June 29, 2011

Respect, Relationships and RBI's

Many times in a real estate environment we're battling against someone. The co-op agent we're competing against for the listing. Maybe it's a fellow licensee who is also showing the same property to their buyer that you are showing to your buyer. Perhaps it's all boiled down to negotiations and we feel like its "us" versus "them"?

It's Not Always About Competition

I was travelling this week for work so while spending a few nights in Cincinnati to spend some time with my Coldwell Banker West Shell associates, I wanted to catch my alma mater, The University of Florida, play in the College World Series. The Gators were playing the Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina so grabbing a spot at a local restaurant to catch the game was a high priority.

I walked in to an establishment expecting to find the game on all the main screens but that wasn't the case. The Cincinnati Reds were playing in a nationally televised game so the College World Series was relegated to a smaller screen in the corner. I quietly found a seat and looked around for other Gator fans but found none. As I surveyed the crowd, I did notice one patron wearing his garnet and black, the signature colors of South Carolina.

The "competition" made eye contact with me and quickly sensed we had something in common - SEC fans in the middle of Big Ten Country. He invited me to sit with him and watch the game together so I quickly agreed. (Remember...I am a big believer that the most important thing we can do in a sales position like real estate is "build relationships" and it's not like I am known to be shy). Just step up, make eye contact, give a firm handshake and introduce yourself.

"Hi, I'm Sean Carpenter. I'm a Gator fan. You mind if I join you?"

"No problem. Happy to have you join me. My name is Joel. Let's watch some baseball."

Joel is a production and safety specialist for a paper/box manufacturing company located here in Cincinnati. He hails from Greenville, South Carolina, is happily married and is the father of three kids (two of his own and a step son). As it turns out, Joel and I have a lot in common and a passion for college sports was the key that opened the door.

As we sat and watched our two teams battle, we enjoyed a great discussion about our careers, our industries, our families, our hobbies and interests and a small glimpse into our future dreams. The Gators and Gamecocks were playing a great game and it went into extra innings. As we each had a job to do the next morning, we left after the 10th inning but planned to connect again tonight for Game 2 of the College World Series (best of three event).

Long story short - Gamecocks win in 11th inning to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 was tonight and I was desperately hoping for a Gator victory to force a deciding game 3. Joel and I met up again at a different local spot and watched the first few innings together. It's kind of funny how quickly you can "catch up" with an "old friend" you've known for less than 24 hours. We discussed my workshops I taught today and his plant visits and staff meetings he attended. Really, we have nothing in common when it comes to our jobs but we have everything in common when it comes to our careers.

Who's Your Competition?

If you're going to wear your "independent contractor" status like a badge of honor when you're doing well, will you wear it as proudly when you're struggling?
When you head out into the real estate world tomorrow, who is your competition? Is it the other associates in your office? The agents working down the street for the "other broker'? The person who has decided to sell their house themselves?

Or is it you?

Are you friends? Can you carry on a conversation? Do you know anything about each other?  If you did, would that threaten your success or enhance your career?

When you aren't getting all those listings, is the competition beating you out or are you falling short in your listing presentation? When the other agent's client gets the house, were you beaten by a better negotiator or did you just not bring your "A game"?

Work With vs. Work Against

Joel and I had no control over what happened on the field in Omaha between "my Gators" and "his Gamecocks."  We were pulling for our teams but we weren't hostile or derogatory to each other. We cheered each other's team's great plays and laughed at the errors made.

We left with a new relationship and a little bit more pride in our schools.

As you head into the second half of the 2011 year, will you earn more business by working with or against your fellow man or woman? Are you going to focus on your company's strengths or will you divert the attention to your competitor's weaknesses? Will you make it about what you can do or what your competition can't? Will you negotiate "against" the other agent or "for" for own client's best interest?

We refer to our fellow agents as "co-ops" because it is short for "cooperation." We don't call them  "comps" for "competition." Working with them, instead of against them, sure does make things go easier and helps you think that the more you give, the more you will get.

Game Over

South Carolina won tonight 5-2 to secure their second College World Series title and second straight National Championship. Sure, I am bummed out that Florida didn't win but I now have a new relationship to build upon, some new respect for Gamecock baseball and some happy friends who would be considered "competition" including  Joel T., Joe E., Bryan V., Fred K. and Mark S - all of them loyal Gamecock fans through thick and thin.

Congratulations to South Carolina on your big win. You have just made the Gators and all of your competition want to work that much harder...which means you need to work harder too.

I respect that.

I better get out there and start building relationships, solving problems and having fun so I can keep up with my competition.