Thursday, February 21, 2008

Times Are Changing...

Dear Friends,

Things are changing, and changing FAST.

The challenges we all face in an ever-changing market are not going to slow down soon. We have enjoyed 10 years of an up market. This cycle may take several years to shake out and complete.

Sales are down and unsold available properties have doubled and in some areas tripled. Today's market is quite unlike any in which we have previously competed.

It's more aggressive, there's more competition yet the products and services look the same. It is increasingly more difficult to offer a uniquely different product or service. Often the only way we feel we can win the new customer is on price and we all know that is no fun.

Now let's add to this the consumer's role.

As a result of our market conditions, consumers can sometimes be fickle. They can switch from one brand or product, Realtor or Lender, without qualms of betraying a favorite, or a fear of losing value by switching. They can shop. The more you're shopped the narrower your margin.

How do I get customers less focused on price?
How do I get customers to refer others to me?

Understanding the relative equivalent appearance of our products and services it becomes obvious to us that we must learn to uniquely differentiate ourselves in the eyes of the consumer, or die.

"Be distinct or extinct," says Tom Peters.

Today, I want to offer what I consider to be the most important part of our training and coaching.

"If you want relatively minor change in your life, focus on your attitudes and behavior, but if you want significant, quantum change focus on your paradigms." - Steven Covey

This is the place to start. The Referral Mind Set.

Changing one's orientation is not easy. We get used to doing things a certain way. Especially if one is successful.
Letting go of things to learn new things is harder than actually learning when one is brand new.

That's why some "new" agents and loan reps seem to excel in an environment that some veterans struggle within.

First let's look at our orientation.

Change our orientation to embrace customer RETENTION instead of customer CONQUEST.

You might be thinking "why change at all?" If customers are fickle enough to flit from one service provider to another why not increase my advertising dollars and attract new customers?

Go back to our market dynamics.

More aggressive.
More competition.
Parity of services or products.

Under this dynamic, price is the battle ground.

How can changing our point of view, or orientation, change our market?

What is considerably more difficult in such a dynamic market is RETAINING the customers currently buying, or who have bought your products and services. The real problem is given
the constant and increasing costs of winning new customers the only way to make long term profit in such a situation is to increase the lifetime spending or lifetime advocacy of the
customers and clients you currently have. Therefore, customer RETENTION is far more important than customer attraction.

Retention instead of conquest.

Our orientation is simply our view, our perspective of things, our mind set or paradigm. It's how we think.

Assume for a moment that 99% of our entire world is based on how we think, not the physical part we can see, but what we can't see...our thoughts.

In one sense, everything is created twice. Once in your head and the second by your hands.

By example:

Our Team had the opportunity to experience 3 complete market cycles since 1974.

We didn't see the first one coming.

We felt the second one was coming but didn't rely upon my own instincts. I listened to everyone else. In both cases I reacted to the market and had to chase it. It moved, I followed.

We saw the third one, this one 2 years ago, and started collecting the data that evidenced the impending change. I changed my point of view. It began with my thoughts.

We looked for clues that the market is going to change.
We focused on the "supply/demand ratios" as the material data.

What's important isn't what we did. What's important is how we did it and how it will prepare us for the new market climate.

I'm going to share with you a simple process for change that may help you.

I call it the "3 C's" - Chaos, Catalyst, Change

Every changing environment shares these characteristics.

1. Chaos: the alteration and deterioration of the "status quo." Stress, uncertainty, anxiety. What we got used to has changed. It's uncomfortable.

2. Catalyst: someone or something that sparks a 180 degree change in your view.

3. Change: a healthy new direction that transcends and include characteristics of the past and give a new direction. Conscious change for the better.

Here's how it works.


Can we change without pain?

Normally we experience CHAOS as stressful, full of anxiety and fearfully.

We like to have things in order. It gives us security and comfort.
What is interesting is that most of our individual and collective defining moments, or "turning points" in our lives have been "birthed" from very stressful chaotic times.

This applies to collective environments as well.

In 1980 the usury ceiling was removed by Fed deregulation and interest rates went to 18% in 18 months.

As a result of the chaos and pain, our secondary mortgage market was born - Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae, Freddie Mac, which as we look back over the last two decades have made possible home ownership to the millions of Americans at unprecedented numbers. The wealth building loans with lowdown payments and universal credit scoring has been the significant contributor in the real estate housing boom since 1980.

This example was a "collective" change in our lending status quo for the better.

There was Chaos.
There was a Catalyst.
There was Change.

Let's assume for the moment that out of an exterior chaos, be it political, ecological, financial, or social, something will evolve that will include the past and yet transcend to a higher better
level. There must be a catalyst. Some one or some thing.
History tells us this is so.

Now let's bring it down to the individual level.

Our market place of 10 years has changed! This affects us in many ways.

Interior chaos, like anxiety, fear, doubt, despair, which will in time cause metaphysical dis-ease will drive us to change, painfully for the better.

The question in our business life is "can we make the conscious changes for the better BEFORE a financial pain?" We all have obligations, bills to pay, responsibilities. We have got to make
things work NOW.

It will happen if we find the catalyst for our change. You cannot "give" your agents the catalyst that will effect their inspiring change.
This is something they must find on our own. But you can give them ideas that help them locate it much faster.

Not all Realtors and Lenders will survive this market. The order is changing.

I would like to increase the numbers who survive and thrive butit has to begin with a change of orientation.

"Thoughts are things."

This is where we start.

How can we utilize the stressful changes in our marketplace?

Instead of moving away from them embrace them and welcome them into our business arena. Chaos will find you.

The key is finding your catalyst faster than your competition.

Here are 4 solution based ideas that will help you to find YOUR catalyst for change.


Trade journals, (Realtor magazine or Loan Originator magazine), self help and personal development positive attitude books, books on sales, quality service, relationship marketing, referral based businesses, newsletters, web sites, trend setting books that are solution based and direction based to improve your thoughts. Bring new ideas in. STUDY

To self help tapes. Nightingale Conant (Chicago) has a catalog of thousands of hours of profound, impactful information. Listen to books on tape every day for one hour, while driving and
within a year it would be equivalent to taking a couple college courses. INVEST

Attract smart friends and business associates into your home or office once a week to create new ideas and action plans. Learn how to run a Mastermind group, Goggle: Mastermind groups. Nothing replaces the support and relationship building of being surrounded by like -kind thinking people who have a passion for change, growth, adventure and new ideas to improve their business. INVITE

Seminars, lectures, business referral groups, Chamber of Commerce groups, adult learning, job fairs, and college courses and put yourself into another environment other than what you are
used to. Yes, it is a bit uncomfortable but if you go to meet new people, learn about businesses and upgrade your skill at networking, which can only be done by practice, your sphere of influence will expand providing you a broader foundation to build an effective referral
based business. EXPLORE


These 4 solution based uses of your time will serve as the force that reveals your catalyst and your change in orientation. You will begin to see opportunities where only problems existed.

Your behavior will look different because it is different. While some salespeople are going to panic yours will be preparing.

Personally, I would welcome the business association with someone who is Studying, Investing, Inviting and Exploring and so will others.

You will become a magnet for people who want solutions. This will increase your refer-ability and effectiveness to successfully navigate through challenging times.

Make these 4 solution based ideas part of your day and work environment.

Thanks for spending 3 minutes with me...
The best is yet to be!

On Your Team
Jeffrey Stanton
Your Trusted Advisor For Life

One of the fastest ways to build a successful referral based business is by training. Now, with me, I like to invest significant time immersing myself in training, while some people prefer to take it in bite-size chunks. Whatever your preference is, now is the best time to contact me.

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