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Don’t ever say NEVER…



I made my first cold call.

Seriously, after 14 years of being a Realtor I made my first cold call.  Last Thursday and Friday I took a Short Sale Certification class at my market center. In order to pass the class we had to call homeowners that were anywhere from 30-90 days late on their mortgage payments. (Yes we know DNC and the names are scrubbed)

Hands sweating

Making that call was a little nerve wracking, my palms were actually sweating. NO I didn’t want to do it.  It was what we in real estate lingo would say is a cold call. The people we were calling had no idea how we knew they are behind in their payments. Now I have made calls to consumers before but that is when they have initially made contact with me through my IDX search site.

Not my Cup of Tea

Picking up the phone and calling people is not everyone’s cup of tea and that includes me. The last thing I wanted to sound like was an annoying sales person. So mentally I had to prepare myself to not sound that way but to gather the right attitude.

As the 20 of us in the class went around the room, and called 20 separate homeowners we only had one person who was not appreciative when we offered to help them in their unfortunate situation. Interesting only one person said, “Yes, I need your help.”  ALL of them said we could send our business cards. Some volunteered names of folks or neighbors who they knew had lost their jobs. We did not ask this they volunteered the information.

Most people in a financial bind with their mortgages don’t have a clue what to do. In fact once they have lost their job or can’t make a mortgage payment most bury their head in the sand and the clock starts ticking on what we can do to help them out. As professionals we have several options to offer the homeowner.

Attitude Shift

It all started with my attitude changing from thinking about me to focusing on them. I had to take my eyes off myself and my own fears of picking up the phone in order to bring hope to those who are hurting.When you care, the concern will come through your voice and into their heart. The goal is to help them, not get the listing. The goal is to try and prevent the devastation of a foreclosure.

The phone is simply a means to reach out and touch them. No, I’m not advocating “cold calling” but I am trying to step out of my comfort zone and try to reach people who need help. If that means I am uncomfortable then so be it. It won’t be the first or last time I am uncomfortable in a situation.

Photo Credit Ines Hegedus-Garcia, Miamism

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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  1. Erion Shehaj

    January 26, 2009 at 2:41 pm


    If I were to tell you that MY palms started sweating as I was reading the story, would you believe that I could relate to this particular situation on a deep level? 🙂

    I’ve ready many books on overcoming this fear and they all preach the same “it’s a numbers game” shtick. But, your point on shifting the attitude and changing your focus on the person you’re trying to help is right on. Great post!

  2. Seth Siegler

    January 26, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Ohhh man,

    I used to do some cold calling and I remember how hard it was to start!

    Good point about putting the focus on THEM instead of YOU.

    I remember I had a coach who said, that I must have one hell of an ego to think that I can ruin someone’s entire day simply by calling them.

    You’re calling to help and that’s the key.

    One question though…

    Where do you find a list of people late on their payments?

  3. Ken Brand

    January 26, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Cold calling, door knocking, calling expireds, calling FSBO’s, asking a pretty girl to dance….it’s all dripping with possibilities for heart wrenching, ego crushing rejection.

    At least it is if you think and feel it is. As you’ve shared, focus off yourself and plunge it. Stretched repetition leads to grace and ease.

    In this particular case, these people really need help and guidance, you’re doing a positive thing…cheers to you.

  4. Missy Caulk

    January 26, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Seth, our broker also owns offices in CA. She found this group and we are working with them. They scrub lists by counties.

    A homeowner is 30-90 days late so there is still time to help them.

    The number is huge. Over 450 in the month of January.

  5. Missy Caulk

    January 26, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Erion, thanks I was nervous about posting on AG about this because I know it is not something most do or agree with. Heck as I said it was my first one and I’ve been a Realtor a long time.

  6. Missy Caulk

    January 26, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Ken, it is a stretch of who I am but anything we can do to help these folks with direction during these times in Mi, I am willing to put myself out there for.

  7. Bob

    January 26, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    These poor folks have been called, had people knock on their doors and a forest full of paper flyers dumped in their mailboxes.

  8. Austin Smith

    January 28, 2009 at 10:25 am

    As someone who makes their living from the cold call, I say congratulations to you, Missy. Cold calls may not be pleasant, but they are effective if your callers are effective. To conduct an effective cold call, one needs to not so much focus on the end result: a sale; instead try to identify what sort of problems or needs your client has (since everyone is an individual they all have individual needs), and when you begin to solve those problems a relationship will be formed that has the potential to lead into a sale.

    That’s not to say I wake up every morning, hardly able to contain my excitement until i press a phone to my ear. But I do what I have to do to pay rent, and I realize the value of a sincere cold call. It’s all in the approach. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Missy.

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Business Marketing

Hiring managers keep you on your toes – make them take the 1st step

(MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – or it could backfire.



hiring managers interview

According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6% of them – that’s less than 1/3. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.

Most notably, the survey found that over 63% of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2% saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.

Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resumes over and over until they got a response. One or two follow-up emails after your initial application aren’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.

While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by bringing them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.

Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.

It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9% of applicants who said they have risked an unusual strategy, 67.7% of those actually landed the job.

Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?

Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resumes, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.

In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.

It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?




Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.



Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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