Gary Elwood

Author Archives: Gary Elwood

How Deliberate Practice Helped the New York Giants Win the NFC Championship

Last Sunday, the Giants win over San Francisco came down to a field goal in overtime…a field goal that occurred in wet sloppy conditions…the worst possible condition to kick a field goal.

But that’s exactly how the place holder and long snapper practised it. The New York Times article that describes how they did it is aptly named: Giants Field-Goal Unit, Needing Its Best, Prepared for the Worst.

The field-goal unit knew that the game could come down to a 3-point kick. They also knew that conditions in San Francisco would be wet and muddy. So all week Steve Weatherford, the Giant’s place holder, and Zac DeOssie, the Giant’s long snapper, simulated the worst possible conditions they could. They only practiced with balls kept in water buckets and even smeared the balls with mud.

Why is this important to real estate training? This is a perfect example of what Geoff Colvin calls deliberate practice, a topic I’ve written about in the past.

Preparing for the Worst in the Real Estate Market

For the most part, what you do in real estate doesn’t come down to a field goal on a muddy field in overtime to win a championship game. Fortunately, real estate in the U.S. is a little more forgiving. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice for the worst possible scenario.

Let’s work through three scenarios to show you what I mean.

Handling Objections

In a perfect world prospects, agents and clients would all do what we say and never throw up an obstacle. But that’s not the case, which is okay, because we all make objections from time to time. And if you think about it, an objection is a worst-case scenario.

Now, it’s not horrible, but it’s kind of like putting a ball in the bunker if you are golfing. You need to be good at getting the ball out even if sending it to the bunker doesn’t happen all the time. So, when it comes to objections, you practice overcoming them ruthlessly.

Closing the Deal

While closing a deal is not a worst-case scenario, I’ve been in the real estate business long enough to realize that most agents don’t know how to close the deal. They are really good at attracting a prospect, getting them interested in a home…but actually getting them to commit to buy it is a totally different story.

And if you can’t close the deal…you don’t get a commission. That’s not a good scenario at all. So, I would suggest you practice closing the deal, too.

Cold Calling

This is probably the least worst-case scenario, but ask a lot of real estate agents and they’ll tell you: they hate cold calling. In fact, they’ll avoid it like the plague. The only time they will even consider it is if they do not have any business coming in.

That’s a bad deal.

So you better learn to love it…and the best way to do that is simply to practice, practice and practice. And I don’t mean by that “pretending” like you are cold calling. What I mean by practice is you actually get on the phone and dial. And dial. And dial.

In no time you’ll love it.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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Want the Sale? You Have to View Objections This Way

How to Win (Almost) Every Listing Presentation

Want the Sale? Then You Have to View Objections This Way

When it comes to closing sales, most real estate trainers will simply hand you a list of counters to the most popular objections. Or they may give you a framework that categorizes each objection in order to deal with the endless variations that objections can come in.

For example, they may categorize each objection as “objections on price” or “objections on lack of interest.”

The first approach is problematic in that, as I mentioned, you cannot possibly cover every objection. You will ultimately run into an objection that isn’t on your list, even though they are the most common, and you’ll be stumped.

The second approach seeks to fix that by widening the net. It’s designed to teach you to recognize objections on principle. But you still have to be somewhat fast on your feet to be able to respond if you aren’t familiar with high you are supposed to respond. The framework trainer will probably give you some counter-objection scripts to deal with each category of objection.

While these aren’t the only approaches in the real estate training world, they are the most common when it comes to real estate sales…and they are really incomplete unless you change your entire mindset about objections.

A bad real estate trainer will treat objections from prospects like they are walls that need to be brought down. Agents who practice this approach usually adopt an aggressive, even combative mindset…that’s because baked into this model is a view that real estate is about transactions and not relationships.

A good real estate trainer, on the other hand, will treat them as opportunities. He’ll see them as an interested prospect who wants to do a deal but has some concern he wants to take care of first.

Here’s how Charles Green describes objections:

An objection means the buyer cares enough about you and the sale to want to explore it with you. They’re telling you about a concern they have, in the hopes you’ll help them resolve it. Your enemy is not the customer; your enemy is disengagement. And an objection demonstrates that the customer is very much engaged.

When you get an objection, recognize it as an opportunity. If you and your customer can resolve it, great, you’ll get a sale. And if you can’t resolves it, well it’s almost certainly because it’s just not the right thing for your customer just now.

Amazingly, you get even more credit if you back out gracefully when your offer isn’t right. Your customer will be surprised, and appreciative. And you’ll increase the odds of getting the next sale, and the one after that.

Anyway, people vastly prefer to buy what they need from people they trust. So help them resolve their objections and be secure in knowing you’ve improved the long-term relationship–and your long-term sales.

Did you catch that in the first paragraph? Objections aren’t your enemy. Disengagement is.  In other words, objections are signals that you have an interested prospect or client. That means you have an opportunity in front of you.

So next time you find yourself talking to a prospect, you can easily measure the level of engagement by the number–if any at all–of objections they raise. And, in the end, if you don’t have an answer for an objection, take the high road: admit you don’t know but promise to return with an answer. Then be faithful to that promise.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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How to Rapidly Lower Your Real Estate Learning Curve

Some of the most successful real estate agents I know have one thing in common–they love to learn. They have a drive to not only chase a high learning curve, but to lower it as soon as possible.

This is real estate training at it’s best.

Naturally, if you look at what these super-achiever agents get done, you have to scratch your head and wonder where they get all the time. But it’s not magic and it’s not really about how much time they have.

It’s really just some things they do to maximize their time that you can do, too.

Eliminate Distractions

The number one rule to lowering your real estate learning curve is to eliminate distractions. Put the iPhone away, shut down the laptop, turn off the social media and focus. It could be on a book you are reading or a seminar you are attending. You’re focus should be 100% on what you are doing. Resist the temptation to multi-task.

Block Time

One of the best methods to focusing is to have an unflinching dedication to doing just one thing until you are done. This means ignoring the phone, email inbox and your colleagues. Schedule an hour a day to learn something new about real estate or practice a certain skill, and do nothing else during that hour.

Get Feedback

You can’t really learn successfully unless you have some sort of feedback system in place. For a lot of high-achieving agents this means a coach or mentor.

If you can’t afford a coach or mentor at this point in your business, then find ways to evaluate what you are doing. Record sales calls or listing presentations. Go back through the tape and listen to what you said. Figure out what you did well and what you didn’t do so well. Then go back out and practice on those things that you didn’t do so well on.

Multiply Practice

If you look at the high-achieving real estate agents who’ve climbed the ladder of success faster than what you think is normal, what you will probably see if you explore their background is that they poured in a lot of time on perfecting their craft.

In other words, these agents understand that the more they perform a certain task–and in real estate their are just four areas you must master, negotiations, marketing, selling and listing–the better they got. That means they knew they needed to figure out ways to perform that task more.

Perhaps it was triple the number of phone calls they made in one day. It could’ve of been getting in front of anyone who will listen and going through their listing presentation as much as they could. Perhaps it was looking at every single encounter they had every day as a negotiation and applying the principles behind that discipline to that situation.

Stimulate the Unexpected

High-achieving agents also figure out how to plan for the unexpected and then prepare for that unexpected event.

This is similar to Tiger Woods dropping a bucket of balls into a sand pit and hitting that shot until he gets it right. In a single season he might be in that situation once or twice, but either way he’ll be prepared for it.


Mastering the real estate learning curve quickly is an art that anyone can learn. It takes discipline and self-motivation, but if you have just a little of those qualities you can easily start to work like a superstar agent well before your time.

Can you think of other techniques that can lower the real estate learning curve?

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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10 Must-Read Post on Great Real Estate Negotiating Ideas

This finishes out our 4-part series I started on New Year’s Day that focused on the four critical areas of real estate success: sales, prospecting, listing and negotiating.

Today we’ll deliver 10 most-read posts on great real estate negotiating ideas. And don’t forget: take your time reading through these articles. It will only be an investment of 30 minutes, but if you can add at least $1,000 to your bottom line because of an idea you learned…don’t you think it will be worth it?


10 Must-Read Posts on Great Real Estate Negotiating Ideas

 How to Concede Smart and Avoid These 3 Mistakes

When it comes to making concessions in negotiations, here’s a good rule of thumb: If you are going to concede in the opening rounds of a negotiation, concede small. In other words, avoid these three mistakes… Read more.

A Sly Negotiation Tactic to Get What You Want

In football, when you want to give your opponent the feeling that you are moving in one direction but planning on going in another direction, you give them a head fake. That is, you lean your head in one direction… And once your opponent commits to that direction, you go the other direction. The same is true in negotiations. Read more.

How to Stop Ridiculous Buyer Offers

In the throes of a housing market meltdown, ridiculous buyer offers are abundant. Here’s an example… Read more.

Six Effective Ways to Win More Negotiations

A very rich man once said that getting wealthy wasn’t complex. There were just a handful of basics he had to master. The same is true with negotiations. Master these six rules of negotiations and you’ll stand to get win-win agreements nearly every time. Read more.

Nine Dead Simple Ways to Persuade People

“Show business is not hard. It’s all just basic Dale Carnegie stuff,” Jay Leno once said in a Selling Power magazine interview. Easy enough for Leno to say. The thing you should know, though, is that Leno’s back-of-the-napkin statement is supported by decades of smooth, polite and consistent relationship building. And nine easy-to-follow techniques. Read more.

5 Proven Tips to Help you Negotiate in a Buyer’s Market

Before the dismal collapse of the housing market, negotiation skills weren’t quite as important as they are now. In many cases, all you had to do was put the house on the market with a reasonable price and get out of the way. Things have changed. And won’t get better any time soon. Read more.

Why Breaking This Childish Habit Would Be an Ugly Mistake

It’s often not until your child is grown that you appreciate some of their childish habits. Take persistence, for example. If you have children, especially teenagers, you know that sometimes you may give in to their demands just to be able to get on with your life. The same tactic works quite well in the business world. Read more.

Negotiation Tips for the Obscenely Timid Real Estate Agent

Does the thought of negotiating make your throat go dry? Palms sweat? Heart hammer your rib cage? If so, you’re not alone. But don’t try to fix that and you will never succeed. Here’s what you need to do. Read more.

The Oldest Negotiating Trick in the Book

This negotiating trick is a timeless classic. It’s something Aristotle taught Greek lawyers in 300 BC. And it’s something lawyers are still learning today. What is it? Read more.

How to Create, Build and Protect a Fearsome Negotiating Reputation

What does Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla have to do with negotiation reputations…and fearsome ones at that? Well, it turns out a lot. Read more.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

10 Must-Read Posts on Great Real Estate Listing Ideas

Like I mentioned on New Year’s Day, I’ve started a short 4-part series on the four critical areas of real estate success: sales, prospecting, listing and negotiating.

Each post is made up of 10 must-reads from the past year or two. This is some of our best material for each topic, intended to help you kick butt in 2012.

Today, great real estate listing ideas.

All ten articles in today’s post will probably take you about 30 minutes to read altogether, so when you are ready to read, sit back, relax and absorb as much of the material as you possibly can, because as I’ve said before, deliberate practice will  make you a master.


10 Must-Read Posts on Great Real Estate Listing Ideas

The Secret to Making a Living Off of Expireds

Tell me if you see yourself in this scenario: you’re scanning the MLS for expired listings. You find more than 20. It’s a good day. You then grab the phone and start dialling. If that’s you, then you’re not alone. Unfortunately, it’s a huge waste of time. Here’s why. Read more.

Lure Buyers in Without Lowering the Price

While necessary [and something, by the way, you can do near pain-free with this method], price reductions are no fun for your clients. That’s money they lose and you lose. Read more.

10 Effective Ways to Build a Profitable Business in a Lousy Market

But what if you don’t live in one of these comeback cities? What if you live in a city that looks to suffer even more foreclosure losses? Well, one way to approach this problem is simply to attack it at it’s source… Read more.

How to Ride the Wave of Foreclosures to Your Best Year Ever

Working pre-foreclosures is less about padding your pocket and more about helping another human being. I can’t stress that enough. So, when approaching pre-foreclosures for the first time use these ideas to prove to them that you are truly their to help can save their home. Read more.

10 Home-staging Tips to Attract More Buyers

What a couple of easy tips to help you make a home look attractive to a buyer? Look no further. Read more.

How to Win (Almost) Every Listing Presentation

Long ago I believed that winning listing presentations meant having a mental toolbox full of witty comebacks, sly counter objections and a persuasive delivery that would allow me to deflect arguments, shut down concerns and steamroll the prospect into signing with me. That’s all changed. Read more.

10 Things You Don’t Want Homeowners Saying to You

With the housing market is not expected to bottom out any time soon, you could probably use a little jolt of laughter to shake the blues that’s plaguing us in this distressed economy. And after you read this top-ten list, why not share one of your own frigthening comments you’ve heard homesellers make. Read more.

My Unofficial Guide to Short Selling

Short selling is nothing new. Especially with the collapsing home market, and all. That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to gather all the best ideas on short selling I can find. Read more.

Use the Problem-Agitate-Solve Formula to Sell More Homes

Pain and problems dominate us. Everyday and every hour we are constantly looking for solutions for our pain and problems. This holds true for home buyers and sellers. That’s why it’s a great idea to use the PAS formula in your sales presentations. Read more.

Social Media Matters: Selling Houses During Hard Times

Everyone knows that in today’s market, it’s not enough just to get the listing—you need to have an aggressive marketing plan. While printed flyers, signage and the basics will always have their place, we all know that over 80% of home buyers begin their search for a new home online. In fact, second only to over-priced home, no internet marketing strategy is the biggest reason homes don’t sell. That’s why you need advanced online marketing strategies–social media strategies–to help you create a compelling online presence. Read more.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

10 Must-Read Posts on Great Real Estate Marketing Ideas

Posts in this series:

Today I thought I would gather up some historical posts you might have missed that will help you generate real estate marketing ideas–and get that prospecting machine humming again.

Let me know what you think.

Why You Need to Know How Permission Marketing Has Changed

Seth Godin wrote an industry-defining book called Permission Marketing back in 2000. He taught us that in order to succeed we needed to turn strangers into friends and then turn those friends into customers.

Ever since the advertising landscape has been changed. Are you asking people for permission to advertise and market to them? Read more.

How to Use Your MLS System for Growing Profits Every Week, Month and Year

I love those conversations with clients where you are vibrating with excitement as they share an amazing new strategy. In this particular case the strategy was on how to use your MLS system’s auto updating capabilities. At the time of the conversation I knew it would be a money-maker. And it still is. Read more.

7 Correct Ways Real Estate Agents Use Social Media

Social media like blogs and Twitter blew up on the scene so fast that you and I hardly had a chance to learn how to correctly use them. This little guide will teach you things like what a good real estate blog looks like, how to spot an influential social media marketer and what makes a successful online networker. Read more.

The Most Powerful Marketing Mantra

Over the last 50 years buying and selling a home has become a very complex procedure. Bylaws after bylaws and regulations after regulations have been piled onto the process that it can be overwhelming to just think about.

No surprise that many people look to real estate agents to help them buy or sell. With that in mind, here’s a great little mantra you can use to keep you motivated and headed to success: Read more.

A Sure-Fire Way to Keep People from Using the Competition

Do you give a lot of thought to customer retention? Or do you spend all of your time worrying about the next deal? Or the next lead? Did you know that you could actually keep a whole lot more business if you just followed up on past customers? Read more.

How You Can Achieve Your Greatest Desire

We’ve all got dreams of being a superstar in real estate–even if we sheepishly say all we really want to do is just pay the bills, buy a modest boat or stash away some cash for the kid’s college. That’s not such a bad thing to dream about. And this article will help you on your way. Read more.

What Barak Obama’s Acceptance Speech Can You Teach You about Marketing

Barack Obama’s chief marketing strategist during the 2008 election has a lot he can teach you about marketing. He was, after all, one of the reasons that Obama–the first black American president–was elected. Read more.

Why Your Advertising Never Works–and What to Do about It

If you are spending your entire weekends creating a postcard for a new listing, sending that postcard out on Monday only to have it sink like a lead weight, then there are a few fundamental lessons you need to learn about advertising. Read more.

The 2 Most Productive Lead Generation Activities in Real Estate

You got to love it when a group of  Baylor University researchers prove what you’ve been saying all along: referrals and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) technology rank as the top two most productive lead generation activities in real estate. Read more.

Take Advantage of This Psychological Buyer Quirk to Help You Sell Any House Now

It’s 2012 and we are still in a buyer’s market. True, some areas are starting to recover as inventory drops, but for the most part if you have a house to sell–you are not going to be able to ask for the full price and get many–if any–bids on the home. However, there is a technique that uses the way a buyer thinks that can help you sell just about any home. Read more.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

10 Must-Read Posts on Great Prospecting Ideas

On New Year’s Day I mentioned I was going to start a short 4-part series that concentrate on the four critical areas of real estate success: sales, prospecting, listing and negotiation.

Each post in the series will share with you the top ten posts we’ve written on that topic.

Today I’ll focus on prospecting.

Remember, you actually have to read these articles and then put their ideas into practice if you want to take 2012 by storm!

But because you’re reading this I’m certain that’s what you’ll do, so sit back, sip some coffee and get ready to read some hard-hitting articles on real estate prospecting.

10 Must-Read Posts on Great Prospecting Ideas

What Can George Orwell Teach You about Generating Leads in a Sluggish Market? 

George Orwell, the English author of 1984, Animal Farm and other classics, has six rules of writing. You need to know this: These rules are all gems and can turn you into a ruthless copywriter. A killer blogger. A writer with dangerous copy chops. But what do they have to do with generating leads? Simple. Use these rules when writing ads and you’ll create tight little advertisements that boost your conversion. Read more.

3 Rules to Real Estate Marketing Success

People are self-interested. That means they don’t care about the car you drive. How many houses you sold. The number of awards you’ve won. What school you went to. Who you work for or how long you’ve been in the business. All they want to know is this… Read more.

36-Year Veteran Explains Her Mouth-Watering Success

Lisa Burridge is a lot like you: She’s a real estate agent who wants nothing more than to succeed. That was true 26 years ago when she decided to get into real estate. And it’s still true today. The only difference between then and now? Twenty-six years ago Lisa was making $6 an hour and working up to 18 hours a day… Read more.

Need a Damn Good Referral System to Save Your Career?

Ever wonder why you seem to run into the same deal-destroying problems with prospects? Or hear the same bridge-burning complaints from your clients? Or maybe you’d simply be happy to learn how to find clients who always walk away satisfied after a transaction with you. Think about it: what’s it worth to you to find and nurture a handful–say, I don’t know, 100–clients who love you to death? Read more.

How to Become Highly Prosperous in a Shaky Market

Up to this point your ways of working may have been successful. But here’s something to think about: What can you, as a real estate agent, do that would challenge the status quo, overturn your market or even persuade a competitor’s client to work with you? Read more.

Lead Generation Strategies: Seeker-Oriented v. Attract Oriented

Last year Baylor researchers asked real estate agents, “When it comes to lead generation–what works?” These researchers discovered two things. Read more.

9 Things That Make Emails Seriously Effective for Prospecting

Despite the endless talk about social media–Twitter or Facebook, for example–-emails are still the workhorse of online prospecting. Here’s why.Read more.

What Do Journalism and Real Estate Prospecting Have in Common?

Prospecting has a lot in common with journalism. For instance, journalists are always approaching strangers. They’re always asking a lot of questions. And they’re interested in learning the truth. And, just like in journalism, a good prospector has to understand the 5W’s. Read more.

The Claude Hopkins Guide to Real Estate Prospecting

Here’s the deal. In the book My Life in Advertising“, Claude Hopkins tells a great story about a gloomy copywriter named Powers–a story with implications of everything you’re working right now, today… Read more.

Follow Up: Why Targeted Repetition Works So Well

As every great agent knows, it’s your consistency that will make the difference in making any follow-up program work. Even if you borderline on obnoxious. Understand, I don’t mean you have to be a jerk…but you may have to be that agent who refuses to “take a hint”. Read more.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

10 Must-Read Posts on Great Real Estate Sales Ideas

Happy New Year! Believe it or not, but 2012 is here. It’s a new year, a new day and a new month. Are you prepared to take 2012 by storm? I hope so.

And to help you prepare for success, I’m going to start a 4-part series on 10 must read posts from the 4 critical areas of real estate: sales, prospecting, listing and negotiating.

Posts in this series:

Today I’ll start with sales and deliver the rest in the following week.

When you get this post in your inbox or rss reader, pop it open, grab a cup of coffee and devote about a half hour to reading all the articles inside. That’s about how long it will take you to read all ten.

Make sure to take notes on action items…and then make plans to hold your feet to the fire because goals are nothing but dreams if you don’t try to achieve them.

Anyway, take care and have a great day, month and year!

10 Must-Read Posts on Great Real Estate Sales Ideas

Are You Using These 4 “Second Glass” Tactics to Make More Money?

Most real estate agents tend to think about making money in the business as simply closing more transaction. They think about it in a very linear fashion, where you find a home owner who wants to sell, you convince them to let you list the home and then you advertise the home in the hopes that it will sell. That’s the way an average listing agent thinks. Here’s how an above average agent does it. Read more.

How to Be a Killer Salesperson the Lazy Way

If you’re like me and don’t want to work really hard at something you don’t particularly enjoy…and sales is something you don’t particularly enjoy…then this post is for you. However, don’t get me wrong here: I’m not giving you an excuse not to work hard. What I’m actually going to do is show you an approach to selling that will allow you to train better and actually enjoy it. Read more.

How Social Scientists Taught Y0u to Close More Deals

People. You just never know what they’ll do next. But if you really believe real estate is a people business, then any effort you make to better understand yourself and how others tick will make your business flow and your bank account grow. Fortunately, a couple of social scientists have developed tools that can help you shed light on the mystery of human behavior and get a better handle on personalities…yours and others’. Read more.

When You Should Depend on a Team–and When You Shouldn’t

So, you’ve been thinking about starting a team, have you? In spite of a dismal economy, your market seems to be rockin’…you’re doing pretty well…and, well, you want to grow. The natural thing to do is build a team, right? Maybe. Here’s why. Read more.

Quick Tip: 5 Reasons Why Sellers Should Work with You on Both Sides of the Deal

Did you know that one of the simplest strategies to closing more transactions is simply helping your seller’s buy their new home? If sellers ARE staying in the area, ask if you can help find their next house. It benefits both you and the seller. Here are five reasons why. Read more.

How to Make Any House Irresistable

When Longinotti-Buitoni took over Ferrari North America as CEO in the late 90s, the U.S. and Canada were in a recession. He couldn’t imagine people would spend their money on such an expensive, impractical car. Since then, Longinotti-Buitoni has changed his mind. Read more.

Eliminate This Behavior and Become More Effective in Sales

Has this happened to you recently: you tend to become desperate in tight times by trying to aggressively pin down real estate buyers? But did you know that removing pressure from the sales process will actually cause you to win more listings and prospects and sell more homes? That’s right. A sales approach where you create pressure-free conversations with buyers is more effective. Read more.

Five Words That Will Injure Any Sales Call

The key to being successful is sweating the small stuff. That comes down to the very words that you use. That’s why I’ll always encourage you to paint persuasive word pictures for your clients. But don’t stop there. Avoid those words that raise flags for buyers and sellers. Words that paint ugly, bad pictures–albeit, stereotypes–of salespeople. Read more.

Real Estate Agents: You Don’t Work for Walmart

The numbers game will wear you out. It will leave you dissatisfied, frustrated, and rejected. The whole idea of the numbers game is that if you spend enough time dialing, churning through prospects, you’re bound to make the occasional sale. Burn and churn, baby. Problem is, when you do make a sale, you believe even more that the number of prospects you burned through was the secret to success. Read more.

Why It’s Okay to Lie to Salespeople

The reason most prospects lie to you is that they have multiple layers of sales resistance. Traditionally the sale model has always been about advancing the sale. Well, the people in your market place are fed up with the traditional sales model. People are tired of being manipulated. Here’s what you have to do about it. Read more.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

6 No-Fail Ways to Increase Your Annual Income

Would you like to make more money this year than you did last year…and continue that trend for the next ten years? Want to be the top sales professional in your field or find your way on to the Wall Street Journals list of top 400 agents in the nation someday?

You can—but it’s not easy. And it takes a lot more than sitting open houses on Saturday in spring with visions of sales awards dancing in  your head.

How do I know? Some of our clients are truly accomplished real estate agents. I’ve seen what they’ve done to set themselves apart. In a few cases I’ve helped, but mostly I’ve marveled at their approach, energy, and most importantly persistence.

If you want to increase your annual income this year, then here are six principles you must embrace.

Understand Your Value Per Hour

Most of us will take any work that comes our way. That’s problematic. Working with just about anybody will drain you of time and energy and, most importantly, of money. So your first step towards earning more income this year is to figure out how much you are worth.

This is easy to figure out: just take your last commission and divide that by the amount of hours you worked. That figure is what you are worth per hour. More than likely it’s on the low side. Now, determine how much you want to make.

If you’re not tracking your time, you need to start doing that today. What separates the superstars from the average agent is a metric mindset.  They measure everything. They keep track of the number of hours they work a day. Number of inbound leads they respond to. People they convert.

Tracking your time is just one part of understanding your value and will help you reach that preferred value per hour.

Understand Your Average Commission Check

Your next step toward increasing your annual income is to understand what your average commission check is. This is a simple task, too: Just add up all the commissions you’ve earned over the last fiscal year and then divide that by the number of commissions.

That average commission check will give you an idea of what each transaction is worth to you. But the value of this simple exercise is to see how working with just about anyone is hurting you. You’re not going to make more money each year if you don’t start controlling what you make by selecting who you want to work with and when.

Disqualify Rapidly

This will hurt because you’ll be turning down leads. But hopefully by now you realize that unloanable, unmotivated and high-maintenance people don’t make you money. (Here are four questions you can use to disqualify potentially problematic seller leads.)

In fact, the whole point behind this exercise is so that you can cherry pick your clients, choosing to work with those who agree with your business philosophy and can actually pay you for your time. Do not be afraid to stand by your VPH.

Prospect Daily

Disqualifying rapidly will not be so troublesome when you are prospecting daily. In fact, you can not really expect to gain real momentum unless you are. This means you need to be picking up the phone, responding to buyer ads and hanging out places where you have an opportunity to network.

Here’s a bit of a warning: Do not quit prospecting when you are busy. That is the last thing you want to do.

If you do, you’ll quickly find yourself out of leads and out of work and back to square one. That’s an emotional roller coaster ride you don’t want to get on.

Instead, spend time prospecting by phone, in person, on social media, at apartments or with investors. You can not create a steady stream of income that grows each year without a consistent stream of leads you can cherry pick.

Understand Your Most Profitable Activities–Eliminate the Rest

Delegation is the key to making more money. See, if you’re spending your time copying flyers or hanging signs, then you are not making your VPH. You are making much, much less. You are making minimum wage…and there are easier ways to do that.

What are your most profitable activities? More than likely it’s prospecting, marketing, negotiations, listing presentations and selling. It’s those activities that you actually make money, so you should focus on those and delegate everything else.

Create a Schedule

Finally, you need to prioritize your activities. Perhaps you are a morning person. Then reserve all your high profit activities during that time when you are sharpest. That means don’t schedule a negotiation call for 8 in the evening.

This also means you need to avoid overworking. Be fierce about controlling your time and protecting your life outside of your business. And if your life IS your business, then you need to step back and re-evaluate what you are tyring to accomplish, especially if you have a family.

Sacrificing time with family and friends to make a ten or twenty thousand more dollars a year is a worthless pursuit.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

Want fresh, new ideas on making your phone ring with prospects? Then grab this free 7-part online video training series.

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How to Be a Killer Salesperson the Lazy Way

If you’re like me and don’t want to work really hard at something you don’t particularly enjoy…and sales is something you don’t particularly enjoy…then this post is for you.

However, don’t get me wrong here: I’m not giving you an excuse not to work hard. What I’m actually going to do is show you an approach to selling that will allow you to train better and actually enjoy it.

See, the main reason most people don’t like to sell is they feel uncomfortable “pressuring” people. And most people don’t like salespeople, whether they are selling used cars or real estate, because they can be “pushy.”

Well, with the following approach I’m about to share with you, you will never pressure another person again. In fact, people will enjoy talking to you and you’ll enjoy engaging them and you’ll walk away with more clients, homes and money.

It will be a game you can master with appropriate amounts of training, and it will be a game you’ll come to love. Sound hard to believe? Well, once you see how it works, you won’t think so any more.

See, the bottom line is this: you have to take the responsibility of driving the “sales” off of you and put it on the other person. You do this by asking questions. But not just any questions. These questions have to be engineered to do several things: spark curiosity, build credibility, build relationships, uncover needs and create commitments.

Let’s get started.

What makes asking questions so important

The best conversationalists are those who ask questions. Legend has it that Dale Carnegie spent the evening talking to a young, famous woman who at the end of the night told the hostess of the party, who was equally famous, that Carnegie was the best conversationalists she’d ever met.

Funny thing is, Carnegie admits in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, that she dominated the conversation. He simply asked questions about her life the whole night.

Part of the magic of asking questions is that the focus is off of you and on them…and people love to talk about themselves. But it’s never enough just to get them talking. You don’t want to get stuck with someone who blabbers for hours on end. Asking questions will allow you to control the conversation. Of course, you have to be bold enough to interrupt occasionally.

Ask questions that spark curiosity

When it comes to getting somebody interested in what you have to say…namely, buying and selling real estate through you…you have to make it look like it was their idea to talk about the topic in the first place. So you have to get them curious.

How do you do that? Talk about something interesting. How do you know what’s interesting to that person? Ask them. “So, what it is it you like to do? Got any hobbies? What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?”

Let’s say you learn they like to run on trails. Then you could say this: “Ever been out to Simi Valley? They’ve got this really great trail system in the hills that runs for miles behind all of the subdivisions. I have two houses out there for sale that back up to the trails.”

Naturally all you are doing at this point is introducing them to the fact that you are a real estate agent. If you’re lucky, they’ll say, “So, you are a real estate agent, eh?” Be prepared, however, for them not to bite. You’ve got to take it to the next level.

Ask questions that build credibility

Your next step is to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about, and the way to do that is to ask questions that show you understand your business or their needs. For example, you could ask prospects:

  • Do you know that there is not a light rail stop near that area?
  • Are you aware of the maintenance and ongoing cost of owning a pool? Costs like chemicals and winterizing it? [The more specific you can be, the better.]
  • Did you know those homes are built over a mine shaft?

By asking questions that demonstrate you understand your market, buyer’s needs, etc., you are slowly persuading people you talk to that you are a knowledgable, trustworthy guy or gal.

But not all questions need to be about real estate to build credibility and likeability. If you land on a topic that you both love, drill down into that topic. It could be on sail boats, fiction books or cage fighting. Ask them questions about that topic and they’ll begin to like you.

Ask questions that build relationships

Your next step is to get a little personal. You must be further along in the discussion, possibly two or more contacts before you ask questions that build relationships, but in reality, it’s really more about common sense. I’m not sure I’d do it, for example, on inbound lead calls from a classified ad, but if you feel like the first time you talk to someone you could ask these questions, go for it. Sizing up the person you are talking to is critical to successful question asking.

So what exactly are relationship-building questions? These can be questions about family or work or just about anything personal. However, the way it works in the real estate world is these questions are more about “feelings.” For example, “How do you feel about this?” “Are you as concerned about this as I am?” “Do you really want to wait that long for an offer?”

In a subtle way these questions are establishing you as someone who cares about their friend, prospect or client. It also  helps to ask these questions when you are not certain about a particular decision to make.

Ask questions to uncover needs

One of the best uses of questions is to uncover needs. These are probing questions. Questions like this:

  • What’s more important to you…being close to your family or your job?
  • Can you afford to drop your price ten percent if the need arises?
  • How many children in your family? Your wife home schools? Does she need dedicated space to do that?

If you have a hard time coming up with questions on the fly, then try using the 5 Ws method: Who, What, When, Where, Why. For example, “Why would you and your family decide to live there if you work an hour away?” “When did you install the sump pump?” “Who is responsible for designing the house?”

Ask questions that secure a commitment

Finally, all your nice work with questions should lead to a commitment of some kind. It doesn’t have to be a monumental commitment. It could be a small gesture like, “Would you like a business card?” Or “Do you mind if I look that information up for you and call you on Monday?”

The beauty of getting a commitment this way is that you are lowering your chances of getting rejected. Small commitments allow you to take baby steps through the sales process. You will have to be patient, so start the training now. You won’t regret it.

Your Turn

Do you use questions like the above approach? What other methods do you use when it comes to asking questions? Please share.

Did you find this article useful? If so, leave a comment. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

And if you want fresh, new ideas on making your phone ring with prospects, then grab this free 7-part online video training series.

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