So far we’ve come up with 8 principles of successful communication. They are:
1. Client Focused: Put the client first and everything else will fall into place.
2. Edification: Express why you admire your audience for a specific reason.
3. Credibility: Look the part, follow through on your promises, and know your topic inside and out.
4. Consistency: Avoid waffling or changing your persona to suit the situation.
5. Context: Ensure that your presentation is relevant to the times/situation and applicable to your audience.
6. Compassion: No one will care unless they see that you care first. Empathy, not sympathy.
7. Clarity: Work big to small. State the general principle and then demonstrate it in real life. Ask for what you want in specific terms and be prepared to answer “What would that look like?”
8. Conviction: If you don’t believe in what you’re saying, you don’t stand a chance. Reject your message if it’s self-serving, manipulative, or needs further reflection on your part.
For the sake of brevity and because we want to share other topics with you, we’ll wrap up this series with the final four. They are; Targeting, Research, Feedback, “Weaponeering”.
9. Targeting: There’s a saying which states “Know thy audience.” True, but we want you to select your audience as well. Ladies and Gentlemen, you simply don’t have the time to convince everyone you would like to do business with of your value, competence, or sincerity. Sometimes the dogged pursuit of “the one that got away” can be quite costly. Be selective in everything you do, including choosing who you want to do business with. Novices prospect and pros understand that sales is not a “numbers game”. Sales is about velocity, not pinning the tail on the donkey. If you have a demographic in your client base which is easy to connect with, there’s where your profits lie. When I began my real estate career, the highest velocity rate was among Marine Corps officers. Because of a common ethos, there was instant credibility and trust. Furthermore, because Marines are very team-oriented, they’d actually go out of their way to dig up referrals. As a realtor, you literally live and die by referrals and it was refreshing to know that I wouldn’t have to spend endless hours following up on quasi-leads or “prospecting”. Brian Buffini says past clients should be “walking, talking billboards for you”. We want you to go a step further by inspiring your clients to take action, not just talk about you when real estate comes up.
After you identify and decide to target your key demographic, begin with the decision makers within each “unit” (investor group, family, etc.). This may seem obvious. However, there are many corporate cultures and families wherein people occupying formal positions wield little influence throughout the organization. Remember that the identification of actual “command and control” figures takes time, patience, confidence, and a willingness to get to know someone. If you can effectively connect with decision makers, they’ll disseminate the information you provide. If you allow them to do the convincing for you, they’ll adopt your ideas as their own, and ensure others follow suit. Bottom Line: Effective targeting is like collegiate wrestling. If you control the head, you control the rest of the body.
10. Research: You must earn people’s trust. Trust is displayed by two things; character and competence. You are absolutely wrong if your client knows more about the market than you do. Unfortunately, realtors rank very low in terms of the trust factor. A recent Harris Poll found that only 6% of real estate agents are “completely trusted”. That’s less than lawyers (18%) and mechanics (12%). Therefore, expect your clients to conduct their own research (especially at the beginning of the relationship). But quickly gain control of the information flow by telling them something that blogs and editorials won’t. Buyer MLS reports are marginally more informative than Realtor.com, Zillow, and the rest of the “civilian” sites, and therefore are unimpressive. Demonstrate your value by a) showing your prospect they have access to priceless information and b) they won’t get said information from anyone else. Bottom Line: Always stay two steps ahead of the client and more importantly, let them know it.
When educating your prospects on the market, give them information specific to their situation. Before any listing appointment, conduct a thorough reconnaissance of the neighborhood. Show them how many times other listings in their tract have been on the market. Find out if competing listings have missed a mortgage payment or two (you can find this out by your title rep). Be able to tell them the personal motivation of other sellers in their tract (by engaging other listing agents in detailed conversations—if you even imply that you may have an offer, they’ll usually spill the beans). Show them tax records. Give your prospects the actual value of their home (ironically, if your estimation is lower than that of other agents who’ve given them presentations, you’ll seem more credible). Regurgitate information from the local paper and you’re one of the many vs. one of the elite. Bottom Line: Do whatever it takes to find facts about their tract or town which pertains exclusively to your prospect. The truth is out there. Demonstrate your resourcefulness.
11. Solicitation of Feedback: Structured solicitation of feedback will allow your prospects to adopt your views as their own and is the key to having your client “stay in the conversation”. Without some sort of format and an agreed upon endstate, the discussion will drift towards who knows where. The best way to preempt this is to define the terms. Anyone who’s been to marital counseling knows that the problem isn’t common values between spouses; it’s the definitions of those values. Here’s another example of failing to define the terms; “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.” Do you know who said that? Adolph Hitler. Truth, justice, and what it means to be a Christian, all corrupted because no one would ask hard questions and assume the risk of rejection.
Structured solicitation of feedback will entail 1) Interactive methods which keep people involved and engaged (such as having seminar participants fill in blanks in the course materials). 2) Encouraging the exchange of information and ideas amongst the audience itself. A good seminar will involve the creation of small focus groups amongst the participants. The goal is to provide opportunities for problem-solving in a relatively private and supportive environment. There’s a reason why people who exercise in groups report an increase in level in pain tolerance by 96%. People do much better at a task when performing or presenting to their peers vs. superiors or subordinates. Bottom Line: Stay on task and create consensus by providing a structured and solution-oriented format which requires input from your audience.
12. “Weaponeering”: This is the military version of selecting the right tool for the job. The American military is renowned (and respected) for its’ restraint, professionalism, and precision. Gone are the days of “strategic bombing” from the WW II era where entire population centers were wiped out with impunity (and that’s a good thing). In the “2006 Lebanon War” the Israeli Air Force assassinated a senior Hezbollah militant by dropping a 500 lb. bomb on top of the apartment building where he resided. The entire structure collapsed killing dozens of civilians as well. That was a situation where the term “collateral damage” didn’t cut it. Determining what to say to someone and how to say it is no different. The most effective “calls to action” have resonated with the target audience because the right thing was said at the right time to the right people. In World War I, Sergeant Dan Daly inspired a counterattack by yelling to his Marines; “C’mon you sons of bitches! Do you wanna live forever?” The right kind of language (tool) to inspire Marines in combat? You bet. How about if you’re trying to convince a married couple to list with you? Probably not. Finally, “Weaponeering” also applies to the topics you’ll need to emphasize in your presentations. If you’re giving a listing presentation to a family with small children, you must know and be able to comment on school systems. If your clients need to sell ASAP, you need to emphasize sensible pricing. Bottom Line: Use language, tone of voice, tactics, and procedures which make your clients feel comfortable about dealing with you. Listen, and you’ll quickly determine what they are.
Whether it’s on the battlefield or the boardroom, you will fail to recruit allies or lasting support unless you create coalition by effective communication. Listen to what others have to say. Reject scripts, “mirroring”, or “power words”. Be comfortable in your own skin and show others that they should be as well. Be willing to show maturity and sound business sense by moving on if your prospect or audience isn’t “feeling it”. There’s plenty of business out there. Be willing to change your point of view or the way you express it. And be smart enough to know that your intellect and intentions won’t “pass go” unless you pass other people’s evaluations of you. Never compromise on your values. But always consider the wants and needs of any audience that you want to connect because you care. Communicate well and you’ll be successful not only in business, but life itself.