06 Jan Emotional Blackmail – Just in Case.
Emotional blackmail - just in case.
Just in case the agent wasn't moved by the siren voices of the Keller Williams training team.
"Calling for leads is the single most important step in building your business."
Whilst I have an entirely different opinion on this archaic practice, the document goes on to say:
"You would be cheating yourself and your family if you were not prepared to make calls every day."
"Cheating your family."
That's really turning the knife. Causing most guilt.
Dragging family into the equation.
It continues, under their Family/Significant Other Agreement.
"Your loved one has chosen to build a business in real estate.......
I understand the time and activity commitment that Ignite and a real estate business requires.
I understand that in starting a real estate business, workdays may extend into evenings and weekends.
I understand the commitment and give my complete support. This may mean that I am doing more for a while - caring for children, making meals, cleaning etc."
Sign and date here, on the dotted line.
Who are they dealing with here? An entrepreneur who is about to commit to what is, in effect, a 12 month sentence with no reprieve. Indoctrinated with a script for every eventuality. Made accountable for failings by those with little appreciation of how fragile, in reality, is the business world. Made to feel ashamed for not hitting the dial.
Or, a wet-behind-the-ears teenager that requires blinkers to avoid the worldly distractions of life?
I understand that Keller Williams likes to take control of the sale.
There's very few estate agency firms out there that I find disturbing, but this agency, for me, tops the list.
I've asked myself why do I hold them in so little regard? When a few of my peers think contrary.
I've asked and found it to be that they proudly claim to offer world-class estate agency training - whilst offering, in my opinion, the polar opposite.
It's nothing to do with the hub/spoke business model. Other agencies do it and I have no problem.
It's nothing to do with the fee split, or the monthly income derived from those agents under the umbrella.
It's nothing to do with the efficiency of the systems.
It's pure and simple that their training destroys any hope, an agent has, of developing a personal brand. Whilst claiming that this "overkill over time" is certain to build the relationship with a vendor.
The systems are designed to lure agents into a year-long training schedule that relies on interruption marketing at its core.
Cold-calling, door-knocking and mindset manipulation. All of that - 'on steroids.'
Not for the faint-hearted. Not for the caring, empathetic agent. Not for those agents that put customer care before profit.
It's a culture of domineering. Of impatience. Of being in control. Of self-focus. Arrogance.
The goal of being the best. Whilst saying and doing whatever that takes.
There's no denying that KW has gone into this with a fine-tooth comb.
Nothing left to chance.
As Gary Keller says of the franchise agreement, it's hands down their single most valuable asset. A document of disagreement.
But, it's a practice that has worked well for KW agents in the last few decades and one that won't work this coming decade.
Vendors are now smarter. More informed. More discerning.
They have choice. Choice to ignore the carefully crafted scripts of the robot agents who can't think for themselves. Choice to block the spam emails and cold-calls from needy agents. Choice to reject unsolicited door-knocks.
Which is why one of the first questions that agents, in the Keller Williams 8x8 campaign, are advised to ask is:
"Can I stay in touch?"
Said differently, can I make a 'meaningful contact' at least once a week over eight weeks?
A combination of text, calls, emails, mail and items of value.
Systems, systems, systems. An agent can't breathe without a system.
It's designed for agents that don't care whether a vendor feels interrupted.
And, of course, there's reason behind that impertinence.
"To those that think of quitting, what you need to do is make the touches strategic and systematized. You want to take all the thinking out of it."
"Come at it from a mindset of contribution. You may think that lead generation will be making phone calls that are bothering and annoying people. We all feel that way. Especially when we're being sold to. However, when you adopt an attitude of contribution, a significant shift in how people respond happens."
They'll thank you for it, later. So, off you go and make those annoying calls. Secure in the knowledge that you're apparently contributing.
That's gets to the heart of what I dislike about KW.
Ignore that homeowners put signs on their doors saying "Don't Knock.". Ignore that they have spam filters for a very good reason. Ignore that 9/10 of homeowners will put the phone down with unsolicited calls.
If the mindset is changed, an agent can overcome those objections. Easy, peasy.
Overcome the legitimate concerns and apprehension of uneducated homeowners.
At it's heart, KW is about changing an agent's character and thought process. Brain-washing, not to put too fine a point on it. Mindset exercises, language techniques and lead gen activities.
Claiming to make agents better. When all along, they're more than good enough.
An "attitude of contribution" doesn't start the process. It doesn't permit a cold-call. The contribution comes afterwards.
When you have permission.
And asking "Can I stay in touch?" Doesn't that imply a weakness on the part of the agent?
Call it politeness if you must, but if you're interesting enough, vendors will be falling over themselves to subscribe without the pleading.
Ultimately, the BOLD and Ignite programs rely on other competing agencies and agents not following that process. If they did, not only would there be little differentiation, but the homeowner would have a succession of agents interrupting nearly every waking hour.
" Can I stay in touch?" multiplied by hundreds.
And there, in a nutshell, is the ideology of transactional estate agency.
KW excels at transactional estate agency. Whilst fooling themselves that they are building relationships by using overkill, over time.
Another dislike is the cost of this agent training.
Time Blocking Mastery $495
Build Your One Page Business Plan $95
Discover Millionaire Productivity Habits $95
KW freely admit they are a training company that just happens to operate in real estate.
One that, again in my opinion, does more to damage the reputation of the real estate industry than almost any other.
They are a company founded in the late 80's and one that relies on the principle of self-interest.
In the ensuing thirty years, they have had the opportunity to move away from the interruption marketing methods -
and have chosen, instead, to double down on their efforts.
"This is what works, if you're prepared to do it." seems to be their message.
What also works is boiler-room cold-calling. Fleecing naive homeowners with barely legitimate scams.
"A £10 billion Rogue Pensions Scam" screamed the headline in the Daily Mail December 30th.
Scammers taking huge fees to transfer pensions, then repeatedly reinvesting the savings into high-risk investments that paid them hefty commissions until the saver's nest-egg pension was obliterated.
Perfectly legal, of course, and with many only too willing to enrich themselves at the expense of others.
Not for one minute am I suggesting that KW would resort to that low-level of practice, but rather it argues against the principle that doing more of anything brings the rewards.
Doing the right thing brings reward. It's called integrity.
And changing a mindset by instilling "an attitude of contribution" simply varnishes the truth.
"If you're in sales, you're always competing" said Tom Ferry. Acutely aware to the dangers of the drug that is competition and from which he derives his income.
Some companies scale and thrive with an altogether different philosophy.
"The challenge is, when you get this big, how do you maintain the intimacy when you knew all the people and you were hungry and fighting? These kinds of moments are so emotionally alive with the spirit and culture and values of the company. And what we learned is that we are longing for human connection. We're longing for a sense of humanity and kindness and compassion and empathy." - Howard Schultz, Founder Starbucks.
Kindness? Compassion? Empathy?
Won't that work in real estate?
Starbucks don't compete with Costa, with Café Nero, or with any other smaller boutique offering.
They don't cold-call, door-knock and interrupt.
They don't have 33 touch, or 8x8 campaigns to overkill, over time.
They have a product/service that is refined over time and one that brings loyal fans who wouldn't go anywhere else for a coffee,
It's time estate agency changed from this suicidal transactional competition, where both vendor and agent lose - to one based on relationships.
Relationships, where "calling for leads" isn't the "single most important step in building your business."
I know it's hard to develop relationships. Much, much harder than picking up the phone, or spamming the prospect.
Gary Keller found this, when first starting out. In his podcast interview with Tim Ferris, he alludes to people not liking him.
Gary, back in 1983, interviewed and was rejected by the largest firm in the city. Asking why, he was told no-one liked him. "And you know, the truth is that's it's probably correct."
In 1988, in his founding office of KW, "Re/Max opened down the street and they were a lot less expensive than what we did. And I had five of my top ten producers leave the firm. And then they came back and took my bookkeeper, my receptionist and my relocation coordinator."
Little loyalty, or relationships there.
Fast forward to 2020 and I have just read the PDF of The One Thing Relationships Guide from KW.
Advice for your professional world - co-workers, peers, supervisors and mentors.
Advice for your personal world - centered on family.
But the relationship that brings most value?
That between agent and vendor?
Not a word.
Not a word on how to create empathy. On how to share values & beliefs. On how to create a personal brand.
Perhaps because that requires vulnerability. Courage to be imperfect.
Something alien to the KW business model.
Where perfected & polished is the goal.
Here's the thing - if you reach that perfected state, vendors won't always believe you.
You're positioned as the local expert.
The agent with all the answers.
"Yet we stumble on, consoling ourselves with the idea that the experts must know something we don't. In fact, they know a lot of things that ain't so." - Collected Thoughts on the Evolution of War.
Vendors are becoming wise to the self-proclaimed status of these experts.
They're looking for something else from a realtor/estate agent.
"We're longing for a sense of humanity and kindness and compassion and empathy." said Howard Schultz.
The polar opposite of emotional blackmail.
"We're not trying to argue against a competitor's offering, we're trying to argue for them to change their business." - Heather Barnett.
Would Keller Williams change their agent training? To replace the overkill, over time. With kindness?
It's a business model that has made a lot of people very wealthy. It continues to do so.
And whilst it still attracts those that value wealth creation above all else, any change is unlikely.
For those that think differently, however, there is an outstanding opportunity to execute on that difference.
To bring that touch of humanity to real estate.
To stand out.
By being different.
So you don't have to compete in the purgatory of endless comparison and rejection.
For those with a truly personal, Personal Brand, there's a sense of freedom that comes from being transparent.
The other agents will not, or dare not, share their imperfections.
Perhaps, they have something to hide?
Time will tell whether estate agency follows the path less traveled.
Or whether the Keller Williams bandwagon rolls on in perpetuity.
My money's on the former.
Thanks as always for reading:)
A bit longer than usual, but it's a subject that demands debate.
Any comments, of course, more than welcome.