Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Becoming a "Super Agent" in Real Estate

As many as 75% of real estate agents get their license and list between one and zero homes per year. In addition, most real estate agents end up earning less than $28,000 per year, even though they spend thousands of hours trying to generate business. If this is the case, then why is it that the other 25% of real estate agents go on to make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and end up listing so many homes that they need to hire additional agents, just to manage the work load?

In this series, we will explore what these "super agents" do right, and how you can use their success as a guide to help you achieve their level of success. Now before we begin, I want to go over some very simple fundamentals of marketing. For many of you this will be rudimentary, but we always begin with a solid foundation and build from it. So to begin, anytime you are selling a product or service, you must identify the four P's. These are simply Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. To explain these concepts further, think of them in follow way:

Product: What are you selling? For you as a real estate agent, in most instances, you are selling yourself. You are selling guidance, advice, filing services, coordination services, marketing services, negotiation services, and many more intangible services. In almost all cases, you are the primary product. We will get into how to make that product unique in a moment, but for now know that in real estate transactions, YOU are the product.

Price: How much will the product cost? Most economists will use the term utility to describe the amount of intangible value that a client will put on a product. What is the price of your service? Is it competitive with your market and the services you offer?

Placement: How will clients find the product, and how will it be different from the competition? Where will they be able to learn about it? Will they read about it, hear about it from friends, see it on TV or hear it on radio? How will the product be placed so that the target market can find learn about it? As above, if you are the product, what will your placement be in order to receive maximum exposure? How will your offerings compare to your competition?

Promotion: What offerings and methods of communication will you use to get clients to buy your product? What specific services will you offer in order to garner the maximum value?

These are the fundamentals of marketing and should be included whenever you try to define exactly how you are going to make your real estate business successful.

Now moving on to how to make YOU the product unique and valuable to your target market, let's talk about a unique selling proposition. However, before we begin, I want you to lay out all of your current mailers, door hangers, flyers and promotional pieces in front of you. Now if you can, put yourself in the shoes of your prospective client. They have just received one of these pieces and know nothing else about you. In looking at the marketing piece, answer the question: What benefit does this agent provide me?

Now, in looking at the piece as the real estate agent, what benefit do you provide your target client that you can do better than any other agent in your area? Would this be seen as a major benefit by your target client? Would this be seen as a major benefit by as most of your target clients?

What we are trying to identify with this exercise is your unique selling proposition. The one selling advantage that will make a prospective client choose you over anybody else. This exercise is usually very difficult for most people and they initially come up with answers that are not unique or compelling. Many agent first responses with this exercise are to list their level of quality or service. Although these can be benefits, many other agents also list these and they are typically not unique or compelling. Instead of focusing on services that everybody offers, focus on specialization and unique knowledge to create your unique selling proposition. Below I have listed a three unique selling propositions and one ineffective selling proposition for you to review and to get an idea of what is needed. See if you can't spot the proposition that is neither unique nor effective.

o I guarantee that I can sell your home within 90 days.

o Providing great quality for the past six years.

o Comprehensive marketing services to make sure that you get top dollar for your home.

o The agent of choice for the Arrow Wood community; masters at providing you with a great buying experience.

To reiterate the points from above, identify the unique benefit that you can provide to your target clients. Make sure that the benefit is something that they will value that will answer the question, why should I list with you?

So now that you have identified your unique selling proposition, it is time to figure out exactly how you will communicate it to your target market. This is another area that separates the super agents from the rest. Many agents attempt to promote themselves to as many people as possible using one or two tools. This shotgun approach is typically very expensive, very inefficient, and results in very few sales.

Instead of trying to be all things to all people, take a look at your unique selling proposition and identify exactly what your ideal prospective client looks like. What do they ready, what do they watch; what do they listen to? How do they stay current on world events, what do they value? Identify as specifically as possible your ideal candidate so that you can understand exactly where to spend your marketing dollars to get the best response. Some groups will be more receptive to mail, others need to read about your offerings. Some respond to promotional giveaways, some need to meet you in person. Try to determine what will trigger the greatest response from your target audience and what specific variation or wording of your unique selling proposition will resonate most with them. In short, identify your target market, and target them as directly and specifically as possible. This type of specialization will result in significantly more listings sales and revenue than the traditional shotgun approach.

So far you should have identified how your product (YOU) fits in with the four P's of marketing; your unique selling proposition, and your target market. Now it is time to evaluate how best to teach that target market about your service offerings and how to convince that market they need to buy your product. This essentially results from periodicity of your communication, and the type and content of the pieces. The goal of this portion of the lesson is to teach you how to create a continual flow of qualified leads so that you will never need to cold call again. We are creating a prospecting engine that will continually feed you qualified clients so that you can spend your valuable time on projects that will actually make you money.

Let's begin first by commenting on periodicity, or the number of times you touch a client with your message. Before moving forward, answer the following questions:

Given 100 people in your neighborhood, how many want to sell their home right now?
Of these 100 people, how many do you think will want to sell their home within the next four years? How many in ten years?

Statistically speaking, four want to sell now; 20 will want to sell within the next four years and 80 within the next ten. Instead of spending thousands of dollars to find that four, why not spend the same amount and line up the first 20%, and remaining 80%, and simultaneously get the first four ready to use your services?

It sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? Well that is exactly what a prospecting engine like does. It leverages proven marketing tools to create a tangible relationship with your large prospective market. So how does a prospecting engine such as work? It provides a complete target marketing system to continually promote your unique selling proposition to your target clients. The system works on the following principles:

1) Periodicity: It is a know fact that people will recognize a branded product (YOU) after being exposed to that message five times. They will be inclined to act on that message after around seven exposures if the selling advantage is compelling. This market will be able to associate specific traits with a branded product after between fifteen and twenty exposures. Essentially this means that you will need a system to make sure that those four clients that are ready to list right now receive your message at least seven times, and those that have a four or ten year sales horizon see your message consistently enough that they will know you and your unique selling advantage. Promoting yourself in this manner will guarantee that you will be one of the first choices when you target market decides that they need a real estate agent.

2) A single message across many mediums: When you think about Nike shoes, what comes to mind? How about BMW automobiles? What about when you hear the word Rolex? For each product, a specific message comes to mind. The reason is simply that those companies have spent a great deal of time and money making sure that every marketing piece that is released to the public has a specific and consistent message. For Nike, it is Sports, Just Do It; for BMW the message is the ultimate driving machine. Rolex is synonymous with opulence, even though it is actually one of the less expensive high-end watches. How can we incorporate this observation to increase our own business? Simply include your unique selling proposition in every marketing piece that you send out. The message should be consistent in your listing descriptions, direct mail pieces, email newsletters, email updates, promotional tools and sales presentations.

With regard to the mediums that you should use, utilize communication tools that accurately target your specific market. 4MySales provided direct mail and email marketing tools as well as drip marketing and client management resources. Utilize these in a consistent manner to make sure that your target market receives a consistent message on a consistent basis.

3) Unique promotional tools: How many door hangers have you distributed? What about postcards? How many flyers have you printed up? The system provides these tools, but it also provides some unique promotional tools to help set you apart from your competition. What if instead of sending text and links in your email newsletters, you could also include an audio file so that prospective clients can hear your voice? Prospects are significantly more likely to respond to a marketing message if they hear it as well as read it, and provides a simple tool to take advantage of this fact. In addition tools to help you build relationships with prospective clients and manage the expectations of existing clients help to increase your close rate.

Using a system such as to automate the prospecting process allows you more time to focus on the primary revenue-generating aspects of your business. Use the system to automate your marketing endeavors to continually send your unique selling proposition to your target marketing using email, online tools, your website, your web blog, as well as through traditional direct mail, flyers and post cards.

As I indicated above, a prospecting engine is an automated system that continually feeds you with a stream of new clients. The system simply distributes your consistent unique selling proposition in as many different forms as possible to your target market so that those who are ready to act will do so, and those that are not yet ready will choose you first when they finally choose to take action. The system sends consistent messages often enough that prospective clients will recognize the value proposition and will associate that value proposition with you. Putting this type of system in place is the first step in moving you toward the ranks of the super agents that make millions of dollars per year.