There can be no doubt that the pandemic, now in its second year, has disrupted business and the economy.
The real estate industry has been less affected than, say, tourism and entertainment, but the pandemic has still led to periodic restrictions on how we go about our daily business life.
But is it all bad news? For good business owners and salespeople, the pandemic has also taught us valuable lessons. Let’s look at two of those lessons.
Tasks we could perform one week were no longer possible the following week. Other tasks became more important than ever before. To continue to succeed in Sales, we needed – and still need – to be flexible.
Flexibility is good. It allows us to quickly revisit actions that are no longer appropriate and change direction, to try something else.
If that doesn’t work, we try something else and keep trying different approaches until we find an approach that is appropriate for the current restrictions.
An example is open homes. Some pandemic restrictions made open homes a breach of health orders, but we have still been able to conduct individual inspections. Even these have not been smooth sailing, with some sellers and tenants refusing to allow strangers into their properties.
But we adapt and show properties where those restrictions aren’t present, and we make sales.
Such is the advantage of being flexible and moving forward, focusing on results.
Another lesson from the pandemic is the need for contact.
During extended lockdowns, I made it a habit to call three people a day and ask how they were doing. A simple act that I found helped me as much as the people I called. It reminded me to take time to think of others and to take my mind off myself.
For salespeople, contacting potential clients is more important than ever before. If you can’t door knock, pick up the phone. Call people and ask how they are. The conversation will eventually turn to their plans around selling, soon or longer term. You might not be able to list them now, but these people go into your prospecting pipeline and are listing leads for the future. Cultivate relationships.
Our opportunities to list now may be somewhat restricted, but some will want to list now, and others when restrictions ease. High volume contact will tell you who’s who – short term or long term prospects.
You probably found that people are much happier to talk when their movements are restricted. Yet another bonus for prospectors!
As you read this, your region may be experiencing relative freedom, but we know that snap lockdowns can occur at any time.
But the pandemic lessons still apply. Flexibility and human contact are always good attributes for salespeople and business leaders to possess.
Lessons that, once learnt, should never be forgotten.
Do you remember the days when salespeople used to list large numbers of properties – eight or more every month? We seldom see numbers like these anymore – salespeople have become used to low numbers.
Many years ago we coined the term, “Take care of the numbers and the dollars will take care of themselves“. This is just as true today. When salespeople focus on gross commission, on the dollars, the numbers always suffer. Salespeople who focus on dollars set lower targets.
Let’s say that to achieve your goals, you plan to average $60,000 in fees every month. If your average selling fee is $30,000, this would be 2 sales per month.
That’s 2 sales at an average selling fee of $30,000 – but what if you make a larger sale, one sale, where the fee for that sale is $60,000? Most salespeople slow down; after all, they have achieved their dollars, so they coast for the rest of the month.
That is more common than you think, and it’s the danger of focusing on the dollars. A better way is to focus on listing and sale numbers.
Using the example above, if your focus is 2 sales and you make one sale at $60,000, you will push to get the second sale. If this second sale gives a $30,000 fee, you have made $90,000 in fees, all because you focused on the numbers and not the dollars.
The same approach works with listings.
Every salesperson has a list-to-sell ratio, for example, 2:1 where 2 listings result in 1 sale. In your current market your list-to-sell ratio might be 1:1, with one listing resulting in one sale. These are low numbers and low targets can be a recipe for low results.
If you have a listing target of 4, and you only manage to get 2 in the month, your results have dropped by 50% – that’s a big drop!
But what if you increased your listing target to 8? What if you were serious about reaching that target? Would you prospect more? Would you instigate more marketing?
Thinking bigger and aiming for higher targets almost always results in higher results, provided that you increase your prospecting and marketing activity to a level that should realistically yield those higher targets.
One thing’s for sure: if you have a target of 8 listings and you fall short by 50%, you finish the month on 4 listings. If you have a target of 4 listings and you fall short by 50%, you finish on 2 listings. Twice the results by aiming higher.
Train yourself to think bigger – get used to bigger listings and sales targets. Don’t get accustomed to low numbers, and don’t focus on dollars alone.
Focus on the (higher) numbers of listings and sales, and the dollars will take care of themselves.
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 said you would do, when you said you would do it.
It’s a matter of integrity. It’s a matter of reputation.
And reputation matters.
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.
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.
We hear a lot about Time Management. I talk about it sometimes, but in reality Time Management is the wrong term. If you think you can manage time, good luck.
The fact is you can’t manage time. An hour is 60 minutes. You can’t manage 60 minutes to become 90 minutes. An hour is an hour no matter how much ‘managing’ you do. And, all of us have the same 1,440 minutes in our day. You will never get more. Give up trying to manage time.
We don’t manage time: we manage ourselves within the time we have available.
I prefer the term, ‘Self-Management’ to ‘Time Management’ because this slight change in terminology helps us to see the real reason why we may not always be as productive as we’d like. If we manage ourselves effectively, we’ll accomplish more in the time we have available.
Here are some ideas to help you improve your self-management:
You don’t have to be disciplined at everything, only in the areas that are important.
Discipline is like a muscle; it can be exercised. Think about one area where you’d like to be more disciplined – prospecting for example.
Decide on the number of people you will speak with daily. Now get to work. Don’t take excuses from yourself; if you say you will speak to 40 people per day, don’t leave it too late in the day to get started. Get to work first thing and get as much done as you can before your first appointment.
If you fall short on day one, don’t beat yourself up. Do better tomorrow. Once you’ve hit the number on one day, resolve to achieve the same number tomorrow. Gradually prospecting will become habit and then you’re on your way!
You can then choose another discipline and master that – for example, you might choose to become disciplined at reading for one hour per day.
I talk a lot about goals because I know that they are the key to focus and to managing ourselves better within the time we have available.
If you want to focus and use your time more effectively, set goals and work on tasks that lead toward achievement of your goals.
Plans are another critical element. If you don’t know where your business will come from, you are more susceptible to wasting time. You will drift through your days without a plan.
- Learn to say ‘no’
If you can’t say ‘no’ occasionally, you’ll get drawn into other people’s priorities. Be careful what you agree to. You can waste a lot of time on unproductive pursuits.
- Work only with the right clients
Work with clients that are ready to list and who want to buy. I’m not suggesting that you don’t help people, but when it comes to working with clients, you should expect them to be realistic and to follow your advice.
People who don’t cooperate, who complain, who don’t follow your advice, chip away at your morale and self-esteem and discourage you. Spend less time with the wrong people, and more time with the right people.
I can’t control time, but I can control myself. The power is in my hands, and it’s in yours too.
The better we manage ourselves, the more goals we’ll achieve.
Who would have thought that many real estate businesses would have had bumper sales numbers despite the COVID-19 pandemic? But this was the case for many real estate agencies, and for many real estate salespeople.
It is predicted that 2021 will be even better than 2020. That appears true as we enter the second quarter of 2021.
But is it so for you? Are your results booming? Is your career?
Many years ago, somebody said to me, “If you can’t make money during a boom, get out of the industry” but that is a bit harsh. Many salespeople receive just a little typical industry training. Frankly, it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t encourage repeat business.
Although you can sell everything you list, there is massive competition for listings. If you haven’t been taught effective methods for finding new clients, and then listing them when you give a listing presentation, you will do it tough.
But there is an answer: PLAN. I believe that you have to options: plan or struggle. It’s your call.
Set yourself up to make the most of this sellers’ market:
Working toward meaningful goals makes us happier and more focused. Think about what you want to achieve. Write it down.
Determine INCOME AND TARGETS required to achieve your goals
What income will you need to earn in order to achieve those goals? It should be a higher income than you have earned in the past – you need goals that stretch you, while still being realistic for your present skill level.
Plan how to achieve your targets
What listing sources – e.g. For Sale By Owner (FSBO) – will you mine to produce your required listing target? When you get the listings, you will make the sales.
Determine how many potential sellers you will need to speak to each day so that you achieve your targets. If you are not speaking to 40 potential sellers each working weekday, you might not be doing enough to get the listings you need if you are to achieve your goals.
One of the biggest challenges salespeople face is staying focused. Affirmations help with focus, if not cure it altogether.
“I, Gary Pittard, accept and enjoy that I have earned $200,000 in December [year] and everything I do contributes to this result.”
Write an Affirmation like this fifteen times a day for twenty-one days, and sign each one, then tell me if you lack focus!
To work, the Affirmation must be realistic and linked to your plan. The correct order is:
- Income and Target Calculation
Once you have all these in place it’s time to get to work. If you study your craft, your actions will become more competent as time passes, and you will achieve more results with less effort. You will be happier and enjoy your career more.
If you want to learn more about goal setting, get hold of the audio program Your Path To Deliberate Creation by Bill Nasby. You can order it at billnasby.com. If focus is your challenge, Bill’s program will help you.
Success doesn’t happen by accident. Plan, or struggle: it’s your call.
Is the thought of an increase in your monthly targets daunting? If your leader told you that it’s time for you to list 8 properties a month, would you resist?
Most salespeople would resist because they look at the entire figure. Eight listings a month sounds a lot.
Funny, but it’s all relative. I remember times when salespeople listed between 10-15 properties a month without fail. As selling fees increased, listing numbers decreased. This tells me that most of the battle is in our heads. We imagine things to be tougher than they are.
I know one winner who said that right from the beginning of her career she expected to list 8 properties per month. She said, “It was daunting until I broke it down into bite-sized chunks. Eight listings a month is only 2 a week. I can do that!” And she did. For over twenty years this winner has listed eight properties or more per month.
Once she decided on 2 listings per week, she planned where to look for those listings.
Some prospecting sources are warmer than others. Sure, a fair amount of talking to strangers is required, but strangers don’t stay that way forever. Regular contact over time turns the original random call into a series of warm calls, and listings are often to be found by following up warm leads nurtured over time.
You could knock on doors, or you could knock on the door where property owners have advertised their property for sale privately. Look past the ‘no agents’ warning and speak with the property owner anyway. Ten FSBOs give a higher listing yield than 50 random door knocks.
This is just one example. My point is that you will increase your chances of achieving higher targets if you know where your business is likely to come from. A listing plan will keep you on track and keep you working on the warmer listing sources.
In the absence of a listing plan you can drift, making a few calls here, a few calls there, but with no real consistency or focus on the most likely places to find listings.
No plan = drift. Plan = focus. It’s as simple as that.
If you want to increase your listing results, you must fill your prospect pipeline. You do that by talking to people – at least 200 potential sellers every working week.
Does this sound a lot? Break it down into bite-sized chunks – it’s 40 a day. You can do that, can’t you? Even at an average of 6 minutes per call, this is under 5 hours total prospecting time per day, allowing for time spent calling on premises where nobody is home.
Start at 9 AM, finish at 2 PM. Grab a bite to eat, then attend your afternoon appointments.
See what that does to your results, income and life!
A salesperson in Adelaide was doing it tough. For two years he struggled and could barely make enough to cover his bills.
I admired him for persevering but secretly wondered how long he would last before he pursued another career.
But something changed. I spoke with him earlier today and he sounded like a new man. What was he doing differently?
He said, “I’m not working with people who waste my time. I’m busy and if they want to sell, I’ll work with them. If they want to argue and tell me that another agent said the property is worth $50,000 more, I’ll kindly suggest they list with the other agent.”
His results for the last few months improved from 0-1 sale per month to 3 sales per month. He’s held that for the last two months and the month I spoke to him was shaping up well too. He was making his hard work pay off.
This attitude didn’t just boost his results and income. It boosted his self-esteem and his feeling of worth. Don’t underestimate the importance of this.
By regarding himself differently, as a sales professional whose advice should be heeded, and by refusing to work with stubborn people who refuse to listen to common sense, his demeanor changed. He thought like a professional, he believed he was a professional, and he acted that way.
When he acted like a professional, he saw the results that professionals get.
Real estate sales is difficult enough without working with overly difficult people. Do you have clients that refuse to follow sound advice? Why are you working with them?
If you want your hard work to pay off, stop working with stubborn know-alls and find people who are happy to be guided through the selling process. There are plenty out there if you look for them. By look, I mean prospect for them.
Do you know why most salespeople continue working with the wrong people? They are DESPERATE.
Why do you think they’re desperate.?
Because their prospect pipelines are EMPTY.
If you won’t actively search for the right people, you are doomed to work with the wrong ones. You will be frustrated, and your results will be low.
You’re better than that.
Make your hard work pay off. Find the right people and work with them. Leave the wrong ones to your desperate competitors.
An essential ingredient to saleable listings
Happy New Year! I hope 2021 is your best year ever, and if you have goals, challenging targets and a plan, you’ve already laid the foundations for this to be a reality. Now all you need do is get to work and follow your plan.
A key to better results is to increase your list-to-sell ratio, to sell more of the properties you list. Your market may be moving now and your list-to-sell ratio might be high, but it would be foolish to think things will stay this way forever.
Have you ever had sellers refuse an offer you know was fair? They wanted a higher price and you doubted whether you could get it.
The culprit might not be seller greed, but a lack of feedback on your part. This can result in a lack of information given to the sellers, for them to understand which offers are fair.
Feedback is essential to sellers understanding where their properties sit in the market. What is a likely selling price for their property? Most agents gloss over this figure at the listing, afraid that if they tell the truth they will lose the listing.
Good honest feedback from buyers who are active in the market help sellers understand their properties’ fair market price. When experienced buyers say that a property is worth $1.2 million, this is good information for the sellers, even if they had hoped for more.
Jayne Finlay, a winner from Page & Pearce Real Estate in Townsville QLD, discussed the importance of feedback during Pittard’s Convention Week. Jayne said, “What’s the point of having listings if you don’t talk with your sellers?”
Jayne carries a lot of listings in Townsville, where prices dropped by 40% over the past 5 years, and believes that honest feedback is essential to pricing her listings so that they are competitive in a marketplace where many properties are for sale. She sets aside Mondays to call her sellers. She recaps buyer inspections and the feedback they gave.
When talking with buyers, Jayne always elicits price feedback from the buyers, feedback she can pass on to the sellers. Jayne will seldom conduct an inspection with buyers without asking them what they think the property is worth.
This helps her qualify the buyers, to see whether they know the market, and gives good information to convey to her sellers.
Professional salespeople don’t avoid the issue of price. They don’t gloss over it. They look the sellers in the eyes and tell them honestly what the buyers said.
Sellers don’t always like what they hear, but it’s the truth, albeit told diplomatically.
They say that truth hurts. Lies hurt more. Do you want to make more sales? Give regular and honest feedback.
“May you live in interesting times” is purported to be ‘the Chinese curse’, although its origins in China are doubtful. Chinese or not, the year 2020 has seen ‘interesting times’ thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, many agencies have had a good year.
As 2021 approaches, what are your predictions for next year – up or down?
Did you think I was talking about the market? No! I’m talking about YOU!
Will your results be up or down in 2021?
I don’t make light of the hardship COVID-19 brought to many businesses and families, but so far real estate businesses in most places have fared reasonably well. Look around – plenty of people did well despite the pandemic.
Others, who were probably struggling pre-pandemic, continued to struggle, but the pandemic provided them with a convenient excuse.
How has the pandemic affected you? Are you heading into 2021 believing that it will be a great year for you, or are you concerned about tough economic times, thinking it will be a tough year?
The forecasters may be right in saying that the economic fallout from the pandemic will be severe, but does that mean a bad year for you?
Forecasters don’t always get it right and even if they are right on this occasion, does this mean that people won’t need to sell their properties? Does this mean that people won’t buy?
The business of real estate will continue. Future prices may be a lot lower than today’s prices, but in ANY market, properties priced at or near the market price of the day, will sell.
“You become what you think about” said Earl Nightingale. Think failure and you’ll fail. Think success and you will seek ways to succeed.
So, what does 2021 hold for you? Success or struggle? It’s largely up to you. How you think determines your actions, and your actions determine your results.
I want you to enter 2021 expecting to succeed. And I want you to define that success and plan how you will achieve it.
Now more than ever, I urge you to plan 2021. Plan to make it a hugely successful year.
- Goals – you need something good to work toward. Goals help you become immune to rejection. Without goals, you won’t have a hope.
- Plans – keep you focused on the activity necessary to win. What fee production do you need to achieve your goals? How many listings and sales per month are required to achieve that production? How many prospecting calls each day must be made to achieve your listings target?
- Affirmations – a great tool when times are tough. Affirmations help you to cement the belief that you are a success. Written 15 times a day for 21 days, a good affirmation will help you focus on winning, instead of worrying about the market.
If you want to know more about goal setting, get hold of Bill Nasby’s Path To Deliberate Creation. It’s a great goal setting program. You can order it from www.billnasby.com.
You can also read my book, Why Winners Win. It can be downloaded in eBook format or a copy can be purchased from www.pittard.com.au.
- Training – you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. The direction you’ll go is determined by the training you do. Good training, aligned with your values and attitudes, is essential for long term success. Training will also make you ‘market proof’.
- Practice – turn knowledge into skill. Training will give you knowledge, but it’s only by practising what you learn that skill develops. You need knowledge and skill.
How 2021 treats you is up to you. You can choose to be a Market Victim, or a Market Opportunist.
Enter 2021 believing that there is opportunity for you to have your best year ever, set goals, plan, write affirmations, train and practise and success will be yours.
Up or down in 2021? Your choice.
- A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements
- Due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others.
To respect someone is to admire qualities in them and to show regard for their feelings, wishes and rights. Respect should be shown to everyone we meet, not just to those who can benefit us.
This may seem controversial, but not everybody in our industry agrees that all people should be treated with respect – although nobody will say so publicly.
But ignore their words and look at their actions. Here are three examples, but there are many more. Ask yourself, do these industry practices show respect? Do they make you proud?
Buyers are often treated poorly. A classic example is when an agent has multiple buyers on one property. Several buyers pay for pest inspections on properties they don’t have a chance of buying because the agent has quoted a low bait price to make them interested. They pay hundreds of dollars for building and pest inspections and never get to make a bid.
Buyers’ offers are disclosed to other buyers. No agent will admit to it, but we know that agents do this. It shows a lack of respect to the buyer who made the offer and shows a lack of ethics in sharing the offer with another interested party.
It’s not called ‘conditioning’ these days, but “managing the clients’ expectations” is mutton dressed as lamb. Whenever a salesperson quotes an unachievable price to sellers, or lies by omission and allows sellers to believe they will achieve an unrealistic price, it’s still conditioning.
This disgraceful practice is common in the industry. It results in sellers being pressured to reduce from a price the listing agent led them to believe they would get. ‘Market feedback’ is blamed for the failure to achieve the quoted price, but it all began with the salesperson’s dishonesty at the listing presentation.
Clients have long memories. If you intend on staying in real estate for the long haul, you need repeat business. In order to get repeat business, you must be honest and respectful at all times.
Treat them honestly and fairly. Treat them as you would a family member, and not as a one-off transaction.