The death of the listing presentation cannot come soon enough for me. I have reviewed thousands of these presentations and the indisputable fact is that they all basically look the same, feel the same and clients could really give a damn about most of their content. Potential clients stare at the flip chart or PowerPoint presentation that reveals silly pie chart market share graphs, branding graphs that range from 94 percent to 99 percent awareness, print media outlet programs, open house campaigns and personal production awards that are deceptive at best. In addition, we make the client sit through a CMA (comparative market analysis) even though the client can find the same data online for free.
Now I know the CMA is a sensitive topic for some claiming that the online list price provided by Zillow or Cyberhomes, as examples, do not reflect the true value, as only a professional can determine this upon a physical inspection. This is where the head-fakes come into play! Too many agents want to believe that only they can properly determine list price. If this is true, why is there so much unsold inventory on the market? Why is the rate of listing expirations at an all-time high? It’s not because the seller listed it too high — it’s because the agent took the listing at the wrong price. All listings require at least two signatures, that of the seller and that of the agent. No matter how unrealistic the listing price was, you the agent endorse the insanity the moment you sign your name!
This is all part of the presentation pitfall. So what to do? Change the listing presentation to a "listing education." After all, that’s what your client really needs — an education in truth, transparency and accountability. Hang up all of the things that you know don’t work and start introducing services and strategies that do.
Start with this: guaranteed response time. As managers and brokers will tell you, the number one complaint sellers have with their agents is bad response time. Poor communication and slow callbacks, if any, remain as prevalent today as they were years ago. I still am amazed at the lack of responsiveness in our industry. In a service that commands thousands of dollars, the public still can’t get a quick response.
Educate your client that a premium agent not only has the tools of a Blackberry, Palm, iPhone or other device to be "real time," but that "real time" is that starting point of service. Insert into your education a "Response Time Guarantee" that promises your seller that you will return his or her inquiries within three hours or you will or reduce your commission by 50 percent. That will get you in gear to make sure it happens. If you think you cannot handle this guarantee, you may start to wonder if you really give premium service.
The next phase of your education needs to be not about you but about them.
Share with your client your merchandising strategy rather than your advertising program. Show them how you assess true buyer quality via automated underwriting system (AUS) findings rather than accept preapproval letters from mortgage companies.
Teach them how you invoke a risk-mitigation protocol into your listing transaction. Let them see how you determine an effective list price from a return-on-investment perspective. Educate your seller on total market competition that includes not only multiple listing service data, but private-sale and pre-foreclosure inventory as well. Teach them how you determine agency versus non-agency buyers and if the mortgage applied for has a "portability feature" to protect their contract of sale.
These are but a few of the critical elements that you can use to educate your seller. Sure, throw in your market share, production awards and charitable donations, but remember that the three other agents who presented to the seller earlier in the day had the same book as you, although maybe in a different color.
Scott Einbinder is a national real estate speaker and trainer.
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