks.  But it’s over quick.

I’ve done that race about forty times now, and I’ve raced with Chuck Patterson probably ten times at this point.  I’ve won that particular race, even the series, but I’ve also lost it multiple times.  The same is true of racing agains Patterson, who may be one of the most intimidating athletes you could see (but nicest people, too).  No matter how many times I’ve raced that race, or how it turned out, starting feels the same.

Many days I feel the same in selling real estate.  Recently, I had a low energy week.  It coincided with a week when I had three deals fall apart without notice.  I also lost the standup race!  After weeks like that, starting to sell again, no matter how many times I’ve done it, is hard!  I wonder “if I still have it,” or “if I am doing something differently,” or “what I did wrong.”  The thing is, if I ignore the feelings, and just start working…

… it all fades away, and, inevitably, another deal appears before me.  I can’t race if I don’t start.

We all want good momentum, but, this is proceeded by STARTING.  The first can’t happen without the second.  And, once we start, whatever we are doing becomes easier.  I think it would be great to focus on being a specialist in simply starting.  This feat alone would move most of us towards goals we didn’t know we could achieve.

Did you start prospecting today, or did you study prospecting?

Did you make a cold call, or did you read about how to make a cold call?

Did you walk out of your building and into a business or did you study a business online?

Starting comes first.  Action.  Then the natural rhythm of pursuit directs a calm path of pursuit.

Almost every time I race, or every time I start cold calling I think “Do I really need to do this?”  Once I start, I forget the question.