5 Steps to Building that 2020 Vision

We’re one month out from the new year so here are some simple steps you can take to make sure your 2020 is a great year!

Step 1 – Audit Your Tech Tools

Are you utilizing the tools you have? Should you add or eliminate any of those tools? Can you do more with the tools you have? Take a moment to evaluate your technology and make needed adjustments. Keep your budget, time, and priorities in mind when making these decisions.

Step 2 – Plan For Appreciation

It’s time to be thankful! The end of the year is a great time to thank your clients and supporters. Plan for your cards, gifts, and donations. If you find that you’re coming up short on your giving goals, it’s a great time to make adjustments for the next year!

Step 3 – Evaluate Your Online Presence

We’re living in a digital age so while this may seem oddly specific in the grand scheme of things, your brand starts online. Create a brand you’re proud of. Are you presenting yourself the way you’d like? Do you need to make adjustments?

Step 4 – Evaluate The Year

Take stock and spend some time evaluating your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (aka SWOT analysis) for your business. What do you need to START doing next year? What should you STOP doing? Do you need to KEEP any habits to make 2020 a great year?

Step 5 – Plan For Next Year

This is a great time to do a little goal setting. Dream a little, then come up with a plan to execute on those big goals. Be sure you include your goals from multiple perspectives to create some balance.

We use the Gazelle “Scaling Up” worksheets to create a balanced list of goals.

Do I Have To Cold Call?

Nope – You do not have to use cold calling to build your business. However, it is one of the cheapest and quickest way to rise to the top of the sales food chain and build your database. If this isn’t your jam – check out some of the other alternatives to lead generate like a pro and our other inexpensive lead generation hacks.

A lot of our strategies can be used across multiple lead generation platforms. It all comes down to adding value to your client.

What is “cold calling”?

Cold calling, in sales, is a term used for calling people you do not know and asking for business. This is a simple definition that can mean a lot of things.

  • “For Sale By Owner” you’ve found online or in a drive-by
  • Online leads you’re calling for the first time
  • Calling from any list where you’re unsure of what awaits on the other side
  • For some people – all conversations feel like a “cold call”. If that’s you, read on and get some tips on how to overcome your fears.

There are a lot of ways to get phone numbers to call. Check out resources such as Mojo Dialer or purchase inexpensive call lists. In these cases, you may have a LOT of junk to sift through. Targeted calls with people just outside of your sphere are probably the best way to build your client base.

What are your fears? How can we overcome them?

We’ve heard a lot of fears (aka excuses) in picking up the phone and making calls. It’s not a comfortable thing to do but like anything, practice makes perfect. What’s holding you back?

  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of bothering people
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of knowledge

When you make these calls (with consistency), you will get better, your conversion rate will go up, and you will see success. Here are some ways to combat the fears listed above.

  • No doesn’t mean “never” – cold calling is very often just the start of a conversation. Get as much information as you can, make notes and try again with a more specific and better approach later. This is why asking a lot of questions and keeping good records (hello, CRM) can lead to huge sales numbers later on down the road.
  • Take the wins – if you have a solid conversation with just one person, that’s a success. Obviously, the more calls you make and the better you get at converting conversations into clients the better, but “rejection” comes with the territory. Learn to be comfortable hearing the words “no”, when you can, push past them and find a solution anyway
  • Believe in yourself – you are providing value and people want to talk to you. If you need to say that to yourself 10 times every morning before you believe it – do it. It’s true, if you’re willing to take the time to call and help people out, they will appreciate it.
  • Block your time – protect your prospecting time as the backbone of your business.
  • Set a minimum – if you’re just starting with cold calling, start small. Like with any habit, you want to pick something attainable so that you can continue without getting discouraged. Work up from 5 calls to 50 calls a day. Whatever you choose – do it. And if you don’t – hold yourself accountable to that and make up for what you miss. For this reason, we see a lot of our agents setting weekly goals instead of daily goals.
  • Read scripts – we believe scripts are highly personal and suggest reading through some to get ideas and then making adjustments for your personality type. This will help prepare you for the objections you’re likely to get and come up with strategies to help people through some of their fears.

How to add value without feeling like a chum.

Have a purpose to your call. Don’t just pick up the phone and say “Hey, I’m a real estate agent and I’m here to help.” Repackage your call to add the most value possible. Some ideas to spin a dull call into something memorable:

  • Neighborhood specific updates – this can be a great way to share trends in the neighborhood, establish yourself as an expert, and capitalize on neighborhood call lists.
  • Upcoming listings – advertise yourself as the person that is always networking to find listings before they hit the market. This is a great way to get your foot in the door with buyers who are on the fence, but make sure you follow up on that promise.
  • Seasonal tips or market updates – establish yourself as the expert in all things real estate. Provide tips and current market knowledge.
  • Open house invitations – this is a great excuse to reach out to a footprint of buyers or sellers within an area. Bonus – this drives more traffic to your open houses!
  • Add them to a niche list – offer to keep them current on the properties that are most interesting to them. This is great for investors, acreage buyers, or any other niche – get creative!
  • Offer your network – if you are constantly looking for the best of the best in all things home or community related, leverage that and offer up your network to prospective clients to create loyalty.

Use these strategies in your cold calling and other lead generation – good luck!

So, You Hate The Word “Sales Person”?

Identifying as a “sales person” is often a real struggle. We have the heart to genuinely help but feel that by asking for business we are being “salesy” or “spamming” our friends. The thing is, we have a value to offer to our clients and our agents because our primary drive is often rooted in a true core value. We want to help people get to the finish line, we want to see them accomplish their goals, we enjoy the challenge of making a difficult process easier for someone else. These are assets to our clients and we should embrace that.

get over yourself

It’s amazing how we can stand in the way of our own progress. Constantly self sabotaging the strengths that we have. If you’re struggling with the “I’m not a sales person” or “I don’t want to bug people” mentality it starts with your headspace. Ask yourself these questions

Why did you get into sales?

What makes you stay in sales?

Remind yourself of your “big why” and what motivates you to do well. You offer tremendous value to your clients and you’ve got to believe that they’re lucky to have you. If you’re just starting and struggling with the confidence of being an expert – overcompensate by studying your market and trends. Be solution oriented and come up with a solution to battle your insecurities or weaknesses. Get out of your head, and start doing the work. You are providing value. Make the calls because people need you and you’ve got to tell them why.

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned from mentors in my past is to rewrite the definition of the word “salesperson” in my head. Most sales people are phenomenally good with people, kind hearted, driven, compassionate, and likable. The “used car salesman” definition need not apply to your business. Make sure you’re taking steps to keep that perception away from your business for yourself and your clients.

Rewrite your scripts

Rewrite your own script. There are so many effective real estate scripts out there – most of them lack heart and authenticity. If you struggle with saying the words that are written on these sales tools, rewrite them. Soften the language, think about how it would make you feel, and make adjustments that help you embrace the script. It’s amazing how believing what you’re saying can change the way your message is received. People have an animal instinct for recognizing fake – create a real script that reflects you and your values.

Create your story

You have a story. Have you ever tried to tell it?

People will connect with you and your brand more if it comes with a story. We all have one, so take the time to put pen to paper on what you’d like people to know about what makes you great, how you got where are you are in business, what value you are adding to the industry and to them.

It may not always be the right time to tell your story (I mean, aren’t we more focused on our clients anyway?) but when it is, you’ll have a better grasp on how to make an impact when telling it. What drives you to be better and do a great job for your clients? What part of the business keeps you engaged and loving what you’re doing?

have conversations

We are in the business of conversations and connections. If you aren’t having conversations about real estate, you are not selling real estate. Get out there and speak to people face to face, pick up the phone, send a text to set up a meeting, do what you’ve got to do to lead to actual conversations.

This may sound like a “no excuses” approach to selling, but the underlying theme here is that at the end of the day, you have value, you are likeable, and that’s how you’re going to do your job. So embrace your strengths and do some work.

Future of Real Estate

In any industry, we are forced to adapt and change to survive. Real estate is not special and is subject to both technological challenges as well as societal changes. We’ve witnessed the beginning of the e-buyer evolution and it is likely that consumers will continue to take to the internet for their education. It’s also likely that because of this oversaturated technological wave, you may find success in the simple and effective ways of the past – the calls, texts, and mail direct to your client and consumer. So, what does the future of real estate look like?

We, unfortunately, do not have a crystal ball, but we follow the futurist theories and opinions to see what may lie in store for our industry. Some leading thoughts:

  • There may be much fewer real estate agents and only the strong and adaptable survive and thrive. While the majority of the business is already done by the minority, (remember the 80/20 rule) the trends are pointing towards a need for hardwork and adaptation.
  • Continued automation of tasks is likely, however, there are still aspects of the real estate transaction that suggests a professional is still the best option. For example, negotiations, making sense of the data, and helping to protect the client.

Building a collective of agents that can work together, lift each other up in both mind and skills, and collaborate to tackle the changing industry is a huge benefit of working with a forward thinking brokerage. Our brokerage leaves more money in the agent’s pocket so that they can continue to adapt, innovate, and give back to their business and promote growth.

Let’s get out there and beat the odds!

Generating Leads Like a Pro

Lead generation is one of the primary pillars for successful real estate agents. There are two types of leads, paid and earned. We’ll discuss the “earned” version more in this article. First, let’s lay some ground rules for lead generating with the best.

  1. Add value.
  2. Be committed.
  3. Measure the results.

If this is your first attempt at lead generation, we would urge you to know yourself first. Create a mission, create a value proposition, and make sure you are targeting the clients that will appreciate what you have to offer.

Let’s breakdown some of these ground rules a little further before we get creative on ways to generate more leads.

Add Value

The best way to attract new clients and keep the loyalty of existing ones is to constantly add value. What does this mean in practice? Well, take a moment to evaluate what is going on in the market – what’s new in the area, is the market shifting, are there new stores and restaurants to check out, do you have seasonal tips? Make sure that your messages provide value whether through email, calls, texts, or social media.

For new clients, you’ll need to earn their business as well as their respect. Listen, ask questions, and speak to the information they most need.

Be Committed

This is the single most important thing. If you do lead generation without consistency, you are likely wasting your time. People are inundated with information on a daily basis and in every form of communication – make sure you are providing a consistent message so that even when they miss one, there’s another where that came from.

This means you should create a plan and follow it. No. Matter. What.

Measure the Results

Tracking allows you to evaluate your budget for the most profitable investments and will also allow you to audit your skillset to see where you need improvement. If you find that you’re getting a lot of calls but setting very few appointments, you may need to adjust your approach. Evaluating these results with a coach or willing third party may help you to sniff out weaknesses in your business.

Lead Generation Pillars

There are so many ways to generate leads, and the reality is that if you master just one, you can create enough leads for a six figure income.

What does mastery look like?

  • Create a plan for your lead generation – How many leads must you create? How many calls, mailers, emails, door knocks, etc. will be required to accomplish this? What tools do you have at your disposal?
  • Put a spin on it – Make sure you set yourself apart from the competition. If you decide to master open houses or seminars, perhaps you can budget for feeding your attendees to set yourself apart or host the seminar in a public and trusted place.
  • Set a schedule and be consistent.

Need some ideas of what lead generation activities you can master? Here are some inexpensive or free methods that, when mastered, can lead to 100 leads per month.

  • Seminars – Buyer Seminars, Seller Seminars, Relocations, etc.
  • Open Houses – be the neighborhood expert
  • Cold Calls – For Sale By Owners, Neighborhoods, etc.
  • Client Appreciation Parties or Move-In Parties
  • Volunteer – widen your sphere
  • Door Knocking – get to know your neighbors
  • Digital Lead Generation – you can definitely get leads with quality online presence and advertisements, however, you’ve got to “pay to play”

If you’re not up for the hustle or grind to make the leads to fuel your business, you can always partner with companies to purchase leads. Unless you’ve got all your communication systems completely built out and you’re the master of follow up, this is an unreliable method. Conversion rates for purchased leads (industry average is between 0.5-5%) so you’ll need both quantity of leads and quality of follow up.

Outsourcing in Real Estate

I am absolutely fascinated by the idea of outsourcing in real estate. Making your life easier, one task at a time. So many of the day-to-day tasks can be automated and outsourced in an efficient way that helps you accomplish more.

Want to hear why you shouldn’t (immediately) say no to outsourcing? I recently learned of a company that had been in the business of creating quality awards and plaques for more than 20 years. They earned about 10-15% on the sale of their products on average when they learned of a company that could do the same job for substantially cheaper than they ever could have accomplished in their smaller market. So, what did they do? Turn in the towel? Quit? Absolutely not. They used that company to create their products for their customers and turned that 10-15% profit into 40%. Yep. 40% profit margin.

Now, there’s a fine line with all great things and that holds true with outsourcing. You’ve got to find a balance (and the right tools) to help you continue to provide impeccable service along the way. But, you’re already one step ahead of the curve – never stop looking for good solutions to bad business problems.

What Can I Outsource?

The real question starts to become, what can’t I outsource. There are companies created every day to fill the needs of people just like you. Some of the tasks listed below are obvious places to outsource in your business, and perhaps some are new to you. 

  • Staging
  • Photography
  • Social Media
  • Transaction Management
  • Virtual Assistant 
  • Email management
  • Graphic Design
  • Phone Answering
  • Appointment Setting & Calendar Management
  • Lead Prospecting
  • Research
  • Hiring
  • Personal Errands – Grocery shopping, meal prep, etc.

Many of the business tasks listed above have entire companies dedicated to fulfilling this portion of your business. You can hire people “in-house” to do absolutely anything listed above – the benefit to outsourcing is that the training and turnover is in someone else’s hands and your contract is easily moved to another company if you’re not happy. 

Think outside the box when looking to expand your business. It’s fun! What’s your favorite thing to outsource?

Top 10 Innovation Strategies to Keep You ‘Relevant’

An innovative brokerage can only get you so far. At the end of the day, as an agent, we have to constantly look for ways to improve our real estate businesses. While we watch for new trends in the market, keep up with the increasing speed of changes in the real estate industry, and evaluate our performance, there are a few key strategies we use to stay on the edge of innovation.

1. Always look to simplify.

It’s easy to fall for “all the things” and overcomplicate your business. So, know this and intentionally cut it when you recognize it. Evaluate your tools, your marketing platforms, your budgets, and ask yourself “is this serving me”? If this feels overwhelming, spread out the frequency of this in depth overview and do it once per quarter or once per year.

2. Make SMART goals.

It’s not enough to have goals and aspirations – you’ve got to have a plan. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, every goal should be:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

3. Commit to a balanced life.

Take breaks, schedule fun, and prioritize your life. Make time for your rituals, family, friends, and interests. For those of you who jump on this “goal train” with us, add in some personal goals that will help you stay focused on the things that matter most to you. Date nights? Travel destinations? Learning musical instruments or foreign languages? All of these are more likely to happen when you apply those S.M.A.R.T. goal rules, even in your personal life. Want to travel to Paris? Make a plan, set a time frame, and “Laissez les bon temps rouler“!

4. Fail often, fine… but fail fast.

It’s going to happen. Getting comfortable with failure is one of the hardest but most rewarding parts of running a business. Once you realize mistakes aren’t worth clinging onto or covering up you can learn quickly and pivot in the right direction. We’ve had ideas that have failed – you will too and they likely won’t stop. So, take stock and move on while learning what you can.

5. Fear has no place.

Once you’ve committed to recognizing, embracing, learning, and moving on from failure you can truly tap into your greatest potential. Taking risks leads to rewards – these don’t have to be expensive risks! It can be as simple as stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks. Be willing. What worked before may not always work.

Not to mention, how many times have we avoided that difficult phone call or paperwork only to realize “it wasn’t that bad”? Yeah, it happens all the time.

6. Growth Mindset. ALWAYS.

This is our “all feedback is welcome” tip. It’s easy to get into a focused bubble of our goals, but keep in mind people are often better at pointing out the features, services, or personality traits that stand in your way or are lacking. If you get a complaint, take a moment and then truly evaluate whether it’s a hole you can fix in your business. Complaints and problems are very often just a gateway to a solution. Problems were made to be solved.

7. Learn from Everyone.

Regardless of someone’s experience level or expertise, chances are they have something to teach you if you’re willing to listen. Mix up your company and be around diverse people with different experiences. Our new agents often bring a fresh look while learning from the experience of the seasoned agents in the office. The point? We all have strengths, share yours and learn from other people’s. It all comes back around so play nice and reap the rewards of teamwork.

8. Get Creative.

Look to innovators for inspiration, but take time to think outside the box as well. We recommend scheduling time for creativity and innovation. For our creative types, this may be counter intuitive, but having the designated time allows the freedom of the mind to focus only on innovative and creative thoughts rather than the to do list stuck on your desk.

9. SWOT Analysis

If you haven’t noticed, we are big advocates of having a plan. Part of our planning process includes a brainstorming session for the things affecting our business. This exercise can be done once per year or once per quarter depending on your business needs. It requires a brutally honest approach (or at least it works better with one). Get in there, dig in deep, and brainstorm the list.

Image result for swot analysis overview
Full Instruct-able Located Here

10. You’ve made a plan, now, work it.

Now that you’ve made a plan it’s time to stay focused and execute on that plan. Use the tools and evaluations you’ve done above to guide you. The best way to work a plan is slowly and steadily – set your top priorities and tackle those first (even if they’re difficult). Get them done and move onto the next challenge. Don’t forget to set those deadlines and follow through. Be reasonable and firm with yourself and if you need some tough love, find a friend to be an accountabilibuddy.

Hack: Inexpensive Lead Generation

Hack: Focus on the people you already know and then add technology in for a winning combination. Whether you’ve been selling for years or you’re just getting started, taking the time to prospect for new business is a necessity for a sustainable career in real estate. “Prospecting” is different for everyone – today, we’re focusing on people you already know.

You’ve already got a connection, that’s great! Today, everybody knows multiple Realtors so how can you stand out amongst the rest? Here are a few very simple strategies to help you stay connected to the right people and convert your friends and contacts into leads.

Who is on this list? Well – everybody! People you attend the gym with, friends, family, neighbors, people you have volunteered or served with, church family, people you’ve met at the grocery store, people you do business with. Think outside the box and deepen those connections.

Upload Your Database to Facebook Ad Page

This will allow you to target the people you already know (you can always widen the reach, but focus on making a lasting impression on people you already connect with). This will allow you to more easily close your contacts who are on the fence. Facebook is a great “bang for your buck” marketing tool.

Provide Value

We’re huge advocates of a value added approach. People looking to buy and sell real estate want value and what is more valuable than a promotion of your services? Well, providing information (for free) that helps them make better decisions, learn more about the market, and see you as the expert. The traditional method of advertising your face along with a “I’m the best!” type slogan is dwindling – highlight your expertise without the sales pitch and see how that changes your conversations.

Real estate videos are a great way to provide information quickly and make a deeper connection with your database. Make a few informational videos and design the ad around the video rather than a “Sell With Me” approach.

Retarget

This is even easier when you start using technology to your benefit. When using a video, you can retarget those who have watched 50% or more of the video – these are people who have shown some interest in what you’re doing. Now, with Facebook ads on your side, they can see more.

Convert

Advertising only matters if you convert these leads into conversations and appointments. Stay in touch with people and meet them in person when possible! Have fun and make deeper connections with a solid group – they can prove to be your best referral sources as allow you to simplify your life.

Is It Time For Your First Hire?

Sometimes the best way to evaluate if you’re ready is to tell you when NOT to hire. So, here it goes. Don’t hire if:

  • You’re desperate to fill the role immediately
  • It doesn’t make financial sense

For obvious reasons, hiring someone when you’re desperate may lead to poor decision making and settling for the wrong person for the job. Similarly, if you aren’t financially able to take on the responsibility of paying your employee, it’s not time… yet. 

If you’re still in the game, let’s talk. 

In today’s world, there are many ways to accomplish day-to-day tasks without hiring a full-time employee, so, if you haven’t tried part-time help, virtual assistants, or outsourcing what can be outsourced, then you may want to start there. 

Now, you’re pretty sure it’s time to take the leap. A full-time employee is probably in your future. What you need to know before you hire:

  • What is the role of the employee?
  • What can you afford?

Defining roles is a good exercise for you and will give the employee a better roadmap to success. Employees want to feel fulfilled and often that includes a thorough understanding of how they’ll contribute to the company. Once you have the list of tasks and responsibilities, you can use it to identify what type of personality would be best suited for the role. Is it someone who enjoys organizing and planning? Is it someone who is outgoing and spirited?

Taking it One Step Further – Disc Profiles

More than likely, as your first hire, you’re looking for someone to take over the more clerical, accounting, and paperwork aspects of your business. In these cases, we strongly recommend using the DISC assessment in your hire. Tony Robbins offers a free one that you can have your potential employees fill out. There are many more thorough ones that can dig a little deeper and interpret the profile more for you. Example Profile (Highly recommend, especially when getting started) 

We’ll evaluate what type of DISC profiles work best for different jobs in another post so stay tuned! 

How To Handle Out-Dated Contract Forms

This question was taken straight from the TREC website when we were asked a similar question by an agent. It’s important to always keep learning. So, read below!

“I received an offer on one of my listings, but included in the offer were forms drafted using outdated versions of the form. How should I handle this?”

From TREC:

With respect to a TREC form, TREC’s rules obligate license holders to use the most current forms that are approved for mandatory use by TREC. With respect to TAR forms, such as the Commercial Contract-Improved Property form (TAR 1801), such forms are authorized to be made available for transactions for which there is no mandatory TREC form to be used. Outdated TAR forms are removed from the blank forms section on texasrealestate.com and from the websites of any form vendors licensed to offer TAR forms. Once the forms are removed, TAR no longer authorizes them for use and doing so would be a violation of TREC rules governing the use of forms promulgated by a trade association.

If you receive an offer on your listing on an outdated TREC or TAR contract form, present the offer to your seller and tell him that it’s on an outdated form. Next, inform the other broker that the contract form used was outdated. If your seller intends to counter the offer, draft the counteroffer on a current form. If your seller wants to accept the offer on the older form and not move the sale to a current form, urge him to seek the advice of counsel before doing so.

Full TREC write up