My Blog

Perspective - how does it matter in sales?

6/6/2022
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At our latest Fox & Roach Friday Forum, we welcomed Heather Hansen — an accomplished keynote speaker, attorney, author, and podcaster. She talked about how we, as real estate sales professionals, can use the tools of a trial attorney to “make the case” for our buyers, our sellers, and ourselves. It’s all a matter of credibility and perspective. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the latter, especially as it relates to how we engage with clients. How does your choice of language show that you’re on a client’s side? What role does curiosity play in your interactions? When you meet for the first time, who does most of the talking? Here are some of my thoughts and suggestions when it comes to perspective. 

Avoid jargon.

When you meet with your clients, you may be tempted to use technical jargon to sound like an experienced professional. Resist the temptation. When trial attorneys like Heather Hansen argue to a jury, they are sure to use words that everyone can understand in order to make their case. The same applies to you. Because you’re around a lot of sales professionals every day, it’s easy to slip into “agent speak” without even realizing it. This can be alienating. Make a conscious effort to talk to your clients on their level, whatever it may be. This shows that you are viewing the situation through their lens, not your own. 

Show curiosity. 

Unlike when a trial attorney speaks to a jury, you have the added advantage of being able to ask questions. You get to be curious! Asking a lot of questions does not make you appear less credible. It actually helps you see the sale from their point of view. Once you put yourself in their metaphorical shoes, you can work to prove you are on their side. 

Listen more. 

You can and should be asking your clients what they need, what you’re missing, and what makes them happy. And then comes the part that can be surprisingly easy to forget: listen to their answers! Especially in a first meeting, you may be eager to impress a potential client with your own thoughts, stories, and ideas. Yes, of course, you have to talk — informing them of the state of the market and setting expectations. Otherwise, active listening will not only help you see things from their perspective, but also make them feel special. This is important both in the beginning and throughout the process.

 In today’s frenzied market, I can see how it might be easy to forget about perspective. You may have fallen into the habit of being purely transactional: getting it done and keeping it moving. However, as I’ve said often in this blog, real estate is still a relationship business. For a long and successful career, how you engage with your clients really matters. Just like with trial attorneys, people get to choose who represents them in the buying and selling of their homes. Unlike with trial attorneys, it’s a very good thing when people need us to represent them or their families again and again and again! 

How do you engage with your clients to try to see things from their perspective? Share with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Use #joansjots.

Have you found your niche?

3/1/2022

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Becoming a successful real estate sales professional can be challenging, especially in the beginning. You may be out there feverishly hustling for business anywhere and everywhere … while forgetting that one, well-defined segment could be the key to your success. While there’s no shortcut to a long-term career in real estate, a niche focus can free you of the short-term game of haphazardly chasing commissions. You’ll actually maximize your efforts, reduce competition, and make it easier to network strategically for higher-quality leads. 

Sometimes, your niche will identify itself based on initial deals. In other words, your past deals may reveal something in common that points to a particular expertise. However, some agents take a more proactive approach by either identifying an underserved market or by zeroing in on an existing personal interest. Once you’ve determined your niche, you need to make it the center of your marketing efforts while continuing to prove yourself as an expert.

There are so many niches from which to choose. In this blog, I’m going to focus on a few of the most common: location, buyer/seller types, property types, and personal interest groups.

LOCATION

The location-based real estate niche is the most popular and is specific to a neighborhood, city, or county. Choosing this niche will maximize your lead generation potential and clients will gain a deeper trust of your value. Plus, choosing one area enables you to do more showings and make more appointments without having to travel back and forth. Your niche location must be one with which you’re very familiar and have also researched thoroughly. Ideally, you’ll also live in the community.

BUYER/SELLER TYPES 

If you want to target buyers, work to create personas for different types of buyers. Your understanding of the needs of the buyer types will determine your approach when it comes to lead generation and conversion. Some buyer-side client types include luxury buyers, commercial buyers, investors, first-time homebuyers, and rent-to-own. 

Conversely, your real estate niche can center on representing sellers. Some seller types include home flippers, single-family investors, multi-family building owners, FSBOs, and life event sellers. If sellers are your chosen niche, you need to market yourself as a specialist in home valuation reports, marketing strategies for specific types of properties, and negotiating skills during the offer process.

niches cont'd

2/28/2022

PROPERTY TYPES

You can choose to market yourself as an expert on the structure, process, and details of certain property types. Some of the property types you could choose for this niche include historic homes, co-ops, condominiums, single-family homes, multi-family complexes, and many more. Researching the home purchase statistics for your area will help direct you in deciding which property type is best for your real estate niche.

PERSONAL INTEREST GROUPS

You might find it both lucrative and fun to align your niche with your personal interests. Let’s say, for example, that you’re an avid mountain climber and are a member of several enthusiast groups. Because you’re part of this specific community, you can market yourself as the real estate expert within and among those enthusiast groups. The level of comfortability and trust already exists because these are people who you know personally. You are a friend and can be a valuable advisor. In addition to marketing, you can also regularly ensure that the community remembers that you’re a Realtor without it feeling like an aggressive sales push. Saying things like, “I’m sorry I’m late, I was at a showing” or “the other day at my open house …” help keep your profession top of mind so that they will immediately think of you when they have a real estate need. Personal interest groups can be a built-in sphere of influence that will reap great rewards.

PROVE IT

Location, buyer/seller types, property types, and personal interest groups are just a few of the many real estate niches you can consider. But remember, it’s not good enough to just say that you’re the best at your niche; you have to prove it. Show your niche how you are better able to produce the results they need through a thoughtful, focused media strategy. Over time, you’ll also find that success breeds success. As clients see that you’ve closed multiple deals within a particular niche through your marketing or online listing platforms, they are more likely to retain you as their representative.

The bottom line is that niches help maximize your efforts, reduce competition, and even create a better client experience. So, why not embrace a niche and start working smarter now? 

Are you currently having success working in a real estate niche? Tell me all about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Use #joansjots.

Market Outlook 2022

1/4/2022
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What does this year hold for the housing market? Here’s what experts project for 2022 along with my thoughts. (Hint: It isn’t wildly different from 2021 and, if you work hard, the outlook is bright.)

MORTGAGE RATES AND HOME PRICES TO INCREASE IN A CONTINUED SELLERS’ MARKET

Dr. Lawrence Yun - chief economist and senior VP of Research at the National Association of REALTORS® - has predicted that there will be a 2% reduction in sales in 2022 as mortgage rates increase. However, the increase will be modest, with rates remaining at historic lows under 4%. Increased mortgage rates, when coupled with inflation impinging on savings, will affect lower and median-priced home purchases.

While we won't see the double-digit gains that were made in the past year, home prices are expected to keep rising in 2022 at a slightly more moderate pace. A group of twenty top economic and housing experts brought together by NAR projected that median home prices will increase by 5.7% this year. 

How’s it possible that home prices could still continue posting solid growth despite a jump in mortgage rates? The answer is an ongoing mismatch between supply and demand. We're currently in the middle of the five-year window when millennials will hit the important first-time average homebuying age of 30. At the same time, those potential buyers are plunging into a market in which active homes for sale are at the lowest level in more than four decades. In total, Freddie Mac estimates the nation is four million homes short of current buyer demand. That dynamic, even in the face of higher mortgage rates, will likely keep this a sellers’ market throughout the year.

INVENTORY TO SLIGHTLY IMPROVE

While there will still be a shortage of inventory, the industry will begin to turn the corner on the dire shortage of housing supply, according to Dr. Yun. New construction of single-family homes has been moving steadily higher. People are likely to list their homes now that federal support and mortgage forbearance programs are either ended or are slated to end soon.

Realtor.com predicts a growth of 0.3%. Buyers will become accustomed to the lack of choices and will want to aggressively compete, causing the aforementioned continued rise in home prices.

MORE SALES PROFESSIONALS TO COME, ONLY THE STRONG TO SURVIVE

According to Buffini & Company, this year, there will be a surge in the growth of REALTORS®— now at 1.52 million members. “We have more agents in NAR than ever before and almost that same number of people with a license not affiliated with NAR,” says Chairman Brian Buffini. He’s also noted that experience among agents has dropped from nine years in 2019 to eight in 2020.

Both Dr. Yun and Mr. Buffini have issued a warning to agents, particularly new agents, of another challenge ahead in the coming year: If you look at the total number of home sales and the total number of agents, you’ll see that not everyone will succeed.

PATIENCE AND STRATEGY REQUIRED

This year is going to require patience and strategy. People will be looking for experienced negotiators and allies in their quest to own their dream home. Some of the challenges will be similar to 2021, but it’s best to look at this new year as a fresh opportunity to meet those challenges head on. And for you hard-working sales professionals out there, I am very optimistic that you will be successful in making dreams come true in 2022. 

What opportunities and challenges in our industry do you anticipate for this year? Share with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Use #joansjots.

If you’re not writing, you’re wrong.

12/31/2021

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It’s that time of year when you reflect on what you’ve achieved and think about how you want to improve your business moving forward. The plan for next year is all in your head, so there’s really no need to write it down. Right? 

Well … did you know that a written business plan creates a 30% greater chance of sales growth? If you didn’t know, it’s not too late to get yours on paper.

All real estate sales professionals are essentially small business owners. You have support from your brokerage, but are ultimately responsible for your own production and financial success. So, creating a plan to achieve your goals is imperative. 

A business plan is a written blueprint that captures the future of your business. It details what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. How extensive your business plan should be, whether a multi-page electronic document using a template or a handwritten simple plan, is up to you. Just get it on paper.

To get started, I suggest looking at all of the business you’ve done this year and evaluating what worked best. Focus your plan for the coming year (or the coming quarter, if short-term goals motivate you) on the things you’ve done well and discard what hasn’t worked. This will be different for everyone, as we all have different strengths. I also recommend keeping whatever you create on your desk or any place where you’ll see it every day. Don’t put it in a drawer. Just having it visible will help you reach your goals. 

You owe it to yourself to complete a business plan that will set you up for greater success in the new year. If you haven’t already, write one right now. Wishing you and your business a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2022!

Do you have a business plan? How have past business plans contributed to your growth? Share with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Use #joansjots.

Astound yourself.

11/1/2021
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This month, our Fox & Roach Friday Forum featured Brian P. Moran, author of the New York Times best-selling book The 12 Week Year. Brian talked about his groundbreaking time-management principles, which teach people how to accomplish more in far less time. During his presentation, he mentioned a quotation from Thomas Edison  one of the most well-known, prolific inventors of all time  that I’ve been thinking about ever since: 

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”

Do you feel regret when you read those words, thinking maybe you haven’t been fulfilling your true potential? I believe it’s natural to feel like you always could have done more. I find it helpful to remember that you can’t change the past. It’s history. You can, however, change your next decision. While we may not always feel remarkable, our potential to accomplish remarkable things is always present. Acknowledge that the potential is there and your goals will feel reachable. Barriers usually have more to do with thinking than anything else. 

Once you’ve acknowledged your potential, what else will help you accomplish more? Think about action steps to achieve your goals. Maybe you want to read a book like The 12 Week Year or take a class to learn how to maximize your time. Maybe you want to identify a list of steps that will get you closer to your goal  actually write them down or print them out to stay motivated. Or, you could work with an accountability partner. This means forming a partnership in which you mutually agree to coach each other on a regular basis. You speak daily or weekly through feedback sessions, where you share wins and talk about your current challenges. Your action steps are up to you, but should be specific efforts that you see as the best path to your goals. 

Even if you haven’t astounded yourself lately, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of astounding things in the future, starting today. Okay, so I don’t recommend that anyone directly compare their accomplishments to those of Thomas Edison … but I can assure you that you have potential and you can be truly remarkable. 

How do you feel when you read Edison’s words? What steps have you found helpful in working to reach your potential? Share with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Use #joansjots.

Control how you react to change.

8/11/2021
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The art of life is constant readjustment in the face of change. Shifts in the market … pandemic protocols and how they affect your family, your health, and your business … changes in the political landscape … life transitions … to be frank, the list is endless. It can be easy to feel like you’re in over your head. While we have no control over any change itself, there is one thing you can control. 

I’ve been reflecting on this topic lately, since I returned from a Bright MLS retreat where I heard Colonol Gregory Dimitri Gadson speak. He is a West Point graduate, motivational speaker, and retired colonel in the United States Army. He is also a bilateral above-the-knee amputee. In 2007, while returning from a memorial service for two soldiers from his brigade, he lost both his legs and severely injured his right arm in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. Colonel Gadson went on to join the Giants as a captain, helping lead the team to two Super Bowl rings. He is now an avid skiier and sky diver.

Despite major changes in his life, Colonel Gadson said that he is able to continue to thrive because his leadership and strength come from his mind and heart. He also made a conscious decision to have a positive attitude. I know that each of you out there may be struggling with different challenges, but Colonel Gadson’s main message is applicable to all of us. It’s this:

Be in control of how you react to change because that is the only thing you can control.

It’s essential to accept the fact that you can’t control that endless list of changes life will throw your way. The good news is that you will always have a choice of how you react. Your attitude will determine the quality of your life, just like it has for Colonel Gadson. 

I hope this message brings a little hope and inspiration to your day. And to those of you currently confronting changes — whether they be internal or external — I wish you strength and resiliency. 

Do you think it’s good advice to focus on how you react to change rather than dwelling on the change itself? Share with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Use #joansjots.

Engage with your community now.

5/19/2021
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Community involvement has always been a great way for sales professionals to give back and raise visibility. But let’s face it: it’s been tougher during the pandemic to find creative ways to stand out, reach out, and demonstrate value to the community. However, it’s more than possible to accomplish! Keep reading for my do-it-yourself ideas on how to stay involved and engaged with your community, even in today’s new normal. 

You’ve likely heard stories of “Zoom fatigue,” but the reality is that most Americans are continuing to social distance to some extent. This means that video calls and large virtual meetings aren’t going away tomorrow. So, what about planning a Zoom event or livestream for your community? Team up with other local professionals – health professionals or service professionals come to mind – who will be a further draw for the public to participate and ask questions about various hot topics. Both you and the professional co-presenters will market the event to your networks, expanding opportunities for everyone.

You could also partner with other local professionals to make videos for social media. For example, join forces with a local electrician to create a did-you-know video about home repairs and safety issues. The electrician will market the video through his/her social media, getting you in front of that audience as well. This model translates to insurance professionals, landscapers, plumbers … almost anyone! The other professional will appreciate the help with their marketing and you’re exposed to a broad, diverse audience in the community. Plus, you’re demonstrating value! Another great benefit: Your reputation as a real estate expert is enhanced.

Speaking of being an expert, I have one final idea on how you can engage with the community right now: Reach out to local publications. Contact them with a one-paragraph statement on market-related issues or simply make yourself available for real estate news interviews. Imagine the name recognition and credibility that executing this small action will bring!

In short, it’s important to stay involved and engaged with your community and there are many industrious ways to do it, even in this new normal. So, why not try planning a virtual event or livestream, partnering with other professionals, or reaching out to local publications? You will always be successful when you find ways to stand out, reach out, and demonstrate your value no matter what! 

Do you have any additional community involvement/engagement ideas that have helped you? Share with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Use #joansjots.  

Persuasive communication skills - how can you improve?

4/28/2021
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Do you consider yourself to be a persuasive communicator? If not, I highly recommend that you get started on improving your skills. Here’s why: persuasive communication skills are critical to working from a position of influence. If you sharpen these skills, I believe you’ll find that you’ll work more effectively, build better relationships, and navigate disruptions with greater ease. 

I watched a Ryan Estis vlog recently about how to influence with impact. He’s known for his innovative ideas on leading change, improving sales effectiveness, and preparing for the future of work. It inspired me to think about how we can all work to become more influential, persuasive communicators. Here are three ways to get started: 

First, be prepared. The most effective communicators practice and prepare their position of value in advance. For example, when you go to a listing appointment, show up having done your homework and ready to establish a strong position. This may sound like common knowledge, but it is easy to overlook or believe you can just “wing” it. Practice your compelling responses to every question you can imagine. Have your research organized in front of you, so that you not only sound prepared, but look prepared as well.

The second way to become a more persuasive communicator is to ask effective open-ended questions. So, not only should you practice your responses, but you’ve got to prepare your questions in advance too. Persuasive communication can be managed not just through the art of speaking, but also through the art of asking competent questions and listening to the answers carefully. As I said in my last blog, you should always listen more than you talk. Your clients and potential clients need to know that you care about them more than you care about the business. 

Lastly, welcome resistance. If you’re trying to navigate change or advance a new idea, it makes sense that you will encounter some resistance. Persuasive communicators are prepared for resistance and even welcome it as a sign that the other person is interested. For example, in 2020, all of us had to adapt to the virtual world of real estate. In turn, we had to lead our clients and potential buyers when it came to virtual open houses and virtual showings. I’m sure that you encountered resistance — a lot of questions, skepticism, and even trepidation. The persuasive communicator was able to navigate these disruptions to the “norm” with greater ease. 

I hope these ideas prove useful in your quest to become a more persuasive communicator who can adeptly work from a position of influence. Keep in mind that persuasion is a process, not an event. So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away … but the results will be worth your efforts!

Have you tried any of these ways to become a more persuasive communicator? Or, do you have some tips of your own? Share with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Use #joansjots. 

Be yourself.

11/13/2020
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Last week, our Fox & Roach Friday Forum featured author, social media strategist, and nationally-recognized keynote speaker Katie Lance. Her talk focused on social media because it’s become one of the best ways to engage and connect with both potential and current clients. She gave our agents a lot of immediately-actionable, valuable tips and techniques. When it comes to how you should act and “who you should be” on social media, Katie made a memorable and interesting analogy that I want to share with all of you: 

Imagine that you’re throwing a dinner party and have invited your ten biggest clients. Would you consider sending your assistant or an outside representative to host it instead of you? Of course not. Similarly, you should not consider sending anyone else or any other “persona” in your place to represent you and your business on social media. It’s best to be yourself! Consumers do business with people with whom they can relate … people they know, like, and trust. 

It’s not always easy to be yourself. After all, the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide a tempting opportunity to bend the truth. Resist the temptation! I’m not suggesting that you act unprofessional or rude … that’s hopefully not who you are anyway! However, the personal brand you build should be fashioned around the real you: your core personality and beliefs. It’s okay to show your vulnerabilities. People want to feel that they know you. You’re not perfect and neither is anyone else. 

Being yourself is also much more sustainable. If someone who follows you on social media asks to work with you or invites you to do a listings presentation, they will be expecting to meet the person they see online. If they realize you’re not anything like that person, you will end up disappointing them ... or worse, they’ll see you as fake and phony. It’s akin to meeting someone in-person whose photo you’ve already seen. You’re expecting them to look a certain way and you may feel duped when they look differently.

It’s important to stay focused on your message: what you love about real estate, what makes you different, tips based on your personal experience, etc. Don’t be shy to speak to your expertise — it’s not boasting; it builds your credibility and lets your clients and potential clients feel closer to you. 

In short, make sure YOU show up to the proverbial dinner party. Remember, social media is a place to build your business reputation, create meaningful relationships, and reinforce who you are and what you can do.

Be sure to connect with me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram so that we can keep in touch. 

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