Andy Heller, a veteran real estate investor and public speaker, discovered that while his audiences were shrinking in size there was a specific need for an online realty community. So the co-founder of Regular Riches, an educational company for the “regular” investor, launched the social media site RealtyJoin with the primary focus of bringing together professionals from the field’s different business sectors.
In our Q&A, Heller speaks of his latest venture, why the hardest-to-reach prospect is the best prospect, and the most common mistakes salespeople make.
Q: How long has RealtyJoin been in business?
RealtyJoin just celebrated its five-week birthday the other day. We are elated with the results at this early stage.
Q: Do you think social media sites are becoming more and more “social business” sites?
RealtyJoin is not so much a social networking site as it is a business networking site. It is specifically designed to help everyone who is a member of RealtyJoin make money by networking in the realty field. Real estate is a very interesting field because it’s one industry where you can’t make it on your own. For real estate, if you’re going to be a successful investor, you’ve got to go out there and find deals. If you need a good mortgage broker, need a good realty attorney, a good general contractor, a pool guy, or termite person, RealtyJoin is a vehicle for investors.
Your typical real estate investor needs 50 to 100 vendors they might call over a three- to four-year period. These vendors can reach out and find investors, and investors to find not just deals but an opportunity to put together their realty team to be successful.
Q: What are you doing now to generate revenue for RealtyJoin?
There’re two main ways that we’re generating revenue. The membership is free to everybody. Our primary goal in the first couple of years is to get the word out, get people registered and using the site, and get engaged. The site does have a shopping cart and offers both low-end and high educational materials that will be used by the real estate investor. The primary way though is by selling advertising. In our first five weeks we’ve signed up three different companies. Once our membership increases and becomes more and more relevant, we’ll be selling more advertising. We should hit 2,000 members any hour now.
Q: What’s your immediate goal in regard to membership?
Our goal is between 15,000 and 25,000 members within our first year. We really need to be somewhere around 100,000 members within two to three years. There’s nothing like our site out there right now. We are lucky enough to be really the only business networking site for real estate in this space. There are a number of very successful and very good niche sites that are out there catering to part of the real estate industry, but our site is specifically designed for everybody to help them make money.
Q: What are the most common mistakes salespeople make?
I think the most common mistake salespeople make is that they don’t ask for the business. Once they’re in front of the client, they don’t ask for the opportunity. The No. 1 mistake salespeople make in getting in the door is that they’re spinning their wheels with the wrong types of clients. I live by a rule in sales: The client that’s hardest to get on the phone is the client that you want. The client that’s easiest to get on the phone is a less desirable client. Why? Because that same client is going to receive the phone calls as well as receive appointments from all your competitors. You want that client that takes you five, six, 10 months to get in front of because most of your competitors along the way are going to give up. The mistake that salespeople make is that they focus on the easy-to-reach clients when they should be doing the opposite.
Q: What do you look for in a salesperson when you’re hiring?
Their track record is very important. Can they show me in their track record that they have a history of being a top performer? No. 2, do they have a reason to work harder than the next person? In other words, I want a salesperson who’s greedy, who has motivation. Do they have a couple of kids? Are they providing for a family? Also, I look for product knowledge, but product knowledge can be taught. Motivation can’t be taught. That comes from within. If I’m hiring for a low-end position that doesn’t pay as much, for a position that commonly would hire somebody out of school, I like to hire athletes because athletes make great salespeople. They’re super competitive and they hate to lose.
Q: Do you think today’s salesperson is relying more on e-mail to sell a product than selling over the phone or face-to-face?
They are and they shouldn’t. It’s going to be difficult to sell any product of value unless you’re in front of the client. E-mail can be very dangerous to the salesperson. No. 1, if you put something in writing it could be forwarded to a competitor. No. 2, it’s too easy for the client to say no. It’s much harder to say no on the phone, and it’s even harder to say no face-to-face. The best advice I can give any salesperson, besides using social media to network, is pick up the phone and get in front of the client. I use e-mail only as a last resort.
Q: What are the pluses and minuses of starting your own business?
As an entrepreneur there’s nothing more exciting than running your own business. The upside is huge. If you achieve your goals you have a chance to set you and your family up for life. The downside is there’s more pressure. Every decision comes out of your bottom line. Every mistake comes out of your bottom line.
Heller says that the use of social networking for salespeople is critical. In sales it’s about selling, and the best way to start is with the salespeople. Social media sites such as RealtyJoin allow the salesperson to select and target a seemingly endless pool of prospects, something that traditional selling can’t compete against. Old-school sales tactics, however, are not going away. As Heller says, the salesperson still has to ask for the business and still must work hard to connect with the key decision maker. Social networking may provide additional tools in this new age of selling, but the question remains: How effective will the salesperson be utilizing this media? Just because you’re holding an expensive Gibson guitar doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a better guitar player.