June 14, 2010

Little League Hustle - Big League Focus

The pre-game practice session has begun. Boys are playing catch and every once in a while, one of the Sea Wolves look across the field to catch a glimpse of the vaunted Sea Dogs.

"Wow - they're kind of big."

"I hear they only lost once and it was a close game."

"Who brought the snack tonight?"

"C'mon, " yells the coach. "Let's focus."

The pre-listing routine begins. The appointment has been scheduled with the Sellers of that well-known house on the corner of the popular street. All of a sudden, nerves start to tingle. You're going up against one of the cities best Realtors. You've heard rumors that they've been known to reduce their listing fee. You really feel that you're worth a full fee but you've never had to compete for a listing against this agent before.

"C'mon," yells the coach. "Let's focus."

The game begins and it's just two teams of eight-year-olds. Everything you've practiced, rehearsed and drilled on is put into action between the chalk lines. There's no do-overs, there's no extra strikes or bonus outs.

The game starts with the Sea Wolves taking a mature approach. We're the visitors so we bat first but the bats are connecting tonight and we manage to score three runs in the first inning. It could have been more but a few strike outs and a loss of focus on the base paths catch up to us.

"C'mon," yells the coach. "Let's worry about ourselves and pay attention."

You show up on time, dressed professionally, ready to deliver a great presentation. You've done your homework and feel comfortable that the Market Analysis that you carry in your briefcase is right on the money. Sure, these Sellers bought their house at the peak of the market and have added some "high value" features but it still comes down to creating the best perception of value to the current Buyer pool, right?

A true professional tells the Sellers what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. A true professional knows that it's better to "level with the Sellers now rather than let them down later."

It's time to start focusing on the words that you've been practicing for hours, days and weeks. It's time to start speaking not only of the features of your company and services you offer but the benefits those things will bring to the Seller. It's time to start asking questions and listening to answers. It's time to take control of the things you can control and stop worrying about the things you can't.

"C'mon," yells the coach. "Let's worry about ourselves and pay attention."

The early lead doesn't last long as some weak defense allows the Sea Dogs to take control. While there was some good athletic ability displayed by the opponent, it was really more about unforced errors and less about great execution.

The two teams trade some runs and the favorite goes up 8-3. Sunlight is fading and the kids are starting to wonder what the snack will be. But there's still an inning to be played and we haven't quit yet.

"C'mon," yells the coach. "Let's try our best and don't give up."

Your presentation goes well but the Sellers say they'll "let you know what they decided." Ouch. You know that isn't good but you didn't want to be too aggressive and ask for the listing because you already knew they would be meeting with "the Top Dog" later in the week. You know your opponent isn't worried about you. Heck, they are probably walking in without even studying the market, practicing their scripts or polishing up their objection handling techniques. They've lost more listings than you've even competed for, so why worry? Show up, dance the dance, tell the Sellers what they want to hear and stick a sign in the yard.

"C'mon," yells the coach. "Let's try our best and don't give up."

"This will be your last at bats, Sea Wolves," says the umpire. "You'll need to score at least 5 to tie, 6 to take the lead."

Hmmm? You check your cell phone and it seems that the Sellers have left you a message. They haven't made up their mind yet. What you might have thought was a foregone conclusion turns out to be a battle. They were very impressed by your marketing presentation, personal and professional confidence and strong market knowledge. They know the other agent is a big name locally but they were really impressed by the way you were so proud of the team you worked for and really sold the support systems your team has in place and your personal desire to help the Sellers achieve their goals.

They invite you back in for one final series of questions. You look at it as kind of your "last at bat." You strut in with nothing to lose so you're relaxed and even smiling. Your first comments draws laughter, just as you intended, and you start rolling. One question after another is handled with ease and your confidence starts to soar.

After one last set of questions over the phone with the other agent, it's down to this. Will you let a reduced commission or a short term listing sink you? Hell no - you buckle down, stand your ground and you don't blink. "This is my price, this is my fee and this is my commitment to you," you say with confidence. "Are you ready to get started."

Hmmmm? You check your batting order and you're only down 5 runs. Oh well, it was a great effort, you think to yourself. We really battled hard. Let's try and finish up strong and get some good swings.




Two runs scored. It's now 8-5. Runner on second. No outs.

Single. 8-6.

Double. 8-7.

Single, single, single. 10 - 8...and still nobody out. Are you freaking kidding me? Where has this been all season? We haven't had this many hits in a row since tee ball two years ago. We strand a few runners and take the field for the last time protecting our first lead we've ever held after the 2nd inning.

"C'mon," yells the coach. "Are you guys ready? Let's focus!"

Uh oh! The other team is at the top of the order. The first three kids maybe couldn't start for the Yankees but they might turn some heads in the 3rd and 4th grade leagues.

First batter drills a ball to second base but Ethan is there with the glove. A soft toss to Ryan at first and it's one out.

"C'mon," yells the coach. "Know where the play is and focus."

Second batter is up and it's their best hitter. He's already had a double, single and triple. Oh Lord, is this kid gonna hit for the cycle against us...in second grade? Nope - he strikes out. Two outs. One out away for our first victory of the season.

"C'mon," yells the coach. "Down and ready."

Here comes the pitch.

It hits the batter - not exactky what we wanted - and the tying run comes to the plate. Parents wring their hands. Little siblings stick their heads into their parents sides. The coaches re-position fielders to maximize the chances for one more out.

The ball is hit...a slow dribbler to the Nick, the pitcher...this runner is fast and Nick bobbles the ball.

Nick gains control...aims and throws...Ryan toes the base and sticks his glove up...and...he's...out! A great play at first as the throw just beats the runner. Elation hits the Sea Wolves as they realize they have just won a game! There are mini chest bumps and awkward high fives and serious adult relief on the sidelines. Coaches breathe a deep mixture of pride and relief and Ethan's mom readies the donuts and juice boxes - she's a mom...she knows what's most important.

"C'mon kids," yells the coach. "Let's celebrate."

Will you be ready to make a great swing with your time at bat comes up? Are you prepared to make the best pitch possible on that next chance you get? Will you play the field confidently because you know what to do when put in a position to take control?

You better be. Those donuts don't taste as good after a loss!

Until next time...build relationships...solve problems...and have fun

This blog post is close to fictional and does not exactly resemble any true life events.

But if it did, The Realtor's Toolbox would like to congratulate Ryan, Nick, Ben, Andrew, Ethan R., Oscar, Alex, Sam, Jimmy, Todd and Ethan Y. along with Coaches Geoff, Ammon, Tim, Bernard and Craig.