Chapter 25 - Set The Date

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It will be worth your while to read this chapter twice. I am going to blend two concepts together in this section, incremental psychology and lead follow-up. This chapter will make you money. I will guarantee little—but I’m telling you, you can make money from this chapter. Let’s go.

First, let me set up a real-world problem or opportunity so that I have your attention. You are competing head to head against a competitor. It’s a dead heat. The customer is honestly torn—the score is 50 to 50. It could go either way. There is a $20,000 commission on the line, depending on who gets hired. The customer is stuck—you need to get him or her to move in your direction.

Okay, is that good? Change the economics to your economics if you prefer. Maybe your average deal is $5,000, maybe it’s $100,000, so change it. Either way, that’s a real-world problem/opportunity. Win two or three (or more) of those per year, and you change your performance for the year. So let me teach you how to win.

A customer is a customer and a lead is a lead. A customer has made a commitment; a lead has not made a commitment. So in this section we are dealing with a lead that we would like to convert to a customer.

When you are doing lead follow-up and trying to convert a lead to a customer, you need to maintain control and set the date. You must take 100 percent responsibility for the conversation. Never leave it up to your prospect to take that next step. If you do, you are dead.

Here is the right way to do it.
“Okay, Sue, sounds good, I’ll buzz you tomorrow to get you that information about title insurance.” I set the date. “Okay, Steve, I’ll drive that comp tomorrow and get back to you with feedback.” I set the date. “Okay, Stan, great meeting you and Esther yesterday. I’ll call you tomorrow with more information on that insurance question that you had.” I set the date. You tell them the next step. You tell them what is going to happen next. You set the date with them. Never leave the conversation hanging.

Here is what not to do. “Thank you for your time yesterday, Steve, I’ll be around if you have any more questions.” No date. “It was great meeting you yesterday, Kim. I’m happy to give you more information if you need it.” No date. “It was so good seeing you yesterday, Armando. I’m so excited, and please, please let me know what else I can do to earn your business.” No date. “I really enjoyed spending time with you yesterday, Bill. Any more questions?” No date. Those are nice things to say. But those are also dead-end statements. Where do you go from there? Nowhere. You just lost control of the conversation.

When you do it right, you are setting a date. Just like a date when you were dating. No, maybe not exactly the same, but you are setting an expectation that you will be talking again soon, very soon. “I really enjoyed spending time with you yesterday, Bill. Any more questions?” No date. “Okay, Steve, I’ll drive that comp tomorrow and get back to you with feedback.” Steve and I have a date tomorrow.

It’s a fine-line distinction, but it’s the difference between winning and losing when you are in a neck-and-neck battle. I’ll let you take a minute and digest that while we digress.

Incremental psychology. One of my business friends told me about this concept in the late 1990s. He actually just said it in passing one day: incremental psychology. Still to this day, I have done little reading on the subject, but I understood what it meant (for me) the second he said it. I asked him to back up, and we talked about it. “Jim, I literally use this concept daily in business.” He was a senior executive at a publicly traded technology firm at the time. “Jim, once I learned this concept, I became a better businessperson.” Donald Trump indicated in one of his books that he pays attention to “momentum” daily. Well, my friend pays attention to “incremental psychology” every day.

What do you think it means (to you)?

“Hi, Mrs. Jones, can I have a penny?” She seems like a nice lady, so Mrs. Jones gives her a penny. The next time she asked for a dime. Wow again, but it’s only a dime after all. The next time it’s a dollar, and the next it’s ten. The commitment was small, and now it’s bigger and growing. And you have just made four separate commitments. The level and frequency are growing. Now they are up to $100. Would Mrs. Jones have given the nice lady $100 if she had asked for that amount from the beginning? Maybe, but unlikely. But by the time they arrived at the $100 level, Mrs. Jones and the lady had a relationship, and Mrs. Jones had already made multiple and progressively larger commitments to the lady.

Back to lead follow-up and converting the lead to a customer. When you are in control (not in a controlling way) of the conversation, you are asking the customer (in a gentle, helpful way) to make multiple and progressively larger commitments to you. Simple. And for you supercreative types, you’ll love it because you can utilize all those creative juices that are running around in your head 24/7 to keep the conversation moving.

You’ll figure how to do it over time. But for now, I’ll give you a tip to get you going. A real estate transaction is serious business; there is a lot money involved for the customer, and there are tons of moving parts. Listen, shhhhhhhhhhhh, listen. Plato says, “Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something.” There will be some things that your prospect brings up that you won’t be able to fully and adequately answer right on the spot. That is your moment. That is your moment to set the date. That is your opportunity to continue the conversation. It could be something supersmall or superbig; either way it’s fine. Set the date. Trust me, your competitor is going to let it die by saying something to the effect of, “I am so glad we talked and I enjoyed meeting you. I’m here for you, I really want to work for you, and I think I can do an amazing job and help to produce a great result, so please let me know if you have any more questions.” Dead end. While he or she just ended the conversation, you are continuing it.

Once you learn and believe in this concept, it’s not even a fair fight anymore. You are playing with bigger, more powerful knowledge, know-how, and machinery. It’s like a major leaguer playing with a high schooler now.

Here is a personal example. I was competing on a listing with another real estate agent. We were both referrals. It was a neck-and-neck battle. Both of us had already made listing presentations. I knew that staging and all the dynamics thereof were important to the prospect. So I called later that day (actually I called as I was driving back to the office) and suggested that I would be happy to send over a stager to take a look, no obligation, and they could hire the stager independent of hiring me. This is key: I told the clients that I would follow up after they met with the stager (set the date). They agreed and met with the stager (without me). I followed up to see how it went, as I said that I would do. They decided that they couldn’t afford the stager and they would do it themselves. That’s fine, I said, I would be happy to come over and give them an opinion on some staging ideas in that case; no obligation (set the date). They agreed. I went and did my thing. They still weren’t ready to commit, but at that point they made two additional commitments to me (while at the same time I was helping them move the process forward). I met with them to give them my personal opinion on staging. While I was there I gently reminded them of how important good curb appeal can be to the end result. I also said that I would be happy to send my tune-up landscaper guy over to take a look, no obligation. They agreed. I said that I would get back to them with a time and date (set the date). I called them back, set a time, and gently said that I would be happy to attend to give them my personal opinion on curb appeal (set the date), no obligation, of course. They agreed. We all met at the property and had a good meeting. I said I would get back to them the next day with the landscaper’s proposal (set the date). I called the next day, at which time they decided to hire me. I was having this ongoing conversation with them while my competitor was waiting around for a decision.

The action of lead follow-up is to set the date, and the concept (behind the action) is incremental psychology. Sometimes the customers will just be ready to go. Fine. Get the contract signed and move forward. Sometimes the customer is stuck and you need to get from point A to point Z in tiny baby steps. In those cases, ask the customer for multiple and progressively larger commitments along the way until such time as they are comfortable with hiring you!

You got this.

Go get ’em!