10 blog posts a property manager should write

Blogging is a great way for property managers to build search engine optimized traffic and connect with their target market. If you are a property manager, here are 10 blog posts that you should write:

  1. Write a series of blog posts describing each property that you manage. Explain what kind of property it is (i.e. commercial, condo, etc.) and describe the challenges and opportunities you face with it.
  2. Write a “day in the life of a property manager” blog post so people know what you do all day.
  3. Write a series of “knowledge center” blog posts and could save you time by directing tenants to check this knowledge center first. (For example: “What to do when a sink drain doesn’t empty” or “What to check when an outlet doesn’t seem to work”.
  4. If you have commercial tenants, write a list of tips that will help them get more business while also helping you. For example: “Why keeping your windows clean will bring in more customers”
  5. List some tips about how tenants can ensure the safety of their location and prevent burglary or vandalism.
  6. Write a top ten list describing the kinds of calls you get and how they can be avoided or managed before you even get there.
  7. Give tips that help save tenants money (such as turning down the thermostat at night or switching to power-saving light bulbs).
  8. Write profiles of your employees so tenants can recognize them on sight.
  9. Write a list of simple tips that tenants can follow to care and maintain their own spaces.
  10. Write a blog post about what tenants can do to help the environment.

10 blog posts a mortgage broker should write

Blogging is a great way for mortgage brokers to build search engine optimized traffic and connect with their target market. If you are a mortgage brokers, here are 10 blog posts that you should write:

  1. Write a series of blog posts (perhaps quarterly) talking about current economic conditions.
  2. Write a list of answers to the question: “Is now a good time to buy?”. (Back up your answers with proof so that buyers know you aren’t just making it up to get more business).
  3. Create a resource blog post that talks about the different factors that go into a lender’s decision to loan money through a mortgage.
  4. Write a series of blog posts defining frequent terms in the industry that your clients wouldn’t understand.
  5. Write a blog post explaining what happens when someone comes to you for a mortgage. Peel back the curtain so they understand what you do with their information.
  6. Remember that your audience isn’t just contacting you for a mortgage. They’re contacting you because ultimately they want to buy a home. So write a series of blog posts about that bigger picture: How to find a home; how to work with a real estate professional, etc.
  7. Write a series of blog posts answering the burning questions that you are always asked.
  8. List the top reasons that people are denied a mortgage and what they can do about it.
  9. Compare the benefits of using a mortgage broker to just going to the bank.
  10. Write blog posts about the mortgage needs and challenges for each type of client you serve (i.e. the first time homebuyer, the growing family, the empty nester, the retired person, etc.)

10 blog posts a foreclosure specialist should write

Blogging is a great way for foreclosure specialists to build search engine optimized traffic and connect with their target market. If you are a foreclosure specialist, here are 10 blog posts that you should write:

  1. Write about the top warning signs that homeowners can spot before they enter foreclosure.
  2. Create a “who’s who” of the foreclosure process so homeowners know who is handling their file and what each person’s role is in the process.
  3. Review some of the top resources that someone facing foreclosure might need: Credit counseling, rental resources, moving resources.
  4. Write a series of blog posts talking about the emotions that people feel when they are in foreclosure. Discuss each emotion (i.e. anger, feeling of helplessness, etc.) and provide tips to deal with these emotions.
  5. Discuss some of the underlying economic causes of foreclosure and what that means for the individual homeowner. (Foreclosure is the obvious outcome but there are economic implications for homeowners who are not in foreclosure).
  6. Create a detailed, SEO-friendly introductory resource that someone in foreclosure might read first when they get that “you’re in foreclosure” letter in the mail.
  7. Write a series of blogposts for people who are not in foreclosure but are at high risk of it. Discuss pre-emptive mitigation strategies.
  8. Write case studies based on success stories you’ve personally been involved with (but don’t give your clients’ real names, of course).
  9. Write a blog post about life after foreclosure: How people move forward after their homes have been foreclosed on.
  10. Poll your clients to get their most-asked questions and write a blog post addressing each one.

Testing: The one essential task that every successful entrepreneur performs (and every struggling entrepreneur ignores)

I’ve changed my blog theme for the 3rd time in 6 months (and possibly the 3,000,000th theme since joining WordPress).

I don’t lose a wink of sleep over the changes I make. I’m less concerned about whether my blog theme looks consistent every day of the week. Rather, I’m more concerned with a far more important question:

Can I acquire and retain more customers who are more profitable?

It’s true that consistency is critical. But what’s more important to me is testing and optimizing to improve my ability to acquire and retain more customers who are more profitable.

WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOU

Okay, the number of themes I’ve used on my blog isn’t really the point of this post. It’s just a way to introduce what I want to talk about today: Every business owner needs to break apart everything in their business and test it and then they need to optimize what they’ve found based on the findings from their test.

It’s a really simple formula:

  1. Test everything in your business.
  2. Optimize everything in your business.
  3. Repeat forever.

That’s one of the top “secrets” to business success. I’ve never met a successful business owner who didn’t test. And I’ve never met a struggling business owner who tested religiously. I can say almost unequivocally that testing leads to success.

When you test, you identify what works and what doesn’t. Then you optimize that particular element of your business and you implement it and test it again.

Actually, we already do this in other aspects of our life without realizing it: When you meet someone who could be a potential romantic partner, but things don’t work out, you might realize that you introduced them to your weird quirks a little too early in the relationship. That was a type of test and you learned your lesson from it. Next time, you won’t reveal until much later in the relationship that your hobby is to carve Star Trek characters out of butter.

WHAT YOU SHOULD TEST

When I say “test everything”, I’m not exaggerating. Break apart your business and test it all: Test the big stuff like your brand, your target market, your marketing content, your deliverables, and your methodologies; and test the little stuff like your email footer, the days and times that you post on your blog; and whether you follow-up with a prospect 1 day or 2 days after your first contact with them.

I used my blog theme as an example, but I test everything. In fact, the element of my business that I test the most is my sales proposal. Since the very first day I hung out my “freelance writer” shingle, I have diligently recorded massive amounts of data about my sales proposal. As a result, it’s a finely tuned sales-generating machine that has earned me hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Here’s how to identify some of the most important things to test: Start with your sales funnel. Break your sales funnel into stages and then into steps (which I’ve covered in blog posts like Sales Funnel 101: How does a sales funnel work and Identifying the steps in your sales funnel).

Then test each step.

Here’s an example of a really simple sales funnel with a few steps in each stage. In black are the current sales funnel stages and steps. And I’ve used a green font-color to identify some ideas about how you can test that step:

Audience

  1. Article marketing leads to Twitter follow. (Test other methods to lead to a Twitter follow, such as press releases or promoted tweets. Or, point your article marketing to something else, like directly to your website.)

Leads

  1. Twitter follow leads to initial Twitter-based interaction. (Test the types of interaction you get and what kinds of interaction gets people advancing in your sales funnel. For example, will a frequent retweeter advance in your sales funnel faster than someone who replies to you?)
  2. Twitter-based interaction leads to website visit. (Test where they are clicking. For example, are they clicking on a specific tweet or are they clicking on the URL in your profile? And, if they click on the URL in your profile, try sending them to a different page on your website and see what happens.)
  3. Website visit leads to email newsletter sign-up. (Test how you ask for an email newsletter sign-up: Test different placements of the form, test different colors, test calls to action, and test a 1-step and 2-step call to action.)

Prospects

  1. Email newsletter sign-up leads to regular click-through interaction. (Test your email’s subject lines, length of body content, number of links in the content, placement of links, and PS content.)
  2. Regularly click through interaction leads to a purchase. (Test links to different kinds of information and different levels of financial commitment from free to high-end).

Customers

  1. A purchase leads to another purchase. (Test which products or services lead to additional products or services.)

Evangelists

  1. Frequent purchases lead to word of mouth referral. (Test other ways of getting people to evangelize. For example, ask for a backlink, ask for a testimonial, ask for a Linkedin Recommendation, etc.)

Okay, so that is a good example of a really simple sales funnel and some ideas about testing. You’ll note that within each step of the sales funnel, there are many things to test.

And although you should start by testing the elements in your sales funnel, don’t stop there. Test other non-sales-funnel-related aspects of your business, too. For example, test other methods of performing administrative tasks or conducting meetings.

Ultimately, what you decide to test should be informed by the goals of your business. If you sell a service to a customer (like most of my financial and real estate clients do) then everything you test should be geared toward getting more profitable customers to buy from you over and over again.

HOW TO TEST

By now, I hope you’re convinced and inspired to test. So the next question is: How do you test successfully?

I am going to blog a bit more about this in the near future (I’ve been doing some high-level planning about that topic just this weekend) but here is a quick-and-dirty way to test:

  1. Once you’ve figured out what you want to test (see above), identify the metric and/or method of testing. How will you know that your test was successful or unsuccessful? To borrow from the sales funnel example above, if you are going to test a different way of building a Twitter audience besides article marketing, you’ll want to start by identifying a metric that is useful to you. Number of Twitter followers seems to make sense but you’ll need to narrow it down further. For example, number of Twitter followers within a specific period of time. Better yet, identify the number of Twitter followers in your target market who follow you within a specific period of time.
  2. Get a benchmark. Figure out what your current success rate is today. So if you are going to measure the number of Twitter followers in your target market who follow you within a specific period of time because of your articles, you’ll need to dig into a bit of research to find that information out. But once you do, you have a place to start. For example, you might write an article and post it and then watch your Twitter following grow for that particular week. Then check the profiles of your Twitter followers to do a quick check to see if they are in your target market or not. (See my disclaimer following this list).
  3. Perform your test. Now do whatever it is that you were going to do differently as your test. In the example I’ve been using here, maybe you’ll write a press release and publish it and see how many Twitter followers you get in a week (and don’t forget to check their profiles to see if they are in your target market or not).
  4. Decide what to do next based on that information. You’ll generally have the following results based on what you’ve found: (1) The test proved that the new method was better and you decide to replace the old method with the new method. (2) The test was not clear and you need to test again. (3) The test proved that your old method remains superior.
  5. Perform a similar test at a different time to see if the season was a factor, OR perform a different test on this step in your sales funnel, OR perform a completely different test on a different element in your business.

(Disclaimer: Metrics-savvy people will easily shoot holes in my example of these metrics because they do not account for other factors, such as Twitter followers who follow you for some other reason or because of older content online. It’s true that these factors could impact your metrics but I’m just trying to give readers a quick and easy first step into testing. As you become more proficient in testing, you will find tools and techniques to help you eliminate these other factors… but the most important thing I can suggest is: Just get started by testing something in your business!).

GET STARTED!

I cannot stress enough the importance of testing in your business. In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking about some ways that you can test successfully. But my advice is: Just get started. Add a test into your weekly schedule. It doesn’t have to be a perfect test using a perfect metric. By simply starting, you’ll have already advanced your business further than other business owners who squander their time in testless oblivion.

How to succeed in selling with the ‘Chain of Agreement’

When your target market encounters a problem or challenge in their life, the potential buyer’s mindset is focused on the problem itself.

As a salesperson, your job is to present a solution to that problem. Unfortunately, selling efforts fail even when prospects know they have a problem and they know you have a solution.

In this blog post, I’m going to talk about why sales efforts sometimes fail and how you can increase the likelihood of success when you sell.

And here’s the great part: This “sales method” (if you want to call it that) completely removes the resistance that salespeople can often feel when in a sales relationship.

WHY SALES EFFORTS SOMETIMES FAIL

When a potential buyer first comes in contact with you, they are entirely focused on the problem but you are entirely focused on the solution. You need to help them to see that you have a solution to their problem and you need to present the solution and then overcome objections that they may have. That’s a pretty standard summary of the typical sales relationship.

However, this problem-versus-solution approach is adversarial. You are trying to change their minds by coming at the situation from the opposite direction.

It’s very easy (and very common among salespeople) to view the relationship as a “you-versus-them” relationship where one of you wins and the other loses.

You are coming at the situation from “opposite directions” (they are problem-focused and you are solution-focused, and these two opposite viewpoints clash during the sales presentation). Since you and your prospect are coming to the relationship from opposite directions, you aren’t always able to effectively identify or address all of their concerns and questions. You each have different perspectives so you may not see the issues in the same way that your prospect sees them. This leads to haphazard identification of the issues and the unaddressed issues spring up as objections when you’re trying to close the sale.

Because you have an inherently adversarial relationship with the prospect, and because you only haphazardly cover the hot button issues, it’s clear why sales efforts sometimes fall short when trying to close.

HOW THE CHAIN OF AGREEMENT CAN HELP

Rather than thinking of the sale as “you convincing them that your solution can solve their problem“, forget the solution-focus. Instead, start earlier in the relationship to build smaller points of agreement. Build one point of agreement after another. Soon enough, a sale will happen naturally without the adversarial (and often dreaded) sales presentation.

Instead of thinking of every sale as a single moment where you try to convert them to change their problem-focused mindset and buy your solution (this is the adversarial approach), think of every relationship as a chain. Each link of the chain is a point that you both agree on.

At the beginning of your relationship with the prospect, there is just one link: You agree that they have a problem, need, or challenge. That’s the first link.

Then, instead of trying to sell to them, just build another link of agreement: Engage them to learn more about the problem and find a point of agreement. For example, maybe come to agreement that the problem is a challenging problem. That’s the second link.

Then, instead of trying to sell to them, just build yet another link of agreement: Engage them to learn more about the problem and find another point of agreement. For example, maybe come to an agreement that the problem isn’t going to go away on its own. That’s the third link.

Then, instead of trying to sell, build more agreement. A fourth link. A fifth link. A sixth link. And so on.

Since the prospect has a problem and you have a solution, the points of the agreement can (if you are intentional about the conversation) lead right through a sale.

When you keep building these links of agreement – one small step at a time – you will get to the point where your customer begs you for the solution you’re offering and they’ll eagerly buy it without objection. After all, the two of you have been agreeing the entire time and you know how to solve their problem!

And all you’ve done is create a ‘Chain of Agreement‘ between the two of you, building one link at a time.

HOW TO BUILD A CHAIN OF AGREEMENT WITH A POTENTIAL CLIENT

Start by looking for that first point of agreement. For my financial and real estate clients, it might be something like “this is a tough market to know how to invest” or “it’s not easy to see your retirement fund disappearing” or “it’s time to think about moving“. Just find that one small kernel of agreement. It doesn’t have to be big.

Once you’ve done that, keep talking to them. Keep listening to them. Keep asking questions. As you engage them, they will naturally raise the next issue or thought. Building off of the examples above, maybe it’s “there are many options to invest in but nothing that is a clear win” or “retirement doesn’t seem that far off” or “there are a lot of things to think about before we even think about moving“.

Notice how these are small. Really small. Probably smaller than you were thinking (and definitely smaller than most salespeople would normally address). That makes them easy to find agreement between the two of you.

If you don’t find immediate agreement on something, that is a red flag to you that you missed a link. Maybe the prospect is jumping ahead without realizing it (that happens a lot) or maybe the prospect is floundering around because they don’t know (that happens a lot) or maybe the prospect is worried that you are trying to sell them something and they’re putting up defenses (that happens a lot, too)… or maybe you discover that the solution isn’t right for them.

During your conversations, when you arrive at a link in the chain where you can’t find immediate agreement with the prospect, do one of two things: If you determine that the solution isn’t right for them, shake their hand and leave. Easy. If the solution still seems right for them but there isn’t immediate agreement, then the conversation has advanced too far. You need to back up to the last link of agreement, revisit it to make doubly sure that you both agree, and explore a smaller step that you both agree on.

BEST PRACTICES FOR THE CHAIN OF AGREEMENT

  • Do your research. Know a little about your target market so you can anticipate some of the agreement-links in the conversation. Check out my blogpost 55 questions to answer when defining your sales funnel’s target market.
  • Aim low. Find really small points to agree on. Don’t try to get too much agreement at once.
  • Let the prospect guide you toward the next link and the next link and the next link.
  • Be prepared! Have logical and emotional reasons to back up what you say.
  • Write down each chain of agreement after you’ve been through it (whether or not you sold something). Identify the links as best as you can. See if you can spot common links and common link sequences between conversations with many people.
  • Invest the time. At first, it will seem like this method takes longer. It doesn’t; it only seems like it takes forever because you’re not working toward an adversarial presentation.
  • If this approach is too radical to adopt all at once, try incorporating this method simply in the “fact finding” part of your sales effort. You’ll still gain a lot of benefit without rocking your own boat too much.