(This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Read Part 2, "Premium service deserves premium pay.")
Consumer Reports just released a study saying that 67 percent of all agents were willing to lower their commissions simply because the seller asked. If you haven’t mastered the art of earning your full fee, there’s no better time than now.
I recently had a conversation with Doug Rebert and Rick Doyle of Prudential Homesale in Lancaster, Pa. Agents in one of their offices wanted to slash commissions because they felt it was the only way they could survive the commission war in their market area. How did they persuade their agents that there was another alternative? They showed them how to shift from discussing price (i.e. commission) to discussing value. Once the agents understood how to illustrate their value to buyers and sellers, commission-cutting requests disappeared. If you’re ready to show your sellers the value you bring to the transaction and to earn more full commissions, follow the steps below.
Begin by shifting the discussion from how much the commission is to how much the seller will net when the transaction closes. Here’s the script:
"Mr. and Mrs. Seller, are you more concerned with the amount of the commission you will pay or how much you will net when the transaction closes? The way that you will net the most from your real estate sale is by having maximum exposure to the market place. With your permission, may I show you how my premium marketing plan helps you to achieve the highest possible net price in the shortest amount of time?"
The challenge for most agents is that they are unable to articulate what makes their services unique from those provided by competitors. Even more importantly, they are unable to show the seller how those services translate into more dollars at closing.
To help your sellers net the most from their real estate sale, include the following services in your premium marketing plan:
1. 1-800 call capture (IVR) system
Explain to the sellers, "Did you know that over 90 percent of the calls that come into most real estate offices are lost because the person answering the phone cannot obtain the caller’s phone number? With your permission, may I show you how my system captures up to 95 percent of the phone numbers of people who call on my listings?"
Prior to the meeting, record a message about their property on your system. Give the sellers the number and as they are listening to the message, turn on your cell phone. Within seconds from the time they hang up, your phone will ring. Show the sellers their phone number on your caller ID. Explain that because you paid for the 800 call, you are entitled to their contact information. Also, because the caller initiated the contact, there’s no issue with the "Do Not Call" regulations.
2. Listing syndication
Since almost 90 percent of all buyers begin their search online, it’s important to have maximum exposure on the Web. This means publishing your listings on as many Web sites as possible. Your local MLS will syndicate your listing to every agent and company in your market who has a link to their service. That alone can be more than 1,000 Web sites depending on how many members have IDX on their sites. If you’re with a major firm, your listings will be available nationally and internationally in every market where your company has an office. In addition to these sites, it’s also important to syndicate to other major sites such as Realtor.com, Craigslist, Google Base, Trulia, Zillow, Yahoo, etc. You can reach 30 of these sites using the syndication tool from Point2Agent.com, which also tracks activity from each site where they syndicate. Don’t forget to include plenty of pictures (at least 20) to make your listing stand out from others. Finally, make sure that you create a customized Web site that uses the property address as the URL (345ElmStreet.com) and includes a wealth of information about the neighborhood and the local lifestyle as well.
3. Video syndication
Most sellers expect you to shoot a virtual tour, but where do you post it? In addition to linking it to the sites mentioned above, it’s equally important to syndicate your video through a site called TubeMogul.com that sends your listing to 15 different video sites, including YouTube, Google Video and Yahoo Video.
4. Redecorate online
Show sellers how buyers can use the Obeo.com space-designer tool to change the room colors, flooring, cabinets, counters, and the exterior colors of their listing online. When buyers don’t like the carpets or would like to see what the house would look like if they remodeled the kitchen, they now have a way to visualize the results.
5. Track to convert
The most important aspect of these tools is that they allow you to track results. In addition to explaining how you provide maximum exposure to the market, show sellers the tracking statistics from each of these sites. Very few agents use tracking, yet it is one of the most powerful tools you can use to convert leads into listings with full commissions.
Finally, back up your services with a seller services guarantee that says, "If I don’t deliver on what I promise, you can contact my broker and ask for another agent to be assigned to your listing."
Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of "Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters" and "Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?" Both are available online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at LuxuryClues.com.
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