Ask any person how important their reputation is to them. Nobody will say their reputation doesn’t matter.
Sure, some say, “I don’t care what other people think of me” – but that’s usually to justify being rude or insensitive. If these people care that little about their reputation, they probably can’t be trusted.
In life, your reputation matters. A poor reputation can cost you good relationships, happiness and fulfillment. In business, a poor reputation can cost you repeat business and income.
Salespeople who treat clients badly believe that there are plenty more clients where they came from. What does it matter if you inflate the likely selling prices of sellers’ properties to win a listing? It matters a lot if you want to do business with those clients or their friends in the future.
What does it matter if you lower an estimated selling price to attract buyers? There are plenty more where they came from. Perhaps in sellers’ markets there are, but buyers become sellers one day and if you want to be their listing agent when they do sell, your reputation matters. It matters a lot.
In the 20th century, it was said that if you leave a client angry, they will tell 10-15 other people. That was last century, but it’s different now in the age of social media. Upset a client these days and they could tell thousands of people in minutes, depending on their social media following.
Pre-social media, a bad review was passed around by word of mouth. A bad review on Google or a similar platform can haunt you for years.
Reputation matters and in the age of social media it matters more.
Be careful with what you promise. Deliver what you promise. Be reliable. Do what you say you will do when you said you would do it.
It’s a matter of integrity. It’s a matter of reputation.
And reputation matters.
In this short real estate sales session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, discusses some ideas from Jeb Blount’s book Fanatical Prospecting.
Sales gurus that claim prospecting is dead, can greatly harm a salesperson’s career. According to Jeb Blount, this is music to the ears of failing salespeople, who would rather look for a silver bullet than prospect. Good news is not always the right news, however.
“Mediocrity requires a big cheque book.”
The quality of a sales team should be the main priority for all agency leaders. Allow incompetence to fester in your sales team and the losses can be huge.
Many agency leaders express concern over their present teams. Leaders say that they wish their salespeople would prospect more, were better closers, would lose fewer listings to the competition. These skill and activity deficiencies are the primary reasons why business is lost to the competition, and the price is not just a lost sale, but a massive loss of income and profit.
If you don’t believe me, calculate the cost yourself. Is it reasonable to believe that a salesperson can lose one listing a month to the competition? Let’s say the number is 10 listings per year. At a list-to-sell ratio of 70%, that’s seven sales lost by this salesperson. Multiply seven sales by your gross average fee – let’s say $10,000 – and this salesperson has lost $70,000 in fees to the competition.
It gets worse, if you have four salespeople who each lose 7 sales to the competition, that’s $280,000 in fees your agency didn’t receive. That would pay for a lot of training. That’s why I say mediocrity needs a big cheque book!
So, what can you do about it?
- The first thing you can do is train your team. Training should be regular and high quality. A one-hour training meeting once per week, a three-day sales seminar once a year, and regular testing to ensure that the knowledge is being retained can sharpen up your team.
Nobody should be exempt from training. Everybody trains. Allow any team member to show a disdain for training and you send a message that training is not important. Training is important, and in the best offices, it’s compulsory.
- Actions expectations are the second thing that leaders can address. Every day, salespeople must be involved in activities that generate business. For example, if you allow salespeople to avoid prospecting, this will cause your agency to slide into mediocrity.
- The third thing leaders can do to improve the quality of their teams is to remove those who will not train, and/or who will not do the actions necessary to get the results the leader expects from each salesperson.
Retain mediocre salespeople and your entire team will become mediocre over time.
Why do leaders keep the wrong people on their teams? The answer is that they have nobody to replace those who leave or who are terminated.
Recruiting is the answer to that challenge. Agencies must have a proven recruitment system that guarantees a flow of new talent into the agency. Every team can benefit from some ‘fresh blood’ and the enthusiasm that comes with a new salesperson.
But a word of warning: recruit without a system for finding, training and inducting new salespeople and you set yourself, and the recruits, up for almost certain failure.
Think about it: how much better would your agency’s results, and profit, be if you had a team of highly trained and active salespeople?
It doesn’t happen by accident – it happens through focused leadership. Focused on training and developing good people, removing the wrong ones, and recruitment of new people who will train, and who will do the right actions.
Do this, or lose business to the competition, and pay a high price for doing so. It’s your choice.
If you doubt it can be done, let me introduce you to plenty of city and regional leaders who ARE doing it.
In this short leadership session, real estate profit consultant, Gary Pittard, looks at Brightness of Future.
Today’s employees want more than money, they want a LIFE. If we are going to keep team members over the long term, we have to help them build a great life using their real estate sales career as a vehicle.
Sales can wear people down, even those who are ideally suited for a real estate sales career. No amount of real estate training, motivational training, time management, communication training, closing skills, listing ability etc. will offset a lack of brightness of future.
In a sellers’ market, where you sell almost every property you list, the last thing you want to do is run low on listings. List more and you will sell more – we all know that – but many agents are low on stock. If you are one of those salespeople, what are you doing about it?
To get more listings, there are four areas salespeople should focus on.
Now is not the time to empty your prospect pipeline. When we prospect, we find some people who are ready to sell now, and others who say they plan to sell in the future.
Constant prospecting in healthy numbers (40 homeowners or more spoken to each day) keeps your prospect pipeline full.
In his book, Fanatical Prospecting, sales expert Jeb Blount discusses the importance of the 30-Day Rule. This rule states that the prospecting you do in this 30-day period will pay off over the next 90 days.
Jeb says that this is a simple, yet powerful, universal rule that we ignore at our peril. Set aside prospecting because of the “I’m too busy” excuse and you won’t be busy when you run out of listings!
As with prospecting, consistent direct mail is another essential element for a constant flow of listings.
Whether you are responsible for generating listings through your own marketing efforts, or whether your company takes care of the marketing, you will get more incoming responses from your print marketing if you personally sign at least 50 letters per day (1,000 per month) and follow up to ensure that they are delivered.
Don’t wait for this to happen – talk to your leader and get direct mail underway, or arrange it yourself if you are responsible for your own marketing. Either way, do it!
As with direct mail, leaflets still generate business if delivered in large numbers and with consistency.
A word of warning: salespeople should not deliver leaflets. Pay walkers to deliver leaflets – doing so is below a salesperson’s pay grade.
Salespeople should be talking with potential sellers and with buyers, not dropping leaflets into letterboxes. That said, it must be done consistently, or you will become invisible in the marketplace.
Diligent follow-up is essential to getting the most from your listing leads.
Leads are time consuming and expensive to generate. Without good follow-up, leads lost to the opposition far outweigh the cost of marketing.
In the days of outstanding CRM software, there is no excuse for allowing any lead to slip through the cracks.
Whether it’s prospecting or marketing, consistency in your lead generation activity will provide you with a constant flow of listings, which will increase your sales and income. But only if you constantly follow up all leads.
Speak to more people, and you will list more and sell more. Don’t drop the lead generation ball and you WILL list more. You’ll enjoy a higher income too.
In this short real estate sales session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, discusses time management.
A common theme in real estate salespeople’s conversations is, “I’m too busy”, or “I’ve got a lot on”. Check in with those same salespeople at the end of the month and you will often find that their results were poor.
This begs the question, “Busy doing what?” Clearly, while these salespeople might have been busy, they have been busy on the wrong activities. Either that, or their actions were incompetent.
The key to getting more done is to simplify. Time management is not that hard.
No doubt you’ve heard of the saying, ‘Same same, but different’, but sadly this does not often apply in real estate. Most agencies are same, same, but not different.
If you’ve seen one real estate salesperson, you’ve often seen them all – they say similar things to win business. They recommend similar methods of sale. They push for expensive marketing campaigns. They offer similar advertising options. And, if you’ve seen one auction, you’ve seen them all – again, there is no point of difference.
A lack of points of difference presents a major challenge to agencies and salespeople.
When sellers interview three agents and they all look and sound the same, sellers will often choose the agent who quotes the highest price or charges the least. They will push for big discounts on the fees and advertising charges.
Many agents are all flash and no substance. We call these ’empty suits’. They talk a good game, particularly about their negotiation ability but ask any one of them when they last read a book on negotiation and you’ll hear crickets. This alleged negotiation ability shows itself as a baseless claim when they discount their fee to win the business.
Hiding behind flashy appearance and marketing, and baseless claims, will only get you so far. If a better competitor comes along, your agency and salespeople will have real competition.
Or, if an agency decides to spend more than you do on branding and marketing (a stupid decision), they’ll look better than you. What alternatives does this leave you except to spend more, or look like a poor relation?
Leaders must understand that skill is still a marketable commodity.
If they took the money they wasted on needless advertising, money lost through discounted fees, and money lost through the incompetence of some of their salespeople, and invested it in training, it would build their teams’ skill.
Training and practice build skill. Skill wins more business. How often do you train your team?
Is your training typical industry training? If so, you will produce typical salespeople. Again, same same, but not different.
Profitable real estate agencies use business systems that work. They have trained salespeople armed with points of difference that impress clients and win business. They set standards and never resort to knee jerk reactions to their competitors’ tactics.
These agencies are different and so are their salespeople. And they’re impressive – they earn high profits, month in, month out.
Many real estate business owners struggle to make a profit from their sales departments. And for these agents, booming markets do little to help their profits.
In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, discusses profit and explains how to make more of it.
In a market where you sell everything you list, agencies that struggled during buyers’ markets still struggle in sellers’ markets – they struggle to find, and list, sufficient properties to allow them to capitalise on the boom.
Regardless of the market, it always gets the blame when agencies do poorly. But is the market really the culprit for low profits, or could it be that these agency leaders focus on the wrong metrics? Gary believes that some leaders do not have an ‘eye’ for profit.
Sometimes leaders must look at what isn’t working and do things differently. To quote country music performer, Sonia Lee, “If you keep on doin’ what you’re doin’, you’ll keep on getting’ what ya got.”
Agents who discount their fees believe they must do so to win the business, but is this true?
Others reducing their fee is not a legitimate reason to discount your fee. This thinking indicates that your business is being driven by your competitors’ actions and not by yours. It’s a defeatist attitude.
You can get full fee, but you may need to change your thinking and modify your listing presentation.
Firstly, look at the ethics of discounting your fee.
Salespeople who charge full fee to the nice person who doesn’t question the fee, and then discount the fee to somebody who pushes for a discount, aren’t ethical. To charge different rates for the same service is not ethical. I hope you agree.
The key way to stop yourself from discounting is to take fee off the table. If discounting your fee isn’t an option, you must improve your presentation and Value Chain to prove to clients that you are worth the fee you charge.
The Value Chain you present to clients is linked to the fee you achieve. If you look the same as your competitors, recommend similar sales methods, and market the same way as your competitors (like premium advertising), you have nothing to justify a higher fee.
What do you do better than your competitors? How will it benefit sellers? Can you prove it?
If you are seen as the more attractive option to sellers, they will pay you more. A step closer to full fees is proving your worth, proving your Value Chain.
Here’s a fun fact: Agents with the highest skill get the highest fees.
You can be one of them. Take fee off the table. Then study Sales. Study real estate. Get better and you’ll get better fees. If discounting isn’t an option, you will present more effectively, more passionately, and you will receive your full fee.
One more point to consider is credibility. When you discount your fee, you can lose the respect of the very clients you are trying to list. How are you going to get the best price for them when you can’t get the best fee for yourself? They might not say it, but they’re often thinking it. You lose more than money when you discount!
Take fee off the table and you will get higher fees. Improve your skill and you will not lose as many listings as you think.
In this short real estate sales session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, asks, “What is your attitude to failure?”
Our school days did not equip us with a healthy respect for failure and its role in the pursuit of success.
At school we learned that getting things wrong is bad. We were taught to commit seemingly endless facts to memory for regurgitation at exam time. Then we were either right or wrong. Wrong was bad. It could see you repeat a year if you were wrong often enough.
The real world is different, or it should be. To master anything, you will probably do it poorly before you ever do it well.
How is your office going for listings? Would you sell more if you listed more? In Australia and New Zealand, many real estate people are facing the same challenge.
Some offices that complain about a shortage of listings were suffering the same affliction pre-COVID.
If that describes you, it’s time to do something about the problem. If you don’t build stock, you will waste a good boom.
There are some ‘levers’ you can pull to boost your stock levels.
Your agency must become a ‘marketing factory’. There are three ways to market for listings and you must have all of them working for you.
This is hardcopy marketing. You should blanket your area with proven, effective leaflets and direct mail. It takes time to build momentum from marketing and you must be consistent. Every month, every property owner must hear from your agency. This is branding in action.
You should have an effective social media marketing campaign, but more importantly, you must have a consistent direct email marketing campaign. Sure it takes time to set up, but you’re missing listing enquiry if you aren’t contacting potential clients as often as possible.
How much prospecting for new listings is your team doing? Regardless of the market, some salespeople will always say they’re too busy to prospect. But is there a higher priority now? You can’t sell what you haven’t listed.
Leaders often say that the standard of their salespeople’s follow-up needs improvement. Now is the time to work on that improvement – diligent follow-up has never been more important.
As the leader, do you speak with every client who’s listed with your agency? It is important to know that your clients are being looked after by your salespeople.
- Present better
If a salesperson is losing listings to competitors, you must work on improving their presentation. It takes as much time to get a listing as it does to lose a listing. The better the listing presentation, the higher the present-to-list ratio and the higher the number of listings the agency has available to sell. Incompetence is a huge cost to a real estate agency, and I mean huge!
- Close better and more often
Are your salespeople getting the listing at the initial appointment, or do they often need to return for a second attempt?
If they aren’t closing most listings at the first presentation, they may need a better presentation and they will almost certainly need to learn to close better and more often.
A good way to improve your salespeople’s listing presentations is to have each one present to you in a role play.
Replace what you sell.
A good discipline for every agency and every salesperson is to replace what you sell. If you made 5 sales in the month, you must replace them with at least 5 listings. Keep this discipline alive and you won’t run low on stock.
I’m a great believer in fixing persistent problems and fixing them properly – once and for all.
Listings are out there and if we want more sales we must find them. More marketing and more prospecting carried out consistently and over the long term will have you saying, “Low on listings? Not in this office!“.
Think about all of the meetings you have ever attended during your business life. Were most a waste of time, if not downright tedious?
In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, discusses the importance of running results-focused, dynamic, meetings.
The purpose of a meeting should be to discuss matters that need attention – to decide what needs to be done, who’s going to do it and by when, and to set results-focused actions to be carried out by the next meeting. Then it should end, and everybody should get to work.
Meetings should lead to results, and not to boredom.