People believed leisure suits, contrast stiching and elephant collars made you look cool and tee-refic.
Men and some women believed women shouldn’t vote.
Black, brown and other colors were unequal.
If you were pregnant, it was OK to smoke and drink. It was also forgivable to drink and drive, as long as you made it home without hitting anyone.
In sales, sincere questions were answered with a manipulative question — “How much is it?, “How much did you want spend?”
The world was once flat, Kings and Kings ruled, and if you were sick, they’d drain your blood to cure you. Etc.
The list of things once believed, but now disproved and seemingly stupid, grows and grows, and there’s no end in sight. Even today’s new truths will be disproved shortly. I think this is true because technological advances are accelerating both the discovery and sharing of new experience, knowledge, and understanding. You can learn just about anything if you Google it. And now, with a few keystrokes, you can ask all your friends and certifiable experts, questions on just about anything – and they’ll answer. New ideas travel at the speed-of-light now, and it doesn’t matter if we like it or not, or we believe it or not. It just happens anyway.
I’m not just talking about big world-wide ah ha’s, although there are plenty of those. I’m talking about our individual and personal beliefs and expectations; how we treat others and how we want to be treated, how we sell to others and how we prefer to be sold, how we want to be understood and how we strive to understand others, how we prefer to communicate, how we solve, how we share, and other personal preferences. I’m also talking about how we use new knowledge, experience, and understanding to succeed in a chaotic, ever changing society.
We’re living and working in a trust starved, don’t sell me and don’t BS society. How and where we communicate, connect, prospect, persuade and sell is radically different. If we approach our business with attitudes and actions based on yesteryear’s fashions and bygone cultural preferences, we’re doomed. There’s a reason men don’t wear leisure suits anymore. Same thing applies to outdated business practices.
Here are four examples of what I’m talking about.
One Way Broadcast Blast ~vs~ One-On-One and Crowd Conversation
One Way Broadcast Blasting used to be the only way to go, go, go. When we had some bragging to do, or an announcement to make, a proclamation to proclaim, we blasted it out; direct mail, fliers, magazine ads, newspaper ads, bill boards, discount offers, banner ads, etc.
Back then, we had to do these things — a monologue was the best alternative because in-person conversation was time and distance constrained — if we wanted to talk to someone we had to see them in person, or catch them on phone. Because everyone is busy, this in-person contact and conversation was rare and difficult to coordinate. So we did the only logical thing, we one way broadcast blasted like banshees. If we didn’t, nobody knew who we were, or how great we were. Who ever bragged the best and the loudest usually won, because people believed that if you were famous, you must be better. Back in the day, we used to believe what people told us, and we had no way to verify things or find out for ourselves.
One Way Broadcast Blast doesn’t work so well anymore. Technologies and societal opinions, knowledge and expectations have changed. We’ve all become desensitized to marketing broadcast, we’re naturally skeptical and we tune out the self-serving, irrelevant and boringly expected. Plus today, we can use the internet to check people and things out for ourselves.
Here’s the unhealthy danger, if we cling to the old belief that we can One Way Broadcast Blast our way to success, we’re mistaken. Sure, smart broadcasting worked like magic back in the day, and it’s still important, but it’s not THE most important thing anymore. Now broadcasting is a piece of the success puzzle, not the entire puzzle. Equally important, today, if we broadcast unwisely, it’s like punching yourself in the neck. Not good.
One On One and Crowd Conversation is what’s attractive today. Conversation is attractive because today, we-the-people want to be heard. Everyone wants to express themselves and be understood. We don’t want people to tell and bullshit us, we want people to show us, and prove it. We don’t care how awesome someone thinks they are, we care that others care about others. Being heard, and understood, and trusted can’t happen with a monologue, it only really happens when there’s a conversation. Another way to put it, trust happens when conversation happens – not when one person does all the talking.
Today, technology and social media allows us to focus on One-On-One Conversation. Social media networks like Facebook allow us to wisely broadcast and converse One-On-One, it also allows us to exponentially expand our conversations to include all of our connections and the friends of our friends (small and large crowds.). This ability to be heard and observed by everyone is changing everything, in most every business. It’s a destiny accelerator. Do it right, succeed faster. Do it wrong, or nothing at all, you fail faster. It can’t be stopped. What will you do about it?
Today, time and distance constraints are vaporized by the new network of always on, social media platforms. Even though real time or in person conversations don’t take place as often as we’d like, because of our built in mirror neurons, we experience online/virtual world conversation and interaction as real, relevant and personal, even though it’s not happening in real time and in person. When we can’t engage in person, online is the next best thing. Certainly better than a paper post card or a print ad. Right?
What I’m doing, and recommending to you is this. Take a look at the time, money and energy you’re investing in Broadcast Blast type activities and compare them to the importance you’re placing on learning how to use new technology and social media tools to help you build trust, further enhance your reputation, and untimely attract more opportunities to list and sell real estate. If you have more conversations, instead of chasing opportunities, you can attract opportunities to you.
Chasing ~vs~ Attracting
Here’s what I’ve experienced. When most successful real estate agents sit down and seriously analyze the true source of their business, they discover that the true source of the majority of their listings and sales is directly attributable to some form of personal relationship; a repeat client, a neighbor, a friend, a tribe member, or a referral recommendation. I see this play out time and time again. This common fact is verified in studies as well. (If you haven’t done it yet, in preparation for 2011, sit quietly and analyze the true-true source of your business. Let me know what you discover.)
The screw-up that most agents suffer from is
squandering spending the majority of their resources on activities and actions that generate a minority of your income. Agents waste spend their money, time and energy chasing people who don’t know them, trust or respect them. All the while, ignoring the very people who do know them, trust them, and would happily share a referral, if given half a chance (conversation). I believe chasing strangers is ass-backwards.
What works today is creating attraction. In the old days, this was hard to do (time and distance constraints). Today it’s easy and getting easier and more common. Social media (Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, blogs, SlideShare, Reviews, etc.) allow us mostly-free opportunities to converse, share, collaborate, listen, learn and demonstrate trustworthy behavior, market knowledge and professional expertise. People trust and choose the familiar.
If you believe that you can explode your business by chasing strangers who don’t trust, know and respect you, and ignore the people who do know, trust and respect you, you’re doomed. To create trust and attract listing and selling opportunities, we’ll need to replace our old and empty beliefs, with live-wire ones.
It’s not about one way broadcasting, chasing and capturing strangers and leads anymore, it’s about conversation and trust, being attractive and chosen.
Capturing Leads and People ~vs~ Being Chosen
We use some interesting words to describe various business strategies. I think that’s mostly because sales and business vocabulary and strategy has historically been promoted by men as masculine and competitive in nature. I’m sure we’d call and view these business things by other names if women had more historical influence in this arena. Guess what, they do now and old beliefs about business as warfare and winners and losers are being stomped out and replaced. Even so, both men and women are betting their success on outdated and universally unappreciated business strategies.
For example, the concept of capturing leads and people is insulting to the capturee. Period. If you doubt it, ask a friend, or even yourself; how do you feel about being “captured” by a salesperson? Nobody wants to think of themselves as a captured and converted lead, or a souless number. This is earth, not Planet Of The Apes.
Today people want control, not to be controlled. People don’t want to be sold, or captured, or bamboozled, they prefer to choose what’s best for them. Because of this modern behavior, what works is a focus on becoming choosable. Instead of chasing, capturing and controlling people , everything we do should revolve around becoming and being viewed as trusted and memorable. When this happens we become identified and chosen as someone who may be able to solve or satisfy an unfed need or an unmet desire. There’s a big difference between working with people you’ve captured, and people who’ve chosen you.
The last thought I want to share is about a subtle difference that makes all the difference, the difference between Selling and Sharing and Solving.
Selling ~vs~ Sharing and Solving
Selling is what we do. It’s an honorable profession, when practiced honorably. Everything we own and services we use, we bought them. When we have fears, we buy protection and safety. When we have a need or a desire, we buy satisfaction and gratification. In most every case, somebody sold us what we wanted. Yet as a culture, we don’t like to be sold and we don’t trust sales people, especially if we know they’re trying to sell us something. When people don’t like how a sales person makes them feel, they disconnect and disappear. This of course is a big problem.
If we believe our job is to sell somebody something, we’ll meet resistance, struggle more, and ultimately fail. What works today is removing the focus away from what WE are trying to sell (ourselves and real estate), and put a laser focus on what’s important to THEM, and what THEY need, and desire. In the words of Hugh Macleod, we need to “Sell Less and Do More.” Which to me means, instead of focusing on selling, simply focus on share solutions that solve peoples problems (safety, satisfaction and gratification). Like I said, the difference between selling and sharing and solving is subtle, but it will make all the positive difference in your quest for success.
I know it sounds hokey, but in fact it’s a timeless universal sales law. What Zig Ziglar said way back when is more true now than ever, “You can get everything in life you want, if you’ll just help enough people get what they want.” This path isn’t easy, but it’s the only way.
I May Be Wrong, But I’m Not In Doubt
Our industry and the culture of our country is changing and evolving at a chaotic pace and we must evolve with it. Just like there came a time to moth ball the leisure suit , embrace equality, and replace manipulation with collaboration and cooperation, now is the time to sit quietly and think about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and decide what we’re doing that needs changing, reinvention and refocus. 2011 is just around the corner.
If you have anything to share, I’d love to hear what you think about these ideas and our future.
PS. I know this is suuupppeeerrr long, and blog posts are supposed to short. I was going to break it up into two or four pieces, but then I thought what the hell, might as well get it out there, maybe it will help someone. So here you go.