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5 Reasons You Are Losing Listings

September 16 2014

5listings trulia2The top of the funnel is the easiest part to focus on, because it's the one where our efforts show the most instant and obvious results. More advertising leads to more calls. More calls lead to more listing appointments. There's only one problem with this strategy: if you can't convert listing appointments to actual listings, no number of new ads, referrals or calls will actually move the needle on the number of sales you close – and dollars you make – by year's end.

If your listing conversion rate is broken, eventually, attention will be paid to the problem. You'll either pay attention now, because you choose to, or later, when you see your competitor's sign in the yard at the house you visited last week. If you feel like you are losing out on listings and this is hurting your business, here are a few potential sources of the problem.

1. Your Listing Presentation Is Hopelessly Outdated

It's so easy to get in the groove of pulling out the old leather binder, rolling out a new CMA and mocking up some ads, almost as if by rote. And certainly, some sellers appreciate the old-school, high-touch feel of such a listing presentation. But even old-school sellers understand that their home's eventual buyer might not share their tastes, and they want – need – to know that the listing agent they choose can and will market their home in a way that reaches and appeals to today's buyers.

The listing presentationlisting presentation is an opportunity to show and prove that you have these skills, not only in terms of your marketing plan, but also in terms of the entire format and style of your presentation. What would happen if you rethought your entire presentation from the perspective of an app-era seller with an Apple-style aesthetic? Well, it might turn out like this beautiful, minimalistic slide deck, which made big press last year for winning Denver agent John James a $1.4 million listing.

2. Your Confidence and Speaking Skills Don't Match Up to Your Expertise

You might know, logically speaking, that you are a rock star. But if you don't act, walk and talk like one during your listing presentations, you might not close them like you deserve to. Preparation and practice, practice, practice don't make presentation skills perfect – but they do make confidence permanent. If you need to get over any sort of fear or anxiety around speaking, consider joining a Toastmaster's group or Meetup, which have the side benefits of providing constant networking with other local professionals for referral purposes.

And know this: your posture and physical stance can make all the difference in the world, in terms of how powerful (or powerless) prospective clients perceive you to be. In her TED talkher TED talk, Harvard Professor Ann Cuddy cites research proving that taking what she calls "The Power Pose" – shoulders down and back, chin slightly down, legs wide and hands on hips, increases testosterone by about 20 percent and decreases the stress hormone cortisol by about the same amount. Cuddy suggests getting into your Power Pose for a couple of minutes before you walk into a job interview or the real estate equivalent: a listing presentation.

3. You Underutilize the Power of Data

If you're like most agents, you probably have great facility with the important data points that tell the story of the state of the market: inventory trends, average days on market, list price-to-sell price ratio, even the average sale price of homes similar to the one you're trying to list. But to compete successfully for listings today requires a much more personal, customized approach to data.

Knowing data that shows what's happening in the market shows that you are an expert on the market. But sellers aren't trying to hire an expert on the market. They are trying to hire someone who is expert at getting homes sold, fast and for top dollar. So, in addition to showing that you know the local market, you must get good at showcasing the data points that prove your expertise as a seller of homes. Don't just talk about DOM; talk about average DOM and then brief the seller on how much shorter your listings' average DOM is than the market average. Don't just talk about list price: sale price ratio; talk about your listings' list price to sale price ratio and how it tops the market average.

When you go into a listing presentation, make sure you have at least three such data points at the ready that serve as proof points of your above-and-beyond, market-beating services at selling homes. Have them so practiced that they roll off the tongue; I promise your dogs and children won't mind having to hear them a few times.

4. You've Taken Too Many Overpriced Listings in the Past

Read #3, above, and then reverse it. In this era of consumer obsession with data, your track record needs to be able to speak for itself. You won't have personal proof points to brag on if you've had to cut list price after list price. And if you've had loads of listings lag on the market or even expire because they were overpriced, rest assured that your competition will make this known to the sellers you're dueling over.

Avoid getting in the habit of taking overpriced listingsoverpriced listings with the plan of slashing prices after the market educates the seller. Occasionally, it might make sense. But don't sacrifice your track record to the prospect of a high-maintenance listing here or there.

5. You Let the Urgent Trump the Important

That call from escrow is urgent. So is the pest inspection for your buyers on Grove Street. The voicemails? Urgent. Taking the time to hone your presentation skills and reworking your listing presentation will never, ever seem as urgent as all of the incoming mini-emergencies that make up the daily calendar of a real estate agent.

The problem is that your listing presentations and their success are ultimately, extremely important to the long-term viability of your business. As the owner and leader of your business, no one else will impose the discipline to take the time out and work on the fundamentals of your business in this way.

In fact, I can't possibly say it better than the late, great motivational writer Jim Rohn, who put it this way:

The most valuable form of discipline is the one that you impose upon yourself. Don't wait for things to deteriorate so drastically that someone else must impose discipline in your life. Wouldn't that be tragic? How could you possibly explain the fact that someone else thought more of you than you thought of yourself? That they forced you to get up early and get out into the marketplace when you would have been content to let success go to someone else who cared more about themselves.

Now, it's true that there are some business models that simply don't rely as heavily on converting listings. But if yours does, you must find the time, on an ongoing basis, to constantly care for and tend to your listing skills and to level up your listing presentation. The best time to do it is now, while the market is hot and the opportunities to build lifelong relationships with sellers is at its peak – it will stand you and your business in good stead for the long run.

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This article was originally published on the Trulia Pro blog. You find it, and other articles for real estate agents, herehere.