Terry LeClair webBy Terry LeClair

Before you sit down to write something nasty in the comments below, hear me out. See, most agents aren’t lazy through fault of their own, but because our industry actually promotes it to a certain degree.

Let’s take a step back and look at why I think agents are lazy. This feeling comes first-hand because I own a real estate company and actively sell, so I see this every day. Realtors are always looking for the easy way out – or in, for that matter. We’ve been brainwashed by industry gurus who tell us technology will eliminate good old hard work, and that Facebook, Twitter and blogging will open the “lead” floodgates.

Well folks, I can tell you that it’s never going to happen. Actually, that’s not quite right, so let me rephrase: it WILL happen. And when it does, it will be the end of organized real estate as we know it. Why? Because when (notice I didn’t say, “if”?) technology takes the “work” out of selling real estate, then anyone and their brother will be able to do it, and they won’t need us!

Here’s the solution: we need to work a lot harder up front. I said up front; I did not say “always, forever or during the whole process”, just up front. Let me explain.

How many of you out there actually have some form of listing presentation? I don’t mean just a few scribbled pieces of paper and a few printouts from your MLS system, but a true listing presentation that describes your value proposition and the processes and tools you use to promote the sellers’ listing and communicate with them (the seller)? How many agents actually spend time at the listing presentation explaining to the seller how their website works, what the online buyer is going to experience and how they will generate leads from their site?

You see where I’m going here. If you don’t have a canned Power Point listing presentation showing and describing to your seller exactly where and how you’re going to advertise their property, how and when you’re going to provide feedback, how your website generates great quality leads and when and how you’re going to communicate with them on a regular basis, you’re missing something very valuable. In all my years of selling, this was the number one tool I used to increase my value proposition in the eyes of the consumer.

The ancillary value I received? I saved hours and hours of time in the long run.  The seller always knew what, how and when to expect things from me.

Now some of you out there are already making my point of lazy agents valid because you’re sitting back saying, “that’s too much work” or, “I can’t do that, it takes too much time”. If you’re one of them, stop reading now because you won’t like what I am going to tell you from here on either.

Let’s say you finally get a listing. You go to the sellers’ home and pull out your MLS listing documents. You spend some time filling out the paperwork with all the data your MLS requires. Great, right? Wrong! If you think spending half an hour filling out MLS paperwork is enough to create a captivating, compelling message to an educated consumer, think again.  As agents we need to stop relying on what’s considered “industry standard”, start being more creative, and work a little harder.

When taking a listing, if you’re not taking detailed notes on every feature and benefit that your listing has and trying your best to describe the home in one paragraph on your MLS data sheet, you’re doing a disservice to your sellers. Too many of us take our MLS listing and populate that same information on our website.

So let me ask you this: if you were an online buyer and went to an agent’s website and saw the exact same information I found on other sites or the MLS, would you go back to that agent’s site? Probably not. Take some time to create a value proposition on your website that will captivate the online consumer, and you’ll have the opportunity to communicate and cultivate an even better quality lead.

This isn’t rocket science – it’s just a little hard work up front that will keep you ahead of the competition. Create a great value proposition in the eyes of buyers and sellers, and inevitably it will help you close more transactions. Captivate, communicate, cultivate and close…it’s that simple!

Terry LeClair is the CEO and founder of RealtySites PLUS, a suit of software and online tools that were built by Realtors for Realtors. www.RealtySitesPLUS.com

 

14 COMMENTS

  1. Good insights Terry. Another program from the MS Office suite I have found to be invaluable, yet is overlooked by many, is Microsoft OneNote. It serves as the drawing board, scrapbook, file organizer and the launch pad for all my past and future projects. Even my PPT presentations begin here as random collections of notes,, ideas and gathered reference materials that just by the programs design, begin to evolve and come together within such a highly visual environment. I can't thing of a better or more motivating starting point for anyone hoping to turn their brain box of unpolished ideas into a workable blueprint for their business and their life in general. Check it out.

  2. This is one of the best discussions I have seen to date, on REM. Thanks to Terry for starting it and for the others who continue it. We all learn from each other. But the magic happens when the client "gets it." However. I think the root of the discussion goes to understanding, and applying, a systems-based mentality.

    Terry shared his memory situation and that makes so much sense. For me, I am "picture-driven" – what I need to review – I recall is in the upper left-hand corner of the page, marked in green ink, located half way down the pile of papers – lol.

    Let me say that I think everyone is right in what they have added to the discussion. Right for different reasons. Right because they do what works for them (and they "understand" the needs of their clients).

    But even more right because, in truth, much of what is used, and how, to reach a successful conclusion —- well – guess what? — is determined largely by the age group the client falls in – relative to our own age, their own level of understanding and expertise, about life in general and real estate in particular. Nothing happens till something happens in the bonding process.

    Each of us must work to the comfort level of the client, as well as within our own abilities and comfort range. For example, certainly not all, but many people over age sixty did not have the opportunity to enjoy the enhancement to the business world brought about by the computer age. We can perhaps say they missed the boat.

    Some cannot focus on "a screen at a time." Some prefer to see visuals in real-time mode (a piece of paper they can touch, feel, turn over, hold onto if they wish, jot info down on).

    I am probably as good an example of this as any. I am nearly 70 (and I don't care who knows – lol), reasonably computer savvy. I follow directions well, but I must have good directions. I am reasonably creative. I started using computers in 1968 (yes – 68), as a textbook copy editor. But everything still had to be printed out and worked on using real touchables. I don't think we will ever be a paperless society.

    And when I first went into real estate thirty years ago, I brought my working knowledge to my new field. And I applied it consistently. And it worked. Some years I wrote as much as 14 million in annual sales – working entirely alone, properties valued between 150k-500k with a couple of million-dollar ones now and again.

    However, the applications I transferred were really the thought processes, the basis of which work in any field I discovered. A horse by any other name is still a horse. I discovered the systems I put in place served me well in my new career. But I am one who, till this day, needs to see the whole picture that envelops the topic. I still have difficulty working with "one screen at a time."

    I'm not for a minute suggesting going back to the MLS book. But I can tell you personally that the whole process, for me, is slowed to a grinding interpretation halt when I must bring up a screen (acknowledged it works in a heartbeat) that shows me one "thing" at a time. I am one who likes to (brain-physically) scan all of it at a glance (as in flipping through the book pages) to help me with a series of elimination. Maybe its a right-brain, left-brain thing. It has nothing to do with being old.

    Having said this, I do show them my storybook presentations as presented on line (i create all of it myself, but I pay someone to do the actual web work. I can do it, but I feel for me it is misplaced energy and time), I feel that agents who create their own websites, for example, are misdirecting time and energy, pulled from doing real estate business per se.

    I walk clients through the consumer education articles I have written, that are on the site. They can review them at their leisure. I leave far less on-site paper materials than I used to, because I discovered no one has time to read so much information anymore. And in our industry we are working with information overload that is in permanent motion.

    By using the on-line materials, if they are interested, they can review at their leisure. Some do, some don't. I used to do charts and graphs on EVERYTHING. Then I discovered the clients didn't much care how many houses I had sold (they had figured that out by watching my signs come and go in their subdivision) or what my production status was. They only wanted to see what I was going to do "for them, specifically."

    I try to evaluate their personalities as well as "sticking to the knitting" as Tom Peters so eloquently put it.

    See: this speaks to different age groups and different personality types. In our industry we are exposed to it all, giving us the opportunity to apply and choose from a multitude of systems. There's a time and a place for everything we are discussing here.

    And, once again, Terry, thanks for starting this topic. It is a really important topic and maybe will help the newer people in the industry reach the level of success that you and I have done. I post this at 8 am having my Sunday morning coffee. Turned the lights out a midnight Saturday. Back to work.

    Cordially,
    Carolyne http://www.Carolyne.com

  3. I start everyday hoping not to judge anybody. My definition of lazy might be someone's way of working smart.

  4. Hi Terry: Could it be that "good times" are responsible for providing a fertile environment which makes it relatively easy for many new members to succeed (as long as the good times roll), whereas, "bad times" creates an environment forcing a work ethic in conjunction with creativity upon new folks from the gitgo, just so that they might survive?

    I think that it's more difficult for one to convert from a lazy persona to an energetic persona than the alterior, especially when one can just pick up and move on to something else which more acutely suits one's personality. We almost all go like hell when we start out, implementing this idea and that strategy to determine what works, or not. But to succeed and last as someone like Carolyne has, for example, I think that the die must be cast inherently within the person; one is either naturally energetic, inwardly motivated and of good character, or one is not. These are the three pillars of personal success.

    This is not a scenario wherein "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad". Meatloaf's refrain might work for "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights", but three out of three, on a constant basis, creates the environment for business success.

    A bit of good luck never hurts either.

    This is my observation after a little over two years in the business.

    Regards,

    Brian

  5. I haven't employed power point as a selling tool, I've not yet seen the need to do so. Having spent almost 30 years previously in a non-sales profession, I dare say powerpoint's effectiveness lies with a large(r) audience and not for the one on one.

    I do have a listing presentation that is delivered to the prospect upon my meeting with them. The content includes only a small amount of 'canned content' as I tailor make it to address the property, neighbourhood and anything I might know that would be near and dear to the prospect's affections for the property. While answering the prospect's questions I do direct them to the presentation so that they know I've anticipated all they might ask and I take particular care to show them my original signature attached to several important pages.

    I am not the most prolific listing REALTOR out there nor is that my goal but by the time I walk out of that meeting only one of three things will have happened. 1) I have a listing. 2) I've advised them to not sell if they don't need to and they've agreed. 3) I've refused the listing.

    In cases 1 and 2, they have in hand a comprehensive document to which they can refer rather than the memory of some slides or printouts of slides with its point-form talking points(too often repeated within the industry), along with a few very important documents which they can rightfully waive in my face if I neglect my duties. These give them assurance that I am progressive, unique wherever I can be, fair, honest, trustworthy, accountable and working solely in their best interests. Isn't that what most clients want from any service industry?

    Inherently common with all sellers is that they delve right into the heart of the matter – this is my property – tell me what it is worth – what you are going to do sell it and how much are you charging? All other questions are posed and framed after they've decided whether they are interested in working with you or not. So, If in order to answer these top 4 questions one needs to wait for an answer while the rep cycles through powerpoint slides, I know, that were I a prospective seller, the rep would be leaving without a listing.

    • I work a lot like you do, PED, in this regard. I have not used powerpoint presentations at listings, although I recognize their value in many situations. I'm a one on one, in your face person, and one of the first things that I have found useful and inherently productive is to work at developing personalized rapport with the people, even before the visit.

      I try as best as is appropriate to mirror-image the participants, not in a phoney way, in a genuine way. If they want to be chatty-Kathy, or if they are deadly cold stone serious – I can be either.

      Whichever works in the moment. That has always worked for me. The people need to "feel" your sincerity. But I am all for Terry's approach, used by those for whom it works. Some sellers could not relate, or simply don't want to as you suggest. Others in a different mindset would only relate to Terry's suggestions. One more reason we, as REALTORS, must be chameleons.

      Cordially,
      Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com

    • Exactly Caroline. The bottom line is people want you to look directly into their eyes as you speak with them. It is there they see whether you have confidence or not. As I read elsewhere — the eyes don't lie.

    • PED, It sounds as if you have your presentation down pat and it is working for you but if I could I would like to share a few reasons why I still feel a power point listing presentation is imperative. A PPP allows me to highlight and give a visual to the keys messages that I want the seller to absorb. I show them examples of my advertising and the mediums I utilize, I share with them my special features of my website and show them an example of how their listing will be exposed on the internet. I explain my communication and feedback methods and proceedures as well my statistical tracking ability. I find that visuals allow me to quickly explain things with the highest impact.
      Probably the most important reason I use a PPP is because it allows me to 'train' my clients on what I do, when I do it and how it all will work. I am a firm believer in under promising and over-delivering so by setting the stage and explaining everything upfront I find that i spend at least 80% less time during the selling process and actually at the same time giving much better service.
      I can say this with confidence as I have had a very successful career selling real estate and I attribute much of my success in this business model. Now all that said I also provide a detailed 'leave behind' document/listing presentation so they can go thru it at their leisure.
      I guess I should tell you the last reason why I use a PPP…I'm not the smartest guy out there and I have a terrible memory so it keeps me on track and allows me to never walk out wishing I said this or that when it's too late. I hope that maybe one day you try a PPP and it becomes a staple in your presentation because remember only you know it's a caned presentation to you….it's the first time they are hearing it.
      Cheers and good luck
      Terry

  6. And believe it or not, Terry, the clients will "gladly pay top dollar" to the agent who does what you suggest. Most often they won't query the cost, the more so when it is explained to them, properly. Often they will even pay extra – they surely will when they see the "value."

    I often tell clients not to be upset or offended when I call them very often and report back after EVERY showing, giving details as best as I can discover them. And to be prepared "to be practically married to me" during the duration of the purchase OR the sale. We are going to talk nearly EVERY day.

    Not always, but pretty much so. I will pretty much be in your face until this job gets finished, because "yes – it IS a job." You have hired me to be the "keeper of the keys" till this gets done. I leave with them lists of things they must do, and follow-up and follow-through reports that they need as well.

    Ideally, I don't want them calling me. I prefer to call them, at my pleasure. It's no big deal, just a quick call. They are always so surprised that I make the time to do this. And at the end of the presentation I ask them to write down for me, anything or any topic I might have missed, that is of particular importance to them. I know some agents use a weekly reporting procedure or have a staff person/helper make those calls.

    I want to do it. Too much room for error in communication otherwise. This way I keep a running total of my own conversations and/or emails, and can mentally retrive information in a heartbeat. If I don't have it (whatever it is) in my head, I know where to instantly find it.

    While I am talking I type an email to myself with just a few highlights of the conversation. At the end of the transaction I have instant recall: he said/she said. That way it is more than a conversation, it is good back up if someone forgets that he or she agreed to some such, and casually has forgotten – just pop open the email and there is the evidence – sometimes I recap our conversation and send an email to the client, when a trigger is vital to the end result; then they have a copy too.

    Just my thoughts.
    Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com
    Serving Burlington and Brampton ON

    • Your clients are very lucky to have you represent them! If all Realtors took your business model and implemented it we would never have to worry about the state of our industry. Good for you Carolyne, keep up the great work!
      Terry

    • Thank you, Terry. The testimonial associated with the listing at this link, about says it all. I am new to Burlington, knew/know no one, and due to a personal life trauma that brought me here, I wasn't sure how my historically active career would proceed, or if in fact I would survive. Then I decided to just be me. These sellers, unbeknownst to me had interviewed other agents already when I got there.

      I saw quizzical looks passing between the owners, who when I left, assured me the listing was mine. They just needed to talk privately and would get back with me the next day. I don't like to hear that they won't sign then, but hey – sometimes that's just the way it is. You can see part of the presentation and his personal words, here: http://www.carolyne.com/burlingtonhomes/listings….

      Later we talked about that. They told me they had never experienced a presentation the way I do mine, thus the quizzical looks. They had sold five other homes during their marriage and were not pleased with any of the agents they had previously done business with, they later told me, and each time had moved on to a different one.

      I will share with you that Mr. Seller said privately to me that once homeowners in the area figure out how I work, my career will be cemented here. I hope he is right.

      One of the paramount differences I think, is that, subject to all the talking I do, lol, I REALLY DO LISTEN, comprehend, and adjust my thinking based on their wants and needs. But agents cannot do that if they have not taken the time to listen, really listen and digest the information.

      There's far too much rushing around in this business, in my opinion. It takes me two hours to do my presentation. Like others, the sellers paid extra over and above typical going rates. And they won out – BIG TIME! They got 40k more than other agents quoted as a possible sale price, in a dead market and actually got 60k above what a pair of colleagues who then had current listings in the area thought the sale price should be. YA THINK THEY'RE HAPPY?

      Another client says, at "Carolyne's Clients Speak," – "you are expensive but you are worth it." I like to hear those words, and on down days I read those words again. http://www.carolyne.com/awards.html#speaks

      Carolyne L http://www.Carolyne.com
      Serving Burlington and Brampton ON

    • BTW – historically I carried from 17-23 listings in rotation at all times, sometimes taking as many as 14 in a month. Working alone with a part-time secretary for filing and general paperwork. She worked from my home office, because as the top producer when I worked for a terrific national brand corp. – she was not permitted in the office, not past the front desk. Allegedly for insurance reasons. Likewise, having a locked private file cabinet in the office was forbidden by the branch manager, saying it was asking for things to be rifled and subsequently stolen.

      No one will convince me it was not jealousy-related. The branch manager was over the top jealous (and started re-routing my calls and referrals that I had worked hard to generate on my own time, to his personal office telling me I had too much business to handle and it needed to be redistributed among the other salespeople in the office), as were several colleagues who were his personal friends.

      Eventually I rarely went to the office. Took myself off the duty roster, did my own thing – then, although I loved the company to pieces and the folks at head office were more than wonderful – and I never thought I would ever leave – I was a corp. animal – I decided to head out on my own.

      I maintained my 24% area market share for many years, and double ended as much as 60% of the listings regularly – doing business the old-fashioned way, until the next market downturn and a personal crisis simultaneously erupted. My methods of doing business kept me going in the bad times. But I am going to give some serious thought to Terry's suggestion re powerpoint.

  7. Dave,
    Yes I do have some good looking people but the best part is they are better at real estate then they look…which is REALLY good :)
    I will pass along your compliments. I wish you tons of success!
    Terry

  8. Hi Terry. I agree with most of what you say. I teach course called " how to undress for success ". It's all about breaking down the natural wall that most prospects put up. The first thing I show them is my notebook that I always bring with me so clients know I'm listening to them.
    BTW, I looked up your office and I must say, that's a VERY attractive group of agents you have there! Dave

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