Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In negotiation focus first on everything we can agree on, then seek common ground - perhaps an objective standard on items of disagreement.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why do we let the emotions of yesterday hinder our performance today?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fear is a powerful roadblock, but it is an obstacle that we can navigate around.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Database maintenance is a time-consuming chore that seems impossible to delegate or streamline. Any ideas or suggestions?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Listening is greater than 50% of good communication.

Friday, September 23, 2011

You can create a strong, clear vision that will lead you down the path toward success. http://ping.fm/aDgE8

A Clear Vision for Success

To achieve great things you must have a vision.  The vision must be clear and focused.  If the vision is vaguely defined, success is highly unlikely.

Just as a camera is focused on a single object to take a good photograph, so too must we focus our goals.  In a good photograph the object of interest is in focus.  All other objects in the foreground or background are slightly blurry, or out of focus. 

Our vision will either be clear or blurry.  If we fail to focus our vision, we substantially diminish, or even eliminate, the likelihood of accomplishing the vision.  In situations where the vision is blurry, we can really just call those images dreams.  Dreams are often characterized by fuzzy or blurry images off in the distance.

Focusing a camera requires a choice.  One must choose an object to focus on.  When focusing the camera, the lens is shaped or turned to reach to a plane somewhere in the distance in front of the camera.

When we focus on a vision we need to make choices.  The choice involves the distance of the reach toward the vision and the selection of our object of desire.  Some visions will require a greater reach than others.  Perhaps the hardest choice is the selection of the object of desire.  In the process of choosing the object we are forced to look past, ignore, or disregard many other options that might be in our line of sight.

We can do anything we want in our lives, we just cannot do everything we want.  If we try to do too much at one time we will spread ourselves too thin, we will not have enough depth to our focus.  To excel at something our efforts need to be concentrated – at least for a period of time until victory is obtained.  Then, after victory is obtained, one could consider diversifying interests.

Focus, or specialization, requires a certain kind of discipline.  The discipline that is required is the ability to say no to other attractive alternatives.  It is a discipline of faith knowing that the selected path will lead to the promise land – the success that one desires.

Discipline may need to be applied when a career choice is made, or in sales, when a prospecting technique is applied or a market specialization is selected.  One’s vision of success should be based on solid research and good examples.  It is also helpful to have a vision supported by a coach or even a mentor group.  The strength of one’s discipline will be in direct proportion to one’s confidence in the vision.  If you lack confidence in the vision, seek more information about the vision.

Select the object of your focus carefully and you can create beautiful photographs.  You can also create a strong, clear vision that will lead you down the path toward success.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Generosity comes from a spirit of gratitude.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Half-hearted attempts usually yield less than desired results.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Six Steps to Protecting Your Money

Real estate agents are giving their money away to clients everyday and for no good reason.

With every sales concession agents are literally taking money from their own pocket and giving it to their client.  This is being done at an unbelievable rate when compared to how much money they give to their loved ones.  Think about this:  if your son or daughter or niece or nephew were to ask you for $500, how quick would you be to just give it to them?  Odds are you would give them the third degree; what are you going to use it for, why don’t you use your own money, are you going to pay me back, might be some of the questions that you would ask.  Yet when a client of ours asks for a concession, how quickly do we concede?

Much of this behavior comes from thinking that we know the client’s circumstance and believing we need to do this to “keep the deal together.”  We believe that we know the client’s circumstance because they have told us.  They tell us things like, “we need to net X thousand dollars from the sale of our house, or we just can’t do this,” or “we don’t have any money to bring to closing, so if we don’t at least break even, we won’t sell.”  There are many more similar statements that seller’s make that are rationalizations for not paying for the home warranty, or for convincing us to pay for title insurance, or for not including an appliance, or for persuading us to lower our commission.

They use fairly convincing arguments, but in reality how much do we really know about the seller’s circumstance.  For instance, do you know how much cash the seller has in their bank accounts?  Do you know the balance of their 401k?  Do you know the credit limit on their credit cards?  Do you know how well off their nearest family member is?  If you don’t know these things, then can you really know how much the seller “needs” your help?

If you want to stop giving your money away hand over fist, then you must be slow to concede or stubborn enough to never concede.  Here are some basic steps that you can follow to turn your generosity away from your clients and toward your family or charitable organization:

  1. If you think you know, tell yourself that you don’t.  You don’t really know the clients circumstance, so when you find yourself thinking that you know, just stop and tell yourself:  “I really don’t know.”
  2. When negotiating gather and present options to buyer or seller.  Present even the most preposterous options that you think would have a snowball’s chance in hell.  Remember, you don’t know. 
  3. Advise about potential outcomes based on available options.  This is the crux of our job:  to advise our clients what might or might not happen if they follow a certain course of action.  Be objective, not judgmental.
  4. Get out of the way and let your client decide.  Do NOT decide for them.  This is their business decision, let them decide.
  5. When they ask for your contribution, just say no.  No is the most powerful word you can ever use in negotiation.  Think of how effectively your parents used the word with you when you were growing up.  “No,” it has such a definitive ring to it.
  6. Give where your heart tells you to give.  Identify the charities that you would like to give to and find the address to where you can send contributions.  Find a loved one who could most benefit from your generosity.  Having these giving alternatives in mind ahead of time will help you remain strong when you are most vulnerable to giving in.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What is the Inventory Like

A grocer who has too many pounds of beans on the shelf lowers the price of beans in order to move the inventory.  The grocer will analyze how many pounds of beans are selling each week and compare that number to how many pounds of beans are in stock.  Based on the rate of sales if he estimates that the beans will reach their expiration date before they are all sold, the grocer will lower the price of beans to move them more quickly.

While houses don't have expiration dates excess inventory still poses a problem for the market.  If real estate agents allow the excess inventory to sit on the market for too long it becomes like a weight that pulls the prices down even deeper.  Buying consumers begin to lose confidence in buying when they see too many real estate for sale signs or, worse yet, when they see too many "price reduced" signs.  When buying consumers lose confidence they don't buy, and the problem gets worse.

If you have a market that has more than 10 months of inventory, in general, prices need to come down by 10% or more.  Inventory levels of 15 months or more may require more dramatic adjustments in price.

Be aware of your market's inventory levels and make recommendations to your sellers accordingly.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What’s an Elevator Speech? Why Do I Need One?

Real estate sales professionals often don’t like to think of themselves as sales people.  Sometimes they even go so far as to invent titles for their business cards to avoid being considered sales people.  You’ve probably seen some of these titles:  Real Estate Consulting, Marketing Specialist, Real Estate Negotiator, Real Estate Advisor.

The reality is, however, anyone, no matter what industry, who is in business for themselves, is a sales person.  The funny thing is no money can be made in any business unless and until something is sold.

The act of selling requires persuasion.  A sales person’s job is to help convince someone to choose one thing out of a variety of options.  The job is to present facts that support the case, to appeal to the emotions, and to encourage the prospective purchaser to act on the sales person’s offer.

Therefore, since real estate agents are in business for themselves, and they want the people that they meet to choose them for their real estate agent, then they must persuade, they must sell themselves.

An elevator speech is a persuasive speech, a short one.  It gets its name from the idea that you meet someone, a key contact, in an elevator, and you have a sixty-second elevator ride to introduce yourself and give your sales pitch.  You have one brief chance to make a good first impression, and perhaps, persuade the passenger to want to meet with you again to learn more about your product or service.

Very often we meet people at social or business networking events and we are asked a simple question:  “so what do you do?”  This is our moment, our elevator ride.  We have this one chance to make a good first impression.  The person we are talking to may need to buy or sell real estate.  If they don’t, there is a really good chance that they know someone who does.  What do you say?

The ill-prepared real estate agent usually has an unimpressive answer, something like:  “I sell homes.”  That is like paying for a sixty-second commercial during the Super Bowl and only using five seconds.  When someone asks you a question like, “what do you do?” they certainly don’t want to listen to a long, drawn out explanation, but they are willing to give you more than five or ten seconds.  Take advantage of the opportunity and be persuasive.  Give them a compelling reason or two to consider you as their go-to person for real estate.

Those couple of compelling reasons should be your points of differentiation between you and the rest of the real estate industry.  Try to avoid cliché selling points.  Create something original and your speech, and you, will be memorable.  Make your speech sincere or your prospect will see right through you.

Write and re-write your speech.  Set it aside.  Edit it.  Change some words to make it stronger and more effective.  Practice your speech on people you know.  Revise it again.

Once you have an effective speech commit it to memory.  At first it will sound memorized, perhaps even a bit fake.  A well-prepared and well-rehearsed speech will eventually sound very natural.  Your subconscious mind will absorb the speech and make it part of you and your personality.

An effectively-delivered, well-crafted elevator speech can, in fact, create opportunities for the real estate advisor/consultant/negotiator/marketing guru to do their work for new clients.  It can generate new business.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flood Plain Considerations

Consideration ought to be paid to a seller's disclosure requirements as well as the potential need for flood insurance.

In the last half a dozen years the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has redrawn almost all of the flood plain maps across the country.  Properties that previously were not in a flood plain have now been reclassified to be located within the flood plain.

Realtors have a responsibility to disclose flood plain status.  Their first step should be to identify if the property is located near a lake, river, or stream.  They should ask their sellers if they have received updated information from FEMA or from their local county governement.  Realtors should encourage all parties (buyers and sellers) to contact their local zoning administrator or building inspector to verify the flood plain status of a property.

Of course, Realtors should apply common sense when inspecting a property for sale.  If there is standing water nearby, then the property may be subject to flooding.

The best course is to address flood insurance issues prior to a binding accepted offer.  When in doubt, you should check it out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Obtaining a Real Estate License

Each state has its own regulations as it relates to obtaining a license to sell real estate.  Typically there is an education requirement and a testing requirement to demonstrate basic knowledge of the laws, both federal and state, related to real estate sales.

It is important to find a school that is accredited to teach the required material.  It is best to find a school that has a history of success in teaching its students the material.  One indication is the length of time that the school has been operating.  Another indication of success is the pass rate of its students – the percentage of its students pass the test.

Often real estate companies have their own real estate school.  It is a good way for the company to have the first opportunity to hire you as a real estate agent when you complete the course and obtain your license.  It is also a good way for the prospective agent to learn more about a company before commit to a broker.

The best way to find a real estate school is to contact a few local real estate companies and ask them to refer you to several options for obtaining the required training.

There are options besides formal classroom training as well.  A student can take the course material through an online study program or through a DVD program.  There may even be self-study options.  The best course to follow will depend on the individual’s study habits and preferences as well as their ability to be disciplined in their study.  Many home-study student end up taking much longer to complete the course work because they don’t have the “classroom” to be accountable to.

If you are looking for options in the Milwaukee area to complete the course requirements, send me an email, and I would be happy to let you know about your options.  You can contact me at sallen@shorewest.com.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Success Guide for Real Estate Sales Thriving in Tough Times

My new book, Success Guide for Real Estate Sales Thriving in Tough Times, is published and available for purchase.  Follow this link to purchase a copy:  Buy Now.

Success Guide for Real Estate Sales Thriving in Tough Times gives new perspectives on classic approaches to real estate sales.  Written from the vantage point of the end of the Great Recession this manual provides practical advice to get real estate agents productive and profitable even in a difficult market.
If you are considering a career in real estate sales, just starting your career, or, if you are veteran looking to rejuvenate your career, this guide is the first resource you will want to read.  You will learn:
·        How the right attitude will take you farther
·        The essential elements of a winning business plan
·        Practical tips on using technology and systems to manage your business
·        Effective customer service strategies
·        How to price properties to sell
·        Making the open house effective
·        Common transaction problems and how to deal with them
·        How to work on short sales and foreclosure properties
·        How to generate referrals for long term success

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding and Real Estate Sales

By the time I woke up this morning my wife had turned on the television to catch moments from the Royal Wedding.  I peeked in at about the time the carriage with the royal couple pulled into Buckingham Palace.  When I checked back fifteen minutes later the announcers were talking about the “first kiss” that was to be performed on some balcony of the palace.  They also speculated about the crowd size that would be on hand watching this first kiss.  They suggested there would be several hundred thousand people watching.  I wondered how many people might be watching their television sets around the world to see this first kiss.  Amazing.

In the United States, of course, we have no royal family, no royalty per se.  Instead we create our royalty, give them the thrown temporarily, and then take it away almost as quickly as we give it to them.  I am certainly talking about celebrity.  We created the King of Rock and Roll, the Queen of Soul, the King of Pop, you get the idea.

In real estate sales we create celebrity as well.  We look at top producing agents and think that they are something special.  We exalt them.  We hold them in such high regard it is almost as if they are at the top by birthright.  Sometimes they know it too.  They carry themselves with such confidence.  They talk in a way that suggests that they deserve everything they get just because of who they are.  At least that can be our perspective when we look at them from below.

We yearn for royalty.  We want to place people on pedestals, to make them bigger than they are.  Yet they are mere mortals.

Those top producers were once rookie real estate agents.  They have made mistakes, and still do.  They have been frustrated on the road to success.  They have fallen and have had to get back up and try again.  The only difference between them and you is that they have tasted success in real estate sales.

You can too.

Floyd Wickman always said, “there’s nothin’ special about special people, it’s what they do that makes them special.”

When you decide to stop being a spectator and become a participant you will be on your way to success and celebrity.  You can achieve just like the top producers.  Do what they do, and you will.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Give Them the Time of Day

As Realtors get more experienced, and as they get busy, they may tend to cut corners in their buyer and seller presentations.  There may be a tendency to quickly categorize a buyer into a type or to quickly assess a seller’s situation and “handle” the seller in a routine manner.  The fact is that each buyer and each seller is a unique individual with a unique set of needs.  If we take the time to truly understand their individual needs and present to them our services based on those needs, we will provide better service and generate more referrals.

First, break the ice, build rapport, and get to know your prospective client or customer on a personal level.  Show them you care about them as a human being.  Show them love.  Relate to them about family or mutual friends.  Find things in common between you and them.  Talk to them about their occupation or what they do for recreation.  Tell them a funny story about something that has happened in your life.  They are not going to do business with you if they don’t like you, but they might if they do like you.

Next, ask them questions about their situation.  Why do they want to sell or buy?  Why now?  What if they cannot sell?  Take the time to truly understand.  If you don’t understand, ask more questions.  If something doesn’t quite make sense, delve deeper.  Do not move on to your presentation until you really know what the seller or buyer is trying to accomplish and why it is important to them.

When presenting your services make every attempt to convince the seller or buyer that you are the best person for the job.  Present your company information with pride.  Explain to the how the tools that you have will help them accomplish their objectives.  Give details about your background, experience, and techniques, and how they set you apart from the competition.  Ask tie down questions to get them to affirm you and your services at every step in your presentation.  When they agree to work with you we want them to have a resounding YES inside.  When you secure that kind of yes, you secure their loyalty, and they become your fans.

Earning someone’s trust is a very special thing.  Give them the time that they deserve, and they will give you their trust.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reasons Why People Buy or Sell a Home

  • Schools – get their children into the school district of choice
  • Upgrade to a bigger, better home
  • Downsizing to something more manageable
  • Death in the family
  • Divorce
  • Inheritance
  • Investment purposes
  • Relocation due to job transfer
  • Weather
  • Marriage
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Second home/lake property
  • Sick of their neighbors
  • Business reasons
  • Peer pressure
  • Tax advantages (mortgage interest deduction)
  • Act while interest rates are low
  • Property value appreciation
  • Growing family
  • Tired of the landlord’s rules
  • Want a yard
  • Avoid foreclosure
  • Job promotion or job loss

Notice that none of these reasons relate to a federal tax credit.  Most of these reasons have nothing to do with interest rates.  Most of these reasons exist in good economies and bad.

As Realtors we need to keep our antenna up and respond to these situations as they are presented and sell people of the idea of making the move rather than delay.  There is no time like the present to move forward.