In a sellers’ market, salespeople could quote almost any price to sellers and rely on a rising market to achieve their overquoted prices.
I won’t go into the ethics of this practice, but suffice to say that this type of salesperson is going to find life very difficult as the market shifts, and I don’t feel sorry for them one little bit.
As the market transitions from a sellers’ market to a stable market and then into a buyers’ market, the time may quickly come in your area when it becomes necessary for you to give price more focus in your listing presentations.
To make sales in stable markets, and especially in buyers’ markets, salespeople must “price right”, and this requires skill.
Here are some strategies you might consider so that your listings are priced to sell:
Accurate Estimated Selling Range
Salespeople are notorious for avoiding the issue of price. They use no price strategies such as Expression of Interest or auction, but these are less effective when buyers are calling the shots.
Sellers must hear an honest estimate of the likely selling price range for their properties in this current market. This must be done diplomatically, but it must be done.
For many years I have said, “To tell the truth in real estate and still win the business, you must be an outstanding presenter‘.
Your competitors may lie, but you should not. Ever.
Evidence is now more important in a shifting market. Comparable sales that are three months old may no longer be relevant.
Do your research and give evidence that helps sellers understand where their property sits in the current market.
Accurate and specific price feedback
Salespeople don’t like delivering bad news, and with the wrong attitude passing on buyer feedback to sellers can be regarded this way. Instead of looking at delivering price feedback as bad news, change your thinking – you are helping your clients achieve their goals.
Buyers will not give you their opinions of price unless you ask them. When you ask buyers what they feel your listing is worth, and then pass that feedback to your sellers, you are doing your sellers a great service.
Since most sellers are expecting more for their properties than they are worth, sellers must be coached to help them see where their property sits in the market. This must be done honestly and without pressure.
Accurate feedback from specific buyers helps sellers to move from overpriced to market price.
Why do your clients want to sell? Do they have a strong reason for putting their property on the market? If they don’t, why take them on?
Working with people who aren’t serious about selling, who don’t have a strong emotional centrepoint for selling, are not only a waste of your time and your company’s money, but they also wear you down. In buyers’ markets, you will face enough negativity without inflicting it on yourself by taking on the wrong people. Leave those sellers who aren’t serious for your desperate competitors.
A Time For Skill
When the market shifts, it becomes a time for skill. There are many real estate salespeople who are what I call “market victims’. When the market is booming, those salespeople do well. When it isn’t, they don’t.
Skilled salespeople do well in every market. They know that when the market changes, some of their selling techniques must also change.
They know they must price their listings to sell.
In this short sales session, real estate agency profit consultant asks, “Can sellers’ markets conceal mediocrity?”
Markets in many areas are going through a shift. Across Australia and New Zealand, salespeople report that the sellers’ market has come to an end.
In sellers’ markets, if salespeople listed properties the market took care of the sales. In shifting markets, salespeople have more work to do. Listing properties is fairly easy, but working with the sellers to help them understand the market takes skill.
Winners do well in any market, not just during sellers’ markets. Mediocre salespeople who struggle when markets turn ‘interesting’ had better keep praying for the next boom!
The Covid years saw a rise in the prominence of online training. After all, if we wanted live training, that’s the best we could do, right?
At Pittard, we were giving online presentations six years before Covid. We believed then, as we do now, that online training has its place in the delivery of quality training. But it’s important to know its limitations. Online training will take you only so far.
Given a choice between online training and in-person training, face-to-face training is still the best way to absorb training. I believe that now the market has shifted, face-to-face has an even more important part to play in team development.
In 2014, Pittard moved away from delivering training via CD. We developed our streaming app, iTrain®, and eight years later it’s still a valuable tool for salespeople and leaders, allowing them to stream quality training wherever they may be. And they always have the latest version available to them because iTrain is updated regularly.
Despite the amount of training material available to them, our clients still say that they prefer face-to-face training over any other delivery method.
The reasons they prefer face-to-face are:
- Absorption: they find that they are more absorbed in the learning experience. It’s much easier to ‘zone out’ online. They take more notes, and remember more after an in-person event. Rookies who studied our Winning Ways program first on iTrain report that attending Winning Ways face-to-face helped them understand the program better, to ‘join the dots’.
- Networking: during the breaks, salespeople and leaders network with other agencies. Pittard clients who are also in franchises tell us that they’d prefer to refer clients to salespeople they met at a Pittard event than they would to a salespeople in their franchise, because Pittard salespeople are better trained and are more likely to win the business.
- Team bonding: having the team together at a face-to-face event helps with team bonding. The team have meals together, talk about what they learnt that day, get to know each other better. Leaders report that this is especially important now the market has shifted.
- Spot those who regard training highly: our leaders report that watching their salespeople during training helps leaders discern which team members value training and which ones don’t. Salespeople who sit back with their arms folded and who do not take notes do not value training, do not have a winning culture, and will always be mediocre. Even worse is the inevitable negative impact they have on other team members, particularly rookies.
I agree that attending face-to-face events takes more time, cost and effort. Not wanting to take time out of the office is always going to be an excuse, but it’s a lame one at best. It’s a very dangerous attitude for a leader to have because the team will follow the leader and use the same excuse. Leaders should lead the way by attending seminars with their teams. A culture of learning is very profitable.
This effort is part of your investment in your team. If you and your team won’t invest in high quality and regular training, their incomes, and your profit, will suffer as the market shifts more towards a buyers’ market. Training helps you to make your business market-proof.
Pittard recently held its annual Leadership Conference, face-to-face for the first time in three years. The program was Leading a Real Estate Business Beyond You, presented by Andrew Trim. Eighty of our leaders attended, and there was a palpable atmosphere in the room – we were all so happy to be around each other, learning and sharing ideas during the breaks and at dinner in the evenings.
I don’t care what anyone says – you cannot get that atmosphere online.
Don’t let online make you lazy – get to a live face-to-face event with your team as soon as an opportunity presents itself. It’s still the best way to train.
In this short leadership session, Gary Pittard, Sales Leader at Pittard says, “Real estate leadership can be tough”. Things don’t always go as planned.
At times like this, it’s easy to complain: salespeople aren’t doing the right actions; salespeople aren’t performing; the market is tough; listings are tight; we’re not getting called in; you can’t find good people; etc.
But where does complaining get you?
Complaining fixes nothing. As leaders, we must be decisive. We must decide on the direction in which we want to take our company, and then follow up with purposeful action.
When a market shifts from a sellers’ market to a stable market, and then eventually to a buyers’ market, during those transitions the conversations between salesperson and client change, or at least they should.
During the sellers’ market, when salespeople sold everything they listed, handling the issue of likely selling price wasn’t a priority. Even properties that were listed over market price eventually sold, because the market rose to meet the listed price.
I’ll say that again:
During sellers’ markets, the market often rose to meet the listed price.
In your area, however, times may have changed.
Prices may have levelled out, but in many areas they are falling, and fast. In this current market, the market is no longer rising to catch up to the listed price.
The opposite is the case:
Listed prices must now come down to meet the market.
So, if you want to continue making sales, your conversations with sellers must change.
Price needs more discussion during the listing presentation
Here are three things you might want to add to your listing presentation.
- Evidence. What properties similar to the one you are listing have sold recently? I’m talking about the last month. Older data may no longer be relevant.
- Digital Footprint. The internet has a long memory. Once a property is listed, it leaves a trail. Buyers can look at history of this property, including how long it has been on the market. Properties that remain on the market too long attract bargain hunters and low offers.
- Dangers of listing high and leaving it there. If market prices are falling, the longer a seller holds out for an unachievable price, the lower the price they will eventually receive. This makes sense: if the market falls by 5% over six months, sell now and you get 5% more than if you wait for six months.
Price needs more attention between listing and sale
It doesn’t serve salespeople well to avoid conversations with sellers whose properties are overpriced. You didn’t have to address the issue of overpricing during a sellers’ market, but you do now.
A change in attitude can help. If you find yourself dreading having a conversation with a seller about repositioning the price, change your attitude. Don’t look on this as delivering bad news. Never walk in thinking, ‘They’ll never reduce to that figure”. Instead, look at recommending a reposition of price as helping those sellers achieve their goals, to sell at the highest price in TODAY’S MARKET and to improve their lives. You are giving service, not delivering bad news. Also, you should have set your sellers up for price discussions during your listing presentation.
For many years I have said, ‘It takes a skilled presenter to tell the truth in real estate and still win the business”. And a skilled presenter is what you must be in stable and in buyers’ markets.
Always remember that you are not responsible for the market; you are merely reporting on it to your sellers. Sellers need to be told the truth, but in such a way that they appreciate you for telling it, and not punish you for doing so. Diplomacy and tact must be coupled with the belief that you are telling them what they need to hear, and a determination to do what’s right for your clients.
Leaving clients sitting at the wrong price is not doing what is right for them.
Change the conversation and you will continue making sales.
During seminars and other training sessions, it is not uncommon to see attendees furiously taking notes, which may be flattering for the presenter, but begs the question, “What they do with those notes?”
Real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, believes that most of those notes are useless.
Your notetaking habits matter. Whether you type, handwrite or draw mind maps, without studying those notes afterwards, your retention will quickly wane.
Don’t waste good learning opportunities. Listen, write, store, review often, and then take those techniques into the field and practise them. Skill will be one reward, a higher income another.
When the market shifts, salespeople must shift with it. Conversations that were acceptable in a sellers’ market will not provide good outcomes in stable markets or in buyers’ markets.
Chances are high that your market has shifted to a buyers’ market very quickly. If so, has it caught your salespeople off guard?
In sellers’ markets, conversations around the issue of estimated selling price are different to similar conversations in other markets. I stress that I don’t agree with this conduct, but it was common in sellers’ markets for salespeople avoid price altogether, or to rely on overquoting to win listings. When the market is rising quickly, even salespeople who overquoted to win listings sold those properties because the market rose to a point where it reached the overquoted prices.
Not now. Salespeople must handle price differently, and for leaders who don’t want to see a dip in their profits, they must be mindful that their salespeople aren’t shirking their duty to correctly address price with their sellers.
Beware the shirkers or suffer the consequences.
There are two areas that leaders should address with their salespeople.
- Dealing with price at the listing presentation. Sellers must hear an honest estimate of the likely selling range for their property in this current market. If salespeople cannot accurately deliver an honest price estimate and still win the listing, they are not skilled enough to survive in a buyers’ market. Retrain or remove are a leader’s only two options.
- In shifting markets, salespeople must address the issue of overpriced listings.
If a property has been on the market for a month and it isn’t ‘cooking’ – it has a party or parties talking about buying it – it is overpriced, and the price must be adjusted.
Salespeople must stay on top of the asking prices of their listings and guide sellers with honest feedback about repositioning their asking prices to attract buyers.
Salespeople who will not address the need to reposition the prices of their ‘stuck’ listings are unskilled and will not make it. Again, retrain or remove are a leader’s only two options.
Your team can look on dealing with price as an unpleasant duty that should be avoided, or they can look on the right price as a necessity for selling properties in a buyers’ market. Furthermore, they can look on telling sellers the truth about price as a service to their clients, a service that will help those clients achieve their goal to sell and move. A change in attitude can do wonders.
Dealing with price is a necessity and one of attitude. Leaders, beware of the shirkers and be sure that your salespeople are doing their job, that is to list and SELL properties at the highest market price.
You know a great leader when you encounter one. You also can easily recognise poor leaders. What qualities do great leaders have that poor leaders don’t?
In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, says that great leaders have the ‘right stuff’.
With study and practice we can all develop the right stuff – we can all be great leaders.
And, should times turn tough, you will be glad you did.
My wife and I have a property on the market. It’s with an agent we trust, and it’s listed exclusively.
Around 6 weeks into the marketing campaign, I received a phone call from another agent who asked whether I’d consider changing agencies. My reply?
“How would you feel if other agents rang your exclusively-listed clients?”
That wasn’t a response this agent was expecting and there was silence. Eventually he said, “I’m just asking“. I repeated my question – ”How would you feel if other agents rang your exclusively-listed clients?” He didn’t want to answer that question, so I hung up.
I think that agents who prospect other agents’ exclusive listings are the bottom of the barrel. If a salesperson’s main way of getting listings is to resort to that tactic, in my opinion the salesperson is unethical and unprofessional.
Think about it. If I sign an agreement with you, I am giving my word that you will be my exclusive agent. My wife and I believe that a deal is a deal, and we know what Exclusive means. For those who don’t, the dictionary definition of Exclusive is: restricted to the person, group, or area concerned.
So when an agent calls a seller who is listed exclusively with a competitor, the agent is asking those sellers to break their agreement, to break their word. That is unethical, grubby conduct for any professional to indulge in.
In every area there are people who are ready to sell and who are not yet listed. They can be found through marketing channels such as print, through digital channels, and through prospecting.
The latter channel, prospecting, is a dirty word for many salespeople and for some, like the agent who called me, they go for the low-hanging fruit – sellers listed with other agents.
We are better than that, or we should be.
To an ethical professional, resorting to such tactics because “everybody else is doing it” is not an excuse. You can’t be honest and ethical when it suits you. You are either a bottom of the barrel agent, or you aren’t.
Which agent are you?
In this short sales session, real estate agency profit consultant and trainer, Gary Pittard, relates the story of a café with a chequered history of success.
What was the ‘secret ingredient’ that made the difference between the proprietors who failed, and the proprietors who succeeded?
Good food? Some of the failed proprietors had good food too. Yet a good product didn’t save them from oblivion. The ingredients the failures lacked was PERSONALITY.
A good product alone will not suffice. People buy you before they buy your product or service. Personality matters. Let yours shine!
If you ask salespeople about areas where they think their leaders could improve, the two most common responses would be 1. Stop micromanaging me, and 2. Give me more support.
Support is an interesting one. Salespeople have difficulty defining what they mean by support. All they seem to know is that they want more of it.
Here are some points to consider:
- Should a leader micromanage at all?
- If so, when should the leader micromanage?
- Should a leader take a more hands-off approach and trust the salesperson to do the right actions?
- What support should a leader give?
During presentations of Pittard’s five-day Agency Profit System, a real estate agency management and business system, we break down the stages of Training & Coaching and discuss these very issues.
There is a place for micromanagement and a place for a more hands-off approach. The art is knowing which salespeople to micromanage, and which salespeople should have a more hands-off approach. It’s a fine line.
There are two types of salespeople who should be micromanaged:
- Rookie salespeople
- Salespeople in a slump.
Both need micromanagement until performance reaches what we call Professional Level – the point where they produce, or are back on track to produce, $300,000 in gross fees in one year.
Micromanagement takes the form of goal setting, planning, actions and results accountability, one-on-one coaching, and actions monitoring.
Leaders work with rookies and slumping salespeople and put them on the path to peak performance. If this is not done, rookies will fail, and slumping salespeople will remain mediocre.
This is a loss to the individual and to the agency.
Mentorship and Support
Once a rookie achieves Professional Level, or the slumping salesperson is back on track, micromanagement gives way to mentorship and support. This is when leadership becomes more hands-off, although the leader continues to give support and advice when required.
In these levels of Training & Coaching, the greatest gift a leader can give a salesperson is time.
The level of mentorship and support each salesperson requires will vary, but in all cases, you only discover when to mentor, and what support to give, by spending time with your people and asking this one question:
“How can I help you?”
It’s a great question, isn’t it?
The higher the level of performance a salespeople is, the less mentoring they may require, but the support they need might be greater because they are so busy. Give them time and how you can help will become clear.
You might offer an assistant, or perhaps the services of a listings prospector for a week, perhaps marketing in a specified area, or you might call some of the salesperson’s vendors. Although salespeople may not be able to define support, when you ask how you can help, you help them to clarify the support they need.
There may be a fine line between micromanagement and the hands-off approach, but if you keep in mind that rookies and slumping salespeople need micromanagement, and everyone else on the team require mentorship and support, the line is a little easier to see.
Remember that salespeople at all levels require your time. This is how you create loyalty in team members.
You cannot buy loyalty; you must earn it.
Leadership success hinges on the messages we send to our team.
In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, says that whether positive or negative, all messages are communicated by word and by action. The more we leaders understand this, the more careful we will become about what we say and do.
Leadership matters. It matters a lot. We might have been great real estate salespeople before becoming leaders, but sales skills do not automatically transfer into leadership skill. We have to work at that.