The “first dirty little secret” about business planning is virtually no one has been trained on the nuts and bolts of being profitable. The second “dirty little secret” is even more insidious.

Ninety percent of all businesses do not have a business plan. Even for the small percentage of agents who do have a plan, most of them view it as a yearly or monthly chore to complete. The second dirty little secret of business planning is that planning, to be effective, must be done daily throughout the course of your day, every day.

In real estate sales, the bottom line is people who “wing it” fail. You wouldn’t go on a listing appointment without a CMA, yet thousands of agents go on appointments without adequate planning, without a clear plan to assist the buyer or seller, and without clear strategies for negotiation. Couple this with the fact that most agents have difficulty controlling their time, it comes as no surprise so many agents are struggling simply to get by. To do a better job in planning in your business, begin with these key areas.

1. Plan Your Listing Presentations

Tighten up your listing presentation so it can be presented in 20 minutes or less. A solid presentation will include a 90-day marketing plan and three specific strategies for target marketing the property. If you haven’t done so already, create a generic marketing plan and then customize the plan for each seller.

2. Your plan should include time for “competitor reconnaissance.”

Visit your competitors’ Web sites to learn what services they offer and how your services are different. Be ready to counter your competitors “value proposition” with at least five things you and your company do that your competitors don’t do.

3. Schedule time to learn about your clients, not just their property.

Ask potential clients about outside interests, where they enjoy spending time when they’re not working, as well as doing an online search on Google by typing in their name. If you discover your client has published an article or has been repeatedly mentioned in the newspaper, you now have an additional means to form a connection.

4. For relocation or other corporate clients, research their company, as well as incorporating marketing statistics in your presentation.

If you’re working with a bank on relocation or REO property, take some time to learn about the company, who the key decision makers are, as well as what their backgrounds are. If your business contact is a “hard driving” nuts and bolts type of person, skip the sales pitch and go immediately to the bottom line. Substantiate whatever you give them with clear-cut research that supports the price you are proposing. On the other hand, if your contact prefers a more personal approach, spend whatever time is required to get to know more about what matters to them.

5. Based upon whom you are calling upon, plan your presentation to suit the situation.

Bottom-line people don’t want to be bothered with “bonding.” Stay focused on the big picture in terms of facts and figures. Engineers and accountant-types like seeing detailed numbers. On the other hand, people who are more artistic could care less. Instead, focus on the esthetics of the home, as well as their areas of interest.

6. “Dress for success.”

A great guideline in terms of planning for appointments is to dress like your clients would when they’re at work. Also, remember too much jewelry makes you look “flashy” and makes you “untrustworthy” in the eyes of many clients. When it comes to how you dress, “less is more” and “understated elegance” should be your guiding principles.

7. Customize your plan for each client by identifying which tech tools are most appropriate.

For sophisticated hi-tech or accounting types, transaction-tracking software is a smart move. For non-computer types, face-to-face and telephone contact is an absolute must. Remember, choose your support tools based upon your client’s preferences rather than your own.

8. When it comes to planning, “under-promise and over-deliver.”

When showing property, always tell your clients it will take at least 20 minutes longer than you planned. When you’re working on a listing, promise about 75 percent of what you think you can deliver and then deliver more than you promise. People who over-promise seldom get future referrals and create a host of problems for themselves in terms of closing the transaction. Also, remember to allow extra time to get to your appointments. Punctuality is a must in any solid business plan.

9. Plan time for practice time.

Remember, a great presentation is based upon a clear-cut plan, but unless you have practiced your delivery, your likelihood of success is greatly reduced.

A successful business plan is one you use every day, throughout the course of the day. Taking time to plan actually saves you time in the long run, increases your effectiveness, and ultimately results in more income for you.

Bernice Ross is an owner of and can be reached at


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