#167 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest Christopher Scott Stafford Real Estate Agent
A Special Series of Interviews With Successful Real Estate Agents
We discuss what worked for them connected to building up their individual book business
We got a great conversation with Christopher Scott Stafford a highly experienced and successful real estate agent based in San Francisco Bay area who also is trainer and mentor for over real estate agents if you like to topics we cover in this interview you also probably like these two episodes with Beatty Carmichael #158 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest Beatty Carmichael and 161 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest Beatty Carmichael.
Christopher graduated summa cum laude with an accounting degree from Walsh College, a private university in Troy, Michigan. After graduation, Chris passed his CPA examination and worked for Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers) as a certified public accountant. Working in the Detroit, San Diego, New York City and San Francisco offices, he concentrated in the emerging business market, consulting with new business owners and helping them jump-start their businesses. He advised large and small companies about their business practices for 11 years, reviewing hundreds of business plans for start up companies.
Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the Mail-Right Show. It’s episode 167. We’ve got a great guest. We’ve got Christopher Stafford joining us who is a Real Estate Agent, a coach, an entrepreneur and he’s going to be sharing some of his thoughts about the Real Estate industry and what’s also worked for him about generating leads and building his business. Unfortunately, my co-host, Robert, is not with us, but hopefully, he will be back next week. Chris, would you like to introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?
Christopher: Sure. Thanks so much for having me on the show Jonathan. Yeah, I’ve been in the business. I’ve been selling Real Estate in San Fransisco for, my gosh, over 25 years, 26 years. I’m a Real Estate Broker here and Real Estate was always just one of my passions. I started off as a CPA with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and after about 11 years, Jonathan, I said, “I hate this job.” I felt like I was crying. Every night when I would go home I was like, “I just can’t do this anymore.”
Jonathan: Freedom. Give me freedom.
Christopher: Exactly. And then one of my mentors said, “Find your passion. Do something that you’re really interested in,” which was Real Estate. My only regret, I love it, I love helping sellers and buyers. Primarily, I’m a listing Agent here in San Francisco and I’ve never looked back. My only regret in life is I didn’t do it sooner.
Jonathan: That’s great. So, what do you see are some of the major issues that Real Estate Agents in this market at the present moment are facing?
Christopher: Well, you know, as I mentioned to you earlier offline Jonathan, I’m also a Real Estate coach and I’ve been talking to a lot of Realtors across the country and I think that the biggest thing right now is that we’ve had such a good run with Real Estate. I’ve been in the business, as I mentioned to you, a long time. I’ve seen more than one downturn in the Real Estate market and I think that the biggest thing right now that I’m really trying to get Realtors to do is to just be consistent in their activities. It’s really easy when the market is so great and it’s steaming hot right now. We’re starting to see some signs of some slow down in the rest of the country. It’s almost like we’re order takers. I don’t know what the market is in your particular area, whoever is listening to this right now.
But in San Francisco and a lot of the marketplaces I’m familiar with you put a place on the market and you get 16 offers and it’s selling way over the asking price and you don’t really have to have a lot of skill to sort of deal with that. I think it’s when the market takes a downturn and this is really what I’m trying to get Realtors to do is to be consistent in their prospecting. You’ve got to learn the skills in how to find listings. I think that’s a very difficult thing for, including myself, it’s a really difficult thing for a lot Realtors to do.
Jonathan: I think you’ve put that so well actually Chris. Thanks for that. So, what are some of the things that you recommend around getting that consistency?
Christopher: Well, that’s a really good question because I think that one of the biggest things for me, and I love saying this, is that, you know, Tony Robbins always said that, “Success is really 80 percent mindset and 20 percent is just technique.” So, the first thing I think that Real Estate Brokers, I really trying to do and that’s part of my program, my Real Estate program, my coaching program, is I concentrate, not just on hardcore Real Estate techniques, but I’m also concentrating on and what we can do to be the best person we can.
Let’s face it. Getting on the phone, we are salespeople. We’re not sitting around the water coolers eating donuts trying to find listings. We are really having an epic listing business. We really need to be salespeople and we need to be on the phones and looking for sellers every single morning. I do that 2 hours a day. I do that every single morning and I think that’s really key for us to do that. But you can’t do that and you can’t develop that consistency practice without starting off your day and doing the right thing with your mind, doing the right things with your body, working out, meditating. So I have a very strict regimen that I use every single morning to get myself ready and get myself into the zone and I think that everybody has to find that for themselves.
But for me, it’s meditating every single morning, swimming, working out, doing some kind of exercise, coming home, journaling, writing your goals, having nutritious breakfasts. And I swear to God when I do that every single morning, I’m on fire and I really feel good about getting on a phone and prospecting for new listings. And so, I think that’s the biggest thing that everybody has to do. And at the risk of being long-winded Jonathan just one other quick thing too.
If you’re not prospecting consistently every single morning, what you’ve got to do is you have to develop that habit and I strongly recommend people just take baby steps. If you really want to start calling your sphere of influence or you really want to start calling expired listings, start with just small little steps to help you develop that consistency and the small steps that you take, the more you do those small steps successfully, you gain more momentum, you gain more confidence to want to do more. So, yeah. I brought that plane in for a landing Jonathan.
Jonathan: You certainly did. And it’s so important folks because obviously, with the Mail-Right platform and some of the other platforms that generate online leads, basically, you’re still going to have to communicate with that lead.
Jonathan: You’re still going to have to have that one to one conversation on the phone probably and then in person. Online leads obviously they’re not in any shape or form to the same quality as a really strong personal referral, but there techniques and methodologies that make them much more warmer than a cold phone call. But in the same context of what you’re saying Chris, you’re still going to have to call them, you’re still going to have to engage them in conversation and then do that presentation to them for them to sign up and be your client. So that personal side cannot be removed, can it Chris?
Christopher: It cannot be removed and I think that what you guys are doing with this podcast, which I think is just amazing and the whole leads system, that’s all great, that’s all phenomenal. But if you have 60 leads sitting on your desk and you’re not contacting and not only just contacting them initially, but where a lot of people fall down too is follow-up, you know, in following up with these people. So, yeah, that’s absolutely key.
Jonathan: The other factor I’d like your opinion on. I’m still amazed at the amount of active Real Estate Agents that have a got a reasonable career, but they’re really not building up a database and really not doing anything with that database. Is that something you observe quite regularly and have you got any reasons why people resist building a database?
Christopher: That’s really a good question Jonathan because I think that the one thing that blows my mind is there are some people that go out and they’ll do cold calls, they’ll knock on doors, they do expired listings and these people are constantly rejecting and I don’t understand why people don’t follow-up with their sphere of influence or as you would say, to build your database, call your sphere of influence. I think is so key.
I think calling your sphere of influence should be the foundation of any salesman’s business, including Real Estate Brokers and if you’re not doing that, then you’re really shooting yourself in the foot. And the funny thing is Jonathan, I think you hit the nail on the head because the truth is there’s so many Agents that don’t. I coach Real Estate Agents that are making big bucks and they are doing all these elaborate systems and doing these cold calls and this and that and yet, they won’t call their family and friends and ask them for referrals.
And to me, it blows my mind and you know I say, “You’re being rejected by these people all the time. What do you care if you ask them for referrals?” And I’ve got a really easy line that I always say to people. I say, “Number one, start small. Maybe call one or two people a day.” I’m calling on average roughly 15 to 25 people in my sphere of influence every morning. I do that first thing in the morning, that’s the first thing I do before I do expired calls, call probate attorneys or anything else. And the easiest thing to say to them is, chances are you can always get the conversation to be about Real Estate and one of my favorite lines to say to them is, “Hey, you know the,” because they always ask about Real Estate and I say, “Listen, the problem that we have with San Francisco Real Estate right now is we have a shortage of listings. So we need more listings. So if you know anybody that’s even remotely thinking about selling, let me know.” And to me, that’s such an easy thing, that’s any easy ask because you’re not coming right out and saying, “Do you have any referrals?” But you’re also identifying a problem and you’re having the person sort of participate in the solution to that problem and to me, I think that’s really a sort of soft pedal and a great way to introduce the whole asking for referrals concept with your sphere of influence. I just don’t understand why Agents don’t do it more.
Jonathan: Right. But the strange thing is, isn’t it, there’s never been a better time to get leads because you’re in an industry that most people love looking at homes, seeing videos, learning about other homes. As an Agent, you’re dealing with, it’s not plumbing, is it? It’s a lot more sexier. So to get people’s interest, is a lot more easier if you market yourself online effectively. Would you agree with that?
Christopher: Oh, absolutely. A lot of my friends call it Realtor porn. They love getting online and they love looking at listings and they’re sort of addicted to it. That’s a really good point and I just don’t understand it too because Dale Carnegie, I think there’s a quote from Dale Carnegie, I may get these numbers wrong but it said something crazy like, “87 percent of your friends and family want to give you referrals and yet only 11 percent of salespeople ask for referrals.” So there’s this huge disconnect between what you think in your own head and what your friends and family are willing to do for you. Nothing sucks more Jonathan than driving down the street and seeing a For Sale sign from another company in your friend’s front yard.
Jonathan: It’s not great, is it?
Christopher: Absolutely. Absolutely you need to be calling your sphere of influence for sure.
Jonathan: So you said you’ve got some high performing Agents as your clients in your consultancy practice. Why do they hire you? Is it they’ve just got to a certain level which is very profitable but they can’t move their business? What are some of the reasons why they hire you when they’ve got a certain level of success but they feel they’ve got to hire you to help them?
Christopher: Well, I think that for a number of reasons. So I have a program called the Top Producer Collective and it’s a coaching program that not only do I provide coaching but it’s also accountability and it’s a Mastermind and I think those are two critical components because my average sales price in San Francisco is a little over $2,000,000 per house and I’ve been in the business for a really long time. I’m doing okay in Real Estate and having a great life here in Real Estate but I will tell you, I’ve been in the business for a long time.
Every single of those years, I have always been in some kind of Mastermind group and I’ve also been in some kind of accountability group because the bottom line is whether you’re making $5,000,000 a year in Real Estate or $50,000 a year in Real Estate. If you want to get better or you want to say where you’re at, it’s really important to have a group around you that is supporting you because we’re all entrepreneurs. We’re all sort of like on an island trying to do this by ourselves and when you try to do things by yourself, it just never works. So I think being part of a Mastermind group where you can get motivated, you can get incentives, you get great ideas from what other Real Estate Agents are doing in different marketplaces. I think that’s been invaluable to me.
I’m in a Mastermind group right now and I will continue to be in Mastermind group because it gives me the greatest high, not only being able to be coach and motivated by these people and learn all kinds of new ideas and the same thing with accountability. I have an accountability person that I have to report to every single Friday. I have goals set and I’ve got to report those goals to them on Friday. So, to answer your question, I think it’s really important for all of us that want to succeed, no matter what level you’re at, is to get that accountability and to mastermind with other successful individuals. It is just a great thing for your business.
Jonathan: Thanks for that. I think we’re going to go for our break and when we come back, we’ll continue this great discussion with Chris and we’ll be back in a few moments folks.
Male Voice in Commercial: Do you want quality leads from homeowners and buyers right in your own neighborhood? Then you need Mail-Right. It is a powerful, but easy to use, Online Marketing system that uses Facebook to generate Real Estate leads at a fraction of the cost you’d pay from our competition. We stand behind our work with a no question asked 30-day money back guarantee. So don’t delay. Get started today. Go to mail-right.com.
Jonathan: We’re coming back. We’ve had a great conversation with Chris. I’m missing my co-host, Robert. We’ll give a break, won’t we folks? He missed this episode. He’s a naughty boy. There we go. I was thinking during the end of our, on part one of our conversation Chris is that, as you were talking about the benefits of mentorship and of coaching, what do you hear and what do you see are some of the more effective ways of generating leads online?
Christopher: Yeah. I’d say one of the best things to generate leads online is people that really know Facebook ads are really having a lot of success. The only thing that I’d say about Facebook ads is that you’ve got to be really careful with Facebook ads. If you’re not an IT person, like I’m not an IT person at all, you can blow through a lot of money if you really don’t know what you’re doing. You can wake up one day and say, “Oh my God.” I talked to one woman, a Real Estate Agent in South Carolina, and she was so proud of herself because she set up this huge Facebook campaign and all that. She ended up spending $800 over the course of like 2 weeks or 3 weeks and I asked her, I said, “Well, how many leads did you get?” And she said, “Well, I got one really good lead, but I haven’t signed the listing yet.” And I said, “So, you spent $800 to get one lead on Facebook?” I’m like, “Ahhhhh.” So you’ve got to be really careful with Facebook. I like doing more expired listings, calling your sphere of influence, getting personal referrals, that type of thing.
Jonathan: Yeah. I understand where you’re coming from. It depends on what you call a lead, doesn’t it? There a lot of confusion and misinformation and you always have to have that conversation with an Agent. What do they see in their mind as a lead? What do you classify a lead as Chris?
Christopher: Well, for me, it’s somebody that’s going to sell in the next 6 months. So there’s some room in that. If somebody does say they’re going to sell in 12 months, I’ll probably put them on my follow-up list, put them into my CRM. But, yeah. Anybody that’s going to sell in the next week to 6 months, to me, that’s a lead.
Jonathan: Yeah. That’s a reasonable attitude. I would agree with that. A reasonable quality online lead, I would broaden it out between 6 and 12 months, but from 1 week to 6 months is realistic.
Jonathan: I think one of the factors that a lot of Agents don’t realize is the volume of online leads that you’ve got to generate because even with a quality campaign, you’re probably going to only get a 3 percent result. So 100 people coming to your online funnel, your online system. If you can get 3 percent of those that turn into a signed contract, that’s a high. On average, it’s going to between 1 and 2 percent. So you can see compared to your more traditional lead generation methodologies, you’ve got to have a lot of people going into that online funnel.
Christopher: Absolutely agree with that.
Jonathan: And I think a lot of agents don’t understand that, do they?
Christopher: No. Yeah. I absolutely, totally agree with that. You know and it’s something that’s similar, I was going to say when you said 3 percent, I was going to say, “Yeah, 2 to 3 percent,” because that’s no different than knocking on doors, calling, well, maybe not calling expireds, but just general cold calling. You’re going to have probably a 2 to 3 percent return on your energy.
Jonathan: And follow through is really important. So you say you use a CRM yourself. Which one do you use personally?
Christopher: Well, right now, I’m using Vulcan7. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Vulcan7.
Jonathan: No, I haven’t.
Christopher: It’s a pretty robust CRM because not only does it act as a CRM and allows you to follow-up in the future with people, but it also has an expired listing component. So basically, what’s really cool is they tell you all the new listings in your marketplace every single morning. So you just have a whole list of expired listings that you can call. And the best part about it too and I’m not a spokesman for them. I get nothing for this. But the best part of them too is it does also call you. It makes the calls for you.
Christopher: It makes your calling really easy.
Jonathan: Right. So basically, what is the kind of methodologies, the conversations, the scripts that you use with these expireds then Christopher?
Christopher: You know I keep it really simple when I’m calling expireds. First of all, I try to establish, am I talking to the right person? And then, when I am talking to the right person, I usually say something on the order of, “I just saw that your house just came off the market. Do you have any plans on putting it back on the market?” And wait for their answer. A lot of times they’ll say, “No. Forget it. We’re never going to put it back on the market.” If that’s the case, I’ll try to follow-up with some other questions just probing to them to see why your house didn’t sell and all that good stuff. But if they do say, “We’re going to put the place back on the market in the next 3 months, 6 months, 12 months,” whatever, then I’ll ask them questions again why their house didn’t sell. I’ll try to get the appointment at that point. I do not stay on the phone a long time with them. I don’t ask like 18 questions like a lot of people tell you to do. I’m just not into it. I try to get the appointment. If I don’t get the appointment, what I do say is, “Would you mind if I send a card to you?” And what I do then is instead of sending a card, frequently what I’ll do is I put a pre-listing package that I have, “If anybody is interested in my pre-listing package, just hit me up. Send me an email.” But I take a pre-listing package which is a really nice thing with testimonials, referrals and what my marketing plan is and I put it in a nice folder and I put it an express mail envelope. So I’ll either go to the post office and mail it express mail or I will actually hand deliver it and knock on the door and give it to them.
Jonathan: All right. That’s a nice personal touch. I agree with that. Yeah, I do. That’s a nice touch. One of the other factors is I think one thing a lot of Agents don’t understand is almost like, I understand it’s that 70 percent of communication is non-verbal, but you’re mostly dealing with phone conversations a lot of the time. A lot of Agents, they’re on the phone a lot and what I don’t think they realize, I just want to see if you agree is that the tone of your voice, the way that you come across in that first 10 seconds really is going to be a strong element connect to if the conversation is going to continue. Would you agree with that?
Christopher: Absolutely. I think that’s absolutely key. When they answer the phone, you can find out if somebody’s North East of London or if somebody’s from the deep South or if somebody’s really tired, no matter what it is. What you should try to do and this is no surprise to a lot of salespeople is try to mimic the way that they’re talking. And a lot of times it’s really important. People aren’t, when they’re first talking to you, they’re not going to know that you’re mimicking them. So a lot of times people feel uncomfortable mimicking other people. But you want to mimic their tone, their tonality, the rate of their speech if they’re talking slower. I’m from Mid-west. I talk really super fast as you can tell, but I really try to make an effort to really match their, if somebody answers the phone and is, “Hello,” [speaking slowly] well, I’m going to answer the phone and say, “Hello.” [speaking slowly] I’m going to speak slower. I’m going to try to match their speech as much as possible. I think that’s so important.
Jonathan: Yeah. I think that’s a really good point and it’s a point that a lot of Agents don’t realize. I’ve been in rooms where people, Agents have been calls and there’s a reason why God gave you two ears and one mouth, isn’t it?
Christopher: Right. Exactly.
Jonathan: You should be listening a bit more and it just seems to be kind of verbal diarrhea to some extent.
Christopher: Well, exactly. Because if you’re talking to a seller and they’re from Alabama and they’ve got that twang and they got that real slow rate of speech and you’re sitting there like me and talking 100 miles an hour, they’re going to be totally turned off by you and conversely. Somebody that is from the North, they’re not going to have that or somebody that speaks really slow, whatever it is. They’re just going to be turned off. It’s all about building rapport people.
Jonathan: So, in our pre-show chat, you talked about a book that you’ve written. Would you like to tell the listeners and viewers about that Chris?
Christopher: Oh, sure. Absolutely. Well, I wrote a book. It’s actually called MASSIVE ABUNDANCE: How to Create Passion, Purpose and Prosperity in Your Life. It came out of some really bad things that happened to me in my life, health-wise, relationship-wise and all that. Wrote this book and that’s when I started the coaching program and if anybody wants to go to my website, they can reach me there, ask me any questions. My website is epiclistingagent.com and if you hit me up there at epiclistingagent.com or on Facebook Epic Listing Agent, I will send you the book for free.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. How many pages is it Chris?
Christopher: It’s 3. I don’t even know. I think it’s like 225 or something.
Jonathan: Oh, it’s not a then. That sounds totally manageable. Also, Chris, what’s the best ways of getting hold of you an Agent or a Coach?
Christopher: Absolutely. You can see my coaching program, the Top Producer Collective on my website and you can also email me off my website. Again, that’s epiclistingagent.com and I’m on Facebook also at Epic Listing Agent.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. I’ve got one final question. What has been the one person reflecting that has in the Real Estate industry that you respect the most or has influenced you the most?
Christopher: Wow. I would have to say, wow, nobody has ever asked me that. That’s a good question, Jonathan. Probably one of my strongest mentors would be George McNab who is one of the owners of the company where I work. He’s an attorney by background and training, but he just has the most insightful ways of looking at Real Estate, not only Real Estate sales, which is how I first started following him, but then, also Real Estate investing. And so, I’ve followed a lot of his advice in terms of investing in Real Estate myself. So he’s had probably, over the years, the biggest impact on me.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. So we’re going to wrap up this podcast. We’re going to have another great guest next week. Hopefully, Robert will be able to join me and we’ll see you next week folks where we hopefully will give you some insights and information that will help you become a more effective Real Estate Agent and get that success that you’re looking for, not only for yourself, but for your family. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.