Curiosity Killed The Cat – Not The Agent.

Curiosity Killed The Cat – Not The Agent.

Curiosity killed the cat – not the agent.

What you believe to be true, shapes the world around you and your behaviour.

But what if I told you that, for many estate agents/realtors, false beliefs are slowly strangling the life out of your agency? Limiting your progress and damaging your chance of survival.

The good news?

Beliefs are much easier to change than deep-rooted values. They’re changed by the power of words. More on that later.

Let’s start with a few commonplace estate agency beliefs.

Your agency has to advertise – despite substantial evidence that every one of the 5,000 messages each of us is subjected to every single day is largely ignored or forgotten. Ad blockers, fast forward on the TV remote, call barring, spam filters – consumers don’t like ads. Consumers couldn’t care less if 74% of the world’s most popular brands didn’t exist. (Havas Media 2017)  Online agencies where customer acquisition costs are nearly 12 times that of income. Your agency doesn’t have to advertise – there is a better way of reaching the right people.

Your agency has to list on the portals – based on the false premise that the more people that see your listing, the greater the chance of selling the property and for a higher price. Simply not true. The portals are no devotee of estate agents. They see agencies as a commodity to attract consumer data, which they then own. And treat those agencies with contempt.

Your agency has to door-knock, cold call and interrupt to get attention – ignore for a moment that it might produce a few instructions. But, imagine that for every NO, there is a vendor, annoyed by your unsolicited interruption of their day. That will never use your agency, in future, because of your tactics.  Your market diminishes every time this happens.   Same as with ads, we didn’t ask to see them and we didn’t ask for your concern that we might unwittingly choose the wrong estate agent.

You have to engage on social media –  despite the fact that “we don’t need social media to make friends, or build relationships. We don’t need it to become active or engaged in politics.  We don’t need it to plan our lives. And we don’t need it to understand the world. Time spent doing it is better spent doing almost anything else.” – Colin Horgan.   Time to get off the social media merry-go-round that goes faster & faster without getting anywhere, as Seth Godin puts it.

You have to use video in your marketing – despite the fact that your personality & tone of voice is far better suited to podcast or blogging. The Tom Ferry’s and Tom Panos’s of this world are ideally suited. Opinionated, brash and  relishing the media spotlight, they thrive.  Not so, the thoughtful, empathetic or detailed estate agent that prefers to think before they speak.  They feel uncomfortable in front of camera and Tom insisting that video is the future doesn’t help.  As an aside, there are 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube, every minute of every day. If you’re going to do video, you had better have something interesting to say other than “I sell homes.”

You have to be an ‘expert’ – says who? Every bit of information on your chosen subject is freely available on the web, if you have the patience & curiosity to search. What’s more relevant is that the term has become so ubiquitous that it’s now seen as misleading and insincere. Don’t tell me you’re an expert, let me form my own opinion.

You must never take No for an answer – a beauty, the first commandment in a sales culture.  No matter how you frame it, you weren’t good enough with your first pitch and handling objections simply emphasizes how those concerns weren’t addressed. Time to learn from the rejection, not waste your efforts on convincing the sceptical.

You must always ‘Ask’ for the business –  the culmination of a poor presentation always requires you to ask. If you start strong, with a vendor that has taken the time to get to know you, there’s no need to ‘close’ the vendor – its a natural progression for them to instruct you.

The High Street agency model is dead –  of course it’s more expensive than working from home, or from a hub, but it signifies credibility and financial investment to a prospective client. If you’re hoping to charge a higher fee, having that street cred certainly does no harm.  What does harm, is not proactively attracting the community into that space – waiting instead for them to turn up.

You need a mentor to hold you accountable – because if left to your own devices, you probably won’t? There’s no denying that for some, a mentor is essential to provide a challenging environment. But to hold you accountable? Please!

You need fixing – because you’re broken – the rallying call of estate agency ‘gurus’ the world over. Not in so many words, of course, but in the subtle suggestion that others are doing better and it’s time for you to catch up. And they’re just the person to help. As I mentioned earlier, all the information is out there, in the unlikeliest of places, just waiting for your curiosity to show up. And it’s free.

You’re not good enough – a bit of flagellation that becomes evident in low fees and inflated valuations. If you were good enough, these manipulative practices would be gone.

That’s just a few commonplace agency beliefs that give this industry its commoditised look. Almost every agent is advertising, listing on portals, using interruptive marketing, social media dependent, a video junkie, primed to close everyone with a warm pulse, ambitious, but nursing a sizeable inferiority  complex.

The solution?

Curiosity. 

Exploring new horizons. Learning stuff that can be applied to your agency – to make it different.

That’s what your ‘gurus’ do.  They’re curious, take other people’s ideas, apply their own slant and probably charge you for the privilege.

Check out the material from Tom Ferry, Tom Panos, Grant Cardone, Tony Morris and others. It’s been around for a while. You just haven’t come across it – because you lack the curiosity.

So back to the beginning – beliefs are changed by the power of words.

Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Churchill, Mohammed, Jesus, Lenin, Karl Marx, J.F.Kennedy and Hitler were all famous ‘men of words.’  Each choosing the right words to seduce with emotion, rather than logic.

It’s no different with estate agency.

Instead of prescriptive content, use descriptive words to paint a vivid picture of what it is you want others to believe. That which you firmly believe yourself.

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity.  We can choose to use them to encourage or destroy. Words have the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to humiliate and to humble.”  – Yehuda Berg.

With the right words, there will be no need to advertise. Vendors will hang on your every word. There will be no need to interrupt, to ask, or to claim ‘expert’ status. You will have built an audience.

You will be perceived as different from other agencies. In your conviction, your voice and tone.

False beliefs can be broken with story.

For example, the false belief that your agency has to advertise.

Think of it this way. Advertising uses words to seduce potential buyers of a service. So far, so good.  But if you don’t own the media on which you advertise, you can very quickly go out of business. And if the words aren’t strong, the money is flushed down the same pan. Perfect example is the now defunct estate agency, HomeSeller.com

In 2015, it ran ads on TV during the X Factor. At the time, it had just 16 listings. The exposure of prime time TV increased the number of listings to just 50, some seven months later. Cost per customer acquisition? Don’t even think about it.  An alternative strategy might have been to set up a podcast, a blog, or video channel. Next to no cost, so very little downside. And a guarantee that engagement and customer acquisition would have been far superior.

The False Belief?   That you have to advertise and that advertising brings guaranteed success.

Another?

TV advertising, to a mass audience, makes sense. Not for estate agents without a message it doesn’t.

And ultimately, those two false beliefs strangled the life out of the company and its chance of survival.

Telling stories engages with potential vendors and breaks those false beliefs.

The good part?

The key to telling captivating stories is oversimplification.

No need to use big words and show off your vocabulary.

It might make you feel smart, but it doesn’t engage the emotions of the reader.

Keep it simple and make it from the heart.

Once you’ve started breaking those false beliefs, the world around you will seem an altogether different place.

And for the estate agents and realtors struggling to come to terms with how challenging their sector is right now, that’s a great place to start.

Curiosity.  It won’t kill you.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

If you’re the curious type and I can help with any advice, just get in touch. I’m happy to help.

chris@andsothestorybegan.co.uk 

www.andsothestorybegan.co.uk

Mob: (44) 07875 141436

Chris.

 

 

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