Sunday, December 27, 2009

What Is Your Pre-Shot Routine?

Nuggets For The Noggin
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, December 27, 2009

To the non golfer, people playing golf would appear to be something like grabbing a club, swinging at a ball, putting the club back in the bag, and then, repeat step one. There would appear to be little if any “routine” involved whatsoever. Most golfers know this is not the case and that a routine is often the difference between a good golfer and a not-so-good golfer.

In fact if you watch a professional golfer in action, you will see that just before taking each shot, the pro takes one very specific action that serves as a “trigger” that starts a very specific (sorry for using that phrase twice in one sentence but it works) set of actions and thoughts that culminates in the golf ball finally coming to rest. Even then the routine is not complete until the golfer instantly and immediately assesses the completed shot; what went right, what went wrong and then what went right again.

That in itself is a lesson: Never start a self-evaluation with a negative (what went wrong) and never end with a negative. Think of an Oreo cookie, the chocolate represents the “what went right” and the cream filling the “what went wrong?” You never want to leave your mind thinking about the things that went wrong; always end on a positive note.

A good golfer does this before he or she can totally relax between shots. Famed Jack Nicklaus said that he only had to focus on the golf shot for about 30 seconds. That would start with some form of “trigger” to start his pre-shot routine. He would relax between 30 second shots. He said it would be impossible for someone to give 100% focus for a four or five hour round of golf but in 30 second increments it was not only possible it was required.

What is a trigger? In golf a trigger is a very specific action like adjusting the strap on your golf glove; adjusting your cap, pulling up the right or left sleeve of your shirt or as in the case of Arnold Palmer, tugging on his pants. This action started a thought and action process that like Nicklaus said, took only about 30 seconds to complete where he remained focused on the task at hand for about 30 seconds. By repetition he grooved his swing and in a lot of ways also grooved his results.

Why is having a pre-shot (pre-day) routine so important to your business and your life? No one that I am aware of, except of course for maybe you, can be focused every waking minute of the day; no one! Therefore it would seem, at least to me, that compartmentalizing your specific daily activities into time blocks would be step one to having a more successful day.

Compartment #1: Waking up. If ever there was one aspect of your day that was the most important this is it, regardless of what you want to accomplish on any given day; wake up! When you do, what do you do? Is it the same every day? It is by design or by accident? Have you given any thought as to what you do the first thing upon waking up? What would happen if you did what you do by choice rather than by accident?

Create a trigger action upon waking up. I would suggest that your first thought should be giving thanks for waking up to another day; keep in mind the alternative may not be the start of a great day for you. Think about it for just a second. The very first thought you think could set your mood for the next 12 to 18 or so hours. Become aware of this moment and when you awake, make good use of the fact that you did wake up for another day and be grateful for doing so. Then tell yourself it is going to be another great day!

This may sound a little kinky but then sometimes kinky is good. Since the first thing you typically see when you awake is the ceiling why not put something on your ceiling that will make you happy as soon as you see it? That is your trigger for the next several activities you will do each and every day. (Dr. Jeanne Reeves, my dentist, has motivational posters tacked to the ceiling above her dental chairs so that is what you see while you are being worked on.) You decide what those activities are and if I may be so bold, here are a few suggestions:

  • First and foremost, give thanks for being alive! It’s always better to see the grass from the top instead of the roots. :-)
  • Get in the habit of waking up a little bit earlier than you have been and use the extra time to read a few pages of something motivational and/or inspirational – you choose!
  • Exercise for a few minutes. If you have a treadmill in your home, consider walking AND reading something motivational and/or inspirational at the same time – multi-task! This is one of the few times you can really multi-task without compromising either activity.
  • Look in the mirror and remember this one thought, you would worry less about what other people think if you knew how little other people actually thought of you. Learn to love what you see in the mirror and stop criticizing who you are looking at. After all, you are who you are and no amount of make-up or wishing will change what you look like. Okay, maybe some make-up would help a little; for you-know-who, make that a lot. :-)
  • Take a few minutes and review your goals; you do have goals don’t you? Goals will keep you on track to accomplish what you want to accomplish.
  • If you did not create a Daily To-Do List the night before, create one now and make certain that you concentrate primarily on those activities that if done will make the biggest difference in your life TODAY! For folks in sales, like you-know-who, those activities would be considered dollar productive activities.
  • Besides yourself, make the first and every person you see this day feel really important; really important! If everyone you met today made you feel important, how would you feel? Imagine seeing the letters MMFI (Make Me Feel Important) on their forehead.

Jack Nicklaus knows the importance of having a trigger followed by a pre-shot routine; why not learn from the master and create your own trigger and your own pre-day (pre-shot) routine? Spend a few minutes every morning doing the same thing to set your mind in the proper mindset to attack the day.

You can figure out what the remaining compartments of your day are. Here is a thought; try Joe Tye’s Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) and ask yourself:


You be the judge!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Income Insurance; Or Not!

Nuggets For The Noggin
This Nugget written by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, Revised December 2009

It is the end of the year and most businesses, that would include you of course, have already prepared their 2010 business plan and budget. But just in case you haven’t, this Nugget may help you figure out just what you need to be doing for the next twelve months.

What is the first question you ask yourself or a coach might as you when establishing goals; you do have goals, don’t you? “How much money do you need to make?” The emphasis is on the word “need”, meaning you have a number in mind that you MUST make in order to pay the bills you have and maybe put a little aside for that “rainy day” we hear so much about.

Well Breaux, the rain hasn’t stopped in several months – or put another way – the rainy day has become what one might call a “normal” day. Look at these numbers:

  • Economy drops 20% (that is just a number it does not represent a factual number).
  • Agent A’s income for the previous year was $68,000 and that was Agent’s A break even point where Agent A had sufficient income to pay all of her business expenses, pay all of the living expenses and as stated above maybe put a small amount aside for the rainy days.

Along comes the rain. Now Agent A’s income, keeping in line with the economy, has also dropped 20%. 20% of $68,000 is $13,600 for a net income of $54,400. If Agent A was not saving at least $13,600 a year for rainy days, there is a deficit and Agent A is spending more than Agent A is making.

Now look at Agent B who the previous year earned $250,000. Agent’s B’s income also dropped 20% over the same period in time maintaining pace with the economy or $50,000 for a net of $200,000. The question then becomes was Agent B saving $50,000 a year for rainy days?

Here is another very serious thought to consider. If Agent B’s average sales price was $400,000 and the average Board’s sale price is $200,000, do you think that Agent’s B’s income might be affected a bit more than the economic average? Hmmmmmmm?

I hate to tell you the answer. In most cases certainly not yours, neither Agent A nor Agent B were saving $13,600 or $50,000 respectively. Income can best be compared to the storage space in our homes. The more storage space you have, the more stuff you collect to fill it. Purchase more storage space like a shed or off-site storage and you guessed it, you collect more stuff. Being in the Military for 20 years had one very definite advantage over most folks. Every 2 or 3 years we moved and when we move you guessed it, we got rid of stuff. But if you don’t move, the stuff overwhelms you. Then one day, one or more of your children leave home. Wow, I have more room now that Johnny has moved out. Yes and you have more room for more stuff. The unplanned consequence is that Johnny does not have enough room in his new place so he still uses your home for some of his “stuff.” And this vicious circle seems to go on forever. “I can’t get rid of that; I might need it some day!” Well the same is true for income; we tend to not only spend what we make, we spend more than what we make by using charge cards.

Income and expenses are no different. The more money people make the more money they spend and I know this because……. We are in very odd economic times and while I am not an economist, I think I know enough about past economies that would lead me to believe that the world is in for a very rude awakening when future revenues fail to make up the difference between what was spent today and what comes in tomorrow as revenue or lack thereof. That is a formula for inflation. I can only hope I am wrong but I don’t think so. Financial planning becomes essential for survival.

A great many people do not control the amount of their income as do people in sales have the ability to do. Need more money? Make more sales! The formula is that simple. There are other ways to make more money and they are, (1) cut your expenses to the bone – that effectively increases your disposable income. (2) Earn more money on the sales you make – that also effectively increases your disposable income. (3) Be more selective regarding the quality of probable buyers and probable sellers you work with meaning you work with fewer people but the ones you do work are ready to buy or sell and waste less of your time on those who are not. While that does not directly increase your income it does increase your dollars of income per hour worked and that is always good thing. (4) Become an expert on the Federal Income Tax Code or hire someone who is and take advantage of tax savings, especially for Independent Contractors. Saving more on taxes is effectively earning more to save or spend. (5) A combination of all four.

This is what I know. Correct that, this is what I positively know! The following is a plan and any plan is better than no plan just in case you do not have one:

Review your expenses for the past 12 months. Every expense, not just the car payment, house payment and utility bills – EVERY KNOWN EXPENSE! While you track them, try to identify if there are any seasonal increases/decreases like spending more on electricity and gas during the summer months. Here are some expenses that most people should think about:

  • Insurance premiums like annual Flood Insurance. Semi-annual, or quarterly payments like various insurance premiums. Health insurance or supplemental health insurance. E&O.
    Christmas, birthday, anniversary, wedding and shower gifts, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day (this is typically a great deal more than you first think it is)
  • Annual dues to trade organizations like the Board of Realtors, MLS, personal designations like CRS, or groups such as the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, etc.
  • License renewals
  • Personal development like attending Family Reunion (convention for those not with Keller Williams), off-site training (travel, food and lodging), books, CDs, DVDs for your personal growth library (you do have one don’t you?)
  • Unscheduled repairs to your car(s), home, tools and equipment
  • Personal loan payments
  • Student loan payments
  • Credit Card payments
  • Charitable donations and church donations
  • Political donations
  • State income taxes as applicable
  • Federal income taxes as applicable
  • Property taxes
  • Telephone service
  • Internet service
  • Cable Television
  • Co-pay medical payments
  • Gas for the car
  • Tuition for the kids
  • Emergencies (especially evacuations due to storms)
  • Unscheduled trips to visit relatives due to family emergencies
  • The cost of pets (much higher than you might think)
  • Date Nights (entertainment in general)
  • Cost of hobbies, golf, crafts, photography, etc.
  • Cost of smoking
  • Cost of drinking (and that does not mean milk and water Breaux!)
  • Expected or unexpected increases in any of these categories (requires planning)
  • Accounting expenses
  • Legal expenses
  • Advertising and marketing expenses
  • Customer gifts and entertainment
  • Tools and equipment required for work (or still needed for work)

You hopefully get the idea and here is a way to fine tune the list. Get some of your co-workers and form a mastermind group. Ask them to bring their check books with them and then using the above list, work towards improving the list by reviewing what they have spent money on over the past year. A side benefit of this activity is that you may identify more deductable expenses than you had realized were available for tax purposes.

Let me give you an example of just how out-of-control expenses can be. How much do you spend at Christmas? Do you know? Do you really know? A lot of folks buy Christmas presents all year long which if they are bought on sale may not be a bad idea. How many birthday gifts do you buy? How many flowers to you buy? Wedding Shower gifts? Do you spend $3,000 a year on gifts? You might at first say, no way. But if you have a family of 5 (3 children) that is $630 a year per person. But wait, do you have parents to consider? Now we are down to $428 per person. Add in a niece, nephew, an aunt or uncle, someone getting married, etc, and suddenly $3,000 is an insufficient amount to budget. Tell me I am wrong on this. But wait, if you divide $3,000 by 12 months that means you have to budget $250 a month in order NOT TO OVER SPEND during the year. If you think you are spending $3000 a year on gifts, are you saving $250 a month for that purpose? If you are like most folks, I doubt it.

Before you can set a financial goal for the year, you MUST absolutely identify every penny that you know you will spend and even might spend. How can you just pick a financial goal out of thin air if you really do not know how much you are currently spending? I would wait for the answer but unless you are independently wealthy, there is no answer to that question.

At this stage in creating your financial plan, take time to analyze your expenses and cut them where you can. When you identify exactly how much you are spending in the various categories, it becomes very obvious that you may be spending entirely too much on several categories. Cut and consolidate where you can. Do your homework on what is most cost effective like hard line telephone service in addition to cell phone service. Consider the new technology available like Vonage or MagicJack to cut phone costs. Where else can you make cuts? Do you really need that “new car” car payment?

If you are in real estate sales, how can you “cut your commission” on a sale or listing if you do not know how much on average working a sale or listing REALLY costs you? Do you know?

If you have children, are you planning NOW for them to attend college LATER? How much does it cost for a college education? Let’s say for argument purposes that it costs a frugal $25,000 a year (at some time far into the future and that is going to probably be a very low estimate). That is $100,000 for a four year college education PER CHILD. Let’s say you have only one child who is 5 years old and you have thus far saved nothing. Therefore you have approximately 13 years to put away $100,000. Without considering the effect of earning interest on your money, saving monthly with the goal of saving $100,000 for when your child reaches 18 and goes off to college would mean that you would have to save $641 a month times the number of children you have. Here is the good part; if your child receives a scholarship, you can use the money to implement Plan B – buy a boat! Want a better plan? Buy a rental house for each child. Let someone else pay the rent (mortgage) on the home. When your child is ready for college, sell the home to pay for the college costs.

Now you must account for the things you do not know and the big one is the rainy day. Let’s go back to Agent A who said she “needed” to make $68,000. If Agent A did not go through the expense part of this Nugget, I would suggest that $68,000 is an insufficient amount and that $75,000 would be a more conservative estimate. If you then calculate a percentage over and above that amount for your “rainy day” contingency, you have a more realistic goal. How much more would be sufficient?

Well Breaux, there is yet one more step. If you read the Nugget “The SECRET is in the BAG”, you know that everyone should have a BAG (Big Ass Goal) and that would not be a financial goal. A BAG goal would be more like putting all your children and maybe even your grandchildren through college – now that is a BAG! Or being financially independent but to know that, you would also need to know what your future expenses will be and then how much money you would need to maintain an income and life-style without working, another huge BAG! You decide, what your BAG is?

Once you identify your BAG, you need to estimate just how much longer you intend, must, and/or be required to work to attain it. Therefore, your annual financial goal needs to include (1) what you need to make to break even, (2) money for a rainy day, (3) an amount that will insure you attain your BAG and, (4) paying yourself 10% FIRST! Where did number 4 come from? Read The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason. Clason suggests that you take 10% of whatever you earn and pay yourself before you pay anyone else. Of course you still need to pay all your bills but imagine the nest egg you could build yourself by paying yourself 10% FIRST! Keep in mind, we all tend to spend what we make. Therefore get in the habit of spending only 90% of what you make!

Using Agent’s A’s numbers, Agent A NEEDS $68,000 annually (based on the upcoming 12 months and obviously this will change from year-to-year). Agent A calculates that she needs to earn at least 15% more for that “rainy day.” And not knowing what Agent A’s specific BAG is, let’s add in another $15,000 (that would be conservative for most BAGs). Now we have a financial goal:

$68,000 – Need to have
$10,000 – Rainy Day Fund (equal to 3 to 6 months of income in reserve)
$15,000 – BAG account
TOTAL $93,000 (Remember it was once only $68,000)

Now we are talking!

That means Agent A needs to earn $7,750 a month. What does Agent A need to know to insure that she earns a gross $7,750 a month?

Not just the Market’s Average Sales Price but HER average sales price; they are not necessarily the same. For the purpose of this Nugget, HER average sales price is $175,000.

Now Agent A needs to know what HER average commission percentage is on each sale and how much of the total commission does Agent A get to keep. This is a bit more complicated for agents on a 100% plan where part of the commission is earned on one percentage and the balance for the year on a 100% plan. To make this easy, let’s say the first $36,000 of earned commissions is on a split of 70/30. And for calculation purposes, let’s say the gross commission on a $175,000 sale is $4,500 and therefore the agent’s net would be approximately $3,150. If you divide $36,000 by $3,150 you discover that Agent A would need to close 12 sales on a 70/30 split to reach the point where Agent A would then receive 100% of the commission. If Agent’s A’s goal is $102,000, subtract $36,000 from $102,000 and that leaves $66,000 to be earned at 100%. Divide $66,000 by $4,500 and you discover that Agent A needs to close an additional 15 sales to reach her goal. 12 Sales at 70/30 plus 15 Sales at 100% equals a total of 27 sales for the year. That equates to 2.25 Sales a month or approximately half a sales each week.

This is where it gets interesting. Gary Keller’s The Millionaire Real Estate Agent (MREA) book indicates that you should expect to close 2 sales for every 12 people you put into a MET Database and who you touch 33 times a year FOREVER! But let’s be conservative and say it is 1 sale for every 12 people. This principle works for real estate sales. If you are in another form of sales like car sales, there are numbers that work for you as well; find out what they are! Using the above numbers, how many people would you need in a MET Database in order to reach Keller’s numbers? 348. Does Agent A know 348 people? How many do you know? Keller also stated that you should expect to close ONE sale for ever FIFTY people you have in an UNMET Database PROVIDED you contact them ONCE a MONTH FOREVER!

Therefore, first put everyone you know into a MET database. Calculate how much money you established using the formula above as your financial goal. Then calculate how many people you need to put in an UNMET Database to make up any shortage.

You must then become disciplined to your goal. Gary Keller suggests that you play red light – green light with your money. Simply put; is what you are about to spend money on going to help you reach your life’s big goal (BAG)? If yes, green light – spend it. If no, red light – don’t spend it. I like Joe Tye’s Direction-Deflection-Question (DDQ) to help you in this regard.


Use the DDQ every time you contemplate spending a dime! The one category that should never be cut is education. Remember, “Education” is what you get when you read the fine print; “experience” is what you get when you don’t.” If you want to get better at what you do, create a self-education plan and stick to it!

One more suggestion from the book “Somebody’s Gotta To Say It” by Neal Boortz. Neal suggests that from this day forward, NEVER SPEND ANOTHER DOLLAR BILL. Spend only $5.00 bills and larger. When you receive your change, do what you will with the loose change but put the dollars in a jar on your dresser. These one-dollar bills add-up in a hurry and it would be very easy to save $1,000 a year or more from your loose one-dollar bills. This is a great savings technique that provides you with emergency funds, date-night funds, etc. Try it, you’ll like it!

If the economy shifts for the better – you are in fabulous shape. If it turns even further south, you should be okay. Remember, the market is what the market is and it never stays the same. You must reevaluate your financial goal every year based upon REAL numbers from the year(s) before. Now that you know, what are you going to do about it? Do they teach this stuff in our schools? I don’t think so.

Planning example:

It has been my experience that most real estate agents seem to fail to plan or account for funds due to maintain their businesses. Here is a breakdown of some known fees that should be accounted for MONTHLY instead of waiting until the end of the year and then be short of funds.

Annual license Renewal $ 55.00 Due December 31 each year
E&O Insurance Renewal $184.00 Due December 31 each year
Board Dues $364.50 Due December 31 each year
MLS Annual Renewal $295.00 Due July 1 each year

Total Amount Due During The Year $898.50

If you begin to withhold EACH MONTH $75.00, you will have sufficient funds available when these dues become payable.

You are strongly encouraged to literally write yourself an invoice each month for $75.00 or and then pay the bill – no exceptions – by placing the money into a savings account in order for that money to be available when it is needed to keep your business running smoothly.

Imagine how better off you would be if you deposited in a savings account EVERY MONTH an amount sufficient enough to insure that all your licensing, dues and annual expenses are accounted for when they become due. Now imagine how you would feel if you also deposited into this savings account 30% from every commission check you received for the purpose of insuring you had enough funds to pay your state and federal income taxes.

Remember The Millionaire Real Estate Agent premise, LEAD WITH REVENUES – NOT WITH EXPENSES. If you fail to save enough money to be able to pay your annual renewal dues and your income taxes in cash, you are only adding to your cost of doing business by either putting the expense(s) on your credit card or taking out a loan, either way you are not only paying your renewal fees and taxes, you also are adding to the cost by now incurring interest fees as well.

This is a great time to discuss having not only a business budget but also a family budget. Most real estate agents combine their income and expenses but these need to be maintained separately. In fact you should maintain at least three banking accounts:

• Checking account for home purposes
• Checking account for business purposes
• Savings account for taxes and known renewal fees

Whenever you receive a commission check, immediately deposit it into your business account. From that account make a deposit $75.00 into your savings account plus an additional 30% for tax purposes.

You should have created a family budget including income sources. From the budget and projected income you should know how much annually you need to contribute to the family budget from your real estate business. Therefore, you should write a check and deposit it into your home checking account for home expenses. By maintaining two checking accounts, your accounting for taxes would be greatly simplified when you write checks from your business account to pay ONLY BUSINESS EXPENSES.

Real Estate Schools teach you how to pass your license exam but touch very little on running a business. It would be hard to find a successful business of any kind that did not have a working budget to identify expenses and income. As a real estate agent you are a business. Without the knowledge of how much it costs for you to be in business, how can you possibly know when you have made a sufficient number of sales and received a sufficient “net income” to pay all your expenses and make a profit? Don’t even think about it – YOU CAN’T!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Nugget For The Noggin
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, December 10, 2009

First let me premise this Nugget by stating that I have been in the real estate business for 30 years and in the personnel management business for over 45 years. This length of time does not of itself make me an expert but experience ought to count for something.

I have observed people saying things that if they had really thought about what they had said would never have said it, or maybe they would if they did not care how it was received. This Nugget will identify words or phrases I have heard people say or things I have seen or heard people do that possibly could have been done differently. If so they might have gotten a different result.

To prove my point, I like to think I am a learning based person. I am constantly reading and listening for better ways to do and say things primarily to achieve better results. The most recent case-in-point occurred after reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, The Little Black Book of Connections when he suggested never to ask if someone had received something you sent. This usually occurs after you had sent an Email or a FAX and you did not receive a response. The natural tendency would be to send another and start out by saying things such as SECOND REQUEST or DID YOU RECEIVE; admit it we all have done this. It just happened to me and my doctor. I followed his directions and the pain in my shoulder had no change. I was to fax him the results and he would set up a second appointment for an MRI exam which I did. After waiting two weeks without any word, I faxed him again but this time I faxed it as if it were the first time I did so. Within hours I received the most friendly of calls stating that my appointment was in the works.

I thought about it after I received the call and I believe the call would have been much different had I called them out for not responding the first time. Thinking about the first fax transmission I did not wait to receive the fax transmission report – it may not have been received. The fax may have been misplaced or with a name like mine, Jim Brown, it could have been put in the wrong Jim Brown record; I know this because….

Therefore my first Action Step would be – please, for your sake and the sake of all your customers, not to mention your family and career - please make it a priority to read books and articles that will make you better at what you do. It does not matter how long you have been in the business; there are always better ways of doing and saying things that others have discovered that can help you become more productive. Set aside at least 30 minutes a day to learn, every day, forever! I am living proof that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

Also keep in mind the Law of Attraction that basically states, you tend to bring into your life more of that which you think about most. This is real simple. Think about scarcity and you get more scarcity. Think about abundance, and you get more abundance. Question: has something ever happened in your life that would cost money and you wondered where the money would come from and then suddenly the money seems to just appear? It might be a bonus check, might be an unexpected sale, might be a gift, might be a refund of some sort, it just appears in the nick of time so to speak. It tends to happen more when you think about how the money will be there when you need it as compared to thinking it won’t be there. It has also been said that the mind tends to run downhill meaning that it tends to think toward the negative unless you intercede and make it think more positive.

Action Step number 2 would then be; BE MORE AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS AND WORDS. When a negative thought or statement appears, simply ask yourself, “where did that come from; that is not like me” and then think more positive thoughts and definitely think before you speak.

Have you ever said or heard someone say:

“Why do I get all the kooks to work with?” Do you? Really? Do you work with every kook there is in the world? Of course not but you let the great customers you work with take on the personality of the kooks because that is what you have come to expect. And then when a great customer does something you feel is “kooky” you reinforce your belief that you only get the kooks in life. Remember you will get more of that which you think of (expect more of) most.

“Buyers are liars.” Really? Why would anyone call someone they don’t know a liar? Have you ever thought that just maybe you have not given the buyer enough information to trust you? Or is it possible that the buyer you think is lying really doesn’t know what you want or meant? I have found that when someone is not forthright with you it is because you have not created the degree of trust needed to be forthright with you. More importantly if you believe buyers are liars you will most assuredly find evidence to prove yourself right and eventually attract more buyers who are also liars.

“My little people.” I cringe every time I hear someone refer to their customers as “My little people” or “My little guy or gal”. What kind of mental image do you conjure up when you say “my little people” and why would you say it at all? Here is a great thought as provided by Jeffrey Gitomer, why not refer to your customers as “probable buyers” or “probable sellers”. If you did, would you not think differently about the customer if you thought they would result in a sale? Or you might want to say, “My little probable buyer”, just kidding.

“My people (what else would they be) will never accept this offer.” Really? How do you know? Is this something you think to be true? There is no way for you to know for certain. And instead of “people” why not “probable seller?” When you say that how do you think the other agent feels about the offer submitted and also about you the agent? I know my first thought is that this deal is dead before it ever gets presented. Is it possible that even though your seller has said, “I will never take anything under $200,000 so don’t even bring me an offer”, that since that was first uttered things could have changed and now the seller would take just about anything offered? If you want to be upset, don’t be upset towards an agent or buyer who makes a low offer, be upset about agents and buyers who have seen what you are offering and made no offer at all. Instead of finding fault with the offer presented, why not thank them for the opportunity to present an offer to the seller? Would you prefer to go through the selling period with no offers to present or receive offers that might be unacceptable but that you can at least present to your “probable seller.” Most people, except of course for you-know-who, would always prefer to be presenting offers. You never know when you can make one work.

“I’m no good at (insert whatever you think you are not good at)!” My question to you is, “As compared to what?” What is your standard of acceptable performance? I would also ask, was Frank Sinatra (showing my age) a great singer the first time he ever sang? Contrary to what some may think, I was not there but I can assure you he probably was not. “I’m no good at working For Sale By Owners.” “I’m no good at working expired listings.” “I’m no good at working numbers.” “I’m no good; I’m no good; I’m no good!” Geeze, maybe you are right. It is a matter of the self-fulfilling prophecy – say it enough and it is true at least in YOUR mind. Politicians are notorious for this principle; tell a lie enough and everyone will believe it. What would happen if instead you said, “I am the greatest when I work For Sale By Owners.” Maybe you are not the greatest but neither was Mohammad Ali (Cassius Clay) when he first told the world, “I am the greatest!” The important message was that HE believed it even if no one else did. The rest is history – he became the greatest, and so can you.

“I can’t believe what those folks did to me; I worked so hard for them.” This one always has bothered me the most. If as a REALTOR® a sale you worked failed to close, before you start to condemn the customer, you have to ask why did the sale fail? In most cases it was because of something you either did or failed to do. If for example, a buyer found a For Sale By Owner over the weekend, you failed to explain just how dangerous that could be for both the buyer and the seller to negotiate a sale without any professional representation. You also failed to secure the customer by means of a Buyer Agency Agreement or you elected not to enforce the terms of a Buyer Agency Agreement. When I hear words like this I also hear that the commission was the ultimate goal of the transaction rather than satisfying a customer’s needs. When you focus on the commission to be earned instead of the customer’s needs, you are basically out of business before you start.

“I can’t believe it, the appraiser killed the deal!” Is that true? Did an appraisal really kill the deal or did you list a home higher than what the market would indicate or did you write an offer on a home that was listed higher than what the market would indicate. In either case, whose fault really was it? When you represent a buyer you owe it to the buyer NOT to show overpriced homes and if you do, you do it with their full understanding and knowledge. When you list a home at an overpriced number, you also do it with the seller’s full understanding and knowledge. In the case of the seller, I would strongly suggest you get it in writing that the seller understands the price being offered is THEIR decision and not yours and that you feel the market does not justify the asking price. So think again, when a sale falls through because of an appraisal, whose fault is it; really?

“I can’t believe it; the home inspector killed the deal!” Can we agree that things are not always as they appear? With that being true, is it possible that the home you are selling really is not in the pristine condition that it appeared to be? If that is true, do you really want your buyer to buy a home that has significant problems associated with it? Can we also agree that the two biggest reasons a sale falls through occurs when a buyer fails to qualify for a loan and/or the home fails a home inspection? As a listing agent there is not much you can do about the buyer’s qualifications unless you represent the buyer. You do represent the seller and there is no reason NOT to obtain a home inspection upon listing the home arranged for and paid for by the seller other than a seller’s unwillingness to do so. The inspection report will advise the owners of the condition of their property and they can either make the repairs or price the property accordingly, and then you can use the inspection report as a selling tool. The buyer does not have to accept the report and can obtain an additional report if desired. Pre-inspecting the home when it is listed should eliminate a great many sales that otherwise would have fallen through. Therefore if a home has NOT been inspected and you market it for sale, you should know that an inspection could prove fatal to a satisfactory closing and it should come as no surprise to you and/or your sellers when it does.

“I’ll take care of that for you honey, or baby, or sugar.” Using such terms of apparent affection or endearment may be acceptable in your close circle of friends and family but I can assure you that that not everyone appreciates being called “Baby”, “Honey”, “Hon”, or “Sugar.” Think before you speak. Not only is it inappropriate, it could be considered sexist. Are you willing to lose a sale on your insistence to use such words? If so, do not blame the customer when they choose to go elsewhere.

My advice to everyone in sales is to stop reading your own press clippings. The sale is NOT all about you and your statistics. It is a simple case of misplaced emphasis. Your emphasis should always be on the customer; the probable buyer or the probable seller. If you feel bad because a sale fell through, how do you think your customers feel? You hopefully move on to the next sale leaving your customer feeling dejected and confused and wanting to know what went wrong. Was it something they did? Was it something you did or did not do? Are they happy with you and your service? Or, do they blame you for what went wrong? Do they have a case? Left unanswered, how many people are they going to tell about how horrible you were to work with?

None of these conversations should occur if you are totally prepared. Are you a sales person or are you a teacher? Do you put the best interests of the customer above all other parties to the transaction especially yours? Jeffrey Gitomer has it right when he says, “To get everything you want in life, just help (teach) someone else to get it – FIRST!”

My thirty plus years in the real estate business has also clearly demonstrated that the sale does not end at the closing; on the contrary, the sale is just beginning. Hopefully when you have closed a sale meaning ownership has transferred, you “should” have a satisfied customer. If that is so, why would you ever stop developing the relationship you already have created by never again contacting the supposedly satisfied customer? But before you just assume that because the sale closed you have a satisfied customer, think again. The customer may have purchased a home but are they really satisfied? Better question: Are they really loyal? If so, to whom? There is no way for you to know for certain unless you ask them how you did. Most people do not want to know; they don’t want their feelings hurt because they have read and believe their own press clippings. After sadly reading about the recent Tiger Woods infidelity issues, believe me, no one is as good as they might think they are!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Do Sound Professional; Don't I?

By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, November 20, 2009

Attention ActiveRain folks, this was also posted on ActiveRain so you may have already read it.

LOUD! Do you have a loud voice? You know who you are, you oftentimes admit it. When you talk on the telephone, do you make adjustments for your LOUD VOICE? Here is what happens when your LOUD VOICE is not adjusted; the person called is scrambling for the volume control on their telephone if it has one. In the mean time they feel very uncomfortable and until the volume is adjusted they are really not paying attention to you or what you said.

SOFT! Do you have a very soft voice? Again you know who you are and you as well oftentimes admit it. When you talk on the telephone can the other person hear you? While you are talking they too are scrambling for the volume adjustment to make your voice louder just to hear you and in the meanwhile, they are forming opinions and not really listening to what you are saying.

JUST RIGHT! How do you know? Have you recorded a telephone conversation from the other end to hear what you sound like? This may be the worst position to have, thinking your voice level is “just right” and therefore you have no idea how you are truly being received. In such a case, no change in how you conduct your conversations is even considered; after all, it is just right, right?

TOO FAST! There is only one situation that would be worse than talking too fast on the telephone and that would be TALKING TOO FAST AND LOUD AT THE SAME TIME! Have you ever tried to write down a telephone number left on your voice mail by someone who talks too fast? I have and there have been times I have had to listen up to three times to the same voice mail message to hear a 10 digit telephone number (that is provided they also leave the area code).

T O O S L O W! Come on, my time is valuable and I don’t have time to listen to your slow or long-winded conversation. Say what you have to say in as few words as possible. Let the person called know you appreciate and put a value on their time. “I know your time is valuable so I will be brief.” If you are on the receiving end of a conversation from someone you know who is long-winded, tell them up front that your time is precious, “I have an appointment in a few minutes I can only give you a minute. What’s up?” You need to control your time and spending it on long-winded conversations is not a good use of your time.

WHINING! This may be the worst of the worst. Some people just can’t seem to help it, they sound like they are always whining even when they are trying to say something positive. Your voice inflection has everything to do with the message. Yell at the top of your lungs, “I love you!” to your dog and the dog will cower in fear. Your actual words mean little; it is the volume and inflection of your voice, not to mention your body language. The reverse is also true, chew out your dog with a loving and soft voice and the dog will wag its tail endlessly.

The Three Little Pigs Theory (again one of my own theories): If you are talking to someone who has a loud voice, then loud may be just right. If you are talking to someone who has a soft voice, then soft may be just right. Different strokes for different folks. However, when you first make the call, you have no idea what the other person’s voice OR hearing is like. Someone who may be hard of hearing may hear your loud voice as being just right. Believe it or not, some people have very sensitive hearing and loud noises bother them very much. And I know this because…

In any case, you simply cannot make assumptions. The first assumption that everyone makes is that their telephone instrument is perfect and that the sound it produces is of the highest quality – trust me Mon Frère, it ain’t! And like your voice, how do you know what your phone sounds like unless you record? Another common assumption is that the person you are calling has the time for you at that very moment; do not take it personal when they don’t. Just as your time is valuable to you, their time is valuable to them.

Recommendation: Call yourself and leave yourself a voice mail message. You will be able to determine quite a bit from this procedure provided you talk as you normally think you do. If you take the position that you know you are being recorded, quite possibly, you will talk a bit slower to be understood better and you will be more conscious of the volume of your voice. If you do not think this is true the next time you are in a restaurant and someone sitting near you answers a cell phone, listen to how they increase the volume of their voice. Everyone in the restaurant can hear their conversation. And if you listen closely you can also hear the other person’s voice because that person is also talking louder. “Can you hear me now?” That may have been the most disastrous television commercial of all time in regards to voice quality. Everyone has heard it and has probably said it. So whenever you pick up a phone the first subconscious thought is, can you hear me now and you talk louder. You know I am right on this. Hear is another teachable moment. When you call yourself to leave a voice message, for the first time, clear your mind and then listen to your recorded voice message as a customer would hear it for the first time. Is it inviting? Does it show excitement in what you do? Is it too soft? Is it too loud? Do you talk to fast? Do you talk to slow? Does your message give the caller to a reason to leave you a message? How do you know? On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being outstanding, how would your best friend rate your voice mail message? Is your friendship strong enough for them to tell you the truth? Just asking.

Better Recommendation: Set it up with a friend that the friend will record your telephone call over the next two months but not tell you when. In time you will have forgotten you asked to be recorded and the eventual recording will be more of your real voice than a voice used knowing you are being recorded.

Best Recommendation: Remember the Golden Rule (a rule I made up of course) of telephone conversations – the person being called is ALWAYS DOING SOMETHING so no matter when you call them, they are busy doing whatever they are doing. It may be something that can be interrupted or not; you do not know when you place the call. Therefore acknowledge that the person called is a busy person and ask if they have just a minute or would they prefer to call you back or you call them back at another time. For example, “Joe, I know you are busy can you spare me a minute (or if longer say so) or should I call you back at a better time?” In most cases since you recognized that the person called is busy, that person WILL give you the minute or two you asked for. Never say you’re sorry that you called because everyone knows that is not true. If you were truly sorry you would not have placed the call. Example, “I’m sorry to bother you…” no your not, you need something and you need something from the person you called. And while we are talking about being interrupted, have you ever called someone between 12:00 and 1:00 pm or 5:00 and 6:30 pm; what were you thinking. Is this not the time most people are either at lunch or supper? Would they not be busy? Dah! On the other hand, if you do not want to engage in a conversation and you only want to leave a voice mail, those times might be the perfect time to call; when they don’t or shouldn’t answer their phone. Leave your brief message and be done with it. 

Back At Ya Recommendation: If YOU don’t want to be bothered while YOU are eating lunch or supper or whatever it is your are doing, DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE! Let your phone or your phone service take a message. Discover the benefits of being in the present moment and focusing 100% of your attention on what you are doing and who you are with rather than letting your cell phone dictate your life!

Keep this thought in mind (if you can):

What I thought I sounded like was not what the customer thought I sounded like and what the customer thought I sounded like was not what I thought I sounded like and we both thought the other person sounded different than what they thought they sounded like. So who was right?


It’s never about YOU! It is always about the CUSTOMER! What the customer thinks is paramount to your success not visa versa. Stop reading and believing the press clippings of your mind; they mean nothing to a customer. The only person that truly matters to the customer is the person the customer thinks you are! Who should that be? Glad you asked – someone who puts the customer’s needs first! If you are not in the proper mindset to do that when the phone rings, don’t answer it.

ABSOLUTE BEST RECOMMENDATION: When your phone rings, immediately stop what you are doing provided you intend to answer it. Don’t try to type in one or two more words on your document or read one more paragraph, stop right now! Take a deep breath, count to 3 and then for just a second or two recognize that this call may be the most important call in the world and you need to give it the attention it will deserve. Who knows, it just may be the most important call in the world; you won’t know until you answer it. And when you do answer it, the caller must think they are the most important person in the world by the voice they hear on the other end of the call. For you-know-who, that would be you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is It Just Me?

Nuggets For The Noggin
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, September 2009
Can we agree that America is being torn apart by politics and politicians drawing lines in the sand? This Nugget is NOT about politics but instead about a seemingly insignificant vote taken by the Senate Finance Committee on September 23, 2009 that clearly demonstrates the arrogance of our elected officials.

No one can turn on the news of late and not see the angry debates, name calling and the massive town hall meetings not to mention the September 12th march on Washington. Lost in all the hysteria is that Americans seem to be growing in their mistrust of their own government to do the right thing whatever that may eventually prove to be.

But let’s be honest, despite your political leanings, half the country is FOR the health care as being discussed by Washington and half the country is AGAINST the health care as being discussed.

This is where the arrogance of our U. S. Senate was displayed in full color. While ridiculous speeches are being given at the United Nations that go on and on and say nothing and the national news media waits on each word spoken, the Senate Finance Committee quietly voted 12 to 11 NOT TO PUT THE MOST CURRENT VERSION OF THE HEALTH CARE BILL ONLINE. THEY VOTED NOT TO MAKE IT AVAILABLE TO PEOPLE LIKE YOU AND ME. Instead they want to post a “summary” of the bill and whenever someone puts forth a summary, they typically tell you ONLY what they want you to know. Any intelligent person can understand that when something that SHOULD be public is kept SECRET there are things in the bill that the Senate does not want you to see or hear. Is that the American way?

Unfortunately this vote came down almost entirely on party lines. All Republicans voted against it and wanted to make the bill public for 3 days prior to the committee voting on it; and, all the Democrats except one, voted to keep the bill private and post only a summary.

I have a new American Hero, Senator Blanche L. Lincoln, a Democrat from Arkansas. She had the courage and conviction to “do the right thing” and to make the bill public but unfortunately she was the only one on the Democratic side to do the right thing. There was absolutely no harm involved in posting the entire bill to the Internet. Personally I doubt seriously that I would read the thousands of pages of the bill and I feel that most Americans would not as well; but they could if they desired to. That is the important point of this Nugget. Why would you not make the bill available unless there was something to hide?

I don’t know the entire story about how Nero fiddled while Rome burned but that is what our elected officials appear to be doing; at least to me. The country has never been this divided since the Civil War and our politicians are “fiddling while the country is burning” (a figure of speech).

While in the Coast Guard (a government employee), I was taught that if you want something to be approved, you make your report massive, too massive for most people to read. The thought being that since so much “apparent” work went into the report, it must be right. This is the exact principle we are seeing at work in Washington as I write this Nugget.

I would never be mistaken as being a genius but resolution of the health insurance problem is quite simple (notice I did not say health care because there is no better health care in the world than what we have in America, this is a health insurance/coverage issue):

1. Break the issue down to its smallest segments.
2. Determine what steps can be agreed upon by the majority of Americans as represented by our Congress and Senate.
3. Take whatever actions that do not need a vote like targeting corruption within the HealthCare system and demonstrate to voters that tax dollars CAN be saved by oversight. As stated, this does not take a vote in Washington.
4. Create a short easily understood bill that addresses one corrective measure at a time that CAN be agreed upon and then voted on; approve and implement that one segment of the Health Care problem.
5. The more complex issues of the proposed bill can then be addressed one at a time by both houses and the President; surely they can come to some kind of agreement on the correct actions to be taken and it should not be implemented by only Democrats voting to approve it or only Republicans voting to approve it with no crossover votes whatsoever.

As an example to this principle I offer State restricted health insurance. Health Insurance Companies are restricted from writing policies outside of their state borders. That restricts competition. Competition usually makes businesses more competitive in their pricing. Removing these barriers from Health Insurers should make their premiums lower and more affordable. Why has this has not happened? Government regulations for no apparent logical reason. A stroke of the pen can change this practice immediately without 1000+ pages to accomplish it – yet this provision has not been included in any of the proposed Health Care Bills – go figure. This is just one example that should be a no-brainer! Makes me wonder if any of our elected officials in all parties have a brain to think with.

I hate to use the analogy but we (America) have put a man on the moon yet we cannot get 535 representatives to agree on anything but partisan issues. How sad!

I would be remiss if I did not describe my personal first hand knowledge of not being able to trust our government to do the right thing. I joined the military in 1965 for a four year term. We all were told, all branches of the military, that the military is a great career. Stay until retirement and you and your immediate family will be provided free health and dental care for the rest of your lives. At the time and throughout most of my 20 year military career, members took this life-long benefit into consideration when it came time to elect to stay in the military or leave. It was a significant consideration, at least for me, in the 60’s and 70’s and I decided to stay; more because I like and enjoyed what I was doing but partially because of the cost savings of free health and dental care into my retirement years.

I can tell you that life-long free health and dental care DID NOT HAPPEN. Millions of military members served and retired only to find out that their government has betrayed them by NOT providing free health and dental care in their retirement years. Granted we did not have specific contracts in place that identified the benefits offered; we felt it was our government, why would you need a contract? We needed a contract! In the case of the Government, there is no one person whose “word” was at risk; instead it was a collective “word” of the entire bureaucracy; no one was responsible for violating its military. This is one of the best kept secrets in America.

When you are considering the various Health Care Bills being offered and you apply what they “say” (the government) and what the bill will do for YOU in the future, keep in mind your military retirees and be very careful what you ask for – as in the case of our country’s military members, you may get something entirely different than what our government is telling you regardless of what side of the political spectrum you happen to fall on. Me? I tend to vote for the person I feel I can trust, regardless of party affiliation but who also shares some of my core believes and values until that person proves me wrong. Unfortunately finding a trustworthy politician is extremely difficult if not down right impossible.

I would suggest all our politicians take a lesson from Gary Keller from The Millionaire Real Estate Agent:


What a concept!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How To Make Conventioneering Work For You!

Nuggets For The Noggin
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown
November 10, 2009

Have you ever attended a large corporate type convention? There may be several thousand attendees to twenty-five thousand or more. How do you, one individual, make networking at such a large event work for you?

Think small! The first advice I received regarding attending a convention was to go with as many business cards as you can carry and give out as many as you could. For a lot of years I witnessed this approach and frankly it was a useless exercise. Instead of networking on purpose, it was networking by accident meaning that it was totally a hit and mostly miss activity. People would walk up to me, hand me a business card and say something really intelligent like, “Hey, when you have someone moving to San Diego, think of me!” They would hand me their card and move onto the next sucker (I meant to say convention goer; sorry).

First there was no interaction. There was no form of introduction. More importantly there was no reason for me to want to know this person or to keep the business card. Having flown to my first big convention I learned upon leaving that I had a problem bringing home all the stuff I had collected from convention booths, classes, and marketing pieces/business cards handed out by most if not all of the convention attendees. Therefore as I sat in my hotel room I had to decide, what do I keep, what do I throw away. With hundreds of business cards to consider, I first went through the cards and threw away any that did not have a photograph. Like so many people I have a hard time remembering names and faces and it is almost impossible to remember anyone by name alone. TIP NUMBER 1: Include on your business card and promotional pieces a photograph that gives the recipient a first impression that you are someone who looks like someone they would be willing to work with. SURPRISE – not all photographs accomplish this most important task. Some glamour shots you have to look twice to make certain it is the same person.

Even after going through all the cards, I still asked why I wanted to keep all these cards. Over the years they would follow me home, be stuck in a drawer, eventually would end up with rubber bands wrapped around them and ultimately find their way into the trash can. Any Aha here? TIP NUMBER 2: Why would I want to keep this specific card more importantly YOUR CARD? What value does it have for me? If I know, for example, that a lot of people moving to my area come from a specific market area, like Houston, TX, the cards from Houston could lead to future referral business as compared to cards from areas that I may have never heard of. Therefore, one great way to make your card “keepable” would be to also make it “memorable.” How do you do this? Jeffrey Gitomer has at least two ways; one was to have a business card for his cat and would give his cat’s business card to probable referral opportunities. His second method was to hand out business coins instead of business cards. The coins contained his likeness and contact info. Would you keep such a card? I found two methods that worked well for me. First was a baseball or sports type card. It was the same size as a baseball card, in full color on one side and the back was written in the same format as a baseball card. Memorable? There are people who still have that card even though I am no longer with the same company some 20 years later. Another card I found extremely valuable and still use is the card with a photograph of a bottle of furniture polish PRIDE and dishwasher detergent JOY on the back of the card. I would explain that whenever your probable referral opportunity was given the card you would explain that when their friends and co-workers showed pictures of their kids, grandkids, dogs, cats, etc, you show them your “Pride & Joy.” I know for a fact that people put that card in their wallets and do just as I suggested and kept those cards for years. After all, isn’t that the objective of giving out your card? I have also used miniature business cards. They were no bigger than the size of two postage stamps side-by-side. They were all in one color, blue on white. Contact info was on one side albeit hard to read. The other side said, “The size of this card was necessitated to save money as a result of lack of business and referrals from you.” Another card was full size with contact info on one side and on the other, big letters GENERIC BUSINESS CARD. In smaller print, “This generic business card was necessitated as a result of a lack of business or referrals from you.” It causes people to laugh, when they laugh it is much easer to build rapport. More importantly unique cards are oftentimes retained if for no reason than to show other people or to duplicate for their own use. Point made!

TIP NUMBER 3: Later in my career I began keeping ONLY those cards from people who made an effort to at least seem interested in me and what I was doing and where I was from. They took time, real time, to spend with me and instead of telling me all about what they did and who they were, asked me questions about what I did and who I was. You can reinvent the wheel but you would better be served by trusting me on this one – to build rapport with anyone, get them talking about them instead of you talking about you. I would then take their business card and write on the reverse side where we met (at what activity) and briefly a note on what we discussed, just a word or two.

TIP NUMBER 4: Immediately upon returning home, I would write each person who I met that I kept a business card for and write them a hand-written thank you note. I would enclose my card and tell them what a pleasure it was meeting them and look forward to being able to help them grow THEIR business in the future. These folks may or may not have kept the card I gave them at the convention but I increase the odds that they will keep the card I mail them. It may also at least subconsciously suggest to them that this is something that they should have done as well. If that happens, it reinforces how seriously you take your business and who would not want to work with or refer business to someone who takes their business seriously?

TIP NUMBER 5: If your personal promotion materials are not significantly unique or memorable, they most likely will not be retained. Therefore it would be my suggestion NOT to spend money on materials used to promote yourself to hundreds or thousands of people as it most likely will be trashed. Special Ed Haraway, an Exit Realty agent in Maryland suggested, “You want people to remember who you are and what you do from the mailbox to the trashcan!” That may be the best advice I had ever received. In this case from the moment you hand them your materials - to into the shopping bag they carry - and then to the nearest trash can.

TIP NUMBER 6: Instead of shaking hands with hundreds of convention attendees, spend quality time meeting a few people each day. Set a goal of having breakfast, lunch and dinner with a different person or small group of people YOU DON’T KNOW, each day. You can increase the odds of creating a life-long business and personal relationship by targeting people from those areas that you know have a likely chance of referring business to your area or your unique field such as vacation homes or waterfront homes, etc. I guarantee you that if you continually sit with folks you know, especially those from the same office, they are not going to help you grow your business by passing referrals to you!

TIP NUMBER 7: When you attend an activity, make absolutely certain that you sit with people you don’t know and then introduce yourself to them and get to know them by asking them questions about who they are, what they do, what are they doing that has been successful, what one tip would they give someone about how to be successful, etc. If you sat next to two new people (for you-know-who that would mean a stranger on either side of you) and you attended 4 to 6 classes or seminars a day, that would equate to meeting 8 to 12 quality contacts each day not including other opportunities to meet people. In this case you will have the opportunity to spend at least one hour with your new probable referral opportunities.

TIP NUMBER 8: Study the calendar of events to make certain you attend classes/seminars that will enhance your career first and meet people second.

TIP NUMBER 9: Tips 1-8 will be useless if you do not attend. I have for years been amazed that so few people I know in the business attend their company’s annual convention. Attending is how you become known within the company. Attending is how you can build your referral opportunities. Attending usually means that you should learn at least one additional technique or procedure that would generate at least one additional sale that would ultimately pay for your attendance. How simple can this be? Therefore to those folks who have made the decision not to attend I have to ask, “What are you thinking?” Probably, I can’t afford it. You cannot afford NOT to go. I don’t have the time; I’m too busy. Yea right! No one believes that. In fact if you want to increase your business just plan to leave town and your business immediately picks up; you know I’m right on that point.


If you are attending an event as a vendor whether it is a convention booth, a trade show such as Home Show or any gathering of people who could eventually may do business with you or who may give you referrals, you want to stand out. You want people to “linger” at your booth. You want people to take something away from their meeting with you that causes them to remember you and what you do. And, you want to capture contact information from as many visitors to your booth as possible.

TIP NUMBER 1: Have an attractive booth. If you are going to participate in such events, spend the money to create an attractive presentation. There is nothing less professional than paying for a booth or table and having only a table with your brochures displayed on it.

TIP NUMBER 2: It has been my experience that a great many vendors at trade shows set up a backdrop and then put a table between those folks working the booth and anyone who stops by. Eliminate barriers between you and potential business. You want people to “enter” your area and feel welcome and comfortable doing so.

TIP NUMBER 3: To get people to enter your “area” you have to realize that most will not enter unless you give them a “reason." Using real estate as a subject matter, most visitors to a home show, for example, do not have a specific real estate need at that very moment so why would they want to stop and talk to you? Most vendors at trade shows collect business cards or have fill-in-the-blank give-away slips and then give away something of perceived value. While this is certainly a good thing to do, the result is that you may get a lot of names and addresses but you get to interact with only one person – the winner. What about all the other folks who left a card or filled out the slips? Why not spend your marketing dollars on a lot of give-away items instead of one moderately expensive item? You then have reason to contact a lot of people instead of just one. Or, do both! This works exceptionally well if the organizers of the event announce winners whenever one is drawn. You can wait until the end of the event and have your name and/or company name announced only once or you can have it announced every fifteen minutes or so. The choice is yours.

TIP NUMBER 4: Give visitors a reason to spend time with you. This is a bit more difficult especially if there is no reason for them to stop and talk with you. The best such reason I have personally used is a computer, monitor, printer and “what-happened-on-your-birthday” software. I would setup an easel with an enlarged printout of What Happened On Your Birthday displayed. As people would tend to just walk by the booth, I would ask them, “Would you like to know how much eggs sold for on your day you were born or a special anniversary date?” Not only would they stop, they would tell others about the booth and the printout I would give them and those folks would seek the booth out. Since it takes a couple of minutes per person to enter the required information into the computer and printout the result, you have “time” to “talk” about what you want to talk about – your business and how it could help them. Ask great questions about the visitor, not statements about what you do. This works! The problem is that you will have more people stop than you can work – what a great problem to have – so get help working your booth. The software is really cheap, less than $10.00 at most computer stores that sell software. TIP 4B, bring a “slow” printer or setup your printer for the absolute results and that takes longer to print – gives you more time to spend with the visitors to your booth. Check out: as one source for the software.

TIP NUMBER 5: What one thing do all convention attendees seem to have? Not what you think – they all have sore feet. At one show several agents got together and reserved two booths, side-by-side. Instead of tables of brochures and cards, we purchased foot massagers and set up about 8 chairs. At the end of the show we gave away the massagers. People actually lined up to sit and relax. And while they did… I have to draw a picture?

TIP NUMBER 6: Just think outside the box. Do you want to do what everyone else is doing or do you want to be memorable? Don’t be afraid to be different – different will get you noticed. An example of this occurred when I would use PayDay candy bars. The real estate company I work for has the highest commissions in the industry. When an agent from another company would stop by or walk by I would offer them a full size PayDay candy bar. But before they could take it, I would acknowledge the name of the company they work for, put the candy bar in my pocket and then give them a “bite-size” PayDay. It caused everyone to laugh but more importantly it opened the door to some great conversations.

TIP NUMBER 7: I remember and still have a photo of me on the cover of a trade type magazine. A real estate agent had a cover set up and would take a photo of visitors, get their name and address and if possible give them the finished product before they left or it would be mailed. In today’s digital world you only need to take a digital photograph and then superimpose it onto the cover, save and email or print it out and give it to them. I have since seen such photos on the desks and walls of many business people.

In summary, to make conventions work for you:

  • Attend – that’s #1
  • Spend time with a smaller number of people rather than just giving out as many cards as you can
  • Engage other attendees; ask them questions, take notes, follow-up
  • Build relationships
  • Be different – be memorable
  • Instead of selling, find out how you can help the people you meet
  • Did I say follow-up?
  • Learn to be a resource
  • Learn to be a connector by connecting people with what they need or who they need to talk to
  • Did I say follow-up?

Friday, October 16, 2009

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“You Know…”
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, October 16, 2009

When was the last time you wrote a note to someone and wrote, “and a”, or “you know”, or “ah”? If you spoke like you wrote, you might have more success in getting what you want. In that regard, I would recommend everyone, regardless of their profession, read “The Little Green Book of Getting What You Want” by Jeffrey Gitomer.

Have you ever been distracted by a speakers’ favorite word, pause, or annoying habit? Was the message distorted or blurred because you found yourself counting the number of times the speaker waved her bangs away from her eyes or when he jingled the loose change in his pocket? Have you or the speaker ever looked at a watch? If you look at it, you are probably bored. If the speaker looks at it the speaker is probably thinking of being somewhere else; certainly not focused on you. Tip: Whenever you are with a customer, take your watch off. That way you will never be tempted to look at.

Just how annoying are you when you are the speaker. Most folks who read this, except you of course, do not think of themselves as speakers. Yet whenever you want to get your point across whether to your children, your spouse, friends or in the case of sales to a buyer or seller, that is exactly what you have become, a professional speaker; and hopefully a professional listener but that is for another Nugget.

I have found that most people do not know that they insert a word or words on a consistent basis into their conversations. They don’t know they have annoying habits like blowing or sucking air through their teeth, fixing their bangs, etc. If you do not know you are doing it, you also probably fail to grasp the affect those little words or gestures create in the listener’s mind. If the listener also happens to be a customer, you may lose the sale and it would have nothing to do with what the content of your conversation or speech.

For example, you would think that after a four-year college education a college graduate would learn by design if not by accident NOT to continually insert the phrase “you know” into a sentence. Yet when you listen to your favorite professional sports figure chances are you will hear “you know” more than once, you know?

The following is a short paragraph taken from The Millionaire Real Estate Agent written by Gary Keller. I have inserted the phrase “you know” like a lot of people would do if they were saying the same words aloud:

Most real estate agents you know... who consider becoming employers believe, you know... that hiring someone will cost them money. You know... the truth is that a bad hire will not only cost you money, you know.. it will also cost you opportunities. A good hire you know... will actually save you money and you know… probably won’t cost you any opportunities. A great hire-talent you know... will not only make you a lot of money you know… it will also create opportunities for you and your business; you know…?

Now “you know” I am telling you the truth. How many times do you say “you know” in your conversations? Really? Most who read this probably said I never say “you know”, you know? Really? Think again.

Here is another variation of the same paragraph. Does this apply to you, remember this is a conversation, not a written paragraph?

Ah… most real estate agents who consider becoming employers, ah…, believe that hiring someone will cost them money. And ah… the truth is that a bad hire, ah… will not only cost you money, and ah, it will cost you opportunities. Ah… a good hire will actually save you money and ah, probably won’t cost you any opportunities. A great hire, ah… talent, will not only make you a lot of money, and ah… it will also create opportunities for you and, ah… your business.

Again, you know I am right on this not that being right is the message, the message, ah… is that people typically do not speak like they would write when they say the same thing.

Other words or phrases we say but wouldn’t write are:

  • Yea instead of yes
  • Nah instead of no
  • Right!
  • Oh Yea
  • You know what I’m talking about?
  • Do you see?
  • Do you hear what I’m saying?
  • To be honest, as if sometimes you are not
  • The fact of the matter is, everything you talk about should be factual
  • Refer back (refer means going back)
  • I agree with you BUT…never say but, it builds a wall you don’t want built
  • Fixin to, local slang, don’t use it
  • Makin Groceries, local slang, don’t use it
  • MLS, GRI, CRS, CRB, ABR, JAR, PNG, etc, no one knows what these things mean except for other people in the same business but we use them nonetheless as if everyone knows what we mean; they ah…don’t but worse, they do not want to embarrass themselves by asking what they mean. For instance, JAR means Just Another REALTOR®, and PNG, means Pretty Nice Guy or Gal whichever the case may be.

Consider taking the word “but” out of your vocabulary. “I agree with you but…” It would be far more effective to say, I agree with you AND I think you will….”

There is a simple answer to the problem of adding words to your speech that should not be added and that is to record your speech/conversation. Recording your conversation would be even more effective if you ask someone you know very well to record your conversation over the next two months but NOT to let you know which conversation(s) they will record. In the beginning you will be more aware of what you are saying because of the agreement you made. Later you will forget the agreement and your conversations will be more natural and that is where you will truly shine light on the areas of your communications needing work.

I video taped my listing presentation. I thought I was good; I wasn’t! It involved much more than just what I said. Consider the things I did or did not do during the taped presentation:

  • Did not maintain eye contact
  • My body language was the complete opposite of the customers’
  • Used “ah” and the famous “and ah” so many times I needed a barf bag
  • Fidgeted in the chair
  • Sat when I should have been standing
  • Stood when I should have sat
  • Physically leaned into the conversation when I should have given the customer more space
  • Spoke way too fast, there is a difference between being excited and confident and when you are uncertain and nervous
  • Talked when I should have listened and taking notes
  • Did not take notes, unconsciously saying I was disinterested

These things happened when I knew I was being video taped. Some of the problems could have been caused by knowing I was being taped; I was nervous. I believe that if I did them on tape I most likely did them when they were for real.

What you say is not always what you mean and what you mean is not always what you say. If you have a pet, try this experiment. Yell these words to your pet, “Sophie, you are the best dog in the world; don’t know what I would do without you.” But you have to YELL THEM! Everything, your voice, your expression, the pitch, the volume tells Sophie she did something wrong EXCEPT for the words themselves. Now get down to the same level as Sophie and say in a loving voice the same thing and you get a different reaction from Sophie saying exactly the same thing. How people react to what we say is the same. How we THINK we sound and what we THINK we are saying may be entirely different than WHAT the other person hears. So think again Mon Frer!

Try saying the following and place emphasis on the embolden word:

I did not say I beat my wife.
I did not say I beat my wife.
I did not say I beat my wife.
I did not say I beat my wife.
I did not say I beat my wife.
I did not say I beat my wife.
I did not say I beat my wife.
I did not say I beat my wife.

Did the meaning change when you changed the emphasis placed on each word? Is it possible that the listener heard something other than what you intended?

For example, “I did not say I beat my wife,” might suggest to the listener that I may have beat someone else’s wife. Or, “I did not say I beat my wife,” might suggest that it was not I who said it, might have been my wife who said it. Same words; different meaning by just emphasizing a different word in the exact same sentence.

If you find yourself constantly repeating what you said, either the other party is hard of hearing, has no interest in what you are saying, or is unfocused, OR more likely you are speaking too softly, not directly to them, OR you are not speaking distinctly.

Finally, in a one-on-one conversation you MUST be aware of when you are jumping on the end of a sentence spoken by the other party. Let the other person finish their sentence and thought before you speak. In fact if you can learn to insert a long pause when the other person has finished speaking you accomplish the following:

  • You send a signal to the other party that you were listening
  • You send a signal that you are contemplating what was said before your respond
  • You insure the other person has finished speaking
  • You allow the other person to add a thought that might have been omitted

Silence during a conversation is difficult and powerful; learn to use it wisely.

To become an effective speaker you must first become an effective listener. In my many years in the sales business I have never been offered or seen a course on listening. (That is until I created one.) I recently took a golf lesson from a Professional Golf Association (PGA) pro. Did you notice I did not just say PGA? He was a terrific sales person. Aside from the cordial opening remarks, his first question to me was “What do you want to happen from this lesson?” He did not automatically assume he knew what I was expecting; he asked questions for the first 15 minutes of a 60 minute lesson. That was great! Far more importantly, he listened to what I said and then modified his lesson “on the fly” to adapt to what I (the customer) wanted or expected. When was the last time that happened to you? If you are in sales when was the last time you asked questions of your customer, listened and THEN responded with what the customer needed to know?


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On Being On Time

Being On Time
Article By: Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, June 2, 2005 updated September 2009

It is 9:00 AM in Baltimore, 8 AM in New Orleans, 6 AM in San Francisco and it is 5:25 at the Board of Realtors. Real estate agents are notorious for being late. It’s as if it is a fashion statement, a statement of independence or of power by being late for meetings.

The problem with writing Nuggets such as this one is that people tend to take it personally and feel a need to justify their actions or defend their position. No explanation, apology or justification is needed, expected or desired. The purpose of this Nugget For The Noggin is to simply point out the ramifications of being late for meetings, seminars/classes or appointments.

Let’s examine appointments first. There have been numerous studies regarding the Left Brain and the Right Brain. For the purpose of this Nugget, suffice it to say that a Left Brain person is literally a slave to the clock. There is a time and place for everything and they are never late! But to a Right Brain Person a specific time, such as 7:15 AM, may be 7:00 or it may be 7:45, time is not important. It may not be important to them but how do you think the Left Brain person who they are to meet with feels? If this is a sales call, you start out with one strike against you before you meet. In fact, you may have already been called out on strikes before you show up. Being on time is a two way street. Just as YOU expect people to meet YOU on time, most people expect YOU to meet THEM on time.

Meetings. The occasion of a meeting or class is what prompted me to write this Nugget. Hopefully everyone will simply take it and apply it to their lives as being important and not personal. What has past is past and forgotten. But, at a recent meeting/class, 11 of 33 attendees showed up late for the class. I am sure everyone had a reason or justification but that is not the point. There was an instructor from the government who had to stop and start every time a late attendee entered the room. It was extremely distracting not only for the presenter but also for everyone in the room. The repeated interruptions actually extended the time for her to make the presentation. More importantly, as it almost always occurs, someone who shows up late will almost assuredly ask a question that had already been covered or asked prior to their arrival.

In some instances, a quorum is needed before a meeting becomes official. In any case, if a quorum is required, no action can be taken if the required quorum is not present. Let’s say there are 12 members that are scheduled to meet and 7 members in attendance represents a quorum. Let’s also say that the meeting is to begin at 10:00 AM. At 10:30 there are only 6 voting members present. Clearly 30 minutes have been wasted while waiting for the 7th member to show up. If you are one of the 6, how does that make you feel? Unimportant? Disrespected? Angry? All three? If you are one of the 5, what are you thinking? “I’ll just be a few minutes late. After all, I have a real excuse for not being there on time. There will be enough people present to conduct the meeting.”

Everyone can verbalize a legitimate excuse for not attending or being late, or do they? If someone said they were going to give you $10,000 if you show up no later than 10:00 AM, would you be on time? Most events are scheduled well in advance so does it not make sense to enter the event on your day timer and then not schedule other activities that would clearly interfere with your commitment to participate? It also makes little to no sense to leave at the very last minute and allow no time for traffic or anything else that could deter you and make you late.

Education is the key to increased productivity. The more you learn the more productive you become. Educational classes are scheduled weeks and months out from the actual event. Therefore, if education is critical, and it should be, commit to attend and when someone wants to take you away from that commitment, learn to adjust and say, “As much as I would like to meet your schedule, I cannot because I am committed to attending a class.” Most people can accept that. If not, then you have to choose what is more important to you. If you choose NOT to attend the class, inform the party hosting the event that you will be unable to attend.

I recently attended an event where 45 people had signed up to attend; only 21 did. The hosting company had not only brought breakfast for 45, they also brought lunch for 45 and now had to throw away the excess food in addition to paying for it. When we commit to attend an event, it is very easy to justify not attending because after all, “it is only one person.” But as you can see by this example, it was NOT just one person; it was 24 one-persons!

I would like to think that no one is late on purpose. I would like to think that most people simply do not put a personal value on their being on time when so many others always seem to be late. They tend to justify being late by convincing themselves “it is only this one time.” Being late is being late. Being late is also being disrespectful to someone; either the presenter, the host, those in attendance or all of these people. But just as important, the part of the meeting/class/seminar that you missed might have triggered a question or input from you that could have changed the content of the program.

There is one simple rule to follow:


Oh, by the way,
when you attend;

That is a Nugget for another Day!