BE A MINER NOT A FARMER
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown November 5, 2015
For as long as I can remember, most if not all real estate agents and anyone in sales were taught to "farm" for business opportunities, am I not right? We were taught to select a subdivision or geographical area or group of people or all of them and then "farm" or "work" them for leads.
This morning I awoke from a sound sleep and thought about just one word - MINER!
Words mean things! When you think of farmers you think of someone planting seeds and then the farmer waters them (contacts them with constant phone calls, mailers and/or emails) and some may fertilize them (shower them with meaningless pens, calendars and kitchen items) and then hope that a ray of sunshine will strike them and they call you with THE sale of all sales. How many real estate agents have found that to work? To me that is what I would think whenever I heard the word "farming."
What do you think when you hear the word MINER? I know I think about someone who gets down and dirty and of someone who is maybe one of the hardest workers in the world; not that farmers are not hard working. They dig for their gold or silver or whatever they are looking to find; sometimes they win, oftentimes they lose. Which metaphor would give you the best mental picture of? Someone who would be the most successful in regards to the rewards they receive in any sales business; would it be a farmer or a miner. Which metaphor would give you a mental picture of a person who receives the MOST VALUE for their efforts, the farmer or the miner. For me it's the miner!
A miner could be someone who actually digs in the earth until they find the gold or silver vein that produces the fruit they search. I first think of the old westerner who hunched down while sitting in the rushing waters of a small river with a large pan where he (or she) panned for gold. The miner and the farmer both knew there was gold where they were farming or mining; they just had to find it.
How does a miner actually pan for gold? They use the edge of the pan to scoop up the dirt that sits on the river bottom. The gold they are looking for is much heavier than the water and dirt so it becomes hidden within the dirt on the river bottom with the water flowing over it. With the dirt and some water in the pan they shake their pans back and forth hoping the golden nuggets buried in the dirt will settle to the bottom of the pan and the dirt and water will be washed over the edge of the pan leaving only the gold nuggets, if there are any. Most of the time there are no nuggets. Back into the dirt goes the pan.
Words mean things and in this case it is the value and importance of the metaphors - the sparkling gold that now rests on the bottom of the pan as compared to corn or wheat growing in a field. The mental image of the corn or wheat would give me the impression that every seed I planted would grow into a lead. Is that how sales work? Is every person you meet really a potential sale? Absolutely not! Just like every dip into the river bottom does not produce gold. For any number of reasons, a specific person I may farm, may not need or want what I am selling, or may already have a sales person they are happy with, that is how a farm works. The seeds may all produce fruit but that fruit may not be yours to harvest. Have you ever listed a home in your geographical farm area only to have a home across the street go up for sale within a day or two of your listing going on the market? I have. How could that happen, they were in my farm area. Point made. I have had homeowners complain to me that I have been annoying them by the constant contact. I have also had friends complain to me that another real estate agent has been annoying them with constant contact. Are you actually loosing sales by constant contact of people who really do not know you all that much? Maybe so!
Think of the mental picture of the miner in the river. The river miner keeps scooping up the dirt and shakes the pan not knowing if this particular scoop will produce results or not. Another miner is just up or down stream from you. He or she is also scooping up the dirt from the same river bottom. He or she may find gold and you not. Does that not define the sales process? Do not sales people work as many people as possible in hopes of finding the one or two who need your services or products? It is not a simple procedure of picking the low hanging apples from a tree or harvesting huge bundles of wheat from a field meaning every seed produces a result. It does not work that way. You dig and you dig and you prospect for the gold lying hidden within the river.
Here is an even better metaphor in the form of a question: which miner finds the most gold - the one who scoops the most dirt.
What do you tell people when they ask you what you do for a living? I sell real estate? I sell cars? I sell insurance. Is that what you really do? Or do you actually MINE to find people who want to buy your real estate, your cars or your insurance. Then once you find that one person (that golden nugget) you must determine if that one person is a real buying customer, a real golden nugget, because that is where your training and skills should take over to close the sale or weed out the fool's gold.
Now for real life application. It has been my experience that agents holding open houses on occasion have people attend their open houses but so many real estate agents try to sell them THAT house; car dealers that car, insurance agents, that policy. Think of this, you are a new car salesman and you have a lot full of ALL the various makes of cars. In just one line of cars you have a Lexus, Cadillac, Buick, Ford, Chevy or a beautiful Black Dodge Charger (the devil made me say that); you could sell any one of them. The customer automatically goes to the Lexus but in fact could only afford the Chevy, still they are looking at the Lexus. People who visit open houses are no different. They are looking at homes and rarely know when they go in if that is the home for them (the Chevy) or if they could afford it (the Lexus) but the agent believes they have already pre-qualified the home they are looking at and that is rarely ever true. Therefore it is YOUR job to start qualifying them, removing the dirt and water immediately. You have put some dirt in your pan and you have to shake the pan and let the BS slide over the rim to get to the gold beneath. There is a reason that a person(s) came into your open house or your car lot; what is it? Just to look? Just to see what a neighbor's home looks like? Thinking of actually buying? Thinking of selling and they want to see what the market has to offer? Or a combination of all these things? At this point they are the dirt in your pan and you have to mine them, shake the pan, to find the gold in their intentions.
Whether you are selling homes or selling cars or whatever you are selling. the principle is the same. Everyone you meet COULD be a potential sale or the gold in your pan. But every person you meet would be simply the dirt in your pan, some need to go over the side; don't waste your time looking for "fool's gold." You have to mine what you have in your pan and then dip your pan back into the water or pool of people for more opportunities.
Be a miner, not a farmer. More importantly, if you want to be the best miner in the land, learn to be the one who puts the most dirt in their pan, not plant the most seeds. All of your seeds may in fact grow but it is very possible and even likely that someone else will be picking the fruit you planted as you well know. A real estate agent might have the perfect home but another agent sells it. A car dealer may have the perfect car but another dealer has a better deal on the same car. Or as I have seen many times, customers simply feel more comfortable and can relate to another salesperson than they do to you. Shocking as that may sound, you know it is true. If that is the case, you need to see if you require an attitude adjustment. How do you do that? Start by asking the customer why they bought through a different person; they will oftentimes tell you the truth you dread hearing.
You may be a "good" miner or a "good" farmer but it takes an "excellent" miner or farmer to identify exactly what they have in their pans. To be that person requires education and training. Great sales people are not born that way, they are made; in most cases they are self-made. What does that mean? It means they read, they attend courses and they discuss their business practices with others who they would like to be like. They survey their customers and the customers they lost to find out how they performed both good and bad. I am shocked at how few sales people ever read just one book relating to their specific profession whether it be selling real estate or selling cars. I am also shocked at how few sales people ever contact the customers they have sold to in order to find out what went right, want went wrong and what should they improve upon as a salesperson - surveys! People have already done what you want to do and they have all but told you how they have done it; they have left clues for you but you have to read and/or ask questions to find them. My advice to anyone in sales is to read about and become and expert at what you do. I also highly recommend cultivating a mentor, a true miner who has already done what you want to do.