Does it seem like half the agents in your market do buyer seminars to build their pipeline? Here’s your chance to stand out from the crowd: Seller seminars will set you apart, build your pipeline with sellers, and win more listings. This week on The Walkthrough™, Dr. Carlton Bell shares the seller seminar system he used to get 5-6 new listings per year — listings that otherwise might have gone FSBO or to another agent. It’s a unique way, he says, to “control the inventory.”
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Links and Show Notes
- CarltonBell.com (Dr. Bell’s real estate website)
- Connect with Dr. Carlton Bell on LinkedIn
- ForSaleByOwner.com (website mentioned in this episode)
- FSBO.com (website mentioned in this episode)
- Fizber.com (website mentioned in this episode)
- Join our Facebook mastermind for The Walkthrough™ listeners
- HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center
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Dr. Bell: If, for whatever reason, you want to maintain and have longevity in this business, you need to control the inventory. And he who controls the inventory controls the market.
Matt: That’s the voice of Dr. Carlton Bell, veteran real estate agent and coach. And my gosh, that’s so good. Let’s hear it again.
Dr. Bell: If, for whatever reason, you want to maintain and have longevity in this business, you need to control the inventory. And he who controls the inventory controls the market.
Matt: Now, we’ve done a few episodes way back in the archives of this show about how to find and create more listings, how to control the inventory, as Dr. Bell says. But you know what we haven’t done? We haven’t done anything about getting new listings from seller seminars. That changes today. This is The Walkthrough™.
Matt: Well, hello there. How are you? Welcome to The Walkthrough™. Thanks a bunch for listening. My name is Matt McGee. I’m the managing editor of HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center, also your host every week on The Walkthrough™. This is a weekly show. We have new episodes come out every Monday morning. This is the show where you’ll learn what’s working right now from the best real estate agents and industry experts in the country. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.
As I scroll through Facebook and Instagram, I am always seeing posts from agents here in the Tri-Cities about their upcoming buyer seminars. Seems like not a week goes by without one of those happening in this market.
They can be a great way to build your buyer pipeline. Just about a month ago, you might remember, we did a great episode with Kimberlee Meserve, all about successful buyer seminars. You also know that we love trying to be different here. We love standing out from the crowd. Seller seminars are a great way to do that. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a local agent advertising their seller seminar.
Dr. Carlton Bell got his real estate license in 2002. He was the rookie Realtor® of the year in 2003. And early in his career as a solo agent, he decided to try seller seminars as a way to be different. He built his business up to a point where he was doing about 50 to 60 transactions per year in the Washington, D.C. market. He says about 70% of his business was with sellers. And he says, those seminars helped him do an extra five or six transactions every year. Does that sound good? I bet it does.
Today, Dr. Bell is still doing client work, and he’s also a well-known coach in the Tom Ferry system. In fact, if you’re going to the Tom Ferry summit next week, you will see and hear Dr. Bell speaking on the main stage. Today, you get to hear him talking to me about seller seminars. His process is pretty unique too. No PowerPoints, no slide decks, it’s more of a, like a group conversation. So listen today, as he explains who he brings in as experts to the seminar, what role each one of them plays, and what role he plays as the real estate agent. We’ll also talk about marketing the seminars, follow-up, and much more. So, if you are ready to start controlling the inventory and picking up new listings from seller seminars, you’re in the right place. Here’s my conversation with Dr. Carlton Bell.
Matt: Is this market the way it is right now? Is it a good one for doing seller seminars?
Dr. Bell: I believe so. I think more so right now than ever. Because of the rise of the interest rates, what’s going on with inflation, the “white noise” that’s pretty much out there right now in regards to the industry. And everybody wanting to pause and take a step back and not put their house on the market because they’re afraid that buyers at this particular juncture, because of the rise of the interest rates, are not going to either be interested in their property or get out there and buy a property but that’s the furthest from the truth. The market right now is actually…this is the market where you should become a listing agent or should be a listing agent.
Matt: Let me ask you when you are putting on a seller seminar, who is your target audience? Are you specifically going after say for sale by owners? Are you going after people looking to sell in the next six months or even sellers that might be a little further out?
Dr. Bell: You have to look at it from a couple of different angles. Of course, your target audience is the for sale by owner. In the industry today, the for sale by owner has more access to information than ever before. The emerging of the internet has really cascaded them into a realm to where they absolutely feel at this particular juncture that they don’t need you. But they do need you. The expired seller is out there, also your average homeowner, who wants to sell the property, but they’ve never sold a house before and they just wanna get some education in exactly what they should do, how they should prepare, what they should go about. That’s a part of your target audience also.
And then, the one piece of the audience that people really overlook, but don’t really target are your seniors. And your seniors, your baby boomers that are downsizing at this particular point, or that are looking to sell and retire and move on and do something else, you know? So you just have to really know what your market…what dictates your market and who’s going to be the primary target for doing the seminar.
Matt: Let’s dive into a seminar itself. We just did an episode a few weeks ago, I think it was, about buyer seminars and the agent who was my guest then, talked about how she liked doing them at a brewery because that’s where everybody likes to gather. Do you have a preferred location for seller seminars?
Dr. Bell: Well, we were doing them at one point in time. We were doing them at the library because, one, we were looking at it from the standpoint of space, cost, and getting the word out. Believe it or not, there’s always a lot of people at the library on a Saturday, whatever the case may be. But as far as having a particular place, no, didn’t have a particular place, but I will tell you a great place where you can do a seller seminar. You can do Dave & Buster’s is a great place to do a seller seminar.
Matt: Why Dave & Buster’s?
Dr. Bell: Because Dave & Buster’s is always full of parents looking for something to do on any given day of the week. Dave & Buster’s actually has private meeting rooms in their facility for hosting parties and things of that nature. So, what better place to do a seminar other than where there are already people there? So you can do your marketing and your advertisements. It also gives them the flexibility to bring their kids. And you’re not really watching the kids when they get inside of Dave & Buster’s anyway, it’s kinda like a free-for-all. You know, so you can carve out maybe 45 minutes to an hour while your kid goes and plays games and does whatever. And you can step right into that meeting room and be a part of the seller seminar
Matt: Pro tip to use Dave & Buster’s. I love that a lot. For a buyer seminar, an agent might bring in a lender to sort of help with the presentation. When you do seller seminars, do you bring in outside people to help with that as well?
Dr. Bell: Yeah, you need to have a team. So, on your team, you should have a financial advisor on your team, you should have a home inspector on your team, you should also have a title attorney on your team, or someone from a title office on your team also. And then, I don’t really think you need to have a lender there, unless you are specifically targeting seniors, and they may have some questions in regards to doing reverse mortgages or something along those lines. But, primarily, your financial advisor, your home inspector, your title company individual, and then maybe a lender to answer questions in regards to that.
Matt: And what does each one of those people bring to the table?
Dr. Bell: Great question. So, your financial advisor is gonna be there to address any questions depending on your target to answer questions when people get large sums of money back in regards from their equity or from the sale of the property. So, let’s say, for example, we sell a property and you have someone there, very seldomly will you get someone there who’s going to fall into the capital gains category. So you may wanna have somebody on standby.
Or you wanna make sure that between your, maybe, tax attorney and the financial advisor, one of them can speak directly to capital gains tax in the event that someone’s getting $250,000 or $500,000 more being single or married. So, if they’re getting that kind of money back, then you want to have the financial advisor there, period, to discuss next moves, to give some ideas, some suggestions.
When you have the home inspector there, you want the home inspector there, basically, to inform them that they need to get the house inspected prior to putting it on the market. That will eliminate any surprises from the potential buyer that buys the house. So now, when the buyer comes out or the potential buyer comes out to do the home inspection, now you are not on edge. You’re already prepared.
You’ve probably already done some preliminary work to fix some of those things that are already standing out inside of the house. So now, that makes the home inspection contingency part of the contract with the acquisition go a whole lot smoother. And then with your title people, you want to have someone there to speak in regards to how to take ownership of the property, how the property was deeded, to answer any questions.
There’s a ton of questions around, well, “My parents weren’t married, but they took ownership of the property this way, and there’s no will in place. So now there’s a sister that emerges, you know, or there’s another person of my parent’s lovers or partners emerges, and they wanna know…they want ownership in the property.” So you need to have someone there that can speak directly to how things should go, how the ownership is broken down in the property.
If your parents are looking to sell their property, but they’re elderly right now, you know, and you wanna step in and handle it, what’s required of you in order to do that? Because some people think they just need a power of attorney to sell a property. You don’t need just a power of attorney. You have to have a specific power of attorney to actually sell property. So things of that nature need to be discussed.
Matt: If one of my listeners is thinking, “All right, I wanna give this seller seminar idea a try,” I think one of their first questions, Dr. Bell, is gonna be, “How do I get people’s butts in the seats?” How did you market these?
Dr. Bell: Trial and error, initially. I always say, if you can get one person in attendance, it’s a success. It’s only a failure if no one shows up. I’ve kind of deviated from that a little bit, because I think if you can get from thought process to planning, to hosting, then it’s still a success. You know, now we just have to work on marketing and getting people to attend. You know, so one of the things that we looked at was we actually looked at our market to see exactly how many for-sale-by-owners were on the market. And then, once we determined how many for-sale-by-owners were on the market, how many for-sale-by-owners were actually posting on forsalebyowner.com, when Zillow had Zillow Make Me Move, you know, how many people were posting on Zillow Make Me Move?
So we started looking at that, and we started to really advertise and talk about seller seminars. If you have any interest, or if you’re considering selling your property, or if you believe that you can get more money for your house than the neighbor next door, you know, you may want to attend this seller seminar. And then we will go down a list of things that we’re going to discuss in the seminar. So, a little bit of radio airplay, a lot of print media, and now in today’s market, definitely social media and video marketing. You have to do video marketing and social media. If not, your attendance is gonna be extremely low, and you’re not gonna get butts in the seats, basically.
Matt: Would you ever have your inspector, title rep, those people do any of the marketing for you or is it all on you?
Dr. Bell: No, no, it’s not on me. We’re all partners in the organization. So we’re touching our databases, our sphere, our past customers and clients. We’re asking the title company to do the same thing because the title company has access to everybody who’s purchased a house within the last three to five years. Sending out that information to them, letting them know who do you know that may benefit from this as well. Same thing with the home inspector.
A home inspector has a list of everybody that he did a home inspection for. So we’re asking him, we’re not asking them for access to their database, but we are asking them to share the information. However, if you do it through a social media platform and you’re the home inspector, you’re the title company, then please tag me in it so I can see it, and then I can see the replies, and I can be on the chain. And then I can address any questions or concerns that may come about through that marketing piece.
Matt: You just heard Dr. Bell talking about marketing these seller seminars. The first thing he mentioned was doing some research to figure out how many FSBOs are active in your market. Now, he mentioned forsalebyowner.com. There are a couple other sites like that. There’s fsbo.com, (f-s-b-0.com). There’s one called fizber.com I will link to those in today’s show notes. Zillow’s Make Me Move product no longer exists as Dr. Bell said, but you can still see FSBOs listed on Zillow’s website. And when I asked recently in our Facebook mastermind group, agents there said that they also look on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace to find for sale by owner homes. So, all of that is a way to help you get a sense of what your audience might be for seller seminars. Next up, we’re gonna talk about the seminar itself. I mentioned earlier that Dr. Bell has a pretty unique approach there, no slides, no PowerPoints. He’s gonna walk us through what that looks like in just a moment.
(Hi, this is Matt McGee. How would you like to have a say in future episodes of The Walkthrough™? How would you like to ask my guests your own follow-up questions and connect with other listeners to help them and learn from them? Well, you can do all of that and more in our walkthrough mastermind community on Facebook. Go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough™, it should be the first group you see. Click join, and come be part of our community.)
Let’s talk about the actual seminar experience itself. I assume that I have registered via Eventbrite or something like that as an attendee, I show up, I imagine you’re gonna check me in. What happens when I show up? What’s that experience like?
Dr. Bell: So, you walk in, of course, you have to be registered in order to attend. We do take some walk-ins depending on the location where we have it. If we’re at a Dave & Buster’s or whatever the case may be, and they just wanna stick their head in, because we got to sign up outside of the meeting room that says seller seminar, you know, being hosted and they wanna come in, they come in, we give them a small information packet. The information packet is nothing more than an overview of the participants that are actually going to participate in the event. And then we just walk down the agenda. And then we give them a small list of mistakes frequently made when selling your property. And we may give them maybe let’s say out of 10 fatal mistakes, we may give them three.
Matt: Three in the packet?
Dr. Bell: So, we may give them three in the packet. That way there’s some value added there. If they decide they wanna get up and walk out, then they’ve only gotten three out of the 10, and then they know there’s additional information so they have to reach out and contact us. So then, we hand it out to them. They come in, they sit down, we start the seminar. I always introduce myself as to who I am. But my role in this seminar is pretty much to facilitate the seminar, not to be the primary speaker in the seminar. People are much more comfortable–especially if they don’t know you–with you being the facilitator instead of being the primary speaker in the seminar.
Now that I’m the facilitator, what I’m actually doing is posing questions and answering questions throughout the seminar to my panel. So I give each one of my panelists an opportunity to speak, introduce themselves, talk about, and then I ask the questions to the panelists. And then as the panelists respond to the questions, if there are any questions in the audience and I move throughout the audience to address those questions and concerns. So now, it’s more interactive than more so you walking into a classroom setting, and you have someone trying to teach you how to do it instead of actually making it more course interactive, if that makes sense.
Matt: Yeah. It sounds more like an interview session than you up in front, just giving a speech.
Dr. Bell: Exactly. And that’s exactly what it is. So, what you have before you are industry-leading experts who are equipped to answer any questions that you have in regards to selling your property. I already have the questions and everything that I’m going to ask because I’ve already pulled them from frequently asked questions. What do most sellers want to know when it comes down to selling their property? So, that one person that’s sitting in the room that may want to ask the question, but is a little hesitant in asking the question because they’re not really sure if it’s a stupid question or not, I already have that question on the card already. So I pose that question to the panelist, and then that’s gonna open up the door or the gateway for that individual to ask a follow-up question. So now, it’s more engaging and more interactive at that point.
Matt: Now you said that you don’t present yourself as the primary speaker, and we just talked about how it’s more of an interview than giving a presentation. But at some point, you have to be the real estate expert. You’re there trying to get a new seller lead. So how and when do you make that transition and start talking about the real estate side of things and actually selling the home?
Dr. Bell: Right. What I’ve come to learn is the majority of the people…people do business with individuals that they’re most comfortable with. There’s a trust factor in there, right? So you have to establish and gain the trust of your audience. So if someone asks a question or if I ask the panelist a question and then there’s a follow-up question, and I know that my panelists can’t answer that question, then I’ll step in and I’ll answer that question. Okay.
However, when I answer that question, I always would answer that question giving my expert panelists an opportunity to piggyback off of what it is that I’m saying. So now, it doesn’t appear as if all the information is coming from me, it now appears that here’s a guy conducting his seminar, and his team is extremely knowledgeable on a subject matter. Because everybody wants to work with someone who has a solid team of individuals, not just one individual that has a little bit of knowledge on everything that they’re talking about.
Okay. So if I have an attorney there, that supports me legally. If I have a financial advisor there, that’s not my lane, I’m not even gonna begin to talk to you about setting up investments and what you should do with your money. And if it’s a tax question, I’m not having that conversation either because that’s not my area of expertise, you know? However, if it’s anything real estate-related, if it’s close to the home inspection stuff, I can answer. If it’s close to title-related stuff, I can answer based on my general knowledge, but I leave it open for them to step in.
Matt: How do you balance sales versus information in the seminar? Sounds like it’s really heavy on information.
Dr. Bell: It’s really heavy on information. However, at the end of the seminar, we do let them know at the end of the seminar if you have a property that you are interested in selling because you attended this event, when you’re ready to sell the property, if you use this code, and we give them a code, then that will entitle you to maybe a small discount off of the fee. So instead of us doing a 6% listing, because you attended the seminar, we may do it for 5%. Okay? So there’s always some incentive there to offer up our services and also to reward you for attending the event.
Matt: So there is a call to action, just keep it at the very end.
Dr. Bell: Keep it at the very end. If you don’t do your call to action at the very end, then all you’ve had is just an information session, and you’ve given away all your material and it’s all for nothing at that point.
Matt: How long does a seminar typically go?
Dr. Bell: Anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and a half. I think if you are in the room for more than an hour 15 minutes, an hour and a half, then you are really engaging the general public that’s in attendance and it’s going really, really well. But you also wanna be mindful of the fact, if you say your start time is at this time and your end time is at this time, you have to respect the time of the individuals and get it all done within that timeframe. And if you want to, if you have questions, or if there are some concerns, or if you have things that you wanted to ask, but it’s a little bit more of a personal nature, we’ll be here for at least another 30 minutes at the end to address any concerns that you may have.
What I found at that particular point is that’s where the listing appointments normally take place, at that particular point. Because no one wants to come out during the seminar and say, “Yeah, I want you to list my house,” but they’ve already made that decision while sitting there. Now, the questions that you’re getting at the end of the seminar when it’s over are more personal. I have had people that have called me, Matt, a couple of days after the seminar is over and say, “Hey, I was at your seminar. Can you guys come out to the house? I do have a house that I’m listing but I wanna continue to try to sell it myself with the tools that you guys have given me here today.” You know, and then we just encourage them, “Absolutely go ahead and do that. But if anything does take a turn and it’s something that you feel that you can’t handle and you want us to come in, we’ll still grant a discount once we come through the door because you were in attendance here.”
Matt: Tell me what happens after the seminar is over. I have to imagine you have some good follow-up plan there.
Dr. Bell: Absolutely. Because that’s where the money is. The money isn’t in hosting the seminar, the money is in the follow-ups.
Matt: Send them thank you notes, that sort of stuff?
Dr. Bell: If you don’t follow up, my assistant’s role was to actually follow up the very same day. Not the next day, not two days later, not three days later, not next week, the day once the event was over. So, if we conducted the event from 11:00 to let’s say 12:30, 1:00, we were doing follow-up calls at 3:00. Phone calls made right then and there to everybody that was coming in because you have to remember the whole purpose of utilizing EventBrite is because Eventbrite won’t allow you to put bogus information there, you know? So that’s the purpose that you wanna use Eventbrite for.
So now, I have phone numbers, I have email addresses, so now I can follow up. So I can make that phone call, I can follow up and just let them know, “Hey, I’m just following up with you from the seminar, the seller seminar that you attended. Carlton wanted to know if you had any additional questions, you know?” And then we send out a Survey Monkey in regards to the seminar also to get feedback on what we can tweak and what we could do better. I would say when we first started doing these, I was probably getting more recommendations on how to make it better than we were getting appointments out of it, you know?
Matt: But that’s okay, right? Because then you were able to improve it.
Dr. Bell: Yeah. So we started to tweak it and started to improve it. And then we saw the conversion start to get a little larger, you know? And then we decided to go from once a month to doing them twice a month.
Matt: I wanna ask you what is a good conversion rate, but I’m not sure that’s the right question. Because even if you don’t get a sale directly from one of these seminars, you’re planting seeds.
Dr. Bell: Exactly. Exactly. Because you’re gonna have someone in there that is either considering selling their property or they’re coming to these seminars–this is what I found–they come to the seminar to prepare them for interviewing the right agents for the job of selling their house. So, when the agent walks through the door, and the agent is rolling out his dog and pony show for them, they already know what questions they want to ask based on the attendance of the seminar.
Our objective is to be in a position to where you don’t have to interview those agents. You can just call us and we can come in and handle everything because there’s already relationships that started to build. You are familiar with me. You just spent an hour and a half with me. I gave you an additional 15 minutes. I already familiar with your situation to a certain degree, you know? So you can bring me in. But what we also do a little differently is that we do tell them at the seminar, “If you are considering using this information for the purpose of interviewing agents for the job of selling your home, then make sure that you interview more than one agent. And we would love to be one of the agents that you actually interview.”
Matt: And I bet that the seminars don’t cost a ton of money. And so if you do get one sale out of a seminar, like the ROI must be fantastic.
Dr. Bell: It’s unbelievable. If you are conducting them once a month at a minimum, and out of that once a month let’s say you get…you’re averaging 10%. Let’s say you get 10 people, a 10, you get one, one opportunity out of it, then it more than pays for itself through the commission.
Matt: Dr. Bell also made the same point that Kimberlee Meserve made in her episode last month about buyer seminars. He said the key thing here is just get started, right? Accept that you’re gonna make mistakes and learn as you go. In fact, just there near the end of the interview, you heard him say that in the beginning, he was getting more feedback from attendees than he was getting listing appointments. But hey, that’s okay. Just keep getting better.
If you wanna connect with Dr. Bell, take a look at today’s show notes. We have a link to his website there also a link to find him on LinkedIn. And of course, there are links to some of those for sale by owner sites that we mentioned in today’s episode. Let’s do our takeaways segment. Here’s what stood out to me from episode 94 Seller Seminars with Dr. Carlton Bell.
Takeaway number one: Dr. Bell has a really unique approach to doing seller seminars, no PowerPoints, no slide decks. It’s more of an interview or like a lengthy conversation with other experts who have a role in the process of selling a home.
Take away number two: He says you should have on your panel, a financial advisor, a home inspector, and a title rep. They are all positioned upfront as your panel, and then Dr. Bell, as the host, walks around the room interacting with the attendees. He will answer the real estate questions that come from the audience, and then he’ll also direct questions to his panel of guests on their areas of expertise.
Takeaway number three: I loved this tip so much. He says you should always, always leave extra time at the end for guests to come up and have one-on-one conversations. Dr. Bell says this is where you’re gonna get most of your listing appointments. A lot of people are gonna have specific questions that they’re not comfortable asking in the group setting. So, make sure that you are available to have those conversations afterward.
Takeaway number four: The seminars are heavy on information, but don’t forget the call to action at the end. Offer your services for a listing appointment or if the attendee is planning to interview some agents, say that you would love to be one of the agents they interview.
And takeaway, number five: Follow up the same day as the seminar. Don’t wait. Dr. Bell’s assistant would usually make the follow-up calls just a few hours after the seminar came to an end. And then they also sent out a survey invite to get feedback and get more questions from attendees. And those are my takeaways this week.
If you have any questions or feedback about what you heard today, there’s a couple of different ways you can get in touch, leave a voicemail, or send me a text. The number to use is 415-322-3328. You can send an email to walkthrough[at]homelight.com. Or find me in our Facebook mastermind group, go to Facebook do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough™, and the group should be the first thing that you see. All right. That is all for this week.
Thanks again to Dr. Carlton Bell for joining me and thank you, for listening. My name’s Matt McGee. You’ve been listening to The Walkthrough™. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable. Go out and sell some homes. Do some seller seminars too. Let me know how it goes. I’ll talk to you again next week. Bye-bye.
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