Whiney Home Sellers

I had a very interesting call with a Help-U-Sell Broker today.  She was talking about her preference for working with Buyers, which is fine.  Buyers are great.

However, the Help-U-Sell edge, our identity, is our low set fee offer to home sellers.  It’s great to love buyers but your primary marketing thrust should be to find and list sellers.  It is our LISTINGS that create the buyer leads that flow through the office.

‘What is it about the listing process you don’t like?’ I asked. ‘Is it the presentation and dealing with pricing issues or is it the followup and the communication?’

She prefaced her answer by saying, ‘Oh gee . . . this is going to sound really bad, but . . . what I really don’t like is . . . the whining!’

Sellers whine because they want a higher price or they want more or better marketing or they don’t think there’s enough activity or they don’t know what you’re doing and on and on.  It’s just what they do.

Because that’s how ordinary Realtors pre-frame the relationship.

Think about it.  In the ordinary real estate world, every company has the same tools.  Every company has the same consumer offer (6%).  There is no difference between companies beyond the color of their signs. In that world, sellers make their choice of listing agent based on personality.  The key question becomes, ‘Do I like and trust you? Are you warm, friendly and accessible.’  Being the listing agent begins to look like becoming a friend.

An there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that . . . except that it erodes your power as a business professional.  If the basis of your business relationship is personality and accessibility, people are going to be comfortable whining to you . . . which is to say they don’t really believe in what you’re doing and think if they will get better results by putting pressure on you.

Help-U-Sell is different.  We charge less and we charge differently because we have marketing and back office systems that get the job done quickly and efficiently.  While we all have wonderful personalities, that’s not what we sell on the listing consultation.  We sell our step-one, step-two systems.  A business relationship based on systems is much more business-like.

Here’s an example:

I have a financial adviser who manages my paltry retirement account.  He’s a friend and was for years before I moved my account to his firm.  He’s a delightful guy and he clearly knows his business backwards and forwards, but . . . when I went to his office for our first meeting, he quickly introduced me to his two assistants, each of whom has specific functions and then excused himself.

The message was clear:  we are a business based on systems.  We don’t make it up as we go along.  I have competent personnel who manage my accounts with my supervision.  This frees me to focus on creating more business and making sure the system works as designed.

Here’s the thing:  I still talk with my friend who happens to be my financial adviser, but I would never ask him about the details of my account.  He trained me during that first meeting that my questions can all be handled by his team, and that’s the way they do business.  (It was helpful that the assistants were knowledgeable and impressive.)

That’s how you need to behave on the Listing Consultation.  It’s not about you (although they’re going to love you).  It’s about your systems.  You’re not a loosey goosey real estate person, running around like a chicken with your head cut off, available 24/7 to handle every issue that may arise (real or imagined).

I’m suggesting that you become more business-like when you do a listing consultation.  Yes, be warm and friendly, but stay focused and on track.  Your Help-U-Sell office is a machine based on systems.  When we plug a properly priced listing into this machine it spits out successful sales and happy sellers!  Your sparkling personality is nice but it’s not what gets the job done.

So:  start having your sellers come into your professional place of business for the listing consultation.  Fine tune your consultation so that you can get through it in 30 minutes (+/-). Take a few minutes explaining the process and how things will go – and maybe create a graphic to illustrate it.  Pre-frame your listing relationship as a business relationship.  Let all of those ordinary Realtors sow personality and reap the whinies!


Establishing Yourself As The Best Choice

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.

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