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Jun 26, 2020

The Power of the Phone

Many of us now are wondering where our next meals are coming from.

Relax. We need look no further than our telephones.

One of the few things (opportunity-based) the Internet today gives up with a little bit of research is someone’s phone number. I’m not saying it’s going to give everyone’s phone number up. Sadly, many have fallen victim to walling themselves away from public scrutiny.  Over time they’ll find this has effectively shut them OFF from opportunity.  Still there are some that can still be reached via their phones if we try.

Some of you know this but some of you may not but I am a state of Ohio licensed real estate broker. I have been one for a lot of years. I am a firm believer in never giving up professional licensing.  I’ve always kept my licensing because you never know when circumstances might change. My seminal phone grounding comes from being raised in my parents’ real estate and business brokerage business.

The first thing about the phone I’d like to communicate to you is YOU ALWAYS ANSWER IT if possible. If you can’t answer it yourself you have another live voice answer it; I don’t care what time it is.

My father was a night owl and I can’t tell you how many 1a.m. deals started because some nosy drunk called from a bar when the owner/bartender handed him a card and said, “Here, call them. They’ll give you the details.”

No kidding.

If there was an answering machine for the guy to talk to chances are he would’ve hung up.  Who knows what would have happened the next day?

Our friend Glenn Gutmacher calls long-lasting tools “EVERGREEN”. THE POWER OF THE PHONE is one of these tools.

There’s a close camaraderie that builds up during the tenancy very much like what builds up in hiring relationships.  I’ve always said there are so many similarities between the two industries! And they both involve the POWER OF THE PHONE.


And where did I learn my skills?

In the real estate / business brokerage business!

Knocking on Doors = Cold Calling

What am I really? I’m a DOOR KNOCKER.

As a young real estate salesperson in the summers between college years I started selling real estate. I was licensed at 18. I’d get in my car and drive out into the country and knock on farm doors. (I was bit by dogs three times.) I listed several farms, some of which would sell throughout the following year (or two) and that was the beginning of my real estate career. The money from those sales helped keep me in school (my father died when I was 21) and allowed me to live independently at school during the school year.

The process of a DOOR KNOCKER is thus:

  • You drive down a road looking at farms as you pass. When you see one that looks like “it could be/might be” for sale you pull in the driveway. It may be that you have to stop in the road (country roads are often lonely so this is easily done) and back up past the driveway and turn in.
  • You drive up the driveway and sometimes they’re long, and park. You turn off the car, and wait.
  • Next, you listen (you learn this after a nasty dog bite) and if you don’t hear barking dogs you open the door and get out. All the while your heart is beginning to race, faster and faster. You assess which farm door is the one that is most used and you go to it.
  • You force your steps to the door by concentrating on each step. If you thought about the enormity of what you’re about to do you probably wouldn’t do it.
  • You knock and if there is a bell, or a ringer, use it too. Farmers are many times older, and may not hear one or the other. Dogs may start barking. Stand your ground – it’s too late to run. Believe that whoever opens the door will be civil enough not to set them loose on you.
  • You heart is really pounding and if it’s a hot summer day the sweat is pooling at the base of your spine.  You hear someone on the other side of the door or you see the curtain move. You stand your ground. The door opens.
  • You smile and you say, “Hello, my name is Maureen Sharib and I’m a real estate broker. You have a beautiful farm and I’m wondering if you’d like to sell it.”

Of course, that’s what I’d say today – back then I used my maiden name but the process was all the same but the dress was a size or two smaller and my hair a bit darker.

You’d be surprised how many people will tell you they’ve been told they have a beautiful farm but never asked if they wanted to sell. It’s much like today when candidates tell you they get lots of emails but nobody ever calls them using THE POWER OF THE PHONE.

But Everybody Uses (insert heavily used sourcing tool)!

Why do I not rely on the Multiple Listing Service?

An MLS is a private offer of cooperation and compensation by listing brokers to other real estate brokers. It’s an easy way for brokers to share information on properties they have listed and invite other brokers to cooperate in their sale in exchange for compensation if they produce the buyer. (Think of it as an online ad exchange or platform)

I belong to my local MLS (and believe me for a small broker it’s expensive) because it’s a wealth of information.

I watch the new listings but for the most part it’s a data repository.  It only represents (mostly housing) that has sold through member brokerages. It does not represent the Universe like, say the Auditor’s office does which is where I go when I want the real scoop on a piece of property.

Phone numbers are rarely available in either but once in a while you might get lucky on MLS if you look in the attached documents. That takes time to peruse documents and I’m a WhizBang kinda’ girl and very impatient.  I want things fast – that’s why I use the PHONE.

I WANT ANSWERS. Nobody’s paying me by the hour to draw things out – I need to know AS FAST AS POSSIBLE what the scoop is.

The MLS is kind of like LinkedIn. It has SOME information. It doesn’t have ALL the information. It’s a place to start but it certainly isn’t a place to end.  What I do is use it for reference and then I go out into the UNIVERSE OF POSSIBILITIES and make my own way in the world.

That’s what I’ve always done and that’s what I recommend you do now. Nobody’s going to make it for you and especially now.

What I do is find a piece of property I know my customer will like. Then I find out who the owner is and then I find the owner’s number and then I call the owner ON THE PHONE and I say:

“Hi, my name is Maureen Sharib and you don’t know me.”

“I’m a real estate broker here in Cincinnati and I’m working with someone who is interested in purchasing your property.”

“Would you be interested in selling it?”

The Power of Passive Candidates

I’m not interested in properties that others have already looked at and passed on.  That includes the NEW Listings on MLS. I want things that hold UNTOLD POSSIBILITIES for my customers. I want properties that nobody has “hard or soft-passed” (buzzwords today) and that my customers are the ONLY EXCLUSIVE “lookees” on.

I want properties that haven’t been listed (ever) on MLS or, at the very least, haven’t sold or been listed on there in a while. (You’d be surprised how many properties are or have never been listed on MLS.)  For the very reasons enumerated above.

It’s the reason my customers hire me to phone source.  When I pick up whole departments inside an organization some of those people will not be found on LinkedIn, which is (still, if you can believe it!) the main go-to source for most recruiters.

Let me say that another way (for the umpteenth time.) I tell people they’d be surprised how many people aren’t on LinkedIn. Nobody ever believes me but it’s true.

I don’t email anyone first, asking if we can have a conversation. Email is for sissies. It’s for someone looking for someone to say “no” or for an interpretative “no” answer when the email isn’t answered. Email sets recruiters (and sourcers) up for assumptions. Assumptions are the most dangerous thing in recruiting.

In Conclusion

It’s much harder to say “no” on the phone.

It’s NOT much harder to make those calls. It is at first.  At first, you’re sweating bullets and your heart is pounding.  The gravel is crunching under your feet and the sweat gathers in your palms. Once you start, though, once you get over those initial first fears, you’ll realize the pounding is just butterflies that dissipate and soon it’ll be fun.

There aren’t many barking dogs and very few that bite.

There are definitely less phone sourcers out there, the rewards are well worth the efforts!

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