New and Improved!

February 9, 2010

One of my favorite comedians, Brian Regan, does a bit on the “new and improved” concept – he says, “I don’t think you need the word ‘new’.”  If it’s new, it can’t already be improved – and if it’s been improved on the original, it can’t also be new.  I’m not here to argue symantics, but I like how he thinks!

New and Improved!When got started, it was designed to reach out to my own Keller Williams Select Realtors in Maryland.  With three locations and many Associates who cannot make it to a particular class or another, I decided a blog format would best help them get easy access to the information from class.  Additionally, I hoped that some of the local Realtors would get a chance to sample our training and want to see what else we have to offer.  This class (GO F.A.R.) is only one of many classes that we teach locally every week, all year long.

The result?  In less than four months, well over 1,000 unique visitors came to this site; and the attached presentations and documents were viewed and downloaded more than 1,500 times.  I hope that each visitor has found something unique and helpful for your business.

As a result, I have decided to continue this blog with added content from more of our classes.  Our training schedule is more robust than ever this year, as we have added more instructors and broadened the scope of our content to address the full range of needs that Realtors are facing in a changed environment – including information on wealth building and financial planning.

If you’re coming back – welcome back to the “improved”!

If you’re a first time visitor – welcome to the “new”!

If you enjoy the content – PLEASE leave me a comment on the blog post you find most helpful!  Add your own ideas; together we can make 2010 our best year yet!  Stay tuned . . .


8 Items For a Great Pre-Buyer Package

December 6, 2009
Buyer Balance

Get More Yesses

  1. Personal Bio/Team Bio
  2. Testimonials
  3. Brokerage Information
  4. Neighborhood Information
  5. General Buyer Information and Tips
  6. Steps in the Buying Process (critical path)
  7. Your Vendor Partners
  8. Basic Buyer Questionnaire

Deliver formats range from Tri-fold handouts and binders for printed versions, to pdf and slide-shows for electronic formats.

What’s in YOUR Pre-Buyer Package??

8 Steps from Buyer Lead to Contract

December 6, 2009

IN GO F.A.R. Session 17, we discussed the 8 Steps in your Critical Path for Working With Buyers.  If  a possible Buyer lead asked you “what’s next?” . . . would you have a quick, concise answer for them?

Writing The Offer

  1. Set the appointment for Needs Anlysis
  2.  Set appointment with your preferred Mortgage partner
  3. Send Pre-Buyer Package
  4. Consultation Appointment – Needs Analysis
  5. Set up “Auto-Search” online
  6. Discuss currrent market dynamics for their preferred property types
  7. Tour homes – only homes that meet their Needs Anlysis
  8. Write an offer

Some clients will require extra steps, such as neighborhood review for out-of-area buyers, or costs of home-ownership for first-time buyers, etcetera.

Are there any critical steps you would add to this??

Master The Buyer Process

December 6, 2009

Through the years, I have heard the unfortunate phrase, “buyers are liars.”  It makes me cringe, for several reasons.  Besides the obvious (if you don’t like people, perhaps another career would be a better fit for you?), this phrase often only serves as an advertisement that the Agent didn’t do a good job uncovering the Buyer’s needs and motivation.

Understanding Buyers

Understanding Buyers

Buyer Systems

Guiding and serving the Buyer starts with the first contact and requires systems and scripts to work toward a successful conclusion.  An overview of the process can be found HERE.   As with the Listing System, the Buyer System begins with an information sheet  – view a sample HERE.

Finding Great Lender Partners

Once you have captured the Buyer’s information, the next step is to ensure that they are pre-qualified by a Lender that you can trust.  Any person you refer your customers to should be scrutinized carefully, because their services directly reflect on your own – and they may cost you business, relationships and your reputation.  I recommend that you carefully interview your potential mortgage partners, making sure your businesses are compatible.  Set clear expectations and understand their expectations of you.  Visit their office, if clients may be meeting them there.  Check out their website, loan application packet and get to know their processors.  Don’t hand over your business to “a nice guy” just because he (or she) is willing to pay for your marketing costs or buy lunch once in a while.

Lead (Information) Sheet, Pre-Qualification . . . then Buyer Agency!  If you get the Agency paperwork signed earlier, that’s okay – just not any later than this point!  Any more work you do should have some guarantees attached to it that you will get paid for your services if they result in a purchase.

Needs Analysis

All of this leads up to the key action step – the needs analysis.  My favorite version, created by Keller Williams University, is found HERE.

This process is the most important piece of a successful Buyer’s Agent.  One of my favorite sayings is, “You can spend the time on the front end, or you can spend the time on the back end; either way, you’re going to spend the time.”

The simple question is: would you rather spend two hours up front, really digging into the Buyer’s needs and how they will live in the home, what is their lifestyle, what are their family needs, what are their hobbies and activities . . . or would you rather spend umpteen weekend driving around,visiting homes that they will never buy?

Dig deep, keep asking questions and you will be amazed at how they lead you right to their perfect home.

What methods do YOU use to help shorten the buying cycle??

Active Listing Systems

November 17, 2009

Coming soon!

Guest instructor, Associate Leadership Council Member – George Belleville, led our Active Listings Systems class last week.  George is an expert at creating and implementing systematized processes to maximize efficiency and get results.  The class was extremely informative and a lot of fun . . . all of the systems will be uploaded and posted within one week, along with a course outline and more information.  Stay tuned . . .


Listing Systems

How’s Your Delivery??

November 5, 2009

If you’ve done one listing presentation or more than one hundred, you’ve probably flubbed at least one response to a question or an objection.  Sometimes our delivery during the ‘real thing’ isnt quite as smooth as we imagine it will be. 

How's Your Delivery?

How's Your Delivery?

Newer Agents often don’t know what they’re going to say, or what they’re going to hear from the Sellers. Experienced Agents frequently feel like they’ve done this enough times to just show up and do their thing.  Some have even looked at or written down scripts for the occasion.  Most times, the problem is that the Sellers don’t follow the script!

When the Sellers throw out a curveball, with an unexpected concern or a need to proceed in a different order, it’s easy to lose track of our information and stumble through an answer that we could normally handle with ease.

Practice Makes Perfect
 All this week in GO F.A.R. we have been practicing our scripts: phone scripts, presentation scripts, needs analysis scripts and objection handling scripts.  Some of these scripts can be found HERE.

Script practicing can be tedious and it’s easy to feel pretty good about having a handle on what to say when – so how do you know when you have truly mastered a script?  Why do you need to “master” a script, can’t you just have a good idea of what to say when?

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

 If you’ve ever played golf, you know that there is a huge difference between knowing ‘how to swing a club’ versus actually being able to swing it properly every time to make the ball go where you want it to go.

What you need to do is first learn the correct grip, stance and swing – then repeat it properly over and over until you have muscle memory that allows you to swing properly in all sorts of playing circumstances…tall grass, sand, on a hill, etc.

That’s how it works with scripts, too.  Learn the right things to say and then practice saying them until the words and meaning are completely internalized.  Then, when the customer changes things up on you, you can quickly either alter the script as needed or guide them back in the right direction through the use of scripts.

Practice is exactly that – a time to mess up, try different things and see how you do.  The listing presentation is the championship that you have worked for, and you want to be your best at that moment!

Next week we will finalize the Listing Presentation, including everything you need to have to get the listing.  On Thursday, we will address your Active Listing Systems – checklists, scripts and systems for managing your active listing inventory and keeping your Sellers engaged and ecstatic!

Powerful Pre-Listing Systems

October 27, 2009

Most Agents put their time and energy into a great Listing Presentation.  Most Agents show up prepared and ready to dazzle their potential new clients with glossy marketing, impressive statistics and an array of personal accomplishments.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing . . . but what if you could have them at “hello”?  That’s the power of a great Pre-Listing Package and well orchestrated Pre-Listing Systems.

You had me at 'Hello'

You had me at 'Hello'

What is a Pre-Listing Package?
A Pre-Listing Package, other than the obvious, is your chance to wow the potential Sellers with your market knowledge, marketing savvy, success statistics, sense of humor and technology skills.  It’s also your opportunity to prepare your future clients for the upcoming meeting – to begin guiding them through the process.  Studies reveal that Sellers are primarily concerned with three things1) Price   2) Timing  3) Hassle.  A great Pre-Listing Package will demonstrate that you can meet their needs in these areas.

In class, we did a little more math (see it HERE on the 2nd page) to remind ourselves of the benefits of Listing Mastery – having the complete package and getting every listing – fewer leads needed to reach your goals, or more income for your efforts!

Habits versus Systems

When you get that “we’re thinking about selling our house” phone call, what do you do from that point forward?  Is every step laid out, scripts at the ready for any situation, checklists waiting to be completed, packages ready to send?  Many of us have Habits, rather than Systems.  A Habit is defined as “an automatic pattern of behavior in reaction to a specific situation”; whereas a System is defined as “a procedure or process for obtaining an objective.”  It’s re-active versus pro-active . . . which one sounds more like your current operation?

The Importance of Scripts

My natural tendency to “wing it” fought the use of scripts for many years.  In a former sales career I was required to use, and tested on, a set of proven scripts.  I always considered myself pretty good on my feet, so I was floored when I saw the power of a good script after it was internalized and delivered naturally.  My limiting beliefs were lifted and I was able to consistently control the conversation and sales process, while keeping the customer engaged and meeting their needs.

The process starts with that first phone call; and a great script will set the agenda for all of your future interactions in a way that helps your customer see how they will benefit from the process and your expertise.  By gaining agreement and buy-in on this process, you have received permission to take control, without the customer feeling that they have lost control.  It’s a beautiful thing!  (a basic, but effective, script is found HERE on the 4th page)

Using Checklists and Questionnaires

Once you have agreement on the process, it’s time to gather the information you will need to communicate with the customers and prepare a meaningful Listing Presentation.  The 6th page of the package, mentioned twice above, contains a sample Questionnaire which can be used to gather necessary information over the phone.  This is also a form that your Administrative Assistant or Listing Coordinator could use, ensuring that they gather the details you will need later.  Whether you use this one, or create your own, you need to make sure you get the critical questions asked and the key information gathered.  You don’t want to have to call them back to say, “sorry, I forgot to ask you a few things” or have to prepare for the listing with incomplete information.

It’s All About ME!
Have you ever heard of “Product Dumping”?  That’s when a salesperson spews every single piece of information and feature about their product or service all over the client, without knowing (or caring) what the client’s needs are.  In a face to face sales call or presentation, this is probably the worst thing you could do.  The Listing Presentation is all about THEM!

So how do you share your unique selling proposition – you know . . . why they should work with you?  That’s where the Pre-Listing Package comes in!  This is your time to brag a little and let them know that a talented, capable Realtor will be showing up to make their real estate dreams come true.

So What’s In A Packet?

Do a Google search of Pre-Listing Packet and you will get dozens of examples from Realtors across the country.  We’ll talk about “look” in a minute – for now, let’s just talk “content.”  Let’s also recognize that by having anything . . . you’re already out-classing more than half of your competition!

You’ll see the same basics: About Me, About My Company, My Marketing Plan, and maybe some Market Statistics.  Here’s what else we found may go into a powerful Pre-List Packet:

  1. Service Providers – your “Team” of professionals (contractors, mortgage, title, etc)
  2. Testimonials – satisfied past clients and character references
  3. Niche Market Information – info specific to a certain group you specialize in
  4. Critical Path – preparing the customer for the process ahead
  5. Your Stats – your average DOM and sold versus list price results compared to the area’s average
  6. Team Bios – include information on anyone your customer may come in contact with during the transaction
  7. Local Information – show yourself to be the local expert by including area information

You’ve Got the Look

This Pre-Listing Packet is your chance to shine, to brag, and to impress.  The Packet gives your prospective client a chance to see your level of professionalism and how you might market their property.  Looking at many of the Pre-Listing Packets online, it seems that the Agent either forgot this fact, or should not be designing their own marketing material?  The Packets were often written like a book – tons of text crammed together and visually tough to digest.  Focus on the key points you want to make, make those points simple and easy to absorb, and remember – this is a marketing piece, not a novel.

I wish I had an example of a great Pre-List Packet to share with you . . . but I simply have not come across one that I feel is a shining example of excellence.  Team Dynamo, from Bosshardt Realty Services in Gainesville, Florida came the closest out of the dozens that I found online.  It’s clean and has good content – as an online document, it could be more visually appealing though with less of a “document” feel to it.  If you have one that rocks, PLEASE send it to me – I would love to see it!

What Makes It So Powerful?

The power of the Pre-Listing Packet comes from the “system” that it is part of.  The Pre-Listing Packet loses its punch if you still show up and simply sing your praises to the Sellers in hopes that they will choose you because you told them that you are great.  A great Pre-Listing Packet pre-sells you, so that you can show up and stay singularly focused on uncovering and meeting the Seller’s needs.  After seeing your high-quality marketing skills, reading about your past clients’ experiences and praise, learning of your in-depth knowledge of their local market and observing your level of professionalism . . . they’ll already want to work with you – you’ll have them at “hello!”  You can still lose the business at this point, especially in a competitive environment.  As the Realtor who demonstrates concern for their needs, asks great questions and uncovers true motivations – you will set yourself apart further from the competition and win every time.

As we wrap up the Pre-Listing Packet segment of GO F.A.R., we move into the Listing Presentation and a Seller’s Needs Analysis that will set the stage for a successful selling experience for your customer . . . and get you referrals by creating raving fans!

A Purposeful Approach to Social Networking

October 15, 2009

Been successful, but not as successful as you could be?  Do you have a huge list of ideas just waiting to be implemented?  Do you know what to do . . . you just need to do it?  You have probably been operating on your natural abilities, meeting fair success – and never stretching yourself by adopting new systems that are outside of your natural comfort zone.  Sound familiar? 

We’ve all been there . . . in fact, it’s so common that there have been several book written about it (Good to Great, by Jim Collins; Good is Not Enough, by Keith R. Wyche, etc).  Gary Keller calls it “E to P”, or, “Entrepreneurial to Purposeful.”


Many Realtors utilize their Entrepreneurial abilities – their enthusiasm, their “name badge as conversation starter”, and the tried and true traditional methods of marketing that they have seen other Realtors practice for years.  It’s what they know.

I have seen reasonably few Agents truly focused, in a purposeful and meaningful way, on communicating consistently and effectively with their Sphere of Influence.  Let’s break down a typical Sphere into target groups, using two complimentary methods.

SOI Bulls Eye

The SOI Bulls Eye

Your Sphere of Influence is made up of three groups:

  • Have Mets
  • Inner Circle
  • Advocates

Your Have Mets are comprised of anyone you know, by face or by name, but don’t have relationship with.  Their number’s probably not in your cell phone.  This is likely to be approximately 40% of your SOI.

Your Inner Circle contains Family, Friends, Past Clients, Allied Resources, Co-workers and others that you know more closely than the Have Mets.  It has a wide range of relationship types and is likely 55% of your SOI.

The Advocate group is typically 5% or less of your SOI, but it will generate more than 50% of the referrals you receive every year (when they are treated right).  Advocates have some unique characteristics:

  • an Advocate likes or respects you
  • an Advocate believes in the services you provide
  • an Advocate likes to be “in the know”
  • an Advocate is well placed to provide referrals

In your communication with these 3 groups, the language, approach and style should vary with the audience.

SOI Pie Chart

Break It Down

Within your Inner Circle, you can break the audience down further into the following major groups, as seen in the pie chart:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Past Clients
  • Past Co-workers
  • Neighbors
  • Industry (Allied Resources) & Local Businesses
  • Other Agents

The most balanced and effective Lead Receiving strategy will consider each of these audiences and reach out to them in a way that speaks their language.  If your friend receives a form letter that was also sent to local business owners, they may question your intent.  Conversely, sending a casual note to both family and also neighbors you hardly know may seem a bit forward to the neighbors.

If you have decided to begin a blog, you will need to first consider which of these audiences you are speaking to.  Often you can include several audiences with certain subject matter.  Blogs are meant to be virtual “communities” and can’t be all things to all people.

 “Viral” is a Good Thing?

In the world of Social Networking, “viral” describes the virtual word of mouth that occurs when something is passed from one person to another through social media applications.  If your content is relevant, interesting, funny or wild . . . it will likely find its way in front of thousands of people.  Think about the NAR studies which reveal that the average person will know at least 5 people who will either buy or sell (or both) real estate in the next year.  See below . . .

Friend Leverage

Simple math tells us that a relatively small SOI of 100 people will contain a direct link to an average of 500 Buyers and Sellers each year!  The million-dollar-question has always been “how do I get my SOI to refer me to their 5?”

Social Media just might be your connection to those 500.  Not only can you add many of them directly to your own SOI; your sharable, relevant content will likely get passed along from your friend to their friends . . . making the connection for you.

New Commandments

  1. Thou shalt use Social Media to connect with your SOI
  2. Thou shalt divide your SOI into audiences
  3. Thou shalt create content that is relevant to your target audience
  4. Thou shalt make your content easy to share

What else??  What are YOUR absolute rules to follow in connecting with your SOI??

Creating Your “Lead Receiving” Plan

October 15, 2009

We spend a lot of time talking about our Lead Generating plans.  For any new business, it is critical to generate leads (new clients); but we often forget to build a systematic Lead Receiving plan that will continuously fill our pipeline with future business.  Without this system, you are doomed to live out the up and down, typical business cycle of: generate new business, serve the customer, close the deal, generate new business.  It’s the “feast or famine” cycle, and it’s stressful and draining.  Gary Keller describes this cycle in his book, SHIFT (see image below).  Today’s powerpoint is HERE.

The Lead Generation Cycle (SHIFT at

The Lead Generation Cycle (SHIFT at

Using Systems To Beat The Cycle

Two systems that have been time-tested by today’s most highly successful Realtors are the 12 Direct and 33 Touch.  These were discussed in our last class and we dug into best practices today.


Below are some of the Brainstorming ideas we came up with for your 12 Direct Plan:

Don’t forget the myriad of Social Networking tools available to expand your network/database which could also be included.  Well written Tweets, blog posts and Facebook posts will attract “Have Not Mets” to you as well as get shared by your current network to others you may not already know.

For the 33 Touch, the class came up with:

Don’t forget your out of town family and friends, Allied Resources (industry connections) and other Realtors as sources for referrals.  You should use these tools as a touch system for them as well!

 Utilizing Social Media, and Getting Results!

You know the old saying about a tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear it?  The same concept applies for your Social Media attempts in a community of one. 

 Are you on Twitter because someone told you you should be?  What’s your strategy to increase your Buyer and Seller leads by tweeting?  Have you been strategic about who you are following?

 Did you get on Facebook as a networking and business tool . . . only to trade silly comments with the same people you talk with on a regular basis already?

 Are you spending any time writing a blog on real estate?  Who is reading your posts, do you have an audience?  Is there a community there, where the participants are plugged in and getting involved?

 The reason I’m asking is that I frequently talk to Realtors who are “doing” these things, or “have an account” but aren’t sure how it could lead to more business.  Part of that comes from not knowing your target audience, and using a “shotgun” approach to spewing information out into the black hole of cyberspace.

 Experts far beyond my Social Media knowledge and experience constantly tell us that “Content is King.”  Having something to say that is important to your audience is critical.  To know what that is, you have to understand your audience.  If you are blogging to your BMW Fan Club buddies, you have no way of knowing if they are interested in real estate . . . but you know they like Bimmers!  So blog on BMW – build the relationship and attract others who share a common passion.  When it comes time to buy or sell real estate, they will want to work with their knowledgeable friend who happens to also be a Realtor.  The point is:  stick with what you know and aim your content towards the audience you are looking to connect with.

 Last thing . . . I highly recommend reaching out to some key friends in the target group to help you spread the word of your new blog, tweets or fan page.  That third-party endorsement is priceless and it helps you get plugged into a broader audience.

 Unleash the Power of the Mastermind

Okay, let’s hear it . . . what do YOU use to stay connected with your network???  If everybody leaves a comment, we’ll have hundreds of new ideas to choose from!  Information on specific companies helps too!  What’s your best tool?

Your Million Dollar Lead Generating Strategy

October 12, 2009

If you opened a restaurant and hired the area’s best Chef, a world-class interior designer, experienced and friendly staff and designed a killer menu . . . but forgot to spread the word and get customers in the door . . . you would have the best restaurant that ever failed.  Unfortunately, this happens all of the time in business.  We focus on the “stuff” and forget that we need Customers.  Our 3rd Session begins a four-part mini-series on Lead Generation.  Ge the Powerpoint HERE.

No Customers  (photo from Flikr: sjpettersson)

No Customers (photo from Flikr: sjpettersson)

You Are A Lead Generator

Whatever your ‘profession’, if your income depends on successful completion of a transaction, and the transactions are not provided to you automatically, your real job is to be a Lead Generator.  There are dozens of method categories for lead generation, and most of them work when partnered properly with a person’s personality, skills and relationships.


The goal, over time, is to promote yourself from a Lead Generator to a Lead Receiver!  That’s where the systems come in.


Using Your Goals

In the last session, we created goals using the Action Plan Worksheet.  You should now know how many Buyer Appointments and how many Seller Appointments you need to have every week.  This is your lead generation goal for the week!  You have your Timeblocking set up with Lead Generation time allocated as 50% of your business time – now it’s time to fill in that blocked time mwith specific activities which will give you those appointments you need for the week and the weeks ahead.


KW Goal Entry and Tracking

If you are already affiliated with Keller Williams Realty, the you should log in to MY KW  and go to Coaching > Goal Entry and make sure your goals for the year have been entered (use the Action Plan Worksheet).  Once your goals have been entered, your actual results will be tracked and compared to your goals every month automatically!  All you have to do is check out the amazing reports and graphs created for you.


In the Millionaire Real Estate Agent (MREA), Gary Keller discusses the Two M’s of Lead Generation: Message and Method.  The questions to ask yourself are:

1) WHO is my intended audience?

2) WHAT do I have to offer them?

3) WHY should they respond to my message

4) HOW can I best reach them?


Once you have these questions answered, you need to design your Lead Generation time to make it happen.  Get specific on how each hour of your lead generation time will be spent.


Social Media as Lead Generation

Slide 8 of the class powerpoint shows a diagram of information flow using Social Media.  The red circle is your Network – this is the WHO.  The green circle is the WHAT and WHY, and the arrows are the HOW.  Your goal is to build a large, well-connected Network and then communicate with it consistently and effectively.  Today’s Social Media applications allow us to grow our Networks faster and bigger than ever before.  If you’ve been afraid to contact those old frinds or past customers . . . become facebook friends and reconnect!  Looking to boost your referral network with peers and business relationships?  LinkedIn and Active Rain can connect you quickly with a referral base!


Now it all comes down to content.  You have their ear, briefly – do you have something valuable to share?


Designing Your Content

Your content should be broken down into two strategies, which are taken directly from MREA: the 12 Direct and the 33 Touch.  The 12 Direct is simply a system of 12 touches, one per month, usually to people with whom you do not have a relationship (A.K.A. “Have Not Mets”).    The 33 Touch is a system of , yep. . . 33 touches,  which targets your database of friends, family, past customers and allies (A.K.A. “Sphere Of Influence” or “SOI”).  The GO FAR Lead Generation Implementation Plan worksheets provide a template to brainstorm and design each touch.  The last page of your plan is the implementation schedule.  Each touch should have an action plan associated with it, as well as a deadline to have it ready to go and a date to ‘pull the trigger’.


Coming Up . . .

Session Four will begin to uncover the best methods of Lead Generation and how to choose the right method for your own business.  We will create Social Media timeblocking schedules and learn how to track our effectiveness.


Fun Math That Might Shock You!

If you’re like me, the concept of “fun math” is shocking all by itself!  I crawled my way through Calculus in college, because it was required – but I’m sure that some part of Hell includes eternal problem solving with letters and weird symbols.  However, adding up commission dollars and profits never quite feels like ‘math’ to me!


We did a little exercise to better understand what Lead Generation could do for your business, and what opportunities we may be giving up if we don’t stick to our blocked Lead Generation time:

  • With a 40 hour workweek, 50% blocked for LG = 20 hours /week
  • 20 hours of LG/week  = 80 hours of LG/month
  • 80 hours LG = 40+ Leads/month
  • 40 Leads/month = 12+ Closings/month
  • $375,00 Avg Sales Price (in our area) x 12 =
  • $4,500,000 x 2.75% commission =
  • $123,750 GCI per month


Now check your ACTUAL current time spent Lead Generating, and compare it to your ACTUAL GCI per month.  What would life look like for you if you stepped it up a bit???


Could you find someone to handle all of these transactions and ONLY focus on Lead Generation???