Friday, September 10, 2010

What color is your COW?

I was recently reminded of that great book on branding yourself by Seth Godin called "Purple Cow." For those who haven't read it, it's a good read. So along that thinking QTS came up with some ideas on how to market your listings without spending a single dollar! Want to keep reading? Great!

The goal is to create attention to your listing for it to stand out as a PURPLE COW! The concept is simple, if there are thousands of cows in the field, why will yours stand out? Here's some ideas:

What does every buyer in this market want? Bragging rights. They want to be able to "get a deal" and tell people about it. Does that always mean they need to get the home for less than list price? Not if it's already priced right. What if we highlighted for them the "PEAK VALUE" scenario. For example, if a home today is worth $250,000 and in the last peak it would have sold for $325,000, that's their deal! Check your market for accuracy, but I would bet that if you looked at past peak markets you would notice a trend. That trend is each peak market was higher than the last. If the home was peaking at $325,000 last time and it's true each peak surpasses the next, could the home be worth $350,000 in the next peak? If so, sell the buyer on the $100,000 in equity they'll gain, rather than focusing on the list price today.
Check SOLD property MLS remarks. Did those properties have anything clever or specific that could have attracted extra attention. Was their description better? Is there anything that stands out that could have created the sale that you can duplicate for your listing?
Highlight any incentives. The idea here is figure out what the prevailing challenge in your market is and create a solution. Example: A builder offers up to $25,000 in closing assistance on his CURRENT home. The problem is, prospect wants to buy in the builder's development but is $25,000 upside down on the sale of his home. Problem solved! Example: Seller guarantees a specific figure for rental income in a resort market. The problem is, buyer wants the home but is unsure of the income for the first year or lender wants something concrete in order to qualify the buyer. Problem solved!
Encourage your sellers to use 6 month pricing. Remember back in the rising market, buyers were willing to pay full price and often times, more than full price. Why? They knew prices were rising and in 6 months or sooner the value would be there. Well buyers are no different today. In this declining market, they want to buy the home at what the value will be in 6 months. Figure out the rate of depreciation and price the home as close to what it will be in 6 months and it will sell FAST! Not to mention, you want have any issues with the lender on appraised value.
Rent vs. Buy. What is the average rental price in your market? What price range would a comparable mortgage payment be? Finally, how many listings do you have in that magic price range? Example: My market average rent is $1250. That will get you about a $240,000 home with FHA 3.5% down at a 5% rate. Currently their are 143 homes available under $240,000. What if the listing agents marketed each of those homes to tenants paying that rental rate?

We have to be creative and think outside the box. It's about using the logic the market is providing us to our clients' advantage. Hope these ideas help you sell a listing this month!

Happy Selling!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tip of the Day!

Objections haven't changed since real estate began. They're basically the same as they were 50 years ago. I'm still looking for new ones. At least new ones that are common. Sure, you will hear some crazy things, yet those are random. For the most part, sellers give us the same reasons not to move forward or to delay as they always have.

Tip of the Day - Learn the answers! Since objections haven't changed, and there are answers available, why in the world wouldn't we learn them? Yet each day I work with and talk to agents who get stopped cold by the same old objection.

I just talked to an Expired listing who wanted to "wait until January." I asked a few more questions, gave a little bit of information (a.k.a. answered the objection) and now have a listing appointment Friday afternoon. When I first called she wasn't going to be re-listing. Now she's considering it. I'm the 3rd agent who called her. What was different? I did my job as a SALESPERSON.

At QTS we have a 5 step process for handling any objection. You will find your business increasing as you can learn to handle objections better. There are two types: those objecting to the appointment and those objecting to the signature.

•What objections stop you?
•What are you doing to learn the answer?
•What's your plan?
•Would you like to do more business and would learning the answers help you do that?
•How often are you practicing?
•Imagine getting 20% more business from the people you're ALREADY talking to?
We have a teleconference class coming up on this specific topic. If you'd like more information let me know.

Happy Selling!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tip of the Day - 30 day challenge

In an effort to participate in the 30 day blog challenge, I suppose I have to come up with something clever to say. I've decided that the least I can do is offer a FREE coaching tip for the next 30 days and hopefully we'll all be making more money.

Today's tip - Go back through every single person you've communicated with since January 1st and recontact them. Every lead you can possibly find through email or phone. I've noticed an overwhelming amount of people who are in a much different place today than they were in earlier this year. Since that's the case, some of the dead leads may be changing their plans for the end of the year.

Here's the SIMPLE script - "Hi, we're approaching the end of the year and I was calling to see if your plans to (buy or sell) have changed since the last time we spoke?"

Their answer will tell you where to take it next. Remember to ask a lot of questions, pre-qualify thoroughly for motivation and SET THE APPOINTMENT. You won't sell them anything over the phone! Get in front of them as soon as you can.

Happy Selling!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to do a Successful Open House!

The great Open House debate has been going on for some time now. Does it work? Does it not work? Well there's a couple of answers to that age old question. So here we go:

We know attitude and expectation are more powerful than anything else. If you believe or don't believe something, you're exactly right! So, if you don't believe it will work, you're right. If you do believe it will work, you're right! Everyone wins. Now I realize it's not exactly that simple, so let's go further.
Open house results are about repetition and consistency. If you're an agent that thinks you can do 4 or 5 open houses and get 4 or 5 deals, WRONG! To really make this an effective part of your business you need to plan on 30 or more Open Houses a year.
Remember the purpose of the Open House is to sell the house you're in. Statistically speaking, it's not a high probability. It can and does happen, just not often enough to scream from the mountain tops. What it does accomplish is getting the word out, generate some buyer leads, possibly get some feedback on the home and make the seller happy if they've requested it.
Pricing is everything. You can do any number of marketing activities on an overpriced home and it will never sell. After all, how much marketing would it take to sell a nickel for ten cents? See my point?
Open House success will vary by location. In some markets it just won't work as well. The best way to find out if it will work in your market is to do one using the suggestions below. An example of a market where Open House doesn't work. In my market (resort) try doing one in the middle of January. There's no one here to even see the home! Internet saved our market from being a complete seasonal event.

So, (DRUMROLL) how to do it "right."

Select the right home. It must be priced well, in a great location, easy to find with few signs needed, great curb appeal, CLEAN and uncluttered. Go over 30 to 45 minutes early to get familiar with the home if you aren't already.
Invite the neighbors. On Thursday or Friday afternoon, go around the neighborhood and invite everyone to the event. I have a great script I will send you if you email me. The best part about this is a couple weeks later when it's SOLD, you can go back around to the same neighbors and let them know it sold so quickly. If anyone is thinking about selling, you'll be on the top of their list for sure.
Call/email people. Call/email all of your buyer leads current and past and invite them. Call the President of the Association. Chances are that person knows everyone in the neighborhood and may know who's moving soon!
Advertise in free resources. No longer do we need to do newspaper ads! Use all of the free resources you can find. Blogging, Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Direct interested parties to a website with GREAT photos and lots of them.
Have the home "On Sale" for the event. Offer some incentive to prospects to visit like closing costs paid or small price reduction "for one day only."
Have pre-set-up showings for 2-3 comps that are slightly different than yours (a bedroom more/less, pool/no pool, etc) and offer to show to buyers at the end of your open. (If no takers, be sure to cancel the show requests!)
Have great signage. Make sure your signs are crisp and clean. Don't use flimsy signs that can blow over while you're not looking. Have balloons on the signs. Have as many as you can so they aren't missed. Have balloons on the mailbox at the home as well.
Stage the home if necessary. If you follow tip one, less of this will be needed or it may already be done. Make the home as clutter free and inviting as possible.
Set the mood. Play some nice soothing music. Have a few scented candles to create a nice warm aroma. Bring some fresh flowers for the table. Have great lighting.
Have snacks. If your area is "known for" a food or snack offer that food. If you have any visiting prospects it will make a nice conversation starter.
Smile, Stand Up and have Enthusiasm. There's nothing worse than walking into a stranger's home and seeing a boring, unenthusiastic agent sitting at the table or on the couch. Give the prospect a reason to stay by having great energy. A smile is infectious.
Have a great opening line. We teach people a great conversation starter to any incoming prospect is..."Which home in the neighborhood do you own?" You'll quickly find out who the neighbors are and get them talking. If they respond with "We don't." Simply say, "Great, what brings you into the neighborhood today?" Keep the conversation going from there.
Have a lender with you. If you get a "live" one the lender can pre-qualify them right there on the spot.
Have very nice looking fact sheets. Bullet points work best rather than long paragraphs. You can fit more in and they are more likely to read it.
Make it an "Event." Coordinate with your office all nearby Open Houses that day and have a map on the back of the fact sheet or on its own to each Open House. Support each other.
Ask lots of questions. If the prospects are truly motivated and need some help, they aren't going to come out and tell you. By asking questions and keeping the conversation going you build rapport and it becomes easier for the prospect to open up to you. The key is to keep them talking as long as possible. You become less scary the longer they are with you. Unless of course you're just scary. Ha ha...couldn't resist!
Final and BEST TIP of them all...Bring your current listing leads to the Open House. At 20 minutes before it ends, we are typically tempted to start turning off the lights and packing up and sure enough, another prospect will pull into the driveway! To stop that temptation, bring your listing leads and call them to tell them you've just done an Open House and what kind of results you got. Let them know that can be their home next weekend! If nothing else, they'll know you're working!

That's the list. Do you have anything to add? I will re-publish a final list if we get some more great ideas.

While I don't guarantee success with these tips, some may work, some may not. If you're going to do open house, these should help your results.

Last disclaimer...remember that Open Houses are time consuming and there's no "real" guarantee of anyone coming in. If you find yourself in that situation, make sure to have a list of Past Clients, COI, Leads, Expireds, FSBOs, someone you can call and talk to about real estate to make it a productive use of your time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don't look now...the sky is falling!

I was reading some of the very articulate and interesting posts on the 27% news that has caused such a here's my post on it.

The 27% actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it or actually read the article. Considering the number of buyers who rushed to meet the tax credit deadline, it's not surprising at all and as stated in the article, was expected. Simply put, buyers who would have bought and closed in May and June, did it in April. April essentially "stole" those sales! ha there's a spin. Keep on reading and you'll see sales are expected to reach 5 million this year. The 20 year average is 4.9 million. There's even more positive news after that. So what's the problem?

Could it be that some of us forget we are SALESPEOPLE? We go around with our fancy titles and fluff here and there when people actually hire us to SELL. Isn't our job to give valuable information so our clients make the right choices. This is valuable information, now how can we use it to benefit our clients? What if we got into the habit of taking not so great information and finding a positive way to communicate it? After all, there's something good in everything if you're looking for it.

So, how are you using this information with your clients?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Closer!

Do you want to be a better closer? Do you go on appointments and not even ask the prospect to do business with you? Being a skilled closer can easily boost your sales without working one minute longer. Think about it. Let's say you go on 50 presentations and have a 50% closing ratio. That's 25 deals. If you increased your closing skills to an 80% ratio, that's 40 deals! The best part is, you haven't worked any harder because you would have been on the same 50 presentations!

So how do you get better at closing? Below are a FEW ideas on this topic. I have way more material on this but I'll keep it short for this beautiful Wednesday morning.

Understand closing is simply the next step. Once you've given a great presentation to a qualified prospect, it only makes sense to close. It's really nothing more than a natural ending. After all, if you did a good job and they want your service, why wouldn't they say yes? So ask!
Identify what part of closing is hard for you. Is it because you don't know what to say or how to do it? Are you afraid of the rejection? Practice doing it. It will be easier with practice. Experts tell us that the sale happens after 5 to 7 closes, so ask one more time than you normally would. You might just be surprised with a YES!
We don't want to feel "pushy." That's a valid concern. This is why you practice what to say so it comes naturally. Remember, the only time you'll be pushy is if you're trying to sell something to someone that they don't need or want. If you're with a prospect, there's a reason. If you do a good job presenting, they will want it. We're not talking about selling ice cubes to Eskimos.
Closing is easier with a qualified prospect. When we take the time to pre-qualify each person for their needs, desires, motivation and time frame we have a chance to remove the rejection. If you qualify properly you'll know whether to close. If they aren't qualified, no rejection! After all, how likely are you to close and unmotivated person?
Be confident. Shaky skills prompt questions and lack of comfort. You have to believe in your own value and what you're selling before they can. The more value displayed the easier the close. So, write down the top 5 reasons you're the best agent for the job and be sure to use them in your presentation. Then they'll be closing you!
Be direct. Let's face it, in this market every minute they could be losing money on their home or missing the best house for them to purchase. Being direct shows you're a professional. They are expecting this from you, which is why they are on the presentation anyway.
SHUT UP! Once you ask, quit talking. Don't over sell and talk your way right back out. Nod in agreement, smile and wait for their response, no matter how long it takes. The more you keep talking the less likely they are to commit.
What's your best closing line? How do you rate yourself on this skill on a scale of 1 to 10?

Friday, August 20, 2010

How did I lose that lead?

Regardless of how you generate them, leads have to be managed. After all, the number one complaint from consumers is that we don't call them back. So to avoid that trap, here are some simple ideas regarding Lead Follow Up!

Have a definition of what a lead is. How long will you keep a lead in your system? Studies show the longer you spend following up on leads, the less business you do each year. Answer this question...A lead is someone who NEEDS to buy or sell within _______ days? My personal recommendation is no more than 30 days.

70% of your business should come from lead follow up. That's's that important. 70% of the time you will have to follow up with that lead to get an appointment set. 30% of the time you will set the appointment on the first call. So here's a scary much business are you losing by not having a great system?

Lead Follow Up should be a daily activity posted in your schedule. Plan to spend 30 minutes to an hour a day calling your leads and setting up the appointment. A great time to do it is first thing in the morning. Call your hot leads and get some commitments which will start your day off with a great "high."

Remember leads have NO VALUE. Where do you go with your lead system or file and say, I'll take a paycheck please...I've generated all these leads, now pay me. Well, not in this business. Leads don't represent security. They have no value until they are a closed deal. Over-managing and over-protecting gets you where exactly?

The purpose of your LFU call is to SET AN APPOINTMENT. Period. Nothing else. Each time you follow up with a lead the goal is to get the appointment set. To make a sale you have to do a presentation. To do a presentation, you have to be on an appointment. To have an appointment, you need to generate a lead and get the commitment to meet. Simple as that. Anything else is just being a free information provider. Now, I do understand that you must give out some information to establish credibility and rapport. There is a difference between building trust and providing free information. Most of the time, you know when you've crossed over.

Accept the fact that you will cycle through a large number of leads each year. Imagine if everyone you talked to bought a house. You could do all your business in January and take the rest of the year off. :) Since that is unlikely to happen, it's important to quickly move to the next lead when you recognize one is dead. As the saying goes, "when the horse is dead, dismount."

Having too many simply hides the good ones from you. Accept the fact that if you don't qualify your leads, you will end up with a lot of "Fools Gold" rather than actual leads. For each lead, identify the date you will discard them if they haven't set an appointment. Not only will that help you get rid of the bad, it will force you into action knowing you only have that amount of time to convert them.

Implementing these ideas will help you convert the good ones faster. What are your thoughts on Lead Follow Up?