Monday, April 24, 2006

Profitable People Skills

Most real estate agents, and especially Agent CEOs, have fabulous people skills. But are you putting people skills to your best advantage, specifically to help you make more money?

Last week, Mastermind and Agent CEO Don Love spoke about his profitable people skills and proven personal delivery methods, and gave advice to thousands of listeners. Here are highlights from that call.

Featured Speaker: Don Love, Portland, OR
Moderator: Raymond Gravelle, Distance Learning Specialist

Raymond: Don, would you let our audience know how you earned the title of “the godfather of hand deliveries”?
Don: When we joined HouseValues six years ago, Market Leader did not exist. We received only leads. So I would call, email, etc., but we didn’t get any business. Finally my partner Steve and I figured out that we must get in front of people to win business from the leads. That’s when we started doing hand deliveries on Saturday morning. Then the leads started to turn into deals. I urge everyone who is serious about a career in real estate to get a partner or buddy to assist them. The help with the hand deliveries is a godsend.

Raymond: What is the goal of hand delivery?
Don: The goal is to find out the story. Introduce yourself as the local real estate representative. Explain that you stopped by with a hard copy of the consumers' request because with email you never know if the information went through. The 10-page packet that I hand deliver includes my introductory letter, a sheet on pricing a home, a home-condition page, testimonials, and an explanation of our services. Our seller service guide shows the different commission percentages and what service each provides. This gives the seller a choice.

Raymond: What do you say at the door?
Don: I ask questions like: What did you think of the numbers? Were we close to what you were expecting? If you sold a home, where would you want to move? Would you like to receive listings? Of all your friends and family, who is going to be next to move? Is it okay to use you as a referral? After each question, I probe deeper with exploring questions. I also take notes on a printed copy of the profile. I always say, “Let me make a note of that, let me make a note of that,” an old Tommy Hopkins trick.Remember that most people didn’t read the fine print, so they don’t know an agent is coming. Yet they love the service. The National Association of Realtors® tells us that 74% of consumers will go with first agent they meet. Some prospects will always work with a friend or family member who is an agent. You can’t worry about those. Hand deliver to everyone even if they say don’t worry about dropping by.

Raymond: What do you do if they are not home?
Don: Leave my package, then call them and try to go through the same questions. Then I try to pin down a time for full evaluation.

Raymond: Are most people receptive?
Don: Everyone likes quick information. With the sellers you can drop by on the weekends because you have an address. With buyers you need to act a little faster. Find information in the tax records if available. I’ve found about 30 to 40 percent of buyer prospects own houses. Every seller is buyer first; they have to find a house before they can sell. You should always send listings to seller leads. Use the email template that offers to send listings, and send it multiple times if needed. Do your buyer drop-bys on weeknights right away. Measure their motivation; see if the buyer has a lender. Buyer leads are more critical than sellers these days because inventory low. Packet quality is important. Print on heavy, white paper. Quality makes the difference. One of my clients kept my packet for three years and then called for a listing presentation. She had kept it because I made a strong impression and gained her trust.

Raymond: What do you do differently in hand deliveries now as compared to six years ago?Don: We now try to find out a timeframe for when the prospect will take action. We touch base through out that timeframe via email. Then I find a reason to stop by. I take them something of value.

Raymond: What new technology are you using to facilitate hand deliveries?
Don: We use Microsoft Streets and Trips software. It’s an inexpensive mapping program. You can enter unlimited addresses and then it routes your trip. We also use this to deliver calendars in the autumn.

Raymond: Give us an update of last year’s marathon of calendar hand deliveries.
Don: It was lots of work. We didn’t realize how many prospects we had until we ordered calendars. You need to order in July to receive in August. We try to be done delivering by Halloween. Some prospects are on their third or fourth year of calendar delivery. We offer two types of calendars: either puppies and kittens or Saturday Evening Post. You must get in front of prospect continually. Many people now know me by name. You can’t get a better testimonial than that.

Raymond: How many hand deliveries do you think you’ve done?
Don: Over 2,000 in almost six years. The best day of week is Saturday because I get to go meet the people. I want to find out the story: what’s happening in their lives, is this a divorce, how we can help.

Raymond: What are you doing with HomePages?
Don: HomePages is a very valuable listing tool. It is offered in my listing service plan under Platinum and Gold plans only. The plans just mention HomePages with no explanation because I want them to ask me what HomePages is. Then I explain the benefits of HomePages in consumer terms. It gives me an advantage. I don’t talk about commission until we are sitting down at the table. At the door, I simply say there’s a page on pricing in package.

Question & Answer

Question: Why do you choose Saturdays for hand deliveries? Do you call them before visit
Answer: I choose Saturday because many people work Monday through Friday. Saturday catches them relaxed.

Question: Many of my emails go to people’s spam. Do you address that at the door, and do you ask them to add you to their email address book?
Answer: I suggest adding me to their address book in the pre-email. Then I say at the door that one of the reasons I drop by with a hard copy is because I never know if the emails go through.

Question: What percentage of Internet leads do you think you have converted?
Answer: I’m not really a numbers person, so I don’t track that. My partner does track that. To me, cashing checks is the important thing.

Question: Would you fire a client for being dishonest?
Answer: You get to choose who you want to work with, but you also have to make a living. There are always underlying reasons why people may not tell you everything. They don’t know you.

Question: What do you do when you can’t get face to face—for example, with out-of-state buyers?
Answer: You must follow up whenever possible. If you can’t get face to face or on the phone, you must rely on the drip campaigns.