Thursday, August 27, 2009

It Pays To Be Skeptical

Nuggets For The Noggin
It Pays To Be Skeptical
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 1, 2009

“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” Unknown

Good question: Do your ads and marketing materials set you apart from all the others; are they eye-catching and unique? Better question: Are your ads and marketing materials believable? Best question: Are your ads and marketing materials true?

Turns out your mother was right (again), be skeptical of sales people. “But Gymbeaux,” you say, “how can you say that, aren’t you a sales person?”

Great question and the answer is yes and no. I have never considered myself as a sales person in the traditional sense because I never sold homes. Surprised? I have always taken the position that I did not care if a buyer bought a particular home after all, the homes I showed were not my home therefore I really did not care. I deeply cared that I was helping my customers find a solution to their real estate needs. If their need was to put a new roof over their head, I knew eventually that together we would accomplish that goal. I was an adviser. I was a consultant. I was a service provider. But yes, I did sell – I had to sell the probable buyer that I was the answer to their real estate problem. I had to sell me to them FIRST before they would permit me to help them. I believed then and I believe even more so know that Zig Ziglar had it right when he said, “To get everything you want in life, help someone else get what they want." Jeffrey Gitomer enhanced that statement by saying, “To get everything you want in life, help someone else get what they want – FIRST! Amen to that I say!

Advertisements and marketing can “puff” or “fluff” (lie or exaggerate) a product and service to make it “seem” like it will solve a probable purchaser’s need. Television infomercials are notorious for this. People in need of pain relief, in need of money, in need of a mate, just simply in need of something but especially pain relief will buy anything that is perceived to work and will do so from someone they do not know or necessarily trust. For example, have you ever wondered how many of the people providing testimonials as to the value of a product actually used the product or are they simply actors? If you are paying attention, some of these people appear in other advertisements for different products; what are the chances of that happening?

Advertisements and marketing pieces can also speak the truth but how can you know the difference? You can’t; but you do know if they are your own advertisements and marketing pieces and YOU do know if they are true or puff pieces. Gary Keller defined integrity as doing the right thing. I define it as doing the right thing especially when no one is watching.

To give you an example, a large real estate franchise advertised that they closed more sales than any other franchise. At the time that was probably true. What was not said was that they also had more unsold (expired) listings than anyone else as well. What would a probable purchaser want to know (whether they knew they needed to know or not)? If the purchaser was considering using the company to market (list) their real estate it should be what percentage of your listings actually sell and in how many days? When your advertisements and marketing pieces paint only half a picture you are providing only half the truth. It is very misleading if not outright fraud when the customer “thinks” they are getting the whole picture. Many years ago an automobile manufacturer advertised how safe their vehicles were. They showed various cars running off cliffs landing on their roofs and the roofs did not collapse. What they failed to show was the roofs had been reinforced. A soup company advertising vegetable soup added filler to the bottom of the bowl to make the vegetables rise above the soup level leaving the impression the soup was loaded with vegetables. A very successful real estate agent would list a home that would remain on the market for months and months. When an offer to purchase was finally received, she would remove the properly from the listing service and show it as a withdrawal. She would then re-enter the listing as a new listing and then take it out as a property under contract. She showed her potential sellers that her listings sold in days rather than months and could show them “proof” on paper. Who would not be impressed with statistics like hers?

President Obama is currently selling the public on health care with a “public option.” A study was reportedly conducted where people were asked if they were in favor of a public option or a government option and the majority selected public option. The problem is that the public option IS the government option. One simple word is misleading where “public” to most citizens means public and public to the government means government. Same word; different meaning and understanding.

Some of the products or services being advertised on television do what they claim; some do not. The Internet can make a huge difference if used. When you see a product you think may satisfy a specific need, simply type in the product in a search box to see what web sites appear. You may be surprised at how many unhappy customers post their displeasure with a product or service they have purchased or used. What would happen if you put your name in the search box? What would happen if someone entered the name of your company in the search box?

Gymbeaux’s Law of Unfairness: The Law of Unfairness says that if you satisfied 100 customers and dissatisfied 1 customer, the 100 would say nothing but the 1 would tell the world. Now they tell the world on the Internet. How many probable purchasers would be affected by the comments of the 1 dissatisfied customer? Most likely a great many. Hollywood movie makers are now concerned that movie goers who post their critical reviews on web sites like Twitter and Facebook are adversely affecting the number of people who go to the movie being criticized.

Every adviser, consultant, and sales person MUST have an effective Customer Service Department in their business; in real estate sales, that would be you. It is unfortunate that most of these people have no clue how their customers perceive their service because they never ask. They never see their business through the eyes of their customers both good and bad. They believe that one customer lost is only one customer lost; big deal. WRONG! As stated, one customer will tell the world what is wrong with you and your product or service not to mention your company.

If the consumer is becoming more skeptical (and they should be), is it possible that you are not perceived as you might believe? Do you know for certain? How do you know for certain? If you are not asking your customers either directly or indirectly, there is no way to be certain. If you do not know, how many sales might you have lost or continue to lose? You cannot fix something you do not know is broken. If you really want to test how good you are, arrange to have a mystery caller call as if they were a customer and then report the results of the call. You just might get the surprise of your life – you may be even better than you think. Of course the reverse might be true as well. SURPRISE!

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