Brokerage

Real estate prospecting: Changing the rules can be good for business

Flexibility and understanding go a long way in creating a true connection

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Are you feeling worn down by the ups and downs in the real estate business? Are all the new regulations and difficulties in negotiating transactions proving to be overwhelming? If so, it may be time to “change the rules” and put the fun back in your business.

When listings sell quickly, buyers qualify and transactions go smoothly, real estate is fun. When everything is a struggle, however, it’s hard to find a way to make the drudgery and the stress tolerable. The key to changing this situation is to change the rules.

One of my nephews recently shared how he handled a situation with his girlfriend who thought he should be spending less time at work and more time with her. Instead of defending himself, he agreed. He told her she deserved better. She got to be right, but in the process he changed the rules and she lost the relationship.

Rule change No. 1: Don’t be attached to the outcome

One of the ways that agents cost themselves potential business is by having to be right. For example, when you tell a seller that his listing price is too high, you may get to be right, but you don’t get the listing. Your attachment to being right cost you the listing.

A better approach is to explain to the seller the probability that his property will sell in a given month (the rate of absorption) and to ask the seller, “What are the quality of your alternatives if you don’t sell?”

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If he still wants to overprice the listing, seeing you get up and walk away from his business may just be the shock he needs to be more realistic. If not, you have saved yourself the aggravation and the cost of carrying an overpriced listing.

Treat your prospecting activities like you would a game of cards. Your job is to look for the aces."

Here’s a slightly different approach that also illustrates this point: “When the seller says, “I don’t have to sell,” respond by saying, “Then I don’t have to list!”

Rule change No. 2: Reprogram your mindset

If you have ever watched “Star Trek,” you probably recall how Captain Kirk turned the Kobayashi Maru lose-lose scenario into a win.

In this scenario, cadets at Star Academy were placed on a simulated bridge of the USS Enterprise on patrol in the Klingon Neutral Zone. The starship receives a distress signal from a disabled civilian ship, the Kobayashi Maru. The test was considered a no-win scenario because it was impossible for the cadet to simultaneously save the Kobayashi Maru, avoid a fight with the Klingons, and escape from the neutral zone with the starship intact.

Rather than playing within the confines of the game, Kirk took an entirely different tack — he reprogrammed the computer. In other words, he created a new winning scenario.

In the book “High Probability Selling,” the authors describe how this process applies to prospecting. What stops most agents from door knocking, cold calling, or calling on owners of expired and for-sale-by-owner listings is their fear of rejection. Embedded in this fear is the belief that everyone is a candidate for your services. If the typical homeowner purchases a new property every seven years, that means that in given year only 14 percent of the population will be interested in doing a real estate transaction.

A better approach is to treat your prospecting activities like you would a game of cards. Your job is to look for the aces. There’s nothing wrong with the other cards in the deck — they’re just “discards,” i.e., those who are not in the market to do business right now. They’re not rejecting you; it’s just that the timing is off.

Rule change No. 3: Create new rules for new situations

Begin by first identifying your own personal rules. Each person has rules that he or she lives by. Carefully observe what rules you play by, as well as the rules you apply to the other people in your life.

One of the most common ways we create struggle for ourselves is by insisting that the old way of doing things should work in a new situation. For example, if you are promoting your listings on your Facebook profile page (which violates the Facebook terms of use), you are trying to apply the old-fashioned advertising model when you should be using an approach that resembles how you would get to know a new neighbor.

You wouldn’t bombard your new neighbor with your open houses, new listings and other marketing materials. The same is true on social media. Instead, the new etiquette is to get to know people by commenting on rather than just liking what they post.

To put the fun back into your work, share funny stories with your clients, let go of your need to be right, and be willing to adjust to the rule changes no matter what happens.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.