Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging — somehow if you’re not online, you’re hopelessly outdated. To succeed in today’s highly competitive market, you need Web 2.0 skills, but they must also be coupled with good old-fashioned basic sales skills.

What’s old is new once again. Good old-fashioned sales skills are more important than ever. Where do you stack up on these basics that are critical for success in 2010?

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Read Part 2 here.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging — somehow if you’re not online, you’re hopelessly outdated. To succeed in today’s highly competitive market, you need Web 2.0 skills, but they must also be coupled with good old-fashioned basic sales skills.

What’s old is new once again. Good old-fashioned sales skills are more important than ever. Where do you stack up on these basics that are critical for success in 2010?

1. Your seven-word job description has not changed in decades

Real estate comes down to this simple statement: "Generate and convert leads into closed business." When agents are busy trying to close transactions, it’s easy to ignore the "lead generation" part of the equation. If you don’t focus on lead generation, however, conversion and closing never take place. This old real estate rule still applies today: Your lead generation time is as important as a listing appointment. Never cancel it unless you would have cancelled a listing appointment under similar circumstances.

2. Know the inventory cold

The most successful agents share a common trait — they know the inventory cold. They can accurately estimate a property’s worth, often without even seeing the comparable sales. If you don’t have complete mastery of the inventory in the niches you serve, make a point of viewing as many houses online and offline as possible.

3. Market statistics matter

How many months of inventory are there in the price ranges and the locations where you work? Which areas (if any) are experiencing a buyer’s market? Which areas are experiencing a seller’s market? Can you objectively demonstrate to your clients whether the prices in your market are declining or increasing? These skills slipped by the wayside during the first part of this decade. Tracking this data is more important than ever when you’re dealing with foreclosures, short sales and REOs.

4. All real estate is local

Not only is all real estate local — in 2010 it’s hyperlocal. The most successful agents have always dominated a specific market niche. Today that strategy is more important than ever. In "Marketing Warfare" (originally published in 1985), Ries and Trout argue that small firms or individual marketers cannot successfully compete against giant companies for broad market share. What individual marketers can do, however, is to carve out a narrow niche they can dominate. The large companies do not have the resources to compete for narrow portions of the market. Today this strategy has emerged as "hyperlocalism." …CONTINUED

To capitalize on this hyperlocalism trend, identify where the largest proportion of your deals originate. The next step is to work on expanding this niche. To do this, set up a separate part of your Web site devoted to everything about the lifestyle in this niche. Obtain a separate URL that reflects this niche such as WilshireHighRises.com. This helps your search-engine optimization and also increases the odds that you can ace out most competitors who lack your expertise in your niche.

5. Market benefits, not features

Most real estate ads read like a laundry list of the property’s physical characteristics or "features." Features don’t motivate buyers to purchase. Instead, the decision to purchase is based upon the emotional benefits the buyer believes the property will provide. To do a better job of marketing your listings, use your ads to paint a picture of the lifestyle. For example, "Relax on the patio overlooking the panoramic view," "Unwind in the spa tub," or "Snuggle up with a good book in front of the fireplace on a cold night." Because most Americans have busy, stressful schedules, they are attracted to homes that allow them to escape the hustle and bustle. Be sure to provide plenty of pictures plus a video tour whenever possible.

6. Face-to-face skills make a comeback

Tweet-ups, BarCamps and other events that bring virtual communities together in person illustrate how important being face to face still is. While meeting virtually via Skype or on social media sites such as Facebook is great, it’s simply not the same as being in the same room.

As one agent put it, "I keep up with my friends and clients online. I follow what they’re doing. It makes me feel that I don’t have to talk to them in person since I already read about what they’re doing. The problem is that connecting on Facebook somehow feels phony to me. There’s no substitute for seeing someone you like in person."

The same is true when it comes to working with clients. The majority of the time, potential clients want to meet you face to face before they will agree to do business with you. Furthermore, when you meet with your clients digitally, you often miss voice intonations and the body language cues that can help you negotiate more effectively.

Need more help with the basics? If so, don’t miss Part 2 next week.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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