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Op/Ed

Why offering perks to other agents is like throwing in the towel – we can do better

Offering perks to other agents to get them in the door fails to appeal to the basic fundamentals of how real estate sales works, and as an industry, we can do better. Here’s how.

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agent perks

As I sat at the local marketing session sponsored by my Realtor® association a few weeks ago, I listened as those agents who were holding their properties open pitched their listings in hopes that the agents would stop by and preview the homes. Some agents offered perks such as a free lunch—one was even offering a lobster rolls flown in from Boston. Another was offering entry into a raffle for a department store gift card. At a third home, the seller was offering a large cash bonus to the buyer’s agent, and the fourth home was offering the buyer a one-year lease on a car if the home closed prior to the end of the month.

Instead of focusing on the session itself, after hearing these offers my mind began to wander. Is that what it takes to get people in the door these days? Do we actually need to bribe or entice people to get them to do what we want?

“Start With Why”

In his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek asserts that when you start with why (instead of what or how) your message will have a significantly greater impact. He gives examples of huge companies (such as TiVo, for example) that have had excellent products but who have grossly missed the mark by not leading with why. Put simply, he points out that most people who use the word “tivo” to describe the fact that they are recording a movie (saying I tivoed it) don’t even own a TiVo machine, but instead have a digital video recorder from their local cable company.

Sinek also suggests that if the “why” is strong enough, you don’t need to discount your products. Your followers, consumers, or clients will come back and use your product of service again and again. If your “why” connects with your clients or customers, they will become your biggest referral source. In fact, Sinek points out, that some of your biggest fans will go out of their way and ignore any inconvenience if they really like your “why.”

On the other hand, when you offer a discounted price (a cash bonus or even a one year lease on a car), you are not addressing your biggest group of followers. Instead, you are groveling to find someone (anyone) to buy your product or use your service. You have, in essence, thrown in the towel. You’re actions imply that you have no “why” and so you have resorted to attracting anyone by throwing metaphorical spaghetti to the wall.

How Sinek’s Principles Apply to the Real Estate Industry

The implications of Sinek’s principles to the real estate industry are interesting. Every seller is looking for top dollar on his or her home. Every buyer is looking to get the best deal that they can. So, how can you overcome this challenge in order to get homes sold and deals closed and still embrace the “why”?

The answer is in the marketing. According to Sinek, people generally have difficulties in articulating feelings. For example, some people cannot explain why they love something; they just do. However, feelings are most often part of “why.” For many people, you buy a home because of how it makes you feel—how you think you are going to feel hanging out with the family in the yard on hot summer nights or how much fun those pool parties will be for the kids. Sure, it’s in the right school district or near the right supermarket, but how does it make you feel? If listing agents would spend less time on listing the benefits and features and more time on leading with what buyers will feel when they live in this home, the conversion will be easy.

Two ways to achieve this goal are through photography and copywriting.

    1. Photography. Hire a professional photographer to showcase the home and put together professional advertising that demonstrates how prospective buyers will feel when they are by the pool, at the barbecue pit, or relaxing in the family room. When you lead with why, you won’t need to give away the farm.

 

  1. Copywriting. If you are not a strong writer, hire a copywriter to generate your marketing copy. Think outside the box and challenge yourself or your copywriter to avoid the same old advertising text. How can your marketing materials inspire individuals to feel something different about your property listing or even about you as a real estate professional?

It may be a struggle to come up with an answer to these questions and to rethink the traditional things that you do in order to drive people to your listings. Realize, however, that as you continue to discount your services more and more, you attract a very different type of client or customer. If you want to create a lifelong pipeline filled with people who will refer you over and over again, you need to quite offering a coupon or a discount and instead you need to start with “why.”

Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.

Op/Ed

6 questions to determine if you are exhausted and feeling burnout

(EDITORIAL) Six questions can determine your feelings of workplace stress and burnout, and knowing is the first step to curing the problem.

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man laying head on computer representing burnout at work

Everyone feels the stress of the job. Even if you are one of the lucky few who holds what they deem their “dream job,” there are days where not everything is picture-perfect. With the technologically based world we live in, it’s hard to deal with being constantly attainable. After we are through putting in our hours at the office, work continues to follow us home with every email that pops up in our inbox. The stress of not allowing yourself a significant work-life balance can lead to work burnout.

Burnout causes and effects

Studies in organizational communication have examined the causes and effects of workplace burnout. The causes are divided in dimensions of emotional exhaustion, lack of personal accomplishment, and depersonalization.

With emotional exhaustion, a worker may feel fatigued, frustrated, and fed up with their work. Lack of personal accomplishment leads to feelings of failure or incapability.

Finally, depersonalization causes a worker to feel like a cog in a machine, rather than a valued employee. As a result, they may begin to dislike coworkers.

The effects of workplace burnout come in the form of physiological, attitudinal, and organizational. Physiological effects may see spikes in blood pressure and heart disease.

Attitudinal effects see reduced job satisfaction and lower commitment to the organization. And, if burnout is continuously felt with a particular job, the organizational effect could be a high turnover rate.

Ask yourself these six questions

Dr. Steve Albrecht posed six questions one must ask themselves to examine their level of workplace burnout. He suggested that the questions will determine whether one’s workplace burnout is low, medium, or high.

1. What do I like about my job?
What aspects of the job help get you out of bed in the morning? Do you feel like you are doing something you’re good at? Do you feel valued? These feelings, along with tangible aspects, such as salary and benefits, are important for anyone in any job to consider.

2. What do I hate about my job?
Consider the hours, pay, people, responsibilities, etc. Are these items helping or harming you in the workplace?

3. What do my coworkers do that makes my job easier?
Colleagues can make or break a job. Many people often find themselves in workplace cohorts, as work is their main source of socialization. Are these people beneficial in that manner, in addition to being helpful with practical application?

4. What do my coworkers do that makes my job harder?
If you’re on the outskirts of the aforementioned cohorts, that can make the workplace less enjoyable. Are the people you’re working alongside unprofessional? Do they neglect to help with tasks?

5. What does my boss do that makes my job easier?
More so than coworkers, bosses have the ability to make or break the humanistic vibe of a job. If you have a firm, but caring boss, that can make all the difference. If your boss is someone you can go to with concerns, you may be less likely to feel stress in the workplace.

6. What does my boss do that makes my job harder?
Flip everything that was said in #5. If your boss is a nightmare, that is incredibly likely to lead to feeling unappreciated and ultimately stressed out with work.

Every job is situational, but it is important to be aware of the toll that workplace burnout can take on you. Life is too short to settle. I understand that it’s easier said than done, but if you are not happy with where you’re at in your career, never stop looking for other opportunities.

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Op/Ed

5 must-do’s if you want to come across as a great communicator

(EDITORIAL) When you communicate in business, you have to change your talking style to give infor without losing engagement. Here’s how.

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Being confident during a work presentation, using tips to communicate efficiently.

Mark Zuckerberg once said, “The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook (now known as Meta), is just helping people connect and communicate more efficiently.” One of my biggest pet peeves on social media is the post that goes on and on and on. I’d like to think that I communicate fairly well, but I do tend to verge into over-communication every so often. I’m not an expert, but I have learned – and continue to learn – a few things about talking and writing to other people.

1. Know Your Audience

At a board meeting of a local non-profit, I was explaining a repair project that we had to vote on. When I got finished talking about the quotes and the insurance claim and said that we will probably come out even, the acting president looked at me and said, “why didn’t you just tell us this to start out with?” I realized I had wasted about 10 minutes because I didn’t know the audience. Definitely a case of overcommunication. All he wanted was the bottom line, but I thought the board needed to know every detail. Chalk that one up to a lesson learned. When your listener’s eyes start to glaze over, you’re probably talking too much.

2. Be Intentional – AKA Don’t Go Down Rabbit Trails

When I’m with my friends, I love just letting the conversation take us down whatever path. In business, I want brevity. I’m kind of a TL;DR person. Even though I want to make sure that people have enough information, I just want the bottom line. When you’re communicating with a co-worker or boss, don’t let your message get hijacked by taking a fork in the road. You’ll lose your audience.

3. Avoid the Obvious

I hate it when people regurgitate information or tell me what I already know. Call it mansplaining or just being thorough, but it’s annoying on the listener’s side. Give information that serves your audience, not your ego.

4. Don’t Assume

I could write a dissertation on assumptions. We all know the saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me…” When you’re communicating, find a balance between stating the obvious and assuming your listener knows what you’re talking about. The simple question, “do you need more information” can be a place where you can find out what your listener needs. But I’ve also learned to avoid assuming someone’s emotions or attitude about what you’re saying. Read their face, but know that confusion and daydreaming can look similar.

5. Good Communication Improves Productivity

When you’re an effective communicator, it directly impacts your effectiveness in the workplace. You get more done because you’re not going back and forth answering and re-answering questions and providing information. There are times when you do need to provide lengthy emails or have detailed meetings. Knowing the difference keeps you from being boring and long-winded. Take a few seconds (or even minutes) before sending that message or talking to a colleague about a project. You’ll be a better communicator.

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Op/Ed

What life-lessons college taught me both in and out of the classroom

(EDITORIAL) College teaches you some things that you will (and won’t) find in a textbook but it sure comes at a hefty price.

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People meeting with laptops in a college classroom

I walk the fence when it comes to a college education. It works for some and maybe not so much for others. It’s the whole “well-rounded” education thing that bothers me: First there’s 12 years in elementary and high school learning things that, even if you never use the information, it’s important to know. I get that.

After a lifetime of education

But when you go into college why repeat the process all over again? Why not focus on a career track? Learn and do! Get into the trenches! Where the heck are/were the survival skills you need to make it in the real world? Instead you get two more years of general education requirements! Really? And that’s going to make me a better “xx?”

I chanced upon a great editorial that touches on these same questions. And it got me to thinking: A college degree makes for a perfect world and on paper it looks good. Everyone with a framed BA or two would rule the world and help consumer trust levels, but I don’t believe it would actually make for better X’s (fill in the space with the career of your choice).

The big picture

I had a moral sense of needing to graduate so my folks, bless ‘em, would have the satisfaction of seeing their kid accomplish something they never did, but in the bigger scheme of things what was the purpose of Astronomy 101? Geology? I wanted to learn how to make movies and write scripts and I couldn’t even take a class on Film Theory until my junior year? NASA we have a problem.

Lesson Number One: What I learned fast is that college is a business. If the business can make more money in four or five years instead of one or two, of course you want to drag it out and milk it for all it’s worth. What’s the rush on graduating? Relax! Kick your feet up! That was a problem back then and I still see it as a problem now.

Fear: An incredible motivator

Instead of feeling like I was in the comfort zone of the universit,y I felt like the clock was ticking. Those first two years taught me that I needed to get out of that environment. THAT much I learned! I didn’t know what was waiting for me on the outside but some internal clock kicked in and I went from 12 hours a semester to 20 or whatever the maximum was that you could take with the Dean’s permission.

Lesson Number Two: The unknown is scary. It keeps you up at night. Ties your stomach in a knot. It almost makes you do things you might not ordinarily do. I graduated in three and half years and not four or five like many of my friends because I was scared shitless. Without even realizing it, by wanting so badly to get out of school, I was learning things that would serve me well in life: Goal setting, time management and speaking before a group.

I made a short list: a) See the world. b) Get paid to write about what I saw. c) Don’t look back. I graduated on a Friday and walked into a recruiter’s office on a Monday. I should have done that a few years earlier, but it didn’t matter. Within six months I was in Europe.

The ensuing 20+ years serving all over the world is a story for another time. I wish I would have started that odyssey a few years earlier.

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