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Perception is Reality: The Importance of ‘Fessing Up’ to the Bad Things Your Prospects Believe about You

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By Craig Proctor

RISMEDIA, Nov. 27, 2008-All of us will have perceived negatives or weaknesses about the way we operate – about the service we give our clients or the results we get. In the competitive industry we operate in, these negatives are often perpetuated by our competitors through word of mouth; when they get face-to-face with prospects, etc.

Although certainly not very professional, sometimes your competitors will try to win a listing against you by telling the prospect bad things about you.

Sometimes the negative that is said about you will be quite obvious (I’ll explain what I mean shortly) and your natural tendency will be to try to cover up the perceived problem rather than dealing with it.

We’re not necessarily talking about real problems; we’re talking about perceptions. Remember, marketing has little to do with reality and everything to do with perception.

Rather than running from a perceived problem, far better to face it head on. Admitting a negative will make your consumers sit up and pay attention. Every agent tells prospects how great they are. How many will admit to an Achilles heel?

First of all, if you don’t face up to the perception, you can bet your competitor will. And they won’t be kind when they address it. Secondly, by bringing the negative perception out in the open, you can deal with it on your own terms.

Let’s take an example from the public domain of corporate marketing. Scope mouthwash came after Listerine and made a big deal about its bad taste. They labeled Listerine’s affect as “medicine breath.” Rather than running from the issue, Listerine admitted to their bad taste and twisted the sword in their favor. Yes Listerine tastes like a disinfectant, they admitted. That’s because it’s a really effective germ killer. The implication, therefore, is that Scope was simply masking, not eliminating, the germs that cause bad breath.

What would you rather have: a candy that temporarily covers up bad breath, or a powerful germ killer that completely eliminates the problem? This was a brilliant counter campaign on Listerine’s part that safeguarded their share of the mouthwash market at a critical time.

Now think about how this concept affects you in your own business. A good example of this in my own experience is the fact that I have a real estate team. Many local competitors try to position my team as a negative, suggesting to prospects that they’ll receive poor service from me because I’ll hand them off to a less qualified assistant. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

Here is an example of how I explain the benefits of my team to my prospects:

“When I first got into real estate, I looked around at what everyone else was doing, and copied them. Like all the other agents, I handled every aspect of my clients’ home sale. Not only was I responsible for the important jobs of marketing and finding buyers, but I was also the guy who ran around getting keys cut, banging in signs, photocopying feature sheets, answering the phones, etc. etc. This is the way most agents still operate today.

“While I’m pretty good at multi-tasking, it soon became clear to me that I wasn’t really helping my clients by doing it this way. While all the ‘little stuff’ was necessary, it was also extremely time-consuming.

“It was around this time that I came across a survey which revealed that 70% of today’s buyer and sellers would not go back to their previous agent because they were frustrated with the poor service they had received. No wonder! The traditional way of doing things just didn’t make sense. I was spending 90% of my time doing the things that had only 10% importance to my clients – which left me only 10% of my time to spend on the big stuff: the high impact activities such as marketing and locating buyers that clearly would have greater than a 90% impact on my clients’ results!

“Not surprisingly, I found that my clients couldn’t care less who got the keys cut or did the photocopying. After all, they were hiring me to get them the best result: the highest price in the shortest time. I realized I needed to find a way to spend more time on the important stuff.

“The answer was so simple that it amazes me that most agents are still operating the way I used to. In looking to other industries for guidance, I realized that other professionals (such as doctors and lawyers) don’t work alone. They delegate the small administrative details to a support staff – and that’s all that I’ve done with my team.

“I have a fantastic service staff that takes care of the necessary small details, and a dedicated customer service manager who provides my clients with regular and thorough updates on showings and feedback of their home.

“Other agents may tell you that my system will somehow give you less service. I’ve heard some area agents say that ‘when you list with Craig, you don’t really get Craig. Instead, he’ll send out one of his assistants’ — as if somehow I’m not involved in the process. This is a gross misunderstanding of how my system works.

“In reality, I’m totally involved in the most important parts of the process: i.e. the overall marketing of your home to find the right buyer – to ensure you get the best results: a fast sale and top dollar for your home.

“You see, my team members work with me (not instead of me) to get your home sold. We market aggressively to find buyers for your home and are currently working with a qualified database of over 300 area buyers. Together with my hand-picked, award-winning team of agents, I ensure that your home receives maximum exposure to this proprietary (and unparalleled) database. Call my client feedback line at 1-800-000-0000 to hear what your neighbors think of our service.

“Bottom line, my unique real estate system allows us to give you very personal and attentive service. Afterall, who do you think can give you better service: one person trying to do everything themselves, or my Team of fourteen people working together to get your home sold.

“So if results matter to you — if selling your home for the most amount of money in the least amount of time is important to you in the sale of your home — you owe it to yourself to hear directly from me (not from my competitors) how my Team and I can help you achieve that goal.

“For specific information about how I can help you achieve the best results, call me personally at 905-000-0000.”

So basically, what I am explaining to my prospects is that because of my team, they receive more attention, not less, and when I explain to prospects exactly how my team systems works, they quite readily embrace it. However, if I had not tackled this issue head on, I would have lost business.

The moral of the story is simple: don’t let your competitors twist the sword for you; instead, take control and twist it yourself in your own favor. And what this means is that if, using the above example, you don’t happen to have a team, spend some time understanding how you will position this as a benefit to your prospects in a credible and relevant manner. You know you provide excellent service to your prospects. Make sure you explain this to them in a way they can understand and believe. After all, as stated above, marketing has little to do with reality and everything to do with perception.

“Instead of seeing obstacles that cause you to complain and attack the world, see the negatives as new opportunities to test you and show you ways to grow your business.” – Danny Griffin, Hyannis, MA

Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/MAX Worldwide for 15 years. To learn about free Craig Proctor workshops held year round in cities across the country, visit: http://www.hypertracker.com/go/cp/a39c081119/. These three hour workshops coach agents on the essential success strategies for this market, including free lead generation, short sales, bank foreclosures and reverse prospecting.

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