I’m bad at sales. Or at least, that’s what I thought.
You might be thinking the same thing about yourself or the agents on your team or in your brokerage. You might be telling yourself: Some people are just not wired for sales or Some people aren’t hungry enough.
I thought those things about myself, but then I had a realization.
I’m not bad at sales, I just wasn’t selling something that my customers wanted.
I would approach real estate agents and brokers and say something like this: “Hey, I’m an MREA Bookkeeper, I’m very good at reconciling and I can also give you some advice on your books because I’ve had a lot of experience in the real estate industry.” (MREA refers to The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller, which includes a very good accounting model for real estate teams).
To that, they would say: “Sounds great, how much do you charge.” I would tell them. Inevitably they would reply: “Wow, that’s a lot more than my current bookkeeper.”
At this point in the conversation, I would start to talk about how I was actually very different than your typical bookkeeper, how I could add value because of my industry knowledge, etc etc. Sometimes I could back myself into an agreement, but more often than not, I wouldn’t get the work.
So where did I go wrong? I went wrong by pitching the portion of my services that took the most amount of my time and energy (bookkeeping) as the primary, most important part of the service I was offering. In reality, while bookkeeping is time consuming and needs to be done properly, it was not where I would actually add significant, long-term value to my clients. The real value of my services was in the advisory, and the forecasting, and in all the failures and lessons I’ve learned in my years in real estate.
Imagine if you, as a real estate agent, met a potential client and said, “Hi, I’m a great contract writer. I also show houses really well. And because I’m in real estate, I can advise you on how to buy or sell a home.” That would be crazy! You would never approach a client and say that. Of course you spend most of your time writing offers and showing homes, but that’s not where your true value to the client is. Your true value to your client is your advisory and fiduciary advocacy.
Here’s what’s crazier. I was doing just that to my potential customers! I was telling folks what I spent my time doing, not what value I could provide. So the problem wasn’t that I was bad at sales. I just wasn’t selling what my customers wanted.
That’s where the Fractional CFO idea came into play. I had to come up with an entirely different vocabulary for what it is that I could do for my clients, and not box myself into the bookkeeper category as soon as I opened my mouth. I needed to sell to my true value, not just what I spent my time on. The Fractional CFO embodies the value that I’m selling. As a Fractional CFO, I’m a trusted advisor, not just another vendor. I finally had something to sell!
In your own business, are you giving yourself or your agents something to sell that differentiates them in the marketplace? Are you building a vocabulary that resonates with potential clients and sets you apart as a truly valuable advisor? If not, I challenge you to dig into what it is that you’re selling, because just telling yourself, I’m bad at sales, won’t fix anything.