How to Prevent ‘Sign Jumping’
Do you have a problem with unethical competitors ‘jumping’ your signs? People who approach the owner of a property whom they know, or suspect, is exclusively listed with another agent, are acting unethically. If attempting to induce another person to break an agreement – a promise – with a third party isn’t unethical, what is? This seller gave his or her word to allow the agent, whose sign the ‘sign jumper’ walked past, to sell the property, and the seller gave the agent an agreed time in which to do it. How sniveling and cowardly it is to try and convince that person to break their agreement with their agent.So if you are the agent whose sign(s) is being jumped, let’s begin by looking at the positive side. You are fortunate to have competitors who are so weak and desperate that they have to resort to pilfering other agents’ sellers in order to survive. Close the door on this source of sellers and you will send them broke. Fast.Closing this door is easy, too. There are some things you MUST remember to say during the listing, and some things you MUST do after you have the property listed.DURING THE LISTING PRESENTATION
- When Setting Up To Sell, advise the sellers that strangers may call.
In Winning Ways – Real Estate Sales, the sales program presented by the Pittard Training Group, we teach listers to Set Up to Sell. After receiving the signature, the agent should spend time telling the sellers what they can expect now that the property is on the market.
Tell the sellers that strangers may call. Strangers include unethical agents who approach the sellers directly without first being introduced by the listing agent. Tell the sellers that you deal only with ethical agents and that the unethical agents will bypass you and contact the sellers directly.
Obtain the sellers’ agreement that you should only allow ethical agents access to the property and teach them how to identify the unethical ones.
Ethical agents will not call the owners of listed properties directly. They will first telephone your agency and ask for permission to show the property. You will grant a conjunction, and then call the seller and give the name of the agent to the seller. If the agent receives an offer, you will negotiate with the other agent and get the offer as high as you possibly can, exactly as you would if the buyer came to your agency directly.
Unethical agents, on the other hand, will bypass the listing agent completely. They will call the seller and say such things as, “You’re selling too cheaply,” or, “I have a buyer…“. Ninety-nine percent of what these people say is untrue. Explain to the sellers that you are going to rely on their integrity where these agents are concerned. Point out that the majority of your sellers threaten to call the authorities if these agents call again, then hang up. If the other agent really does have a buyer, then he should call the listing agent (you). Most sellers will be annoyed that other agents will stoop so low and will remember what to say when called by your unethical competitor.
But what do you do when another agent calls your sellers saying that he has a buyer?
When your competitor calls your sellers saying he has a buyer, ask the sellers if the agent quoted a price the ‘buyers’ will pay. If the price is way ‘over the top’, as it most often is, ask the sellers whether they honestly believe that whether the agent’s buyer really exists.
And then challenge the other agent’s integrity. Say to the sellers, “I am so convinced that the agent is lying to you, you can call the agent now and say that I will give him a 100 percent conjunction and an extra $500 from my pocket if he can sell it at that price. He can bring the buyer through today. But if he won’t, I want you to promise me that you will not talk to this liar again.” Call his bluff and watch him run.
DURING THE SELLING PERIOD
There is one thing that we should not do, and that is retaliate by calling the offending agent’s sellers. From the sound of things, this agent wouldn’t have that many anyway! But if we lower ourselves to this lowest level, we become just another unethical agent who jumps signs.
Take heart and remember that all these agents will ever manage is to lure away from you those sellers with the lowest integrity. And then do your best to win and keep the loyalty of the majority of your listed sellers.
Think about this scenario for a minute: Agent A has a listing. She works with the sellers for two months and the sellers can see her work – buyer inspections, feedback after those inspections, recommendations on asking prices, marketing methods; etc. After this time, shouldn’t the sellers KNOW that they have a good agent working for them?
Then along comes Agent B. He telephones the sellers saying that he has a buyer for the property. “How much are you asking? Why so low? I have a buyer who will pay $50,000 more than that!” And without so much as knowing Agent B for a fraction of the time they knew Agent A, the sellers break their agreement and go to Agent B. How could this happen?
Although the sellers knew Agent A and had seen her work,
they left Agent A because…
Agent B SOUNDED better than Agent A LOOKED.
You are the person who is working with the sellers. They can see your work. And if they like what they see, they will remain loyal to you.
You made promises to them when you listed their property. Be sure to deliver on those promises while you have the sellers listed. You should have promised to honestly keep them informed of the progress of their sale. Do so diligently.
Knowing that other agents might be ‘snapping at your heels’ gives you a perfect ‘excuse’ to communicate with your sellers as often as possible. You must have a seller ‘pampering’ program in place. You need to get good at after-listing service. Most salespeople aren’t.
The Real Estate Agency Management Program devotes almost a full day to teaching leaders how to make after-listing follow-up a permanent service feature. In Winning Ways – Real Estate Sales, we spend over two hours on various ways to make sure your sellers stay with you. Sadly, most leaders and salespeople don’t give this so much as two minutes’ thought.
At a bare minimum, you should telephone your sellers after every inspection. Send them details of all your office’s advertising for the week, whether or not the sellers’ property was advertised (this concept takes a bit of explanation that there isn’t room to go into here, but we fully explain this and many other marketing concepts in our sales program, Winning Ways – Real Estate Sales).
And do give them some positive news. Be sure that each call is enthusiastic, and not the ‘Temple of Doom’. You would be surprised how miserable some salespeople sound when they call their sellers! You need to be confident, firm when necessary, and always compassionate, but enthusiastic about your ability to get the property sold. This helps put the seller in the mood to stick with you. Even though the property has not yet sold, the seller has faith in you.
Combating other agents who approach your sellers is a simple process, if you remember to cover the fact that strangers may call during the listing presentation, and put into place a disciplined program of after-listing service.
It’s worth the time and effort to get this right. Not only will you close this source of sellers to your unethical competitors, you will drive them out of the business and have some fun in the process.