communication

A Promise Made is a Promise Kept

I'm going to tell you an uncomfortable truth...we're all liars. 

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I know, it stings. Even when we pride ourselves on our honesty, we lie constantly. Maybe not to others, but certainly to ourselves. How many times have you promised yourself you would start on that project or that diet or that workout today, which turns into tomorrow, and eventually next week. It's not long before tomorrow turns into never either. And, that is scary if not downright terrifying. But this begs the question - why are we so comfortable breaking promises to ourselves when we couldn't imagine doing it to others. 

My a-ha moment was when I started keeping promises to myself. When I made my items in the day as non-negotiable as the deadlines set for my projects and clients, I began to see - when you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. But as for excuses? They're the byproduct of not wanting something bad enough. 

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You will continue to produce at the standard that you set for yourself. You just have to ask yourself, am I aiming low or raising the bar? I get it, these small every day promises that you break to yourself may not seem like a big deal. In fact, you probably think I'm blowing things way out of proportion, but the truth is, I'm not. Your actions will dictate your success and if you continue to break promises to yourself, it won't be long before you're breaking them to others. 

What I love about a relentless commitment to your promises is that it forces you to be intentional about the promises you make, the goals you set, and the commitments you agree to. You're forced to slow down long enough to not only think about the commitment but the ripple effects it may have. This process of slowing down and being intentional about your time and your commitments will have drastic impacts on your effectiveness and efficiency. Just watch. 

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Current & Past Clients Relationships

While online lead generation is all the rage, we all know that there is plenty of revenue to be earned from our relationships. We are, after all, a relationship business and our ability to leverage and grow our existing relationships. Here are 5 ways to make the most of these relationships:

Understand their holistic needs

This is all about offering a value-based strategy with your clients. When you understand the holistic needs of your clients, you go beyond just the symptoms of their problems and get to the root issue at hand. This allows you to demonstrate huge value in that you understand their needs better than any other agent and are best suited to deliver for them in an impactful way.

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Check in along the way.

Many agents make the mistake of simply plugging clients into a tried and true method of doing business. While this isn’t completely off-base, consumers change and so does the nature of our business. You have to establish yourself as constantly evolving and constantly responsive to your client’s needs by checking in with them as they navigate the process with you. Aim to please, but more importantly - aim to evolve by asking “how could I be better tomorrow?”

Retarget them on social media.

This is one of the most underutilized methods for staying in touch because retargeting is often misunderstood or not understood at all! By retargeting your consumers on Facebook or Instagram, you’re able to continue to grab their attention with information that is directly relevant to them. This is an extremely cost-effective way to mass market highly relevant content. If retargeting is not something you fully grasp, partner with someone who does so you can utilize it in your business.

Keep in touch.

Talk about missed opportunities! Keeping in touch is one of the lowest cost solutions to growing your business. Too often we think “I don’t know what to say” or “they don’t want to hear from me” and if all your talking about is real estate, you’re probably right. But think about how you feel when an old friend calls or sends and unexpected gift or note. It gives a sense of surprise and delight and that’s exactly what you want to deliver to your past clients.

Fully understand their journey with you.

You can’t expect to solve someone’s problems when you don’t understand their experience. Taking the time to fully understand what your prospects and clients are going through is essential to building out a truly memorable user experience. Focus on asking questions that will help reveal how you can enhance your processes and better connect with your clients then implementing solutions designed to address those problems.


3 Tips to Better Convert Online Leads

Online leads are all the rage in real estate these days and while we believe in this method of lead gen, we always advise clients to only invest in online leads if you have a process to convert these leads. The money of a lead is always in the conversion, so the focus should be on higher quality, not higher quantity.

Here are 3 tips to better convert these prospects:

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Be Quick to Communicate

With 98% of homebuyers starting their search online and another 54% of homebuyers finding their home online - we can no longer dispute the stats. The buyers are there but the biggest factor in converting online prospects is you speed to lead. How quickly you respond can not only drastically increase the likelihood of converting that lead, but it can demonstrate true value to the consumer about how much you value their business.

Bonus Tip: Ensure your leads route to a specific phone number and/or email address to up your responsiveness. Also try developing pre-written responses to reach out when you’re unavailable and buy you some time.

Be Smart About The Information You Provide

Consumers can access more information than ever online without ever contacting an agent. If you deliver everything on the first communication or worse, voicemail - you’re all but assuring that they have no reason to contact you back or discuss further. Answer questions, but remember to provide some reason for future communications.

Bonus Tip: Ask probing questions about what they might be interested and promise to deliver that. That will set the expectation that they will continue to be hearing from you.

Consistent, Valuable Communication

The key to online lead conversion is not all that different from converting any prospect. You must continue to communicate with them ultimately building a strong relationship through demonstrated value. This value is not a science. You must be willing to ask the right questions and deliver personalized content that matches their needs. It is not all about houses, but rather solving the problems they face.

I Believe In You

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Last week, a friend of mine posted about her son who started high school. His math teacher took the time to stop by with this little gift for her students. What astounded me about this post wasn't the effort it required, which was admittedly minimal. It wasn't even the cookies or the nicely tied ribbon and cardstock color coordinated with the school's colors. It was the four words: I believe in you. 

What tremendous power those four words carry. They help us overcome self-doubt, they help us feel part of something bigger, and perhaps most importantly - more often than not, they inspire action. 

There is an old saying "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." And, while I've always believed this saying, I think it is more than that. It isn't just about physical ability to put one foot in front of the other. In fact, our physical ability has very little to do with it. Our minds are the real control center of our actions. And that's where things can get messy. 

We've all had times in our lives that have caused us to doubt ourselves. Perhaps it is a failure at work, letting down a loved one, yelling at your kids after a stressful day and immediately regretting it, or even just not achieving what you set out to achieve. Sometimes our doubt is rooted in real impacting factors, while other times it is simply in our head. Whether you're a high school math teacher or a real estate agent, you have the power to help others achieve great things in their lives through those four little words. And if not through those exact words, through your actions. Show others you care with small, yet impactful actions. Go the extra mile to show your clients you care. Take the extra step to remind them that you're on their side. 

The world can be a lonely place. Do your part to never make it feel that way. And as for Mrs. Hollis, you're doing great. Thanks for leading by example. 

Effective Communication Starts With You

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No matter how many transactions you do, every real estate transaction is different. They each come with their own clients, cooperating agents, inspectors, lenders, appraisers, and most of all - complications. In real estate, but mostly in life - effective communication is essential.

So often when there is a lapse in communication, we are quick to blame the other party. Yet, when things go off the rails, we often must look inward to solve the problem. Others ability to understand us and further communication with us starts with us

Here are some easy-to-implement ways to improve your communication:

Set Expectations. We hear a lot about setting expectations - with our clients, on the other side, with other agents, etc. But this goes beyond setting expectations during the transaction and boils down to the need to set expectations at every turn. 

Have Empathetic Awareness. Empathy goes a long way to effectively communicating with others. It helps you understand what they're going through and how it is impacting their position so it offers insight into how what you communicate could be interpreted and even responded to. When you take the time to understand how the other half lives and perceives you can understand how to communicate effectively with them. 

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PRAA. This one is a tough one for me. Sometimes when we're driven by passion, it is difficult to pause long enough to really absorb what someone else is saying or consider an alternate perspective. This is a huge disservice to both ourselves and our communication. Instead of charging ahead, I use this acronym to help me communicate effectively. Whenever I hear something, I try to take the time to pause and truly listen to what the other side is saying, not just hear it. From there, I reflect on what was said, why it was said, what the tone was, and how I can respond. Next, I adjust my response accordingly. Not necessarily to abandon my perspective, but to deliver my thoughts in a manner that the other side will be most receptive to. And lastly, then I act. Saving actions for last isn't always easy, but it is certainly worth the time you'll save in ineffective communications. 

Whether or not you utilize these methods, investing in your communication skills isn't just a necessary component for a successful real estate career, but a successful life. Becoming an effective communicator you will see the benefits both in your career and your personal life. I guarantee it. If you're looking for one thing that can truly set you apart from the pack, this is it. 

Set the Standard

One of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur is that I am able to decide who I want to work with. My clients make up a hard-working, committed group of individuals and teams who believe in doing the work. It makes my work so much more rewarding and satisfying. What if I told you that you have the same luxury? You can choose who you work with, too. And more importantly, you can decide how you are treated in this business. 

In real estate, this is admittedly easier said than done. It is difficult to resist the urge to "jump" when the client/prospect says so, or to be responsive at all hours because our livelihood is constantly at stake. The question looms in our minds of..."if we set the boundary for ourselves, will another agent be able to swoop in and capture my clients?" It is certainly a risk and I wholeheartedly acknowledge that; however, I don't believe that it is as big of a risk as we have convinced ourselves. 

Our businesses and our lives are a product of the expectations that we have set for ourselves and for others. You are responsible for teaching people how you want to be treated and they are responsible for how they choose to interact with you as a result. If you find yourself with no downtime or feeling frazzled, you have likely let people control your boundaries instead of controlling them yourself. In a business where time is at a premium, you have to have the willpower to control how you allocate it. Just remember, every time you say "no" it opens the opportunity for a whole lot of "yes."

What Guides You?

They say that character is defined by what you do when no one is looking. And when it comes to great service - I believe the same rule follows. It is easy to go above and beyond when you know the client/prospect is looking or to roll out the red carpet for the pat on the back, but real service is defined by the things we do when no one is looking.  

In real estate, it is easy to get attached to the outcome of a deal and align our service with the outcome. But what happens when you align your service with your values is something so much more impressive. You live each moment in the actions because you wholeheartedly believe in them. When we are constantly looking for ways to enhance the experience, we often miss out on ways that we can maintain the experience as well.

Certainly, I am not a fan of the status quo. It pretty much goes against everything I stand for, but the status quo also represents an expectation of a smooth process. Often when we're trying to go above and beyond, we unintentionally disrupt that. This is what happens when we're solely focused on outcomes. We do things with a result in mind and if we don't achieve that result, the entire process is in vain. However, when we focus on the individual actions. When we live in the moments of the transaction, we're able to surprise, delight, and deliver in a way that surpasses the client's wildest expectations. The only question is - are you in it for the outcome or are you in it for the action?

More Than Words

Did you know that only 7% of communication is ever done through spoken words? Effective communication is about more than words - it is about body language, a tone of voice, and so much more. A deep understanding of communication is essential to any successful agent's business, so here are my top 5 tips to enhance your communication skills. 

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1. Be an active observer of your environment. Many of us are taught the skill of active listening but ignore the skill of active observation writing it off as an inherent skill. While it is true that some people are inherently better observers than others, like most skills, it can be learned and improved. Just as hearing is not the same thing as listening, looking is not the same thing as observing. In order to effectively observe, you must put in the effort and intention in your mind to understand what is before you. 

2. Observing in context matters. Sure, observation helps, but without context - actions can easily be misinterpreted. For example, during a job interview, it would make sense for someone to fidget nervously at the beginning of the interview and for it to go away as the conversation goes on. But if you notice that they begin to nervously fidget again during a certain line of questioning, you likely said something that triggered that action. 

3. Try to establish baseline behaviors and get to know personal cues.  While you want to ensure that you maintain a professional relationship with your clients, it is also important to spend time getting to know them and establishing a relationship and rapport with them. Body language can easily be misinterpreted if you aren't aware of someone's baseline. For example, I frequently put my hands on my chin when I am concentrating/thinking, which can be interpreted as disinterest; however, in my case, it is when I am most interested. Anyone that knows me well knows this mannerism about me and what it cues, but had they not taken the time to get to know this about me, they may misinterpret and communicate with me ineffectively. 

4. Be mindful of your own nonverbal cues. In addition to observing others, you must be aware and mindful of your own nonverbal cues. Over time, many of us develop habits and mannerisms that we don't even realize. Find someone (a co-worker, friend, assistant, etc.) to help you be aware and hold you accountable of potentially negative nonverbal cues so you can communicate more effectively. 

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5. See the triggers. Once you have established the baseline behaviors and understanding of nonverbal cues, it is important that you are noticing exactly when in conversations and/or the chain of events that the cues occur. What is triggering the action? That is what you must address. 

Effective communication is about far more than exchanging information. It is about understanding the emotions and the intentions, not just the words. Communication renders itself ineffective when it becomes about winning or losing as opposed to coming to an agreeable solution for all parties involved. In order to communicate effectively, you must be able to both clearly convey your message as well as actively listen to the other party. 

Why Can't All Year Be Like A Holiday Card?

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My favorite part of the holidays is the holiday cards that we receive in the mail. I scramble to the mailbox in the afternoon, ensuring I am who opens them. I "ooh and ahh" over how much kids have grown, how happy my loved ones look, and what has transpired over the past year.  At the holidays, mailboxes are overflowing with staged pictures of kids in adorable clothing that they probably argued about having to wear; holiday letters filled with the happenings of the wins and losses of the year; even the occasional sweet treat that a loving neighbor wanted to spoil you with. 

But, I'm left wondering - why do we only do this at the holidays? As a coach, I preach that consistency breeds results in all things - our relationships, our work, our skills. All of these are made better with consistent performance, but in practice, we struggle. I'm not saying that it is easy  to find the time throughout the year to consistently write handwritten notes, send emails, make phone calls, or simply stay in touch; but I also question - is it any easier to do so at the holidays? I would argue it is actually more difficult than in say, April. 

When I think about how holiday cards make me feel, I smile. I feel loved, valued, cared for, and important. And when we think about it, we don't not feel that way throughout the year - we just don't always take the time to acknowledge it. When we pause for a moment to be present in our own lives, reflect on our blessings, and show our gratitude - we are truly able to feel the impact the people we care for have on our lives and our businesses. Doesn't that warrant acknowledgement all year long?

It is the holidays, so I won't pick on you, but I will challenge you. As you wrap up 2017, think about how you can incorporate more consistent communication into your business and your life. How can you show people they matter to you beyond closing gifts and the annual picture of your family in matching outfits? Find more opportunities to say thank you, to show others they matter, and even to surprise someone with something unexpected. I promise you won't regret it. After all, magic is wherever you choose to create it. 

Opportunity Actually

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Ah yes...the holidays! A time for enjoying your loved ones, snuggling by the fire with your favorite holiday movies and building your business. Wait, what?!? Who can build their business during the holidays? The answer is you can. 

In one of my favorite holiday movies is Love Actually, Hugh Grant says "If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around." Well, the truth is, opportunity is all around during the holidays, you just have to look for it. 

The reason many professionals struggle and stress over the holidays is that they are consciously taking time away from their businesses and not replenishing their efforts in other areas. In real estate, the holidays afford us tons of opportunities to rekindle connections, deepen connections, and make new connections - but just as Grant mentions...you have to look for it.

Here are a few ideas I have for how you can breathe some life into your business for 2018 and make the most of the holiday season...

  1. Write a handwritten thank you to everyone who gave you a review in 2017. This may seem like a no-brainer, but during the holidays, we are often so pre-occupied with sending holiday cards that we forget the value of a handwritten note. The holidays are about gratitude, so what better way to give thanks than to actually reach out to folks who have helped your business. Also, since people are receiving so much mail, they are often more engaged than normal in their mail allowing your note to really stand out.

  2. Prepare a holiday pop-by gift for some of your past clients. A lot of agents are reluctant to use pop-bys as a way to generate business because they have such large databases and think they simply can't afford it. The great part about pop-bys is that you don't have to give them to everyone. Consider segmenting your database to folks that you know stay local over the holidays and who can really benefit from what you are giving them.

  3. Shake hands with 10 strangers this month. Simple, right? For whatever reason, most people are particularly jovial during the holidays. Take advantage of the good spirits and spread cheer. Offer to help a neighbor that you see putting up lights or with a package, pay it forward at the coffee shop, or simply say hello. (Editor's Note: due to the high instance of illness during the winter month's, we also recommend using hand sanitizer or washing your hands frequently. ;-) )

  4. Thank your service partners. Lenders, home inspectors, attorneys, and so on. These folks that you work so closely with all year long deserve thanks as well. Taking the time to write them a note, give them a call, or even get them a small token of your appreciation goes a long way in getting your deals to the closing table all year long.

  5. Set appointments for AFTER the holidays. This is a big mistake that a lot of agents miss during the holidays. While you take the time to prospect, you are discouraged when prospects push you off due to their time constraints over the holidays. Instead of pushing for an appointment now, go ahead and build your pipeline by setting a future appointment where you can kick off your 2018 with a bang!

Whether it is using these five tips or doubling down on your own strategies don't forget to take time for yourself and your loved ones this holiday season. 

Like these suggestions? We have so much more in our Holiday Hustle program! 

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