More On Success

Wayne Long writes:

I am a big fan of the Millionaire Real Estate book and all the products they have. All that said, as I watched the video I had some questions.

The book was written now several years ago based on people who became successful prior to the book being published.

My question is: Has the paradigm shifted? If we are interviewing agents 5 or 10 years from now who are mega successful agents – will they say that SOI and direct mail is how I got here or will they say a great website and blogging is how I got here?

There are obviously certain principles that never change and great service, systems, leverage, and lead generation will always be the way to success.

The question is: Has the most effective way to generate leads changed?

These questions were in response to the video. Short answer; no. Long answer; no, and I doubt it is ever going to change. There will of coursesuccess brush be
people who will rise up and disagree with that statement. They are simply wrong. But before anyone even bothers to disagree (watch the video first), let us be very very clear about what I am even talking about here. Is there something in the MREA book that is wrong? No. Is is “outdated”? No. Could it be more updated? Yes, and, in fact, a revision is in progress – but it still isn’t “outdated”. Our business hasn’t changed. The most important parts of long term stable success in residential sales is getting and getting rid of listings. That was true 40 – 50 years ago and I believe it will still be true 40 – 50 years from now. The things that make is seem like the business has changed are not what is important. There are obviously certain principles that never change and great service, systems, leverage, and lead generation will always be the way to success. Correct. Always. And that is (along with the correct viewpoint) exactly what is covered in the Millionaire Real Estate Agent.

But there is a part of our business that is changing. It changes all the time. Not daily, in our business, but from month to month, from year to year, it does change. Surveys are the key to stats. Survey buttons (what a customer) in any industry considers “valuable” or desirable changes over time. In some industries – clothing, for example – the buying publics idea of what is fashionable, changes from month to month. But (usually) the idea that people would wear clothes isn’t changing. Same with our business. As long as the world exists, as we know it, people will want houses to live in. They will usually want to own them, therefore there will be people selling them. Will there be changes in the way Realtors conduct business? If the past 20 – 30 years is any indication of the future, my answer is that there will be far more change in the next 20 – 30 years than there was in the past 20 – 30 years. I expect to see most of those changes for Realtors occur in the area of buyer brokerage. When I started the internet did not exist. There was no world wide web and no one had a website. Now any agent without a website isn’t fully in the business. Sort of like having a business card. Gotta have one. Is the internet far more important today – for attracting buyers – than most any print ad? I believe the answer is an unqualified, YES. Has the internet changed what is effective in getting listings? Nope, not really. Do you – as a lister – need a website? Absolutely. Can a person get listings from internet generated leads? Sure. But show me one top agent anywhere in the United States who lists even 100 houses a year from the internet. Just one. I’m not talking about 200 or 300 listings a year – just 100. How about 50? Obviously, I am not talking about the people who will list the house for $500, $300 or for free. It would not make any difference how many of those they got anyway (no need to take my word, just do the math). Even the success those companies and agents enjoyed in the market we had is evidence of the statement, Surveys are key to stats. What does the person you want to reach think? Not what do YOU think, what do they think. You have to ask them. The primary thing you get from a survey is a button. If you were asking multiple people, this is the answer that was given the most number of times to your survey question.

Working with and attracting buyers is quite a different thing than attracting sellers and getting them to sign a contract with you. Most agents don’t really understand this rather vast but simple difference and so make all manor of errors in their thinking because of not understanding this one thing. Buyers are looking for a house. They will accept working with an agent but usually did not really want an agent, they just wanted a house and talking to an agent is what they had to do to get the information they wanted. Which is why ads aimed at buyers proclaiming, “work with me, I’m the best” or “work with me, I’m loads of fun” don’t have much impact. Put some photo of a house in that same ad saying, “fantastic home below market” (or any fully believable statement) and notice the difference in the number of calls you get. What words should go in the ad IS the question. That IS what changes. What offers should you make to attract buyers and sellers – oh my, does that change. Sometimes kind of fast.

I have been running radio and TV ads offering my services to sellers for about 17 years. During the first 8 or 9 of those years I formed some very bad habits and wound up with some really stupid ideas. My market had been pretty stable – very slow, gradual upward pressure on prices. Time on market did not change much and as days on market was about a third of the average agent’s time – I promoted those numbers. I still do. But I did something really really stupid.  For years, I kept using the same DOM numbers. It was a lazy thing to do. When the market would change a bit, I figured, what the hell – my actual numbers are even better than what I am advertising – why bother to change the ad. It’s a lot of trouble. Leave it be. The first six or seven phone calls I received late at night (people just taking the time to call and leave me a message calling me a liar) I completely ignored. Malcontents. That’s all. People who have nothing better to do than give others crap. Then it started to dawn on me, I hadn’t been receiving calls like that all the time, they were a new thing. I had been running the same TV ad for five years. The market had changed. The publics idea of what was a “good” marketing time had most certainly changed. Not me. Once I came to my senses and changed my radio and TV ads – also changing the “buttons”, why surprise, surprise, the number of calls went way up.  But notice that when my “TV ad stopped working” is wasn’t a TV ad not working, it was a TV ad that had a no longer current “button”.

Will people years from now say that a great website and blogging are important, good and will lead to success? Only the ones who aren’t already saying it now. If you are going to make more money you are going to find a method of getting and keeping customers. This statement is is true for all businesses of all types. It always has been a true statement and it always will be a true statement. If you are going to make more money in any business you are going to have to get and keep customers. In our business there are just two methods of doing this. I suppose you could combine the two methods and then call it a third method but there are just two basic methods of getting more customers: prospecting or marketing. If you had a farm (geographic or demographic) you could both market to that farm and also prospect them, as well. But to get more business you would do one or the other or both. That’s it. There are no “other methods”. So one gets good at one or both of those. Those are the skills that will matter the most. If you can get enough customers all of the other “issues” tend to take care of themselves.

As far as the question on what are the most effective lead generation methods, let me first say I wish I knew the answer to that question. I really do. The only data that exists to answer that question – as far as Realtors generating leads goes, is ALL anecdotal. All of it. There are many people claiming to know the answer(s). They are, each and every one them charlatans or fools. What is known is what is the most effective lead generation that any person keeping actual and accurate stats is doing. But that is not an answer to your question. I am part of a lead generation study being done at Baylor University and that question, among others is exactly what they are going to research. Last October, Wendy and I spent a few days in Waco,Texas so panels of people with doctorates could listen to us. (I know, pretty funny, huh?) They wanted to know what we wanted to know. That is what they are going to research. It has never been done before. Once I actually know, I promise to pass along what I learn.

Back to success now. Here is a an email I received from Dirk Zeller yesterday. Sure, it’s spam. But he does a pretty good job using “come on dissemination” – taking ideas and concepts to pose questions that you will want the answers to – that most readers of this blog can figure out the answers to for themselves. To fully see what I am talking about you will need to click through on the hypertext, “find out how to grow 313% …. etc.”. There is no meaningful statement he makes here that I think is wrong. None. Do I believe that the start dates for success are really November 1st to December 15, specifically? No. But I know for a fact that any Realtor who fails to plan may as well have intentionally planned to fail. That will be the result. All top agents, all top performers in just about every field set aside time to figure out what they are going to do.  This isn’t done while they are working in the business. Never. It is working ON the business. Very different thing. When you get outside of your business and work ON it you can start to see what your real priorities need to be. Some of you may discover that you have not been treating the main thing like it was the main thing. I didn’t buy the CD’s Dirk is selling and I am not asking you to buy them either. But I liked the viewpoints he had there so much I wanted to pass them along.


Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. – Abraham Lincoln