Real Estate Agents Why Aren’t You Personalizing Your Direct Mail Marketing?

Believe it or not the residential real estate market has changed.  A study by Caslon & Co. revealed personalized marketing can generate three times the response rate.  Now is the time to accept the fact impersonalized direct mail marketing has gone the way of the Dodo Bird.

direct-mail-marketingPersonalized direct mail marketing has always known to be the better path. Yet excuses of its takes too much time to the inability to write effective marketing messages seem to still justify the use of impersonalized real estate marketing messages.

Given the majority of residential real estate agents do not have that many sales leads, personalization is quite easy, yet impersonalization continues.  Anyone can make a copy of a “canned” marketing flyer, hand write an envelope, put a first class stamp out and drop it in the mail. This is not take rocket science. Worse yet, some real estate agents make copies of a copy and believe that will attract positive attention.

What is forgotten are these 3 sales buying rules:

#1 – People buy from people they know and trust

#2 – People buy first on emotion; justified by logic

#3 – People buy on value unique to them

These 3 sales buying rules are why personalizing direct mail marketing is essential especially when these other two facts are thrown into the decision making process:

#1 – Today’s sellers and buyers are far better educated

#2 – Up to 60% of the buying decision has been made before you have connected with any sellers or buyers

As we are in the process of selling our home through For Sale By Owner, 100% of the direct mail marketing we have received has been:

  • Impersonal
  • Generic
  • No value to us
  • Poorly written or presented
  • Waste of our time to even open or read it

Some of the residential real estate agents’ direct mail messages have attempted the old tricks of:

  • Use fear
  • Sell on commission (money)
  • Use “top rated real estate agent”

Then there is the overriding factor of generally insulting the homeowner by mailing copies of a copy to not answering the phone even when we call the residential real estate agents all who assure us they want our business.  If you can’t answer the phone after the fourth ring, you truly aren’t that hungry for new sales leads.

Personalized direct mail marketing may require a little research regarding the seller of the residential real estate. With today’s Internet, that research can be conducted from any office or mobile device with Internet connections.

If you want to increase sales by securing more sales leads, then begin to invest the time to personalize your residential real estate direct mail marketing.  Stop with the impersonalized letters to what used to work.  Discover what is important to that seller of any home even if they have listed it as For Sale By Owner.  You just may discover selling real estate can become a lot easier and even a lot more fun.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

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“Are You a Customer?” Is a Dangerous Question

This past week I drove through my bank’s outside drive through  teller lane to quickly deposit several checks. Well I thought it would be quick because 3 of the 4 lanes were empty.  Unfortunately I must have drawn the slowest teller imaginable and one who was not thinking.



After waiting several minutes for an acknowledgement that the teller would be with me, I pressed the “Call” button. A young lady (probably late teens early twenties) answered.  I asked if she had received my deposit and she responded rather quickly:

“Are you a customer?”

My brain immediately replied in a rather loud voice “Am I a customer?”  Why do you think the deposit ticket has your bank’s name printed on it along with my account number?  Are you serious, am I a customer?” Suddenly I felt more like “chopped liver” than a loyal customer of 20 plus years.

Now I understand this question is one that sometimes is required.  However when the customer has some form of identification and especially several printed bank deposit tickets with checks endorsed to that person, then such a question is potentially insulting.

Possibly the teller might not know a particular customer and may require some additional identification.  That is also a reality today with all the identify theft.  Then the proper response might be ” Ms. Hoagland-Smith may we see your photo ID to confirm your identify?” Asking “Are you a customer?” is just a poor business practice and potentially reflects a lazy organizational culture.

So many businesses fail to realize the first words spoken have the greatest impact on customer loyalty. How those words are spoken with sincerity and presence also matters.  An unenthusiastic “Good Morning” greeting by a noticeable gum chewing cashier resonates far differently than a sincere, energized “Good Morning” greeting with a full smile minus the gum.

“Are you a customer?” is a very dangerous question because it provides a foundation for customer disloyalty.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

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There Is More to Empowerment than Many Realize

For the last 10 years or so, the word empowerment has received a lot of attention. This morning I read this quote:

empowerment“The  leader is a team builder who empowers individuals in the organization and passionately “lives the vision”--Burt Nanus

Yet how can a forward thinking leader empower anyone secure with the knowledge he or she will passionately live the vision?

What would happen if we as Marcel Proust said “look at the same landscape with different eyes?”

To empower someone suggests the person has the capacity to take whatever action necessary.  Business research continues to suggest the lack of leadership or better yer the lack of self leadership (leading ones self) is missing in many employees.

True empowerment comes after the development of self leadership skills.  When individuals can lead themselves, then and only then can they lead others as well as live the vision.

Leadership development is essential and should begin in junior high.  Here is where young people can learn and practice the skills of:

Even if beginning in junior high is not possible, then no later at the senior level in high school or for sure by college.

Years ago self leadership developed almost effortlessly because the agrarian culture demanded it.  As the country transitioned to industrial and now a technology economy, those “natural leadership traits” began to vanish.

Empowerment is a great word and makes a good organization better provided the individuals truly have the necessary self leadership development.


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What Inspires You?

Almost every month, I contribute to the Worldwide Coaching Magazine. This publication focuses on the executive coaching industry and is one of the most read magazines by executive coaches.  Topics vary and this month, the theme was inspiration.  As I read my contribution along with the contributions of others, I began thinking about what inspires you or me?



For me, inspiration comes sometimes quietly like fog and little cat’s feet. Then other times it almost hits me on the head and knocks me for a figurative loop.

Each of us can be inspired by something different. That inspiration in many instances is a connecting bridge from one thought or idea to another.

Suddenly our neuro pathways seem to explode with one thought after another.

For example, the graphic in this blog may inspire one to share a childhood experience about a teddy bear. For another person the picture may stir up memories about being left behind or lost.

Possibly today, ask yourself “What inspires you?”  Consider asking yourself that question later in the week.  Inspiration is there for each of us as long as we keep our minds open, we ask and we look.

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Try On These Fail-Safe Leadership Traits

Do you believe human beings in general are hot wired for self-improvement?  Well, I do.  The ongoing issue is usually where to begin.  Possibly these Fail-Safe Leadership traits may create greater clarity as to where to direct one’s actions.



Fail-Safe Leaders Have a Written Personal Plan of Action

Many recognize the value of a road map or even GPS.  Courses are plotted to maximize resources.  Of course, a written personal plan of action only happens after deliberate and intentional planning.

Fail-Safe Leaders Consistently Set and Achieve Their Personal Goals

After delivering over 500 Attribute Index assessments, I can quickly ascertain if my clients consistently set and achieve their personal goals.  Consistent goal setting using a proven goal setting worksheet is one of critical fail-safe leadership traits demonstrated by today’s forward thinking leaders.

Fail-Safe Leaders Live Their Positive Core Values 24/7

Those self-leaders who live their positive core values 24/7 and not just when someone is looking are hidden behind all those who behave badly.  These leaders will always be respectful, but will not back down if their business ethics or personal ethics are challenged.

Fail-Safe Leaders Know and Leverage Their Talents

To thine own self be true is an often repeated mantra.  Unfortunately from my 40 plus years of experience, most people do not know what they do well.  They are negatively conditioned from early childhood and thus focus on their weaknesses.  By having clarity specific to their Fail-Safe Leadership traits, these individuals can take advantage of opportunities they probably missed in the past.

Fail-Safe Leaders Embrace Their Purpose Fueled by Their Passion

Understanding and having clarity around one’s purpose is another essential fail-safe leadership trait.  One’s purpose answers the simple question “Why are you here?” Once purpose is recognized and embrace, passion takes over.

Self improvement is hot wired in human beings otherwise we would still be living in caves.  Of course environment can dim that desire for becoming better. Yet, self improvement can be recharged when people understand and try on these Fail-Safe Leadership traits.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn


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The Wisdom Required for Small Business Coaching

This week I submitted my regular contribution to Worldwide Coaching Magazine. The topic was “inspiration” respective to executive to small business coaching.

small-business-coachingI was surprised when I received this note from the publisher Ton de Graaf who said my contribution provided him with “an Ah Ha” moment.  When I asked specifically what that “Ah Ha” moment was (provided he was willing to share), he wrote:

“Coaches who inspire realize their knowledge and wisdom are essential elements to any successful coaching engagement”.

Then Ton went on to share how this statement realized “It’s  not only the questions bring some inspirational thoughts, but also our experience and accumulated knowledge we (as coaches) bring to the table.”

Years ago one of my coaches, David Herdlinger, said “knowledge is learning from one’s own mistakes; wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others.” I have remembered these two simple definitions as I continue in my own executive and small business coaching practice.

Small business coaching does require strong business acumen and more importantly business experience. Coaches who have made mistakes have knowledge that others may not have.  As John Maxwell wrote “we fail forward” by learning from our mistakes.

Wisdom is also required because this suggests the coach has taken personal responsibility by reaching out and learning from others.  Today’s world is clipping along at a mile a minute. Change is in the air. Not to commit to ongoing professional development, masterminding with others only puts that executive coach, small business coach or sales coach at a competitive disadvantage. Additionally his or her clients are also being shortchanged.

Every other week, I attempt (based on my client schedule)  to mastermind with colleagues regarding psychometric assessments.  This is a great opportunity to learn from others. The wealth of wisdom I have been granted is incredible.

Once a month I collaborate with several other small business owners where we hold each other accountable and share what is happening in our respective industries.  Also, I read about an hour a day and consumer at least two books per month. Finally, my writing allows me to think better from all the wisdom I have gained.

What concerns me is some coaches be them executive, small business or sales lack the necessary wisdom. They have been certified from some institution; maybe mastered some “coaching skills”  and may even have a process.

Unfortunately, they believe their 5 to 10 years of corporate experience (knowledge learning from their own mistakes) is enough to advise people with even more experience.  I don’t think so.  Here is where the wisdom becomes quite evident.

Wisdom is very much like emotional intelligence as it increases as the individual matures (ages). Time is required to be an insightful and inspiring within the executive to small business coaching arena.

I am sure there will always be exceptions to wisdom and age. However, history has revealed the wisest people are usually the oldest ones in the room.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

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The 7 KPIs for Sales Managers Dashboard

Sales managers face increased responsibility and accountability. Research continues to show sales teams do not meet sales goals while margins shrink due to the dynamics of market forces as well as government compliance.



One of the consistent  barriers faced by those in sale management  is the lack of benchmarks or key performance indicators (KPIs) outside of the ever present total sales figures. These are data points identified during the strategic planning process. However from my 18 years of experience the verb “plan” is a four letter dirty word to the majority (over 50%) of mid-size to small business owners because these risk taking entrepreneurs do not have a well crafted and written strategic plan.

President Dwight Eisenhower said “plan are worthless; planning is everything.” Until executive leadership team or the small business owner conducts the necessary market to customer research, planning and hence forecasting becomes very difficult if not impossible.

Each sales team member should know the following KPIs and these should be collected by sales managers and integrated into their sales management dashboard.

#1 – Sales to Earn or Close Time

How much time elapses from the first contact to the earned sales or closed deal. Knowing this number allows sales managers to better forecast all marketing and selling activities for each person and the business.

#2 – Sales Conversion Ratio

Top performing salespeople know their numbers with this particular number being on top of the list. To determine this ratio requires documenting all sales leads and following the sales lead through the first contact to actually meeting the ideal potential customer (qualified prospect) to discovery to presenting the case to buy from me to earning the sales (closing the deal).

#3 – Number of Contacts Required

How many contacts must take place before the sale is earned?  Some sales research suggests the majority (80%)  of sales are made after the third contact. This same research also indicates that the majority (80%) of sales people stop after the third contact.  From my experience, most recently selling my home, I can personally verify this statistic.

#4 – Annual and Lifetime Value of the Customer or Client

Some small businesses focus on average sale value which is the next KPI.  However, each client requires evaluation on annual value and lifetime value. Each industry will be different as possibly each market.

#5 – Average Sales Value

Knowing what the average sales value is essential in forecasting productivity of the sales team. This number is determined by removing any exceptional sales first that would skew the average sales value.  When this number is calculated and then examining inactive accounts, sales managers can quickly point out opportunities the sales team may be ignoring.

#6 – Average Profit Value

Sales professionals sometimes fail to  understand profit.  They are concerned about earning the sale and do not see the bigger picture. Having healthy profit margins is essential for mid size to small businesses surviving and ultimately thriving. This profit value must be known by sales managers.

#7 – Inactive Accounts to Overall Accounts Ratio

One of the quickest ways to increase sales and meet sales goals is to revisit all inactive accounts.  What happens is small businesses become so focus on the active accounts, they fail to invest the time to determine where there are inactive accounts.  For example if a small business has 1,000 accounts and 400 are inactive for the last year, then the ratio is 10 to 4. Ideally this ratio should be 10 to zero or 10 to 1. Ideally sales managers should visit this ratio at least quarterly if not monthly.

These 7 KPIs require continued monitoring by the sales managers.  When these KPIs  begin to change then immediate action must be taken. Also depending upon the solutions offered by the mid-size to small businesses and the sales styles of the team member, the KPIs for each salesperson may vary. By identifying and then consistently reviewing these KPIs, those in sales management roles can become more proactive in their actions instead of the often observed and very costly reactive behaviors.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn


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Prospecting at LinkedIn? At Least Read the Profile

Salespeople in B2B industries from the smallest firms to even some of the largest ones prospect for new sales leads, centers of influence every day through LinkedIn. However, many anxious salespeople fail to read the profiles. This failure leads them to being viewed as unauthentic.

LinkedInToday I received another LinkedIn invitation with a scripted email about “The business universe is vast and wide, who knows we might be mutually of help to each other in the future.”  I knew this was not only scripted, but the person failed to read my profile when she continued with:

“Just in case you are thinking about getting your first home, refinancing your current home loan or investing in a property, message me for a consultation. It’s FREE and we can schedule it on your most convenient time, over a cup of coffee maybe.

If you know someone who is, I’ll highly appreciate a referral.”

Sounds good except for this one, itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny factor:

This person is in Australia and I am just outside of Chicago, IL, USA.

Now if she had written “over a virtual cup of coffee” and removed the email sales pitch about getting the first home, etc., I would have been more inclined to accept her invitation. Here was another person failing to understand:

Marketing is not selling; but selling is marketing.

Her scripted email sales pitch also raised other concerns within me about her professional credibility and business ethics.  Why would anyone ask someone thousands of miles away in a different country to make referrals specific to buying a home in a foreign country?  Her pitch was not about investing in residential real estate; that would have generated a very different response from me.

Also if she emailed me this sales pitch, would she do the same with my first degree and second degree connections as she had a premium membership?

Reading a LinkedIn profile takes maybe 3 minutes as most.  Sending email sales pitches as part of the invitation message may work if the script is directed to the right person and the other necessary sales buying criteria.

I wonder if people like this individual and others realize they only have 3,000 invites and once an invite is issued your total outstanding invites decline one more number?  This individual just wasted an invite not because she was in Australia as I have many connections outside of the U.S. No, because she failed to do her due diligence by reading the LinkedIn profile and adapting her email sales script.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn


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How to Boost Residential Real Estate Sales – Part 3

Over nine years have passed since I wrote this article “7 Tips for Real Estate Agents’ Success.”  The very first tip was those who are in residential real estate sales are small business owners. Yet, the statistics of failure to limited success by realtors appears this critical increase sales tip continues to be ignored.

residential-real-estate-salesThe Danger Report commissioned by the National Association of Realtors identifies probably the key reason for so many realtors not embracing this reality of being small business owners – Masses of Marginal Agents Destroy Reputation.  This key danger finding is essential to the livelihood of the residential real estate industry.

Since we have placed our home under the For Sale By Owner banner, I have personally witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to real estate agents.  Of the nearly dozen or so who have reached out to us, only two have made repeated calls just to stay in contact. The majority have either made one call or sent up to three direct mail pieces and then quit.  Follow-up is a critical sales skill for any successful small business.

Read Part 2 – How to Boost Residential Real Estate Sales

Successful small business owners stay ahead of the market flow. They look for changes in the economy, the community and their own industries.  Additionally, these forward thinking leaders look to continually hone their knowledge and expertise.   Marginal professionalism will not cut it in any small business less alone one that is people driven and involves the most costly investment people will ever make.

When those in residential real estate sales embrace the attitude of being small business owners, this will help to close the delta between “great real estate service and poor real estate service.” (The Danger Report).   Until that attitude shift happens, the delta between great and poor will probably only increase instead of decrease.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Sales Scripts Do Require Breathing

Have you ever answered the phone and felt breathless? Not by running to the phone, but rather listening to the salespeople run through their sales scripts without taking a breath.  First you cannot get a word in and second you know the drill and have been turned off before the fifth sentence.



Sales scripts are a guide; not words written in stone with a lightening bolt striking you if you misspeak.  These conversational prompts require inflection and breathing.

Yesterday afternoon I answered the phone and was greeted by the voice of a pleasant young man. He introduced himself to me and let me know he was calling on behalf of a mutual acquaintance.  Great! Before I could ask, “how may I support you?,” he launched into this rapid fire sales script and it felt like a Gatling gun of rat-a-tat-tat.

I was able to stop him after 90 seconds and told him to stop with the sales script.  May patience has grown thin with all the bad sales training and I no longer listen to these poorly delivered and badly crafted sales scripts.

What was bad about this one, it retreated to this common line “(name of person) has several openings in the next few weeks.” Then the young man continued with attempting to present benefits and rewards to me in a rather generic description for this particular industry.  Been there, heard that more often than I care to admit.

When cold calling sales leads or warm calling (calling warm prospects not necessarily100% qualified), you as the caller have already interrupted the sales lead or prospect.  Spewing something he or she has heard numerous times because the majority of sales scripts are essentially the same does not win you an appointment. Then speaking in rapid fire further nails your No Sold Coffin.

People buy from people they know and trust.  Even if you are calling for someone who knows the intended party, the intended party does not know you.  You must quickly and authentically build some relationship with that intended receiver.

Learn the all 3 Sales Buying Rules

So remember, take a breath when using sales scripts.  You are not selling Gatlinh guns, you are selling you. The goal is for the sales lead to buy you so you can set that appointment and move the sale forward.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn


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