Can you imagine that headlining the evening news? Well what I uncovered recently may make this “headline” not so far-fetched.
Early last year, Eileen Taus, director of education for the Westchester Putman Association of REALTORS®, asked if my most popular class, “Things Just Don’t Gotta Get Better, YOU DO!™,” could be submitted for continuing education (CE) credits. Not just any CE, but the New York State Real Estate Commission CE credit—certainly one of the toughest in the country as the course must be solely for the benefit of the consumer. Anything about selling skills, agent marketing, technique, technology, or promotion would surely be rejected.
Now, while this class is full of useable information for enhancing the broker’s business and getting more listings sold, it is also an upbeat challenge to agents and brokers to change with the market, which is certainly technology driven. Also consider, “the market” is a living, breathing entity, so my class is different every time I deliver it.
So although I truly doubted that my course could receive New York CE credit, I accepted the challenge.
Looking for clues as to where to start, I began by reviewing the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. I noticed that right in the preamble, it clearly states that if an agent offers an opinion that in any way creates a personal gain, it’s against the Code of Ethics:
“In instances where their opinion is sought, or where REALTORS® believe that comment is necessary, their opinion is offered in an objective, professional manner, uninfluenced by any personal motivation or potential advantage or gain.”
What does that really mean?
Let’s say you are showing homes to a prospective buyer, who informed you that the highest price they are willing to pay is $200,000. However, you show them another home that more closely fits their needs for $249,000. They like it and buy it. Could your motives be questioned? Probably not—after all it did fit their needs. But if you used certain “sales techniques” that potentially manipulated the buyer or seller for your own personal gain, then you could indeed be in violation of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.
The underlying fact of the matter is that nobody wants to be sold, yet they do want to buy. In today’s climate where there is a high sensitivity toward taking advantage of consumers, “sales techniques” are increasingly under the microscope.
Let me explain. I’ve been teaching the “Power of Non-Selling” for years. The real estate business has evolved from a state of dependence to that of interdependence (read Evolution of the Consumer at http://Evolution.RossiSpeaks.com). Once, agents and brokers were actually sellers of information making the consumer totally dependent upon them. Today, the consumer already has all the information. Their needs have evolved.
According to an NAR study, what they want from us is: someone who knows the area; someone who will listen to what they want, need, desire, and can afford; someone to advise them regarding inspections, warranties, financing; and someone who can complete the paperwork and bring the transaction to a close.
In today’s climate, therefore, many of the sales closes, techniques, and dialog that I and others have taught and used are not only unfashionable, they are against our Code of Ethics. Based on that, I wrote the class. The New York State Real Estate Commission approved it for both an eight-hour and a three-hour course. Eileen Taus was right. And, I will present it at Triple Play in Atlantic City next month with CE approval for the states of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
It’s time that we redefine the term “sell.” If you simply look at the definition of “sell,” the fourth entry, according to dictionary.com, is: to persuade or induce (someone) to buy something: “The salesman sold me on a more expensive model than I wanted.”
So if we don’t sell, what do we do? We assist and consult – no dialog, technique, or pitch needed. Today’s professional real estate salesperson’s redeemable assets are:
• High ethical standards and values (tells the truth)
• Excellent listener, thoughtful communicator
• Trained in the trenches – professional
• Practices hyper mobile, local global marketing
• Works smart – the “ROSSI Speaks” definition: Doing the Basics Better and More Often than Anyone Else
These five points characterize a majority of the top real estate agents in the country today. If an agent is not living up to this model, or is “still working” at getting there, they are unfortunately on their way out.