Elite AgentElite Agent TVTransformTransform 2016 Coach

Gaining Support for VPA with Stu Benson

Here are the highlights from our Transform Week 3 session where well known and respected Sydney auctioneer Stu Benson firstly talks about the real role of the real estate agent in the transaction, and how to future-proof your career from potential disintermediators by ensuring that you adding true value and you are having the right conversations, and Melanie Hoole from Campaigntrack gives the Super Six a very big marketing present.

Thank you our Week 3 sponsor: 

Campaigntrack who provided the Super Six a truly amazing offer of investing into their marketing (both personal and property makeovers) a total package worth $15,000 each, total value $90,000. 


Stu Benson and Melanie Hoole

Coaching Links:

  • See an earlier article written by Elite Agent featuring Stu Benson on Spring Selling for some timeless tips.
  • See Stu reflecting on some of the Behind the Scenes action on Channel 9’s “The Block” where wining the listing is still necessary.
  • See how Campaigntrack has provided the Super Six personal and property mrketing makeovers here

Video Notes/Transcript

00:00 Introduction and Session Overview: Samantha McLean

01:14 Creating the Right Mindset

So creating the right mindset. One of the main things is to remind yourself again that marketing is an investment, not a cost. This needs to be believed, before it is conveyed. So this is the mindset part, this is before you are having a conversation with a homeowner, before they pick up the phone and call you, or before your relationship has turned into, “come on let’s talk about this, what’s my home worth, and why would I consider you?”

You fundamentally need to believe it. It’s the difference between walking past the gym everyday, seeing the guy with the abs and the six-pack or the girl with the waist and the body that you’d like, and wishing you had it, or getting the membership, going into the gym and doing it. Repeating it, doing it daily, and getting the results. You can either sit on the sideline and see great agents getting vendor paid advertising, hop online and see the agents with the premium ads and wonder, or you can put it into practice and you can do it.

I spoke to Jet Xavier who’s a nationally recognized mindset coach, if you’re familiar with him and if you’re not, he is all about the mindset, and the fact that you need to visualise these things, realise them internally, and believe in them. And, it’s like anything, if we go to transact … We’ve all been up-sold and you can tell that enthusiasm and that belief that comes through in the person that is selling you or the person that is trying to get you up-sold. So fundamentally guys, one of the biggest takeaways from all the agents and Jet in particular was this mindset. And believe in the value and the power of marketing.

There was a lot of push back that $450-500 for a video might be expensive, and upgraded premier or premium listing on a portal might be expensive. If we look back in time and we quantify these things, and we apply the measure of time to give scale and to give measure, a full page ad in a local marketplace, to go back 10 or 15 years ago, a full page ad on a local newspaper might have cost $1500 to $2000.

It went to say 6000 homes on a Tuesday. It might have got rained on, it might have got put in the bin, it might have got rolled over by the car, but we knew on any given week that it was going to go to 6000 people, and it was reliant on the weather, on external factors, on whether or not the person saw that paper, and whether that person was interested in real estate. So all of a sudden your 6000 circulation really came down to a really qualified potential audience. And that was 2000 … And agents would just do it, agents did it without a problem.

Now you’ve got videos that are $450-500, they’re professionally edited, they’re live 24/7 to a highly qualified, highly engaged marketplace that are looking for this content, that want this content. You can go onto any of the major news portals not only in Australia but, in the world, and a story with video attached to it is read more than a story without a video attached to it. Purely because, if a consumer has the opportunity to press play, and to sit back and have the content come to them, they will.

Gone are the days when we would sit there at a screen. We’ve got industries like Twitter that is fast-paced, it’s rapid. Our Facebook news feed, if you didn’t catch something and like it, it’s gone and you’ve got to scroll and you’ve got to find it. And yes, that lends itself to a bit of a click bait environment where catchy headings and catchy slogans and agents jumping in pools and taking their shirts off … I understand that gets cut through, we’ve all seen it done before, but the reality is that these mediums are $400 dollars a property or $1000 a listing, but their reach is global. Their reach is 24/7. Their reach is digital, which is where our consumers are moving.

And also with the app spaces well allowing for push notifications, if I look back 15 years ago and I was looking for a property that had to have four bedrooms, it had to have two bathrooms, it had to have a pool, and it had to be between 4 and $555000. Well if that newspaper got dropped on my driveway, there was no alert, there was no ping, I didn’t know it was there, I didn’t know that that property was inside it.

So what we have is quantifiable analytics now, these days, that can justify everything that we’re asking. But we need to know that before we have the conversation. And we need to believe it. We can huff and puff about the way in which technology is changing and the way in which these fees and structures come into play but, the reality is that any provider will be able to absolutely justify what it is that you’re paying for, and what the value is to your end user, which is your mum and dad who are putting their hand in their pocket.

Obviously conviction, passion, confidence, and self-belief impacts success. There is no one standing at the 100m line at the Olympics of the final of the 100m sprint, who believes that they don’t deserve to be there and they’re not going to win. And there is no one who turned up there and it’s their first day of running and they’ve never done it before. You’ve got to put in the practice and you’ve got to put in the legwork. As simple as it is, marketing conversations, you need to practise this, you need to know about this because, turning up at the starting line of the 100m sprint is knocking on that front door.

You are about to go into action, and the preparation before that and the belief at that point is absolutely crucial. If you flubber and ‘um’ and ‘ah’ through this, it’s going to be picked up, it’s going to be felt. I don’t care what market you’re in, who you are, and how long you’ve been doing this, there is another agent who is going to come in and they are going to do it better.

They are going to present it better, they are going to believe in it more, and they’re going to convey it, and they’re going to get the dollars. Because we all jump online, we all see the videos, we know that there are agents in every marketplace that can get it.

What you need to do is get yourself in the position, that you understand everything behind this so that, when it comes time to ring that doorbell and open up that door, when you leave, you’re seeing it because you believed it. So that’s basically my first part about creating the mindset.

06:57 Prepare for the conversation

So then we go into preparing for the conversation. So we’ve got ourselves in the right mindset where we’re huffing and puffing and we’re pumped and we know that vendor investment marketing is going to be crucial to getting a better price for our vendor, spreading the net on behalf of our vendor, but also we’ve got to think about the next sale. We’ve got to think about getting ourselves on peoples’ shopping lists, getting called into the next market appraisal. A lot of that is off the back of marketing.

People are going to go online and research a suburb, see the recent sales, and see who’s done what. If they’re considering selling they’re also going to jump into the sale channels, and they’re going to see what type of marketing you as a realtor will offer their property. Oh, he does video, she doesn’t. Oh he does big listings, hers are on page 8. These are the conversations that people have before they qualify you to be one of their top three. So preparing for the conversation is very important.

So know your products, know your competitors, and know your options. So, knowing your products is as simple as hopping online, doing some research, and knowing what’s available. If there is an agent in your area doing video, that means that there are people, maybe not all, but people in your marketplace who are across video, understand video, would use video if you presented it to them. But if you didn’t, they won’t, because you didn’t ask. Being across it is important. You will speak to any supplier and they will be able to give you collateral, statistics, data.

There will be somebody in your office, an admin, somebody who will be able to go into the back of any of these portals, any of these systems, and give you anything you need. And vendors will need proof points. Again you are asking them for money, and you are asking them to take a leap of faith. Again these are people who might not have gone on a family holiday, they might be holding off on doing a number of things because of financial constraints. They might be selling for reasons that we don’t know about, we don’t know everybody’s situation. But like Samantha said, you give somebody that you’ve never met a compliment and that comes back. You don’t know what that person’s situation is, that compliment might have changed their entire day, and changed the entire course of their life. You don’t know what was going on.

And we can presume to know … I get it as an auctioneer all the time. The hammer falls and then all of a sudden the husband will turn around and say thanks so much, this is going to make the next part of our lives much easier. They divulge that they’re actually separated and they’re about to go through a divorce. But they didn’t tell you on the listing side of things because they didn’t want to affect, or they didn’t want that to come into play. So we don’t know, but we need to be able to demonstrate the value so that these people who are making a financial decision in you are comfortable with it, and they understand it.

So demonstrating the value of what it is that you’re trying to sell is absolutely imperative. I’ve got down here one of my very recent, and my wife wasn’t happy with the outcome, but I certainly was but … I went to JB Hi-Fi, they were doing a sale to compete with Dick Smith’s shutdown. Dick Smith was having a big shutdown fire sale, people were coming in, JB Hi-Fi were doing a very comparable sale. And I went in with what I was told, because I’m not the financial controller or the boss of my household, was that I had a $3000 budget, that’s all we could afford, that was absolutely it for a big flat-screen television. We were going to move the current television into the kids’ room and I was going to get myself a new television. The guy in there said that the television that I’d picked, it was $2900 was great, it would do everything I wanted. However, if I could stretch myself another $1100 for $4000, and I got sold.

And I think sales people are the easiest people to sell to, I think we always nod and we always upgrade our cars and it’s commonplace. I speak to a lot of agents and they just nod and they say “yeah yeah, we always get upsold”. But, the guy knew everything about it. He knew how fast it was going to be to get Netflix to stream through it, the resolution, the way in which it was going to … He asked me the aspect of my room, and the fact that I do have all-day sun streaming into that room and it doesn’t matter how drawn I have the curtains, and what I do to block them out, there is always some sort of light on the screen.

And the guy upsold me. But he absolutely believed it, he was enthusiastic, he asked me about my circumstance, and he provided proof of what it was that he was onselling. And sure enough, I walked out of there 25 minutes later, went down to the loading dock, and loaded up our family van that takes four kids and two adults around the place, and I loaded it up with a $4000 television. And then I got home and got screamed at for coming home with a $4000 television. But, the reality was this guy prepared, he knew, he’d done the prep, he got on the floor that morning and he wasn’t just going to sell what anybody asked him to sell, he was going to upsell. And he wasn’t just going to ask for the upsell, he was going to justify the upsell. And he was going to provide value and proof points so that the upsell was really hard to knock back.

So, my real-life proof happened only two, three weeks ago, and it fundamentally works. The agents that I spoke to as well just resonated the fact that if you believe in this, and if you are able to prove it, then it makes saying no very difficult. But you do need to back it up with the next steps.

Support recommendations using tools, statistics, and case studies. If you have seen a competitors stock on the market, and an agent who you believe to be giving away property in your area. We’ve all got an agent, who you just see the property, you see it go live, you see 3 weeks go by, and then you see it sold. You go to the sold channel, or you go to a data source and you see the sold price and you just shake your head and you believe that they gave it away.

You’ve got to bring these things up in conversation when you go to a comparable market appraisal, you’ve got to say look I can get more for your property. I have a feeling I know the agency you’re going to speak to, but I am telling you now that if you do this, this, and this … And that might be a video, it might be an upgraded product, it might be a bigger signboard or an illuminated signboard. Whatever it is, if you’ve got proof because you sold one comparatively that went for more than the other one, use it. You’ve got to use comparables because mums and dads aren’t in the market for the 7 years, aren’t in the market for 15 years, they don’t have their finger on the pulse all the time. You’re going to be the one that’s going to have to provide these proof-points to them.

You’re going to be their expert. They don’t do real-estate as often as you do, they don’t live it and breathe it like you do. It’s a very small window that they’re interested in that, and you’ve got to convey during that, all the proof, all the case studies, and all the information you can.

13:17 Having the conversation

So having the actual conversation, it was weird, some of these guys absolutely love it, and I’m not sure about yourselves in your marketplace, or based on your success with getting vendor investment marketing, but some of these guys absolutely love it. Talked to Matt Lancashire up at Ray White – New Farm, absolutely loves it. It separates him. He asks for more money than most agents do but he absolutely loves having the conversation because, you can tell he believes in it and he knows that spreading this net, and casting it as wide as you possibly can, he’s going to yield the better result.

Or Adam Flynn said to us that the reality is that, we don’t know what the market’s going to do. We simply do not. We can’t guarantee that it’s going to do what it did last week or last month. We legitimately cannot forecast what it’s going to do this week or next week. We cannot. As real-estate agents what we can do, is give you the absolute best opportunity at getting the best possible price, with these potential buyers, in this time frame. That’s what we can do. We don’t know peoples’ circumstances. They might be your ideal buyer who would’ve paid $30000 more, but they are right in the middle of their auction campaign. Their auction day comes in three weeks time and we’re talking in absolute uncertainties, but the property doesn’t sell. So they don’t enter the market, they decide to stay, they decide to renovate. They might have been your ideal buyer, but we will never know. We can only deal with the buyers that are there and available in the current marketplace. But what we can do as real-estate agents is make sure we catch them all. The net is spread as far and wide-reaching as it possibly can.

So vendor buying is crucial. It’s skin in the game. It really is. If a vendor has skin in the game it’s not just you and your commission that is on the line. It’s not just if this thing doesn’t sell well they go about their way, they don’t get their commission, we all move on. That’s relatively cut and dry. And that can help the process of a vendor disengaging with a real-estate agent. There’s nothing really on the line for them.

And we’re not talking tens of thousands of dollars, we’re talking thousands of dollars, and in some marketplaces we’re talking hundreds of dollars. But to have some investment, something on the table, something that they then want to see a return on … Of course they want to see a return on their property, they’ve been there for 7 years, or they’ve been there for 5 years, or they’ve bought it as an investment, and they want to see growth.

They want to sell that property, pay back the debt, move on with the gain, and hopefully continue their property journey with upgrades, upon upgrades, upon upgrades. That’s what most peoples’ property journey is. There’s the unfortunate circumstance where there’s a downgrade, but we hope that everybody prospers.

The reality is, if there’s no skin in the game, the transaction doesn’t occur, then it’s cut and dry. You are disassociated with the sale, and it’s on to the next agent.

The proof from the agents that we spoke to was that a vendor who will commit to marketing is much more engaged in the process, but it also means that you as an agent need to be much more forthcoming in your information with regards to traffic stats data. In doing that, you make them feel confident about the money that they’ve handed over, but also they’re in it with you. You’re in it together, you’re both trying to sell this house. And it changes the whole dialogue, you’re not just an agent selling their house for them, you’re a team, and you’re going to sell this house.

So you partner with the vendor. Again, maximum exposure to reach all potential buyers is one of the keys. So obviously portals, videos, these are things that are online 24/7. They’re on apps, they’re at your fingertips, they’re on tablets, they’re going to make sure they’re going to be shared and forwarded. There are agents now, that I spoke to at a Harcourts conference two weeks ago, who are now putting a $100 Facebook tariff inside their marketing campaigns. And that will get them roughly 4 x $28 or so, $25 sponsored posts, that will go to friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, depending on the like and the share reach of that real-estate agent. So that just expands the network.

Whilst I said in my introduction that we’ve got to be on top of it, these are different things that are coming into play now that weren’t there a year ago. You couldn’t sponsor content a year and a half ago on Facebook, unless you were a very specialized industry, but now real-estate can do it, so you can extend your reach.

Being able to offer maximum exposure not only justifies the reach and justifies the span but it also justifies us as real-estate agents. Again I go back to the point of how crucial we are to the transaction of real-estate, and how crucial it is that we all validate that. Because, there is always somebody looking to disrupt, disintermediate, and come in and cut us out of the transaction, and cut us out of the business of real-estate and streamline it. These are the sort of proof-points that will validate why we’re asking for it, but why we are valuable in the transaction of real-estate.

Why you need a real-estate agent, we’re a professional. I could jump online and I could watch  a YouTube video about self-servicing my own car, and I could give it a go. I could probably go online and read how to put plaster cast on a broken arm if I wanted to, I could probably do all that. Would I actually do it, or would I trust a professional? Would I pay money to go and get my arm properly looked at and put a cast on? Do I pay every 6 months to get a mechanic to look at my car? Absolutely, these are professionals. These are industries that I don’t believe will be disintermediated, that will be disrupted, but real-estate seems to be on a lot of agendas.

I think a lot of it has to do with agents simply getting a listing, putting up a sign, hitting up the vendor for price-reductions, smashing them around the head on auction day to accept a low price, and not doing the best they possibly could’ve done during the campaign to not only maximize the potential audience, contracts out, people registered at auction, and offers on the table, but also to have just done the right thing as a real-estate agent. To have woken up in the morning, to have looked at yourself in the mirror, and to have said “I’m going to do the best possible job today. I love what I do, I want to get this result for them, I want to do it so they tell everybody about it, I want to do it so that everybody in the marketplace knows about it. But I want to do it because being a real-estate agent is a really important role in the community and it’s a really important role in the Australian society.”

The transaction of real-estate and the money of stamp duty is underpinning the buoyancy of the country at the moment. You should all pack yourselves on the back, the fact that we didn’t go into global recession essentially because of the fact that we were such a resilient marketplace. We had buoyancy, the reserve bank of Australia had confidence in our dollar. When other countries were simply handing back the keys and defaulting on mortgages like America. We’ve got zero interest rates in a lot of first-world developed countries, we didn’t have to because of the transaction of real-estate, the confidence in the market, and the place that we all … the part that we all play in that transaction is absolutely vital.

We should all be proud of it, and that should come through in all our conversations, in all our dialogue, in everything that we do. Be it on social, be it online, be it in any platform. That smile that you might not feel like smiling, you might have had a crap morning, we all sat in traffic or sat in planes or got rained on in Brisbane airport this morning, we’ve all had a tough start but you ring that doorbell and it’s game time. And it’s crucial to cutting through and being the agent of choice, the agent of change, and that agent that they actually pick up the phone to say, “come on, come back, let’s sign that contract and get it done.”

20:49 Measuring and Monitoring Success

Measuring and monitoring the success is vital. If we’ve got skin in the game … Let’s say we’ve got the mindset right, we’re prepped right. We’ve gone in and we’ve had a conversation with the mum and dad and said, “you know what, $1400, it’s worth it.”

Andrew Campbell had an example down at Buxton where on a property he did video, he did Facebook, he did online, he tweeted it, he did everything he possibly could. The last day on auction day, the auction day was a Saturday, and was about a lunchtime auction, the newspaper called him up, late space, did you want distressed late space? And he thought well bugger it, the auction’s on the day, what’s the point of doing it? It was a Saturday newspaper, what’s the point of doing it, it’s too late. And the rep called him back about twenty minutes later and said look we’ll do it for half-price, it’s either that or we’re going to put a house ad in it. Half-price is great for us, it’s revenue, let’s fill the space. So he put the ad in of the property that was going to auction on that day, figuring, worst case scenario, it’s branding for me, it gets my name in the paper when everybody’s turning the pages and at least they see me.

Lo and behold, old mate is sitting at the local coffee shop Saturday morning, sees it. Thinks it’d be a fantastic investment to put his daughter into. His daughter cannot get into the marketplace whatsoever, cannot save up enough for a deposit. He figures well it’s just down the street, he’s seen it in the newspaper that day on the ad that wasn’t meant to yield any result whatsoever and he turned up. Now, he didn’t buy the property, but he was the final under-bidder.’

Between the point in which the third-highest bidder dropped out of bidding and it became a two-horse race, he pushed the property price up another $50000 in bidding. At the point in which the third-highest bidder dropped out they were down to $10000 increments. He stayed in the game and gave three more, with three more advances on top, and he pushed the bidding up $50000. Now, that was off the back of a $1400 investment from a vendor. So if you have any proof-points in which you can say we had 1400 in, 50000 out, had that 1400 had not been invested, the bidding stopped $50000 earlier.

It was above reserve, it was selling, everybody was happy, but it lined the owner’s pocket with $50000 more. That’s not bad from a $1350 investment. If you’ve got any proof-points in which you know that a buyer is come from a specific ad, from a specific medium, from a specific video, or you as agent know that you won a listing because of a specific medium. Keep doing it, promote it, push it, do it, make it your point of difference, make it your selling point. It also helps you to measure and monitor the success.

So feedback is vital. If they have their skin in the game they are going to want to know. What are we getting, what’s going on with the campaign? And you want to convey that. Good feedback, bad feedback, one person through the open home, twenty people through the open home. It’s all an opportunity to create dialogue, and to really carve the direction of what will happen and when this property will transact.

They say win auction, there’s three stages of auction. You’re going to sell it before, you’re going to sell it on auction day or you’re going to sell it after. And that’s the same back with feedback around the listing and around vendor paid advertising. All the analytics and all the monitoring can structure a dialogue that is much easier if you are brutally honest.

I had the same on Saturday at an auction listing in Sydney. 2.4 reserve, we sold it at 2.2. The last thing he said to me before I went out was, unless you get 2.4, we’re not on the market, don’t call it on the market, don’t come and talk to me. We got to 2.2, I went in there and had a chat with him, his wife looked at him, they looked at the agent, the agent looked at him…and the agent looked at him and he said I’ve given you everything. I’ve given you proof … He said at 2.2 it’s still a street record, it’s still an area record, you paid 1.2 eleven years ago you’re making a million dollars. I’ve give you every stat, every analytic, I’ve done the videos, I’ve done online. We’re at this point in the market right now today transacting unconditional. And they sold at 2.2, because that agent had done everything.

The agent had given every single proof-point. And again as I mentioned a little while ago, we don’t know if there was a 2.5 or a 2.4 buyer in the marketplace. Their home is going to auction this Saturday, they’re selling they’re cashed up and they’re ready to go into it. We don’t know. But we can’t deal in the unknown, we can only deal in the known. So our stats, our data, and our proof-points will provide all those tough conversations with essentially the ammunition we need. I don’t like throwing the word ammunition … We’re not in there to fire at them, we’re not out there to assault them, and we’re not out there to take them down, but what we do need is proof.

And confident, we need to be confident in the campaign adjustments that we do recommend because ultimately, they’ve engaged as a solo property and we’re trying to steer them there. So whether it be at auction, after auction, before auction. Whether it be in the four weeks that you were confident and you promised, or in the fifth, sixth and seventh weeks that the market just dictated that it was done. If you’ve done these things, then you can.

26:00 Re-cap of vendor investment marketing

So basically fundamentally what we need to do is we need to have the right mindset going in, we need to prepare for the conversation, we are not going to ring that doorbell and wing it, it’s just not good enough. There is always a better agent, a more learned agent, or a more experienced agent. And again, with all due respect, whether you’ve been in the game for five years, two years, fifteen years, there is somebody out there who can present it better, understands it more, or is able to just sell it because of their personality and the way in which they believe in it.

So sell it with conviction and back yourself. You want to believe that listing presentation with the listing itself, and if you do the legwork and the prep work, you give yourself the best opportunity. And during the campaign, do make sure that you measure and monitor. It is going to make conversations easier, and when it comes time to accepting a sale price, your vendor is going to feel confident knowing that you exhausted the marketplace, you reached everybody you possibly could at that moment in time, and that taking that price is the best decision because you’ve suggested it. You’re the expert, you’re the agent, you’re the one that they trust, and they’ve said “JP, do you think I should take that price?” And you turned around to them and you say, “Absolutely. We’ve maximized it, this is the best we’re going to take.” And you feel confident, and they feel confidence because you’ve done everything you possibly could.

So measuring and monitoring the success is absolutely vital. So with that being said guys that’s the takeaways from the key agents that we spoke to around the country…

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Stuart Benson

Stu Benson is the award winning Director and Auctioneer of Benson Auctions. With over 19 years industry experience and having worked within the Domain Group for over 14 years, he now beings his expert knowledge of the digital real estate space to his newly appointed Growth and Development Manager role at CRM game changer Box+Dice