Hey Dude I just wanted a free Pumpkin…

  Hey Dude I just wanted a free Pumpkin…

Over the past 9 years I have been asked numerous times, ‘How do you get your business?”  And to be honest, at first it was very difficult for me to give a specific answer other than, “They just call me…”  but that felt awkward and braggy so I tried to come up with other answers.  Over the past month I have had some time to reflect on my business, and I have learned some lessons about how I do it perhaps these lessons will also help you.

“Did you hear the one about the Realtor who was invited to a wedding?”

Recently, I was invited to a ‘client’s’ wedding, you heard me right a client invited me, a REALTOR(R), to join them in celebrating their new beginning.  They trusted me in a room with their friends and family and weren’t worried I would do that awful ‘selling’ thing.  As I type this I have a horrendous vision of a pop-up booth and a REALTOR(R) handing out business cards on the way into the reception… 

As I sat at our table for dinner something struck.  I was sitting at a table that included the ‘client’ who referred me to the Bride and the ‘client’ who referred me to that client and so on.  I had been to engagement events, weddings and even funerals for this group of people, so was it really fair to call them clients?  Now let me make myself clear, these weren’t my existing friends, who also used me as their real estate agent.  These were clients before they were ‘friends'.   It was humbling for me to imagine how out of all the possibilities on a guest list I made the cut, yet it reinforced something I think I had begun to assume.  I do business differently.

My business is and will always be about serving my client’s needs.  I’m not in the business of selling homes, I am in the business of building relationships with great people and coaching them throughout the incredible process of finding their family home; the safe place they land after a hard day of work; where they start their lives together as a married couple; where their new born baby will come home and take first steps or, where they will sometimes say good bye to great memories to embrace where their new journey is taking them.  I have the honour and privilege to be a part of their journeys, and I owe it to them to remember that and respect that.  

Learning to UnSell... Really?

I’m not the only one who understands that it’s no longer about ‘selling’.  Enter Alison Kramer and Scott Stratton, authors and keynote speaker (Scott) at the last two C21 National Conferences.  If you haven’t had the chance to read one of Scott’s books (UnSelling, UnMarketing; The book of Business Awesome; QR Codes Kill Kittens) or hear him speak check out his website and listen to a Podcast unmarketing.com or on twitter @unmarketing  Why do I bring @UnMarketing into this?  Because Scott and Alison get it and explain it in a much more succinct  way than I!  I’ve been reading their newest book UnSelling and I’ve found myself having a revival experience as I reconnect to the HOW of un-selling (I apologize to those who have offices or seats in waiting rooms next to me that have had to endure the LOL’s and amen’s!).  I was specifically hit by the Funnel Vision discussion. You see I believed that I was completely onside and in agreement with UnSelling until I was  hit with the reality that perhaps I wasn’t fully relaying those to those in my Brokerage correctly.  It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of ‘keeping the pipeline or funnel full of leads’, who hasn’t heard this from a coach or broker.  What I realized was that I was assuming that everyone understood what that looked like, and so when I discussed business practices we were all on the same page. Right?  In reality, we all tend to have tunnel vision at times and need to have our prescription checked regularly. 

Get to the Pumpkins Already!

So how do pumpkins fit into all of this?  I’m getting there I promise!  A major event for our Brokerage has become our Annual Pumpkin Give-Away.  We host the event at the office and encourage our Agent’s to have their clients stop by and grab a Pumpkin; some prefer to take the pumpkins to their clients which is even more awesome.  Last year we advertised in the community that we were giving away free pumpkins, the response was … ok.  Most members of the community had apprehension about stopping by to grab a pumpkin assuming there were strings attached.  One even drove past a few times and even once through the parking lot. When she finally got the courage up to run the potential gauntlet of REALTOR(R)’s she stopped to grab the precious pumpkin and ran.

The follow up and the coolest part we thought would be the Facebook competition where they could post the final carved artistic expression and enter to win some great prizes.  We had local celebrities judge the entries and voilà…success on all fronts!  This year we made the decision not to advertise but rather allow it to grow organically, and focus more on our clients.  It was a fantastic day, with face painting and huge monster pumpkins being given away!  As with any event there is feedback and my Co-Owner and I reviewed every detail, it was then that the reality hit us! Our beloved event was teetering dangerously on the edge of reinforcing ‘Funnel Vision’.  What had gone so terribly wrong…there were business cards handed out!  (Insert the STOP IT! JUST STOP IT ala Scott Stratton)  

Ok I get it, if you are a REALTOR(R) at this point you think I’m crazy and over reacting but stay with me.  Right or wrong, when people who have no relationship with your business walk up to pick up their free pumpkin they want a free freaking pumpkin.  They are people who deserve to be respected and honoured as we would with our ‘current clients’ and we should be handing the pumpkin to them with no strings, only the encouragement to have some fun with it and share the results.  Offering a business card without being asked for it only reinforces the perception that we are only in it for the lead.  People aren’t leads and they don’t want to be sold, they want information and a free freaking pumpkin!  Now don’t hear that handing out business cards is always wrong, it’s not but it’s all about context.  Until you’re specifically asked for a business card you haven’t successfully made a connection and it’s way too early in the relationship to be all selley.  How many of you go into a retail store and avoid eye contact with the sales people, and when specifically asked if they can help, your response is “no just looking”.  Don’t lie I know you all do it, consider that these strangers walking up to our office and your open houses are feeling exactly the same way.  They’re ‘just looking’.  

5 Distinct Miracles

I know I’m going to get the argument “well how will they know how to contact me when they decide they need info?”  Well, besides the fact that there are 5 distinct miracles that have to happen for that business card to lead to a call (yes a Brian Buffini reference but that’s another blog) how about this? They could stop by the office or the website, see your photo click on it and go to your website.  Don’t think they will? Well wait until you read my next blog about the client who found me 2 years after I sold their “for sale by owner” to ask if I would be their agent.

Don’t read this and get defensive about your current business practices, rather let it be the tool that perhaps allows you an opportunity.  One of my core values is to always be striving to get better…mediocrity is a curse word in my home and business yet I have to say, even I feel challenged and need to examine motives and to seek to UnSell some of my bad habits.