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December 10, 2016

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Updated: 1 hour 6 min ago

Top 3 Mistakes Agents Make on the Phone

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 15:54

Alexis Craig

By Alexis Craig

Why are so many digital marketing companies saying that prospecting over the phone is dead, while they try to sell you over a cold call?

I don’t care that my mom likes to ignore my calls, prospecting on the phone isn’t dead. It can be an effective sales channel when used right. The problem is that most agents are still prospecting on the phone like it’s the 1950s. They use scripts that my grandpa used.

Inbound marketing—things like SEO and content marketing—work well because it allows people to come to you at their convenience without interruption. If you could use the phone while accomplishing the same goals as inbound marketing, then you’ll increase your business and close more sales.

Today, we’ll look at the three mistakes that every agent makes, ensuring your phone calls don’t produce any results. But before we do, I want to get into how you need to be thinking about phone calls.

The Psychology of Calling

People are busy. Everyone, including you and me, is running around like a chicken with their head cut off. We have a huge list of things to do: pick up the kids… call Tom… build a multi-million dollar business…

Talking on the phone takes a lot of work. We have to put all of our focus and effort when we talk to people. That’s why we hate talking on the phone nowadays—it means we have to stop what we’re doing to talk to you.

@unsplash, 2016. pixabay.com

People don’t hate talking on the phone. Whoever says that doesn’t understand reality. We’ve just packed our lives so full that we feel like we don’t have time to take a phone call. That’s why texting or emailing is often preferred—people can do it while they’re multitasking.

If you want to be effective with your phone calls, you have to do two things:

  1. Make sure your phone call isn’t interrupting people and they expect it.

  2. Get people to value taking your phone call to the point they are willing to sacrifice time on their projects.

Mistake One: Calling Cold

Never. Ever. Call cold. By cold calling, I mean someone you aren’t connected with in some way and isn’t expecting your call. There is no advantage to calling cold and is almost never received well. How do you feel when a complete stranger calls you?

You need some sort of introduction or referral if possible. If you’re calling a friend of your client, this is okay. Your client gave you their information and you have a warm introduction. But a lot of new agents like to call FSBOs without any warning. How do you think these homeowners feel when they get 20 other calls?

I know. You’re probably saying you don’t have a warm connection. That’s fine. Introduce yourself first with a sales letter. I watched my conversion increase when I did this with open house leads. Before, I use to call open house leads the day after the event. People often were short and snippy with me. I hated calling because it made me feel like a slime ball. Instead, we started sending emails the day after that thanked them for coming and told them I would be calling. This way, anyone who didn’t want to take my call wouldn’t, and I would talk to those who were willing.

Mistake Two: Getting Into the Pitch

This has to be my biggest grievance with people. A few months ago, I was interested in hearing from a digital marketing company built for real estate agents. As soon as I hopped on the phone, they immediately launched into their sales pitch without understanding a single thing about my business. They didn’t ask about my goals and where I currently am in business. They had no idea if I was a good fit for them or if their services could even help me. It’s a shame because I liked what they had to offer. I refused to buy from them simply because they had no idea if it could help my business.

It told me they were more interested in making the sale than building a relationship with me. They try to call every so often, but I have blocked their number. Selling from the start is rude and very disrespectful. Not everyone can and will use your product—that also goes for you as an agent.

Mistake Three: Alternative Choice Close

This is an old tactic and I’m still surprised to see scripts with this kind of close. It comes across as pushy. You don’t want to be seen that way in your business. Even if you manage to get an appointment from this tactic, it generally leads to high rate of “no-call-no-shows.” That’s because the prospect didn’t want it. They just agreed to do it so that they were polite.

Don’t try to trick people. If someone doesn’t want to schedule an appointment, move on. Part of being a successful real estate agent is adopting an abundance mindset and believing there are plenty of fish in the sea. Put your prospect in a follow up campaign, don’t be so eager to make the sale or get that appointment scheduled.

Takeaways:

  • People don’t talk on the phone because they are busy.

  • Make sure your prospect expects your phone calls.

  • All calls should add value and focus on building relationships with your prospects.

Alexis Craig, founder of Mocha Homes, leads a team of real estate rebels in Lansing, Mich. Connect with her at mochahomes.com or facebook.com/MochaHomes.

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Why Do I Have To Become a REALTOR®?

Fri, 12/02/2016 - 17:03

Sam DeBord

By Sam DeBord

Excerpted from Sam DeBord’s contribution to the book “The Honest Real Estate Agent” (2016) by Mario Jannatpour.

This is the question that inevitably comes up for new real estate agents within their first few years of business. There are fees to be paid to the licensing agency, the brokerage, and the MLS, but what is the REALTOR® organization actually doing with my money? Why do I have to pay them every year?

It’s a fair question, and it’s one that often requires a lot of experience to fully answer. Many REALTORS® go through their entire careers without grasping it, which is a shame. REALTOR® membership is the foundation of our industry.

The Elevator Pitch

Real estate agents are busy people and they like quick explanations. So let’s start out with the two minute version of the value of REALTOR® membership:

  1. Being a REALTOR® will cost you a few hundred bucks a year. For that, you’ll receive protection: legal guidance to prevent lawsuits, and governmental advocacy to safeguard your current paycheck, your local market, your clients’ property rights, and your future paychecks.
  2. You’ll also receive business building benefits: education to expand your skill set, career guidance and tools to promote a more profitable business model, and an association with the industry’s top professionals for networking, referrals, and professional development.

Don’t step over dollars to pick up pennies. This is the essence of the value of membership. If a few hundred bucks is too much to protect and grow your business, your mindset is probably not going to allow you to be successful in real estate.

Hard work pays big dividends in this industry. The financial rewards are one of the main reasons we’re attracted to it. The price of REALTOR® membership is miniscule when compared to benefits it provides, and the potential income available to a member.

The MLS

Notice that the Multiple Listing Service wasn’t mentioned in the elevator pitch. That’s because the REALTOR® association provides so much more. Its value is immense even if the MLS weren’t a business tool provide by some of its boards.

That being said, if your REALTOR® board does provide an MLS, the value is immediately clear. The MLS is the basis for a transparent and open marketplace for our clients and ourselves. The data sharing between brokers, and rules of cooperation, make for a business atmosphere that provides certainty for its members and better choices for all.

People often confuse the new national advertising portal websites with the MLS. While they both may display listings for sale, they’re significantly different. The MLS provides enforcement so that agents and customers have a framework for fair and ethical practices. It ensures that brokers advertise and pay commissions to cooperating brokers.

Without the MLS, we’d live in the Wild West of past real estate days. New agents may not know, but the REALTOR® organization was created to stop unscrupulous salespeople that dominated real estate sales over a century ago. The National Association of REALTORS®, and eventually the MLS, have set the standard for professional, licensed representation and a smoothly-flowing transactional market available to any consumer.

Getting Deeper: Value to New REALTORS®

REALTOR® associations offer services to their members that are often highly valuable to newer real estate agents. Education classes catered to new REALTORS® focus on learning much more than is taught in licensing courses. REALTOR® classes teach members how to run a business.

Courses cover transactions, forms, lead generation, marketing, and financial management. Other benefits can include discounted services, technical support, or a legal hotline. There’s also significant legislative advocacy that helps the newer agent work with clients without the fear of unnecessary liability.

NAR also has a Code of Ethics that members are required to abide by. This isn’t a fluffy list of ways to be nice to those we work with. It’s a detailed set of standards of practice that tell members how to ethically work with each other and the public. It raises the level of professionalism in the industry and creates a standardized foundation for us to work upon.

What did REALTOR® membership do for me?

Those of us who are heavily involved in our local, state, and national boards see how REALTOR® membership improves our businesses every day. We’re trying to do a better job of helping newer agents understand it.

Here’s just one way that I can say REALTOR® membership directly influenced my career:

Fast-Tracking Experience

When I started out in the real estate business, my biggest fear was probably the same as many other agents’: “What if they ask me how many homes I’ve sold?”  There was an almost inescapable fear that every new client I met would find out that I hadn’t been selling for very long, and abandon me for a more experienced agent.

Being experienced in real estate is a big advantage. If you’ve really never sold a home before, it’s okay to tell your clients, “I’m working with my managing broker on your entire transaction. He/she is backing me up and will be reviewing everything in the contract to make sure we keep your home purchase/sale stress free.” To be honest, if you haven’t written many contracts yet, there’s really no excuse to not have that mentor as a second set of eyes.

There is no way to speed up the length of time you’ve been working in the industry. There is, however, an easy way to increase the depth of that experience.

Consider this response to a client’s question about experience:

“I’ve been serving this community’s REALTOR® board government affairs committee as well as selling homes here for a couple of years. I’ve helped a half-dozen clients sell so far this year, while also working on a task force that’s helping to ensure fair foreclosure practices and to secure property rights for our local homeowners.”

Working with a local REALTOR® board is one of the fastest ways to achieve a wider range of experience, and contribute to your community at the same time. It shows potential clients that you’re trusted by the public as well as your industry associates. It greatly increased my confidence as well as my knowledge and respect level within the industry.

You’re not just a salesperson. You’re a business person, and a community leader.

Local boards are always searching for new volunteers from their member base. Don’t be intimidated by the names or the experience levels of the committees. You’ll be surprised how much appreciation new members receive when they commit to more influential roles within their local organizations.

Being associated with the folks at the local, state, or national level can even be (Dare I say it?) fun. Some of my best friends in the industry are those that I’ve met at REALTOR® association events. They’re a good source of referrals, but also a great network of people to congregate with at conferences and meetings.

Give your local board a call, and add a title or two to your e-mail signature. Government affairs, social media, property rights, information systems, communications, education−there are a plethora of opportunities.

Fast-track the depth of your experience, and you’ll quickly grow your credibility within the industry, as well as your confidence when communicating to potential clients.

Legislative Advocacy

Many people hear about government or politics and they tune out. If you really want to know where your dues pay you back, though, you need to understand NAR’s lobbying efforts.

We are involved in politics to enhance your ability to grow your business, to protect the income that you’ve earned, and to ensure your clients and your community retain their property rights.

That fact that NAR is involved in political races makes some uncomfortable. That’s ok—you don’t have to personally be involved, but you have to understand what the organization is doing. In our political world, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Our trade organization is making sure our voice is heard.

Politicians who understand little about real estate attempt to write disastrous legislation for our businesses and for our clients every year. We support candidates from the major parties at about a 50/50 rate, because that’s how often legislators from each side are right or wrong on our real estate issues.

NAR’s advocacy is the firewall protecting our industry. It might sound surprising, but bills are written every year that would seriously handicap our members and our clients’ ability to buy and sell homes. NAR’s lobby exists so that you don’t have to hear about them if you don’t want to—they just get fixed. We are not aligned with any political party because we are only focused on real estate issues. A significant portion of every REALTOR®’s take home pay is due to our lobbying efforts on an annual basis.

A few hundred bucks—what do I get?

It should be clear by now that REALTOR® membership is valuable. From legal guidance to education, advocacy, tools, protection, and networking, it is worth far more than the cost.

Now you know. Get out there and sell some real estate. Wear your REALTOR® “R”. Be proud of your association and what it’s doing for your clients and your industry. Join your board as a volunteer leader. Enjoy the ride.

Sam DeBord is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and President-Elect of Seattle King Country REALTORS®. You can find his team at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.

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The Golden Rule is Wrong

Tue, 11/22/2016 - 16:26

Nico Hohman

By Nico Hohman

The Golden Rule: We all know it; we all grew up learning it in elementary school. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Or, in layman’s terms, treat others the way you would want to be treated.

While the sentiment behind the Golden Rule means well, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t the best rule to follow.

The Golden Rule is wrong — and it’s wrong in a very specific way. It doesn’t take into account the other people you are dealing with. It equates everyone as if they are the same. It doesn’t differentiate between extroverts and introverts. It doesn’t classify people based on their communication preferences. And, it assumes that everyone is like you.

Courtesy of Nico Hohman

Clearly, everyone is not like you. (If everyone was like you, the world would not have any issues or conflicts and everything would get done on time and in an orderly fashion. It would also be a bit boring.)

Would you treat an extrovert the same way as an introvert? Would you communicate to two people the same way if one responds quickly to texts and the other person likes talking on the phone?

Instead of the Golden Rule, use the Platinum Rule.

The Platinum Rule says that you should treat everyone the way they want to be treated—not the way you want to be treated.

The Platinum Rule is better than the Golden Rule because it forces you to know the type of person you’re dealing with. To know how someone wants to be treated means you have to have to communicate with them and get to know them first. Just because you like to socialize and chat with people about their weekends before talking about business, doesn’t mean everyone else does.

The Platinum Rule philosophy tweaks the Golden Rule thinking in order to find out how the person you’re dealing with likes to be treated. If they are a straight-to-business person, you’ll want to think about adopting that strategy to best serve them and not yourself.

Some people may say that you would just be mimicking the other person if you adopt this strategy, and that people can spot a faker a mile away. I disagree. I believe if you get to know the other person before you do business with them, this puts you in the driver’s seat. You can control the conversations and the negotiations because you know how the other person will reciprocate.

In my experience, the Golden Rule is no longer the best rule of thumb to practice when dealing with other people. The best rule to follow is the Platinum Rule. So, stop treating others the way you want to be treated, and start treating others the way they want to be treated.

Nico Hohman is the broker-owner of Hohman Homes, a residential real estate brokerage based in Tampa, Fla. Learn more about Nico at hohmanhomes.com or connect on Twitter: @thenicohohman.

5 Ways to Make Your Social Media Posts Shareable

Wed, 11/16/2016 - 13:07

Brandon Doyle

By Brandon Doyle

Many real estate agents and business owners manage a Facebook page as a way to connect with old, new, and potential clients. Though your page may have a significant number of fans, what you might not realize is that your social media posts may only be reaching 12 percent of them, according to Facebook. Why does this happen? The way users interact with their newsfeed steers Facebook’s algorithms, so if fans haven’t interacted with any of your posts—by following a link, sharing, liking, etc.—then eventually posts from your business page will be weeded out.

You may be posting with regularity, but it’s entirely possible that a large contingent of your fan base isn’t even seeing them. So, what are you to do? For starters, you’ve got to break the cycle by getting people involved and sharing. Keep in mind a few of these approaches as you craft your social media presence:

@ljmaki, 2016. pixabay.com

1. Give

Discounts, offers, deals, giveaways—all are effective means to inspire interaction with your posts. This doesn’t just mean providing offers through your business. Why not share a great local deal you came across? It builds relationships with local businesses and may get fans clicking for more.

2. Advise

The internet offers a wealth of information, so take the opportunity to contribute your two cents in areas related to your field. In the process, you may provide the answer to questions your fans have been asking about the real estate game. When they follow their curiosity toward your post, both you and the potential client benefit.

3. Entertain

Most people surf the internet for this very reason. Funny pictures or links to viral videos are highly clickable material, and show a relevant, human, and light-hearted side to your social media presence.

4. Inform

Pertinent news stories about real estate in your area or the market on a national level shows that you’re staying current in your field. Timely stories also attract clicks, since sharing and commenting on trending topics are a major part of participating in social media.

5. Inspire

Though meant to be used sparingly, try livening up your newsfeed with a motivational picture or quote. It may be exactly what one of your fans need to see that day, which might lead to a shared post—and a marked increase in fan interaction.

Engaging fans and potential clients on social media goes far beyond posting with frequency. Give some thought to the interactivity of your Facebook posts and you may see an encouraging uptick in the amount of user interaction coming your way—boosting your business in the process.

Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. He is also coauthor of the book M3Mindset, Methods & Metrics: Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent available now on Amazon. Learn more about Brandon at www.doylerealestateteam.com.

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A Follow Up Funnel That Will Increase Conversion Rates

Fri, 11/11/2016 - 14:46

Alexis Craig

By Alexis Craig

What if I told you that you could generate $100,000 extra in gross commission income with only a minimal investment?

You probably think I’m full of it, especially if you’re not even making over $100,00 right now. But that’s because most people think the only way to increase their income is by generating more leads.

While lead generation is important, lead conversion is just as important. Many agents are leaving money on the table because of a failure to follow up.

The Surprising Math of an Extra $100,000

Let’s say you spend $5,000 to generate 50 leads and 10 of them convert to a successful transaction that is worth $5,000 in gross commission income, or a total of $50,000.

But with an effective follow-up system, you can convert an additional eight. That’s $50,000 in gross commission income. Let’s assume that four of those transactions are seller listings.

A listing that is effectively marketed should net one buyer transaction, which means you should get an additional four transactions, or another $20,000.

Since you have a strong referral program, your 12 transactions should net four closed transactions over the next year. That’s another $20,000. Assuming two of those referral transactions net two buyer transactions, that’s $10,000.

Total all of that, and you just made an additional $100,000. I’ve seen agents double the size of their business when they realized the money they were leaving on the table. The best part? They didn’t have to work twice as hard to double their business.

The Three Rules of Effective Follow Up

There are three rules that I try to implement when I’m creating follow-up funnels:

1. Realize that people don’t typically buy in their first interaction with you.

At any given time, only about 2 percent of people are ready to buy your real estate solutions. The misfortune is that a majority of agents only focus on the “hot” leads, or the 2 percent. But the fortune is in the follow up.

In our office, we have a mantra: “Communicate, build a relationship, and market to them until they’re buying, crying, or dying.” Most agents try to convert a lead in four touches and then pretty much forget about them.

2. Be consistent and frequent.

I see a lot of agents fall prey to what I call “lead generation tactical hell.” They jump from tactic to tactic, never sticking to anything long enough to see results. Consistency and frequency is the most important element to follow up.

I’m going to share with you a sketch of my follow up funnel for open house leads below. I’ve never shared this with the public, and for good reason. When you take a look at it, you’ll be tempted to try to get into the minutia. It’s important that you don’t get bogged down by the details of the funnel. My funnel is months in the making. It works because of consistent and frequent communication, not because of a specific email or the sequence that I use.

3.  Automate the whole funnel.

Part of what helps me to be consistent in my follow up is that a majority of it is automated — either through technology or staff. As your business grows, finding the time to call leads that won’t be ready to convert for a year is a battle. There are always more pressing issues. But by putting them on an automated email sequence, or drip campaign, you can take all of the hard work out of it. This is going to be huge if you want to grow and scale your business.

My Follow Up Funnel for Open House Leads

As promised, here is my funnel. Don’t get lost in the details, but notice that I have a follow up system for every single type of lead that comes to an open house. I don’t let anyone go.

There are a hundred ways to follow up and I could have built my funnel in any number of ways.

Action step: Pick one lead type and create the outline for a seven part follow up sequence. Then, paste it below in the comments. I will try to jump in and give you feedback on your funnel.

Alexis Craig, founder of Mocha Homes, leads a team of real estate rebels in Lansing, Mich. Connect with her at mochahomes.com or facebook.com/MochaHomes.

Announcing the 2016 Networks of the Year

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 23:58

YPN members from across the country gathered Friday night at Mango’s Tropical Café in Orlando for the largest YPN networking reception of the year, and to celebrate the eighth annual Networks of the Year (NOTY) Awards. These awards are given to small, medium, large, and state REALTOR® associations with networks that consistently hold a variety of events, show growth in membership, and sustain a leadership succession plan. More than 50 networks applied for the 2016 awards, which were given to the following:

Small: Columbia Board of REALTORS® YPN, 557 total REALTORS® in the association


Medium: Eastern Bergen County Association of REALTORS® YPN, 3,637 total REALTORS® in the association


Large: Chicago Association of REALTORS® YPN (second all-time win), 13,457 total REALTORS® in the association

State: California Association of REALTORS® YPN (third all-time win), 184,669 total REALTORS® in the association

All four networks have been in place since 2011 or earlier.  Some of the hit events include the YPN Olympics, New Agent Success Night, Casino Royale, and YPN Month of Giving.  The application process is open to all networks every year until August 31.

Check out more images from the YPN Networking Event at #NARannual below. All photos by Brian Copeland, Nashville and Beyond.

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Apply Today for 30 Under 30 2017

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 16:59

Are you killing it in sales, taking on leadership roles, or making a difference in your community? You may have what it takes to join the ranks of the 30 Under 30 class of 2017. REALTOR® Magazine is accepting applications now through Jan. 17. All members of the National Association of REALTORS® who will be under the age of 30 as of May 31, 2017 are invited to apply.

The 30 Under 30 application asks for the last two years of the applicant’s sales numbers, which are verified through the local MLS or a broker-certified spreadsheet. Once the field of applicants is narrowed to 50 finalists, their transaction sides and sales volume will be displayed publicly in online profiles. These will likely be viewed by consumers and fellow agents, so applicants should strive for accuracy. However, 30 Under 30 isn’t solely a production contest. Judges are looking for representation from all real estate markets and specialties.

If applying, proofread your application before submitting. Have someone else proofread it as well. Be detailed and specific in your answers. It’s best not wait until the final deadline day to submit your application. Give yourself time to be thoughtful and creative in telling the story of “you.”

So, do you think you have what it takes? Learn more about the program and how to apply at realtormag.realtor.org/30-under-30.

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3 Surefire Ways to Make Your Open House Stand Out

Tue, 10/18/2016 - 16:59

Brandon Doyle

By Brandon Doyle

When it comes to pioneering a successful real estate business, the power of the open house is not to be underestimated. On one front, staging an open house appeases the seller and stirs up potential buyers. Beyond that, an open house is also a rare marketing opportunity where you and your services enjoy face-to-face time with a host of potential future clients.

Holding a fruitful open house is something of an art form, so below you’ll find a few key methods to make your open house a memorable one.

1. Promote Creatively

@Agover, 2016. pixabay.com

In order to make your open house a splash, you must drive traffic to the property. A simple sign posted in the front yard a few days beforehand won’t drum up a meaningful number of visitors. Instead, focus your efforts on cross-promotion, including to online platforms, in order to maximize he number of visitors—and potential clients—who are inclined to visit the property. Identify a few key characteristics that make this property unique, then highlight those in your promotional materials. By doing so, you attract specialized buyers more likely to take a serious interest in the property. Likewise, your open house stands out among the more blandly marketed set.

2. Work a Timeline

Wise real estate agents know that the days leading up to your open house event are just as important as the day of. Use the preceding days to knock on the doors of the homes in the neighborhood. Not only are you being courteous, but you can also spread the word regarding the open house, network within the community, encourage neighbors to invite family and friends, and potentially make a connection with a future client. Also, use this preliminary time to scope out online listings in the area that are throwing their own open houses—posting some of your signs nearby may draw house-hunting traffic your way.

3. Forge a Personal Connection

The day of the open house has finally arrived. How do you prepare? For starters, dressing to impress sends a put-together message to any potential buyers or future clients. Secondly, when engaging with visitors, try to establish a positive narrative that goes beyond the typical sales-pitch: perhaps Google has great restaurants recommendations for this neighborhood, or maybe you’ve researched the local Walk Score or school system. Also remember to provide a means for visitors to get in contact with you, such as an e-mail list, sign-in sheet, or a feedback form. Finally, remember to follow up after the fact. A thank-you note for visiting, or a friendly e-mail summarizing the property’s features is an excellent way to cement a connection between agent and potential client.

Creating an open house that leaves an impression is no small feat. Attention to detail, preparedness, and care are all essential attributes in a successful real estate agent, and they’re just as important when it comes to hosting a noteworthy open house event. Use these tips to your advantage the next time you stage an open house, and in turn, witness your real estate business reap the rewards.

Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. He is also coauthor of the book M3Mindset, Methods & Metrics: Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent available now on Amazon. Learn more about Brandon at www.doylerealestateteam.com.