293 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest Steven Ross of “Doors Open When You Knock”
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Doors Open When You Knock Real Estate Lead Generation The Old Fashioned Way
Robert: Welcome back to the Mail-Right show. My name is Robert Newman and we are here with episode number 293. Today we are lucky enough to be meeting with Steve Ross and Steven Ross is the anti-real estate agent. He is incredibly successful. He’s been an agent for many years. He’s recently written a book about how he does not get tapped to work nights or weekends and how you can’t even find him online.
He’s going to share a little bit about his book, which contains information that how he does what he does without being an atypical real estate agent. Without any further ado, Steve, if you would do us a favor and share a little bit about yourself with our audience.
Steven: Awesome. Thank you, Robert. Thank you for that introduction. It’s awesome to be here. Thanks for having me. Again, I just want to start off by saying, or acknowledging 293 episodes, man, hats off to you guys because it’s hard to show up week in, week out. I just want to acknowledge it really takes something. Thank you for having me on. That’s really is the journey of real estate, which is really the journey of being successful at anything is showing up time after time.
When I got into real estate, 17 years ago, March 15th, 2005, I got my license, my third child was born six weeks later, my daughter. I had three kids to feed. I’m now in commission only. Maybe not the best idea, but I left the corporate world. I left a medical startup, and now here I am commission only. As you alluded, right, I am the worst person to be a real estate agent. I’m an introvert. I don’t do parties or events. I don’t do open houses. I’m not online.
You could even say I’m antisocial, in a business that’s all about, perceived, at least being social. I had to figure out how the heck am I going to feed these three stinking kids, in a commission-only business when I don’t want to do what’s “required” to be successful. Somehow I ran into a real estate coach and he said, knock on heads, knock on doors, pick one. I thought, dude, seriously knock on doors. Like I’m a US state grad. I’ve worked on wall street, knocking on doors, like that’s for like vacuum cleaning people and, pest control. I’m not knocking on doors.
But few months into the business, I was going to fail if I didn’t talk to more people. I found a way to start this knocking on door thing and 17 years later here I am still here.
Robert: Wonderful. Well, listen. I want to circle back around. I have an infinite number of questions having knocked on quite a few doors myself throughout the course of my career. But before we get into that, I would like to introduce my amazing cohost, John, who is a serial entrepreneur. He is the master of this particular podcast. He’s the person that is behind the scenes, making everything happen for the Mail-Right podcast.. He has not one startup, but two. One of his two startups is focused in the real estate space and helping agents who are just getting into the business or in the first few years of their business being successful using Facebook and CRMs and quite a few other things. But without any further ado, John why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself to our listeners and our viewers.
John: I don’t need to, you did such a great job. I’m just gonna keep it sweet and simple. I’m the founder of Mail-Right. We help you build your real estate business without door knocking. But I just loved Steve’s prior conversations about his book. You are the total opposite of a lot of the things that we plug in this show. I just know you’ll be a great guest Steve. Over back to you Robert.
Robert: My name is Robert Newman. I am a real estate SEO specialist. I’ve been doing it for 14 years. I’m one of only a couple of guys in the US that focuses on search engine optimization. Usually, I focus on longer-term strategies that have a much higher ROI than the short-term strategies that are rife throughout the real estate industry. But if you want to know more about how to market with postcards or how to do SEO or anything else, just go to inboundrem.com. I’ve got I think at this point, close to a hundred articles on there. You can learn everything you need to know.
Without any further ado Steve, at one point in my career, I’ve run canvassing crews for a company called ADT and I’ve had the great pleasure of knocking on quite literally thousands upon thousands of doors and being responsible for people knocking on even more doors. You’re doing door-knocking for real estate. I’m gonna throw you a curveball. Somebody answers the door. How do you introduce yourself to him?
Steven: Well, great. I will answer that, but here’s what I learned very early on. Here’s what’s happening when I’m knocking on someone’s door. Number one, I’m trespassing. Number two, I’m interrupting them because we did not have a scheduled appointment. I learned early on that the old scripts didn’t work so well in terms of creating a relationship, because what’s also true is that the odds of someone moving the day I knock on their door, pretty low. This is again, after my experience of knocking on over 125,000 doors.
The very first thing I do when someone opens the door is, and we can get into all the semantics. I’m stepping back. I’m turned a little sideways. I’m dressed professionally. The first thing I’m doing is saying, hi, I’m Steven, the realtor. I don’t use my last name. I don’t use my company. It’s a smile. I’m Steve, the realtor. They’re usually startled. Then they say, hello. I say well, hi, by the way, usually, because I go out at the same time every day, I’m usually out between 11, 11:30, and 2. Half the people that come to the door, are eating lunch.
They come to the door in mid-bite. After I say that, I say it seems like I caught you right in the middle of lunch, is now a bad time? They say one of two things. Yes or no. Regardless of what they say, I say, well, what I have to say will take less than two minutes. They usually more often or not will say go. They’ve now just given me permission to talk to them. Then I say, I acknowledge, what’s likely true. You probably don’t have any real estate plans this year. They go, yeah, that’s right. I say, well, and you probably haven’t been following the market very closely or, you probably don’t have any questions about the real estate market.
That one, they usually can go either way. But usually, they say not really. I say well great. I’m not here to sell your home. I come by a couple of times a year and I drop off a market update, would you mind if I handed one to you? They always say, no, go right ahead. Hand them the market update. By now I have a pretty good sense of whether they still want to talk to me or not. If they want to talk to me I can go a bunch of different ways and if they don’t, I say, hey, thank you so much. Have a great day. See you next time.
Off I go to the next door. I’m only looking for people who want to talk to me. I’m not trying to convince you, I’m not selling pest control. I’m not selling cable services. I don’t need everyone to like me at every door. I’m trying to find people who are open to talking to me and creating a relationship. That’s what I’m doing at the door. That’s probably more than you asked for.
Robert: No actually you went the direction that I was hoping that you would go. I’m sure Steven, with all of your experience, you’ve probably heard of a guy by the name of Brian Tracy, right?
Steven: I have.
Robert: There are many different sales trainers out there, but Brian did something in one of his books many years ago that I really liked where he coined the term five touch system. Now it’s been around forever, but basically, five touches where you have a prospect and you touch them five times. John alluded to the fact that we talk almost exclusively about digital marketing on this podcast. That’s true. But to say that these traditional methods of selling somebody something or marketing something don’t work is absolutely false.
Door knocking works, postcards work, telemarketing works. They all work. It’s just a matter of how you apply them. What I love about door knocking is, it’s a very powerful first touch. What you’re saying is exactly what I would advise people to do, which is there’s this traditional vacuum cleaner sales thing that says, you have to convince somebody to do something when you’re at their doorstep. I hate that. You give a sentence, you let somebody know what you do. You add one single line of value, and then you take their temperature.
That’s always what I taught my teams to do. If the temperature was bad, you let them go. You move on. It seems to be to me that you have a very similar system or style in place for yourself.
Steven: Yes. We’re totally aligned.
Robert: John, go ahead. Why don’t you take it away? I know I’ve just stolen the guest for like a full five minutes. I’m sorry. I was super excited.
John: No it’s no problem at all. Steven, obviously it’s a catchy phrase, is a catchy title. You’ve got tons of experience, but it’d be just a show book if it was just based on what we just discussed. We’ve got about five minutes before we got to go for break. What are like two to three other real highlights that you want to emphasize, that are key parts of the story of the book, Steve?
Steven: Great. Thanks, John. The book is not about door knocking per se. I use door knocking as a metaphor because in real estate, the way to succeed is to show up in a business that calls for anything but that. We’re all agents. We’re all independent contractors with no boss. No one really cares what we do. On the other hand, if you can show up day in, day out, week in, week out, you can have a pretty good career. That’s so simple yet unbelievably difficult.
Really the book is how do you persevere over time, in this type of environment? I use door knocking, which is the thing that nobody wants to do. What some would say is the hardest thing to do. Most agents build their business other ways. I use door knocking as an example of what it takes to persevere all the time and all the things that get in the way. The chaos of being in real estate. The overwhelm that comes from all these things to manage.
I would say the biggest thing where people get hung up and again, the doors are a great example, is this whole need for instant gratification. Here are the three of us on this call. We’re all in three different states having this like we’re in the same room. We’re used to having things right now. Do you want a package? You want groceries delivered? Boom, click a button it’ll be at our door in two hours.
But true success, and I think Robert was alluding to this, it takes time to really build the business and door-knocking like most other aspects of real estate takes time. People try door knocking or postcards or cold calling or whatever they’re going to do or open house. They do it for a week or two, or a month or two. It’s just not enough time.
Just to have no patience for the process to evolve. I think that’s one of the biggest lessons that I always have to remind myself. I’d like to share with others that it just takes time. Really the joy is to settle in for the journey. Just to enjoy the process and things will work out as long as you stay on the path. That’s really what the book is about. That’s the journey it goes through.
John: Just a quick follow-through question before we go for a break. Then Robert can ask another question. I think you touched this in one of your prior interviews, I totally agree with you. Most people, don’t have the patience or have a process, or they don’t have the financial resources that allow them. But there’s a time where something just isn’t working, and like what Einstein says, the guarantee of failure is repeating, I forgot precisely what he said, but basically is if you keep repeating something that fail, don’t be surprised that you get the same result. Does it just come from the gut when you know that you do have to give up on something?
Steven: That is to a great point. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, expecting different results, I think that’s when you were thinking of, and there is a piece of that. There is a balance. How do you know which one is which? Here’s what I do know. In real estate, it’s not rocket science. This business has been around a long time. Door knocking, not anything new. Open house, nothing new. Working a database of people that know, like, and trust you, nothing new. If you’re going down a proven path and it’s not working, one of two things, either A you just need to give it time, which is what we talked about. Or two, maybe you’re doing something along the process that isn’t working.
It’s you. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of ninja selling, which is a big system in real estate and Larry Kendall, who’s from Colorado and I’ve met him, great guy. I remember him saying, don’t be the person where the room got lighter, because you left. Don’t be the Debbie Downer. It’s easy in real estate when things aren’t going well to be the person that doesn’t bring joy to the room. That causes anxiety and stress. I know I’ve met agents or people, who aren’t aware of how they’re showing up in the world. That’s true. You could be going to the doors or making your calls, but if you’re showing up as greedy, trying obnoxious insensitive, only out for your own interests, people can pick up on that. It could be the process, but it could be you or it could be me. I’ll speak for myself. It is a balance.
John: That’s great we need to go for a break Robert.
Robert: Yes sir. Ladies and gentlemen, when we come back to the Mail-Right show, we’ll be going into the second part of the show and I will be making some observations about the philosophical side of Steven Ross’s comments and digging a little bit into that. But I’m going to end the first part of the show with another quote from another sales trainer, ‘Your attitude impacts your ultimate altitude.” Which is as simple as saying it is slightly bastardized. Anyway, thank you for tuning in. We really appreciate it. John, Steve, you guys were amazing. We’ll be right back.
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Robert: Welcome back to the Mail-Right show where it’s episode 293. We’re here with the amazing Steve Ross and the unstoppable Jonathan Denwood. We are talking about a book called Doors Open When You Knock, which so far to me has felt like both a technical exploration of using door knocking, but as well as a philosophical exploration that impacts the larger pursuit of any business venture, I would say. My observations to you, Steve, is that a lot of what I feel like you’ve been saying is more about the way that you think about doing business, as opposed to the physical way in which you go out and do business. Is that something that you’re talking about in the book?
Steven: That’s very well packed. You’re right on track there. It’s like we planned it. We did not because we just met right before this started.
Robert: You’re talking about philosophy a lot then in your book, you’re talking about the concept, of what your mindset should be before you walk out the door and knock on a door. Is that somewhat accurate?
Steven: Yeah. There’s a little of that in there as well. Yeah. There’s definitely a, again, nothing new. Do you have an abundant mentality or a scarcity mentality and practice of gratitude?
Robert: Okay. Let’s make this a little personal since you’re the person on the show talking to us directly. Do you still do any door-knocking? Is that something in your past? Are you just a writer and a speaker now? Or do you still actually practice this?
Steven: Still sell real estate. I was knocking on doors right up until COVID in March of last year. I was out for a few weeks in October last year. But have not been out since. I’m hoping to maybe be out at the second half of this year, get back up and touch people.
Robert: So you’re getting ready. Here’s a couple of things that I feel like I’ve learned from you today so far. Number one, without really pointing it out dramatically, you kind of seem to indicate that you are disciplined about hitting doors at the same time each day. 11 to 2:30, I think is what you said. Is that correct?
Steven: That’s right.
Robert: Okay. You had some really good reasons for doing that because if you’re out at the same time, you’re going to get some of the same sets of concerns coming from the doors that you’re knocking on, which makes you better prepared. Would you say that that’s true?
Steven: That is true. Yeah.
Robert: Okay. What is your self-talk? As you’re gearing up, you’re awake. The kids are out the door. Everything is set. What is Steve saying to Steve before he walks out the door?
Steven: That’s really good. I actually do it in the car on the way to where I’m going. I don’t knock where I live. I go to certain neighborhoods and but I am very deliberate. I’ve usually if I for some reason, miss my meditation in the morning, actually, that’s not even true. I mostly meditate sometime in mid-morning. Then I get in my car and I go, and then in the car, I’m not making calls, not returning calls, not checking texts. I’m not checking emails. It takes me 10 to 20 minutes to get to wherever I’m going. I’m doing one thing. I’m listening to comedy. That’s what I’m doing.
Why am I listening to comedy? Because it makes me laugh. It puts me in a good mood and I’m light and not serious and not significant because if I want to bring joy and inspiration, I’ve got to be joyful and inspired. For me, it’s comedy. I can’t speak for others, but that puts me, it ranges the chemicals in my body. I am wired. I’m ready. I get out of the car. I’m laughing. I’m in a good mood. Let’s go.
Robert: Got you. All right. Comedy, John, I think there’s something there for you.
John: Oh, English comedy is the best. You must listen to some good English. But basically the concept of door knocking it’s no different. I was interviewing a great guest last week. Robert had a prior arrangement so he couldn’t join me, but I was talking to a guest about the video, and a lot of our agents find it really hard to do video, to put themselves in front. With digital marketing Robert and, we can only get people to show signs to the agent that they might be interested.
The agent still has to make that phone call and then make that appointment to see the individual. In the end, it always comes to that face-to-face interaction. You’re honest in your prior interviews that you’re very much an introvert. Or you feel you are. What do you think the people that hire you, seeing you that they like, so they make this decision to hire you, Steven?
Steven: They hire me because of two things. They implicitly trust me and they have faith and belief in my capability. They feel I’m competent and that gets demonstrated in a couple of ways. One, here’s the thing, if you show up at someone’s door year in, year out, that says something. As opposed to the person, the one postcard they got, or the one person that knocked on their door one time. Going back to what Robert talked about, the multiple touches, my experience, multiple touches face-to-face has made a huge difference.
I see someone for two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight years. They feel like they’ve known me forever. When you’re out walking the neighborhoods, because I’ve knocked on 125,000 doors, I’ve knocked everywhere. My experience in terms of being in neighborhoods and meeting people and understanding migration patterns of where people are moving is really good. That comes across when people ask me questions about what’s happening in the market, areas they should consider etc.
John: That’s great. Over to you Robert.
Robert: I want to talk to you a little bit about a much smaller but mechanical, but very important part of your process. I’ve always found that the most challenging bit. So you’re not going to sell a home when you’re sitting on their doorstep with this first knock or second knock or third knock. That’s not really your next step into the sale, because you don’t have a credit card machine with you or any of those things that many door knockers do. But there’s going to be a point in which your sales starts to get made, I feel when the transference of information happens. That’s when they’re giving you permission or handing you off their information to you with the intention of having a deeper dialogue. Would you agree with that?
Steven: Sure. Yep.
Robert: Okay. Can you give me a couple of examples of how that transference might occur or what you might ask in order to initiate that kind of deeper step into the sales process?
Steven: We go a couple of different ways. I’ll start with the first two obvious ones. The first one is, you and I, Robert are connecting. I feel like we’re engaged. We’re on the same path. I have a decision. I can just add you to my database and decide I’m going to mail to you a couple of times a year, in addition to seeing you at your doorstep. I don’t really need your permission to do that. That part is kind of obvious. But then the next thing is, well, how would I get Robert’s email and phone number and that’s different. One of the more natural ways that happen is, I’m at the door, you’re like, hey, do you know any good sprinkler people? Do you know a painter? Do you know whatever?
I’m always asking is there anything I can help you with? Half the time people will say – depending on the time of year, – hey, do you have a, so-and-so? Great. What’s your email and your phone number? I’ll send it to you. Now I have the information. Or someone says, hey I was curious about some other piece of property or some other question or something about the market. Great. How would you like me to send that to you? You want me to text you, call you or email you? Email.
Well, here. Take my email, but take my phone number because I’m not always on my email. Send me a text after you send it. Okay, great. Now I have their info. You’d be surprised, when I look back through my database of all the people whose info I have. They just naturally gave it to me. They’ve called me for something, texted me something, emailed me for something. Or I was at their door and we had a conversation and it just naturally came up for them to give me their information. It’s always natural for me.
John: Robert, we need to wrap up the podcast. Hopefully, Steven can stay on for another 10, 15 minutes for the bonus. Can you stay on Steve?
John: Yeah. We need to wrap up the show Robert.
Robert: Yes, sir. When we come back, ladies and gentlemen, I will be probably opening up a second dialogue about the concept, because Steve is a natural. I’m a lifetime sales trainer, Steven. That’s what I used to do before I got into digital marketing. One of those things that frustrate me is sometimes salespeople get so far down the journey, they don’t remember the books that they’ve read and the things that they’ve done. But in this little dialogue, you’ve actually used two or three professional sales techniques that I don’t know that you’re calling out. I’m going to call those out and illustrate to our audience, probably why you want to always be reading books.
Why you always want to be learning why you want to be on top of your technique, because it becomes natural, just like Steven said, and you forget that you learned it at some point. Without any further ado, please stay tuned for us. You can find us on the mail-right Youtube channel. Steve if somebody wants to look you up or reach out to you, related to your book, which is Doors Open When You Knock and you can find that book on Amazon, how would you like them to get in touch with you?
Steven: doorsopenwhenyouknock.com. That’s the easiest way to get hold of me.
Robert: John if anybody wanted to talk to you about some digital lead generation, they’re new agents and they’re looking for some ideas about how they might generate a little bit of business for themselves, how would they reach out? How would they touch base with you?
John: Well, thanks for that Robert. It’s really easy just go to the maile-right.com website. You can book a free half-hour session with me. It’s on the about us page or you can phone or email me too on the website Robert.
Robert: Lovely, and ladies and gentlemen, for those of you who might be interested in learning more about SEO, you can always go to inboundrem.com. My information is on my website. We really appreciate you tuning in and we will see you the next time, except for those of us that join us on the YouTube channel for the bonus content.