Top Conference Speakers Share Today's Hot Topics

by MAR Staff | Sep 03, 2013
This special section highlights the expertise of just a few of the several top national instructors conducting sessions at the MAR Conference & Tradeshow.  They"ll provide you valuable insight now - and live, powerful presentations October 7-8.  
THE REALTOR® People-Tech Conundrum
By Nobu Hata
Conference sessions: The Changing Face of Real Estate Lead Generation from Social Media
What they do care about is you. Your neighborhood expertise; your people skills in the negotiation; your un-Googleable knowledge base, the helping hand you offer before, during, and after the sale – all the things that make the human REALTOR®, you.
The problem we’ve been having is showing it off in the one place they all go: online. We have been stuck in a five year cycle of shiny new toys to implementation vapor lock; stuck in a rut of disruption-talk fatigue, trying to play the online advertiser’s game. Disruption in the online real estate space is only going to continue to grow and rapidly evolve – get over it!
Why are we treating people – our clients – like numbers, to be quantified and bussed out to the highest bidder? Instead, let’s demystify, get local, connect people with community, give folks their “ah-ha” moments now – everything nameless, faceless companies can’t do, but that you do regularly with your people in the back of your car, during the orientation, after the inspection, and at the closing table. Eschew online disruption and confusion (it’s overrated), and think offline embracementand opportunity. Think long-term marathon, when it comes to the online relationship. After all, real estate buyers and sellers have been searching and digging online for information for weeks, months – if not years – before they reach out to you. Once they do, they’re ready to act, whether they’re actually prepared for it or not.
Knowledge of this track, especially in the local context, is online power. Conveying the value of that knowledge in your human voice is up to you. That’s where technology and social media can help you future-proof your business. That’s where mobile technology can juice-up your brand. This is where your brand promise, marketing strategy, and productivity measures meet – not in you, but in them.
Real estate isn’t about technology and lead generation, it’s about people and their very human wants and needs. Fulfilling the promise of the online to offline transition and client real estate experience is uniquely yours; embrace it! Technology will never be able to take it from you, only enhance it.
3 Steps to Harnessing the Most Powerful Force in the World
By Richard Robbins
Conference Session: Ignite Your Business
Surpassing even gravity, hope for a bigger and better future is the single, most powerful force in the world that can pull us past obstacles we never thought possible. Imagine harnessing the power of this force on a daily basis and waking up motivated and excited. Here are three steps to help get you there.

Step 1: Say No to the “Drama.”
More often than not, people today get caught up in the “drama” of circumstance and a changing world. Drama is draining and can have an enormous negative impact, not only on our outlook for the future, but also our productivity. I challenge you to be a leader in the war on drama. Don’t succumb to negative headlines or allow yourself to be drawn into negative conversations that serve only to keep you small.
Step 2: Get Clear on Exactly
Where You Are Going. This is not rocket science, only a reminder that the greatest motivator in the world is to focus on what we want in our future, rather than on what we have to do to get it. When you know what you want, and you want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.
Step 3: Remember, Small Changes Lead to Big Results.
I read an online article about golf swings that said the difference between a horrible golf shot and a perfect fairway drive can be as small as one millimeter in any particular direction in a golf swing. Perfection can be as close as 1/10 of a centimeter away. Remember, that even smallest changes in your business, and your life, can lead to dramatic results.
Decode the Dress Code: Global Garment Gaffes
By Terri Morrison
Conference session:Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands
Nudity is generally inadvisable in public and in most situations deemed to be improper. And suitable attire varies in different countries. What your wear forms a large part of people’s first impressions, so invest wisely. Here are some guidelines to avoid a fashion faux pas.
Religion influences attire. Qatar is actually less rigorous than its austere neighbor, Saudi Arabia. According to Joanna Saavides, professor of international business at the Emirates Aviation College, several airlines flying into Riyadh now provide abayas (the flowing dark gowns) for women who may have forgotten them. Abayas are required for women in all Saudi public places, and without one, a female may not be permitted to disembark. Observing Islamic guidelines for attire and behavior is particularly important during religious events. Joanna also noted that women should eschew open-toed footwear in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. If you want to flaunt a great pedicure, do it in Rio, not in Riyadh.
Country Style
Argentina: Get Serious
Argentines usually wear formal, conservative outfits, even in many social situations. Foreign executives should do likewise. Argentines are aware of European styles, but tend toward a modest and
subdued look.
France: Stylish, Best Quality
As one would expect, the inventors of haute couture put a premium on style. Even entry-level workers buy the best clothes they can afford. The typical French posture (very straight, even when sitting) makes their clothes look even better. And Frenchwomen are famous for their hard-edged, feminine chic: a smart tailor and good shoes are a must. Your entire wardrobe will be scrutinized.
Japan: Cool Biz
Many companies implemented energy conservation policies at the request of Japan’s government after the horrific tsunami of 2011, which created a “Super Cool Biz” dress code, eliminating the dark wool “salaryman” suit and tie in many offices. Unless you are in the financial orsecurities industries, go with more casual light cottons or linen jackets with dark pants. And statuesque women might want to shun the stilettos in favor of flats.
Safety First

Your final, but possibly most important consideration is security. Traveling on Rome’s subways? When pickpockets attack, you may want to have some clothing that blends into the environment around you, yet keeps your valuables safe. Scottevest ( jackets and vests are well-known to photographers andfrequent fliers. They are tailored to hide iPads, expensive sunglasses, passports and other treasures.
Never be a target. Global travelers may cringe at the sight of US tourists in their loud clothes and bright sneakers. But even US businessmen can be picked out of a crowd in a second. The first indicator is the “American cut” suit: the single vent, straight lines, flappy pockets, wide armholes and possibly too big. For your next trip, try a classic “British cut” (two vents, tapered waist, armholes slightly higher, button fastened at the waist) or a European-cut suit (two or no slits, V-shape design, flapless pockets). Whatever you wear, make sure your slacks break at the top of your shoes’ heels, and your tie hits the top of your belt.
Why a Video Is Worth 1.8 Million Words
By Stefan Swanepoel
Conference Session: Real Estate Trends
We all know a home is more than a collection of bedrooms, bathrooms, and granite countertops. It’s a lifestyle. Important nuances are often nearly impossible to convey with only photos, but video can really transcend the message you wish to convey.
To date, video in real estate has been limited, consisting primarily of “video home tours”—often marginally produced by agents themselves, or done by professionals—and little else. However, change—in terms of consumer demand, affordability of equipment, and increased ease of use of editing software, etc.— are ushering in a new era of video in real estate.
According to NAR’s The Digital House Hunt study which details the ways in which buyers use technology in the real estate process, the four biggest reasons that buyers use videos are:
To find out more about a specific community (86%).
To tour the inside of a home (70%).
To obtain general information (54%).
To compare features across multiple companies (44%).
Best Practices

1. Home Tour Videos The most frequently created types of videos in real estate are home tours, and the second-most popular reason Internet buyers want and use video. Have quality home tours created for all of your listings where the price point and condition of the home warrant such investment.
2. Branding Videos Video about you, your team, and/or your company can be among the most powerful, compelling, and effective marketing you can do, producing significant ROI and brand awareness.
3. Lifestyle/Community Videos This content is what buyers want most, as they choose the area they want to live in before looking at specific homes. Create community videos about every neighborhood/community in which you do or want to do business, as well as videos about the key businesses and influential people, places, and things in those markets.
4. Testimonial Videos People ultimately want to work with someone they like, trust, and respect, and the way you look, the words you choose, the pace and tone of your voice, and the manner in which you dress all communicate volumes about you as a person and as a professional.
5. Educational Videos Considered one of the most overlooked categories of video, home shoppers need valuable education in a short period of time. If you can be the one to provide educational content to people looking to buy homes in your market, you can create real opportunity to connect with potential clients.
Cisco estimates that 1.2 million minutes of video content will cross the network every second in 2016, and that it would take over six million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2016. With all of the advances in technology and the increase in consumer demand, the field of real estate video is still in its relative infancy. Beat out your competitors and be an “early to market” beneficiary.
Closings as a Technology Goal
By Steve Pacineli
Conference session: A Day in the Life of a Mobile Agent
There are many measures of success – particularly in online marketing. Words such as impressions, page views, likes, and downloads show activity and interest. But the conversation becomes meaningful if what is really measured is closed business.
The technology session I present across the country goes through an array of real estate solutions including mobile apps, web tools, social media, and best practices in online marketing. But, where I try to differentiate myself, is to give this a litmus test – how do each of these efforts lead to success through:
1. More visibility to build brand and attract buyers and sellers.
2. Creating a connection that begins the conversation with a buyer or seller.
3. Relevant and personal communications that build a relationship with agent and consumer.
4. A happy outcome – ultimately a closing.
5. Referrals and recommendations – which restart the cycle.
If these are not the results of your technology, social media, and marketing efforts, then there is a disconnect.
As a reality check, I try to back up interesting and inventive techniques and tools with evidence that they have relevance outside of the technology sphere. To validate these ideas, I bring in successful real estate professionals who can cite examples of tangible results: more prospect relationships, closed listings, and sales.
Even in our own company, REALTOR.COM®, we reached out to scores of agents and asked them to stack rank the quality of our leads. We found our leads were doing surprisingly well when it came to actually closing them. This was backed up with research done completely independent of us by groups such as PAA Research and the California Association of REALTORS®, who independently interviewed agents and found that REALTOR.COM® was indeed producing not only more leads, but also leads more likely to close. Armed with this data, I began to dig deeper with the real estate professionals who had these successes and found that they had some common traits:
  • They measure the programs they use and can tell you where each customer came from.
  • They use technology not just to generate opportunity but also to manage the influx of leads they receive.
  • Finally, they do not let technology replace their personal connection with prospective buyers and sellers.
They use technology to personally greet new prospects on the first call, (answering in real time or other inventive uses of text vs. letting it go to voice mail). The communication is guided by systems, the reminders are set by mobile tools and web based CRM – but the communication is personal and genuine.
It’s a skill to ramp up the way these top agents have and not lose the personal touch, but the “best of the best” have been able to do it.
How to Close the Sale in the Google Era
By Marc Wayshak
Conference Session: Game Plan Selling in the New Economy
In today’s technology-driven world, information is cheap. The Internet has changed everything for prospects. No longer do they need the big sales pitch explaining all of the features and benefits of working withyou. There’s a website for that—and probably many of them.
Prospects are savvier than ever now that they’re armed with so much information. Times are different in the twenty-first century—sales people and agents must adapt or die. A sales person’s job now entails helping prospects identify whether they’re the right fit. Most importantly, the ability to close a sale in today’s economy depends more on one’s mindset than his specific closing technique.
The New Mindset
Today’s sales people must be different from the rest of the pack. By being authentic and aiming to understand your prospects, you come off as unique from the majority of sales people out there. Think of yourself as a doctor, rather than a sales person.
When you go to the doctor with a problem in your elbow, the doctor doesn’t say, “Well, I have a solution for YOU! You are simply going to LOVE this fantastic arthroscopic surgery that we can offer. It is so great!” That would be ridiculous and insincere, but that is what most sales people are doing right now.
 For example, rather than begin a sales meeting by talking about the benefits of your product, begin with one of these questions:
1. “Tell me about your challenges with
regards to…[your category of service or product].”
2. “Give me an example of that challenge.”
3. “Tell me a little more about [prospects challenge].”
It goes back to that doctor’s mindset. A good doctor will thoroughly examine a patient before telling the patient if there is a solution. Only a quack doctor will offer a solution without identifying the real problem. Sales people must have this same mindset with their prospects. Realistically, about 50% of your prospects will not be a good fit for buying from you. Whatever the reason, it is your job to discover as quickly as possible whether they are or are not a fit for you and your company’s product or service by using your doctor’s mindset.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Some people try to find things in this game that don’t exist but football is only two things—blocking and tackling.”
The same is true for selling.  By changing your mindset to think more like a doctor, rather than like the traditional sales person, you immediately move into an elite group of sales people who stand out from the pack. This is the difference required to close the sale in the Google era.