I continued in the month of November 2012 to discuss Real Estate Prospecting and linking it to activities not just learning. My overall focus of Thoughts of The Day is around the topics of Growing a Strong Business, Time Management, and how they affect the growth of Real Estate Agent and Brokers. This ongoing daily Blog is nurtured by my coaching and training seminars and no matter how much technology is put in the hands of Real Estate Agents, there is one fundamental truth that seems to persist – preparing for one’s Business Day gives an edge to highest percentile of Real Estate Professionals. The theme of Prospecting and full integration within an agent’s Internet Marketing is also a continuing focus of the series. Share your thoughts and comments, and if you wish feel free to ask me a question.
composed November 30th, 2012
Today is Session 3 of my Series Real Estate Web Strategy Success; I will be focusing on three concepts: 1. The Verbs of the Internet, also known as Hyperlinks; 2. The concept and creation of Dynamic Landing Pages; and finally 3. Squeeze Pages and their importance in generating new leads. Real Estate Agents and Brokers must learn to go beyond getting a Website, putting some lipstick on it (CSS) and hoping for the best; Our Agents and Brokers need to develop Web Strategies that generate Organic Traffic but that are also sticky. Your Website needs to become your ally when you are prospecting; it needs to help you bridge the gap between your outbound Marketing and help it generate organic Inbound Marketing. Look forward to visiting with all of you today
Today you woke up with a dream; a good dream; a dream you are going to honor and make real! Today you will make that dream grow wings and fly, because it is your dream and you have to be true to you. Today you woke up with a dream and the work you will toil through is good! Today you woke up with a dream and everyone who knows you must know your dream! Zig Ziglar told me something about your dream: ‘If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.’ So today you woke up with a dream and those around you will get their dream too!
The challenge of Time Management most Real Estate Agents and Brokers face lies deeper within their Passion than the physics of time itself. The river of Time flows equally for all of us, but there are some who infuse their day with passion and desire, and this fuel has them accomplishing much more than those who only tackle tasks robotically. If you Door Knock with the attitude that you don’t want to be there, guess what you will get? People will not talk to you and then you will conclude that Door Knocking doesn’t work. If you attend a training because someone forced you in the room you will gain very little, and of course you will conclude that Trainings don’t work. I can go on, but you get the picture… The enthusiasm with which you create your goals and work on them daily, will lead you naturally to the steps and tasks you need to get closer to achieving them. Yes your heart matters if you wish to master you daily activities and become an efficient Time Manager.
Taking actions consistent with your commitments is the true measure of going from having a dream to making it come true. I hear Real Estate Agents say things like I love helping Home Buyers; and I say: Great; Show me how you do that! And their answer is almost always the same: Give me a Home Buyer ready to buy and I will show you what I can do! Unfortunately consumers want to be convinced before they sign anything with you. Here are some good questions you ought to ask your self these next few weeks in order for you to build a strong Plan of Action for 2013: What is My Social Media Presence Footprint? If I Google myself does anything come up that is helpful to consumers? Have I offered thoughtful videos that help Buyers and Sellers understand the market I service? Does my Website or Broker Website contain testimonials than can sway visitors to choose me to work with them? Is my current Web Picture consistent with the way I look today? Can Visitors discern my specialty and my commitments when they visit me online? Do I offer Real Solutions on my website or is it just a a glorified Business Card? Yes some of these questions are tough, but they are necessary for you to confront and build a lasting Professional Presence Online – remember: You are online not because you want to but because you have to; the consumers have voted and we must listen to them!
A new breed of Successful Business Professionals is emerging, and one of their secrets is stunningly simple: The Capacity to remain focused and shun Distractions. Sometimes in business all you need is to be a bit better than the rest, and believe it when I say you can achieve this by reducing the amount of distractions in your life. Let’s be honest, every ding in your life, every Facebook zing, every email dang takes your mind away from the task at hand. The stretches of time you control in order to complete tasks that you have identified as activities of business generation must be allowed to play out; you are at your best when you take on activities and run through the arc of their completion; in fact you feel a jolt of accomplishment. Ask yourself the following questions, then try to come to terms with who you wish yourself to become: Am I easily distracted? If I had to be honest with myself would I fess up and say that I like being distracted by my text messages, Facebook Notifications, and email vibrations of? Has most of my Business Day been consumed by the distractions of being Social with little time for Real Estate Prospecting? You must come to terms with the truth about your capacity to remain focused and shun distractions then seek a colleague to hold you accountable about your daily activities – your business will thank you for it!
Robert Louis Stevenson, the poet, was speaking to Real Estate Professionals all the way back in the 1800’s; well, he was writing for all of us, but I think this quote truly captures the spirit of long term success in this tough industry we call Real Estate: ‘Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the Seeds you Plant!’ I will paraphrase my understanding of it and invite you to the same: The Seeds of a focused Real Estate Professional are the activities of Prospecting for Sellers and Buyers; the harvest is obviously clear. It is the seeds of prospecting that create the future, yet many of our agents sit on the sidelines looking for business to land in their lap - The skills of Door Knocking; Direct Response Marketing; Direct Call Marketing; Drip Campaign Follow Ups, are more important today than ever. None of your marketing in today's age can exists without a direct thread to Internet Visibility. So choose of nurture your day with prospecting activities; take classes and seminars that will help you develop the habits and skills of prospecting; and the seeds you toil to plant today will reap a bountiful harvest!
The Best friend of Real Estate Professionals is Accountability; the Worst friend of most Real Estate Professionals: unfortunately themselves. For some reason Mediocre Agents tend to hang out with other mediocre ones; while the smart and savvy agents surround themselves with a network of driven professionals – why is that? When you boil down the day to day activities of Real Estate Agents you will notice that those activities must be undertaken by the agent themselves, no one tells them what to do; in fact they don’t like to be told what to do, which leads many to plan and execute their prospecting plan alone. Prospecting is really grueling, those who have mastered it have come to understand that the No’s you get are necessary steps to the few great Yes’s you need to succeed in prospecting; but No’s sting the heart and resemble rejection – so many end up stopping their prospecting which destroys their source of new business. Accountability to others forces the agent to stop answering to themselves, and start keeping their word with others – it is bizarre but true: Most people will do what they say when told to others, but fail to do the same if told to themselves.
An old definition for the word ‘integrity’ is quite revealing about Real Estate. The current meaning that most of us are familiar with is: ‘The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.’ Yet, early on, integrity was associated with the transfer of property between people in a fair manner; think of it this way: as a property changed hands the fair process of doing so was defined as ‘the integrity of the deal.’ This integrity is expected of all the parties involved: Sellers, Buyers, and all those who support the deal. Listening then becomes one of the best asset a Real Estate Professional can develop when supporting their clients; many a deals go sour because the agent failed to truly absorb what their clients where telling them; sometimes agents don’t prod enough and start hearing what they want to hear. As the Professional you are the main advisor, coach, and guide; and your job will get easier as you commit yourself to listening and taking good notes!
Today has and always is a special day for me; Thanksgiving is the most inclusive holiday in America, and when I read the postings from my friends in Social Media I can tell how grateful and happy they are to be in the presence of Gratitude. Today I am Thankful for my sister Fay who weathered Hurricane Sandy with grace; I have on my thoughts all those who have lost family and treasure; I pray for all military families especially those in harms way and say thank you for protecting us; I am grateful to all my business colleagues who have trusted me and hired me to work with them; I thank you especially Rene for working with me virtually, you are really awesome; and I am thankful for being alive and surrounded by friends and family, and to live in the greatest country ever – Thank you America!
Many Real Estate Professionals, especially new ones, think of the industry as a Sales Business; and that would be a limited way of truly seeing the big picture. Real Estate is driven by Service, better yet by a kind of Coaching/Advisory relationship between consumers and agents. The entities doing the Selling and Buying are the Home Sellers and the Home Buyers; and of course the one doing the coaching and advising is the Real Estate Professional. How would you then increase your value as a Real Estate Adviser/Coach? This is an important question; your value and your long term success depend on it. Let me share with you what makes for great advisers/coaches: The ability to understand what people want and why they want it, then assisting them get what they want. This understanding must be grounded in local knowledge, statistics, and local changes to the Real Estate Market. As you put your business plan together for 2013 add the above question to the mix and your long term goals will become clear!
The most powerful ingredients in the Real Estate Business are first and foremost Personality and Attitude followed by Skills and Proficiency. When you learn a Sales Dialogue you are acquiring the skills of Selling but it is your Personality and Attitude that will either lead to a Sale or Not. You can give the same words, the same emails, the same sales scripts to two agents and one will close Sales while the other struggles to get a call back. The connections you try to illicit in customers are rooted in your beliefs about selling, money, and real estate. So continue to learn new ways of Selling so you can build up your confidence, and that in turn will enhance your attitude. To paraphrase one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson: ‘Nothing can stop a person with the right mental attitude from achieving their goal; nothing on earth can help the person with the wrong mental attitude.’
A major hurdle faced by Real Estate Agents and their Lead Management Systems is the implementation of ‘Intentional Patience.’ The Internet, The Economy, and your Local Market Conditions have extended the time from initial Home Search to consummation of deals from about 3 months to a period hovering between 10 to 12 months. The pouncing on deals and buying on impulse has nearly disappeared, and has been extended beyond the capacity of Real Estate Agents to remain focused on such long term leads. It is like being an Olympic Sprinter who is asked to first run a Marathon before finishing with a fast sprint; the waiting is grueling. The Real Estate Professionals who design patience and a long term view are the ones being rewarded today; they have come to understand that you cannot rush the decision making in the first few months but the moment the fuse is lit the Buyers are ready and they want you to hurry and work faster - You have to know when to be the Tortoise and when to turn it on and run like the Hare!
Prospecting creates method; Knocking on Doors creates method; Role Playing your Scripts creates method, etc. And, you all know what ‘method’ is because you practice it daily; take riding a bicycle or driving your car – before the method was down and fully understood you were focused on learning how to ride a bicycle; but once you learned you were able to start enjoying the scenery and the ease with which you were flowing through the wind… Well, your brain loves method and is not so enamored with being used as a storage container. Practice, repetition, and application of learning lead to method; which frees your mind to delve into mastery. Please continue to learn about your business, and continue to develop the structure of success – but please accept that application leads to mastery; not just learning!
Being Nice is not only a choice it is also a habit; it is an infectious habit that spreads with intention. Disagreement is wired into the day to day management of any business, but choosing to remain nice as one goes about resolving conflicts is a mark of a long view, and grounded being-ness. I would add that being ‘Nice’ is also a great remedy against Stress, and there is plenty of it around – William James wrote: ‘The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.’ Today is a good to be nice to those around us...
The assumed ‘givens’ of your ideas will, at times, get you in trouble with your business colleagues and clients. What you assume is a priority for you in running your business, may not be fully appreciated or shared by say your administrators, agents, or even managers. Lots of Brokers and Managers have a loose bond with their business teams and rarely discuss how the business is being run; they get into the mode of assuming how everyone should behave, and end up confronting major breakdowns because assumptions are not reality. Your Business Priorities should not be presumed as understood, they need to be shared, they need to be clear, and they need to be simple; Dee Hock put it this way: ‘Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.’ Get to know your ‘givens’ then share them with passion with your team!
If you want to capture the history, misery, and spirit of America during the Dust Bowl of the late Twenties and Thirties Ken Burns does a magnificent job bringing it to life. The farmers that care for the breadbasket of America in the plains suffered so much; but what I love about this documentary is how Ken Burns brings their voice to life, and to see how much in common we have with them. if you can catch this documentary on your local channel you will be glad you did – it will speak to you!
As Real Estate Professionals grow into their career they come to terms with the inevitability of developing the skills of ‘Conflict Resolution’; Real Estate is driven by emotion on every side of the transaction; Sellers want to sell at prices sometimes beyond the reality of their market and are still emotionally attached to their property; Buyers want to low ball every deal because they saw some show on TV making them believe that’s the way to negotiate; Real Estate Agents sometimes stake their hills too deeply in their relationships with their clients; that’s before anyone is really talking about whether the appraiser and loan officer are going to agree on all the numbers being thrown about. Real Estate causes emotion and sometimes leads to conflict; one of the best trait a Real Estate professional can acquire is the ability to remain calm; overreacting to every little wave causes more problems at times. Letting people cool off is always best; but there is a major ‘No No’ that agents need to keep a watchful eye on – resolving conflicts via email or text are a deal killer; if a nasty communication or event has arisen it is always best to pick up the phone; emails do not convey intonation and care and leave open the other parties to interpreting your intentions.
Albert Einstein was quoted saying ‘Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.’ One can see how in the field of Quantum Physics one can have such beautiful insights, but I see this saying more in line with what we commonly call values and core beliefs. It is this part of the human condition that is most challenging, and one has to accept that many will not share your values, and sometimes will go against them. The passion with which you live true to your values is the only guide you will have at times; so nudge yourself and get to know what it means to be at your best; take a pen and a pad, or your tablet and finish these two sentences: 1. ‘I know I am at my best when…’ and 2. ‘My company is humming at its best when…’ start writing and don’t you dare stop… write, write, write… The truth about your values and your core leadership values will emerge naturally. if you abhor writing, record yourself (your smartphone has a built-in recorder.) You know how to become your best self!
When you find yourself enforcing way too many rules in your office, rest assured that your principles have not been embraced, and the one who needs to embrace them the most is probably You - the leader. A fair amount of Brokers and Leaders live by the rule of ‘Do what I tell you; not what I do!’ – those are the Rule Makers and Rule Enforcers, they require authority to function, and sometimes fail to lead by example. Principles are driven by Values and Shared Vision, and if you must create rules for your business to grow make sure they are aligned with sound principles. Some Owners find it hard to delegate because they wish to control by making rules, therefore those they work with are not empowered to make Decisions, and everything has to end up on the plate of the owner; they then complain that they work too hard and no one really helps them at work. Enforcing Rules is easy, empowering others through sound principles is Leadership.
The coming year will be the year when Google Plus Local will cause some Real Estate Brokers and Agents to have major conflicts. It has already started but I predict it will be more pronounced in the coming year – so what’s the problem? Many Real Estate Agents tend to be savvier about Internet Marketing, SEO, and Social Media than their Brokers; so when they notice something happening on the internet they tend to embrace it more quickly. Google has launched an initiative in which its search results will be peppered with local Real Estate Business Locations, in effect the 10 results per page has been expanded to 15 to 20 results, with a strong mix of Local Businesses. Savvy agents have been going online and using the ‘Google+ Local Business’ to claim those spots and verifying their location and placing their website rather than the Business website. The conflict arises when another agent at the same location notices that has happened and demands his/her website be the one to be displayed, and the broker of the business location is caught trying to undo something that should have had the Business Location and the Broker Marketing information in the first place. Expect lots of pain! Further the aggregation of data that Google Maps (local), the old Google Places, and the new Google+ Business Local are a mess, and it will take Google engineers months to cohesively connect all three in a logical smooth manner – but Google is known for solving such big challenges, and this one is big.
If you have come to trust your business systems and your numbers are suffering, then it is time for an external force to move you towards your desired goals. Every model will fail or experience headways at some point; think of the model embraced by Circuit City – it worked really well until it didn’t; How about the model espoused by RIM Blackberry? All of you are familiar with many of these mega businesses that were not nimble enough to adapt to change. Let external, well selected, influencers nudge you out of your comfort zone; seek those who are grounded around metrics but are not driven by seeking your approval.This time a year is a great time to review your business plan, don’t do it by yourself, seek professionals and share with them your grand vision.
Google Search Results have been updated with a simplified display; Google has been pushing an important initiative called ‘The Knowledge Graph’ in order to include important Search Results that are Scientific, Historic, Geographic, Biographic, etc… When you Google ‘Albert Einstein,’ you will notice the normal list of websites on the left, and to the right a panel with a short Bio, Books on Einstein, and related people search results; you can even give Google feedback about the information if you think something is wrong. Further, if you click on a picture of one of the related scientists, say Sir Isaac Newton, you will be presented with a ribbon of scientists and thinkers related to your knowledge graph so you can dig deeper in your understanding of your scientific or biographical search. The other cosmetics changes in the search display are the search tools have been collapsed from being on a column to the left of the list of search results, and moved above horizontally under one link, which cleans up the display of results.
The power of ideas is not focused on the ideas per se; it is the connection of your commitment to said ideas that nurtures the fruit of ideas. Each time you choose to interact with your business in a new way, you force the power of your ideas to guide you closer and closer to what your core tells you is right. The worst enemy of creative ideas is fear, especially irrational fear; What are you afraid of? Why are you not pushing yourself to be honest about your fears and accept that most of your fears are irrational? You may be asking how does one conquer fear? – simple: Preparation. Every time you create and review your business plan you tackle fear face to face; your business plan must always be bigger than you; and your vision must be grounded for the long term!
Have you ever attended a meeting ran by a committee and nothing gets done because no one is really in charge? Well, have you ever experienced the same thing about yourself?, namely that each one of us has a committee of selves (our many identities) that conflict and push and pull in this direction and the other, without the ability to arrive at a decision? We are an amalgamation of selves, and it is hard at times to align them around a common goal. You have to watch the ‘distracted self;’ it loves being on Facebook, chases every text on your Smartphone, and engages in chit chat because it is fun! Your Work self is saying: ‘Hey can we first finish this task?’ yet the other says: ‘It will only take a minute; let me see that text from Linda!; Oh my, she changed her status to it’s complicated; is she breaking up with John?’ Your many selves form a committee that rarely focuses on the big picture; and it is this internal committee that causes you Stress in the form of: ‘I know I should have done this today and it did not get done; what’s wrong with me!’ Let your Inner Boss take charge, and trust that you know how.
Responsibility is never delegated it is always assumed; in the world of business results it is always best to know who is the one person who assumes that responsibility. The easiest way to create a blame culture is to create an organization with Shared Responsibility but without the clarity of leadership. Who is the skipper of your organization? The following paraphrased quote from Robert Copeland puts it best: ‘To get something done, a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are always absent.’ Yes this sounds flippant but it goes to the heart of decision-marking, and the ability to receive information, review it and making active decisions in order to produce results. Real Estate Agents and Brokers who wish to grow their presence in their local market must assume responsibility for prospecting; both direct (Door Knocking and direct calls) and passive (emails, mailers, marketing flyers, etc…) The skipper of your organization will create success for all if he or she pushes for the acquisition of new business day in and day out!
November and December are excellent prospecting months! Hibernation in the Real Estate Business during this time a year is rampant; yes the number of deals agents work on dwindles, which means it is the perfect time to prospect for listings for the coming Year. Have you identified your Farming Areas? Have you setup your door knocking schedule? Have you designed your mailers to your database? Have you reviewed your marketing material, from Business Cards, to local print, to craigslist postings? Have you blogged your services and solutions? Have you identified past clients to call and generate leads from? There is fundamental truth in Real Estate that only the pros understand deep in their gut: ‘No matter how long you have been in Real Estate, or awards you have won; when your prospecting work slows down so does your income!’ Prospecting is not difficult but getting started mentally and gearing for it is most challenging at the beginning; it is a habit like any other – learn to prospect and you Real Estate Business will always thrive!
Running your Business is the running of multiple related and connected projects; so what is a good definition for projects? A project is a result or outcome you and your team have committed to that is made up of multiple actions or tasks. In essence a project is not really a ‘project’ until you know the steps, actions, tasks, and order of execution of said actions. Many projects are fruitless not because the commitment is lacking, but because very few spend the time listing the tasks, actions, and order of implementation. But one must acknowledge that the biggest mistake committed in managing projects is the ‘assumption’ that those who are tasked with the project know the steps and actions they must take; it is these assumptions that make managers feel discouraged by the performance of their team. Why not spend some time designing your projects clearly; list all the steps, actions, and time necessary; then delegate said actions to your colleagues – the time you spend thinking will ensure success!
Thinking and Doing are not always united logically, in fact for many there is a forest without a clear path between them. Lots of managers and professionals struggle threading ‘Thinking’ with the right ‘Doing’ and on the flip side, many get into the doing mode without clarity of what they should be doing. Peter Drucker puts the role of a manager this way: ‘A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge.’ Good managers design or are given well crafted job descriptions that have been clearly defined (Thinking) and it is their role to implement the job at the highest performance possible (Doing.) The challenges in the Real Estate Industry is that our Brokers and Agents are not only responsible for performing well, they are also responsible for crafting their job descriptions – and some of them have a vague notion of what their job is. They fail to work on the ‘thinking’ required that defines their role as a Real Estate Professional, and start working with the assumption that their job is selling Real Estate. We need to help our Brokers and Agents design powerful job descriptions (Business Plans) that will help them thrive using their talent, experience, and entrepreneurial skills.
An organic truth has emerged in the past few years, with the advent of Social Media, and it is the following phenomenon: ‘Take your Business Seriously, but don’t take yourself too Seriously!’ In order to balance these two forces you have to realize that Social Media is about interacting with friends and colleagues that have been added to your sphere of influence; Facebook calls them ‘Friends’ and Google+ calls them your ‘Circles.’ Well, the first rule of being Social is to be friendly and accessible, which is the point of ‘not taking oneself not too seriously;’ this way of being allows for your fun personality to come out, which increases your likability. If you must sell a service or product get in the ‘giving business’ first by educating and sharing useful tips and ideas. But most of all, you must interact with your colleagues content by commenting, liking, +1ing, etc… and do so authentically not with an eye to leverage tenuous relationships. Keep in mind that you do not control your likability, but you can control your authenticity – and as shocking as this may seem, some will not like you… oh well!
The type of thinking you bring to the internet as a Real Estate Professional is an important asset to the growth of your business. The tools of the internet are varied and they keep changing as Internet Marketing becomes more and more sophisticated, but there are some fundamentals to this Internet Madness that once understood help you navigate and grow organically with them. Think of this way; as a kid you were introduced to language and to the fundamental building blocks of using verbs, adjectives, nouns, adverbs, conjunctions, pronouns, etc… in other words the elements of Grammar and Language. Once you had a rudimentary understanding of such elements you were able to build complex thoughts and understand more complex ideas. Web Marketing, SEO, Blogging, Social Marketing, Websites, and Mobile Presence are connected by the thread of Internet Fundamentals – you must commit yourself to not only understand how these building blocks work together, but then to leverage them for the benefit of your clients. This has been my commitment from the get go – I empower agents and brokers get the fundamental understanding of so-called complex internet systems, then offer my participants plans of actions they can trust to grow their long term success on the internet.