Prospecting - If it Feels Wrong, DON'T Do it! (The Go-Giver Chronicles continue)

Education & Training with Sell with Soul


Quoted with permission from Go-Givers Sell More by Bob Burg and John David Mann:

"You may have been taught that to be successful in sales, you need to "step outside of your comfort zone." Let's reexamine that idea. If you push yourself to a place that makes you uncomfortable, chances are pretty good you'll end up making the other person uncomfortable, too. Consciously or not, they'll sense your discomfort - and attitudes are contageous.

We human beings tend to resist discomfort; in fact, we'll typically do anything to avoid putting outselves in uncomfortable situations. Why base your entire career on something your strongest instincts tell you to avoid?"

One fine day last spring, I got a phone call from a real estate agent whose name didn't ring a bell.

This agent whose name didn't ring a bell small-talked with me for a few minutes, while I racked my brain to figure out if he was someone I should remember.

Well, when the small-talking was done, he asked me if I knew anyone moving to his town that I could refer to him. Ahhhhhh, sez Jennifer, Now I get it. He's prospecting. Well, I know it's hard to believe, but I didn't happen to know anyone moving to his area, so I told him he could send me an email with his contact information and I'd be glad to let him know if that situation changes. He bade me farewell and hung up. And I never heard from him.

I thought it was pretty funny, not to mention an abysmal waste of his time - cold-calling someone and asking for referrals - and then not even following up?? Interesting strategy.

But over the next month, I got more such calls from agents around the country. Agents whose names I DID recognize; agents who were followers of my philosophy which specifically advises against any form of referral-begging. All asking me if I knew anyone moving to their area.

Now I was confused. What was inspiring this flurry of referral-begging activity?

I gently tried to dissuade the callers from making more such calls to their spheres of influence, but they all seemed determined and even enthusiastic about it.

Well, okay. To each his or her own. Far be it from me to talk someone out of a prospecting technique they're excited about.

It finally dawned on me that these calls must be part of a corporate training program. My assumption was correct - there was a program making the rounds where participants were instructed to call 100 people per day (or maybe it was per week) and ask for referrals.

Whatever. I think it's a ridiculous strategy to abuse friendships with any sort of referral-begging, but apparently I'm in the minority there, at least in the world of real estate training. I'll just say that I don't like it when it's done to me, so it's a given that I will never do it to anyone else.

But the epilogue to this story is that I heard from one of the agents again the other day. Was she calling to hit me up again for referrals to her area? Nope. She was calling to apologize for doing it the first time. That she'd felt sick to her stomach doing it, not only to me, but to the other dozens of friends and acquaintances she subjected her pitch to. She is concerned that she'd actually damaged her friendships and was asking for advice on how to repair that damage.

My friends, if it feels wrong DON'T DO IT. IGNORE the well-intentioned (?) coaches and trainers and brokers who say you have to venture out of your comfort zone in order to succeed. Because there's a difference between overcoming a fear of something new, and doing something you feel is wrong. A BIG difference.

And you know what? You can tell the difference if you'll only pay attention to that little voice inside of you. It knows what it's talking about!

Stay IN Your Comfort Zone!
Work with What You Have - You're Wonderful Just the Way You Are!
Be Yourself, Have More Fun, Sell More Real Estate


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Terry Chenier
Homelife Glenayre Realty - Mission, BC


People pay money for these courses and at the end of the day the trainers have THEIR money.

Sep 02, 2010 06:09 PM #35
Bernadine Hunter, SFR, ACRE
Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realty - Pickerington, OH
"Finding Solution to Your Real Estate Needs"

Many times we don't have because we don't ask. Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone because it is that little nudge that can make the difference between success or failure. There is a fine line between staying in touch and becoming a nuisance though and we all need to know how to draw that line.

Sep 02, 2010 08:48 PM #36
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Bernadine - I think there are times where "asking" makes sense (asking for a discount, asking for a date, asking for help unloading your car), but when it comes to asking for business, it's just too risky. There are ways to let people know you would take great care of their business without implying that you need it, KWIM?

Terry - They do indeed. And if people are happy to pay it, more power to all of them. Obviously I have no problem offering training and charging for it, but I'd never ask someone to do something they feel is wrong, invasive or annoying.

Fred - I love it!!! YES!

Chris - That just seems so obvious to me - where is the disconnect in sales training world that thinks its a good idea to do unto others what would annoy you if done unto you? I don't get it!

Kerry - I love that line, too! Thanks Gene!

Margaret - I guess... but only if the person is truly comfortable with their actions and even then... I dunno.

Joan - A few people ARE good at dialing for dollars; I've been cold-called by good cold-callers and have even considered their product. Without exception, these people honestly seem to care about ME, not just about selling me something. But it's rare!

Debra - Very well said.

Nona - Yeah, I thought that was so odd. I'm just sitting here on a whole bunch of potential buyers moving around the country waiting for someone to call me and ask me for them.

Peggy - WOW - I love how you put those words together! Beautiful and oh, so right.

Valerie - You are procrastinating because you know it's wrong (for you.) Keep it up!

Judy - Life's too short to base a business on doing things that are painful, doncha' think?!

Cheryl - Great point. But I believe there are ways to prospect more aggressively (and by that, I mean more effectively) without selling your soul in the process.


Sep 03, 2010 12:24 AM #37
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Katerina - I agree!!! If you are putting something off... and putting it off... and putting it off... maybe that's your gut trying to tell you something!

Eric - Thank you.

Elizabeth - Pushing a comfort zone to do something you haven't done before is dandy... but doing something you feel is wrong... not dandy!

Denise - it's very true - there are many paths to success, and frankly, if cold-calling or referral-begging is working for someone, that's great. But so many in our industry have been brainwashed into thinking it's mandatory... and it just ISN'T!

Ron - I've often said that "working your sphere" is not the same thing as "prospecting to your sphere." You can work your sphere very effectively and never take the chance of annoying anyone. Seems like a worthy goal!

Michelle - what a good point! If an agent suddenly starts begging for business, it's going to be perceived by the audience as desperation. And desperation is never attractive.

Rob - Boiler-room prospecting - BLECH! Not for me!

Vickie - Very rarely. VERY rarely.

Sep 03, 2010 12:30 AM #38
Tamara Inzunza
RE/MAX Executives - Alexandria, VA
Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living

There's definitely a script for everything.  Perhaps you just don't have the script that makes you feel comfortable calling your past clients.  It's definitely ok to call them to ask if they're still getting the Market Snapshot report that keeps them informed on the sales in their neighborhood.  It's ok to tell them that FHA is increasing their premiums which means that it will cost first time buyers more after a certain date.  It's ok to tell them that some of the loan programs that were no longer available are slowly coming back.  It's ok to ask if they know of anyone who may need your help.

If you're not comfortable calling your past clients to ask for business, maybe you just don't know what to say.  Again, there's a script for everything, you just have to find one that you're comfortable with and make it personal to you.

It will suck when you look in the MLS to see that they've listed with someone else in the future.  Then you'll probably say, "Why didn't I call them and keep in touch?"

Just saying.

Sep 03, 2010 12:37 AM #39
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

I love this post, Jennifer! And if my friend's husband (who is a CPA) called to tell me about the tax law changes, I wouldn't be more apt to have him do my taxes. No matter what "script" he used on me. But if my friend called to ask me to lunch, and in the course of our enjoyable afternoon she mentioned how proud she is of him for working so hard, THAT might do it. Don't call me to "sell" me anything. It's a sure fire way of getting me to NOT buy from you. Just my opinion.

Sep 03, 2010 12:55 AM #40
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Hi Tamara - thanks for your comments! I must respectfully disagree that a script solves the problem of being uncomfortable in this situation; and I agree with Sue that most of our SOI probably doesn't want to hear about industry-specific issues and will interpret these calls as sales calls which can erode the warm-fuzzies that person has for us.

However, I appreciate the comment about seeing a friend or acquaintance's house in the MLS with someone else - in fact, part of my business model is to go through my database every six months and look up everyone's address on the MLS to see if I "lost" anyone. It always inspires me keep up my SOI efforts - if someone DID hire another real estate agent, I kick myself; if they didn't, I can say "Whew!" Where we differ is that when I say I'm inspired to "keep up my SOI efforts" it doesn't mean that I call through my list and ask for business. I have other ways... ;-]

Sep 03, 2010 01:05 AM #41
Bill Travis
Captain Bill Realty, LLC - Gilbert, AZ

When people get to know you and what you can do, you will get referrals. I would not be comfortable at all calling AR members and asking for referrals.

Sep 03, 2010 03:36 AM #42
Mike Saunders
Lanier Partners - Athens, GA

Jennifer - I wasn't part of that group but that's how I feel about going to friends and family for referrals. I do let them know that I am in the business with several other gestures, latest cards, chachkas, etc., but, I do not call and specifically ask.

Sep 03, 2010 04:07 AM #43
Jake Luehrs
Keller Williams Integrity - Team Leader - Minneapolis, MN

Very strong post with some good points!  I think you utlimately made the post when you mentioned that the agent didn't follow back up with you.  First, I make every effort to make it about the other person rather than about me on the first conversation.  Helping others succeed and developing relationships is the right way in my opinion.  Talk gets cheaper by the day!  Actions state more truly the intention of those call.  Good thought provoker!

Sep 03, 2010 08:42 AM #44
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

You hit this one out of the park - again!  I totally agree with the idea to trust your gut.  ;-)

p.s.  Hola from Speedy Cyber Cafe in Panama City, Panama...and yes, my husband thinks I am nuts I have to log in here even on vacation.  But, but, but....JA may have posted some pearls of wisdom and I must read them!  Signed, one of your biggest fans

Sep 03, 2010 02:30 PM #45
Christine Pappas - REALTOR®
eXp Realty - Willoughby, OH
eXp Realty - Because Experience Matters

I am looking forward to the Go-giver series you are going to do.  Too cool how it all goes hand in hand

Sep 03, 2010 04:08 PM #46
Vicki Pedersen
Pedersen Real Estate - Riverside, CA
Providing Exceptional Real Estate Service

Great post and good advice - If it doesn't feel right don't do it - which  is something to always consider in other areas of our lives - not just real estate. 

Sep 03, 2010 05:03 PM #47
D. Bass
Ask The Underwriter - Atlanta, GA
Blog: Ask The Underwriter

That was awesome!  I'm pretty sick of these expensive marketing strategies that make people feel like taking people out of their element is the way to be a millionaire in two months!  GREAT POST!

Sep 04, 2010 02:10 PM #48
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ


Sep 07, 2010 09:36 AM #49
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

I was just thinking....yes I can do that sometimes :-)  The thought was that it might be a good thing to go back to the good old days when there was no such thing as unlimited calls.  At $0.25 a phone call - this...ahem....method would cost $1300 a year.  That might slow some people down....hopefully....

Sep 07, 2010 06:14 PM #50
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

As long as your friends know you are a real estate professional, there is no need for asking for referrals. And cold calling? I hate it and I don't do it and furthermore, don't call me!

Sep 08, 2010 12:33 AM #51
Kim Boekholder Utah Real Estate
Results Real Estate 801.580.5624 - Draper, UT
Broker, Results Real Estate


I wish I was able to join your class coming up.  I love your post and your styel.  I get told to "cold call" for referrals all the time, and I've never been able to do it.  Its not my style.  Thank you always for the advice and your knowledge

Sep 12, 2010 03:20 AM #52
Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

Hmm, I recognize this training program and it's not for me.  Ick!

Sep 13, 2010 09:30 AM #53
Kerry Carloy
Keller Williams Realty Coppell Market - Carrollton, TX
It's so important that we be able to conduct all of our interpersonal activities with sincerity, to be able to feel comfortable looking that person we're engaging in the eye because we have a good solid motive in monopolizing these precious minutes of his or her life, to feel like I'm initiating a "win-win" dialog, not just trying to line my own pocket.
Aug 15, 2011 01:36 PM #54
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