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!