Get Ready! Here are 4 great blog topics for Summer 2019!

We know, we know. It’s the busiest time of year for most agents. Still, there’s no excuse to let your website and social media slide. We’ve got 4 great ideas to get your creative juices flowing on your next few blog posts.

Fun And Free Ways To Explore Your City

Summer has many people thinking of ways to spend their leisure time, especially if the kids are home from school for a couple of months. Think about your favorite things to do during the summer months and share those ideas with your audience. Whether it’s a great way to keep the kids busy, fun weekend activities, nearby road trips, or the best foodie spots in town, share your perspective on the best ways to enjoy the area. Focus on the things that you like best and it will come across as transparent and authentic – something all consumers crave right now.

Home and Garden Maintenance

People are more likely to have time and energy to pay attention to needs around the home during summer. Help your audience take care of their home by posting a checklist of important things to get done around the house. They’ll appreciate your know-how when it comes to protecting their largest investment.

Home Safety for Vacationers

We all worry about safety when we leave for vacation, so this is a perfect time to share some tips on how to keep things secure at home. You can do a little online research to find some great advice to pass on. This kind of post shows that you are truly invested in the well-being of your followers, friends, and clients.

Back To School

From posting about the best private schools in the area to preparing the home for the back-to-school rush, there are a wealth of topics to share on your blog. Consider tips on how to handle the stress of getting ready in the morning, getting the family back in a routine, how to make a room study-friendly for kids with homework, or ways that your followers can help kids prepare for school with a school supply drive.

Trust Us…You Need A Vacay!

When you are in charge of your own business, there’s an assumption that you can do whatever you want with your time. However, that “freedom” often makes it harder to get away. And even when you do take a rare vacation, it’s hard to make it a true vacation – work always beckons.

With Labor Day weekend coming up, here are some whys and hows of how to take the time that you need without sacrificing your business.

WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE A VACATION

First of all, multiple studies have shown that your brain still works while it’s relaxing. In fact, during mental “down time” your brain is focusing itself on boring, but essential, tasks like memorizing skills you learned last week.

Secondly, your brain has two levels of operation. One level is focused on tasks while the other is focused on letting your mind wander. If you are always in task mode, your brain isn’t able to daydream, wander, and come up with creative solutions.

Thirdly, it is scientifically proven that people who take several short vacations are happier and remain happier for up to two weeks after their vacation is done. So, it’s not only beneficial to take some time off but to take smaller, more frequent vacations.

HOW YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN

Plan. Plan for how taking the time off will impact your business. What might happen while you’re away and how can you plan for it now?

Arrange for Help. Even though you’re operating independently there are probably other agents in your office who can cover for you while you’re gone, especially if you offer to return the favor. Set up what you need before you leave and work out how compensation will work in case you need to call on them.

Be Clear with your Clients. You don’t want to surprise your clients with having your fellow agent step in to cover their questions, showings, etc. Make sure all of your clients know you’ll be out of town and introduce them to your colleague (at least via email) before your departure so they feel comfortable with the situation.

If You Must Work. If you plan on being reachable during your vacation, make sure you set aside specific times to handle work calls and emails so that they don’t interfere with your time or your family’s time to relax. Schedule a little time in the morning and/or a little time in the evening to catch up on what you’ve missed!

Never say, “But, I’m not creative!” again!

It doesn’t matter how left- or right-brained you might think you are. Every single one of us has the capability of creative thought, especially when it comes to business. Adding that little bit of creative spark could, in fact, be the stepping stone to big business success.

If you’re feeling stuck or lost when it comes to new, inventive ideas, let us suggest the following steps to tapping into that imaginative side.

  1. Take A Walk Get out of the office! If you have a bit of free time, even just a five minute walk will give your mind a chance to wander. Here’s the thing, though. Leave the phone, music, or any other kind of technology at home. Give your brain a chance to relax and you’ll be surprised at how the ideas start to flow. Plus, won’t a little exercise be a nice change?
  2. Collaborate Collaboration is an excellent way to change things up in your business. Maybe you have a colleague who would love to run a promotion with you, or maybe there’s a business you admire who could benefit from some cross-promotion as well. What you’ll get out of finding a short-term business partner is a quick change of perspective. Who knows what business ideas you can take away and implement for your own success.
  3. Unplug We are so connected to the world at all times, aren’t we? Whether it’s checking your phone a dozen times a day, being interrupted by email notifications, or even unable to handle silence at home or in a car, we’re surrounded by electronics. With all that noise, it’s difficult to let any new ideas get in. Take a mini-retreat from tech, whether it’s an hour, an afternoon, or even a weekend. Turn the phone and television off, drive to work without turning the radio on, and take an email vacation, and see what develops.
  4. Change Your Routine It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with the same old routine. Get up, go to work, come home, work out, go to bed. We even take the same route to work, listen to the same music, eat lunch at the same places…all of these things make sense, but can also contribute to a bit of lazy thought. Keep yourself on your toes by switching things up every now and then. Take an alternate route, try a restaurant you’ve never been to, wake up early to work out, or forego your evening tv to read a new book.

Remove Yourself From the RUT!

It happens to all of us. Suddenly, nothing seems to be working with your business. You’ve lost passion and motivation is nowhere to be seen. You’re not alone. And the good news is, if you find yourself in a business rut, we’ve got a few ideas to get you through it and on the road to success again.

#1 – CALL IT WHAT IT IS

The first step to solving your problem is admitting you’ve got one. Say it out loud, acknowledge that this is happening. You may even consider telling a trusted friend or colleague who can encourage you through a lull. And ignoring the problem could just get you deeper into a rut.

#2 – IDENTIFY THE ISSUE

In your downturn, it’s not going to be easy to pinpoint exactlyone problem. But, if you’re feeling a lack of energy in your work, it’s important to know if you’ve lost passion in your career, or if there are smaller issues causing you to want to give up, whether it’s for a day or for longer. Figure out where your dark cloud is coming from and you’ll be a step closer to solving the problem and getting yourself “back in business.”

#3 – BRAIN DUMP

Business owners and entrepreneurs tend to focus on the “public” side of the business and let the “behind the scenes” work suffer. Chances are, there are things you want to accomplish in your business, but you lack the time to do them because the daily business itself gets in your way. Take some time to write down or type out every single idea that comes to mind – don’t focus on whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea, just write it down. As you write, you’ll feel inspiration starting to bubble up and you’ll realize what your next step will be.

#4 – FIND A MENTOR

If you don’t already have someone in your life who inspires and convicts you, it’s time to find one. This doesn’t necessarily need to be someone in your same industry, but someone that you admire professionally and personally. If it’s hard to think of a mentor in your network, find one online – even long distance! Search for others whose businesses or professional style you admire. If you haven’t met personally, send a short email telling them about yourself and asking about mentorship. The worst that can happen is you get a “no” and you move on to the next.

#5 – LEARN SOMETHING NEW

When you feel knowledgable, you’ll feel better about yourself and your work. There are a myriad of options available for affordable online courses and free webinars in every topic under the sun – marketing, social media, sales. If business is really bumming you out these days, use your time to learn something completely new. Take an art class or learn a new language. The confidence you’ll gain from a new skill could be just what you need to change your attitude.

#6 – ENJOY YOUR “DOWN” TIME

If you know you’re going to be slacking off a little during your slump, why not use your downtime better? Instead of sitting in front of your computer for 30 minutes and trying to convince yourself to work, take a 30 minute walk around your neighborhood. Or, take your “work” to the beach or the mountains, and give yourself a mini-vacation to inspire your mind.

#8 – SET REASONABLE GOALS

A mile-long to-do list can be just enough to keep you in your slump. Don’t try or expect to conquer it all at once. Set goals you know you can accomplish. For example: Between 9am and 10am, I’ll make three phone calls. Or: By lunchtime, I will have accomplished x, y, and z. Break your work into small pieces and handle only the next thing.

Remember, setbacks are normal. It’s a part of the game. Acknowledge that there are things you can learn from this. Recognize that you will eventually emerge, ready to take on your work with a new and inspired vision for your business.

Customer Loyalty Starts Today!

Loyalty is a hard thing to manufacture. And sometimes it isn’t enough to create and promote outstanding service. Clients are finicky and one false step can cost you a customer or a harsh review. There are no guarantees, but you can certainly increase your chances for loyal customers by building strong relationships.

Ask Questions First

Before you rattle of your resume and spill all about your business acumen, truly focus on getting to know your customer. Psychologically, we like people who like us and your interest in who the client is and what they are looking for will help build this bond. Business is becoming more personal every day. Clients want to work with people they like and can relate to. As you learn about your client, you’ll discover that your commonalities create an organic and natural relationship.

Reveal Something About Yourself

After you learn about your prospect and it’s your chance to have the floor, talk about yourself in a comfortable and relaxed way, as you would speak to a friend. Without revealing something too personal or embarrassing, share an anecdote that shows your human side. According to a study the Journal of Consumer Research, if a salesperson shares something persona, even something as simple as a birthday or a birthplace with a client, the client is more likely to not only do business, but to feel good about their decision to do business.

Be Clear, Be Predictable

Take a good look at your branding, your print materials, your website, and the statements you make about yourself online. Do they match your “real life” service? If they don’t, it’s time to adjust either your brand persona or your service! Customers like predictability and when you match their expectations, their loyalty will be secure.

Speak Their Language

The average customer doesn’t understand industry jargon. Make the process simple for them by using language they’ll understand and explaining what they don’t. Be careful not to patronize, but to focus instead on helping them have the best experience.

Take A Break From Texting

Unless your customer has specifically stated they’d like to be reached by text or email, make the effort to call them on the phone and speak to them directly. Things get lost in translation with the written word, and a phone call ensures that your meaning is clear, your explanations are sure, and you and your client are on the same page.

Be A Client

Notice what you love and what you don’t. Make mental notes about what bothers you and what experiences leave you smiling and change your own habits.

Don’t Change Who You Are To Make A Sale

Let’s face it – not everyone is a natural salesperson. For those uncomfortable with the stereotypical style of a hard sell, business goals may seem out of reach. Never fear! You can achieve sales success without compromising your personality by following some of the guidelines below!

George Dudley and Shannon Goodson have developed a six-factor model of selling that takes into account different personalities and comfort levels.

The six styles they outline are:

Competition-oriented selling. 

Competition-oriented sellers are persistent in persuasive efforts. They don’t take no for an answer and will do everything within his or her power to close the deal.

Image-oriented selling. 

Sellers who are Image-oriented rely on their reputation and credibility to help them stand out from the crowd. Their reputation has done most of the work ahead of time and customers usually seek out Image-oriented salespeople.

Need-oriented selling. 

Need-oriented sellers focus on, you guessed it, the needs of the customer. They are diplomatic, quick to respond, and start relationships by asking questions meant to discover the customer’s real needs. They are problem solvers and are skilled at calming fears of reluctant clients.

Product-oriented selling. 

Product-oriented sellers are extremely knowledgable about features and benefits of the product they are trying to sell. They are educators at heart and good at explaining complicated processes to their customers.

Rapport-oriented selling. 

If you walk away from transactions with new friends, chances are you are Rapport-oriented. These kinds of sellers build and develop relationships with their clients, gaining trust and almost becoming business partners with their customers. Communication is key for this personality.

Service Oriented selling.

Service-oriented sellers fall somewhere between Rapport- and Need-oriented  sellers. These sellers are able to explain and follow through on exceptional services, unique to their personality and brand.

SOURCES AND FURTHER READING:

http://www.confidentapproach.com/assessment/sspa/different-selling-styles

Make LinkedIn Work For Your Business

When most people think of LinkedIn, they think of finding jobs or hiring employees. However, the social media platform offers so much more. It’s a great opportunity to make real connections and generate leads. When used correctly, creatively, and consistently, it can give your business a big boost.

Your Online Business Card

Treat your profile like a business card – you’d never attend a networking event without up-to-date and professional cards. Your profile should get the same attention. Make sure all of your information is current, including your profile picture. Take a good look at your online presence across social media, web sites, etc. Make sure that the pictures, logos, and other information are consistent across all platforms.

Your Summary

A well-written summary can represent you well. Use first person and conversational language. LinkedIn users will scan a resume, but will dig into a well-crafted paragraph. Take this opportunity to let people know who you really are. If you’re looking for leads on LinkedIn, avoid industry terms that prospective clients may not be familiar with and speak to them on their level.

Your Pictures Is Worth A Thousand Words

Because LinkedIn is a site meant for professionals, your profile picture should reflect your business persona. Snapshots, cropped photos, and family or vacation pics are not welcome here. Use your professional headshot. If you don’t have one, it’s time to invest in some good photography!

Finish What You Started

Everything on LinkedIn is searchable. The more complete your profile is, the easier it will be for prospective clients, business partners, and vendors to find you.

Optimization

As you fill out your profile, think of your target connection. Are you looking for potential team members? Prospective clients? What words will they use to search for you on LinkedIn? Pepper your summary and experience with these search terms to optimize your chances of making good connections.

Posts

You have the opportunity to get the word out about your business by posting links, articles, status updates, and blogs. Do not pass up your chance to let the professional world know what you do! Show off your expertise and business savvy by contributing to the global conversation!

Connect

Social Media is all about participation. It’s reciprocal – you get out what you put in. Comment on posts, congratulate your connections on their new positions, anniversaries, and promotions. You never know where your next lead will come from. A simple happy birthday message could lead to a big sale!

What do you Need to Succeed in Sales?

John Rampton at Entrepreneur.com recently published a list of 15 must-have qualities for successful salespeople. You can see the full list here, but our five favorites are listed below!

Conscientiousness

Being conscientious means that you pay attention to what you’re doing, approaching each task with the intention of doing your work well and thoroughly. A conscientious attitude will shine through to your clients and prospects. They’ll appreciate the pride you take in your work, and it will give them confidence that you’ll approach their needs with the same diligence.

Respect

People can have different views of what it means to be respectful, so it’s a good idea to take a look at your actions and habits and make sure you’re considering the needs of the people around you. Do you respect others’ time by being prompt and prepared? Do you respect your clients’ needs by listening well and implementing their ideas? Do you respect the capabilities of your team members by asking their advice or delegating tasks to those who need experience? People who respect others earn respect back.

Persistence

Persistence is a necessity in sales. Between cold calls, lukewarm clients, and sales slumps, it can be difficult to find the strength to keep going. Face rejection head on, take it as a necessity of the industry, and keep going! Rampton’s best advice here is “in lieu of the hard sell, lead with kindness and consideration.”

Initiative

People who get things done rarely wait for others to take the lead. Instead of waiting for directions from your team, be proactive about your approach. Read everything you can about your business, and look ahead to what problems might arise so you can tackle them before they become issues. Your clients will certainly appreciate the forethought you have when it comes to dealing with their needs.

Coachability

As important as it is to be persistent and take initiative, the best leaders know when they need help and advice. Rampton writes that “being energetic, willing to learn and having the ability to adapt” are all crucial skills. Constantly seek for ways to improve. Find a mentor to connect with if you haven’t already, and let them guide you through the next steps of your career.

Next Time, Sell It This Way

Postcards, websites, knocking on doors…while these ideas are tried and true, marketing ideas are changing quickly. Below are some unique selling ideas that we’ve been seeing and hearing about – let us know what you think!

Text Message Marketing

By using a service like TextRock.com you can get a unique text code that sends home information to users’ phones – they opt in by texting your special number, found on the for sale sign in the yard. You can help prospective buyers learn about open houses, price changes, and more, while building your list of leads. A service like TextRock costs around $99/month.

Airbnb

Let people try before they buy by using Airbnb. This is truly unique and requires an open-minded seller, but it’s a plan that would definitely make a splash. The current homeowner would need to make their home available through Airbnb, but this isn’t difficult. Airbnb is such a trendy service – this kind of offer makes you appear to be a cutting edge agent and gives buyers confidence in their purchase.

Blog Partnerships

With blogging being big business these days, it’s a great idea to seek out partnerships with local home decor and design bloggers. If you’ve got a beautiful or unique home, ask one a blogger to view the property and post a review of the home. You’re instantly getting new, interested eyes on the property.

Neighborhood Tour

Part of selling a home is selling the neighborhood, right? Take your social media followers on a virtual tour of the neighborhood. Move beyond the features of the home and take some live videos of restaurants, stores, playgrounds, and other nearby features of the neighborhood. Live videos are all the rage on social media – viewers spend 3x the amount of time watching live videos than they do watching uploaded videos.