Agents – While you are reciting your affirmations, remember who you work for.

Everyone agrees you are the best
Creative Commons License photo credit: markhillary

“Shared unique traits bring us together. Collective distinctions make us a nation.”

These are words my daughter wrote in an article she penned for the Columbia Missourian. I’m not bragging (OK, I’m bragging); rather, the point is that she made a great point.

My biggest challenge as a real estate broker – a real estate agent – is that I constantly struggle with the guilt-by-association cloud that hangs over our industry, a dark, foreboding cloud of incompetence and slimy salesmanship that brands us all, poor or great.

It happened again this week. “You all do the same thing,” said my caller. “How are you any different than the rest of them?”

At this moment, she was frustrated. She was frustrated with false promises, mixed messages, and conflicting advice. She was frustrated with a certain arrogance and detachment that swiftly replaced the “we’re on the same team” rhetoric as soon as the listing was inked.

I share her frustration.

A client whose listing recently expired with another agent spent the better part of one morning this week fielding non-stop phone calls from agents offering to do it right. “Why do you think your home didn’t sell?” each asked in their feigned caring robo-voice, reading from the same prepared script. They shared unique traits – they all apparently were students of the dialing for dollars school. An expired or cancelled listing is chum, and the sharks responded on cue. For many, this is an important part of their business plan. For me, it represents an old-school form of interruption marketing, a tactic for chasing “leads” without a strategy for actually leading. And it is a tactic that perpetuates the collective distinction of being a nation of hungry, wild dogs concerned only with our next meal.

Of course we don’t all do the same thing, but the challenge for the agent is communicating the often-abstract distinctions. How do you delicately say things like “We can spell and write in complete sentences; our marketing, our competence, our honesty and integrity, our grasp of the market and the market dynamics is better”? How to you convey that these things matter at all?

You do it through your actions. The funny thing about focusing on the conduct of the business rather than on chasing it is that it forces you into the role you should have been filling all along – the role of a service provider and advisor, the role of a fiduciary representing the client to the best of your ability. And suddenly, your marketing, like magic, is in tune with the expectations of today’s consumer – don’t call me, I’ll call you. It becomes permission based, and it becomes respectful of the people you aim to woo.

“Is Linda Vista the same as Bay Park?” asked the agent calling on one of our listings. Uh, no. “How are they different?” she pressed. And suddenly I found myself wondering where I might begin – with alphabetical order, the geography lesson, the housing styles, the demographics, or the bus routes. I suspect she had a client interested in one, while I had a listing in another. But, rather than doing a little homework on the various communities to help her clients find their dream home, she had probably been otherwise indisposed creating a vision board.

Jeffrey Douglass ranted about a little recruiting email we all received this past week from a big real estate company.

Learn how to manifest anything you want in your life professionally and personally and how to have a life of balance and abundance.

  • Learning how to do affirmations.
  • Learning how to manifest your desires.
  • Creating a vision board.
  • Goal Setting.
  • Positive Energy Exercises.
  • Living the life you’ve always wanted to live.

Now, the only “vision board” I need is my mortgage bill, but that’s just me. And, lest you think I left something out (the part about the customer or, say, learning where Bay Park is), I didn’t.

This is a “help wanted” ad, yet there is nothing here about job skills or about what the company stands for.  But, I suppose, there is. This particular nation is about numbers – numbers of agents. Period. Their mission statement might say otherwise, but this collective that is a nation has just distinguished themselves as a company whose priority is a Zenned-out workforce focused on agent recruitment and retention, and on earnings goals. In the meantime, someone out there is looking for an agent in the business of getting their home sold and really doesn’t give a flip if you are manifesting your desires. Or riding a horse.

Iwanttorideahorse

It’s not that I have anything against riding horses, mind you. It sounds like fun. But the message I see being delivered here is one of “It’s all about us!” not to mention a little matter of quality control being of secondary import (and feel free to insert editable text while you are considering this compelling opportunity).

This is why we are an independent brokerage. It is why we are a ten-strong collective, because those “unique traits” that brought us together are, in fact and sadly, unique in our industry. We aren’t perfect, but we are always trying to better ourselves where it matters — in the conduct of our business. More importantly, we haven’t forgotten who it is we work for.  And it is why, if your listing is expiring, you won’t be getting a call from me. Just the same, we will be here when you need us, just as soon as we get the horses back in the barn.

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