Posts Tagged ‘direct mail’

Sales Prospecting in the 21st century – Part 3

If people buy from people they know and trust, then it seems reasonable all sales prospecting should build upon that fundamental buying rule.  Yet, salespeople in their hurry and up sales pitch behaviors send duplicate messages that fail to acknowledge any previous conversations.

sales-prospectingIn yesterday’s mail I received a direct mail piece from a realtor with whom I had an extended conversation. His latest direct mail marketing message which was a duplication of the first direct mail piece totally ignored that sales conversation. Now I am wondering if somewhere down the road I will receive a triplicate marketing message.

His marketing and selling behaviors are why customer relationship management programs exist.  Had he inputted our conversation into his CRM he would have realized that we had already communicated.

Now my initial somewhat favorable reaction to him has turned south because his sales prospecting behavior shows me he is disorganized and possibly even desperate for sales.  The good news is his mistake became another blog on sales and ultimately leadership.

How can I even consider buying into the solutions he had to offer when his sales behaviors are sloppy? He could have sent me the duplicate and add a handwritten P.S. to show he acknowledged our previous conversation.

Whether it is real estate agents to financial services providers to marketing firms, sales prospecting is a skill set that many in sales or SMBs that requires drastic improvement. For example, how many LinkedIn invitations (electronic direct mail) have been customized instead of the basic template?  I really love it when a marketing person sends me the template invitation.  This behavior does not build within me any knowledge or trust for that individual.

Sales prospecting is comprised of strategies and tactics.  Your behaviors are the tactics or execution of those strategies. When salespeople send duplicate marketing messages and fail to acknowledge past sales conversations with sales leads, this reveals both poor strategies and even worse execution of tactics.

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Do Realtors Really Want to Sell Homes?

Having been in the process of selling our home, I have come to realize the majority of realtors do not want to really sell a home. No they want to list and then promise how their marketing is different.  This fact is supported by current real estate sales research that suggests nearly 90% of all homes are not sold by the current listing real estate agent.

realtorsListing a home is a guaranteed income if the house sells and is for the most part all the same by all the real estate agents.  I listened to numerous “real estate marketing presentations” and they were basically all the same.

From the marketing reports I received from our realtor, the super majority of interest over 75% was from Zillow.  Percentage wise very little came from Realtor.com or the local real estate association or even the broker’s national multi-listing website. National real estate sales research confirmed that at least 90% of all potential home buyers find their homes on the Internet.

This realization was verified after I called five of the realtors from the direct mail marketing I .  Once I told them our decision to walk the path of For Sale By Owner, 100% of these so called “hungry sales people” indicated they wanted to list the house and were not interested in just “selling the house.”  They maintained this position even after I said we were willing to pay a commission if they sold the home.

One realtor did not realize his conversation was insulting because he presumed we were not working with a qualified real estate attorney.  He said “most of our clients will not work with for sale by owner because of the legal ramifications.”  That may be true, but my sense is his focus creates his reality.

Coming from a true sales background, I always thought selling a home was actually finding a buyer to buy the home and thus make a sale.  Yes finding listings (homes for sale) is just one aspect of real estate sales.  However selling a home from the seller’s perspective is actually finding a buyer for the home.

My advice is to realtors is be careful in your marketing message. More and more buyers recognize there is a difference between listing a home and selling a home.

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Realtors Are You Losing Sales Because… Part 3 Hungry

Losing sales is many times more of an attitude, a desire than insufficient sales skills.  As the old expression goes hungry people hunt.

sales-successNo Hunger to Increase Sales

Top sales performers are hungry. In real estate the hunger seems to be more for listing than for selling. From my recent experience along with research regarding real estate sales, this last reason for losing sales is probably the most evident.

After we decided not to renew our contract with the realtor, I personally called the five plus realtors who had sent me direct mail marketing. Each one of them said they wanted to sell my house.

My first question, after identifying myself and the street address of our home, I asked was “Your numerous direct mail pieces indicated you were interested in selling our home, are you still interested?”

All of them said yes and wanted to set an appointment.  I replied I was available in the next 24-48 hours to schedule an appointment. However I wanted to be forthcoming and to let them know I was not interested in listing our home with their firms. I would be willing to pay them a 2.5% commission if potential buyer they brought would buy our home.

Funny all of this real estate salespeople had a business model that required me to list the home if we wanted them to sell the house.  I also heard other comments like “we sell houses in your subdivision all the time.” My response was “I never saw any of your business cards after the numerous showings we had.”

What is interesting is the sales commission we offered was no different than if these real estate agents had brought a buyer to a home listed by another real estate firm. Here was an opportunity to go through their sales leads and make a sale.

In speaking with our realtor in AZ, she indicated she enters into a contract that the For Sale By Owner would pay her sales commission. Another local realtor had shared he and his wife had a similar contract. Both said ignoring this market of “low hanging” fruit was truly “insane.”

Bottom line these realtors are losing sales because they are not truly hungry  My sense as a professional salesperson my entire adult life is these individuals would starve if they truly had to sell for a living. Note: Listing a home and selling a home are two different types of revenue streams.

Realtors Are You Losing Sales Because…Part 1

Realtors Are You Losing Sales Because… Part 2

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Real Estate Marketing

Having been in the process of selling our home, I have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of real estate marketing. No wonder the National Association of Realtors in its Danger Report revealed the number one danger within the U.S. residential real estate industry is incompetence of real estate agents.

real-estate-marketingMarketing is about attracting attention (positive preferably) and then beginning to build a relationship.  Our current contract with our realtor expired and within 72 hours I received two direct mailings from two realtors.  Both had engaged previously in extensive direct mail campaigns when we had our home listed For Sale By Owner. We received at least five mailing from each of these realtors.

Now we are receiving exactly the same direct mail pieces.  Funny, if they were not effective the first go around, why would anyone believe they would be effective the second go around?

Actually one of the realtors due to his unprofessional mailings (sending a copy of a copy that wasn’t even straight on the paper) had already established negative attention.  People buy from people they know and trust. I would not trust this realtor to open the door for me less alone have him inside my house.

The other realtor had those fancy oversized postcards with the same marketing message.  Again, I wonder how many of these second effort direct mail real estate marketing campaigns actually work especially with sellers and buyers becoming even more educated?

Isn’t it strange that people regress to mailings be it snail mail or even email and fail to pick up the phone or actually stop buy and see the potential sales lead?  We hired our realtor because she called and then stopped by when we originally had the house listed For Sale By Owner.  Funny she knew how to find the phone number because she drove by the neighborhood.

At this point, I have not seen much good respective to real estate marketing.  What I have observed and heard from other colleagues and friends is all about the bad and the ugly. Again, I will restate Peter Drucker’s belief “When marketing is done well, selling is effortless.” Maybe these and other real estate agents may wish to rethink their marketing because it just may make selling homes a whole lot easier.

P.S. The super majority of real estate agents (minimum 9 out of 10) I have spoken to have not even heard of the Danger Report even though I confirmed our local realtor association sent it out in one of its email mailings.

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Being Real About the Re-Start Sales Mentality

We all know the Einstein’s definition of insanity. Maybe that is why some SMB owners to  professional salespeople favor what I call the re-start sales mentality.  This is when bumps in the business road happen a new CRM, a new sales manager, whatever is brought in to overcome or really re-start sales to even marketing activities.

sales-mentality

Credit www.picjumbo.com

Example of Re-Start Sales Mentality

One of my colleagues, Nancy Nardin, in a LinkedIn Post made this forthcoming statement:

“IF CRM HELPED SALESPEOPLE IN A SUBSTANTIAL WAY, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE TO CONVINCE THEM TO USE IT.”

When clients or even sales leads start asking about bringing in new solutions especially technology to take care of recent bumps, my question is always “Are you throwing out the baby with the bathwater?” This is followed up by these simple questions:

“How do you know with absolute crystal clarity what is not working is the real problem?” 

“What other evidence (usually slow sales) do you have that is prompting this decision?”

Usually, the client answers the first question with “I don’t know” and the second question with “None.”

A unified and proactive sales mentality is the result of reflection and studying data, information and knowledge beyond daily, weekly or monthly sales revenue numbers.  This is not the time to seek the quick fix of a new CRM, sales training or a new sales process.

Common Reactionary Sales Behaviors

I have witnessed these reactionary behaviors to marketing actions by SMB owners and salespeople:

  •  “We sent out 20 direct mail post cards and did not receive one response.”
  • “I made 10 sales calls and I could not get anyone on the phone.”
  • “The most recent trade show was a bust. We didn’t get any sales leads.”

The response by so many is to engage in this re-start sales mentality. For it is much easier to find a new, usually non-sustainable solution than to roll up the sleeves and discover the real problem or problems to poor sales.

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Realtors, Time for a Reality Check, Direct Mail Postcards Increase Sales for the U.S. Post Office

Possibly direct mail postcards work for some realtors to increase sales. Yet from the quality of the marketing messages I have received from numerous local real estate agents and the absence of follow-up,  I truly do not know how postcard increase sales except of course for the U.S. Post Office.

direct-mail-postcardsMy question is “What is keeping these salespeople from physically knocking on doors of potential listings?” In the back of my mind, I can hear all the excuses for not knocking on doors.

Excuse #1 – Another Realtor’s Sign Is Still in the Yard

If another agency still has its for sale sign in the yard this may present a small sales barrier. The real estate agent has the name of the homeowner and with a little Internet searching probably can find someone who knows him or her. However if the sign has been removed, they can knock on the door unless there is a No Trespassing sign posted.  Very few residential homes have those signs.

Excuse #2 – I Don’t Have Time

Really you don’t have time to increase sales?  What are you doing all those other hours and minutes of the day? When this excuse pops up for anyone in sales I have them do a time study as to where they are spending their time. What is amazing is how much wasted time this assessment reveals.

Also embedded in this excuse is “I don’t have time to follow-up.”  Funny I have received well over 50 direct mail postcards and letters and not one Realtor as I hate to use the term salesperson has followed up with a phone call or actual visit.  What I have discovered is the marketing messages are still for the most part old school or work with less educated home sellers.

One would think that after 5 to 7 direct mail postcards somebody would take the initiative to follow-up and not with another direct mailing. 

Excuse #3 – Direct Mail Postcards Have Worked in the Past

Times are changing. Soon more and more educated sellers will replace the not so educated sellers.  What worked in the past will not work in the future. Remember the buggy whip if you doubt me.

There is a time and place for direct mail postcards and letters. Yet to increase sales possibly another one or two marketing and sales strategies must be incorporated for the maximum results.

Sitting in the office is always easier than actually going on the road.  Sure social media and Internet are great marketing tools.  However people buy from people.  This simple concept appears to be lost in selling especially among real estate agents.

If you want to increase sales in 2016, then recognize direct mail postcards are first and foremost making the U.S. Postal Service wealthier as well as those firms that sold you the direct mail pieces as well as inaccurate lists. Even if you have had success with this marketing approach, consider how much more real estate sales success you could have if you went beyond the mailbox?

Get out of your office; knock on some doors and do selling the old fashioned way – People to People – not postcard to mailbox.

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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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Over 30 Direct Mail Pieces and Not One Phone Call

Funny thing about direct mail, it requires some sort of follow-up excluding another direct mail piece. Of course with all the do not call lists, this may present a challenge. Yet top sales performers know how to get around those challenges.

direct-mail

A Personal Story

In the last 30 days I have received over 30 direct mail pieces from various real estate agents here in Northwest Indiana and never a phone call to be had.   Most of these marketing messages tout how good these realtors are at selling my home. Yet, they cannot find a way another way to connect with me or better yet stop by our home?

Some background: Our listing with our current realtor expired and we decided to take our home off the MLS and local realtor association listings as we had two projects we wanted to accomplish. We did sign a new contract with our current realtor who is working with us. This is why we suddenly received this flood of direct mail pieces.

Just imagine if some forward thinking real estate agent would possibly think that the homeowner would be a professional?  What would be one way to find that person?

Hmm, the realtors could go to LinkedIn since one out of three professionals are on LinkedIn. They could search my name especially given all of them are on LinkedIn.  Go figure?

Another search option is Google. By inputting my name and the address the following results appear:

  • 69 results for “Leanne Smith” 508 Sunshine Drive, Valparaiso, IN
  • 5 results for “Leanne Hoaglund” 508 Sunshine Drive, Valparaiso, IN
  • 146 results for Leanne Hoagland” 508 Sunshine Drive, Valparaiso, IN
  • 79,100 results Leanne Hoagland Smith
  • Note: The reason for the quotes is it restricts the search to those web pages with those words appearing together in exactly that order.

Finally, they could ask their network do you know Leanne Hoaglund or Leanne Smith? Since the records they are using reveal I have owned my home for 30 years, I believe someone knows someone who knows me.  Then an introduction could be made. Actually one of the realtors did know me from business to business networking events and still sent me a direct mail piece.

Realtors are paying for these customized, usually over size, postcards along with the postage and time to address them.  They are also probably paying for some marketing advice, poor that it is.

The point of this posting is sales people cannot think outside of the box including a post office box then they will have great difficulty in becoming top sales performers. Direct mail pieces require some sort of follow-up be it a phone call or even a visit.

P.S. By the way if you are a salesperson, especially a realtor, and reading this posting, please remember to answer your phone especially when your marketing message tells the sales lead to call you.  Your voice mail service should kick in by the fifth ring. Any longer than five rings, the sales lead will hang up.

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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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Why I Have Not Responded to Your Direct Mail Marketing

direct-mail-marketingIn the past 48 hours,  I received two direct mail marketing pieces from local real estate agents here in Northwest IN. One asked the following question:

HOW ABOUT 3%?

And then goes into the following:

Your house didn’t sell, and it’s frustrating. I understand. If you are planning….

If you list with me and I bring you a buyer, you pay only 3% commission……

Give me a call, Let’s talk.

I have over a decade of experience and consistently am among the top producers in…

#1 Reason Why I Have Not Responded to Your Direct Mail Marketing

The only problem was I did call this realtor when I received his first direct mail marketing piece.  I called at 10am on a week day, non holiday morning and he did not answer his office phone even though it rang for 6 plus times without going into voice mail. Then I called his mobile phone, same result and no voice mail even came on.

So if you want to sell my house and you can’t answer your own damn phone why in the hell would I list with you?

#2 Reason Why I Have Not Responded to Your Direct Mail Marketing

People buy from people.  Direct mail marketing is the first step in prospecting.  Phone calls must be initiated.  Of course with Do Not Call Lists this may present a problem for a lazy salesperson.

A top sales performer knows how to get around those barriers.  Sales Coaching Tip:  Go to LinkedIn and look the person up. By the way, my phone number is there along with website and other ways to contact me.  If not, do an Internet search and surprise you will be able to quickly reach out to me.  Finally ask for an introduction or go knock on their door and do cold calling like top performing salespeople used to do!

Funny several other local real estate agents did call and one of them is with whom we listed because she demonstrated she was not a lazy salesperson.

#3 Reason Why I Have Not Responded to Your Direct Mail Marketing

Being a sales coach, I encourage my clients to understand their sales leads. Do some research.  Today’s sellers are far more educated than prior years. Your approach has been a total turn off because you do not know what I value when it comes to selling my house.  You think it is all about commission?  Wrong!!!!

The real estate agent we listed with and will relist with understood what we valued and she made a connection to our value drivers. She also did her research beyond the local comparables and was the only one out of 10 real estate agents we interviewed who went beyond the basics.

I truly do not know who educates real estate agents about marketing. Whomever they are paying, they are paying way too much.

As to their sales skills, again I question are they really salespeople selling real estate or real estate agents showing homes?  My sense is many of these real estate agents would starve if they had to truly engage in actually selling.

P.S. I wish I could say I am sorry for this rant, but I am not.

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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 02

Many in residential real estate sales make a common and a mistake shared by salespeople in general.  They fail to go beyond three contacts.

residential-real-estate-sales

Credit www.gratisography.com

Research from 2007 suggested it took three (3) cold call attempts to connect with a prospect. Today those contacts have increased to eight (8) according to TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group.

I can personally attest that of the half dozen direct mail pieces I received from different local real estate agents, not one went beyond the three (3) contacts. This failure to go beyond three contacts reveals that those engaged in residential real estate sales are behind the market flow and not even in it less alone ahead of it. Note: Direct mail is a cold call attempt.

Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA)

Back n 1885, Thomas Smith, a London businessman, wrote a guide called “Successful Advertising.” This guide has become the foundation for the Theory of Frequency specific to contemporary advertising and top of mind awareness (TOMA). His book suggested a minimum of 20 contacts are needed to be the first company your ideal customers thinks of.  Some more recent marketing and sales research suggests 33 annual contacts per year respective to top of mind awareness.  What this research does reveal is stopping at three contacts (cold call attempt) is not good and truly a waste of one’s marketing efforts.

Multiple Contacts Required

Direct mail when done well does attract attention. However to rely on just three direct mail pieces without any further contact is foolhardy.

Use the Phone

Some in residential real estate sales may fear the do not call list. However this is a minor barrier that can be easily over come through the various social media channels to Google searches.  If the person is using For Sales By Owner and have posted his or her phone number, then he or she has already given you permission to call.

The ability to boost residential real estate sales is up to each realtor especially those who have an attitude of abundance and not one of scarcity.

As it has been said by many “When you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change.” Possibly now is the time to re-look at how you look at your marketing and selling behaviors so you can catch up and maybe even get ahead of the flow.

Consider reading Part One of How to Boost Residential Real Estate Sales

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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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Realtors – Your Marketing Message Sucks – Part 03

Beyond the really bad direct mail pieces being sent by realtors, another reason the marketing message sucks is the lack of results that being sold homes. Marketing is about attracting attention and beginning to build relationships. Realtors who sell a lot of homes probably have much better marketing messages.

marketing-messageSo what do the numbers reveal?

According to GNIAR, Northwest Indiana has approximately 2,500 realtors.  In 2014, these realtors sold 9,061 single family homes. (Source: NWI Times)

Of course some of those 2,500 realtors deal with commercial property so these statistics are not 100% accurate. Yet these numbers provide some valid insight as to the results respective to the marketing message.

By doing the math, 2,500 realtors sold 9,061 homes or on average each realtor sold 3.6244 homes. For easier computation, we can round up to 4 homes on average sold by each realtor.

The average value of a home in 2013 for Northwest Indiana was $135,000.  Again,we can round up to $150,000.

Commissions on real estate still average 6%.  Of this 6%, 3% goes to the listing agent and 3% goes to the selling agent with the understanding the real estate broker for both the listing and selling agent receives  a certain percentage. In many instances this percentage is 50%. What this means is if a realtor only sells a house and he or she is not the real estate broker, the commission is 1.5%

Returning to the average price of a house sold, the commission on a $150,000 home is $2,250.  If the realtor sold 4 homes, his or her total income for the year would be $9,000.

Now the Pareto Principle kicks in and probably 20% (500) of those 2,500 realtors generate 80% (7,249) of the sold homes.  This changes the average annual income from $9,000  to $33,750. (7249 homes divided by 500 realtors equals 15 homes per realtor at an average resale price of $150,000 with 1.5% commission).

The 20% who are probably selling the 80% of homes know how to market much better than the other 80%. These true marketing and sales professionals understand relationship selling and the marketing skills that compliment relationship selling.

Peter Drucker said the “purpose of business is marketing and innovation.”  He went on to say everything else was operations.

Realtors who continue to remain clueless about effective marketing or who believe the quick fix of one direct mail piece will attract attention are foolhardy at best. Their marketing message will continue to suck.

Tomorrow’s posting will examine specific marketing skills that are lacking by many realtors.

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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 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn

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