Keith Barrot

Handling a Changing Market – Problems Are Normal

Recently I was talking to a good friend, a successful real estate agent, who had just come back from a holiday in Fiji. While away enjoying a well earned break a sales colleague sent a message hoping she was having a good holiday and suggested don’t bother coming back, the market had died. It amazes me that anyone in sales would first send such a message and secondly it proves that there are salespeople who have this outlook and are happy to gleefully share it with others.

When any salesperson hears this type of comment their attitude dictates their mindset and there are two ways to feel, it depends if they are a person who reacts (negative) or responds (positive). If you react the news will come as a threat and immediately put you in a position thinking of all the negative outcomes that will affect you, your income and your sales. You will concentrate your thinking to survival mode and take your eye of the ball and cloud your judgement with all the things that can go wrong. “Henny Penny the skies falling in!” 

The positive response to the comment, “The market has died” is to say “what again?” You see we are in an economy that by its very nature will go through cycles and what one day seems to be all good, onward and upward, can the next be in decline. The informed professional salesperson understands these dynamics and has allowed for them in their plans so they are expected. Their prospecting and systems are in place and this approach will provide for them the confidence to be prepared for the events that will always be happening outside their control. In saying, what again, is to understand the events have happened in the past and nothing is new, there is no point for waiting for things to get back to normal, there is no normal? 

You have to expect that the economy and the world in which we live is always changing and it is how you handle this environment will be the measure of your success. There is no point in having the attitude that things will get back to normal and that you will return to your “comfort zone” for the rest of your working life in sales. If you are waiting for things to get back to normal your wait will be in vain, you can’t live in a bubble insulated from world events. If in your market and the economy in general you have not kept up to date with what is happening you will not be in position to understand the causes and effects of why things are the way they are, knowledge is everything. 

Just think for a moment about your competitors and how are they taking the changing market, are they responding or reacting. Based on the eighty twenty rule you could expect that eighty percent of them are in survival mode and have taken their eyes of the ball. In this type of economic environment opportunities will arise, the positive salesperson with an attitude that problems are normal will present themselves as the sales professional and win the business. They know that negativity is contagious and make the conscious decision to separate themselves from the pity parties and all those that seem to enjoy the spreading of bad or negative news. 

The survival of any sales team or endeavour will only be successful if it can achieve this goal of separation and take away all the, sky falling in, negative opinions and views that seem to get more attention than they deserve. 

In researching my book I learned that the Chinese character for change is the same as opportunity. Therefore Change = Opportunity should be in your mind at all times. 

The strength of your career in selling will come from your planned investment of time and money in developing your attitude, knowledge, programs, systems and methods to protect you from any adverse events that will and are going to happen, problems are normal. Be prepared for change it has a habit of happening without warning. 

It is through adapting and coping with change that we evolve, grow and achieve the feeling of accomplishment. 

The sky is NOT falling in! 

For more on Attitude follow the link to read the extract on chapter four in my book “4 Qualities of the Successful Sales Professional”. 

 http://sales-selling.com/the-book/book-extracts

Keith Barrot

Effective Prospecting

How do you operate where you do?  (Fourth and final in a series).

As mentioned in my first article on effective prospecting the goal of continuing success and income in real estate will only come from a well planned approach to your marketing. Remember, how effective you carry out your prospecting will be in direct proportion to your prosperity and your long term viability in selling real estate.

Once you have decided on the important aspects of prospecting e.g. where you are going to operate and why you will target a particular area, the next step is to plan how you will obtain the business.

Marketing by real estate agents over the years has been consistent in its style and type and although it seems bland at times all marketing can be effective. The major goal for your prospecting is to be contacted by anyone in your market area who is thinking of selling or seeking real estate information. Quite often agents operate with the blinkers on and seem only interested in prospects that are looking to sell immediately and fail to recognise that all contacts made can one day become clients. All contacts are good contacts if handled and recorded properly.

This can only be achieved if your prospecting is one that builds relationships with all the property owners in your area. You should make sure that every one you come into contact with is entered into a database. Today agents should understand and use a database as it will make the job of contact and follow up so much more effective. It is essential however your database does not just become a mailing list, there is a big difference. Through a database all past appraisals, anniversaries, market updates, and call schedules for example can be programmed so no one is forgotten. You spend a lot of time getting leads and contacts to just let them pass by if they don’t want to sell at the time of contact is a waste of your time and effort. A database will not in itself guarantee success; other forms of activity will be required to maintain your presence in the area to ensure you are top of mind when owners decide to call an agent.

Naturally one consideration that needs to be made is how much you should spend on your marketing. Whatever you decide make sure it is programmed for at least twelve months in advance and is done regularly regardless of market conditions. One can always tell when the market is slow as flyers and the like will appear in the letterbox and our inbox from agents you have never heard of or only from them when the market goes quiet. As I mentioned promotions vary in style and quality so it is important that you develop your brand and stick to it. Only by being consistent in your contacts with prospects will you be remembered.

The monitoring of your marketing efforts will ensure that what you are doing is effective. The question should always be asked of the contact to where they heard about you, and this needs to be recorded. From this information a pattern will develop to help you assess the effectiveness or otherwise of your investment. You need to see yourself as a business and future planning has to be based on all the information you can gather. In your day to day operation as an agent you need to ensure the funds you invest in your promotion are delivering the returns you want.

Being on the look out for new ideas and ways of marketing is a good way to develop your brand and if done effectively will differentiate you from your competition. Social media and other forms of technology available today (and in the future) can also improve your marketing effort. They should also be considered as a means of your promotion and communicating with clients and prospects.

It is important to make the time available in developing your prospecting plans and if required seek outside assistance, ask others, attend seminars, buy a book or CD on marketing. Ideas are every where both inside and outside the real estate industry if you take the time to look. Effective, planned prospecting is not difficult, what is difficult is taking the steps to apply the time and recources to develop your brand and the commitment to looking at your future in the long term.

Keith Barrot

Selling – Shoe Leather, Technology & Warren Buffett

Even the best salesperson today will not be able to maintain their performance without using the technological tools available to communicate with clients, customers and prospects. More and more today salespeople are relying on text messaging, email and social media for example as the quick and easy way to sell.

These forms of technology, and others to come in the future, are a fantastic tool for the sales effort however they need to be seen in that context, as a tool for your business and not a replacement for sound knowledge of selling skills.

Salespeople don’t have to be an expert in computer science to make the most of these tools available, but they do require to have an understanding of what can be achieved with technology and how it can be applied to improve their sales. It needs to be realised that selling is a very people concentrated profession and as such the need to have developed sound selling and people skills is vital for success.

Those in sales should not become disillusioned if they find that sales don’t happen, despite all the technical systems used, and understand there is no substitute for the shoe leather (old school) approach to selling, meeting prospects and applying well established sales skills.

The mention of (old school) selling reminds me of a time not to long ago when the world was possessed with the terms “Old Economy” and “New Economy”. When the tech revolution was at its height the worlds most famous and successful investor Warren Buffett was ridiculed by those on Wall Street and many others for his refusal to invest in the “New Economy”.

History proved him correct, the bubble burst and all those, with a few exceptions, who followed the crowd filed for bankruptcy or went broke. Warren Buffett continued with his (old school) investment strategy that had proved itself since the 1950’s and which he still uses today with exceptional success for himself and his shareholders.

In all business the markets we operate in will differ and it will be the astute salesperson that recognises what tools are available and the best to use for their selling success. Understanding the well established selling processes, effective listening, personal presentation and good point of sale material are some of the skills essential to succeed in sales.

“Technology will get you TO the door; salesmanship will get you IN the door and the business.”

Keith Barrot

Effective Prospecting

Why do you operate where you do?  (Third in a series)

This is an interesting question and the answer will always give an indication if the salesperson responding is operating like a business, that is, with an eye on profit.

Do they have a vision, goals and a prospecting plan how to get there or are they just treading water, treating every day as it comes using the luck and hope theory for one of the most important aspects of their business life.

Too many salespeople today are unfortunately not getting the full enjoyment from a profession that can deliver so much due to the fact they are frustrated with the hours worked, costs involved and the feeling of being a POW (prisoner of work).

By taking the time to understand what is involved in prospecting a business area, with the goal of sales today and in the future, they will soon dispel negative feelings and build an attitude of confidence through taking control.

To answer the question of why you operate where you do needs to be seen in commercial terms as it is only from this stand point will you assess the financial viability of your reward for effort.

Where ever you operate or the model you work under the market you are in needs to have the potential to deliver an income you are satisfied with and meet your sales and income goals.

Do the annual sales of the area and the price of the properties deliver enough dollar value to give the opportunity, through effective prospecting, of increased market share and a growing income?

Are you prepared to give up those areas that after careful analysis don’t offer the return you need to justify the time, effort and cost of maintaining a presence?

Interest-Rates-1

In the area you operate can you build the relationships needed through the effective prospecting that is required for long term repeat business and future re-sales in five, ten, fifteen or twenty years?

Will the expense of marketing in your area be cost effective, fit your budget and deliver the results you desire?

What level of market share in your area do you need to generate the income required based on the average sale price and the level of commission you can charge in that price range?

The common mistake made is to focus purely on turnover and gross sales, but it is the costs of obtaining the business in the end that will determine if the profit margin is at or above the industry standard.

Activity for activities sake results in a feeling over time that is similar to the mouse on the running wheel, after great effort, the long hours, time away from family and the expense the result at the end seems to be just not worth it.

This will result with the salesperson, who, was once satisfied with all the activity and gross sales looking back and seeing that the money in the bank is less than expected, overheads have diluted the profits.

It can be seen time and again where an agent will dominate an area by being extremely active, but after a time they disappear, they failed to do the basics of prospecting and building their business for the future.

Burnout in selling is real and many good salespeople leave the industry but with some careful thought and planning in where and how they operated they could have stayed the course and reaped the rewards.

When answering the question “Why do you operate where you do” your response has to be one that can spell out a clear plan based on sound market analysis and show a satisfactory financial return from your prospecting activity.

“Your future is in you hands, prospecting is the lifeblood of the salesperson”.

Keith Barrot

Effective Prospecting – Where do you Operate? (Second in a series)

Quite often agents spend their days looking for business in a manner that has evolved over time from their first days in the industry. While they have been concentrating on the day to day need to generate listings and sales little thought has gone into where they are operating. By failing to appreciate that for a long term career they need to look at this important aspect of their business.

There are many different business models in selling real estate and in any office these will be on show and it can be seen which one is the most effective. For example is it the agent who concentrates on an area, the one who goes anywhere, the specialist who only sells one style of property or a certain price range?

The most important factor in deciding where you operate is, will it give you the income you want and have the potential for growth. Without these two essentials all your time and effort will be wasted and the usual result will be the all too common approach to start chasing business where ever you can and spreading yourself too thin. This approach is ineffective for the longer term will cost more to service both in time and travelling from one area to another and more importantly become frustrating and drain your enthusiasm.

Effective-Prospecting

In deciding where you operate to a large extent will depend on which model you chose and what will suite your long term goals. You may decide to concentrate on the suburb where you live and have local knowledge, friends, contacts, and are well known in you community. You may find that from your data base, contacts, club memberships etc you know people over a wider area and this model will be more effective. Many agents are successful because they have particular knowledge or contacts in the building, development or subdivisions and develop their business in that area.

No matter where you decide to operate it needs to be understood that it must deliver the income you want and have good potential for future growth. Your prospecting will only be effective if it is consistent, promotes your brand, builds relationships and is targeted to the area you want to conduct your business.

Prospecting for business in the different models mentioned will require varied levels of investment e.g. a single banner press advertisement will be less expensive in your suburb compared to several publications if you are covering a larger area. This extra cost needs to be measured against sales results. The balance of reward for effort has to always be considered and what ever model of operating you choose a well thought out marketing plan, costed and programmed for at least twelve months ahead will put you on the path to success.

The reliance of the next sale coming from anywhere will only perpetuate the frustration in your work and the uncertainty of income we all want to avoid. Once you have decided where you want to operate, based on sound consideration of the potential, you can develop your business. Your prospecting will be more effective as it will not be the shot gun approach we see so many agents using today and will set you apart from the competition.

“Choice not chance determines destiny”.

If you have any questions regarding effective prospecting please feel welcome to post your question below or alternatively I can be contacted at www.sales-selling.com