With inventory at record lows, you have to make the most of every chance you get to win a new listing. This week on The Walkthrough™, Barrett Spray introduces you to his team’s “pre-listing box” and their tag-team approach to meeting new sellers. These are just a couple tactics that help his team stand out from the competition and win about 80% of their competitive listing appointments. This is part one of a two-part series.
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(SPEAKER: Barrett Spray, Guest)
Barrett: What happens next, or actually it happens before that call because it’s a different person. Either my director of operations or my listing manager sends out what we call our listing box. Lots of agents have a pre-listing package, and it’s a file or a folder of some sort that says, you know, this is who we are and this is what we do. We’ve taken that about 10 levels beyond, we send out, literally, a box. Want me to show it to you?
Matt: Hi, there, I’m Matt McGee, managing editor of HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center, and welcome to “The Walkthrough™.” This is a weekly podcast. We have new episodes that come out every Monday. 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 are here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.
A few moments ago, you heard the voice of Barrett Spray. He was talking about one of the key things his team does to stand out from the crowd. Rather than sending out the typical pre-listing package, they send a box. It’s the size of a pretty big coffee table book. It’s like three inches thick, big enough to hold a book, folders, some small gifts, and a lot more that I’ll tell you about soon.
Getting the listing is what we’re talking about today and next week, too. This is part one of a two-part series, and this is so important in today’s market. When inventory is this low, you have to make the most of every opportunity you get to win a new listing. Barrett Spray and his team are doing exactly that.
Barrett runs a small team in the Orlando, Florida market. Today, they have six agents and five support staff. Last year, as a team of seven total, they did 120 deals and earned just shy of a million dollars in GCI. Barrett says they win about 80% of the competitive listing appointments that they go on. What helps them get those listings is that they do a few things that really make them stand out and look different.
On today’s show, you’ll hear Barrett talk about that listing box that he mentioned at the top of the show. You’re going to hear what’s in it and how it gets a lot of sellers to sign paperwork before the appointment even starts. He’ll talk about the five questions that every seller wants answered during the listing appointment. And Barrett is going to share some scripts for the first contact with a new lead and the pre-qualification call that they do. So, all of that is coming up today in part one of our two-part series.
As we dive in, I’m talking to Barrett about what happens right when a new lead comes in. In this example, it’s a HomeLight lead, and he says step one is for his ISA’s to respond really, really quickly.
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Barrett: We receive a HomeLight lead, which is obviously a competitive situation. Their job is to be on the phone with that consumer within ten seconds. Ten seconds of that lead coming in, they are on the phone with them, because speed to lead really does matter. We are very good and my ISA’s are scripted very well into getting into rapport with that consumer very quickly because that consumer is probably getting bombarded with phone calls and texts, and it’s a little overwhelming. And the first job is to get into rapport and kind of calm them down and let them know we’re here to help them and to take care of them, not to just sell them something.
Matt: What does that script look like? What does the ISA say when that lead first comes in? How do you get into rapport like that?
Barrett: So it really depends on the consumers’ energy when it comes in. So, I teach my ISA’s to mirror and match very well, not only tonality but the rate of speech. So if it’s a New Yorker, and they’re talking really fast, we need some information, we need to go real fast, you better match that.
Barrett: Or, if it’s somebody from Texas, you better not talk like a New Yorker. And I don’t mean to belittle either one of those people. However, rapport means mirroring and matching them on the phone in both tonality and rate of speech. The exact script will depend on the consumer–whether it’s a buyer or a seller. In this case, we’re talking about sellers.
“So, I understand you may be wanting to put your house on the market here in Orlando. How can we best help you with that?”
And it’s letting them talk. It is asking way more questions than telling. Selling is asking questions, not telling people information.
When the ISA has that consumer on the phone, they’re very intelligent. They’re very well-scripted. The idea is for them to set an appointment with that consumer. Sometimes, when they are in conversation, they have what we call a “call-out button” which, literally, calls all of the agents on the team and says, “I have somebody on the phone right now,” (just like a HomeLight work transfer lead) “can you get on the phone right now?” They use that if they get stuck, if they have kind of a combative consumer on the phone, if they’re just not getting into rapport. The objective is to get somebody on the phone at that point that can do a better job.
It may be the consumer’s having a bad day. They don’t want to talk to a female. They don’t want to talk to a male. Whatever that is, it is to get into rapport. Their ultimate goal is to make an appointment. So, they’re pretty good at it, and let’s say they do make an appointment. Today is a Monday, and they make an appointment for Wednesday. The goal is not to make an appointment more than 72 hours out.
Barrett: They can if they have to, but the goal is to do it within two or three days. Within four hours of the ISA making the appointment, the agent who the appointment is made for, then picks up the phone and calls the consumer again to introduce themselves and let them know, “Hi, I’m Barrett.” “Hi, I’m Ed. I’m the one that will be going on the appointment with you. Just wanted to introduce myself.” So it’s a second layer of familiarity.
Matt: Let me rewind a little bit. Because if I’m listening to this right now, I’m thinking all right, Barrett just said they have a “call-out button”. Can you tell me what that is?
Barrett: It’s a text. It’s a text that has all of us on it, that the ISA can do while they’re on the phone and send a text out that says, “I’ve got a consumer on the phone. Somebody jump in,” and the first person that calls in, that’s whose call she takes or he takes.
Matt: Okay, gotcha. All right. So it’s as simple as they’re on the phone, and if they need the help, they just text the team, and somebody chimes in at that point?
Matt: Okay, let’s fast forward back to where we were. You were just talking about how the agent who is going to work with this person, you said they have four hours to confirm the appointment. How much pre-qualifying do you do before you actually go out?
Barrett: On that call? Very little. It’s just an introduction call. What happens next, or actually, it happens before that call because it’s a different person, either my director of operations or my listing manager sends out what we call our “listing box”. Lots of agents have a pre-listing package, and it’s a file or a folder of some sort that says, you know, this is who we are, and this is what we do. We’ve taken that about 10 levels beyond. We send out, literally, a box. Want me to show it to you?
Matt: At this point in our conversation, Barrett grabbed one of his pre-listing boxes and showed me everything that’s in it, piece by piece. It’s about 10 by 13 and about 3 inches thick. It took more than two minutes to go through everything inside. It has gifts like cookies and popcorn. The popcorn is there because there’s a link to an online video about the team. It has a lottery ticket and a business card.
There’s a little gold key inside because Barrett’s team has what they call the Gold Key Club. Clients can borrow painting equipment, pressure washers, and so forth. The box has a bunch of information and marketing collateral, things like brochures, explaining why you should hire Barrett’s team, seven things that set the Barrett Spray team apart from other Orlando agents, a guide to choosing an agent, a state of the market report, an explanation of their commission tiers.
All of the listing agreement paperwork is in there. They divide that into “fun homework”, and “not-so-fun homework”. And then, if the home is above the $500,000 price point, they also include a hardback book that offers a more elegant introduction to the team, the sales process and so forth. So all of that goes into this one box. They’ll drop it in the mail for overnight delivery, or they’ll use a courier if the appointment is same day. We’ll have some photos of all this that you can see in our Facebook Mastermind group. As we get back to the conversation, I asked Barrett why he does all this for every listing appointment.
Barrett: I tell agents consumers, from a listing perspective, ask five questions on every listing appointment: Why should I hire you? What makes you different? What’s your marketing look like? What’s your commission? And, where should I price my house? That box answers four of the five before I ever show up at the door. Why should I hire you? There’s, literally, pamphlets of why [they] you should hire me. What makes you different? There’s, literally, information that says, “this is why we’re different.” What’s your marketing look like? Well, here’s an example of it on a pretty substantial level. What’s your commission? We do a 6, 5, 4. It’s in there. And what should I price my house at? And I don’t tell them that until I cross the threshold.
Matt: Does that get you listings? That box, you attribute listings to that box?
Barrett: Many, many, many, many, many listings. When I first started sending it out, I actually kept track of how many I sent out and who got it, and what the reaction was, and if I got the listing because of the box, or if I got the listing or not. I stopped doing that years ago, I stopped tracking it because now everybody, every seller gets a box, because the response has been so overwhelming around it.
Nobody else does it, nobody else comes anywhere close to it. I give this to anybody. I’ve taught so many classes and said this is it, and if you want copies of what’s in it, talk to my director of operations, she’ll give you… you’ve got to make it yours, of course. This is all branded to us. I know of one other agent in Orlando that does anything like it, and it’s because I gave it to her, and I’ll give it to anybody.
There’s enough business for all of us. It shows a level of professionalism that is missing in a lot of real estate, unfortunately. It allows people to see who you are and your level of marketing and professionalism before you ever show up at the door. And that’s what they’re looking for. That’s what consumers want to know. Who are you? Why should I hire you? Yes, you’ve got a website. So does everybody else. What makes you any different than any other realtor?
Matt: What does it cost to make that? I assume you’re making that yourself in the office, it doesn’t look like something that a vendor has put together for you.
Barrett: We do it in the office. If we don’t put the hardcover book in it, [then] everything else in the box is about 9 bucks, just shy of $9. And, to overnight it through the U.S. Postal Service is another 9 bucks. So it’s about $18 to make and to mail locally. The hardback book cover itself is $13. So, it’s why I only put those in higher price listings because it almost doubles the cost, it over doubles the cost of the box and it almost doubles even with shipping. But it’s the book cover is a very nice piece, and we print the hardcover binders, and then we fill it in the office and keep it updated because it’s a melted binder that we just make them one off at a time. My director of operations, we have about 8 or 10 in the office at all times, and we changed the…we put our sales in them and we changed the state of the market once a month. So at the end of the month, she updates the books, so she doesn’t want to build 50 of them because they change every month.
Barrett: We were going on 10 to 12 listing appointments a month, now we’re going on 15 to 20 listing appointments a month. So we go through a bunch of them.
Matt: So if you’re doing… Let’s max that out. So say you’re doing 20 listing appointments a month, you said max costs, depending upon, you know, whether the book’s in there or not, say call it $30 or so. So that’s $600 a month, if my math is right, yeah. Right? So, you get one listing out of that, it’s more than paid for itself.
Barrett: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I can’t tell you how often we go on listing appointments, and the box is sitting on the kitchen table with us as we do the listing appointment. And our listing appointments go kind of the same way every time, and we’ll talk through that here in a minute. It used to shock me, and now I just love it, when we get to the point and we go, “Okay, let’s do some paperwork,” and they pull it out of the box and go, “Oh, I’ve already done that. It’s all done. Here you go.”
Barrett: It’s a beautiful thing. It truly is. Some people will tell us that as soon as we get there, “I’ve done all the paperwork, we’ve just, you know, I’d want you to see the house and price it for us.” Some people will actually let us get to the end and go, “Yeah, this was your listing to lose. I did all of this in advance, knowing I was pretty sure I was gonna go with you, but I just wanted to make sure that, you know, you were who you said you were.” And then, they’ll pull it out. “Go ahead, it’s all done for you.”
Matt: Right. I mean, that’s got to be a great feeling when the box has done the work for you.
Barrett: It’s done the heavy lifting.
Matt: That box is something that really helps Barrett’s team stand out from the crowd. And you just heard him explain that it makes such an impression. A lot of sellers fill out the paperwork before the appointment begins. The box does the selling for them.
But of course, sometimes the Spray team still has to win over the seller during the appointment. And it turns out, they do things a little differently in that situation too. It starts with a two-agent approach and a detailed call to prequalify the seller.
Matt: The agent assigned to the listing, when they get to the listing appointment, is that the first time that they are talking to the client, or do they also do some pre-qualifying?
Barrett: Absolutely. Our listing appointments are always two people. It’s usually me and my lead listing agent. However, sometimes it is my lead listing agent and another agent if I’m busy or gone or something. It’s always two people. It is the responsibility of the lead listing agent assigned to the listing the day before the appointment to prequalify the appointment.
And that pre-qualification phone call, we say, “Do you have a few minutes so that we can ask you some questions to be better prepared for you when we show up tomorrow?” Those few minutes usually end up being 30 to 60 minutes. That is a much chunkier pre-qualification conversation. And it starts with “If what we say makes sense, and you feel comfortable and confident that we can sell your house, are you prepared to sign listing paperwork with us tomorrow?” And whatever the answer is–yes or no–we keep going. “Well, maybe. I am interviewing a couple of other agents.” “Okay, that’s great. I was going to ask that question anyway. May I ask who my competition is?”
Sometimes they’ll tell you, sometimes they won’t. My goal is to find out who my competition is, if it’s competitive, and I do game film. I want to know who my competition is because I want to know how to beat them. Period. What their weaknesses are. Our goal is to get as much information on that phone call as we possibly can. And that is a four-page script that I have created over time through the culmination of other pre-qualification scripts combined with personal experience, and it’s pretty inclusive.
The objective is to know [the] motivation of the seller. Are we competing? What did they believe the house condition is? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your house? Ten being Taj Mahal, one being knock it down. Okay, what would make it a 10? And then they’ll tell you, “Well, the bathrooms need to be remodeled,” or “I haven’t touched it since,” and you get a sense of what that consumer feels about their own house. So when you show up, and they gave it a six, and it really is the Taj Mahal, you’ll know that kind of what their relevance is to the house. Or if they say it’s a 10, there’s nothing wrong, and you show up and they’re hoarders that you’re like okay, this person is out of touch with reality.
Matt: By the time of this pre-qualification call, has the agent already run comps?
Barrett: It doesn’t matter at that point because you’re not giving them information at that point. You’re getting information from them. You’re asking them questions. Sometimes they have. Sometimes they haven’t, but that’s not the point at that conversation to know, you know, what it is, where it is. It’s gauging motivation and who we’re up against and what we’re up against from the consumer standpoint. And frankly, it’s to know is this a legitimate listing appointment? Because that pre-qualification conversation stops 15% maybe 20% of the listing appointments we go on because it’s not a real sale.
Matt: Because of what do you find out that makes you stop and say, we’re not going to do this appointment?
Barrett: If we’ve run comps, and we asked the question, “Do you have a general, you know, value of what you think your house is worth?” And they say, “Yeah, I’m not selling this house for less than $600,000.” And it’s a $300,000 house, we’re gonna go, “Okay, can you tell me where that number comes from?” “Well, I need $600,000 to move.” “Okay, I can appreciate that. And where does the value for $600,000 come from?” So if they’re truly stuck on $600,000, and it’s a $300,000 house, we’re not going on that appointment. There’s no reason to. And we dig very deep around that at that point to know, are they just blowing smoke? Are they, you know, pulling our chain around $600,000? Or no, they’re not listed for less than $600,000 and then let somebody else deal with that.
Matt: So let’s assume that it’s a serious seller, pricing conversation gets held off until you are in the house with them. Is there anything else you’re purposely not talking about during the pre-qualifying call?
Barrett: Specific value. I will not go into specific value on a pre-qualification call. Other than that, no. I mean, they’ll ask me what commission is fairly often on that call, and it’s pretty straightforward. We do a 6, 5, 4, and what that means is it’s 6% if another agent brings the buyer, I’m gonna split 3 and 3. It’s 5% if our team brings the buyer, and it’s 4% if you, Mr. Seller, would happen to refer the buyer to our team that we would represent. So it keeps all of us in the game. We hunt for buyers hard because we make more money, and we want you to continue to hunt for buyers because it reduces your commission and makes you more money.
Matt: And that’s all explained in the box as well.
Barrett: It is explained in the box as well. Yes, there’s a fluffy flier that talks about it, and then there’s an actual addendum to the listing contract that does it. And that works in Florida because we can represent both the buyer and the seller. I know there’s a lot of states that you can’t do that in. In our state, you can. So, we can.
Matt: You mentioned earlier that you always have two people show up for the listing appointment. Why is that?
Barrett: We have found over time that two people show team support, that they’re not just hiring one individual, [a] one-man-band agent, that we come as a force. That, from their perspective, it shows they’re not just hiring one person. They’re hiring an entire team of people that specialize at their jobs. From our perspective, when we are sitting with the consumer, it’s oftentimes two consumers–whether it’s husband, wife, or whatever.
And we can gauge the body language and the energy of that consumer better as one person is talking, the other person is watching. And when the person stops talking, the other person can engage, there is more often than not, the consumer will connect with one of us better than the other. And if there are two consumers, say, husband and wife, we pair off better that way, and they’re not kind of tag-teaming one agent. We have found over the years that when we go as a team, the two of us together, and it’s not just me and him–it is two of us–period, our chances of success are much greater.
Matt: Now, listeners are probably hearing this and thinking, “Wait a second, if two agents are going on this appointment, and you get the listing, whose listing is it?”
Barrett: All listings go in my name, I’m the team leader. And the other agent that is there goes as a secondary agent. So there’s two agents on every listing.
Matt: And are you one of the two on all the listing appointments?
Barrett: I’m always one of the two. Yeah, all the production goes under my name, and it also goes under the secondary agent.
Matt: Okay, so there’s never any competition between two of your agents.
Barrett: So, what happens on my team is, it’s a little different. My team is paid on a spreadsheet breakdown based on the activity that they do in that transaction. So, going on the listing appointment and taking the listing is worth 20% of the commission. And when two people go on it, it actually gets split 10 and 10. When I go on it with another agent, I give the other agent the whole 20%.
Matt: So, there’s no competition there in that sense.
Barrett: No. Our competition is with whoever the other competing agent is. We take that competition very seriously. And there’s always competition on the back end on a team. If you don’t have competitive agents, find new agents. That’s part of this business. However, the way our pay structure is broken down it alleviates the vast majority of that.
Matt: Is there ever a concern about confusing the client because they’ve already had this 30 to 60-minute pre-qualification call with one agent, and then all of a sudden two show up?
Barrett: Rarely, because what happens is at the end of the appointment, there’s a handoff that says, “Ed is the lead listing specialist on the team. He will be your point of contact for the majority of this. I, as the team leader, will always be here to answer any questions that you have if Ed is gone or on vacation or on an appointment or whatever. I’m always here to answer questions and help you, however, Ed will be your main point of contact going forward.”
And that happens every step of the way with the consumer. There’s a soft handoff that says, “Okay, this is who you’re going to talk to next because they are the best person for the job to answer those questions. And we introduced the lead listing manager at that point, and we say, “Lisa is going to show up with the photographer, and she’s going to measure your house, and she’s going to put the data entry into the MLS. She’s going to build the listing for you so if you have any questions around that, she is your contact.” And we point her out on the box, and show her contact information so they know who’s coming and what happens next.
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(Hi, this is Matt McGee. HomeLight Settlement provides modern title and escrow services to simplify your closing. Our dedicated escrow officers ensure your clients have a seamless closing every time. Contact your HomeLight Agent Experience Team, or go to homelight.com/agents. After you sign up to use our settlement services, a HomeLight rep will be in touch to help you get started. HomeLight Settlement is currently available in select states and will expand to more states in the future.)
(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)
So that’s part one on getting the listing. Thanks so much to Barrett Spray. Great stuff there about how they get the listing 80% of the time in competitive situations. Today, we covered everything that happens from the time the lead comes in up until the listing appointment itself. Next week, in part two, we will dive into the appointment. I’ll give you a preview of that in just a moment.
Here are my Takeaways for episode 81. “Getting the Listing with Barrett Spray.”
Takeaway number one: When a lead comes in, the ISA’s job is to respond within 10 seconds. Speed to lead matters, and it helps them set more appointments. The ISA’s are also trained in an NLP technique called “mirroring and matching”. The idea is to match the consumer’s tone and rate of speech to build rapport.
Takeaway number two: Barrett talked about the five questions that every seller needs answered when they’re choosing an agent to list their home.
Question number one: Why should I hire you?
Number two: What makes you different?
Three: What does your marketing look like?
Four: What’s your commission?
And question five: Where should I price my house?
Takeaway number three: One of the things Barrett’s team does to stand out from the crowd is send a pre-listing box, not just a standard listing packet. I spent about 90 seconds listing all the stuff that’s inside. Barrett says this box answers four of those five questions, and it often convinces sellers to choose his team before they even show up for the appointment. If you want to see the box for yourself, check out our Facebook Mastermind. We’ll share some pictures in there.
Takeaway number four: They do a detailed pre-qualification call to learn things like the seller’s motivation, which other agents the seller is interviewing and so forth.
And Takeaway number five: Speaking of standing out from the crowd, they always send two agents to every listing appointment. Barrett says it gives them a better chance to make a personal connection with the sellers, especially when it’s a couple that owns the home. And those are your Takeaways this week.
Now coming up next week, we’ll have part two with Barrett Spray. We’re going to pick up with the listing appointment itself and what happens once they get to the house. We’re going to talk a lot about the pricing conversation because that is such a key part of the process in today’s market. Barrett is going to share the script that he uses to talk to the seller about the value of their home. Here’s a preview of that:
Barrett: Next is size, size of the house, size of the dirt. Size matters in real estate. That’s where price per square foot comes from. Please do not use price per square foot when it comes to value residential real estate. It does not work. If you have the exact same house, one sits on a ski lake, one sits right across the street from the ski lake, it’s the exact same square footage, it’s the exact same house. There could be a half a million dollars difference because of that ski lake and the price per square foot goes completely sideways.
Matt: So, make sure to join me next week for part two about getting the listing with Barrett Spray. If you have any questions or feedback about what you heard today, in part one, there’s a couple of ways you can get in touch. Leave a voicemail or send me a text. The phone number is 415-322-3328. You can send an email to walkthrough[at]homelight.com or just find me in our Facebook Mastermind group. Go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough™, and the group should come right up.
That’s all for this week. Thanks so much to Barrett Spray for joining me, and thank you for listening. If you have a moment, can I ask a quick favor? Please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. Sure would appreciate that. And while you’re there, hit that follow button so that you get all of our future shows automatically.
My name is Matt McGee, and 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, I’ll talk to you again next week. Bye-bye.
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