By Sue Styles
If you missed the National Association of Realtors (NAR) national conference this year, or if you didn’t make it to as many sessions as you would have liked, here are my top take-aways from the conference. Many of the sessions are available for purchase as an audio file from the NAR website, so check it out!
1. Debt and depression
It is time to be brave and talk about the hard stuff. At the general session, swimmer Michael Phelps opened up and disclosed his struggle with pursuing his dreams and dealing with failure (even contemplating suicide). He said that everyone sees and cheers for the glory, the gold; what they don’t see is the grief and lonely torture of an athlete’s life.
As “solopreneurs”, Realtors risk becoming isolated and melancholy when business is slow. Some agents spend their savings getting into the business and don’t have a salary saved for the rainy days. The stakes are high – and so are the stress levels. On both accounts, having solid support and being open with the thoughts that are troubling you is an ideal beginning. There is help if you need it – reach out and get support.
2. Make asking for referrals part of your process
from beginning to end (without being cheesy!). You don’t want people choosing their agent like they choose their gas station (says presenter, Kim Knapp from Florida) just based on convenience or who is cheapest. At her first meeting, she plants the “referral seed” with her potential clients by stating, “I intend to do such a good job for you that when anyone talks about real estate, you will tell them to reach out to me!” This is followed up by asking for business after the deal is firmed up and again at closing. Those clients have no doubt that she wants to become their Realtor of choice.
She also brilliantly suggested that you have a conversation with all your service providers, asking them to pass along referrals and not only that, but when they provide their service for your clients, to speak well of you as an agent and help build your reputation. For example: “If Kim is your agent, you are in great hands, she is one of the best agents I know in this city!”
Make sure you are asking for the business you want.
3. Strategic content marketing
If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon (or don’t know what strategic content marketing is) the time is now. Jay Thompson of Zillow talked about it, celebrities are doing it and you can do it too! It may take a while to become educated with the content and become strategic with your marketing, but get out there and be seen. It starts with being visible with your brand – if they don’t see you, it doesn’t matter how good you are. Think Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, the Kardashians…. you know them all.
Katie Lance shared some high points at the NAR Theatre on getting “social smart” and offers a step-by-step book, #GetSocialSmart, that clearly outlines the path to your successful modern marketing.
4. Don’t procrastinate
Whether you attend NAR or any other industry conference, you may be disappointed if you don’t hear amazing disrupters who offer the magic formula to “make millions”. If you are looking for something new, you may not find it. However, might I suggest that you, like me, have a list somewhere of multiple good ideas for growing your business?
Perhaps in a notebook, or scrawled across a random page in your daytimer or notes you keep on your phone. There are good ideas dead on the vine, that never got the chance.
Speaker Richard Flint suggested that we don’t necessarily need any new ideas – we need to implement the good ideas that we have. “Every day that you choose to procrastinate you disrespect your greatest gift – time.”
5. The devil is in the details
If you happen to be a newbie in the business and you want some good ideas and have the drive to act, here are the top reminders that I heard:
- Get serious systems in place. Planned-out marketing, listing checklists, buyer processes and closing tasks that are clearly defined.
- Video. You don’t need to be a model to create impactful video, so as Marki Lemons Ryhal humorously joked, even if you think you are fat and ugly, get over yourself and become valuable to others!
- Create killer content! Yes, like a blog.
- Make sure you use more photos – everywhere. People love to view luxury interiors, fresh flowers, tropical vacations and art of all kinds. Create posts like pages in a magazine (and hire professional photographers for all your listings).
- Prepare client expectations. Whether your local market is hot, cold or just right, setting their expectations right away will help them avoid unsettling emotions later. For example: Your client says “Let’s just take our home off the market, we don’t want to deal with problems anymore!” You’d have to then respond “Oh, don’t worry, in this market you can expect a couple of deals to fall through before one firms up.” Don’t set yourself up for unhappy homeowners. Fill them in at the beginning, purposefully.
- Continue to build relationships with your clients after the deal closes. Scheduled touches and connecting on social media will help.
- Become savvy when it comes to other culture’s customs. Most of us live in a multicultural environment, but have no idea about other society norms. Think about it, learn about it. Some ethnicities are hyper-loyal to good service providers and “getting in” would do your business a world of good.
- Treat your business like a business, not a hobby. Use a business plan, marketing plan and a database that you learn how to use – also called a client relationship management system (CRM). Learn how to time block your day and make your sales calls. These are all habits of highly effective agents.
- Get the help you need. Whether you are struggling with debt, depression, divorce or discounting your commissions, there is help there for you. Get a therapist, hire a coach, read a book, talk to your broker or someone who can support you.
- Go to NAR next year! It is in Boston, Nov. 2-5, 2018.
If you plan to attend the next NAR convention, make sure you bring your most comfortable pairs of shoes! Three days at convention is equivalent to three days in Vegas (my own study). Not only is there a painful amount of walking throughout mega convention centres, there will also most assuredly be, sight-seeing in the host city.