Sunday, December 25, 2011

Habits, Insanity, Are They The Same?

Nuggets For The Noggin
Habits, Insanity, Are They The Same?
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, December 25, 2011

Alfred Einstein said that insanity can be described as doing the same thing (over and over) and expecting different results.
How would that apply to sales?  It does not matter WHAT you are selling only that you are selling something.

With all things being equal and the economy never changing - a sales career would be steady, rarely increasing; rarely decreasing – all things would be equal.  That’s not life.  The economy changes.  Sometimes cars, homes, toys, golf clubs (had to say that) and twigets (that is a make believe item for You-Know-Who), are easily sold and sell often but sometimes the sales are in the tank.  The difference is usually a result of a changing economy and consumer confidence.
Most people who start out on a sales career are hungry to learn.  They take classes, a few optional but most required.  Think about that for a moment.  If you were going to work on an assembly line building cars and your job was to install only the right side driver’s door, just how much training would you require?  Not much.  But if you wanted to progress and learn how to install the passenger side door, you might need additional training.  If you wanted to learn how to build and install the engine, a lot more training.  But you install just the driver’s side door.  You are paid regularly and you occasionally get a raise usually when everyone else receives one even if one of your doors you installed happens to fall of the car while it is in operation.  And life goes on.

It’s 1990 and another person, YOU, start out on your sales career and you “learn the ropes” either through training or by one-on-one instructions from someone willing to teach you “the ropes” or both.  Why would someone be willing to teach you “the ropes?”  It may be that person’s “job”, or that person may be teaching out of the kindness of his or her heart or both.
That was 1990, today is 2011, 21 years later.  It is easy to identify with 1990 or 2011 but what about the period in between?  Can you imagine what that time frame might represent in regards to a person’s sales career?

Most people, certainly not you, start and eventually finish and the days in between are rarely different than the first couple of days when they started.  They sold like this in 1990 and it may have worked, why change now?  Why go to training, I have heard it all before?  What could someone teach me now I have not been doing for 21 years?
Let’s say YOU need open heart surgery.  Which surgeon would you want operating on you?  A surgeon who learned the practice 21 years ago and then rested on what the surgeon thought he or she knew?  Or would you want someone who over the past 21 years stayed on top of the profession and then operated on you using the latest and newest techniques?  I’ll wait for your answer….

Is it really any different in sales?  If you are reading this, I seriously doubt you are selling a spatula; instead you are probably selling life insurance, automobiles, homes, furniture, appliances, etc. 
Do products change?  When I was a kid people wanted a car that took them from point A to point B and how cool is this, it had an FM radio and air conditioning, WOW!  Now cars park themselves and have computers and television screens not to mention a sound system that would knock your socks off.

Almost every product, unless they do not or need not be improved upon, increased in its function and use and usually increased in its cost to the consumer.  Let’s agree that prices go UP!  If prices go UP and the economy is going DOWN, is it possible to still sell a car or house or whatever using the same methods when the amount of money coming into a household decreases while the prices increase?
Something has to change – YOU!  How do you change?  Typically you will discover if you take a serious look.  This is not the first time business and/or the economy has changed.  Someone has gone through this long before you are forced to experience the change.  What did those folks do to change with a changing economy or innovative product line?  Some changed and experienced success; others - fell by the wayside because they either failed to change with the economy or refused to learn how to deal with a changing economy.  Worst still, they were satisfied with the status quo.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A STATUS QUO!  You cannot stand still.  You are either moving forward or you are being left behind.  The later means you are going backwards.
There are good habits and there are bad habits.  In sales a good habit learned in 1990 may be a bad habit in 2011; nothing every stays the same.  Some people start their career with one huge bad habit – taking only the courses that are required.  Required courses will get you started and keep you legal but they will not take you to where you want to go.  They are usually required to meet some organizational requirement to keep you legal not to improve your skills.

Example:  In real estate sales, the government requires a licensee to take a specific number of required hours of training; let’s say 12 hours a year.  Do those 12 hours enable you to become better at sales, better at understanding people, better at negotiating, better at relationship building?  Or do those 12 hours keep you abreast of legal issues that may keep you out of trouble but rarely teaches you how to help you better find solutions for your real estate customers?
What specific classes have you recently attended to help you better understand a changing economy?  What specific classes have you attended to help you better understand foreclosures, short sales and bank owned properties?  What classes have you recently attended to help you better understand the ever changing technology facing every industry?  What specific classes have you recently attended that you were not required to attend?  And…what class did you attend to improve your attitude?  In most cases, not many. 

Thus the reason that fewer than 20% of any sales force makes 80% of the sales.  The 20% does the homework and training required to stay ON top of the profession not just the minimum required to stay IN the profession.

In my opinion the best way to work at mastering your trade is to teach it.  Not what happened 30 years ago but what must happen today to stay atop of your profession.  When you teach, you learn.  When you teach, others learn.  When you teach your profession becomes that much better than what it otherwise might be.  The question is this:  What are you doing to improve yourself and your profession?  If you find it difficult to answer this question, you need to give serious thought to your self-education program and update it.  You do have one, right?  Some may have to initiate it.  No one is going to force you to learn except you.  Need more be said?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 2011 Market Update
One of the key drivers of homes sales, the employment rate, is beginning to show promising signs of a turnaround. The four-week average for jobless claims, as of November 19, was 394,250, a drop of 3,250 from the previous four weeks, and at the lowest levels since April. Consumer confidence also rose 15 points in the last month, and is now at its highest point since July of this year. Eric Green, Chief Market Economist at TD Securities Inc. said, “The trend remains very constructive. Jobless claims are back below 400,000, which seems to be the pivot point in terms of a strengthening labor market as opposed to a weakening one.”
In addition to improving employment conditions, home affordability also improved as interest rates fell further, opening the door for more first-time home buyers who accounted for 34% of the sales in October, an increase from 32% last month and last year. The western United States saw the greatest increase in home sales, which were up 4.4% month to month and up over 15% from last year.
A strengthening job market, along with encouraging signs from the housing sector, including a 10% jump in pending sales for October, are strong economic forces. While mortgage lending still remains a challenge, these forces may send a signal to banks to relax lending regulations and allow for a more rapid recovery.
Home Sales
in millions
Existing homes sales improved 1.4% in October, or to an annual pace of 4.97 million, a 13.5% increase from October of last year. Even more dramatic, was the jump in pending home sales, which surged in October by 10.4% from September, and were up 9.2% from October 2010. This jump in pending sales could lead to a strong fourth quarter as signs continue to point to a pent-up demand brought on by current lending conditions of
mortgage providers.
Home Price
in thousands

The national median home price in the U.S. saw a small decline in October to $162,500, from $165,800 in September. This number can be affected by the sale of distressed properties, which typically sell at discounted prices. Distressed properties accounted for 28% of homes sales in October. Yet despite a drop in the median price from last September, the Federal Housing Finance Authority reported that seasonally adjusted prices rose 0.2% in the third quarter from the second quarter in 2011, which could be an early sign of appreciating home prices.

Inventory- Month's Supply
in months

By the end of October, the total number of homes on the market had fallen 2.2% to 3.33 million homes, which represents 8 months of inventory at the current sales pace. Since a record high of 4.58 million homes in July 2008, the inventory of homes for sale has been steadily declining. When homes sell faster than they come on the market, the market comes from its current favor toward buyers into balance or in favor of sellers. This can trigger an appreciation in home prices and lead the way to a stronger recovery.
Source: National Association of Realtors
Interest Rates
Mortgage rates continue to push lower, dropping to 3.98% from 4.23% in October of 2010, offering historic affordability to today’s home buyers. While mortgage lending conditions continue to be a challenge, more and more people are seeing the advantage of buying a home sooner rather than later. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said, “Home sales have been plodding along at a sub-par level while interest rates are hovering at record lows and there is a pent-up demand from buyers who normally would have entered the market in recent years. We hope this indicates more buyers are taking advantage of the excellent affordability conditions.”

This Month's Video
Topics For Home Owners, Buyers & Sellers
When first-time home buyers decide they are ready to buy, it is important for them to begin the process by carefully assessing their values, wants, and needs—both for the short and long term. This is a critical step since consultation sessions normally start with the buyers’ values. Afterward, buyers can explore their wants and needs and, once defined, determine actual criteria.
A recent study shows how important the following home-buying factors were to buyers:
    • List Price: 72%
    • Location: 69%
    • Neighborhood: 55%
    • Floor Plan: 37%
    • Square Footage: 28%
    • Schools: 22%
By having the home-buying criteria in mind before walking into a consultation, buyers are off to a better start when meeting with their real estate agent. The consultation allows buyers to fill in any missing gaps within their values, wants, and needs.
Brought to you by KW Research. For additional graphs and details, please see the This Month in Real Estate PowerPoint Report.
The opinions expressed in This Month in Real Estate are intended to supplement opinions on real estate expressed by local and national media, local real estate agents and other expert sources. You should not treat any opinion expressed in This Month in Real Estate as a specific inducement to make a particular investment or follow a particular strategy, but only as an expression of opinion. Keller Williams Realty, Inc., does not guarantee and is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of information, and provides said information without warranties of any kind. All information presented herein is intended and should be used for educational purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. All investments involve some degree of risk. Keller Williams Realty, Inc., will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on information contained in This Month in Real Estate.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Law of Attraction Re-Visited

Nuggets For The Noggin
The Law of Attraction Re-Visited
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, December 5, 2011

What does the Law of Attraction really mean?  That you tend to have come into your life more of what you think about most.

If you continually discuss illness, you tend to have more illness come into your life either through you or near you as in family and friends.

If you continually discuss financial problems, you tend to continue to have financial problems and maybe even go deeper into debt.

In sales, if you continually discuss how unreasonable your customers are, they not only become more unreasonable you find more just like them; or you don’t find any customers at all primarily because you have also become unreasonable.

In golf, (had to bring that in) if you think about the lake, the bunker, the trees, the out-of-bounds, three putts, etc, you will definitely find more of them and more often than you want.  Think about long straight drives, high soft shots into the green and sinking putts and that is exactly what you will receive.  Certainly not every time but the more you think about what you want, the less you will receive what you do not want.

MORE IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION:  People and situations come and go in your life; they have in mine; oftentimes we are totally unaware of when they come and go.  Example:  You see and like a certain type of car, there are not many on the roads and you want one.  You buy one and then as if by magic that same type and maybe even the same color as your car seems to suddenly appear everywhere you go.  Were they there before or did you just not notice them or as said, “they suddenly appeared.”  Actually they were there all along, you simply were unaware.

This same principle applies to people passing through your life.  Someone once said that we should have the attitude that we can learn from everyone we come in contact with; both good and bad.  In fact it was suggested that you imagine the letters WCILFTP tattooed on their foreheads; What Can I Learn From This Person?

If that were the case, how might your life be different?  The same is true from the books you read, the CDs/DVDs you listen/watch and unfortunately the television you watch.  WHAT CAN YOU LEARN BY DOING SO?

In a recent class on goal setting the instructor asked that everyone write down what they don’t want.  I just sat there.  She then asked me why I wasn’t writing.  I told her that I cannot think of “stuff” I don’t want since I focus on what I do want, really.  Why would you ever want to concentrate on what you don’t want?  I discovered that was the point of her exercise as she then instructed the class to throw away their lists.  That such thoughts are meaningless and can be very destructive.

When you become someone who is constantly aware of your surroundings you discover all sorts of wonderful and oftentimes life-changing (hate that phrase as it is so over used) events, people, situations, books, CDs, DVDs, training classes, etc.

Exercise:  Read this and then try it.  Close your eyes.  Clear your mind of all the “stuff” you are thinking about, really, clear your mind.  Imagine that there are only three people left on Earth you being one of them.  Your survival will depend on two of you working together.  One person is positive, energetic, honest, has integrity, is learning based, and goal oriented.  The other constantly whines, looks for disasters, lies, cheats, looks for the gloom and doom, and has no direction.  You have the ability to choose to be with one over the other.  GOOD QUESTION:  Who would you choose?  EVEN BETTER QUESTION:  Who would the other two choose?  Hmmmmmm?

This exercise is similar to the Native American story about the elder tribal chief telling the little boy the story about another little boy who had two wolves inside of him, one vicious, one peaceful.  When the little boy asked which one survived, the chief said the one he fed the most. 

The Law of Attraction in real life.  About seven years ago I came in contact with a book entitled “What’s The Big Secret” by Michael Dunn.  It was so powerful that I read it several times.  When I had the opportunity to add toys or candy to less fortunate children’s Christmas bags, I instead put a copy of the book in the bags and addressed a note to the children’s parents or guardians that read:  “We can give a fish to a hungry person or we can teach a hungry person how to fish.  This book will teach anyone who reads it how to fish.  Merry Christmas.  Santa”

I do not know what happened as a result of those books; I like to think at least one person read it and at least one child is better off today than he or she might otherwise be. 

Now for the “rest of the story.”  About two weeks ago something caused me to pull “What’s The BIG Secret” from the book shelf and gave it to someone to read.  Prior to Hurricane Katrina I had become friends with Michael Dunn and he and a group of local residents would regularly meet to discuss what I have later come to realize was something Wallace Wattles wrote in 1910 in “The Science of Getting Rich.”  Wattles repeatedly referred to “thinking in a certain way.”  That is what the group focused on, thinking in a certain way as described in “What’s The BIG Secret.”  Sadly Katrina brought an end to those meetings and we lost touch with each other.  Then only days after removing the book from the shelf, I received a call from someone I did not know asking for a personal referral in regards to Michael Dunn the author who she was considering as a personal coach.  A coincidence?  Then a week later I receive a call from Michael Dunn who I had not spoken with in some time (years) asking to “just” meet with me which we did.  Another coincidence or The Law of Attraction at work?

Michael and I talked for well over an hour; no agenda, just talked.  Looking back, we both spoke but I think I was doing more listening because what Michael was saying was causing me to think.  Not superficially think; the conversation caused me to really think – deeply.  During the conversation Michael suddenly began painting a picture of something I had just said in passing.  The picture was vivid, it was HUGE, and it was what I should have been doing for the past several years and for one reason or another had not.  It was an amazing experience.

This is important, at least to me.  After about 90 minutes of conversation, I was no longer the person I was just 90 short minutes prior to our meeting.  I would say that is life-changing.

There are life-changing events around us at all times if we just pay attention to what is around us.  This year I suffered a mild heart attack, in fact I didn’t know I was having one but it resulted in open heart surgery.  Shortly thereafter I lost a teammate and personal confident to a heart attack.  More recently I lost a teammate and friend who felt a change was needed and made it.  And then I met with Michael Dunn. 

All of those events were on my life’s path but as they occurred, the path literally branched out in two directions (the vicious wolf, the peaceful wolf).  We each have that choice every day of our lives.  Unfortunately most of us do not realize (1) there is a fork in the road and then (2) we do not even realize which fork we had subconsciously chosen until we are far down the road.  We simply do not pay attention.  

In three out of the four instances above I chose to be positive and move on and did.  For the fourth situation, meeting with Michael Dunn, the jury is still out.  It is hard to imagine something being more important than suffering a heart attack; I can assure you that meeting Michael Dunn was or could be that important.  As I said, the jury is still out.

What jury verdict are you waiting for?  I believe we are put on this planet to make a difference.  What kind of difference are you making?  Are you sure?  How do you know?  Upon whose lives have you made a positive difference?  Upon whose lives have you made a negative difference?  When might you have put money over common sense?  When have you put revenge over understanding and forgiveness?   An easy way to answer these questions is to answer this question:

Do you brighten a room when you enter or when you leave?
I’m just saying……

If you need help on your attitude and who doesn’t, read Jeffrey Gitomer’s “The LittleGold Book of YES!Attitude”; more than once and sooner rather than later.  Ben Franklin was a great man still he recognized that his worse problem was his own attitude and the way people perceived him; not good.  He spent the next year and the rest of his life working on his beliefs one belief or character trait a week for 13 weeks and then repeated the process every quarter.  (For You-Know-Who, there are 13 weeks in a quarter.)  The result, Ben Franklin became a “new man” and the people around him recognized it and responded accordingly.  It is The Law of Attraction at work!  It can and will work for you.  Read “What’s The BIG Secret?”