No matter what’s going on in the economy, there’s money to be made for printers who can get in the door with real estate brokers.
To sell deeply and profitably, you must develop relationships and earn a seat at the project planning table. To do that, you’ll want to work with the brokers and top managers who control the budget.
Below I’ve laid out a playback for selling to the real estate industry. I recommend you take these sections and create sales meetings around them. You can also download the article (link below) as a PDF to use in your planning.
FACT 1. Most real estate companies have annual printing and marketing budgets, unlike many of the industries, we sell to. That’s great!
FACT 2. Real estate professionals buy print and marketing services even when the economy is rocky. They get it!
FACT 3. Conversely, they also buy marketing and printing when business is going well. They invest even when “they shouldn’t have to.”
FACT 4. Although real estate professionals are busiest in spring and summer, they buy print and marketing services year-round.
FACT 5. We as print salespeople often overlay our own “facts” onto customers’ buying patterns. We tend to decide if we should approach them or not. Let them decide!
FACT 6. It’s always a good time to sell print in the real estate industry.
CHAPTER 1: The Basics
• Brokers are the ones who have the buying power. The broker is the lead agent of the real estate agency — often having an ownership position — or they run the profit center within a bigger real estate organization. Sometimes the broker is the head of his or her own company, which can have many offices within it.
• Brokers have the final say. If you want to make big money, don’t focus on the agents, as they generally are not big spenders unless they are well into their career.
• Brokers rarely hold their own open houses or attend generic real estate events. You’ll find them at events with business people.
CHAPTER 2: The Hidden Truths
• Many brokers offer their agents branded marketing and print packages through a third-party service that provides a branded online dashboard or web-to-print portal. These services specialize in the real estate industry, not the printing industry. The broker pays a per-seat subscription for the service — a cost that often is passed on to the agent.
• Agents can order business cards, brochures, signage, flyers, data management, canned email newsletters, social posts, promo materials, industry data, and literally every type of print or marketing item that is commonly associated with realtors.
• Having agents use the portal helps the broker control the look and messaging of their brand, which is their intellectual property. Brokers want everything tightly controlled so the agents can’t freestyle their own marketing pieces and undermine the brand value.
• Brokers know that many entry-level agents will wash out, while the career agents may be buying print on their own, so they rarely offer agents printing except through the subscription service.
• If you want to win the print work behind their branded dashboard or web-to-print portal, your margins are probably going to be small. You will find yourself praying for agents to quit so you can print a whole new batch of items for the next rookie. Expect short runs, quick turns, and lots of hand-holding. I recommend chatbots and online tutorials for the portal that are geared to the not-so-tech savvy.
• Although it’s difficult to break into the day-to-day printing for a broker and his/her team — and it’s not likely to be high-margin work — there are opportunities for other high-value, high-ticket printing is you are strategic and plan ahead.
CHAPTER 3: The Nuance
• Brokers are competitive with other brokers. They will be interested in meeting with you if you have a dazzling new print product or service that could blow their competitors’ minds. Even if the product or service doesn’t generate a huge ROI for you, brokers like hearing about new things before anyone else, I have sold animation, high-end relocation packages, email-to-print programs, e-books, and other high-value products to brokers who wanted to be first to try something out.
• Brokers will invest in their personal brand. Develop a program just for them, fit it to their core brand values, and help them make an impression in their world. Create a monthly program that has visible benefits and their own dashboard where they can track their results. Look at some of the direct mail partnership programs as a way to deliver ongoing ROI.
• Brokers are strategic. Help them make a significant leap ahead in their market or wring more from an existing marketing channel.
• Most brokers built their businesses using print. From print advertising to flyers to direct mail and postcards, they know print works. To get attention, start with a fascinating print sample and back it up with a solid case study that spotlights the stats they care about.
• Selling to brokers is not a drop-by sales call. This is a high-end sale that requires preparation and creativity. If you are not using pre-call planning for your big deals, you need to start now.
CHAPTER 4: What You Should Say
Your messaging to brokers should not be distracting. In clear, persuasive terms, explain that:
• Your print solutions TURN HEADS.
• You have done your research, and you have SPECIFIC IDEAS just for them.
• You will RESPECT THEIR TIME.
• You will ELEVATE THEIR BRAND.
• You will MAKE THEM LOOK GOOD in the business community.
CHAPTER 5: What NOT to Say
Don’t tell high-powered brokers that….
• Your solution makes their life easier. The top experts in real estate thrive in difficult situations. If it’s easy, it’s not worth doing.
• Your solution will save them money. See above: They spend money to make money.
• You are high quality, error-free, on-time, yadda yadda yadda. That should go unsaid because they literally will not waste one second with you if you’re not the best.
About that last point. If your online credentials aren’t impeccable, if your social media is sloppy, or if you have negative reviews that can be substantiated, they will cancel their appointment with you. Seriously, they will say yes to a meeting and then cancel you, just like that (snaps).
CHAPTER 6: How to Get a Seat at the Table
• Brokers are all about the chain of command. They prefer to work with just a few RELIABLE people.
• In the beginning, you may work under the broker’s marketing people who, by the way, are protecting their own personal fiefdoms.
• Serve before selling. Be a team player. When you do get invited to do business, start small, deliver flawlessly, and make others look good. You must prove you’re worthy.
• Once you earn a regular spot at the table, you can start developing high-ticket win-win projects that meet the goals of everyone on the team.
• You need a relationship with the broker to get invited to the table.
A personal relationship? Wo-ho, not so easy, you say! Yes, that’s the small print way down here in Chapter 6. How do you build a personal relationship with a smart, high-achieving, tactical, well-connected person? Read on!
CHAPTER 7: Making a connection
• The easiest way to get started? Be active where they’re active.
• Give back. Always be thinking of ways to serve your community, because brokers tend to be community-minded. Serve where they serve.
• Be known. Expand your personal and professional networks. Get a toe hold where you can — and then expand your influence. Be influential where they’re influential.
• Aim high. Be a role model. Do what you say you’re going to do. Adopt a winning mindset. Find areas in your life where you can excel, and do it consistently. Excellence is a muscle that needs regular exercise. Excel in the ways they excel.
• Develop a brand that attracts successful people. Improve your website, and make it fresh and helpful. Monitor your brand in all channels. Acknowledge and promptly address negative online reviews in a professional manner. Thank people for positive comments. Design and write better marketing materials. Write about what you do with clarity and persuasiveness. Be authoritative in the ways they are authoritative.
• On social media, be interesting and professional. Connect to the people they’re connected to. Have conversations. Don’t leave people hanging. Respond to connection requests. Reply if someone comments or tags you. Be gracious and inclusive. Have a big enough network that brokers will know you’re a serious player. Join the social networks where they’re visible and active. Be social where they’re social.
• Sell better. The old principles of how to find, sell and close still make sense, but the methodologies have changed — because today’s print buyers have changed. If you want to close more business, invest in sales training from modern experts who have actually had to sell print and market strategically in our current environment. Real estate people know how to sell in today’s world. Sell well because they sell well.
There you have it. I have given you a playbook on how to sell print to the real estate market. Now take this program and run with it!
Below is a link to a free PDF that you can download immediately and share with your print sales team. Use this playbook to systematically plan your prospecting to the real estate brokers in your area.
The information in this playbook has helped me sell successfully to successful real estate brokers for a quarter of a century. Good luck with your selling — I know you can do it!
Read more from Sandy here.
Author Sandy Hubbard 🌻 Marketing Strategist for the Printing Industry consults with owners of print and media businesses of all sizes — building visibility and increasing sales using solid techniques and a proven system.
She has been an author and contributor at Print Media Centr since 2011. Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn and find her on Twitter at @sandyhubbard every Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, leading or co-hosting #PrintChat with Deborah Corn of @PrintMediaCentr. Join the fun at social media’s most popular chat for the global printing industry!
HOW TO SELL TO THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY [PLAYBOOK] BY SANDY HUBBARD copyright 2021.