I'm always reminded by the plaque on my wall that says, “We are compensated only to the extent that we add value to the other people”. Simple but instructive. The human element should not escape real estate professionals. The only way to get any seller to work with you is to convince them you can solve their problem.
When marketing to probates, you can convey to the executor that you can close quick on a property, pay all cash, reduce attorney fees, utilities and mortgage payments, avoid repairs, etc, but these are intellectual features, while “people buy on emotions and then justify it with logic”, said the late renowned sales trainer Zig Ziglar. Features are the language of intellect, benefits are the language of emotion.
What would be a better way to sell diamonds?
“This ring features a 1.4 carat, pear-shaped cut white diamond with a Sl1 clarity grade and an H color rating”.
Unless you are gemologist, this ad is gibberish. Here is what might sell diamonds better:
“Imagine that special evening when you gently slip this on your finger and stare intensely into their eyes. She peers at this symbol of your devotion, the promise of your future together, and tears begin to glisten. An adoring smile spreads across her face, and at that moment your love is sealed forever”.
What is in it for the seller of a property that has entered probate? Can they move on to build better memories, get a good night's sleep by relieving the stress of bills and let go of the loads of bricks on their shoulders? Return to their normal day to day affairs, stop the in-fighting among the heirs, which brings out the worst in people?
These are the problems that executors want to solve. Yet we have seen some campaigns where an investor sends a generic “We Buy Houses Fast” postcards to a grieving family, rather than taking the time to offer their condolences and discover the family's needs. At best, it is impersonal, and at worst, strikes as disrespectful and generates complaints.
The executor of an estate is not initially concerned with how many homes you have bought, what your track record is or what designation you received. They merely want to know, WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME? HOW CAN I FEEL BETTER?
“I don't sell. But I can solve problems”
That according to Ken Lawson JD, real estate attorney and owner of Lawson Group Mediation Services, which handles delicate real estate situations such as distressed properties, bankruptcies and separations. The stereotypical thinking of people limits the possibilities that you as a real estate professional provide. They expect an investor to rip them off. They expect an agent to sell their home. They expect a lawyer to advise filing bankruptcy. To overcome this stereotype, Mr. Lawson advertises “debt relief without bankruptcy”.
It is this solution based, problem-solving approach that is attributed to the success of Rick Geha, a partner in Keller Williams Benchmark Properties that leads his team to record-breaking sales. When talking in a YouTube video about working with distressed homeowners, he says,
“When your whole life is spent making sure… clients are well taken care of… that your reaching out to them, say ‘what can I do for you’, without regard to whether they buy or sell real estate from you, your whole life will open up, and people be throwing leads at you”.
In our view, it is this fundamental role change, from Real Estate Investor or REALTOR, to problem solver, that defines success, particularly in the sphere of sensitive real estate transactions such as probates or distressed properties.