Posts Tagged ‘Sellers’

Powerful Print Marketing Tools

April 21, 2011

This is the fifth article in my series on powerful listing presentations, where we’ll be covering pricing, communication, technology, marketing, and home presentation & photography.

This week I want to discuss the power of your print marketing tools … and why you simply must spend time creating a portfolio of materials that represents your professional expertise and shows your sellers exactly how you’ll market their home.

As I’ve said in each of the previous Zebra Reports about listing presentations, sellers want to see how you are going to sell their home. They expect you to outline the steps you will take, and they want to see “real life” samples.  You probably remember from previous Zebra Reports in this series that my term for these samples is “props”.

If you’ve ever taken one of my classes, or read any of my previous Zebra Reports on marketing, you’ll remember that one of the cornerstones of my business is my belief that agents need to develop their own personal “brand”.  The materials that we’ve talked about throughout this “Powerful Listing Presentations” series should all be created using your brand.

If the materials you use when marketing homes – the same materials you showcase during your presentation – aren’t beautiful, colorful, and extremely high-quality, you are doing your sellers a disservice. A seller’s home is a huge investment – they deserve nothing but the absolute best from you!

Before I explain what I believe are the most important items, I want to talk for just a minute about what I often see. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven by a house and stopped to take a flyer out of a flyer  box … only to find it printed on plain white paper. And sometimes the colors aren’t even accurate. Here’s an example: That lovely taupe house that I’m standing in front of … with the crisp white trim and black front door? On the flyer it looks dingy yellow and muddy brown! And the interior photos on the flyer certainly aren’t going to get me excited about seeing the home.

Remember – even if the contract and the negotiation phase of real estate is where you shine (and what you enjoy!) you can’t get to that point if you don’t market the house properly and attract buyers to the table.

I want to start by addressing how you present your marketing plan. Do you have something in writing that tells your sellers exactly what you are going to do, and when you are going to do it? Do you have a calendar that you leave with them that they can refer to? A lot of agents over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to marketing.  When you give your sellers a calendar of activities you are reinforcing the fact that you do what you say you will do.

Now let’s talk about all of the printed pieces – the “props” – which you need for a very polished and professional listing presentation. I’m going to give you lots of ideas, but it’s up to you to choose the ones that best fit you and your market.  However, regardless of which tools you use, it is absolutely critical that those tools be created using your brand. If the sellers are interviewing multiple agents, the use of your brand will absolutely elevate you from “ordinary” to “extraordinary” in terms of memorability!

Here are the tools you may want to consider for your next listing presentation:

1. Marketing Binder: One of the most impressive items you can give your sellers is a full-color copy of your customized marketing binder. This is the package that pulls your marketing calendar and all of your samples together into a ‘leave-behind’ for your seller to review and refer to. The cover must have a beautiful photo of the seller’s home. Where appropriate, each of the sample pieces in your binder should also include that photo.

2. Flyers: Regardless of whether you create one-page, two-page or four-page flyers, the photos you use must be amazing. I also encourage you to use high-quality, gloss paper. Remember – your flyer says a lot about you to other potential sellers, as well as to buyers. Keeping the flyer box full of extremely well-done flyers reinforces the fact that you are a true professional.

3. Photo gallery CD: Many agents create a photo gallery CD, which they reproduce and leave at their listing for prospective buyers to take. Print an exterior photo for the CD jacket and include the same photo on the CD label.

4. Advertising: It goes without saying that regardless of whether you are marketing your listings in a newspaper, a magazine, online or on your flyers, including truly engaging descriptions is imperative to attracting buyers. Before the listing appointment, spend some time thinking about the profile of likely buyers for the home. Then write two to three different ads based on that target audience. Preparing in this way will definitely impress a potential seller!

5. Marketing Boards: These boards are the perfect way to present a visually compelling story of how you are going to market the seller’s home.

6. Just Listed postcards: Never underestimate the power of a beautiful postcard. Send these cards to the neighborhood, your database, and other potential buyers. Postcards don’t cost a lot, and your potential sellers will love that you send them.

7. Home Book: This is one of my favorite pieces. You might remember that I mentioned it recently when talking about your communication tools. The home book is a notebook that you leave at the house during the time it’s listed. Include items such as home care and warranty records, the most current inspection report, tax and appraisal records, and neighborhood and community information. Show potential sellers what their home book will look like. They’ll immediately understand the value of the book, and of hiring you.

8. Home marketing cards: This is another idea that my coaching clients have found particularly useful … and that sellers love! Print business cards that feature the home (a photo on the front, and details on the back), and give them to the sellers to pass out to their friends and neighbors. It’s their home, and they are undoubtedly proud of it – so let them be a part of your marketing efforts!

9. Open house materials: Most sellers still want you to hold open houses, regardless of how much other marketing you are doing. It comes up at nearly every listing presentation. When asked, the typical agent simply responds: “Sure, I can do an open house for you.” Or they might even say: “You know, I don’t do open houses and here’s why.”  Open houses can be a gold mine when done correctly! Without going into a lot of detail, here are the open house props that will ‘wow’ the socks off of potential sellers.

  1. Open house invitations: Postcards are quick and easy. Let your sellers know exactly who you are targeting, and why.
  2. Open house display boards: Many agents use small easels that fit on a kitchen counter or dining room table to present neighborhood information. These could include maps of the area, as well as information on schools, parks, and shopping.
  3. Open house feedback forms: Sellers like to know what buyers are thinking! Show your sellers what your feedback forms looks like.  Even better, ask them if there is anything in particular they want buyers to provide feedback on.

10. Database marketing: I talked about this in the Zebra Report just a couple of weeks ago. Show your potential sellers the type of marketing you are doing with your databases, and where their home may be featured in this marketing. Do you feature your listings in a newsletter, or send out your ‘just listed’ postcards to your database as well as targeted buyers? If so, bring samples! Sellers will appreciate your extra efforts to find a buyer for their home.

I want you to remember one thing about marketing that is easy to forget in this high-tech world. Print marketing – if done well – still has enormous impact. While buyers may be looking at homes online, they still want a beautiful brochure or flyer to take home, to look at again, and to share with friends and family.

Remember – sellers expect their home to be showcased in full-color and beautifully presented to potential buyers, both in print and online. Don’t let them down!  With your brand as a starting point, create beautiful printed materials for your next listing presentation.

Next week we’ll feature our sixth and final topic in our “Powerful Listing Presentations” series: home presentation & photography. Be sure to watch for next week’s Zebra Report!

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Powerful Technology Tools

April 14, 2011

This is the fourth article in my series on powerful listing presentations, where we’ll be covering pricing, communication, technology, marketing, and home presentation & photography.

This week I want to discuss powerful technology tools and the importance of these tools in your listing presentation.

Regardless of whether technology is important to you in your personal life, you must step up to the technology plate when it comes to your business. In today’s world, providing the widest possible array of online marketing tools is critically important to your success as a listing agent.

Here’s why: Sellers are hiring you to expose their home to the largest potential group of buyers available. Online marketing is a very important part of this process. Gone are the days when can you simply rely on flyers, yard signs, newspaper and magazine ads, the MLS, and other agents.  I’m not saying to stop using these traditional methods, just trying to make sure that you’re integrating technology into the mix.

Yes, there are buyers who likely only look for houses through print media, or only with their agent. And there are also buyers who rarely look at houses online, and would rather spend their weekends attending open houses. However, many buyers today are completely plugged into online real estate search sites, as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. It’s part of your job as an agent to understand the value of technology, embrace it as part of your overall business plan, and apply it to get results.

And your listing presentation is the perfect place to show that you “get” technology. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2010 Profile of Buyers & Sellers, more than 90% of sellers today expect enhanced online marketing. The message is clear — online marketing is extremely important to sellers!

While there are lots of technology tools to choose from, and even more opportunities for online marketing, the way you present your technology plan to sellers is immensely important to meeting their needs and expectations. If you can show your expertise in this area, you’ll immediately increase the likelihood of walking out with a signed listing agreement.

So just how do you articulate your value to today’s tech-savvy seller? You create visual tools!  Remember those? They are the ‘props’ I’ve been talking about in my recent Zebra Reports. Use your props to show sellers how you will expertly market their home online.

Below is my list of the technology “musts” for today’s successful agent.

1. You must have a custom website: It would be hard today to find a real estate company without its own website. Since the late 1990’s, real estate companies around the world have built websites that: 1) help buyers search for homes, 2) help sellers market their homes, and 3) act as a marketing tool for the company itself. Some are amazing … and some leave a lot to be desired. Regardless of how robust your company’s site is, you need your own custom website.

Often an agent will say, “My company offers nicely done template websites at very low cost. That’s good enough for me.” I disagree! Imagine this: you work in a market where you and many of your company colleagues are competing for the same listings. Each of you shows up at your listing presentations with the same basic template, and very, very similar online tools. OK, so maybe there are a few changes – your personal photos are obviously different, and maybe a couple of you have changed a background photo on the site — but it really is the same website.  Who stands out to the seller? Nobody. Remember that statistic above? Sellers are telling you that they want more – they want to know that you have stepped up your technology game to a whole new level. They are looking for technology that meets their expectations, and exposes their home to the largest number of potential buyers.

They also want your website to showcase their home – not simply advertise their home as one of the many listings you may have. Just as you want to stand out from the agent crowd, your sellers want to know that their home stands out from all the other listings on the market.

There are hundreds of features available, such as simple map searches, common-feature searches, school-proximity searches, and pre-mapped neighborhood searches. You don’t need them all, but you must have enough custom tools on your website to ‘wow’ your sellers with your ability to reach and engage buyers.

A custom website allows you to do all of that.

Take a look at John Hurlbut’s website, below.  John was in my EVOLVE coaching group last year, and is part of this year’s ENCORE group. We developed John’s website for him in 2010.  A tech-savvy agent, John knew that a website was a key component in building his business. John’s website utilizes an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) service to pull in listings from the MLS and display them front and center on the website. Visitors have the ability to perform as simple or complex a search as they desire, can save search queries and favorite listings, make notes on listings, receive updates, plug numbers into a mortgage calculator, and so on. In addition, a custom website allows you to include other helpful pages, such as details on your client services, an area resource section full of information for anyone who might be new to the area, and a blog.

While you’re building your custom website, consider including a private client area as well. This is a username and password-protected area where your sellers have access to a wide variety of information about their individual listing.  The private client area is the perfect spot for feedback reports, showing reports, local and neighborhood market data updates, your marketing calendar, and – once there is an offer – your pending-to-closing calendar. While this doesn’t replace having person-to-person discussions with your sellers, it provides them with another layer of service that few agents provide.

2. You must engage in social media: Gone are the days when posting your listing to a website is good enough. Long-gone are the days when every evening an anxious buyer sits down at his computer and weeds through all of the new listings. Today’s buyer is instantly plugged into the latest information on new listings. Even though real estate is still about building relationships, and those relationships need to be personal and face-to-face, sites like Facebook and Twitter have fast become the communication tool many people use on a daily basis.

If you’re not engaged in the conversation – and talking about your listings and real estate – other agents will be filling in the gap. And their listings are being put in front of thousands of potential buyers every single day. Your sellers deserve the kind of global marketing that social networking sites offer.

3. You must syndicate your listings: It’s not enough to have a website and use social media to market your listings. There’s one more step you must take – and it’s listing syndication!  What is listing syndication?  It’s a way to is a way to promote your listing in a national – or perhaps – global way.  When you “syndicate” a listing, you post that listing on a large number of websites … and in turn, those sites share their website content (a part of which is your listing) with other websites.  Syndicate strategically, and you’ll be able to promote your listings to hundreds of thousands of potential buyers searching online for real estate.

Listing syndication is a terrific tool, but you need to do a little research before syndicating. Take care to only post to sites that accurately represent your listings, and which provide a way for you to quickly and easily update pricing information or additional photos.

Look for websites that offer you the widest amount of buyer-friendly tools, including the ability to add multiple and virtual tours. Determine who their online partners are (who they syndicate to), and the depth of the exposure your sellers will receive. Create a visual ‘prop’ that indicates not only where you post your seller’s home, but where those posts are syndicated and the number of visitors that each site has every day. There is value in numbers – and your sellers will instantly understand how that value impacts their goal to get their home sold.

If you want to syndicate, but you’re not sure where to start, look no further than your real estate company. Find out where they post your listings. Then look at regional and national sites. There even companies that will syndicate your listings for you. You simply post your listing information once, and they do all the work for you.

Many of the agents I work with tell me the sites below are ones that they regularly use to take advantage of listing syndication. You should do your homework, however, to find websites that offer you the most benefit.

The technology board below is a terrific example of a listing syndication ‘prop’ that one of our clients uses during his listings presentation. This allows him a visually compelling way to explain what listing syndication is, and the considerable benefit it brings to his sellers.

I know this focus on technology may sound a bit daunting at first blush.  It will take you some time to do your homework, determine the best ways for you to market your listings online, and learn how to articulate that value to your sellers.  But I promise you it will be well worth it in the long run. Listing competition is tough these days, and if you want to successfully build your business (and increase your income!)  you absolutely must use technology to your advantage. If you do, your listing presentation will have yet another layer of expertise that will dramatically set you apart from the competition. And that means sellers will look no further than you when hiring their listing agent.

The fifth topic in our six-part “Powerful Listing Presentations” is marketing … and we’ll be unveiling that next week.  Be sure to watch for our next Zebra Report!

Powerful Client Communication Tools

April 7, 2011

This is the third article in my series on powerful listing presentations, where we’ll be covering pricing, communication, technology, marketing, and home presentation & photography.

This week I want to discuss powerful client communication tools and how they will enhance your listing presentation.

Many sellers say that one of their biggest frustrations and challenges is agent communication. In my company we often talk with seller focus groups, and communication issues come up over and over again. Here are some of the things that sellers tell us:

  • “Once I signed the listing agreement, I rarely heard from my agent.”
  • “I have no idea what I am paying my agent for – she doesn’t seem to be doing anything to get my house sold!”
  • “I canceled my listing because my agent promised a lot, but delivered very little.”
  • “My neighbor’s house sold and my agent never bothered to take the time to tell me why theirs sold and mine hadn’t even gotten an offer.”

I can’t tell you how many agents still don’t recognize the seriousness of this issue!  Agents lose a lot of business – especially repeat and referral business – simply because they don’t meet a seller’s communication expectations. And it saddens me to know that with just a little planning and effort, this doesn’t have to happen.

First and foremost, find out how your clients feel about communication. Ask what method will be the most comfortable for them. Remember – this is about their preferences, not yours. Just because you’d rather talk on the phone does not mean that everyone else would. Some people are happiest using email. Some prefer the phone. Some only want to talk to you face-to-face. And some want different communication methods, depending on the issue. As an example, I had a client once who didn’t mind phone calls for simple things like a buyer feedback report. But they expected to have face-to-face discussions for anything more serious, including market changes, price reductions, or the new listing down the street.

If you don’t ask how clients prefer to communicate, you are missing the mark. And when that happens, you’re going to lose business.

Beyond knowing how your clients want to communicate, you need to have a communication plan, and accompanying tools, which clearly shows them what you are doing to earn their business (and their trust!). You must show them exactly how you will keep them apprised of important issues like market changes, feedback from other agents and buyers, and what you’re doing to market their home.

Remember when we spoke about “props” in the previous Zebra Report?  In case you need a reminder, props are visual tools that help you articulate your services – and your value!  Props help show your clients that you do take your communication plan seriously, and that you have the tools needed to follow through as promised.

So, what kinds of visual tools do you need?

1. A broker open or office tour report. Many agents have some sort of a comment form that they ask other agents to fill out about a new listing. But very few agents turn those comments into a visual report for their sellers. Sellers want to have something to look at. They won’t remember what you told them on the phone. And if you need to reduce the price or recommend staging in a few weeks, you’ll have data from your colleagues to back you up when talking to your sellers.

2. An ongoing feedback report. This report is based on buyer feedback – which is even more critical than agent feedback. Typically an agent will call a seller if there is feedback on their home. If that feedback is negative feedback, agents will ‘duck’ this discussion altogether. Tell your sellers that having a feedback report for them – based on unedited comments from buyers – will provide both of you with important and relevant information about what buyers are seeing and experiencing, regardless of whether you receive good, bad, or neutral feedback.

3. A pending-to-closing calendar. You must visually reinforce the organizational skills you provide once there is an offer on your seller’s home. Too often agents believe that sellers know what happens from day-to-day or week-to-week during the pending and closing process. However, sellers tell us that is not the case! They do not remember all of the steps even if they’ve sold several homes in the past. Show them what your calendar looks like, and tell them what to expect.

4. A marketing calendar. From writing and placing ads, to posting online, to building flyers or brochures and creating photo galleries and videos – selling a home takes extensive marketing. Do your sellers know exactly what you do, and when you do it? Do you explain to them what needs to happen and in what order it should take place? Providing a calendar (not simply a checklist) reassures them that you are doing everything you can to market their home effectively.

5. A marketing activity report. Even though you provide your sellers with a marketing calendar, you should also provide weekly updates on what you are doing. If you have ever had a seller say, “…you don’t seem to be doing anything to get my house sold…” providing weekly activity reports will answer that concern in a very powerful way. It takes a lot of work to sell a home – let your sellers know that you are working for them.

6. Samples of all of your marketing tools. It goes without saying that sellers expect to see samples of high-quality, professional marketing materials. You must have samples of your flyers and brochure, your open house materials, and your online marketing – including your photo gallery or a video home tour and how your listings appear on websites. You should have a visual representation of every website where you post their listing.

If you create “just listed” postcards, have a sample. If you send out a client newsletter that features your listings, let them see exactly what that looks like.  Consider creating a notebook that includes not only sample newsletters, but a printed copy of your database. When you explain the power of your database in marketing their home, you add another important layer to your listing presentation.

7. An annual client review. Even though your potential sellers won’t receive an annual client review on a home they are selling, they will understand the value when you say “I want to show you my Annual Client Review. Because I am very good at staying in touch with my past clients, they call me at the very beginning of their home search – which means I often have an ongoing list of potential buyers who may find your home the perfect fit.”

8. A homeowner’s book. Here’s a great way to discuss the homeowner’s book with potential sellers: “Imagine you are a buyer who has fallen in love this house. And on the kitchen counter is a notebook that includes all the details – and answers all the questions that you have. Details like home care and warranty records, the most current inspection report, tax and appraisal records. Neighborhood and community information. A homeowner’s book calms their concerns, so that instead of walking away with more questions, they are excited about writing an offer.”

If you find this list daunting, start by simply creating one tool at a time. Before long, you will have an entire set of communication tools at your fingertips … and a much more powerful listing presentation.

When you visually engage sellers with a systematic communication plan, the opportunity to leave the appointment with a listing contract in hand increases dramatically. And when you follow through with your communication plan, you will have solidified a client relationship that will bring you business for many years to come.

Next week I’ll be covering the role technology plays in the listing presentation.  You won’t want to miss it!

Powerful Pricing Tools

March 31, 2011

In last week’s Zebra Report I talked about the importance of having a powerful listing presentation that covers five critical areas: pricing, communication, technology, marketing, and home presentation & photography. This week I’m going to look at the first of those categories – pricing – to illustrate how powerful pricing tools can enhance your listing presentation.

What pricing tools do you take to your listing presentation? Most agents take a CMA … but I actually believe that a CMA doesn’t provide the right information for your clients to get a good idea of how to price their home. Successful listing agents understand – and provide to their sellers — data far beyond the CMA, including absorption rates, appreciation rates, list-to-sales price ratios, listing-to-pending ratios, and assessed value ratios. All of this data can help you predict a home’s sales price.

Not familiar with these terms, or why they are important when pricing? Let’s take a closer look:

  • Absorption rates: The absorption rate shows how many months of listing inventory exist in the market, based on how quickly listings are being purchased, or absorbed, by buyers. This is a key concept, and I’m going to talk more about it below.
  • Appreciation rates: Even if they knew how to calculate appreciation rates, most agents don’t like to talk about appreciation with sellers – especially when looking only at the short term. However, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2010 Profile of Buyers and Sellers, even with several years of price declines, the typical seller who purchased a home eight years ago has experienced a 24% percent equity gain. Calculate local appreciation rates, and share this information with your clients.
  • List-to-sales price ratios: You need to know this number!  What is the ratio of asking-to-selling prices in your market area? Even more importantly, know your personal list-to-sales price ratio. If it’s higher than the market average, it’s easy to explain to sellers that you are more skilled than most agents at pricing homes closer to their selling price (which often also equates to a shorter days-on-market time).
  • Listing-to-pending ratios: Think of listing-to-pending ratios as a measure of demand. The higher the number, the more demand. In order to get a feel for when buyers are buying, and what price range(s) they are buying in, use listing-to-pending ratios. Tracking this number consistently will give you a strong case when determining the right time to put a home on the market, and what price will likely attract the most potential buyers.
  • Assessed value ratios: Some clients have a hard time digesting “market” numbers and believe their home’s market value is similar to the values provided by their local assessor. If you measure assessed values of recently sold homes in any given neighborhood to their sales prices, you will discover the ratio between the two – and you can apply that ratio to your client’s home based on their assessed value.
  • “Optimistic”, “realistic” and “now” pricing: We’ve all had sellers who were overly optimistic about their home’s value, and we’ve all had challenges with the price-reduction discussion. Using a graph that plots “optimistic”, “realistic” and “now” prices helps sellers see where the market truly is, versus where they would like it to be. Have this discussion at your original listing presentation, and the seller will be prepared to lower their price when faced with the reality of few showings and no offers.
  • Price-per-square-foot: This is a very good tool if you work in an area where there are a lot of comparable listings on the market, and enough sales to give you accurate data. It’s hard to argue price when it’s clear that buyers are buying based on a lower price per-square-foot. Your chart should show the per-square-foot prices of recent sales, active and pending listings, and expired listings.

Remember I mentioned absorption rates above? Let’s talk about that a little more. This is by far one of the easiest pieces of research to do, and one of the strongest ways for you to illustrate the need for accurate pricing.

In order to calculate absorption rates, first determine how many active listings there are in a given price range. There’s no magic to the price ranges – you simply determine which ones best represent your marketplace. Next, count the number of pending sales there have been in the past month in each of those price ranges. Then simply divide the number of active listings by the number of pending listings … and you’ll have the absorption ratio! Here’s what it might look like:

You then round the ratio number up to the nearest “whole” number, to give your clients an idea of how long it will take their home to sell.  This rounded number is the absorption rate.

You can use the absorption rate to help manage sellers’ expectations for market time. It’s also a great tool to help sellers price for the ‘now’ market. If they need to sell quickly and there is an abundance of homes on the market in their price range, they need to be extremely competitive on price in order to attract a buyer. If they can wait a few months for inventory levels to reduce, they might be able to be a bit more optimistic in terms of price. However, waiting can quickly backfire!  If more listings come on the market than there are buyers who are buying, the seller may not be able to meet their timeframe of a quick sale.

When you use absorption ratios, you also need to explain to your seller that there is currently x number of month’s supply of homes on the market in their price range … and the absorption ratio assumes no new inventory coming on during the month. Additional homes coming on to the market in that price range will most definitely impact the ratio, which in turn impacts expected market times.

In order for you to provide the best possible service to your sellers, you absolutely must have a comprehensive listing presentation that includes the data that allows potential sellers a way to truly understand where the market is and how it affects their ability to sell. To provide the level of expertise sellers deserve from you, you must do your research and provide tools that will relate that information in a manner that the seller will understand. Having “props” (charts, graphs and visuals) allows you to clearly articulate what your research is telling you – and provides a way for sellers to understand what it means to them.

And of course, you know from my previous columns that all of your pricing research should be presented in an extremely professional manner. That means listing appointment materials that feature your personal brand consistently through the presentation, from agenda to research to marketing materials. You should continue to develop the sense of expertise that you’re creating through research with every document and detail of your presentation.

Regardless of whether you have the beginnings of a “pricing tool box” or you need to begin building your tools today, you’ll have a huge advantage when competing for listings when you can understand and articulate market data in a visually powerful manner.

Ask Denise: The Realities of Keeping a Listing on the Market

March 30, 2011

Q: I have a seller who has put her home on the market twice in the past 12 months, then cancelled it each time within 3 months of being listed because she wasn’t getting any offers – let alone a sale. How do I get her to keep her home on the market long enough to find viable buyers in today’s market?

A: First of all, you need to take the time to talk to your seller about the realities of your current market. If the days-on-market number is 6 months, and your seller expects her home to sell in 3 months, she isn’t being very realistic about how long this will take.

Secondly, you need to have a frank discussion about realistic pricing. Your seller’s home will have to be priced very competitively in order to ‘beat the odds’. In fact, she probably needs to be below the ‘now’ price in your market. If she’s not willing to price according to your market and her timeframe, you’re spending your time and energy on a listing that will likely not sell anytime soon.

Polish Your Presentations!

March 24, 2011

Gone are the days when you can simply show up at a listing presentation with data from your MLS that shows comparable homes. Today’s savvy sellers require much more information. They expect an in-depth analysis of their local market. They want a customized marketing plan, tailored to their home and their needs. They want to know they are hiring an expert. And if your listing presentation isn’t one of your most powerful tools, you’re going to lose the listing.

One of my new coaching clients recently shared her frustration with me.  She simply isn’t converting listing appointments into listings.  The questions I asked her were: “Tell me what you have in your listing presentation, and show me what tools you use.”

Before she answered, I knew what the answer would be. Like most agents, she doesn’t have a structured listing presentation. Yes, she prepares a CMA, she has information about herself and about her company, she has sample flyers, and she talks about her website. But very few agents have what I consider a powerful listing presentation.

Here are my ten tips for success at your next listing presentation:

1. Get organized! The better prepared you are, the more confident you will become. Do your research. Prepare your tools. Put everything in order. When you know you are as ready as you need to be, your confidence will come through.

2. Always follow an agenda. Let potential clients know you are organized. Show them that you have a system and that there are important items that must be discussed. When you have an agenda, everyone will be ready for a comprehensive discussion. The beauty of an agenda is two-fold: you won’t forget to cover key issues, and you can involve the sellers by allowing them to determine where they want to begin the discussion.   Their answer will provide you with valuable information about their needs and concerns.

3. Grab a potential client’s attention early. Use visual “props”! Props are simply visual tools, but they are an essential (and often neglected!) ingredient in a powerful listing presentation. I know lots of agents these days think that their laptop is all they really need. While it may seem cool to show your “stuff” on a laptop, even today in our tech-savvy world most people still want something they can see and touch. Visual props will absolutely grab their attention.

4. Have a “toolbox” of props and use them with care. There are five essential categories you must cover in every listing presentation. You need tools for each one, based on what today’s sellers care about. Those five categories are:

a. Price

b. Communication

c. Technology

d. Marketing

e. Photography and Home Presentation

When your toolbox has several tools that cover each of the five essential categories, then you will have the beginning of a powerful listing presentation.

5. Let your clients know how you work. With few exceptions, we humans are not mind readers. We make assumptions based on past experience. Potential sellers may have preconceived notions about how ‘every’ agent works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be). Tell them exactly what you are going to do, when you are going to do it, and what systems you have in place to make sure you do what you say you will do for them.

6. Speak and present to everyone at the appointment.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have observed a listing presentation where the agent focused on one person, and ignored everyone else in the room. It’s natural to focus on the person you have the best rapport with; however, you must focus on others as well.  Part of your success will depend on building rapport with everyone in the room.  Regardless of who the final decision maker might be, you must connect with all parties.

7. Adjust your presentation based on “signals”. Communication is more than just speaking words to each other; body language plays a huge role. If you sense that someone is impatient, you may need to speed up so you don’t frustrate them. If you sense that someone is confused, or is asking a lot of questions, you absolutely have to slow down. A truly good presenter is skilled at reading non-verbal clues, and responding accordingly.

8. Keep your presentation short and to the point. I’m often asked, “But if I have a lot of props, won’t that increase the presentation time?” The answer is a resounding “NO”. It takes less time to explain things when you have visual tools to refer to. Just as illustrations supplement a book, your props will help potential clients understand your point more quickly than words alone.

9. Choose your tools carefully. While I want you to have several tools or props for each category of your listing presentation, I don’t necessarily want you to pull out each and every tool at every listing presentation. You wouldn’t expect a plumber to bring in his entire truck full of tools into your house, just to fix your leaky kitchen sink. Determine ahead of time which tools will be the most appropriate for each presentation, based on factors like the clients’ personality, the market, and the property.

10. Practice makes perfect. I am constantly amazed at how poorly agents present when they’re not prepared. I am equally amazed at how well an agent will present when they are polished, confident and professional. Agents who understand the value of role-play, and who practice their presentation regularly with others, are the agents who will ultimately be hired by a seller.

If you find yourself competing for listings (and who doesn’t!), the way to get hired is to confidently and professionally articulate your value through your listing presentation. Remember this: a powerful presentation will win every time.

This is the first Zebra Report in a 7-part series about successful listing presentations. In the coming weeks I’ll break down each component of a presentation, including Pricing, Communication, Technology, Marketing, and Photography & Home Presentation. I’ll explain exactly what information you must include in your presentation, and what “props” you must have in your tool box. Look for Category 1: Pricing next week!

Ask Denise: House Flyers

March 17, 2011

Q: With all the talk about high-quality online marketing, do I really still need to provide my sellers with a printed flyer? And if I do, is it better to do a one-page or a two-page flyer?

A:  While your online marketing will attract potential buyers, you absolutely still need printed flyers. There will always be people walking or driving by who want instant information, rather than going home and looking up the information online. They’re clearly interested in your listing and you don’t want to lose them. Additionally, providing very high-quality, two or four page printed flyers says a lot to other potential sellers in the neighborhood about your professionalism.

My bottom line is this: in the sea of ‘average’ agents, you must stand out with both your online presence and your printed materials.

New from The Lones Group Design Team!

February 11, 2011

A warm, welcoming feeling was at the top of Janet Nation’s “must convey” list when we consulted with her on her branding project. With key words of “approachable” and “genuine”, she insisted on a brand that was not too formal or overly designed. The fireplace, which is a key element of her brand, immediately brings to mind both physical warmth as well as the warmth of the relationships Janet develops with clients.

Whether you want to develop a completely custom brand, or select from one of the amazing designs in our “Instant Image” portfolio, we are here to help.

Interested in learning more about developing your custom branded image? We can help with that too! Please send an email to support@thelonesgroup.com or call us at 360-527-8904 to learn more.

This Week’s Featured Product: How to Handle Any Objection

January 10, 2011

We’ve lowered our prices on several of our downloadable audio products! Many now just $19!

This week’s featured product:
How to Handle Any Objection

This CD will teach you how to handle objections in a way that will have you excited for the next one.

Objections are a person’s way of getting more information, stalling or getting ready to buy or sell. Learn these differences and you are home free. This CD will go through every possible objection while selling real estate and show you the successful way to handle every one of them.

Also included is powerful material on how to negotiate and make situations win-win for everyone.

AUDIO PRODUCTS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD
Select a title to view more information and purchase

How-to Series:
How to Hold a Successful Client Appreciation Event
How to Handle Floor Calls
How to Manage Your Tasks, Not Your Time
How to Build Your Business Using an Assistant
How to Create a Business Plan that will Make You Money
How to Get Started in Real Estate
How to Handle Any Objection
How to Handle Floor Calls
How to Lead Your Office to Unprecedented Success
How to Make Money Now … Not Later

Presentations:
Powerful Listing Presentation Techniques

Lead Generation:
Classes
Networking Groups
Niche Marketing
Blogging for Business
Your Website

Marketing Help:
Successful Closings
Creating a Buyer’s Package
Creating a Seller’s Package

Visit our website for more information!

Turn Lost Opportunities Into Realized Opportunities: the Need for a Detailed Communication Plan

January 5, 2011

In the last two Zebra Reports I’ve been talking about the idea of Lost Opportunity and what it means to your business. Lost Opportunity business is business you can have, and it is income you should have. Don’t lose those opportunities simply because you didn’t have a plan to keep them in your pipeline. No more Lost Opportunities in 2011!

What’s the one essential thing that I think you must have?  A communication plan—as part of your overall business plan—that will solidify your relationship with your past, current and potential clients.

Recently, an agent I work with said, “Denise, I have a basic plan to stay in touch, but I never seem to follow it. What am I doing wrong?”  Once we looked at the reasons he wasn’t following it, the answer was right in front of him. He knew he needed a plan, and in the back of his mind he had an idea of what it looked like, but he didn’t’ have any details to guide him.

Most agents have the same problem. They may have a client communication plan in the back of their mind—they may even have it written into a yearly calendar. But if, on any given month, the notation simply says “call sphere”, it is easy to drop the ball. If you don’t know what to say, and if you don’t have details to guide you, your communication plan quickly falls to the bottom of your list. Nobody likes random calls. We don’t like making them; we know others don’t like receiving them. Random calls feel way too much like a ‘sales’ call. You won’t have to make random calls when you have a detailed plan.

Most of us are much better at following a plan. What if, in early January, your communication plan said ‘Call sphere to alert them about the predictions article.” Granted, you have to have your predictions article ready to mail out, but now you have a reason to make a quick call as well. The call sounds like this: “I just sent you my predictions article for the 2011 real estate market. If you have any questions, give me a call. Otherwise, I hope you find my article interesting and helpful.”

If you have to give last-minute thought to what to say, how to say it, or what your message is, the call will simply not be as successful as it might be when you have an actual plan for calling. When you have your plan and the details—even the script, it’s easy.

“Okay,” you say, “but it’s hard to figure out what to send, or what to call about.”

We created the visual chart, below, to make it easy for you to build a communication plan for your entire sphere, including additional communication options for your past andyour potential clients.

Sphere Database

Past Clients

Potential Clients
(buying or selling within the next year)

12  Monthly Real Estate Mailings

X

X

X

Annual Client Review and Client Appreciation Event

X

Weekly Communication

X

  • 12 Monthly Real Estate Mailings – here is an easy formula:
    • Six articles a year. These must be real estate specific.
    • Four quarterly real estate reports specific to your/their market.
    • One annual review
    • One predictions article
  • Weekly Communication for potential clients (less than a year from a transaction) should include market specific data:

Sample items for potential buyers:

  • Appreciation rates in different neighborhoods
  • Home comparison reports for different neighborhoods
  • Video tours of neighborhoods. This is especially important if they are not familiar with all the neighborhoods they might choose from.
  • Listing and sold data

All this information helps buyers begin to learn more about the market, learn where the best values are, and calm the sometimes overwhelming feeling new buyers have.

Sample items for potential sellers:

  • Regular listing, pending and sold reports
  • Days on Market reports
  • List-to-sales-price ratios
  • Inventory numbers

Not-yet-ready-to-sell clients have to get used to what comparable homes are selling for on the open market. This may not be the time in their life where their real estate will sell for what they want. You have to educate them. Be their expert and provide them with honest, accurate data on a very regular basis.

Send one of these at least once a month, and follow up with a phone call or email the other weeks. Yes, you may even count your monthly mailing to your sphere as communication for one of those weeks!:

Using this plan, and building in the details that you need to keep you on track, you will significantly strengthen your relationship with each person in your database and position yourself as their real estate expert.

Let’s recap. Regardless of whom you need to communicate with you must have a consistent, well thought-out weekly, monthly and annual plan that includes all the details you need to make your plan actually work for you. With a strong communication plan, business will come your way more easily!

Do you need more help creating a communication plan?

Join us for our 2011 Safari on January 12th and 13th at the Redmond Marriott Town Center. We’ll help you build your own customized 2011 business plan, including a communication plan that will keep you top-of-mind with everyone in your database and keep a steady flow of business in your pipeline.

I am truly excited about this upcoming Safari as I know everyone is going to walk away with the tools they need to make great strides in their business and systems in 2011. I hope you will join me!

By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI


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