True Story In Sales

The phone rings on a random Tuesday. I answer, as one does.

“Congratulations,” she told me. “We've decided to go forward with you and work with you. We look forward to what you – and your team – can do.”

“Great” I say, “Sign the agreement and start the deposit, and we can make it work!”

“Actually, we'll need to have a couple of changes to the agreement.”

“Ok, what are you looking at.” Often clients want to have something regarding copyright rights, or something similar. Sometimes they want an NDA which is generally no problem to sign.

“The agreement is perfect. We're ready to sign, except for the price. We'll need you to change that to $9500.”

“That's $2500 different than what we proposed.”

“Yeah, I know,” she said. “Unfortunate, but that was the budget, so we'll need that changed.”

I wasn't even curious. “Well, bummer. Good luck with your project.” I said.

“But we're hiring you!” she said.

“Well, the price is $12,000.” I said, “And we're raising that in a couple of weeks anyway.”

“Look,” she said “My boss told me to hire you, but for $9500. Are you saying you don't have the authority to reduce the price?”

“I appreciate your position – really. I don't have good results for my company – or yours – when I reduce the price.”

“Well, we want to hire you, but we can't pay your price. Can you come my way a little – say can you do it for $10,000?”

“We can do a shorter project for that, but we won't do what you want.”

“I'm just looking for a win-win here.” She says. “So you'll need to reduce your price.”

I won't engage. What's to be gained?

“Well, I'm going to go now,” I say. “I won't reduce the price – but good luck to you.”

“You're not giving me anything here are you,” she says.

“Hey, you can still work with us- we run through walls to deliver great work- at the 2014 prices- but if you can't see the differences between us and others, it's not that you're a fit.”

“Well, you were the most expensive, I was told to work with you at the next best price.”

“Hey, I understand. Let me know if your position chnages, and best of luck – I was really excited to work with you, too.”

A pause. “Ok, we'll do it with your price. ” she says. “But you're not a very good salesperson.”

“I'll get to work on that right away.” I say.

10 Steps For Starting A Career in Real Estate (If You Must)

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One of my good friends has convinced himself that it’s time to become a Realtor®.

As absolutely everyone literally already knows, this is a terrible idea. But, it’s one of those things you have to experience yourself to know how bad it is. Like a bee-sting or a wine cooler.

The heart wants what it wants.

I was a licensed agent from 2002-2006 or so. I sold about 120 houses in my career. Even in the halcyon days of the George W. Bush administration, most Realtors were failures. The 30-house-a-year clip put me in the top 5% of Realtors (hint: still a failure). Interestingly, during this time I oddly gained about a pound for every house I sold. Chicken Wings and Laker Games.

My friend called me up to ask me questions about how it went. Of course, I’m happy to give advice on how to begin your career in Real Estate.

Step 1: Go Home, Rethink Your Life, Ponder What Went So Very Wrong

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Literally every day I wake up and thank God I’m no longer a Realtor. Your life has gone wrong. Too much Robyert Kiyosaki, not nearly enough Robert Heinlein.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you pompous?
  • Are you flaky?
  • Do you quit on jobs halfway through?

Do you give advice like you
‘re an expert even though you’re just a cog in a wheel?

  • Are you self-centered – beyond belief?
  • Does your spouse mostly hate you (if not, s/he will)?
  • Do you cheat on your spouse at every conference?
  • Drink too much – and too early?
  • Willing to work absurd hours for even more absurd people?

If the answer is “Yes” to all of these questions: you are ready to emblazon the “R” on your chest.

Step 2: If You Must Be a Realtor (And Nobody’s Making You Go Through With It)  Learn A Neighborhood

Hell bent, eh? Alrighty then, keep it up.

The best thing to do is to pick a fairly good sized area, and become the expert in it. A place with a population of 30,000 will have something like 7,500 +/- homes. Each year there will be 150 +/- transactions. The last year’s worth of transactions should be downloaded from the MLS, from property records, from zillow.

Who cares where you get them. Get them.

Plop what you can in a spreadsheet. Then – literally – put on flash cards, print it out.

And memorized. Memorize the following points:

  • Address
  • Old Owner
  • New Owner
  • Listing Agent
  • Selling Agent
  • Price
  • Sale Date
  • Beds/Baths/SQFT
  • Days on Market
  • Price/SQFT

Drive around one day and look at all of the homes once you have them memorized.

This step seems trite, but having real market knowledge about one area you want to sell will give you insights that are otherwise unavailable to you.

You’ll gain a head start and an edge on people. This will mean that you can beat the entiled vets.

Step 3: BEFORE YOU ARE LICENSED….LOOK AT FROLLICKING HOMES

All the time. You have to do these licensing courses. 100+ homes minimum.

View every open house you can. View every real estate caravan tour you can. See a minimum of 100 on-the-market homes.

Bored to tears? No? You can see yourself telling grown-ass men and women “This….this is the living room.” Fine, whatever, keep going.

Learn all the features. Learn what’s typical in your market, what’s not. What type of doors a home should have. Write it down.

By knowing what a home is supposed to have, what’s common, what other ‘naked’ homes look like, you’ll be able to win.

Step 4: When You Work With Buyers Don’t Be THAT GUY.

Here’s the deal, and why Most Realtors fail.

They want to be The Hero Realtor®. They want to beat that listing agent out of their price, and win the negotiation wars.

Let’s shelve our Jerry McGuire fantasy for a moment.

SO dumb. Because look: people will not remember how hard you fought for them in the future. They will remember if they got the house or not.

“Hey, you have to drive a shitty car, but at least you got a good deal.” Hollow, much?

So the $5,000-10,000 you might save is meaningless. A quality home search ends with the homeowner getting a great home. Not with them saving $7500 on a home that’s not quite right.

Step 5: Don’t – Ever- Hang out with Realtors.

97% of realtors are failures. The great recession has actually TRIPPLED the ratio of successful realtors – when I was selling – it was over 99%. So good stuff!

Of the 3% of realtors that aren’t currently failing, 80% of THOSE guys are half nuts. They can play DSM-5 bingo and win.

Hanging out with them will get “Realtor” on you, and you’ll get the diesase.

“Oh, 20 years in and 10 houses a year? Mmm buddy! Thanks for the tip, man, I wanna be like you. Another nip of bourbon, PLEASE.”

Realtors hang out with each other because they are trolling for affair partners as they swirl the bowl of Adult Failure Spiral.

As Tom Wolfe says, “Believe me, there is no insight to be gained from the life of the working class milieu.” Instead:

  • Read sales books.
  • Go to conferences that Dave Ramsey or Michael Hyatt run.
  • Go to the gym.
  • Talk to random bums at a lottery bar – same real estate knowledge as most Realtors.

Instead, cultivate relationships with people you deeply admire.  Realtors?  ugh.

Step 6: Your Network Is Your Life: Honor it.

You know that guy. The one that has you on Facebook, the one you went to high school or college with? He contacts you every now-and-again out of the blue.

He asks for a donation.

He asks to like something.

But giving to you? Nope. No value. You feel more used than a whore.

That’s the WRONG way to do it. MY friend Ian came up with the phrase “respect your network.” He wasn’t wrong.

I have 3 groups, and I make sure I add value.

The first group is ~50% of my business, the second ~20, and the third ~10.

All of them are critical to me.

My Junto: These are people that are important to my business. Can refer loads of deals. I am not necessarily important to their businesses. However, these people get value from me every week. at any given time there are 8-15 people in this tight group. I don’t tell them they are there.

50% of my company’s business comes from these relationships.

My Cadre: 50 people. I work to add value 8x a year. I initiate the contacts, sometimes a call, sometimes an email. Always with respect for their time and reverence for their station.

My Community: 250 people. They hear from me 2x a year, and I work to add value. This is hard to do but sometimes people go from cadre–>community—Junto.

Having three groups is important, you can ensure that you’re adding value and investing in the lives of these people. It will pay you back 1000x, regardless of your business.

The realtor math here: 310 families, if they are 80% homeowners, that’s 240 homes give or take. If they move on average every 6 years, that’s 40 transactions. You get half of those, boom, you have a business.

Note: You will outgrow your Realtor phase. Everyone does. If you serve and respect your network, and use Porter Gale’s famous Give-Give-Ask you’ll be able to respect yourself in the morning.

Step 7: THE GLENGARY LEADS, MAN:

So you need leads. You gotta get ‘em. Because you’ve gotta eat, yo.

To form a networking-based system like the one I’ve done above, it takes some time. It’s reliable and predictable, but it takes six months. And during that time, ugh, it’s hard to eat.

And you have to find the people to plug in to your slots, and most of the time you are in a profession that doesn’t require the same number of warm bodies.

So you’ll need a funnel. A working funnel before you start.

My friend Ryan Hartman does this at Retechulous. He’ll hook you up.

Step 8: Don’t Grow Units, Grow Pricepoint.

If you’re a solo agent, you want to then make more each year. The way you do that is by deliberately going upmarket. The “flash card” strategy will quickly get you the credentials to muscle anyone out you want out of their area- they won’t know as much as you.

As a solo guy – you can have 25-35 transactions without going batshit nuts. When you have that many, the focus shifts from units to pricepoint.

You gotta know your average price point, and you want to target a neighborhood that’s 25% higher.

Here’s a newsflash: the same marketing works on ‘rich’ people as it does on ‘poor’ people. Sometimes even better. So grind, baby.

Step 9: Value, Baby.

Every interaction with someone else has to give them real value. Not a stupid refrigerator magnet, but good stuff.

The Rotary Club loves leads. Recruiters love job applicants. Everyone loves books.

Give because it’s a manifestation of your soul. Not because it binds people to you. Expect nothing, give, give get.

These are your currencies. It’s an extension of ‘respecting your network,’ but I can’t say it enough: have energy, connections, favors, insights to give away for free.

You’ll get paid 100x over.

Step 10: Boundaries, Baby:

“To be a realtor it’s a 24×7 365 day a year grind.”

No. GOD no.

You MUST have – from day one – 36 consecutive hours where clients will simply no be able to talk to you. You will not respond to counter offers, you will set this up automatically. You will not let anyone break your drama shield.

What you’ll learn is this: it will wait. Anyone that wants to overrun your boundaries is a narcisitic idiot that is a danger to you.

“But that’s not possible, we live in a 24×7 world.”

It’s not possible for people without any value to give to do this, you’re right.

And most realtors are happless freaks, aghast at the smoldering wreckage of their ‘careers.’ And for those types? Those fops? Yeah, they gotta jump at every random lead, text, and buyer’s whim.

But if you have value to give, you can have boundaries.

You have to be on paleo or something, and run hard every day. You gotta keep a schedule and avoid the funk of ‘always working’ that grips the lives of so many agents.

Be strict. Cell phone off on Sundays. Not in the office.

This is where I failed most profoundly, and it cost me.

In Conclusion.

Look: You can still back out (and you probably should). It’s not too late, and taking the classes that they make you take doesn’t bind you to this vile life.

It is no exaggeration to say that the first thought in my head each morning that I wake up is the giddy freedom of not being a Realtor anymore.

Still, if it’s something you must do, I understand. We all try dumb things in our lives, whether it’s Real Estate, Amway or Libertarianism. All of these things are mostly harmless things that only hurt your credibility a little.

By following the above advice, you may in fact escape this phase with some of your dignity intact. But you can still turn back (and probably should).

 

Commitment

Most of the time you won’t see “day one results.”  So you have to trust that a process works. That you can transcend by putting extraordinary effort into ordinary (predictable) actions. You can have a better family, fitness, finance, faith & fun. Most of the time you’ll be beating against a wall, and you’ll be called to do dumb things: games, media, spectacle.  An extraordinary life requires extraordinary commitment.

You might fail anyway- at what you don’t want to do.

When you’re half committed: waiting and seeing, an opportunist, it’s easy to move to the next thing. It’s easy to give up. To not be invested.  The excuse is there “I was trying that out, it was a phase.”

It’s possible to be successful without talent, but… it’s harder.

So what? To commit to excellence – which is still rare and valuable in all core areas of your life.

-family
-education
-finances
-productivity

Etc.  To have the decks cleared for output in these areas, vs. what I have.

To do it quietly without bragging or boasting.

That’s the life that I will have.

It’s never too late to start: at 38 people have come out of the fog to do amazing things.

To Transcend

To be more than a hustler: honest, capable, kind, unflappable, gracious, reliable, supportive.

To transcend. To leave the second act problems and to commit. To commit to a family, to friends, to a business.

To commit to myself, to make a difference for others.  To be my best self. To be of service.

Like magic.

To be something to someone: a father, a son, a brother, a lover, a mentor, a student.

To remove cynicism, obesity, cruelty, lies.

To produce every day.  To support.

To plan, write and work.

To be sober and to be filled with adrenaline from overcoming intense things.

To be a good steward of my time and talent. To pick my fights wisely, and to forgive and be forgiven

To be healthy and learning and smart. All the time.

To transcend.

Lock In

I’ve used WordPress since 2006.  Maybe 2005.

Off and on, mostly on.

And I want to try something else for the sake of doing it. But it’s hard because I love what I know and I feel like I’ll be hopelessly lost without one feature.

The big feature is using an editor like MarsEdit to work with the program, or anything that is fine with XML-RPC. Squarespace chucked it.

The other thing is dragging Youtube links and having them do what WordPress does (put a video in the content area that is sized appropriately).

I’d do Tumblr, but I don’t dig the lack of control or granularity. 

So I’m here still on WP. I chaff not because it makes sense to , but because…

 

On Ferguson: First They Came For The Blacks

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I went to a man’s house the other day.

“How are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine.” he says.   “An apparent saint was martyred the other day. However shall we live?”

I knew he was referring to Ferguson, Michael Brown. And he’d bought into the normal pattern. He’d done his part.

Encounter, Execute, Assassinate.

Encounter: Someone in authority encounters someone, usually black. It could be a routine traffic stop, or a normal situation, like waiting for your kids in a mall.

Execute:  You kill them.  (Treyvon, Eric Gardner)  Or you arrest them for something that a white person would get off for, putting a sentence on them that effectively ruins their lives.

Riddle me this: ~15% of whites and blacks use MJ.

~41 million black people and ~221 million white people. (Census.Gov)

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Yet our arrest rate is 3-4x for blacks.  This means that in absolute terms, more blacks are arrested than whites although though blacks make 16% of the population.  Not cool.

Assassinate: After the deed is done and the disproportionate consequences are administered, the victim is killed a second time.

Every case – Treyvon – Michael Brown – features a posthumous character assassination.  It’s not enough for the police to murder someone, they also want to be thanked for it. We don’t get justice, we get victim blaming.

We’re told things like:

  • He shouldn’t have been in that neighborhood…
  • He should have obeyed the cops (though Michael Brown was apparently surrendering when he was shot at close range in the head – what’s the incentive to obey?)
  • He had a checkered past so he must have said something.
  • He had thug-like text messages on his phone
  • If the races were reversed it would never have been news (orly?)

Each time the victim that is killed is then blamed. It’s not enough to kill, we also must feel like the Police have provided us with a service. We have to thank them for getting that element out of our society.

They are, after all, the heroes of 9/11.

The major disappointment of Ferguson is that some sort of libertarian dystopian fantasy played out.  And the tea party was absent. Fleeing at the sight of real power.

And despite calls from Rand Paul on the matter, the “police state” hasn’t yet gained traction.  Part of it is partisanship: people are unwilling to credit Rand Paul with anything. We’re hearing mild scoffing about police powers, but this is exactly the problem with police powers.  This is an inevitable response; to divide us and conquer.

It’s not a far bridge to cross to go from “it’s OK to shoot black people” to “it’s OK to shoot anyone.”

We all ought to fight. We all ought to be concerned.

Our land must have liberty and justice for all.

First, they came for the blacks…