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ILLINOIS MORTGAGE EDITION

Four Principles to

DEVELOP A GREAT TEAM If it’s Good for the Soul,

IT’S GOOD FOR THE BUSINESS

COVER STORY

RYAN COTTER

The Power of Testimonials & Making Word-of-Mouth Count


ILLINOIS MORTGAGE EDITION

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RYAN COTTER

CONTENTS 4) IF IT’S GOOD FOR THE SOUL, IT’S GOOD FOR THE BUSINESS 6) 6 METHODS FOR BUILDING BETTER EMAIL LISTS 15) TAKE MY WORD FOR IT: THE POWER OF TESTIMONIALS & MAKING WORD-OF-MOUTH COUNT

18) MANAGERS AND TEAM BUILDERS: FOUR PRINCIPLES TO DEVELOP A GREAT TEAM 22) 9 THINGS THE BEST LEADERS NEVER SAY

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If it’s good for the soul,

IT’S GOOD FOR THE BUSINESS

Visibility, name recognition and knowing you’re supporting the community that makes your success possible are good reasons to take part in community service. But how is it that some people seem to be able to give time to charities while running their own businesses, managing their own families and households, exercising regularly, attending sporting events and concerts, eating well and sleeping seven or eight hours a night? The truth is, not all agents are able to do everything so easily. But more important is the fact that no one needs to do everything all of the time. The trick is to make sure that, whatever you do holds meaning. REALTORS® and mortgage professionals who seem the most gregarious in their community outreach are those whose giving seems to fill their own souls. When their 4

volunteer efforts or donations directly impact causes they or their clients care deeply about, “giving back” becomes energizing. Jason O’Quinn of Prime Lending in Dallas Texas, for instance, says that his family’s ongoing work building homes for some of the poorest families in Honduras fills him immeasurably. “It rejuvenates me,” he says. “There’s quite a dichotomy between the houses we build there and the houses we finance here,” he says. “It refocuses me, going from financing $1 million homes in Dallas to physically laying cinderblock for $10,000 homes in Honduras. Everything has more meaning when we sacrificially give of our time, talent and treasure.” The longtime “big picture” for Colorado REALTOR® and property manager, Linda

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Todd, for instance, has included giving back to the community, whether serving as a lead carpenter for Habitat for Humanity, making deliveries for Meals on Wheels, or pitching in for the sake of baseball. And through her lifelong passion for baseball, she harmoniously blended her personal interests, her work and her community service. For many years, she was so involved Little League the local league named a new field after her. “I cried for 3 days after they told me that!” She and her husband also started a scholarship fund for junior college baseball players and serve as a host family for the rookie league of the Colorado Rockies, putting up newly drafted players in their home. For Florida REALTOR® and property manager, Mario Gonzalez, neither his business nor his primary community outreach would exist without the other. A retired U.S. Navy pilot, Mario formed his brokerage, Navy to Navy Homes, when he saw a need for military personnel to find affordable homes to purchase. “We got into it to help, but that led to a full-blown real estate business.” Besides providing opportunities for investment and homeownership, the company donates 35% of every commission to Homes for Heroes, veterans’ groups, or organizations benefiting fire, police, medical organizations, churches and homeless shelters. “We’re small, but we give so much back that we were the top Homes for Heroes company in Florida and

top-five nationwide.” But he does none of this for the attention. His friends may call him the “Humble Hero of Heroes,” but helping is Mario’s passion. “To be such a small business and be the top Homes for Heroes affiliate is mind boggling!” Like Mario, for many, the best service takes place in simple and quiet ways. Illinois REALTOR®, Susie Scheuber, for example, takes a humble approach to giving back. Although she donates a portion of every commission check to the Children’s Miracle Network, she doesn’t discuss this with clients unless they happen to ask. “I do it because I want to and because, to me, giving back is the right thing to do when you’ve been fortunate in business and life,” says Susie. We all know how inertia works; the more energized we get by certain behaviors, the more likely we are to continue those behaviors. For some top agents, community outreach has become such a natural routine of their daily lives that they never find it burdensome. A good way to add community service into your life, therefore, is through the causes that mean the most to you. For starters, consider giving a small donation after closing to the charity of your client’s choosing. Learning the different causes that they care about just might foster a new mission for you.

If you have a unique story to share about how your community outreach has impacted your life and your business or inspired others, click here for consideration in our magazines: www.topagentmagazine.com/nominate-a-real-estate-agent-to-be-featured Top Agent Magazine

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6 Methods for Building Better Email Lists By Kendra Lee

Email lists can be a blessing or a curse. When they’re composed of real email addresses of people in your target micro-segment, and those people recognize you or your company by name, an email list is an invaluable lead generation resource. When the list is filled with contacts who don’t know of you or your company, i.e. a cold list, lead generation can be though – really tough. Likewise, if your list is populated with fake, inactive, or irrelevant accounts you’re at risk of being banned by your email software provider. Not surprisingly, I hear from clients all the time asking how to build an email list that will get results for their campaigns. Should they purchase? Should they attempt to build their own? Remember that with email list building your goal is to build a list of people within your micro-segment, so quality is more important than quantity. The more similar the contacts, the easier it is to tailor your nurturing and lead generation content to their specific needs. Here are six methods that will help you build a quality email list. 6

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Nurturing and lead generation activities: When you engage in social media, nurturing activities, SEO, and Adwords, those mediums provide forums for you to drive people to your website, start a conversation via a social channel, attend an event you’re hosting, and add people to your list. People who respond really do want to be part of your list.

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Membership organizations: Whether it’s through industry associations, mastermind groups, or networking events, these types of organizations provide an excellent means for collecting contact information. Generally, people will update or provide their own information because they want other members to have easy access to them so you know the data is current.

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Shared lists: By finding a peer who targets a similar microsegment with a non-competitive offering, you may be able to forge a partnership in which you promote to each other’s lists. This happens frequently within the high tech space, with consultants, and with professional services organization where they understand the value of collaboration.

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Research the web and build your own: Increasingly, we’re seeing companies comb LinkedIn, Zoominfo. com, InsideView.com, DiscoverOrg.com and other websites for contact information, and then follow-up with companies to confirm the validity of that information. This approach is time consuming, but it can be very effective. A client who we coached through this process recently got a 41% open rate on their email nurturing campaign. I really like DiscoverOrg for the detailed information they have if you’re selling in the IT or telecom industry.

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Purchase lists: There are numerous companies that sell email lists, but you need to be careful which vendor you buy from

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and how much you spend. Prices typically range from hundreds to several thousand dollars depending on list specificity and size. One warning: Expect higher bounce rates with these lists and negotiate for that issue when you purchase. To avoid high bounce rates, look for a list company that validates the information. In this way I’ve been very pleased with ExchangeLeads for new lists and validation of current lists. If you don’t have any list, this may be the way to get started.

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Trade information for information: Sites like ExchangeLeads and Data.com community give you credit for providing contact information for companies you’ve worked with in the past. As you earn credit, you can use it to acquire lists for free. These services generally have a fee option as well, and the data integrity is dependent upon users keeping it current. Again, look for companies that validate data to reduce bounce rates and wasted time. I really like ExchangeLeads for trading information as well as purchasing it.

Ultimately, my advice would be to focus as much on the organic list building methods (#s 1-4) as possible, and supplement with the purchased methods (#s 5 and 6) when necessary. If you start with a purchased list, plan to nurture it and build your recognition. Don’t toss it away if you don’t get immediate results. At the end of the day, you want to strive for list quality over list quantity. Pushing your messaging out to unwitting, uninterested, or unsuspecting prospects won’t do anything to help you close more deals. Contact details for Kendra Lee: Phone: 303-741-6636 (Old fashioned, but very effective.) Email: Info@klagroup.com (Yes, I get every one of these personally.) Twitter: @KendraLeeKLA (And I do follow all direct messages on Twitter!) KLA Group is a sales consulting and training firm focused on helping clients get more customers in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment through lead generation, prospecting, hiring and onboarding strategies. Copyright©, Kendra Lee. All rights reserved. 8

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RYAN COTTER Top Agent Magazine

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RYAN COTTER Loan Officer Ryan Cotter – Illinois, Chicago Market Leader for Movement Mortgage – is a consummate professional who truly commits himself to providing his clients with the very best 10Copyright Top Agent Magazine

service available in the Land of Lincoln. As a real estate developer, Ryan is able to assist his clients with a broad spectrum of advice that 99.99% of his competitors cannot. Top Agent Magazine


Ryan’s interest in the mortgage and real estate industries began at a very early age. “Most kids watch cartoons on Saturday mornings,” says Ryan with a laugh, “but I would wake up and watch This Old House”. It was then that I knew I was going to own property.” His first job in the mortgage business was an internship in 1996 still in college, and since then he has firmly established himself as a trusted, exceptional Mortgage Broker. Top Agent Magazine

Supported by an equally-dedicated team, Ryan works diligently to ensure that each and every transaction runs as smoothly as possible. As one of the top mortgage/real estate professionals in the country, Ryan is committed to educating his buyers about the transaction process, keeping them informed every step of the way. His expertise has landed him multiple appearances Copyright Top Agent Magazine11


on numerous media outlets, including the NBC, WGN and CLTV television networks, and he has been frequently featured in publications that include Crain’s Chicago Business and The Chicago Tribune, among many others. Ryan’s stellar success has also led to his being asked to co-author an upcoming book entitled Money Matters – Real Estate Edition, which will outline his 4-3-2-1 steps to financial freedom. Perhaps the most solid indicator of Ryan’s excellent customer service is the fact that the entirety of his business is based on positive word-of-mouth. “A lot of that has to do with the fact that as a real estate developer, I’m able to educate both clients and Realtors in the multifamily space with low down payment programs and renovation programs, and how little it takes 12Copyright Top Agent Magazine

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to get into these kinds of income-producing properties,” he explains, “and how they can produce generational wealth that can be passed down to their kids.” Ryan is also committed to giving back to his community, and does so through a wide variety of ways, including his founding of a charity called Real Estate Rumble, through which real estate agents take to the boxing ring to raise money for charities, most recently the Big Brothers Big Sisters, for Top Agent Magazine

which he raised over $60,000 last year, and for other organizations that benefit at-risk youth. When asked what he enjoys most about what he does for a living, Ryan grows thoughtful for a moment before replying. “I love that I get to see people buy a building, fix it up, move in and completely change their lives. Buying a multifamily unit isn’t for everyone, but when they do, they become business owners, and something changes in Copyright Top Agent Magazine13


them for the positive. I see it all the time. I frequently have clients calling me to see if they can buy another one.” Looking to the future, Ryan’s primary plan is to create a larger Midwest footprint for

Movement Mortgage. “Of all the companies I’ve worked with,” he says, “this one has the strongest moral compass. We currently specialize in the Southeast and East Coast, but they’re such a great organization I want to get their story out here in the Midwest.”

For more information about Ryan Cotter, please call 312-607-1111 or email Ryan.Cotter@movement.com http://www.justingrable.com

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Take My Word for It:

The Power of Testimonials & Making Word-of-Mouth Count Ratings, reviews, and testimonials are among the most powerful tools an agent or real estate professional has at his or her disposal. Think of it this way: almost all of us go online to get a sense of dining options, film scores, and product reviews. When it comes to real estate pros, people what the same measure of comfort and advice from those who have already experienced your services. The Top Agent Magazine

bottom line is this: testimonials create a relatable emotional appeal to others, while giving potential clients some first-hand insight into your ability to deliver. With all that in mind, consider the valuable rationale behind testimonials and word-ofmouth attention: how to harness it, and what it can do for you and your business.

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Testimonials and word-ofmouth buzz build your brand If you aren’t displaying positive testimonials and reviews on your social media outlets and website, then you’re missing out on a key opportunity. Those exploring your pages are likely seeking real estate representation, and reviews and testimonials serve as a first-hand glimpse into who you are and what you can do. If you can, try to tie reviews and testimonials to specific names or social media handles, as you’ll be highlighting the interpersonal component at play. Think of it this way: potential clients are more likely to trust the experiences of past clients than to place blind faith in your pitch, which is crafted to create a sale. Most customers would rather look to the experience of fellow consumers before taking your word for it, sight unseen. Well-place testimonials and personal reviews can bridge the gap when it comes to your brand and the prospective client.

Testimonials and word-ofmouth buzz demonstrate your value compared to others Good agents are a dime a dozen, but top agents stand apart from the pack for a variety of reasons. Chief among those reasons is the ability to differentiate themselves from the norm by highlighting their personalities, their track records, their values. Testimonials and wordof-mouth buzz don’t just focus on whether an experience was good or bad. It dives into the details of personality and consumer relationships. While the qualifications of many agents might be similar, you can stand out by show16

casing stellar reviews and testimonials that shine upon your character and delivery. When pitched by two agents with similar experience and credentials, but only one has the testimonials featuring positive experiences and lasting relationships—wouldn’t you be more inclined to work with the agent who has a proven track record of success?

Do your homework and compile the testimonials that will drive your business At the close of a transaction, consider providing a comment card with room for clients to write a few reflections, or create an e-mail ready online form that makes submitting feedback a breeze. You can also touch base via e-mail and ask politely for a review of their experience with you. Referred or repeat clients are excellent candidates for testimonials, as they will already know your business well, or will likely be happy to contribute their perspective. If asking for testimonials makes you cringe, you can always incentivize this process in minor ways. For example, you could offer a fun, cost-effective gift certificate in exchange for a testimonial. Whichever way you gather testimonials that speak to your positive performance, there is no question that these documented first-hand experiences are priceless when it comes to drawing and retaining clients. If you want to inspire interest and build a living brand, there is no better method than by having clients vouch for your working style.

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Managers and Team Builders: Four Principles to Develop a Great Team By Carla Cross “I work alone.” “I don’t need to be a member of a ‘team’”. We’re heard that for years in the real estate industry. Yet, the strongest, fastestgrowing real estate companies have team building as part of their cultures. Agents who want to expand their businesses create teams. So, TEAM is no longer a four-letter word. The importance and implementation of leadership through teamwork and synergy is back in style in the real estate industry. 18

Why Building a Strong Team is Important to Agents AND Management

As with all industries, the real estate industry is evolving. We’ve gone through the ‘go it alone’ phase. Because we’ve gotten more sophisticated in business. We realize that no one succeeds alone. We understand now that people working together create something more substantial than the sum of the parts. In addition, Top Agent Magazine


with the challenges in the business, we finally get that many minds focused on the same task can accomplish much more than each person working as his own little island. Supporting this trend, strong company cultures have emerged which encourage and reward teamwork instead of solely independent achievement.

Do you have a job description for each of your team positions? Do you provide it prior to hiring?

Talking About Team-Building is a Slam-Dunk

It’s much easier to talk about teamwork than to create a team. One of the reasons is that most of us have never worked as a team before. As an agent, I didn’t create a team. But, in my management career, I worked to create teams with common focus. How did I learn how to create great teams? An Unlikely Place to Learn Teamwork

My first experiences in great teams, and then leading teams--comes from the world of music. I’ve created and Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “People led teams as a jazz musician. I’ve acting together as a group can accom- played in exceptional orchestras plish things which no individual (I’m a flutist). I’ve seen conductors acting alone could ever hope to bring pull together one hundred disparate, temperamental, independent musicabout.” ians as an inspiring team. (It’s a lot If you’ve ever played on a sports like managing a real estate office!). team, you know the chaos that en- So, the four truisms here come from sues when every player tries to be the my experience in both worlds—the star—to go her own way. That’s not musical performance world and the a team. That’s a group. You may also world of real estate team-building. know the joy of playing on a team that shares a common focus and It’s Not Just About Developing commitment to excellence. What a YOU as a Leader difference! What if you could bring that into your real estate office or You may think that, as a leader, your your agent team? job is to find team members that Top Agent Magazine

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Just because people accept a position doesn’t mean they know how to proceed with the job. They need to have clear direction, a job description and a firm understanding of the responsibilities--prioritized. Do you have a job description for each of your team positions? Do you provide it prior to hiring? Do you coach to One of the differences between lead- it? Do you help your team members ing a group and leading a team is that, get so good at it that they can start in a successful team, team members training new team members (move also become leaders, and think like into leadership)? leaders, looking out for the good of the team, not just for themselves, In “Teamwork is the primary other words, will work well together. That’s true, as far as it goes. But, your ultimate job is to train and coach those team members to start doing some of the leadership jobs you’ve done. That way, you can keep moving to higher levels of leadership. You can expand and sell your business.

ingredient of success.”

Leaders develop leadership on their team.

Otherwise, leaders are not really leading. They’re managing—or micromanaging. From developing leadership over a couple of decades, I’ve found four major truisms for developing your team with strong internal leadership. These principles apply whether you’re in management or in sales interested in building a team.

Principle #2: People don’t know WHAT to do to get the job done. Even if you hire someone who has real estate experience, it doesn’t work to leave it to them to figure what exactly needs to be done—from your point of view. They don’t know your priorities. They don’t know how you work. Do you have processes and systems in place to teach them exactly what needs to be done?

The Principles to Developing Team Leadership

Principle #3: It’s your job to teach them HOW.

Principle #1: People don’t know what’s expected of them.

Some people think “leaders” are the “idea people” and aren’t supposed to

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get into implementation. But if you want your team to excel, you must show them how. Having worked with assistants for over 15 years, I have found that assistants and team members need help in systemizing any process that you want done. They need help in developing dialogues to deal with affiliates and consumers in the way you expect. They are good at systemizing their own processes-but not good at all at systemizing ours! Help them.

regularly”. Hold your team members accountable for each step along the way to completion of a task as well as the end result. Do you have solid, measurable benchmarks from which to measure? How do you know you and they are succeeding?

All systems in place? Do you have foundational systems in place from which to improvise? Do you have a solid training program to bring a new team member on board? Do you a method to ‘clone’ yourself to develop someone who can take over your job?

Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest football coaches of all time, said of teamwork, “Teamwork is the primary ingredient of success.”

The pay-off for developing competency and leadership skills in all of your team members is a business that is ‘owned’ by all those involved, with empowerment assured.

Your goal is to develop processes, systems, and training for your team members—all which reflect your philosophy of how you do business. Principle #4: When accountability They reflect your values and your factors aren’t built in, things don’t culture. Bring them into a leadership get done. mentality with you, so you can delegate more responsibilities and There’s a great difference between finally replace yourself! “do it the way you want” and expecting results and “do it the way you Copyright©, Carla Cross. want and let’s check how it’s going All rights reserved. Carla Cross, CRB, MA, is an international speaker, writer, and coach, specializing in real estate management. Her Leadership Mastery Coaching program is unique in the industry. A National Realtor Educator of the Year, Carla was recently named one of the 50 most influential women in real estate. Join Carla’s Community and receive special offers and free resources. Contact Carla at 425-392-6914 or www.carlacross.com. Top Agent Magazine

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Things the Best Leaders Never Say

As Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Being the boss is a great thing, but there’s a reason the ‘bad boss’ is common stereotype. Some people tend to use their power in destructive ways and that isn’t good for anyone. You might not even know you’re being a bad boss, it can be subtle sometimes. There are common traits among great leaders, if you want to be a boss that operates with integrity and is respected by everyone

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you work with, make sure you don’t say any of the following things.

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I’M THE BOSS

Stating a fact that should be obvious is always a sign of weakness, and when you are the boss, strength of leadership is THE key component. It also may indicates a stubbornness that is the death knell of a healthy work environment. Your job as a leader is to bring everyone to your level of success, not to create a larger rift.

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I’LL DO IT MYSELF

Being a good leader is all about delegation. If you are hiring people who are professional and trustworthy, then this should be a no brainer. It is your job as a leader to get the right people for the job and then lead them in away that means success for everyone.

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THAT WASN’T MY FAULT

There’s an old saying “The Buck Stops Here.” and that is still true today. Good leaders take responsibility for what happens. They don’t blame others or make excuses. They take the hit for the team and then find the solution to make it better. Not only does it show they have integrity, but it also fosters a warm team environment that makes all players feel like their boss has their back.

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I’M SORRY TO ASK YOU TO DO THIS

Treating your employees with respect is mandatory, at the same time there is no reason to be sorry when you ask people to do their job. Leadership is strength and confidence. Expecting your employees to put in the same work ethic as you is your job.

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I ALREADY KNOW THAT

Having a ‘know-it-all’ attitude isn’t pleasant coming from anyone, but the last thing you need to do as a boss is shut down the people working for you. If you give them the impression that you’ve thought of everything, why should they bother giving potentially valuable contributions? Make people feel good about all input, even if you don’t think it will work or have already thought of it. Open flow of communication and ideas is key to a successful team. Top Agent Magazine

THAT’S NOT THE WAY WE DO IT HERE

Well, why not? Being a successful leader means always being open to change and improvement. No great leader is ever accepting of the status quo. It’s not only lazy, it’s uninspiring and usually leads to a work environment that is stagnate. Yes, keep things that work going, but nothing should ever be untouchable. Creative thinking should never be faced with constant roadblocks. A good option is to always ask for more information. Let your employee show you why they think their way might be better. This gets them energized and excited to approach you with more in the future.

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I’M NOT HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS

This is a workplace, not a reality show competition. Good leaders know that building strong workplace relationships, with employees, vendors and peers, is the foundation of a successful business

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DON’T BRING ME BAD NEWS

No true leader avoids bad news. They confront everything head on because as we said above, they know that ultimately everything is their responsibility, and ignoring a potential problem will most likely end up being worse down the road. Good leaders want to know bad news right away, and the last thing you want is to foster a work environment where employees feel like they have to lie to you.

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YOU JUST DON’T GET IT.

You’re the boss. If someone who works under you is having trouble understanding something, it’s on you to make it clear to them. Getting frustrated makes them less likely to ask for help in the future. Sharing your expertise and experience is not only generous, but a necessary tool in the success of your business.

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