(This is a different “Ben” from Ben Curry, who works at Smart Agents.)
- Books Given Away: 80
- Listings earned with the help of the books: 10
Biggest benefit of using the books: “It gives me more of that expert look. Anybody that has a book, you just automatically think they're an expert.”
We asked him how many listings the books have helped him get, and he replied, “I would say a very conservative number. Probably 10 (listings).”
Here’s how the books helped Ben beat hundreds of other Realtors and list a $500,000 FSBO:
“One of the direct results, it was a $500,000 listing. It was a For Sale by Owner in a prime, prime area."
He probably was called by every single Realtor for 100 miles around. I gave him the book. He was going to go out of state for a little while and wanted to touch base again. When he came back, that's what really sold him.
He took two weeks, followed the instructions in staging the home. So went through the book, got the home all prepared. Listed with me without a problem. He said, ‘Can you just email me the papers with the docusign?’”
Listen to the Highlights Interview Audio below for more details on exactly how Ben is using the books.
Listen to the Full-Length Audio to get all the details.
Here is a transcript of the interview with Smart Agents and Ben.
Ben: There's been a lot of success just handing out the book. I've looked, what's the word I'm looking for, more like an authority on the subject. Even amongst other Realtors, once the book is out or once it's in somebody's hand it just kind of puts you that much higher, like an expert.
So it's helped on many occasions when I go on a listing appointment and let's say I don't get it, I leave them the book. They always say they read through the book, they liked it and I get the listing. I can't say I definitely got the listing because of that book, but on a few occasions, it's actually worked wonders.
One of the direct results, it was a $500,000 listing. It was a For Sale by Owner in a prime, prime area. He probably was called by every single Realtor for 100 miles around. Beautiful home, he was realistic about the price, everything. Went out there, met with him, chit chatted with him.
Gave him one of the books. It was his sister’s house, and he had inherited it. Beautiful home, had nice furniture. Had a lot of stuff in there. Nice stuff, but I gave him the book, said let's do this. He was going to go out of state for a little while and wanted to touch base again. I said, well read the book. It's going to really help you get this house prepared.
When he came back, that's what really sold him. He took two weeks, followed the instructions in staging the home. So went through the book, got the home all prepared. Listed with me without a problem. I said absolutely. I don't want to talk to anybody else.
Come on over and list it before he got back into town. He said, "Can you just email me the papers with the docusign?" Sure. He said, "Give me a couple of weeks because I want to do some of the staging and get rid of some of the stuff in there like you had mentioned in the book." Sure, not a problem. We can postdate that. Got back. He did the work and it sold in a matter of two weeks. Almost at full price. That was definitely a direct relation with the book.
Smart Agents: Just because of the sheer amount of competition you had. I mean, that kind of FSBO gets a million phone calls.
Ben: That was in a prime, prime area. Expensive, highly desirable. It's near the bay, so it's very high desirable area. A lot of Realtors, a lot of competition right there. His phone probably was ringing off the hook.
He did tell me he got calls. When I asked him, and I said, "Has anybody called and seen about the house?" No, but I get a call from a Realtor about every day. I go yeah, to be expected. So he was being bombarded.
With the book in hand, just kind of set me over the top with them. Him utilizing the book and the ideas of the book really set the house up. It was a beautiful home, but you couldn't see it because there was a lot of stuff. I try to tell clients how to stage it, but you don't want to offend them either.
This was an easy way to tell him how to prepare it and how to get it ready to sell and that I didn't have to say, "Oh, that doesn't look good or that looks good." So he rented a storage unit, cleaned it all out, got it staged nicely and sold it. It was not a problem. It was a great home and he even said, "Because of the book."
Then there's a been a couple of For Sale by Owners, you know maybe $200, $175 here and there that I have used both the For Sale by Owner book and then, because I try to switch it off a little bit. I have For Sale by Owner book and then I have the Wealthy Property Sellers book. I have them on both covers too.
Some of the For Sale by Owners, I give them the For Sale by Owner book, and some of them I don't. Depending on the property, I just want to see what works. With him, I didn't use the For Sale by Owner book. I used the black cover Wealthy Home Sellers book because I really went in there wanting to list his property. He knew that; I knew that. I was there to meet him. I didn't want to necessarily go with that approach.
On other people, I've gone with the approach where they said they're going to try it on their own for maybe three weeks, maybe a month. I'll say, "Hey, I'd love to stop by and take a look at the property. I have a book that goes over selling your home on your own. I'd love to drop it off." People are usually excited.
They're like, "Wow. You're just giving it me?" I'm like, sure, absolutely. Read it over, and if you have any questions about it, let me know. I've had them follow up with me and ask me things. The more they're talking to you, of course, the more they like you and it ends up listing the property.
It's been a success. I'm in the middle of moving companies, and I just got back into real estate. So now that I have more time. I've been in real estate 20 years. I took about five years off for management. So I just got those books when I got back in, and now that I really hit it full time, absolutely. I'm going to bump the books up because there's no doubt that they work.
Smart Agents: OK. It's interesting. How many books do you think you've given away so far?
Ben: I've given away my whole stack. I only bought 80 I think?
Smart Agents: Yeah 76 on the first order and then you had another order for 16?
Ben: OK. I may have a couple laying around, but I've given away pretty much all of them.
Smart Agents: OK. Wow.
Ben: That one commission paid for all of them, but I've had lots of success with just giving them with my presentation. Like I said, I can't say for sure that those were the reasons I got the listings, but I know that they definitely set me above other agents. Nobody ever said, he was the only that said, this is why I hired you.
Smart Agents: So the one FSBO said the book made the difference?
Ben: Absolutely. He's the one that was bombarded by good agents — we're talking people that had great technology, top of the line good competitors. The book is what set him apart because he needed help in getting the home prepared. The book walked him through the staging and what to do and he really used that part and he really liked the information that I was giving to him, without trying to sell him.
So he had all these other agents trying to sell, sell, sell, sell, sell. While I was there, and he knew, of course, I wanted to list the home when he was done. That's kind of my approach, but let me take a look at it. Not a hard sell. When it comes through, let me be one of the people and gave him the book, said "Why don't you read this over so you can get a little more knowledgeable about the entire process? So whoever you pick, you know what's going on."
Smart Agents: Yeah.
Ben: That's when he went back up to Pennsylvania, or wherever he's from and read it and had him actually docusign the papers up to list it so I could get things moving with the marketing. Got home, got a storage unit, cleared the house out, staged it right and he said, "Yeah, I read the book. That's great. I appreciate it. Let's get the listing going now."
Smart Agents: Awesome. OK, cool. So the book, you don't have any listings that came directly from it, but it has helped you get quite a few listings.
Ben: Yes. That's how I've pretty much been marketing it. Now that, and like I was saying, I was only doing it part time. I did management for so many years and doing some other things. So I'm just now getting back into the full scheme of things. So I haven't really marketed the book, so to speak.
Giving it out, I know some of the suggestions are, give it away, mail it away to past expireds. That's kind of the next phase of what I want to do is really that marketing the book to past expireds, people that I can't directly meet.
So I kind of used it instead as a way when I meet them to give myself more of an expert look of saying "Hey, here's a book that my team and I wrote, read it over and hopefully, you'll get something out of it. Let me know what you think. If you have any questions please give me a call."
So I've been using it as that method. I have a presentation and things like that. All of those look the same. Everyone can be number one for some reason. Everybody can do this for some reason. Everyone takes pictures, everybody has websites. Everybody's presentations look the same.
The book is what sets it apart. There's been a few that have directly related. There was probably a lot more than a few, but the ones that I know of that actually mentioned it, people that said they read the book and that was one of the reasons.
It was a little $130,000 house. If you got a little further north, we have some inexpensive homes. She read it from cover to cover, and they went through the house and they painted it. They were sold.
They were doing it For Sale by Owner, and they didn't know if they wanted to rent it out again, keep it For Sale by Owner or what. They were really in that situation where they didn't owe anything on the house so it didn't matter, but they weren't sure exactly what they were gonna do.
So they were ones that I gave them a For Sale by Owner book. She went through it, they staged it and when they ultimately said, "You know what, we really don't want to keep it. We don't want to deal with the rentals anymore. We see there's a lot more to it. We would like to hire you to sell it." Actually, I just put that on the market, and I think I got two offers coming in today.
Smart Agents: Oh wow, two offers. OK, awesome.
Ben: It's a very low priced home. Those do generate a lot of offers, but that was a direct connection with the book.
Smart Agents: So the book, it hasn't directly gotten you any listings but it's helped you get how many listings do you think it's contributed to you getting?
Ben: I would say a very conservative number. Probably 10.
Smart Agents: Wow, OK.
Ben: I mean that would be a conservative because I do give them to every appointment I go on to. They mention it and it does kind of set it apart. Now, a lot of the other books I've given to people that aren't quite ready, friends, things like that. I haven't marketed the books, kind of like the idea that you have in the blog. I haven't really implemented any of those yet. That's what I want to do next.
I want to get a big lot made and really start going with some of the ideas that you have there. I've really only been using it with one particular idea, and that's when I go and meet the For Sale by Owner. We don't have a lot of expireds here. We don't even have a lot of old expireds here. We have, if the house expires in our market here, there's a reason. There's definitely a reason.
So we do have withdrawns that are sometimes good, sometimes bad. Even if you go past, three months ago, six months ago, there's not a whole lot of good properties that either expired or withdrawn that made it without selling.
So that's not quite a good market, but some of your other ideas in your blog I really wanted to try. I'm trying to set up, we have a event, and what is it for? I want to say it's for breast cancer. They have all the tables set up and it's at the high school. You can rent a table. I don't know; it's $500. One of the things I wanted to do was have a lot of books and get donations for breast cancer awareness and give out my books while I'm there.
They can meet me, see me on the cover, and I was thinking about trying that idea since I want to donate there. I can rent a spot and I have something of a value to give to them. It's going to help the breast cancer awareness too. That's an event I have coming up, I think that's in two months. It's as the weather gets a little bit cooler. We gotta get some books in hand for that.
Smart Agents: Yeah I see what you're saying. What type of leads have you given the books to so far?
Ben: Mainly For Sale by Owners. That's probably what I prospect the most. Second would be a good withdrawn that if I get to it quick enough. Definitely giving it to them. Then, a lot of the others are people that I'm meeting, just around. You can meet anybody and get in the conversation and I'm trying to think of one in particular so I can give you an exact scenario.
At a friend's house or having a gathering. His friend, or a friend of his friend, something like that was interested in selling a home. Had a lot of questions. I said, "Wait, I got something for you out in my car. Take it home, read it, let me know." That was Todd, and he gave him the book. He ended up listing. That's why I can't say if it was from the book or because I met him at the party. So it's hard to say.
Smart Agents: It contributed to it.
Ben: Exactly, exactly. He was excited about it. He said he read it. He said he really liked it. That would be the main one. For Sale by Owners and then just giving it when I'm out and about. Just giving it. Hey, here's a book or when somebody says my friend of my neighbor wants to sell or list, I'm like, "Oh here, have a book."
Smart Agents: Interesting. Let me go back to the FSBOs or the withdrawns. What else do you do with those type of leads besides just give them the book?
Ben: FSBOs, I do more FSBO appointments than withdrawns. Only because there's more of them out there. What I do is I make the phone call, very, very indirectly. Very soft. Just see, information about their home. Either I get it off Zillow. I mean I have property plus, that gives me a database of them too. Chit chat, are they working with Realtors?
If I were to bring them a buyer, would they be interested in seeing an offer? Sure. How long are you going to try this on your own before you explore other options? "Well, we're going to give it about two weeks. We're going to give it about two months." I say, "Well I'd love to swing by and at least take a look at the home. See if I know anybody. I'd love to bring them over." Then you can also meet with me, or in two months when you do decide we can meet again.
So they usually let you come right in, and that's when I proceed with the book. Depending on what kind of feel I have for the people and that's where I'm just testing different books. Do I give them the For Sale by Owner book, or do I give them the Wealthy Sellers Secret book? Those are really the only two I've tried.
Smart Agents: That's actually, I do remember when I was doing real estate about two years ago, I sold a ton, not a ton, a third of my customers, it was weird, but a third of my customers were 65, 70, 65 to 80 years old and empty nesters. They had a big house, and they weren't necessarily downsizing in all those, well, I guess a lot of them were downsizing.
They weren't downsizing to buy another house. They were downsizing to rent a smaller house. They already had another house, they were going to live in their RV. That kind of stuff.
Ben: Exactly. It's even people like that, that are becoming empty nesters and want to downsize or just get rid of one of their homes. So that's why I want to get a more, more of a collection of the books. So when it's closer to the divorced, closer to downsizing, maybe a rental that they don't want to rent anymore or whatever it may be. I'll have something, a little bit closer to what it is they're looking to do to approach them with.
Smart Agents: Interesting. OK. So the FSBOs, you call, you have a soft sell, find out how long they'll wait before listing. Anything else you do? You try to meet with them, preview the house if possible?
Ben: Oh yeah. Absolutely. I don't just mail them anything. Basically, that's the exact script. I'm calling about your home you have on Zillow. Is that still available? They always say yes. I say, “I’m just wondering if I had a buyer that was interested in your home, would you consider looking at an offer?"
They always, "Sure, yeah." Most of them say, "Sure, yeah. We wouldn't mind working with a Realtor. We don't want to list it." I say, "No, I understand you don't want to list it, but if I had a buyer." Some will say, "No, we're not going to work with a Realtor." I say, "If I had a buyer willing to pay you full price, would you not want to see that offer?" Well sure we'd see that. I go, "OK, that's all I'm asking. Not to list it."
Then I got into asking questions about the house. Looks like a beautiful home. Have you had a lot of people through? Just get to know them a little bit more. That's when I say, "I'm going to be in the area tomorrow or maybe in that area Thursday.
I'd love to swing by for like 10 or 15 minutes just so I can see the home in case I do have a buyer. One of the questions I always ask them there is, "How long are you going to try it on your own before you explore other options?" I don't say list, I just say explore other options.
That's when they usually give me a date, "We're going to try two weeks. We're going to try it a month, we're going to try it forever." Then I know OK, these people might be a waste of my time. Usually they say anywhere from two weeks to two months.
I say "Great. I'd love to meet you so that when you do decide to explore other options, you've already met me and I can leave a little information there for you. We can talk again when the time comes." Then they're always like, "Sure, absolutely." I have no problem getting inside.
Smart Agents: Wow, good for you.
Ben: I'd say there's a good 30 or 40, maybe not 30, I'd really have to look at the database that are in possession of the book and still trying it on their own. They haven't hit their date yet. I usually follow up. I follow up has not then as good as it has in the past. Like I said, I've been doing this 20 years, but I'm just now getting back into the sales part.
I was in management for many, many years. I managed a couple of Remaxes. I managed an independent, and then I was the productivity manager for Keller Williams. There was one couple that owned all the franchises in one county. So all four of them.
So I'm coming out of a long string of management and just kind of getting my stuff up to speed. So a lot of it, a lot of what I need to be doing is falling by the wayside. A lot of the follow up things that you know you have to do, getting them in the pipeline, things like that. So I definitely want to streamline, and that's what I've been doing the last couple of weeks, just getting everything in order.
Getting the office in order. I'm moving back to Remax because I just had my license at an independent company. Just trying to get everything back to where it was prior to me going, very organized. I definitely see in an advantage, with the books, within that marketing arsenal.
Smart Agents: I see what you're saying. Interesting.
Ben: If I can put it that way. I can see it in many places that would fit very well with what I'm planning on doing.
Smart Agents: Do you feel the books have increased your conversion rate on listing appointments?
Ben: I'll be truthful. I haven't hit those type of appointments hard. It has increased my conversion rate on For Sale by Owners listing with me, yes, absolutely. One of the things I haven't really begun doing yet is active farming to where it's calling up, going on an appointment, here's my presentation and list the property.
That's what I'm trying to get to, get everything organized. So far it's been let's meet, let's chit chat, let's get to know each other, oh by the way here's a book that my team and I wrote. Read it, give me a call. Here's some information about me and when the two months, two weeks, whatever comes into town I'd love to sit down and talk a little bit more, but we never get to that talk a little bit more. It usually, "Hey Ben, we decided to go with you. When do you want to meet? Let's meet tomorrow at six" and we list them.
So there hasn't been many where I actually am sitting down doing the presentations like I used. I used to do a lot of presentations and yes or not and go through there, overcome the objections, do a little bit of this. Once I start doing more farming, I'm sure that's going to come back into play a lot more.
Smart Agents: I see what you're saying. What do you say if someone asks if you wrote the book yourself?
Ben: I say my team and I.
Smart Agents: Your team and you.
Ben: I say my team and I wrote this book. I made a joke. I have all the knowledge in my head, but I'm not the best writer, so I definitely have to have people help with that. They usually don't say anything. They're like, "Oh, OK." All they see is the name on there and they don't question it. I like to say my team and I, I don't like to say just me because, then, you know.
Of course, I don't want to say, somebody else completely wrote it. I like the ones that say author with my name. I say team and I. Everybody knows, when I'm joking around with friends and stuff like that. Do you think Hillary Clinton really wrote her book and they're like, "No." Exactly. None of these famous people really write their book. They have a ghostwriter. Same thing.
Smart Agents: Did you end up listing that house from the open house where you gave the people at the open house?
Ben: You mean the larger one? Yeah. They were downsizing. It was an older couple. They didn't even have a computer. They were old school, had to go there for everything, help them with everything. I sold their home that was 230ish let' say, 225, 220 somewhere in there and then sold them a condo in a adult community ...
Smart Agents: So you were having an open house and you actually got a listing off of some people that you met at the open house?
Ben: Oh yeah. Absolutely. It was an older gentlemen who came in just to check out the house. Was driving through the neighborhood, saw the sign and they were looking to downsize. They had a big two story home, they don't use half of it. The kids are all grown.
They had a lot of equity in it. He really just came in just to see what was for sale in the market. We chit chatted. He was somebody we gave a book to. Went home, followed up a little bit. A little while later.
He was kind of like, "Just come list me". At that point he was, OK sounds good. Ready to go. Come list me.
Smart Agents: Excellent. Cool. What do you feel is the biggest benefit that you get from using the books?
Ben: I feel and what I've noticed is it just gives me that look of an expert. It gives me more of that expert look. Anybody that has a book, you just automatically think they're an expert. Why would they have a book?
Smart Agents: That is true.
Ben: So that's what I've noticed the most. It's like even if they're only thumbing through it, they're impressed and you stay in their mind. There's been times that I don't even think they read the book, but the fact that they had it, pictures on it, they thumbed through it.
It sat on the coffee table, so I'm constantly in front of them. It's not like a marketing material that you throw in the garbage, and that face has been in front of them for the last two weeks. I'm calling him. I come across very nice, not hard pushing and try to get them good information.
I even tell them, the book is not about me. It's not about what I can do for you, it's really about how you can sell your house. That's one of the things I say. It's not a marketing book. It doesn't talk about me. It just talks about my methods of how I get homes sold.
Smart Agents: Credibility. Expertise.
Ben: Exactly. A lot of credibility, things like that.
Smart Agents: What is been your biggest win from using the books?
Ben: In my market, I don't have a lot of big expensive properties. That $500,000 was the biggest that I can directly relate to the book. Then the $250, that's for sure.
Smart Agents: The open house you're saying?
Ben: Yup, the 250. The 130 that just had two offers. That I could say directly. My main focus is probably between 200 and 500 tops. That's really what is within my farming area.
Smart Agents: Awesome. OK. I have one more question, then I'll let you go. So it sounds like you're doing really well and things are working. This is actually a good question to ask you because you've been a broker too. It sounds like you're doing fairly well in real estate, but what advice would you have for an agent who's, they're trying to get listings and it just seems like a struggle? Nothing's working, nothing's panning out despite their best efforts. What would your advice to them be in that situation?
Ben: I did coach a lot of brand-new agents before getting back into real estate again. One of the things I've always been big at is old school. That's why these books and the new algorithms with the smart analytics and the social media with understanding the clicks I think is important, but without the foundation of old-school real estate, without knowing what to say, none of the other stuff is a waste of money.
You could make $100,000 and not know anything technical if you're good at old-school scripts and then of course, you could add the technical side to it and make $200,000, but if you just have the technical side, you're not going to make any money.
That's why I see a lot of new agents are going for, oh I need to get big on social media. I need to buy this software. I need to get this program. What I always tell them is A. Learn your scripts. Learn them inside and out. Up and down. Your listing scripts, your For Sale by Owner scripts. Just go out and meet people. It seems like they're very afraid to go and talk to people.
When they went through some of my courses I said, "You know, this week I just want you to go out and meet five For Sale by Owners. I don't even want you to ask for the listing. Don't even ask for it. Just go in there and chit chat with them. If you see a kayak in the garage and you like to kayak, chit chat about kayaking. If you see something else, golf, chit chat about golfing.
Just go in there and talk to them. I don't want you to ask for the listing." Just so I can get them over that hump of being scared. The more people you talk to, it's going to better your chances. So that's the one thing. Learn your scripts. It doesn't take a lot of money to download free scripts or any kind of scripts. You have scripts on your website.
Smart Agents: Yeah we do.
Smart Agents: It's true.
Ben: Learn your scripts inside and out and go out and just meet people. I would start, it depends on their budget. If they have zero budget, I would start just going and visiting For Sale by Owners. There will be some sort of conversion rate. If you're really bad, you might have to see 100 For Sale by Owners.
If that's your number, well you might have to make your radius a little bit bigger, but there's plenty of For Sale by Owners that you could meet 100 in say a month or two. I mean it's one listing every month or two, and it's at least 30, $40,000 job. Then, start working on your conversion rate as you go up.
Smart Agents: That's true. Interesting. So instead of focusing on social media, they should improve their people skills and their sales skills?
Ben: Yes. I believe that 100%. Focusing on your sales skills, your objection handling, your scripts. I've had agents that are a whiz with social media. They are all over it every day, but if you don't know how to close somebody, if you don't know what to say to lead them in the right direction, if you don't know how to control the conversation, once you're eyeball to eyeball with them, you can't close.
So it can lead to appointments maybe, but if they're not closing those appointments, it doesn't matter how big, how much money they got. You gotta learn what to do when you're eyeball to eyeball. I firmly believe that's the first thing you gotta learn is how to be eyeball to eyeball and actually talk with these people. Then, start focusing on your lead funnel.
Smart Agents: Good point. I like it. OK, cool. Awesome. That's all my questions.