Saturday, June 24, 2017

Left in the Year — How Will You Spend Them?

by Julie Escobar

We are more than halfway through the year. Just better than two hundred days left. What you do now will determine what kind of holidays you’ll have. Whether you’ll hit those goals you set in January. Whether you’ll finish strong and kick off the new year with ease. So, what’s it going to be? Let’s take a look at some ways you can get back on track or keep on track:

  1. Review your SMART goals weekly. Create a means to measure where you are in relation to your goal. Use a chart, a checklist, or an integrity partnership to review your progress. When you wait months or an entire year to review – it’s impossible to know whether you are on track or off. Top agents always know their numbers, always have a visual of the goals that they are passionate about and are always re-calibrating their time, tools, training and activities to ensure they achieve the goals they set.
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant 
    • Time bound
  2. Get out of stealth mode. The idea that the business will just come to you in today’s market is false. There is considerable competition so get out from behind the desk or computer and get out into the markets in which you want to build market share. Knock on doors. Meet the neighbors. Leave branded collateral pieces at local professional offices and waiting rooms where possible. (Think doctor’s offices, car dealerships, etc.)  Host events. Ask questions. Sponsor sports teams. Donate the bounce house at the neighborhood event. Show that you are the face of real estate in your area.
  3. Reach out to your sphere. If you’re not touching base with everyone in your sphere at least twice a year, then you are leaving money on the table. We know statistically that one in twelve will result in business or referral every year. But NOT if you don’t stay in touch. Many agents use holiday cards every month with a message on the back to keep connected. Others choose newsletters or content cards as a monthly “touch”. Whatever you choose, be sure you are consistent. It’s one of the best things you can do to build and grow your referral base.
  4. Never neglect your neighborhood farm.  Your competition won’t be and they’ll take market share wherever they can find it.  If you’ve got an area that you want to dominate in, consider our Market Dominator system, or using the Listing Inventory Series to stay in touch every month. Top of mind awareness is crucial in today’s market. Attend every neighborhood function and be sure you are walking your farm with content-rich collateral at least twice per year.
  5. Add at least five people to your marketing list per week.  Always be in networking mode and always look for ways to grow your database and sphere. Committing to adding five people per week means you’ll add 260 to your sphere. To help you put that in context, I used our SOI calculator to show you what that looks like. I entered $200,000 as an annual goal, and an average commission of $6,000 – which told me that to realize that goal I’d need 33 transactions. Using the national stats that 66% of business comes from an agent’s SOI, I calculated that I needed 264 people in my SOI to realize my goal.  You can calculate how many you need here. 
  6. Be consistent. I can’t stress this one enough. One and done marketing has never, ever earned anyone a good living. If you’re not touching base monthly or at least quarterly, you are leaving the door open for your competition to create the top of mind awareness that you could be earning. That’s like handing away future commissions to other agents. To succeed at high levels, you’ve got to stay on top of your marketing game and stay present in your market place. Using smart time management and done-for-you marketing tools can help.

Remember we are here to help. Our company is steeped in real estate experience and we train our marketing team to know exactly what agents just like you need to succeed and excel. We want to help you make the most of the last 200 days of the year — and every day after that as well. Visit www.prospectsplus.com today or call our team at 866.405.3638 to learn more. 

The One Thing You Can Start Doing Today with Marketing Guru Stacy Stateham

By Julie Escobar

I’ve been really fortunate to meet some extraordinary people in this industry – bright lights who are always willing to share some brilliance with like-minded people.

One person I’ve really enjoyed getting to know and learning from is BloomTree’s Stacy Stateham. She’s witty and smart and has a lock on what it takes to elevate your career to the next level in this business. She was also recently selected as an Inman Connect Select Ambassador for the work she is doing and her contribution to our industry. She was kind enough to share some of that with us. Here’s what we learned:

Q: Can you tell the readers a little about yourself?

A: I’m one of the founders of BloomTree Realty, and my function is VP of Marketing and Branding. In addition to working on building our name as a company, I spend a lot of time training and coaching agents, and I also work on our tech and systems.

When we started BloomTree, we set out to create a company built around providing the absolute best level of service possible to clients and, to do that, we knew that we needed to create an environment where the best agents can grow and thrive.

Everything we do is built around our culture of collaboration, sharing knowledge and support. Not just the company supporting our agents, but agents supporting each other.  It’s awesome to see how successful agents can be when they work together!

Q: You’ve been around this real estate game for a long time and, in your position, you’re helping agents get their careers started off on the right foot. As we’ve spoken of many times, one BIG component of developing a long-term real estate success story is really focusing on building a database that represents your book of business. Can you expand on that for us?

A: A database? I’d say it’s one of the biggest differentiators between agents who earn the national median income and those who earn three-plus times that. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the things agents are most likely to neglect – not just having one, but constantly building on it AND really leveraging it as a regular daily function of doing business. Agents should be constantly building their databases over time – whether the real estate market is good or not – from the start of their careers to the time they retire.

Think of it this way: We all know that when we invest money long term, we can weather the ups and downs of the stock market. Investing by a consistent trickle – whether the market is good or bad over time – lets us ride out the lows, leverage the highs and, in the long run, earns a higher rate of return. Just Google “dollar cost averaging.”

If we see our database as a “fund” of business for when the real estate market fluctuates, the effort that we invest in building it is not only a source of business when times are good, but it also is a safety net for when the market is down.

If you’re going to start doing just one thing today to set yourself up for a successful business in the long term, get started on building a strong database.

Q: If putting your database together is the first priority, helping agents understand the importance of CONNECTING with those folks in a consistent and effective way so they stay top of mind as the agent to call is definitely equally as important. How do you recommend agents stay in touch, and how often?

A: In any business, clients and potential clients are a salesperson’s most valuable asset, yet many agents keep their contacts on sticky notes, in their Gmail contact lists, try to manually update spreadsheets, etc. Working that way, it’s easy enough to see which contacts have turned into clients, but it’s nearly impossible to see which haven’t.

So the first step is to use a CRM. We have all of our agents on FiveStreet for lead routing and TopProducer for their CRM as part of our overall tech package, so that all of their leads feed to their databases without having to do manual entry. It helps us as a company to have our agents use one system, because we’re better able to offer support and training. But whichever CRM is best for an individual agent is the one that they’ll actually use. They all have benefits and downsides, so just choose the one that fits best.

How often to stay in contact? As often as possible, provided that it’s done the right way (don’t be creepy). With so many tools at an agent’s fingertips today, it’s easy to mix it up with methods and platforms – newsletters, social media, postcards, in person with a friendly call, holiday greetings and so on. The key to success is to be approachable, genuine and human. Be consistent with your style and content. Give information in an honest way, and be a resource. People don’t like being sold to, but they love someone who’s there to help and guide them.  

On average, people move every seven years. And even though NAR stats say that most would refer a friend to their agent when they’re asked immediately after closing, a dramatically lower percentage actually do. That tells me that many agents aren’t staying in touch as much as they could. Most people will use the agent that’s front of mind when their need arises, so being that agent whom they know and trust is crucial to being the one who gets the phone call.

Q: I know you’re a fan of making a strategic plan for marketing a real estate business rather than that whole “throw enough things against the wall” approach. Can you share what you believe to be some must-have elements to an effective marketing plan?

A: A balanced marketing strategy is like a balanced diet. We can’t stay healthy on just French fries (but wouldn’t that be awesome?). We need protein, fruit, veggies, etc. too.

I see so many agents focusing on just one or two marketing platforms because they like them and they’re comfortable with them, and not layering those with other points of contact. They’re great at calling, so that’s what they do, while they ignore print and online. Or they have a killer website, so they don’t take the time to reach out in person. Or they’re great in person, so they don’t think they need a strong website.

Agents absolutely should focus on what they’re best at, but they can offset their weaknesses on other platforms through training, learning over time or by finding a great solution provider who can help them.

Eating a balanced diet every day keeps you healthy, and maintaining a balanced marketing strategy can do the same for your business.

Q: You’re also a social media strategist. Can you share some of your top tips for using those resources to build a strong real estate business?

A: It wasn’t all that long ago that social media was considered optional in marketing. It’s not anymore!

If you’re only going to use one, use Facebook. Agents should have both a personal profile and a business page, keep both active and use them in the appropriate ways. It’s super easy to set up a list in “friends” to keep clients and prospects separate from school friends and Aunt Harriet, and it allows us to be more personally connected than ever before.

Business pages not only help keep business posts separate, but they also allow agents to use Facebook Ads (I looooove Facebook Ads!). They’re much less expensive than regular pay-per-click, and the targeting capabilities are downright awesome. Probably the two coolest things you can do with Facebook Ads are to target only people who have been on your website (low cost, and you know they’re interested because they’ve already checked you out online) and to aim ads only to people in your database. There we are with the database again… yes, you can upload your database to your Facebook Ads account and send ads specifically to those people.  

Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. are all extremely powerful tools too.

Q: You’ve been a ProspectsPLUS! fan for a long time. Can you share which tools you most recommend to other agents?

A: Is all of it an option? If I had to choose, I’d say Just Listed/Just Sold campaigns and property brochures. The neighbors around your listings are a great source of business for the next one, and people always want to know what’s going on in their neighborhood. Just Listed and Just Sold campaigns are a solid way to let them know that you’re actively selling in their neighborhood.

Pro Tip: Getting back to Facebook Ads, did you know that you can layer over Just Listed/Just Sold mailings with a Facebook Ad that runs just to that neighborhood? In the geographic options in ad setup, you can drop a map pin to exactly where your listing is and limit the radius to as low as one mile. Doing both print and online together dramatically increases the likelihood that your marketing will get seen. Go ninja level, and tie that hyper-targeted Facebook Ad back to your listing on your website, collect a lead, and have that lead go to your CRM.  

Consumers today expect something better than an MLS printout on the kitchen counter at a listing. Aim for something modern and sharp and, for heaven’s sake, don’t go DIY unless you’re awesome at graphic design. Make sure your photos look amazing, then check out the Luxury Marketing section on ProspectsPLUS! (your listing doesn’t have to be high end to look high end!). How you market this listing not only helps get it sold, but also may very well be the tipping factor in whether or not you get the next one.

Q: Any last hot tips for agents eager to knock it out of the park this year in terms of their goals?

A: What I tell our agents? First, do a business plan. Second, stick to it. Third, set one hour aside every week to focus on long-term improvements to their business.

Let’s be real… our future selves can’t be trusted. Thinking to yourself that you’ll do it eventually doesn’t get the job done. Actually put it on your calendar as a critical meeting with yourself so you actually do it. One hour once a week spent on setting up systems, automating a process, learning something new, setting up a long-running ad, training an assistant, adding SEO to a website or whatever will pay back big time in the long term.

If your goal is to earn $100K a year, one hour is worth about $48 if you’re only working 40 hours a week. In our market, commission on one side of a deal averages about $5,000 for the agent in earnings. So if you spend an hour once a week building your business for the long term, the math works out to a time investment annually of about $2,500, or half of one of our average deals. But what we see with our agents is that those who actively work their plans do more deals and, with just one more closing, it’s a win. Some have as much as doubled their business by working smarter.

Q: Awesome! How can readers connect with you if they want to learn more or send referrals your way?

A: Hit me up on Facebook! I’m there more than I am anywhere else online. I don’t personally list and sell anymore, but if you need a great agent in Arizona, just let me know. We have three offices full of amazing agents who can take care of a referral client for you.

Terrific, Stacy! As always, thanks for your amazing insight. You’re a treat to talk to and learn from.

If you’d like to know more about building your book of business, staying in consistent touch with your sphere and farm, and generating more listings and leads, visit our site at www.prospectsplus.com, or call our marketing team today at 866.405.3638.

Insight and Experience from Agent Debbie Figueroa

by Julie Escobar

We have the best customers. They’re insightful, fun, professional and willing to share what’s working for them. That’s gracious in today’s competitive market, and we truly appreciate their candor.

I was eager to learn what’s working for top agent Debbie Figueroa, so I reached out to get her thoughts on growing a real estate business. Here’s an excerpt from what she shared:

Q: Thank you so much for sharing your insight, Debbie. Can you start by telling our readers a little about yourself?

A: Sure. My name is Debbie Figueroa of the Real Estate Power Houses. I’ve worked in the real estate industry for more than 25 years – as a full-time REALTOR® for almost five years. I primarily work with residential homebuyers and sellers in the El Paso, Texas, area.

Q: It’s a competitive market. What’s your go-to tool for staying branded in your market and getting results?  

A: The Just Listed/Just Sold postcards are a huge tool for my business. They not only help promote my listed or sold properties, but they also help get my name out in the marketplace. I obtain at least one solid buyer or seller lead from each mailing. It’s a huge tool to utilize during listing presentations as well.

Q: How are you staying consistently in touch with your sphere and farm, and what advice do you have for agents eager to boost their listings and referrals?

A: I reach out to my sphere of influence every other month by mail, at least three times a year by text message, twice a year by phone and once a year with a personal marketing “pop by.” I also email a monthly newsletter and send an electronic postcard for each of my listings to my sphere of influence. Some of my contacts in my sphere of influence have not directly done business with me, but they’re fabulous at passing my name along to their friends and family.

Q: What are your thoughts on differentiating yourself from your competitors in your market?

A: It amazes me when I meet clients who have either purchased or sold a home in the past, and they don’t remember the name of the agent who helped them. Staying in constant contact with past clients and your sphere of influence is key to helping your business grow and continue in the future.

Q: What brought you to ProspectsPLUS!, and what’s your favorite marketing tool?

A: The broker I was with when I made the transition back to selling real estate full time recommended the site. The Just Listed/Just Sold postcards are such a helpful tool in growing your business. Obtaining at least one lead from each mailing pays for itself multiple times over.

Q: Any last fun advice for agents?

A: Enjoy it! No one is perfect. Mistakes will happen, and you need to learn from them.  Make sure to take time during the week for yourself to relax and enjoy life and laugh.  Humor is needed to get through those tough times.

Q: If agents would like to connect with you for referrals, how can they reach you?

A: They can reach me directly at 915.261.8077 or via email at debbie@debbiefigueroa.com.

Awesome advice, Debbie! Thank you so much!

If you’re ready to get the kind of terrific results Debbie is getting and take your business to the next level, visit our site today at www.prospectsplus.com, or contact our team to get started at 866.405.3638.

To Reach More People In Your Sphere and Farm

by Julie Escobar

Agents often ask us for ideas on what to send and when. We’re happy to help so they can get back to what they do best:  Prospecting, Presenting and Closing.  We know there are LOTS of option to choose from, and no real one-size-fits-all. That’s why we put new marketing tools on the site each and every month.  It’s also why we have over 1,000 postcards in the standard-size alone, and thousands more in Jumbo and Panoramic.

What we’ve found is that postcard marketing makes it easy for agents to “pull the trigger”, get their marketing ordered and move on to the next task. Expediency and ease are two factors that agents tell us are important to them.  The fact that the content is done, customization is easy and data is readily available to create marketing lists all help make the process quick and easy.

One series that’s really popular right now is the Listing Inventory Series, because it highlights the need for more listings!  Agents love having a series that has a wide selection because they can send month after month to your sphere and farm with consistent branding and similar messaging.

Here are some suggestions for the next three months using this series with a little bit of a twist! Pairing a
postcard with a Free Report Offer is a great way to offer something of value, brand yourself as a resource, and get people to pick up the phone or text you for the offer.  

March:  Send the Buyers are Waiting postcard from the Listing Inventory Series. When choosing a back, choose the “Standard Back with Message” option so you have a little more room.

Change up the front if you like, and on the back, change the copy to say something like:

There’s never been a more important time to have resources you can count on when it comes to buying and selling a home.  We currently have more buyers than listings, which makes them motivated to pay top dollar while interest rates are low and demand is high. If you are interested in selling, or know someone who is, please call or text me today at (your cell number) to get a copy of my Free Report: 5 Tips for a Smooth Quick Home Sale.  

April:  Send the Take Advantage of the Market postcard. Again, choose “Standard Back with Message” option so you have a little more room.

Change up the front if you like, and on the back, change the copy to say something like:

Timing is everything in the real estate market, and the time to get more for your home is right now.  We currently have more buyers than listings, which makes them motivated to pay top dollar while interest rates are low and demand is high. If you are interested in selling, or know someone who is, please call or text me today at (your cell number) to get a copy of my Free Report: 9 Strategies for Getting Up to 17% More for Your Home.

May:  Send The Big Question postcard, and change up the back message to:

Selling your home is a big decision. One of the biggest for most people.  You’ll want to make sure you have every question answered before diving into this competitive market. I can help. If you are interested in selling, or know someone who is, please call or text me today at (your cell number) to get a copy of my Free Report: 5 On the Money Reasons to Use a REALTOR. 

Get the full impact from your marketing tools.  

  • Add the report PDFs to your blog.
  • Or as an opt-in on your site.
  • Print them out to share at Open houses.
  • Share the jpg’s on your social media with a link driving people to your site to download.
  • Or use when you are walking your farm to follow up on your mailings.
  • Add additional marketing “touches” by sending Just Listed/Just Sold or Open House postcards.

Be sure to block time to speak with at least 100 people per week from your sphere list as part of our March challenge.  The market is competitive. That means it will take bold ACTION to gain market share. We challenge you to do just that.  

Need help?  Contact our team at 866.405.3638. They are there for you! 

 

 

Take the March Challenge! 

By Julie Escobar

Why leave all the “March Madness” stuff for the basketball fans?  This month, we’re looking at ways to inspire agents to take the ACTION they need to drive their numbers and build momentum.  That means being pro-active, and working ON your business as well as in it.  There’s no doubt agents are increasingly busy, but when they fail to time-block for business-driving activities like prospecting and database building, they often fall into the commission-chasing category as opposed to having a steady business and referral stream they can count on.

Statistics tell us for every twelve people in your sphere of influence that you regularly connect with, you can expect a deal or referral per year.  That’s valuable information to know. Yet, how come so many agents lose business because they failed to stay top of mind and connected with their sphere?  And when you find a farm that has the a healthy turnover and you’re NOT actively marketing to that area? You’re leaving money on the table.

Here are three pieces of great advice for getting ahead in this business:

International Speaker and Coach Darryl Davis: “I tell my students and coaching members to focus on the activity rather than the results. Why do people fail? Because they don’t see immediate results. So, they do what? They QUIT. When you switch your thinking to focus on the ACTIVITY, not the results, it helps you get past the fear. Think of it like baseball averages. Ballplayers know the more times they get up to bat and take a swing, the more likely they are to get a hit. After a while of playing, they know their numbers… their average. The same is true in prospecting – you’ll get to know your numbers. So maybe out of 10 calls, you get five connects and two appointments. I tell my students that their goal should NOT be to get the appointment; it should be about building relationships. Why? Because it takes the pressure off.  Focusing on getting an appointment is a win/lose scenario. If you don’t get it, your reaction is, “I lost. I’m bad.” When you focus on building a relationship, every call is a win. The truth is, you’re not going to get an appointment unless there’s trust. By building relationships, you build trust – and the appointments will happen by themselves.”

Power Agent Denise Buscemi, Florida:  “My advice? Several things. First, remember when you are meeting customers and clients, make everything you do be about that person and only that person–the rewards will naturally follow. Next, read more – be a lifelong learner. It makes you more competitive.  Be a great listener – not only does it make you a better communicator, buyers and sellers will tell you everything you need to know to help you close the deal.  Send the postcards that keep your name in front of them. Do your homework and always go the extra mile.”

Power Agent Kathy Casarin, Pennsylvania: “I would say first, there are no timeouts for replays!  Engage your client get back to them fast whether it is on Facebook, email, in person or a phone call.  Don’t wait or you’ll find they’ve already called upon someone else. Next, assure your client you are the professional. You are experienced, successful and know what works and what doesn’t. Earn your clients trust upfront. Become your absolute best at communication. Keep your client in the loop every step of the way, whether it is periodic emails as to how their listing is doing vs competitors.  Make that phone call to discuss price, home improvements, showings, open houses etc.  Regular contact reassures the client you haven’t forgotten about them or their listing or the homes they want to buy… so when you have to advise them on say a market adjustment on home price they agree and know it is in their best interest because you are always with them to get this SOLD. Stay current and do what works.  The truth is it all works–but only if you do it — so don’t forget to post on your social networks, answer real estate questions on Trulia, use ProsectsPLUS! to send out postcards, attend social gatherings to see and be seen and be that constant reminder to say, ‘Hi! I’m in Real Estate!’”

Our challenge to you this month? 

  1. Calculate your SOI. See how many people you need in your sphere to hit your goals this year by
    heading over to our SOI Calculator.
  2. Thank people. Send Thank You Postcards from our Customer Appreciation Series to at least 100 people on your sphere of influence list this month.
  3. Pick up the phone. Make at 20 calls per day to your sphere of influence. (100 per week is a big goal!) There are some really fun connectivity ideas on our Master Marketing Schedule if you’re looking for interesting reasons to connect! Consider Darryl’s advice above if you’re nervous about talking to people.
  4. Knock on at least 100 doors. Use door hangers so that even if folks aren’t home they’ll know you were there. According to the Master Marketing Schedule, March 12th is National Flower Day, it might be the perfect time to attached a packet of flower seeds to your door hangers and walk your farm! Have some fun with it!
  5. Add 100 people to your database. Now, this one may sound hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Some agents are on top of their game, adding new people all the time. But a LOT of agents that we talk to don’t really have a handle on their lists.  Hire a college kid or virtual assistant for a short-term project to get this done. It’s one of the most important things you can do as an agent. Here are some sources that you can pull from:
    1. Past purchased lists. (Think of all those Just Listed and Just Sold postcards you’ve sent out. Have you done anything with those saved lists you’ve purchased? Put them all in a database and use it to send Listing Inventory postcards or Neighborhood Update/Free Offer Postcards)
    2. Past buyers and sellers. Hand over those files to someone who can pull all those contacts and put them into a database for you. These people already have trusted you enough to do business with them.
    3. Get creative. Download our BusinessBASE, to see the 250 people who should be in your sphere and start adding.

It’s a good month to go above and beyond. To stretch yourself, your goals, and your reach in your community.  Take some time this week to plan your calendar then go for it. We’d love to hear how you’re doing.  Connect with us on Facebook (and be entered into our March Contest), or leave a comment below.

Need help? Our marketing team is amazing! Call them today at 866.405.3638. They’ll walk through any questions you might have and help you get your marketing on track! Have a great month ahead!