Listings are a little easier at Help-U-Sell. We have a superior offer to consumers. Superior. Once they see that, understand it and believe it, they happily sign up. It happens almost every time we get in front of a potential seller.
Understanding the offer – seller savings, seller participation, effective marketing – is not difficult: most get it in a few minutes. But believing it? That takes trust (in you) and trust requires a different set of tools.
In establishing trust – belief – credibility, we make copious use of testimonials. They are in our marketing, on our websites, on postcards, posted in our windows and certainly in our listing package.
Remember what Don Taylor taught us: our challenge it to have people in our targeted geography understand that 1) we are here 2) other people use us 3)it works and 4) they save. Nothing says the final 3 items better than a brief testimonial with a photo of someone you helped in your local market.
I am so delighted to open Facebook and see testimonials in some of our brokers’ posts. And sometimes, there’s a new twist on testimonials. Brandt Williams in Sioux Falls, SD always posts a photo of his latest happy buyer in front of his or her new house with a congratulatory message from him. The smiles speak volumes to anyone seeing the photos.
But let’s get beyond testimonials for a moment. They are bedrock in establishing your credibility with sellers, but what else do you need to be doing to build trust and confidence? Here’s a short list:
1. Your appearance. Head to toe, what does your dress, your posture, your expression say about you? Does it say you feel great, you are energized, you are successful? Or does it say you got into the real estate business to be semi-retired? I love logo clothing . . . but sometimes . . . well, here:
For me, one of the happiest places on earth is Frys Electronics. The huge stores are filled with every electronic thing imaginable. Unfortunately, Frys has a dress code for their male employees – largely young people working their first real job. They are required to wear white shirts and ties. This makes them easy to spot, but does nothing to build respect for the Frys brand or confidence in their employees. The shirts are often dirty, wrinkled, sometimes stained. You get the impression that the employees feel persecuted by the rule and you have thoughts of sweatshops and so on, not at all what Frys intended.
So what about your career apparel? Are you wearing the same logo polo you got five years ago? The one that has been through the laundry 50 times? The one that used to be black but now more closely resembles scary bathroom mold? Maybe you’d be better to put on something fresh. And, by the way, if you’re in the real estate business (and not selling ranches, farms or land), I don’t think jeans help you communicate energy and success. There are other ways to dress casually, ways that require a little more care . . . which is communicated to your client.
2. Your syntax. Yes: your syntax. Are you plowing into your potential sellers with an hours worth of ‘PRESENTATION” that leaves them exhausted and not sure what they heard? Next time you do a listing consultation, set your smartphone to record. Ask permission if you want. Afterward, listen to it. What is the dominant punctuation mark in your own part of the conversation? It ought to be the question mark – or the question mark ought to be at least 50% of what you hear. Really: if you’re not asking a question for every point you make, you’re steamrolling your sellers and presenting, not consulting.
3. Your equipment. Are you showing up to your listing consultation with tools that say you are on top of technology? Your seller realizes it’s all about the Internet today: are you showing them that you are in command of this fact? Ipads make great presentation tools, especially for graphics, but so do Android tablets. I lean toward Ipad for real estate (despite the fact that I really don’t own any Apple products) simply because it is the accepted platform and there’s tons of training for brokers and agents using Ipad. I just learned that you can control slides on your Ipad with your Iphone. So you set the pad up in front of yourself and your sellers and use your phone as a remote. I think that says something powerful about your grasp of technology.
4. Your dialogues and graphics. You’ll use the Seller Savings Comparison chart to demonstrate the financial aspects of your program, sure. And of course you’ll have a world class CMA for the pricing discussion, but what more do you need? Not much. In fact, those two items may be 80% of most presentations. Still I think you have to be prepared to tell the seller why you – that means you personally and you, a Help-U-Sell broker – are a better choice than anyone else.
I like the approach that starts with pointing out that you are like everyone else in the business, you do the same things they do, but you are better because . . . You might be better because you are a CDPE certified distressed property expert. You might be better because your production ranked you in the top 4% of all REALTORS in your Board. You might be better because your business grew 40% last year – which was one of the worst years in real estate history.
I’ve carped about this endlessly, but you simply must do it: take your 2012 production and examine it using 3 key performance indicators (KPI):
- Days on Market (this means from the day the sign went up until the property went under contract)
- Relationship between Listing Price and Selling Price
- Fallout rate
Now, compare your numbers with those of your Board or MLS. If you’re not beating the Board in every category – and by a lot in some – there’s problem somewhere. They don’t have your smarts, your competitive edge or your drive. You’re comparing yourself against the average, and you ought to beat that every time. And if you can show a seller, numerically and factually, that you can sell their home faster than your higher priced competitors, get them more for their home (list to sell price ratio), and make the frightening possibility of a sale falling through less likely . . . well, you will have said all you need to say about how you’re better.
I have to go to Spanish Class now, so while I’m studying a new language, why not spend a little time studying the language you’ll be using next time you sit with a seller. You can help them make a great decision if you do a little practice and updating first.
2 thoughts on “Establishing Yourself As The Best Choice”
Great post James. I’d add one other thing. If you’re ever going to meet clients in your office (and you should all the time), your office has to be “more than they expected.” It has to be professional, organized, clean, bright, well decorated. You are saying, “we’re here to stay,” or “we’re smart, sophisticated, professionals that know what we’re doing.” When we first opened in 2005, we invested about $10,000 in build-out and decor. The result? From day one we received compliments, but more importantly you could feel that first hurdle crossed as the prospective client was pleasantly pleased with their surroundings – the office was clearly “more than they expected.” Within the first minute of their visit they had concluded we were legitimate. Money well spent!
We recently moved and have done the same thing. We updated our look, freshened the decor, changed colors and added plenty of table lamps. Spent maybe $1,000 at consignment stores and warehouse sales. The result? Everyone who has walked in commented on how nice the office is and, more importantly, every one has signed an agency agreement. I’m not suggesting that the office is largely responsible, but I’ve been in plenty of offices (real estate and otherwise) which did not exude confidence. Ask yourself – if you’re going to spend money on professional marketing and attire will your office add or detract from your message?
When you say ‘Meet clients at your office’ I assume you mean both buyers and sellers. I can think of no better place to do most listing consultations than your active, professional office. When can witness the activity, the phone ringing, your agents and assistants bustling about it says a lot. When I stopped in to see the folks at Help-U-Sell Lake Tahoe Properties last year, I watched people coming and going and saw and offer arrive. If I were a seller I don’t think you’d have had to say much to get me to sign up.