It truly amazes me the number of salespeople that I run into on almost a daily basis who have created sob-stories as to why they aren’t selling. It’s the economy, their market, consumer confidence, the mortgage meltdown, tight credit and a host of other reasons. Even more sad are the managers who honestly believe that their salespeople are out there taking on the world, doing all they can to get a deal.
In 2004, in a different market atmosphere than we have today, I was contemplating a move back to the south due to a new business venture. I looked at Dallas, Houston and Austin as potential places to relocate my family. On a Friday afternoon in Dallas I browsed the internet listings to look for suitable property in North Dallas. I made 147 phone calls to listing agents to set appointments to see their listings. At the time I was looking to make a purchase between $400 – $650K. I also followed up with several emails to many of the same agents. I explained that I needed to relocate within 90 days. I would be available all weekend and till late Monday to look at their listing or any other homes that they thought would meet my needs. I provided a brief run-down of my “must-have” features.
Move forward to the following Wednesday, five days after my initial attempts to contact an agent. From Friday to Wednesday I had received a combined total of five (5) return phone calls and emails. Two agents didn’t have time, two other agents wanted me to look in different areas than what I was comfortable with, and the only remaining agent is who I ended up executing a buyer’s agency agreement with. Stop and think about what I just said. Only 5 agents out of 147. A potential $15,000 or more commission, but didn’t have the common professionalism nor decency to at least return my call or email me. I was shocked.
Even though I didn’t end up relocating to Dallas, I sent two referrals to the agent I worked with that netted him sizable commissions over the ensuing months. I’ve utilized this information and have shared it with thousands of agents over the last few years. Especially with those agents in the Region I managed to make sure that we had the proper sales skills training necessary to ensure that this wouldn’t happen in my company. Since then I believe that I had resigned myself to believe that it was just a symptom of a fast-paced, profitable market. I’ve since learned that this isn’t the case.
In January I relocated to Dallas with my family. Hey, four years later isn’t so bad…after all I did keep my word. Since we have moved to town I’ve visited no less than 100 open houses across our city, but have primarily concentrated on the school district where our children are currently enrolled. So I would estimate that I’ve been through 60 to 75 open houses in the Park Cities area of Dallas. I’ve met no less than 50 agents who represent our city’s finest firms.
In each open house I’ve signed their guest rosters, if they had one. I’ve provided my business card for contact and email information. My wife and I have struck up conversations with practically every agent and gave them our price range, preferences and time-frames. All very doable and according to the latest MLS search, approximately 47 homes in the area meet our criteria. Interestingly enough, to date I’ve received 3 phone calls and three emails as a result of the numerous open house visits, conversations and signed guest rosters.
Two of the agents have been smart enough to place me on automated follow-up systems. What are the other 48 doing? Two left one voice mail message, but have not tried to follow-up since. Only one has repeatedly and personally notified me of other homes that are available. Now just who do you think I’ll end up working with? To date I’ve only received one thank you card. Oddly enough I’m not even receiving post cards, flyers or listing information from any of the 50 I’ve talked with. Now remember, all of these people have both my office and residence contact information. How hard would it be to immediately put me into a drip campaign, call me once a month or invite me to their next open house in the neighborhood?
A question for the managers reading this. Is this type of performance acceptable to you? I’ve now concluded that I could go into any market across the US and find the same results, behavior and sheer lack of skill. Back in the eighties I had a broker friend who conducted a front desk survey. He had the receptionist log every lead call that came into the office. Prior to transferring the caller to the opportunity desk and an ”on-call” salesperson, she would ask for the callers last name and street address. Approximately 100 days later he paid someone to research deed transfers at the county courthouse. He found that out of all the callers who had responded to the advertising that he had paid for; 49 had purchased a home or sold a home with another agency.
He realized, just as I have realized these last four years, that his salespeople didn’t know how to ask for the business. They didn’t have sales skills. They couldn’t close. He was loosing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year due to salespeople.
How much are your salespeople losing you every year?
Ladies and gentlemen, proper sales skills training is the only answer that will cure this ailment. Out of the average two week company training program, less than 15% concentrates on sales skills. We cover everything from agency to how to pick up voice mail, but we don’t teach our people how to sell. Over the last decade, I’ve invested greatly in making sure company agents had several training options afforded to them. A blended training program includes: task based training, skills based training and activities based training. However in the real world, most company training is only task oriented and delivered by lecture at best.
Don’t delay, do something today that will impact your company’s bottom line. Start training your agents how to sell from day one. If you would, I could finally buy a home in Dallas.
Let me know what you think of my psuedo-consumer experience by providing a comment below.
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