By Jim “Gymbeaux’ Brown, December 30, 2022
I met Vickie many years ago, too many that I want to admit to. At the time Vickie and I worked for the same national franchise real estate company. She began a promotional campaign that featured a single red rose on a black background. Her business card was black with a single red rose and if my memory serves me, she had the words, “Simple Elegance” over the rose. It had to be there, otherwise I would not have remembered it after these many years. On the occasion of us both attending a training program, she gave me a tin of cookies and you may have guessed it, the tin’s lid was black with a single red rose on the lid. To this day, whenever I see a red rose, I immediately think of Vickie Carlton from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. http://www.lascolinashomes.com/
Then there is Sandra Nichols,
“The Hat Lady” from Montgomery, Alabama.
Like Vickie, I met Sandra at a training event many years ago. What made the meeting memorable as compared
to other such encounters, was that Sandra was wearing a hat when most women at
that time or since, have NOT worn hats; see the photo above. In fact, every time I saw Sandra, she was
wearing a different hat and that, aside from her wonderful service to her
customers, became her trademark – women’s hats.
I once received a post card type Christmas card several years ago, I
wish I had kept it. It displayed a lone
Christmas Tree in a field and the only ornaments were women’s hats. I did not have to turn the card over to know
who sent it to me – it was Sandra! https://www.homesforsaleinmontgomeryalabama.com/blog#
The point I want to convey is this. If you are in sales, sales of any kind, the number one thing you must do is to first create relationships with people and you do that by meeting them and then developing the skill of asking questions and LISTENING to their answers. The questions do not have to do with what you may or may not be selling, they should be questions about the “probable buyer”, the “probable buyer’s” likes, the “probable buyer’s” family, the “probable buyer’s” business, etc. The more you can get the “probable buyer” to talk about such things, the better you will be able to build a relationship with this specific “probable buyer”; PROVIDED YOU ACTUALLY LISTEN TO THE ANSWERS! I considered “listening” to be so important, I wrote and taught a course titled, Effective Listening; How to Become an Effective Listener, and taught it the agents in my office.
I put the phrase, “probable buyer” in quotations for two reasons. The term came from one of the best sales trainers of all time, Jeffrey Gitomer. He suggested that EVERYONE is a probable buyer, not a customer or a client or as real estate agents often say, “my people”, and you must learn to treat them as “probable buyers!” If you learn this one fact, it is very possible if not probable that you will eventually increase YOUR income by treating everyone you meet as a “probable buyer.” Therefore, a shoutout to Jeffrey Gitomer for this income producing training tip!
To put this into perspective, I spent over 33 years in the real estate sales business. Most of my time was spent training real estate agents in sales techniques and standards of practice. My emphasis was NOT on agents becoming selling machines but rather I hoped they would become experts on relationship building and that they would become the best listeners on the planet. No one is ever selling anything if they are doing all of the talking. You can only discover that you may or may not hold the keys to satisfy a “probable buyer’s” needs if you learn what the “probable buyer” actually wants and needs. You do this through relationship building and being an effective listener and that may require actually taking notes about what you hear.
Vickie Carlson and Sandra Nichols may both hate my guts but that doesn’t matter when it comes to their bottom line. Unless I do illegal things, they understand that my political beliefs, my personal likes and dislikes, my habits, my family, my job have very little to do with both of them building upon our relationships by ensuring that I know they exist, what they do and where they do it. I may never buy real estate or know of anyone buying real estate in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas or Montgomery, Alabama areas but if I did, I know who I would be calling. Therein is my point! Both Vickie and Sandra have maintained either an active contact such as Vickie’s monthly real estate newsletter and her red rose, or, Sandra by engraining in my mental grey matter that every time I see a women’s hat, I think of her. This is called marketing.
It is critical to understand the difference between marketing and advertising. You market to people you know. You advertise to people you don’t know (it may also touch the people you do know provided they see it.) Advertising is often referred to as the shotgun approach. You send out a lot of material in the hope that someone who needs your service or product, sees it at the very moment they realize they need the type of service or produce you provide, and then contacts you. Vickie and Sandra, both know me. They know what I have done in the past. They know where I live. They know how to reach me if they need to. They also know that I know a lot of REALTORS® and as such, if they need a REALTOR® in my area but did not know any, they may call me to find one. That is simply good networking and it works.
IMPORTANT POINT! I retired from the real estate business after 33 years on December 31, 2012, over ten years ago. That is a long time to remember people like Sandra and Vickie who I haven’t actually seen in over 30 years. How many people who are NOT related to you and who you met over 30 years ago at a 2-hour training seminar can you remember? How many plumbers can you name? How many electricians can you name? How many car salesmen can you name?
CRITICAL UNDERSTANDING!!!! I have just said I retired after 33 years in the business. Can you appreciate the number of REALTORS® I have encountered in those 33 years considering that I attending as many Conferences and Training Classes that I could possibly attend all over the country? The number of agents number in the hundreds if not thousands. In my own hometown of Slidell, Louisiana, there are easily over 300 licensed real estate agents and prior to 2012, I either knew most of them or was at least aware of them. Most were aware of me because I was the Broker for one of the companies in Slidell and agents typically know who the brokers are. Nonetheless, I have met and have known (past tense) hundreds and hundreds of real estate agents. Yet, twelve years after my retirement in 2012, only two agents routinely reached out to me to “market” themselves and their businesses. What does that say about the hundreds upon hundreds of other agents who claim to be looking for referral business? How many car salesmen do you think have reached out to me in my lifetime AFTER I have purchased a car from them? ZERO! How many plumbers maintain contact with me? ZERO! How many electricians? ZERO! How many roofers? ZERO! At one point I had 105 agents in my Slidell office and after 12 years of retirement, how many have maintained constant contact with me? ZERO! Maybe everyone does hate my guts and none want to ever do business with me ever again or accept any referrals that I may be able to send their way. Maybe it IS me! But I doubt it. Sales people simply do not understand the difference between marketing (a hand written note card) and advertising (a billboard or newspaper ad) and therefore spend most of their budget on advertising to the masses in hopes of attracting a customer rather than asking people they already know if they know of anyone that could use their professional services or buy their product. If there are 300 agents in Slidell, Louisiana and you are one of them, what are YOU doing to stand out from the crowd? What are YOU doing to create a mental note for people to recall you even 30 years later? If you can’t answer these questions, what exactly are you doing to grow your business and increase the profit number on your personal financial spreadsheet? And by the way, I receive a text message on every holiday from a local handyman who has done work for me in my home.
Suggestion: You may want to consider purchasing a red rose or wearing unique hats.
What separates you from the crowd?
If you can’t answer that,
neither can your database of probable buyers.
You do have a database, right?