There’s always something to howl about

Heresies for the Sects of Prospecting: I do not believe my clients need me to be their buddy and I never get hung up on.

This is a response to a comment from Robert Worthington. I’ve turned it into a post because I talk too much.

> On average how many visitors are you getting monthly to your site?

I have no idea. I’ve never been fastidious about analytics, and by now I’m useless. I have no idea which pages are tickling Google (known to my stupid soul as Urchin — that’s how long it’s been since I bothered with any of this) and which are not. Most everything is new, so most pages, presumably, are not even hitting my Analytics account, which I have not visited in years, in any case. I suck at SEO, too. And my CRM-life is CRM-free, still, after years of kvetching about it.

I need a high-C to bring order to my life, clearly, but there’s more:

I don’t do Twitter or Facebook. I don’t write much on my real estate weblog and I never go off topic. I don’t get many comments from normal people, I don’t unmoderate comments from real estate professionals, and I don’t encourage comments in any case. The calls to action are email or phone. I write here and there and nowhere else.

I do not believe my clients need me to be their buddy.

I do believe they need me to be an expert on residential real estate and how to go about buying, selling, renting, leasing, improving and profiting from it.

So: I have written tons of content over the years, and I deliver it all on my real estate blogsite. I have no idea how many people see it, nor how many dig in and read it. But I know that the people I hear from are almost always pre-sold on working with us, and most of those contacts turn into closed transactions — many of them multiple transactions, some with multiple-transaction referral trees.

On top of that, we deliver tons of dynamic content, mostly in the form of MLS listings. Every dipwad in town has search, but we have the best MLS search available from any Phoenix real estate brokerage, and we’ve optimized it in ways that other brokerages can’t. That site SEOs well, so the net result is that we get a lot of very loyal search traffic. Some of that we’ll lose, but we don’t have to keep everything to close a lot of transactions, and that’s an accelerating percolator of new business.

Everything we do on-line is intended to get people into our software universe. However you find us, I want for you to find your way home, back to the main blogsite. If I can get you to read what I have written, I can show you why our way of working is better for you.

I have no idea how many people are landing on our pages and skating away or how many more are reading but rejecting the message. What I do know is that I lose very little time to people who are not already pre-sold on everything we are doing. I get people who read well, obviously, and I hear from a lot of high-Cs and high-Ds. Some of my clients possess wealth that is beyond my ability to comprehend. But everyone we talk to is motivated and qualified, and some of them can tell me what I think better than I know it, so carefully have they read what I’ve written.

But do not attribute any of this to any sort of science. I think a lot about marketing, and I have built some interesting robots that I thought were sound expressions of good marketing principles. But mostly what I have been doing, in the ten years that I have been building real estate sales-seeking web sites, has been satisfying myself. I want something done. I build it my way. If I don’t love it, I’ll keep rebuilding it until I do. But once I do, I may not make it back there for years.

I have never made a secret of this, and it’s a caveat I would hope to impress upon everyone who reads BloodhoundBlog: I am much better at ideas than I am at execution. I am a high-D to the exclusion of everything, and D means d-o-n-e done. When I am done with something, that’s when I need to hand it off to the high-Cs to execute, document and perfect. I like what we’re doing, but I know we could be doing everything better.

> Sounds like your business is firing on all cylinders.

What I want from the web is what I’m getting: Contacts from motivated people who already know they want to work with us.

I said this at BloodhoundBlog Unchained in 2008, and everyone scoffed.

And then everyone went off on the Gary Keller trail. That’s fine by me, but it’s not how I want to live. I don’t want to chase business down, I want it to come to me pre-sold. I’ll still have to sell, that’s a given, but I want to sell to people who already have some commitment in the game — ideally a commitment to working with us, but, at a minimum, a serious investment in the game of completing a real estate transaction itself. I don’t want to have to convince someone to want the product — or worse, to want me — before I can even begin to sell the product.

For all of me, this is what marketing is for, to pre-sell business, so a high-D like me can get down to business. Call it blasphemy to the Bawldguy, but I never get hung up on, and I never want to. I only want to talk to people who already know they want to talk to me.

We’re growing, and we’re growing in ways that will only get better as our market improves. We were here once before, five years ago to the month, but we’ve mostly been rug-surfing since then: Staying on the rug however we could as it was being pulled out from under us. We might-could be doing enough, by now, to be on the cusp of doing a lot. I’m on pace to do 60 houses this year, which is more than I’ve ever done before. And we’re just that close to being able to scale the property management business, which will turn into a lot more volume, if not a lot more gross profit.

[Profit? What’s that?]

What I really want, and we’re not even close to being good at this yet, is to make sure we keep the people who find their way into our software universe — keep them before they raise their hands, yes, but, most especially, to cultivate everyone who likes the way we think as loyal customers and referrers forevermore.

I’m not doing half of what I want done, but if I can get to a place where I can pay staff, we’re going to explode. I think the TwitBoook real estate marketing philosophy is retarded, but I love, love, love the internet. We’ve never done business any other way, and with every passing day I become more convinced that we’re doing it right. I could easily be doing more transactions — by listing short sales or REOs. But I like the business we’re doing, and I like the direction it’s taking us. I think I’m due for some frolicking vindication, if nothing else!

Robert: Bless you. Thanks for asking.


9 Comments so far

  1. Jim Klein March 9th, 2011 3:51 pm

    >>> I don’t want to have to convince someone to want the product — or worse, to want me — before I can even begin to sell the product.

    Oh man, is that a mouthful! Since this place is about giving away secrets, I’ll expand.

    There is only one fuel for a business…the customer. Duh. If you have to convince somebody to want the product, then you’re in the wrong business, period. Businesses are created because people already want, and hopefully need, the product. It’s never the other way around. There may be cases where it’s useful to explain why the customer may want the product, but listing houses isn’t one of them. Besides…that’s informing, not convincing.

    And if you need to convince a potential customer why he ought to want you instead of somebody else, then you’re doing something wrong. This should already be obvious to any rational purchaser and if they’re not rational, then they’ll probably take too much of your time anyway.

    Sure, you sell yourself on the basis of your success–“When you’re selling, business is good”–but the implicit premise behind that is that you sell so much because you do everything right. And by far the best way to persuade somebody that you do everything right, is to do everything right.

    I know I haven’t added anything here, but I also know that some people read this blog to grow their RE skills and business success in general. So I’m really just saying one thing—understand what’s behind this sentence that Greg wrote, and you’ll get it all. It’s such a great secret that most people don’t understand it, even when they hear it!

  2. Greg Swann March 9th, 2011 11:03 pm

    > If you have to convince somebody to want the product, then you’re in the wrong business, period.

    This we should talk about. I can go you one better: Salespeople who have no clear idea what the product is, so they can’t convince anyone to want it. In JawboneWorld, everything is possible, even the impossible!

  3. Don Reedy March 9th, 2011 3:52 pm

    “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” – Galileo

    You have discovered a truth, applied and amplified it, and your understanding of this truth becomes clear and sharpened in this very understated note to Robert. Hanging up on you, or on this truth…..not an option.

  4. Greg Swann March 9th, 2011 11:34 pm

    > Hanging up on you, or on this truth…..not an option.

    I think there are really only two numbers that matter: Zero and infinity. If you’re not quarrying infinity, you’re buried in zero by default.

    I’ve thought that way all my life, but I think that way more every day. The more I think that way — the more I quarry the infinity of what I can become — the more I love my life.

    I like writing blogger-style, because I like the freedom to be openly bullshit-free, but I like writing mind-to-mind no matter what or how I write. Everything is Splendor to me, particularly right now, and that’s the way I want things to be.

    I bet a lot on integrity as a marketing strategy, and I’d really like to get paid a lot for being right about it. But I love living my life my way, regardless of how I am compensated for it.

    In the end it doesn’t matter. What I want from my life is the Splendor I’ve almost never had to live without. I crave the leverage to grow more, learn more, do more, be more — the leverage to do better, always — but I am drenched in Splendor now, drenched and soaring and dancing madly in a meadow of metaphors.

    This is something we can share, but we can only share it by having earned it. I like that simple justice, too. The universe makes sense. It’s the people who are nuts — when their minds are focused on zero.

    Here’s to your illimitable soul, Don.

  5. Jeff Brown March 9th, 2011 4:36 pm

    If I’d ever figured out how to get enough people to raise their hands, I’d never have been hung up on. 🙂 It’s been instructive for me to watch from afar as you’ve slowly but surely, stubborn as a mule, improved your numbers. More impressive is the market atmosphere in which you’ve posted those numbers.

    You are a solid example of “nobody cares how you’re skinnin’ cats till they find out IF you’re skinnin’ more than your share”. 60 transactions closed with no OldSchool methods, no REO/Shortsale biz, in a train wreck market? Nothing short of in-your-face results. One wonders, as you said yourself, what might happen if you had the right folks in place.

    Serious BawldKudos.

  6. Greg Swann March 9th, 2011 10:59 pm

    > Serious BawldKudos.

    Bless you, sir. Thank you.

    I don’t want to overstate anything. We’re closing transactions, but March’s mortgage payment will hit the mail Friday. We’re spasmodically solvent, a welcome change, but we’re a long way from prosperity.

    But: The house that will become property-management agreement number four will close tomorrow, and we’ll have it turned by Monday, leased by the end of the month. Five and six are in the pipeline, and I’m actively searching for the next three to acquire, turn and manage. Between rental homes I help to acquire and other PMA sign-ups, we could be at 100 houses in management in fairly short order. Each new PMA will bring us closer to a sane cash flow, and that alone will open up a world of possibilities.

    Meanwhile, I’m adding a third agent at last, Deborah Deermer, who will be taking primary charge of the property-management business in due course. We’re reinventing the wheel, as you should expect by now, but our first three leases took top-dollar in their price ranges in 21 days or fewer — two with two-year leases, one a sight-unseen sale from the home’s web site. I’m thinking we’ve built a better wheel.

    Gotta make the numbers work, but it’s fun, no matter how things net out, to have more numbers to play with.

  7. Chris Johnson March 9th, 2011 8:43 pm

    Oh, this will be a post. I don’t disagree per se . More to come, as always.

  8. Jim Klein March 10th, 2011 12:01 pm

    > This we should talk about. I can go you one better: Salespeople who have no clear idea what the product is, so they can’t convince anyone to want it.

    Hey, wait a second…now you’re spilling secrets about /my/ business! Back in the ’90s, I shared the key secret of what we’re really selling with my strongest competitor…I was seeking a merger at the time. No merger and luckily, like a lot of people flailing around, it never sunk in.

    The generic formula, of course, is that any business is selling what the customer wants. The thing is, what the customer wants is usually something more complicated than just the product or service on its own. Ask Proctor & Gamble, or Hershey’s.

  9. Damon Chetson March 13th, 2011 12:53 am

    Greg is exactly right. But let me get back to Robert’s original concern: “How many visitors”. My answer to that is that when you’re selling a service on the web, the number of visitors should be the last thing on your mind.

    What should be first in your mind: How do you rank for the specific terms that you’d expect an ideal client to search for in order to find and hire you.

    When the Bob Etheridge (former congressman from NC) accosted some kid in DC, for a brief shining moment my page on assault law was linked by Matt Drudge. I got 10,000 visitors in 24 hours. Not one of them called to hire me.

    Visitors don’t matter. Potential clients do. And as Greg writes, you want to pre-sell them who clear, compelling, candid information, so that when they call you, they’ve already decided to hire you.