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December 21, 2014

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Scientifically Develop the Habit of Lead Generation: Part 4

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 09:47

Alex Cavelli

By Alex Cavelli

“Simplify”
—Henry David Thorough

Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken lessons I’ve learned from the work of willpower scientist Colin Robertson and revealed techniques to help you develop the keystone habit of lead generation. Hopefully by now you’ve experimented and found success. Here’s a review:

Part 1: “Do Not Fail” – Choosing your daily contact goal.

Part 2: “The Seinfeld Method” – Forming consistency.

Part 3: “Definite Purpose” – Envisioning your purpose.

Based on the emails I’ve received, it seems that all three parts have made an impact. A recurring question has been, “How do I find time for lead generation when I have all this other stuff going on?” The answer: simplify.

The Minimalists

One of my favorite recent stories is about young man named Ryan Nicodemus. Nicodemus, along with his friend Joshua Fields Millburn, are two 20-something Ohioans who once believed they had it all.

“A few years ago, while approaching age 30, we had achieved everything that was supposed to make us happy: great six-figure jobs, nice cars, big houses with more bedrooms than inhabitants, pointless masses of toys, scads of superfluous stuff…The truth is we weren’t successful at all. Maybe we looked successful…but we weren’t truly successful. Because even with all our stuff, we weren’t satisfied with our lives—we weren’t happy.”

©pippalou, 2014. Morguefile

Nicodemus needed to make a change to find happiness. To begin their journey, the two friends got together and started evaluating their material possessions. “Where do we start?” asked Nicodemus. Millburn then suggested an idea that changed both their lives forever: “The Packing Party.”

Nicodemus packed all of his possessions into boxes, labeled them, and stuffed them in a spare bedroom. Now these items didn’t just consist of their expensive gadgets. They packed clothes, shoes, cleaning supplies, kitchen utensils, bedding, plates, paintings, toothpaste, food – everything. It almost looked as if they were getting ready to load a moving truck. The main idea was this: over the next 21 days, Nicodemus would unpack nothing except for what he actually used. Whatever remained would then be sold, donated, or trashed.

The results may surprise you at first. Nicodemus unpacked only about 20 percent of his possessions over three weeks! In other words, nearly 80 percent of his possessions were deemed useless or non-essential. He donated clothes he didn’t wear, sold some of his electronics, and even got rid of those unopened cleaning supplies.

The aftereffects from this packing party were an even bigger surprise. Suddenly they found more time, energy and money to focus on what actually did bring them value. Life became “rich” again as they packed (and unpacked) other parts of their lives – relationships, careers, spending habits, and dieting. Today they travel the country encouraging audiences to pare down their lives and create space for things of real value.

So how did such a simple experiment reveal the root of their discontent? And what’s the relevance to your business? Let’s ask Colin Robertson, our willpower scientist.

Science

When we come up with tasks for ourselves, our brain creates an internal reminder that will nag us until we give those tasks attention. Think about that nagging feeling you get when you’re overdue to check your social media accounts. This mental nagging actually drains our willpower and diminishes our ability to focus on essential actives.

Or think about that sense of accomplishment you get when you cross something off your to-do list. Yes, that feeling can lead to other small successes. But the opposite is also true. If we fail to complete a task, feelings of discontent take form. This experience is known as the Zeigarnik Effect. To avoid this effect, we just need a packing party.

Application

As real estate business people, we’re only as effective as the quality of our schedule and our ability to follow it. If you’re ready to have a “packing party” for your schedule to make room for the essentials, they read on and follow these steps:

  1. Pull up your 2015 schedule and completely clear it.
  2. Black out your non-working days first (these are planned days off, holidays, family commitments, vacations, etc.). Now your workdays remain.
  3. Next, take January 5th   and consider it the template for your “ideal workday”.
    • Decide the start time to your ideal workday.
    • Decide the end time to your ideal workday.
    • In between your start and end times, time block these essential activities:
      • Hitting your “do not fail” daily contact goal
      • Listing appointments
      • Negotiation
  4. Apply this schedule to the remainder of your 2015 workdays.

Use your judgment for important activities like attending team meetings, following up with sellers, preparing for appointments, and completing essential paperwork. For example, I call my sellers every Friday between noon and 1:00pm. Some agents choose Wednesdays. I also time block time for daily administrative work between 1:00pm and 2:00pm. If I have no appointments or essential admin work, I can always work on generating leads. When planning, it’ll be helpful to keep these averages in mind:

  • 8 contacts = 1 hour
    • Top agents prospect 3 to 4 hours per day, between 8:00am and noon, 5 days per week.
  • 1 listing appointment = 1 hour
    • Top agents spend 30 minutes or less on listing appointment, schedule them between 3:00pm and 7:00pm, 5 days per week.
  • Negotiation = 30 minutes
    • Top agents will typically negotiate before 7:30am, between 1:00pm and 2:00pm, and/or after evening appointments.

Conclusion

You still have eight working days left in 2014 to start building momentum for the new year. Just as Nicodemus and Millburn started their journey to happiness by paring down their possessions, you can also pare down your business by starting with your schedule. Not only will free up willpower to hit your daily “do not fail” goal, you’ll discover the time and energy to surpass it and list more real estate.

For other techniques and lead generation habit tools, visit and “like” this Facebook page.

Subscribe to Willpowered for daily scientific strategies to increase willpower in other areas of your life.

Alex Cavelli is a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Northeast. Connect with Alex via linkedin.com/in/cavelli or Alexcavelli@kw.com.

Nichify : Blog Small for Big Online Results

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 11:26

Charlie Allred

By Charlie Allred

What if every time you posted something online, you thought about providing the most value to the person looking for that information? How would your online presence change? My guess is that it would become more focused.

You have an area of expertise, right?  The Internet and your potential clients online don’t know that unless you tell them. Your website and/or blog should be your way of telling these potential clients what you are doing in real life.

For example, instead of writing about Mesa, Ariz., write about a specific neighborhood in Mesa. Or you can talk about upcoming events in that specific neighborhood.  If you are very specific, your content is much more likely to show up in organic search results.

Credit: ariadna, 2013. Morguefile

When planning your blog posts, think about the buying cycle for your area and try to publish content based on readers’ needs. Ask yourself what community information you can provide your potential client to add real value.

Real estate is all about the community. Find out what community or neighborhood information a potential buyer might seek, then provide it in an easy-to-read, and digestible format on your blog.

A couple of examples from my blog:

  1. Area information for people who are thinking about moving to Arizona
  2. Community information about the districts of Old Town Scottsdale
  3. Real estate information about Old Town Scottsdale homes

The myth in real estate is that you might miss out on sales if you specialize in one neighborhood. But I suggest that you find a niche, dominate it, and then move on to another niche. Writing an article about one specific neighborhood doesn’t mean that next week you can’t write about the adjacent neighborhood.  Eventually, you can write an article on each of the neighborhoods in which you specialize. And that’s the real value for your readers (and potential clients).

Charlie Allred is a Phoenix-based designated broker for Secure Real Estate and author of the book “Pinnable Real Estate: Pinterest for Real Estate Agents.” She is a Pinterest expert coaching agents on how to gain more leads, followers, and clients by using Pinterest. Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.

Don’t LOOK for Opportunity in 2015

Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:11

Anand Patel

By Anand Patel

As we close out the year, you may be looking for opportunities and new avenues to success in 2015. I’m here to tell you that you’re doing it all wrong.

The last few months, while speaking at REALTOR® associations as well as with my own agents, I have been sharing three specific thoughts that have been weighing on my mind as we wrap up 2014. I think that together, they can open up your life to success more than any attempt to hunt down “opportunity.”

“Opportunities? They are all around us…There is power lying latent everywhere waiting for the observant eye to discover it.”
–Orison Swett Marden, inspirational author and founder of Success Magazine

1. Everything happens for a reason.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “hindsight is 20/20.” With that in mind, take a moment and look back at past events in your life that you may have initially perceived as negative and reevaluate them with the notion that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps it’s a negative comment someone said to you when you were young that stuck with you instead of a positive quality a teacher or parent saw in you. Maybe it was an event where you failed at something and instead of focusing on the lessons learned, you held onto the failure itself.  Looking back at these memories in this light will open you up to a totally new perspective. My father shared this notion with me over ten years ago that everything, EVERYTHING happens for a reason and nothing happens by chance. It took me a while to fully understand what he meant, but once I did interesting things began to happen for me.

2. Be present in the moment.

Being present in the moment means being aware of what is going on around us. It means starting up a conversation with the person behind you in line at the grocery store. It means saying hello to the person sitting next to you in an educational class at your local association. It means putting your cell phone away when having dinner with your family (I get in trouble for this one a lot).  It means picking up the phone and calling someone instead of texting them.  Being present in the moment means bringing real conversations back into your life. It means asking those around you “how can I help?”

To a certain degree, this will happen automatically when you truly believe everything happens for a reason. By understanding there’s a reason behind the people you encounter, events that happen, and conversations you engage in, you will inevitably begin to make the conscious effort to be present.

3. Opportunity surrounds us.

Understanding that everything happens for a reason and grasping the importance of being present in the moment now leaves you open to the opportunity that surrounds you. Remember that conversation in the grocery store? It turns out they are looking to buy a new home. The real estate professional you chatted with at the association event? She happens to have the perfect buyer for the unique listing you’ve had a tough time selling. When you put your cell phone away at the restaurant? You just had the most interesting conversation with your daughter who had been craving your attention all evening. That time you picked up the phone instead of texting? The conversation led you to finding the business partner of the new brokerage you just opened.

Sound crazy? I promise you, try it and you will be astounded by the number of opportunities that will come to you. If you spend your days looking for opportunity, in essence you are telling yourself opportunity is elusive and you have to seek it out. That is far from the truth.

By believing that everything happens for a reason, and by being present in the moment, we will begin to see that opportunity surrounds us everywhere. So as you prepare for 2015, don’t waste your time looking for opportunity, as it has been waiting for you all along.

Anand Patel is broker and president of Pangea Realty Group based in Tampa, Fla. You can connect with Anand on Twitter: @anand_tampa, Facebook: www.facebook.com/prgtampa, or LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anandpatel1.

Scientifically Develop the Habit of Lead Generation: Part 3

Thu, 12/04/2014 - 09:40

Alex Cavelli

By Alex Cavelli

“There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.”
—Napoleon Hill

In part 1 and part 2, I used what I’ve learned from Willpower Scientist Colin Robertson to show how you can scientifically develop the keystone habit of lead generation. Before continuing, I suggest reading (or re-reading) both sections.

Now that you have a specific vehicle for keeping yourself on track with prospecting, I want to give you the fuel. But first, an inspiring story…

Think and Grow Rich

Meet Edwin C. Barnes. As a rather poor young man in the early 1900s, Barnes’ obsession was to become the right-hand man to the great Thomas A. Edison.

Barnes & Edison, with an Ediphone. Library of Congress

When the idea first flashed across Barnes’ mind, it was nothing more than a wish. He had no money, no presentable clothing, little education, and zero connection to the inventor. Still, months passed in which Barnes’ imaginary partnership with Edison started to become real in his own mind.

Through his persistent visualization, Barnes developed the self-confidence to take positive action. He snuck onto a freight train to Orange, N.J. in order to meet Edison. As Edison described him, “He stood there before me, looking like an ordinary tramp, but there was something in the expression of his face which conveyed the impression that he was determined to get what he had come after.”

He was hired. Even after months of menial work with no promise of promotion, Barnes kept his burning desire in the forefront of his mind while awaiting his opportunity. When Edison perfected the Ediphone, none of his salesmen were excited about this odd device. Except for Barnes. Because of Barnes’ particular enthusiasm, Edison gave Barnes the opportunity to sell the Ediphone. Barnes sold it so successfully that Edison gave him the contract to distribute all over the nation. Turns out this business alliance lasted for thirty more years, and Barnes finally achieved his burning desire.

How did Barnes rise to the top? Let’s ask our willpower scientist.

The Science

Colin Robertson says there are three different types of willpower, each using distinct parts of the brain.

1.    “I WILL” POWER

We use this to do the tough things that accomplish our goals.  We use it to exercise, organize our desks, and pick up the phone to dial another prospect.

2.    “I WON’T” POWER 

This is the power we use to resist the various temptations in our lives. We call upon this to resist the burger and fries on the lunch menu, our true feelings about rude clients, and daily distractions that keep us from prospecting.

3.    “I WANT” POWER

This is the most important type of willpower. It’s the part of the brain that remembers our long-term goals, dreams and desires—what we really want. You may have experienced this type of willpower when you were inspired by a great speech or leader, or when you found extra motivation to meet a seemingly impossible sales goal.

This is the type of willpower that Barnes drew upon to go from an “ordinary tramp” to partner with Thomas Edison. Because willpower is like a muscle, the more Barnes reinforced his vision and desire, the stronger his willpower became. This gave him the inspiration to take action and persevere through years of working at the bottom.

Application:

To increase your “I want” power, you must visualize your ultimate business. Ask yourself these specific questions about what your business will look like when you retire from real estate:

  • How will it run?
  • Will you have a large and dominating brokerage, or a relatively small but mighty team?
  • What excites you about this vision?
  • Most importantly, what does this ultimate business mean for you, your family, and community? And what will you be able to do and give as a result?

The clearer your vision of your long-term goal, the easier it will be to use your “I want” power to achieve it. Once you have visualized your ultimate business, you need to be able to see the steps to get there. Barnes may have had a large vision, but he also had the discipline to complete the day-to-day tasks that would get him there. Ask yourself these questions to help you visualize your prospecting process:

  • What time do you start?
  • Who are you calling?
  • How do your conversations go?
  • What does setting an appointment each day look like? How about setting five appointments per day?
  • Are you consistent?
  • Are you having fun?

To get started, you can try this visualization exercise.

One caution: When we visualize our burning desire, we can get a false sense of reward as if it’s already happened for us. And when we get that sense of reward we can lose the motivation to take action toward it. So be sure to use visualization as a starting point for action. Positive thoughts mean nothing if they’re not followed by positive action.

Conclusion

Let us learn from Edwin C. Barnes. He succeeded because he backed his burning desire with definite plan of action. If you want to be the best and enjoy the benefits and responsibilities of what that affords, you have to first envision what life is like at your best.

Visualization has a snowball effect. I find that the more consistently I visualize, the clearer my vision becomes and the easier it is to see the path. When the path becomes easy to see, taking definite action is both simpler and more fun. As Napoleon Hill concluded, “Oh, what a different story men would have to tell if they would adopt a definite purpose and stand by that purpose until it had time to become an all-consuming desire.”

Get started today. Write out your raw, unedited visualization and e-mail it to me. I’ll even share mine with you.

For future posts and prospecting tools, visit and “like” this Facebook page. To learn more willpower secrets, connect with Colin Robertson here.

Alex Cavelli is a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Northeast. Connect with Alex via linkedin.com/in/cavelli or Alexcavelli@kw.com.

Scientifically Develop the Habit of Lead Generation: Part 2

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 11:18

Alex Cavelli

By Alex Cavelli

“Consistency is far better than rare moments of greatness.”
—Scott Ginsberg

Last week I introduced willpower scientist Colin Robertson’s “Do Not Fail” approach —step one in the plan to scientifically developing the keystone habit of lead generation.

After Robertson helped me decide on my personal do-not-fail goal for the number of contacts I was to make each day, he then introduced the key to this approach: consistent action.

The Seinfeld Method

After a live performance, legendary comic Jerry Seinfeld was approached by a young and aspiring comedian. The young comic asked what was the No. 1 thing that contributed to Seinfield’s stratospheric success. Seinfeld’s answer was simple: “In order to succeed at comedy, you need to tell better jokes. In order to tell better jokes, you need to write jokes every day. So what you need to do is get a giant calendar of the whole year. Every day that you write a new joke, mark a big red X on that day. Then, just don’t break the chain.”

Let’s pretend Seinfeld was talking to you and me as real estate sales professionals. He might say, “In order to succeed in real estate, you need to talk to more people about real estate. And in order to talk to more people, you need to prospect every day. So what you need to do is get a giant calendar of the whole year. Every day that you prospect, mark a big red X on that day. Then just don’t break the chain.”

The Science

Most of us experience a constant tug-of-war between motivation and procrastination.  The world’s top performers, from CEOs to professional athletes, all have one thing in common: consistency. The best performers in every walk of life, like Seinfeld explained, do their work with remarkable consistency and consider everything else a distraction.

The Seinfeld Strategy works because it’s process-oriented and not results-oriented. It’s not about waiting for the “perfect moment” of inspiration; it’s about making progress every single day. And every time we make progress, we achieve a small win and gain confidence that we can “continue the chain.” The longer the chain gets, the harder it will be for you to break it. And that’s a good thing.

Application

Here’s how to make it real: Take the remainder of your 2014 schedule and decide which days you will accomplish your do-not-fail daily contact goal. Let go of everything else in your business and devote your willpower to the Seinfeld Method. When you hit your daily goal, mark it somewhere you can see. Use a calendar (like this) or e-mail me and I will send you a complimentary real estate Seinfeld Method spreadsheet.

If you break the chain (and you probably will), start over.  It may be comforting to know that even the best free-throw shooters in the NBA score only 80 percent of the time from the line. Imagine prospecting 80 percent of the days you said you would. For most of us that’s still 4 days out of the workweek!

The law of accumulation and the law of cause and effect are your best friends. These consistent efforts over time will yield consistent results over time. I challenge you to think of a more effective way.

Next time we’ll talk about the science of “definiteness of purpose” as it relates to lead generation. In the meantime, if you’re curious about my progress and would like to discuss a lead generation plan that works for you, please contact me.

Alex Cavelli is a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Northeast. Connect with Alex via linkedin.com/in/cavelli or Alexcavelli@kw.com.

Six Reasons You Need a Mentor

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 11:16

By Brittney Schwartz, REALTOR® University

The to-do list for a new real estate professional is long. You’ve got to learn how to use your MLS, figure out the mechanics of hosting a stellar open house, and much more. Those basics are important, but right at the top of that list is finding a good mentor.

You have a lot to gain by forming a relationship with a colleague, role model, or a personal career guru who is willing to share his or her wisdom with a protégé (namely: you). Everyone from Bill Clinton to Oprah talks about the importance mentors have played in their careers. They can guide you through tricky situations and provide helpful advice about finding the perfect niche. But a mentor can do so much more.

  1. A mentor can help you gain perspective. The years of knowledge and practical experience you will gain are absolutely invaluable. A seasoned role model has “been there, done that” and is in a great position to tell you what to do and, better yet, what not to do. Just think of all the insightful information about prospecting and effective lead follow-up techniques they have up their sleeve!
  2. A mentor can give you a competitive advantage. A real estate veteran can arm you with the essential skills to achieve peak performance in the industry—and we’re not just talking sales. If you select a mentor who works at the same company as you do, they can provide invaluable insider information on how to navigate company politics, get things done, and promote yourself within the organization.
  3. A mentor can help you think outside the box. Learn what they didn’t teach you in school through a bond with a higher-up. A mentor can help you look at situations in new ways and ask hard questions to help you solve problems. They can also help you develop emotionally. In the first five years of your career, you are still developing an understanding of yourself and your impact on others. A mentor is there to help you grow both professionally and personally.
  4. A mentor can help you define and reach goals. Your mentor should be someone who has a career you aspire to. He or she can help you lay the groundwork by setting short-term and long-term goals, and by recognizing your accomplishments along the way. Closed your first sale—check!  Didn’t give up on finding a difficult client the perfect home after months and months of searching—way to go!
  5. A mentor can expand your social network. Your mentor is likely to have an extensive network of industry relationships that would take you years to cultivate. They can introduce you to the right people and open doors that might not otherwise be accessible.
  6. A mentor can inspire you. Mentors have the lives we want for ourselves; they’re the ones whose careers we’re in awe of, whose lifestyles and values mirror our own. These mentor-mentee relationships are empowering—and might just end up being one of the most important relationships you have.

Now that you know the importance of a mentor, how do you seek out the right one? Find someone whose career aligns with your goals, and tell them you admire them and would love to get their feedback on your job performance. Also, emulate them. Eat what they eat for breakfast, so to speak. Use their advice and hit the ground running. Soak up all you can. Before you know you it, you’ll have a young real estate agent asking if you can be their mentor.

Your state and local associations can also help you in this important search. NAR is full of resources for mentors, mentees, and organizations, including a mentorship program available for students of the Master of Real Estate program. You can also view our updated field guide for help more on mentoring in the real estate industry.

Scientifically Develop the Habit of Lead Generation: Part 1

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 08:50

Alex Cavelli

By Alex Cavelli

“First you make your habits, then your habits make you.”
Lucas Remmerswaal

We all have good intentions. Early in my career, I set a lofty goal. My intention was to prospect Monday through Friday and speak with 25 people each day about their lives and real estate.

For about six months, Monday and Tuesday were strong days for me.  I was feeling productive.  Best of all, I was setting appointments and winning listings at a rate I was happy with.

But by the time Wednesday or Thursday hit, I lost my motivation. I went from making 25 contacts on Monday and Tuesday, to 15 on Wednesday, to maybe 10 on Thursday. By Friday I was down to zero. Not only did fail to measure up, I also started questioning my commitment and abilities—not good for the psyche.

What happened? Regardless of my skill level, there had to be an explanation of why it was so challenging to finish a full week of lead generation. So, I spoke with willpower scientist Colin Robertson. Robertson runs a company called Willpowered and has devoted his life to scientifically determine what it takes to win our mental battles.

After explaining my situation to Robertson, our conversation went like this:

Robertson: Would you expect to run 25 miles your first time out?
Me: Of course not.
Robertson: Why?
Me: That’s not realistic. I can’t finish that without training.
Robertson: So then what would you do?
Me: I would start at maybe three miles and build up from there.
Robertson: Why three?
Me: Because three miles is challenging, but I know I can finish.
Robertson: Alex, have you ever talked to 25 people for five straight days about real estate?

See? Makes sense. Robertson says that, as humans, we tend to be overly optimistic about our abilities when attempting to develop a new “keystone habit”. It’s sort of like the New Year’s resolution effect. We get super excited early on but soon our willpower fades and we are back to square one.

Starting at 125 contacts per week, at least for me, was like running a marathon on day one. I was setting myself up for failure. Instead, we had two choices: We can start with that New Year’s resolution type of goal that ultimately fizzles out, or we can approach the problem scientifically.

“Do Not Fail.” Robertson’s very simple and manageable “Do Not Fail” philosophy is the starting point to creating great habits. We tend to approach goals like I did – wanting big results right away. But when trying to create a habit, consistency is what we should be aiming for. Here’s how Robertson helped me determine the right goal for me:

Robertson: How many people can you talk to consistently each day that guarantees you will finish?
Me: I can probably make 15 contacts on a consistent basis.
Robertson: “Probably” won’t work. What is the number that guarantees that you will not fail?
Me: I see. That number is definitely ten.
Robertson: For the next four weeks, talk with ten people each day. No more, no less.

Here’s the science. In making ten contacts/day, there are no days where I don’t make any progress. Every day my client list is growing no matter what. And with every day that I make ten contacts, confidence grows that I’ll be able to make ten contacts the next day (and the next day) as well. When I’m ready, I can increase that number to 15 or 20 – just like a runner would gradually increase his or her mileage when training for a marathon.

The end, for now. Our career is not comprised of one sprint. It’s rather about running with a steady, consistent pace and then increasing that pace over time. If you want to run a marathon, then start with a 5k and pace yourself. In other words, to start the habit of lead generation, set aside one hour each day to make anywhere from 5-10 contacts with your sphere, past clients, FSBOs, or expireds. The point is to be consistent and start with a goal that guarantees you will finish.

Next week we’ll connect with Mr. Willpowered again to discuss the next step to scientifically develop the habit of prospecting: “The Seinfeld Method.”

In the meantime, if you’re curious about my progress and would like to discuss a lead generation plan that works for you, please contact me. I can be your first contact of many.

Alex Cavelli is a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Northeast. Connect with Alex via linkedin.com/in/cavelli or Alexcavelli@kw.com.

Be Professional to Be Successful

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 11:05

By Brandon Johnson

There’s a real trick to appearing, communicating, and performing like an experienced real estate professional. And, as a 23-year-old agent who got his real estate license in June of this year, I want to share how I transformed myself in less than half a year on the job.

Only 3 percent of licensees are under the age of thirty in my local association, and I am the second youngest overall. Still, I can proudly say I have started off strong as the youngest agent in our brokerage to make the top producer’s list my third month as a licensee. The key to my early success is that I quickly adjusted to the demands of being a real estate pro in three key areas.

Looking Like a Professional. I look young. When people initially meet me, many are inclined to think I’ve just graduated from high school. Therefore, the hardest part of working an open house the first few times was not answering questions about taxes or square footage. I realized that customers came in assuming that I am not an expert, a professional, or in some cases not even a real estate agent. I needed to change that, so I started to experiment with my attire. When I started to wear a shirt, tie, blazer, and slacks, clients started to ask real estate questions and not questions asked about how much experience I had. I realized I had to change my appearance to stand out compared to other agents. If a customer attended a dozen open houses on a Sunday I wanted to be the agent that stood out so that when I followed up they would remember me. As a result, my open house activity directly contributed to thirty percent of my closings.

Speaking Like a Professional. Of course, a clothing change isn’t going to stop everyone from asking about my boyish looks. But when clients did ask, I realized I could simply state that I am working in my first year under our company’s mentor program and get back to the real estate questions. But when a customer seriously questions your age as a negative factor of being a real estate agent, you cannot let them leave your presence without proving that your age is actually an asset. I tell clients that since I am younger I have fewer commitments, allowing me to spend more time focusing on my career. When you explain that you have devoted your life to a new career and that you are passionate about working in real estate, people will understand that you truly want to work for them. When I tell them of my early successes, I am not boasting. I am telling them that I am qualified to represent them as a real estate expert. The best advice I received about communicating like a professional was not to rush into answers to sound like you know it all. If a customer asks a question that you cannot answer with certainty, tell them. I respond by saying they asked a good question and I would like to ask the listing agent or my manager to provide the most accurate answer in a timely manner. If I’m at an open house I tell them that I will respond to them Monday afternoon and ask for their contact information. Because I was honest, I usually am able to turn that short interaction into a lead.

Goal Planning Like a Professional. I told our managing broker that I wanted to close a million dollars’ worth of deals before the end of the year. Her response was not negative, but it was not optimistic either. I entered into real estate clueless of what an average first-year agent produces. I wanted to be a top producer, and that led to me working like a top producer. I noticed that the most experienced agents in our office started working around 8:30 in the morning. I made it a goal to beat them into the office every morning. I noticed that many agents work an open house every Sunday but the best agents work two, so that’s what I do. I can honestly say the amount of time I spend in the office is the reason that I have generated most of my leads. Lead generation aside, my time spent in the office impresses the more experienced agents I work with. I tell my clients that I have 100 years of experience because of the network I have built in our office with my fellow real estate agents. I tell them that my company will not let me fail, and that my goal is to build a relationship with them that will be converted into a closing.

Brandon Johnson was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois. He graduated from Keith Country Day School in 2009, graduated from the University of Illinois in 2013. During his time there studied Spanish linguistics and international relations, became a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and expanded his family’s business. He became a licensed broker in June 2014. Brandon is a council member of Rockford Illinois’ Young Professional Network. Also, at the age of 23 he is one of the youngest licensees in the Rockford Association. Outside of real estate Brandon is a certified IHSA Basketball official and enjoys being involved with the community.

6 Twitter Rules for Real Estate Agents

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 15:45

By Bill Gassett

You know you need to be on Twitter, and you have even heard other agents talk about how much traffic the social media giant can garner, but you have given it a go with nearly zero results. So what gives? Well, chances are you aren’t using the site correctly, and you aren’t alone. Twitter is confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can actually be both fun and worthwhile. Start out with these Twitter rules every real estate agent should be following.

1. Keep it Interesting

One of the biggest mistakes that real estate agents make using Twitter is tweeting their listings. Bo-ring! It’s also ineffective for two reasons. First: People are not using Twitter to search for their next home. Second: A user’s Twitter feed is constantly moving, so your tweet needs to stand out from the crowd.

Instead of listings, share important news stories and helpful articles, with a variety of videos and pictures. The best-case scenario is pointing to useful content on your own site. One of the first things I do after posting a piece on my Massachusetts Real Estate Blog is to tweet the article out to my followers.

Bottom line: You only get 140 characters, and you better make them count.

2. Use Hashtags

Hashtags are everywhere these days, but they began on Twitter and it continues to be crucial that you use them there. A hashtag will increase your reach tremendously because it makes your posts searchable by everyone, not just your followers. Try popular industry tags, such as #realestate, #home, or #interiordesign. Or give one of these calendar-based hashtags a try:

  • #TBT – Every Thursday, Twitter will be flooded with this hashtag, which stands for Throwback Thursday. Just post a picture from many years ago with a clever comment (and the #TBT hashtag, of course).
  • #FF – On Fridays, this hashtag will be prevalent. It stands for “Follow Friday” and it’s a way for you to recommend other people on Twitter who you think are worthy of more followers. Watch the #FF posts of industry folks you admire and you’ll also find this hashtag is a great way for you to make some lasting connections beyond your sphere.

3. Be Relevant

Twitter gives you many tools to stay up-to-date on what everyone is talking about, so use them. Employ the search function to see what the hot topics are in the real estate world and your local area. Also, pay attention to what’s trending so you can add your two cents on the popular subjects of the day.

4. Always Proofread

…no matter what. You are never too busy to re-read your message before you hit the Tweet button. Yes, you can always delete it after the fact, but it’s likely someone has already seen it by then.

5. Use Formatting to Your Advantage

Even though you technically get 140 characters, it’s always smart to aim for 120. Why? If someone wants to re-tweet your post but add their own comments, they need the space to do so. You want to make re-tweeting as easy as possible for them.

6. Stay Positive

Keep your messages cheerful, don’t get involved in Twitter wars, and always maintain a professional appearance. Many people turn to Twitter to vent, but that’s not the vibe you want to give off here.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized Real Estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past twenty seven plus years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX Realtors in New England for the past decade. In 2013 he was the #1 RE/MAX agent in Massachusetts. See all his real estate articles at www.maxrealestateexposure.com.

3 Ways to Earn More Business than 99% of Your Competition

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 11:39

By Jay O’Brien

I recently had the pleasure of receiving an e-mail from a new agent in Washington state asking me for advice. Being roughly the same age as one another, he examined my results at a glance and was eager to know what caused them. I had a great discussion with this individual and felt the dialogue was worth sharing publicly.

It’s not uncommon for me to receive a phone call like this, or have a conversation with a new agent who has been told it will take several months/years before earning an income in real estate. This is absolutely flawed thinking, and if this is the advice you’re being given from your new brokerage or “mentor,” RUN.

See, we often witness consumers gravitating toward the big names in the industry within our local areas. “This person owns that city” or “that person has been around for decades.” But let’s rewind for a minute. Zoom out. Why is it that these top dog agents are earning so much business? Is it because of the innovative ideas they have, the new resources they use, the sweat equity they pour into each deal? Maybe… but too often that’s not the case. Chances are much higher that the marketing techniques that they used decades ago are yielding the results they are still benefiting from today.

So if a seasoned agent hands you a phone book, or encourages blasting a neighborhood with postcards to get new business, it may be time to reconsider who you’re surrounding yourself with. However: There are three things you can do to make damn sure you are selling more real estate than 99 percent of the agents in your area.

  1. Add more value than your competition. Anyone can provide a “free home valuation” or a “free market analysis.” You need to think of other ways to really add value to someone’s life, whether they’re looking to make a move or not. How about evaluating their property taxes to see if they’re paying too much? How about handling the entire appeal process with the county on their behalf? You just essentially found a way to put money in their pocket with nothing expected in exchange. I’m sure you can think of other selfless acts that homeowners could benefit from that might have nothing to do with selling their home. This will earn buy-in and ultimately create a level of trust. And that’s what will really form a sustainable business.
  2. Think like a consumer. Do you read postcards? Do you like when people waste your time with useless information? Probably not. Find the common denominators that connect you to your audience and get out of the business mentality. The relationships you’re after are not transactional. First, build a foundation of trust and get people to simply know and like who you are. Be subtle with your successes and don’t advertise open houses and new listings to people who couldn’t care less. If you want to share with someone else that you’re a REALTOR®, simply ask what they do for a living. They will almost always reciprocate the question, and will be much more interested in your answer because they asked and you didn’t project it on them.
  3. Always do what you said you were going to do. Follow up constantly. You’d be surprised how many people lose business simply from a lack of communication. If you said you’re going to call, pick up the phone. If you said you were going to send listings, do it. Even if you over-promised, figure out a way to deliver rather than back-peddling. It will go a long way, and it will be remembered.

Jay O’Brien began his real estate career as the first agent for RE/MAX Prestige. Within the first year of being a full-time real estate agent, Jay completed more transactions than 99 percent of agents in Orange County and earned his way into the RE/MAX 100 Percent Club. A large part of Jay’s business is generated through leveraging technology for his clients and has been specifically recognized in the nationally-published RE/MAX Above Magazine. With a degree in economics and business, Jay enjoys producing forecasts of the market and delves into the numbers with his clients to help them better understand the current conditions prior to signing a contract. He has written articles for REALTOR® Magazine, Facilities Management Magazine, and Real Estate Marketing Magazine as well as been heard on Clear Channel’s Patriot 1150AM to cast out advice to buyers, sellers, and other real estate agents. Jay owns and operates RE/MAX Prestige in Costa Mesa, CA and runs the Mentor Program for new agents.

In Their Prime: YPNers Celebrate Wins

Sun, 11/09/2014 - 15:48

YPNers cut a rug at Generations Hall in New Orleans on Friday night during the announcement of the Networks of the Year.

It seemed more than fitting that the rising young stars of real estate joined some of their older, more-experienced brethren at Generations Hall in New Orleans on Friday night. The reception during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo crowned the best and brightest from REALTOR® Magazine’s Young Professionals Network.

Age was nothing—not even a number—to the partygoers as they put aside their business stresses for an evening of mingling, dancing, and celebrating another year well done. Boulder (Colo.) Area REALTORS® Association YPN earned the Small Network of the Year award; Birmingham (Ala.) Association of REALTORS® YPN took home Medium Network of the Year; Scottsdale (Ariz.) Area Association of REALTORS® YPN won Large Network of the Year; and California Association of REALTORS® YPN was named State Network of the Year.

Check out all the fun from the raucous night below. (No one was present from Scottsdale to accept their award.)

The California Association of REALTORS® won the State Network of the Year.

The Birmingham (Ala.) Association of REALTORS® YPN took home the Medium Network of the Year.

The Boulder (Colo.) Area REALTORS® Association YPN snagged the Small Network of the Year.

It was a packed house at Generations Hall for the YPN reception.

Geo-Farming Part 2: Big Data

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 14:44

Brandon Doyle

By Brandon Doyle

By now, most of us know that establishing a geo-farm can be an excellent way to gain listings over the long run. In March of this year, I posted an article titled “Geo-Farming to Build Your Business,” in which I describe strategies for identifying an area to farm and tactics for building your brand and reputation. While these methods are still tried-and-true, a new technology has emerged to make geo-farming more effective and easier than ever before.

Statically, home owners will move every seven years, on average. This is very easy to track using public tax records. This also allows us to also look up how much they paid, and mash that data up using an automated value system to get an idea of what the home might be worth now. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to market to someone who just bought their home, or someone who is completely upside down on their mortgage. We want to focus our marketing efforts on those who may be ready, willing, and able to sell.

Consider the reasons people decide to sell, whether it is a job promotion, marriage, new addition to the family, job relocation, graduation, divorce, or death – most real estate sales occur because of a major life change. If you were able to know when these events occur, in theory, you could get in front of the sellers at just the right time.

Enter the world of big data and predictive analytics. There are companies out there now that gather massive amounts of data about homes, and the people that live in those homes, and run algorithms to identify patterns and behaviors that could lead to a future listing. Sound crazy? I thought so too. After all, how can anyone know when a job loss is going to occur in the future that may require downsizing? Or, how would they know a family is growing and just ran out of bedroom space? While these companies can’t learn everything about a household by compiling data, they do know a lot. The information is out there – such as Internet searches, mailing lists, social media, and other public records – it’s just a matter of who is compiling it to make sense for us as real estate professionals.

There is one company in particular, SmartZip, which has molded its technology into a high-tech version of geo-farming. With their backbone in real estate data, they have accumulated so much information about neighborhoods and transactions that they can help real estate clients choose the most optimal area to farm based on expected turnover in the next year. You can actually look at neighborhoods side-by-side and decide which one to focus your time on. After you choose an area to farm, they call it their “SmartFarm,” you then get exclusive access to the home owners most likely to list in the next six to 12 months. The list is ranked, with the idea being that you should focus your marketing efforts on the top 20 percent.

They also offer a multichannel marketing approach, which includes post cards, hand written notes, and social media ads. The marketing is designed to drive traffic to a splash page where the home owners can get an estimated value, similar to Prime Seller Leads program.

Once you’ve identified that a home owner is curious about their value, it is your job to get in front of them. By now, you should have been marketing to them on a fairly regular basis. As with any marketing beyond your sphere group, it will take time for your campaign to be effective, and for you to earn the trust of your neighborhood. Once you’re recognized as the expert in the area, all your hard work will pay off.

Suffice to say, geo-farming just got way better.

Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. Learn more about Brandon at www.doylerealestateteam.com.