Tuesday, January 23, 2018

By Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing, ProspectsPLUS!

seniorsBig

The American Geriatric Society calls it the “Silver Tsunami.” It’s the wave of citizens living into their eighth and ninth decade with few signs of slowing down. Today, real estate professionals in record numbers are calling it their specialty. This month we’ll unlock the reasons why and how choosing to work with today’s over-50 crowd could be just the niche market you’ve been looking for!

It’s estimated that there are more than 78 million seniors across North America, so certainly choosing this niche is a great way to tap into the market’s supply and demand. It really goes much further than that for most agents though. For many who choose to become specialists in the senior market it is much more about building valuable long term, incredible relationships with a generation of people who both need us to teach them in terms of what they need to know to protect their interests and also who have so much to teach us in return.

“It really is a niche where you become passionate and protective of your clients. There’s a lot more emotion and personal interaction than there is with other market segments,” said Debbie Rodgers, real estate coach and SRES instructor. “My kids and I would laugh at times when I took on a new senior client. I would call them my ‘five-pounders’ because ultimately, that’s how much weight I would gain with each one after meeting with them every week for cookies and coffee.” Debbie chose this niche back in the 90s when the market was actually very similar to what we are seeing today. As a single mom with two young children she very much wanted to stay in real estate and work during the day while her children were in school. She’s teaching agents all about how back then, and today, seniors are a great target market for doing just that and developing a powerful referral network who, when you do your best for them, are loyal in return.

More than 16,000 REALTORS® have earned the Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation from the National Association of REALTORS® and cooperating Canadian Association of Realtors®. They offer a powerful course designed to educate agents on everything from understanding and working with seniors, to government laws, programs and special services available to them. The course also teaches the subtle nuances and empathy needed to work best with this generation and their extended families as well. You are made critically aware of how to best protect their rights, preserve their trust and truly become an advocate they need. To learn more about earning this special designation visit them online at www.seniorsrealestate.com.

Like many agents getting their start in this business, Debbie began by working with first time home buyers. Unafraid of standing in front of a crowd, she enjoyed the opportunity (and the time management) of hosting first time home buying workshops. “It’s a great way to get your message to 15-20 people at a time, as opposed to going door-to-door or calling people individually,” shared Ms. Rodgers. As she expanded her business to work with seniors she leveraged that talent and time to host workshops specifically targeted towards the needs of seniors. In fact, she became so passionate about senior advocacy, she actually ran for City Council and served from 1996-2000, and ensuring all the while that her area implemented senior benefits in their communities.

RealtorKeysFive Top Industry Experts Share How to Adopt the Mindset of a Winner

By Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing, ProspectsPLUS!

Hats off to the new agents!  You bring to our industry fresh faces, new enthusiasm, and “ready-to-make-things-happen” attitudes, and for that, you are appreciated!  Floyd Wickman once said with the right tools, training and focus – ANYONE can make it in this business.  In that spirit, I asked five top industry experts to help us explore what new agents need to do to adopt the right mindset or “focus” for success. Our esteemed guests are:  Real Estate Speaker, Coach and Author, Bernice Ross; President of Frogpond.com, Susie Hale; Speaker, Coach and Author, Darryl Davis; Speaker, Trends Expert and Author, Stefan Swanepoel, and Author, Coach and Speaker, Matt Ferry.   Let’s get started!

Q:  What do new agents need to do to create and keep the right mindset for success?

A:  Bernice Ross:  Mentally, I would tell new agents to ignore all the experienced people who tell you how bad it is.  Surround yourself with those people who are doing great things.  There are so many good online resources you can tap into such as www.inman.com or www.realtytimes.com.  Bookmark these power sites, track what’s going on in this industry and keep learning. 

I also believe that if you help enough people with what they need or want, they’ll help you back.  Dive into conversations and find out what’s important to the customers who make up your book of business.  Find out what they need and how you can help them, then keep helping them as you build that customer base to more than 200 people.  That’s a great foundation for success.  I often share Michael Russer’s great advice and that is to make “irresistible offers.”  For example, offer your customers the “how-to” information they need to lower their taxes at tax time and the forms and CMA they need to complete the job!  Make yourself an invaluable resource to them and they’ll refer you again and again.

newagentneedsIndustry Experts Share “Must Haves” for New Agent Success

By Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing, ProspectsPLUS!

Despite media hype regarding the current state of our housing market, new waves of agents are joining the ranks of Realtors® eager to make their own mark in this business each month.  Though certainly faced with a few more challenges than they might have had years ago – new agents today are also blessed with considerably more opportunities and resources than have ever been available in the past.  This month, I asked some of today’s top names in real estate if they would help me explore the answers to three basic questions: 

1. What does every new agent need to know?
2. What “must-have” items do agents need in their “tool chest” to survive?
3. What do they need to do to create and keep the right mindset for success?

Joining me to share their valuable insight and perspectives are industry leaders Real Estate Speaker, Coach and Author, Bernice Ross; President of Frogpond.com, Susie Hale; Speaker, Coach and Author, Darryl Davis; and Speaker, Trends Expert and Author, Stefan Swanepoel. In this article, we’ll focus on the first two questions, what agents need to know and what vital tools they should have.  Look for our follow up article on developing the right mindset in which power speaker Matthew Ferry also weighs in!  Now, let’s get started!    

Q:  What does every new agent REALLY need to know?

A:  Bernice Ross:  First, I would recommend that agents make sure they know all the legalities required by their board or MLS.  After that, they can really focus on the one thing that will take them throughout their career – KNOWING their market. 

Start to train yourself to really know your inventory inside and out.  Make yourself an expert at your own market area, inventory, communities and price points.  For example, don’t just look at a flyer or the MLS listing to get the price of a house.  Walk inside home after home, and see if you can start to predict what the price is or should be.  Drive different routes to work each day, look for the new FSBOs and Expireds that pop up. Study your market until you know it in your sleep.

I also always teach agents to make the shift from telling and describing what you do to asking questions.  Dive into conversations with your customers to unlock what is most important to them.  It is the key to more effectively communicating. I believe it’s more important than ever to build your business starting with who you know and expanding from there.  I recommend a great book, The Go Giver, by Bob Burg.  It teaches valuable lessons regarding the power of giving and really connecting. 

A:  Susie Hale:  First of all, I’d want them to know that they have options and resources that are available to them such as mentors, managers and people to help them.  I always encourage agents, especially new agents, to really reach out beyond themselves and ask questions to build their skills and knowledge base. 

I’m also a big advocate for social networking.  This trend can be something that allows you to truly grow your relationships in a unique, dynamic and faster way.  Ultimately, marketing is creating a conversation, and by utilizing social media, you really do eliminate the gatekeepers, drive traffic to your website faster, and meet your customers who are alert, inquisitive and prepared to learn.  So, jump in and get involved! 

A:  Darryl Davis:  Good question!  I’d say that agents need to know the number one thing they have going for them is enthusiasm.  As a new agent, you come from space where anything is possible.  I challenge you to keep that enthusiasm and commit to this question, “How am I going to play this game called real estate?”  If you can stay in that state of inquiry and keep discovering–it will fuel the hunger for knowledge and source the enthusiasm you need to really thrive out there. 

A:  Stefan Swanepoel:  New agents need to know that there are a ton of opportunities to position yourself to be a great agent.  There is so much changing about our industry because of social media, e-marketing, consolidation, and globalization that ours is an industry in transition.  Stay ahead of that curve by constantly learning and finding your niche in all of it. I recommend you bookmark www.retrends.com for a constant stream of information regarding all the trends that affect real estate professionals today. 

Q:  What “must have” items do agents need in their “tool chest” to survive?

A:  Bernice Ross:  There are some tremendous resources out there for agents today. For example, www.Point2Agent.com is a great service that provides powerful websites for associates, and most importantly, syndicates them to more than 40 different web portals such as Trulia, Zillow, Yahoo, Facebook, Google and more with just a push of a button.  In this instance, distribution trumps destination.  Since consumers are going to all of these sites, you can just post your listing once and Point2Agent does the work of spreading the word!  It also has a built in tracking tool which is a necessary component for getting new listings and price reductions. 

I also recommend agents get engaged in social media such LinkedIn and Facebook and choose a URL for your business that says what you do, who you are, and where you are.  So many agents just use their name, but that doesn’t tell the consumer what you do!  Also, consider adding video features to your site for a search engine boost.  There is a free service, www.tubemogul.com, which provides a single entry point for deploying uploads to the top video sharing sites, and powerful analytics to track who’s viewing them!  These are just two items to try. As a coach, I am always on the watch for the tools and technology that will help my clients be more successful and productive.  I invite everyone to stop by my site regularly at www.realestatecoach.com.  I’m always posting new articles and links that can help you grow your business. 

A:  Susie Hale:  Well, obviously, my advice to agents is to get connected in the world of social media.  Dive into the conversation that is out there and make your name known.  Your “social intelligence” should include a website, e-zine and social networks.  Make them definitive parts of your marketing plan.   Why?

 They are relationship builders
 They remove the “gatekeepers” in your business
 They achieve branding goals faster and communicate your company culture
 They propel lead generation and keep your current customers up to date
 They position you as an expert and allow you to beat your competition

Use connecting systems to allow you to easily send information throughout multiple social channels such as www.hellotxt.com which does the work of updating all your social networks at once. If you want to continue to learn more about social networking and tap into what the experts are saying across the globe, I invite you to visit us at www.frogpond.com.  We house information and articles from some of the best minds in the business and you’re free to browse and learn at any time! 

A:  Darryl Davis:  Well, as you know, I can be a little different!  When you ask me about “tools” – rather than a “thing” or gadget, my first reaction is to say, more than those, agents need listing and selling techniques as their “must have” tools. 

For example, I teach my students to work with FSBOs and Expireds.  To me, Expireds right now are even better than FSBOs, in that any time a homeowner comes back on the market with a new agent, they know, even more than the FSBO, that “Elvis has left the building,” as it were.  They know that they have to price it right and be committed to selling.  My students and I have an expression that we use with homeowners, “You can’t be committed to price and committed to moving.  So, are you committed to moving?”  It’s a dialogue that works – try it!

I will also remind agents that the old adage that “any listing is better than no listing” is not true.  Walk away from overpriced listings.  They not only make you look bad, they are adding to the overall problem we have in this nation.  Consider this – if every agent took just ONE overpriced listing off the market – that would mean a million homes taken out of the inventory glut. 

I’ll add one more technique for aggressively pricing your listings. I’ll illustrate it this way.  I used to be a soccer coach, and there was one technique that helped our team stay undefeated.  Sometimes in soccer you’ll see a “beehive effect,” which is when players swarm to the ball.  I taught my kids to think ahead.  They learned that wherever the opponent was with the ball, not to chase him.  Instead, they were to figure out where the player was going next and meet him there. It’s the same with pricing listings in today’s market.  Try this dialogue:  “Mr. and Mrs. Seller, if the market is going down in price, we can’t price it at what the market IS; we have to price it at where the market is GOING to get it sold.”

A:  Stefan Swanepoel:  The first tool I would say an agent needs is a plan.  If you don’t have a road map, you really have no way to reach your destination.  I recommend a website www.createaplan.com.  It is the only company that I know of that is CRS approved for their business planning products for agents.  It will help you get on track and stay there.  Another great thing to consider is hiring a coach.  While it may be too much money for some, the right coach is usually worth the investment.  If not a coach, consider a mentor.  Ask someone you look up to, such as a broker or a successful colleague that is willing to let you shadow them.  You may also consider www.isucceed.com.  This is a great mentoring service for a low as $1 per day!  Agents from all brands and all areas are represented and there’s a wonderful audio file library to pull from. 

I would also steer agents towards focusing on the right designation for them.  Find what you’re passionate about and start learning the skill set you need to become an “expert” in that field.  There are more than 70 designations out there, visit www.redesignation.com as a great resource.  There you’ll find information to become specialists for Buyers, Seniors, Short Sales, Eco-friendly, and more. 

And now, here’s my two cents:  As someone who has been around this industry for more than 20 years, I echo so much of what our panel has said.  When I speak to new agents, I too tell them to do EVERYTHING they can to maintain that “can-do” spirit and “anything’s possible” attitude that comes with being new.  It is the edge you need to keep sharp as you build your business. 

I will also tell you that there is never going to be a better time to set up the systems you need for long term success.  Over the course of the last year, when times were tough in our business, I saw so many agents leave the industry after many, many years with nothing much to show for it.  Why?  They didn’t treat their real estate career as a business.  They didn’t keep track of the most valuable assets they had as a salesperson:  their customers.  Let me recommend our free BusinessBASE™ system from ProspectsPLUS!  Simply powerful and powerfully simple, it will help you build that salable book of business that one day, many years from now, when you’re ready to leave, you can sell to a broker, a team or top agent for top dollar.   Visit our website, www.prospectsplus.com and look for it in the “resource” section.  Once you get rolling in this business, it’s hard to go back and “get organized.”  Do it right from the beginning.  If you need help, call me.  I’m happy to steer you in the right direction! 

A huge thank you to our panelists for their advice and expertise!  As new agents, you need to ALWAYS be learning, gathering, fine-tuning and growing.  Look to these experts for valuable information!  Bookmark their sites and call for more help.  They are incredible resources for agents new and experienced!  Here’s how to get in touch:

Bernice Ross:  www.realestatecoach.com; Susie Hale:  www.frogpond.com;
Darryl Davis: 
www.darryldavis.com; Stefan Swanepoel:  www.retrends.com

Remember to look for our follow up article regarding adopting the right MINDSET for success as a new agent.  Bookmark our blog at blog.prospectsplus.com for more!  Of course, you can find me at www.prospectsplus.com.  Sign up for my free newsletter and a free web account that will give you access to many terrific resources for growing and building your business!  I can be reached directly at 1.866.405.3641.  Wishing you every success! 

smartagentsSmart Agent Branding Strategies from Some of Today’s Top Agents

By Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing, ProspectsPLUS!
You may recall, in last month’s article we started to dive into some of the unique ways top agents “Make a Name for Themselves.” We shared the story of Short Sale Specialist Bob Daniel and his powerful approach to building and owning that niche in his market area. Before that, we learned from one of real estate’s Top 50 REALTORS® on the Rise in 2008, Kathy Casarin, who shared her terrific strategies for marketing to FSBOs and Expireds. If you missed the February or March editions of our newsletter you can read them in the Newsletter section of the Resources area on our site, www.prospectsplus.com. Enjoy!

This month, we’ll tap into the winning strategies taught by Karin Hill, an innovative and delightful Vice President and manager for Watson Realty. She’s energetic, insightful and completely passionate about niche marketing. Not just ANY niche marketing – let’s just call it ‘Niche – with a twist.” While Karin appreciates the finer points of marketing to your farm area, FSBOs or First-time buyers, she is much more interested in empowering her agents to follow their hearts (and their careers) to find those markets that speak most to them.

“My specialty is the motorcycle community. I have a Harley Fatboy®, and like most bike community members, I am passionate about charity work. I’ve found that motorcycles are not just a great source of transportation – they open up a tremendous community of people and a powerful business network. You’ll find riders in all shapes and sizes. Doctors and lawyers to everyday workers round out this unique market and have the ability to give your business real traction. I sponsor events, go to the rallies, put out flyers, link through all their sites to my sites and even have a Harley shirt with my web address on the back! There is literally a biker event every day of the week somewhere if you look – and I’ve looked!”

How important is it that agents choose a niche today? “I believe it’s more critical than it’s ever been. It allows you to set yourself apart from the rest. I also believe that if you choose a niche that you truly enjoy such as golf, fishing, or motorcycles – or something that speaks to your core interests such as our military, police or firemen, then it takes a lot of the “work” out of work. People want to do business with someone with whom they have a common interest. Having that common cause helps you create instant rapport.”

Example: “We have an agent who is devoted to the American Sign Language community. Just recently, we helped her get a video phone. Now more than 80% of her business comes from this powerful niche. She works within the deaf community, schools, conferences and forums and sets herself apart with the unique ability to speak to her customers via video phone. It’s wonderful!

Whatever you do, I encourage you to think “outside the box.” It may help to talk it over with a manager or a mentor and really define who you are and what you enjoy. As agents, we know that if we don’t enjoy it, it won’t get done. By developing a niche market that runs in tandem with your core interests, it’s less like work and more about building relationships with like-minded people. Then the business just comes to you. For example, I do a lot of charity work locally and at least once every six weeks, I help to sponsor events. We put the agents’ pictures and contact information on all the flyers, they help distribute them, and without costing the agents a lot of money, they are actively networking in our community and gaining business ground, all while doing something worthwhile. So you may want to consider that. We’ve held events for the ASPCA, Second Harvest Food Bank, Muscular Dystrophy, collecting blankets and food for the shelters now that it’s cold, and we’re currently organizing a blood drive. As I said, the return is tremendous both in terms of business, and in helping your community.

Find new niche markets. “I would have to say be a marketing professional and not just a REALTOR®. Be a ‘specialist’ not just an agent. Develop a system to really master your market of choice, stay in touch with your book of business and feed that sphere by continually networking in your niche. Consider getting a designation that is significant to your community and near to your heart. Consider some of the green designations, or working with seniors, a specific disability group, or military professionals. Whatever you do, dive in. Find out what you believe in, what you’re passionate about, then go find the events, meeting groups, and the whole network of people that represent that interest really get to know them. You’ll build your sphere and have fun all at the same time!”

Many thanks to all three of our special guests in this series. It’s been wonderful to learn from all their terrific ideas and career experience. I think we can definitely see a common theme amongst all three top producers that systems, smart tools and consistency are vital components of success. We learned, too, that taking the time to truly become GREAT at one niche before trying to be all things to all people is definitely the best course of action! I love the energy each of these talented people brings to their career, their clients and each day. You can sense the passion that they have for what they do, and I invite you to do the same in your career. Ignite your own passion by finding a niche that works for you, having fun along the way and experience, just as Kathy, Bob and Karin do, the joy and benefits of truly building these long term relationships.

Need some help finding and growing YOUR niche market? Contact me today at 866.405.3641. From niche market campaign automation and personal consulting to learning more about the ProspectsPLUS! system that helps keep Kathy on track, Bob has in his library of tools or the automated Just Listed/Just Sold postcard system that brings new business to Watson Realty agents every day, we have what you need to succeed. Call us. We can help.

Thanks for joining us each month and we’ll see you in May!

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Uncetainty
Uncetainty

Six Secrets to Keeping Your Balance, Business and Humor

 By Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing, ProspectsPLUS! 

If you are like many agents, today’s market definitely may make you feel as if you are on an episode of “Survivor, Real Estate!”  For some, you face unfamiliar challenges, uncommon objections and often times that nagging uncertainty that can throw you – and your production – off balance.     What you many not realize however is that uncertainty can be a good thing.  It can force us out of our comfort zone and propel us to get creative, resourceful and most importantly, take action.  If you’re ready to loosen the grip of uncertainty on your career, then I invite you to adopt the following six secrets:  

1.  Attitude is everything.  Well, almost everything anyway.  Consider the study recently conducted by Harvard Business School which reported the four key elements for success in life. 

  1. Experience
  2. Knowledge
  3. Intelligence
  4. Attitude

Stop and think for a moment how you would answer that survey if polled. How would you rate each of these factors in order of importance?  Of course, the bullet title gives it away!  Harvard found that of these four, experience, knowledge and intelligence comprised only 7% of the elements for success.  Attitude represented a whopping 93%!  Imagine that!  The most critical facet is also the one we have the MOST control over.  So, take control.  Rid yourself of the negative and empower yourself with the positive and you’ll be well on your way to keeping uncertainty at bay.  

2.  Over-prepare.  What happens when you know for a fact that you are ready for anything?  When you’ve done your homework, practiced, drilled, rehearsed, dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” on your to-do list?  Over-preparing for your next listing presentation, price reduction, face-to-face or negotiation will fill you with the confidence and CERTAINTY you need to win.  Our company President Jim Morton always teaches the importance of going those extra steps to be practiced and prepared.  So much so, that even if someone were to wake you in the middle of the night from a sound sleep and asked you, “Will you cut your commission?” the words and mannerisms would flow from you as naturally and effortlessly and of course, your commission would be intact! 

3.  Market statistics.  There’s never been a more important time to know your numbers than right now.  The agents who succeed in today’s market are masters of information.  They bring to the appointment table all the ammunition they need to make their point, prove a position, price effectively and help the consumer understand better than anyone else the reality of your local market.  Using visuals such as graphs and statistics to chart market changes over the last month, year, two years and more.  What does all this homework afford them over their competitors?  Confidence and credentials – two extraordinary essentials for surety and success.

4.  Stick to a schedule.  Without it, it’s simply too easy to get off track and find yourself in a rut and nothing can quite fuel uncertainty like a good old-fashioned rut!  Put yourself on a clear, concise, tight schedule which includes that all important must-do prospecting time each day.  A precise and practical approach to working ON your business not just IN your business will allow you to not just be more productive but actually eliminate a great deal of stress in your days.  Prioritize your to-do list and keep those “money” activities such as prospecting, presenting and closing on the top of that list.

5.  Master your ABCs.  I am reminded of an article by Floyd Wickman which featured this idea.  In today’s market you must Always Be Closing.  Our market is quickly changing, shifting and making adjustments and the time is now to truly help your customers make the right decisions for them rather than play the procrastination game.  To close is to ask.  Ask to list.   Ask to accept.  Ask to reduce.  Ask to buy.  Sound simple?  It is.  Yet, most agents are not asking (closing).  So go ahead – ASK!

6.  More is more.  Times have changed.  The cheese has moved.  The economy is shifting.  All of these are factors far beyond our control and all represent the change we are all feeling today.  It’s all right though.  That’s the nature of the beast.  Nothing lasts, not the good or the bad, but certainly how we react to change plays a large role in whether we just survive, thrive or find ourselves looking for “a real job.”  The not-so-secret secret here is to do more.  Be better.  Get stronger at your skill sets.  Master your dialogues.  Do your homework.  Start earlier and stay later when you have to.  Readjust your calendars.  Create more value for your customers.  CONSISTENTLY stay in touch with your sphere of influence.  Commit to learning, fine-tuning and crafting your presentations and your presence.  Challenge yourself to step outside what “you’ve always done” and seek to go further than you’ve ever gone. 

I found an interesting quote today by Ilya Prigogine, “The future is uncertain, but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity.”   What a great reminder that is for us to truly ignite our ingenuity.  Tony Robbins tells us that one of the most defining factors that control and shape what we do and how well we succeed is not resources, but resourcefulness.  In other words, it’s not your broker, not your colleagues, not the market and certainly not the new stationary that determines your success or failure.  It’s that deep down emotion that allows you to REALLY want something that powers your resourcefulness to make it happen.   

Finally, keep your sense of humor about you.  If you truly implement these ideas you are bound to feel some change, some growing pains and uh-oh, some uncertainty.  Roll with it.  Laugh out loud with your friends and your family.  Let your hair down and gift yourself with the medicinal power of laughter.  Whether you are a “Jack” or a “Jill” – all work and no play makes for a dull life and a sure case of burn-out.   I hope you’ve picked up a secret or two to help you not just survive but truly thrive in this industry. 

By the way – they aren’t REALLY secrets, just reminders, so feel free to NOT keep them to yourself – share with the people you care about, the new guy or girl who’s just starting out, that old-timer in the corner who can’t seem to get out of the rut and anyone else who could use a little “shot in the arm.”  One of the best ways to create abundance in your life financially, emotionally, spiritually and in your career is to share the wealth.  The capacity in which you’ll find it boomeranging back to you is extraordinary.   To learn more about the training and tools you need to survive in ANY market, visit www.prospectsplus.com today or call Julie Escobar at 1.800.287.5710.