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First Person

Conversation With Sean Carpenter

Sean Carpenter likes to share.

When he finds a beer he likes, he posts pictures of it and details where he drank it. He loves sports, so he started a sports podcast with friends and shares his thoughts on the latest games. Oh, and once he started having some pretty decent success in real estate, he began training new agents.

See a trend?

Sean Carpenter shares. Everything.

His enthusiasm. His knowledge. His joy. His layovers. He writes, he blogs, he posts on social.

He is the living embodiment of give, give, give. And that’s why I wanted to sit down with him and talk in first person.

“I loved to share what I was doing,” Sean told me.

“I came from a point of sharing. And some of the older agents in the room would pull me aside and say, ‘Hey, why are you showing people all the stuff you're doing? These are your competitors?’ And I'm like, ‘Well, no they're not. They're my teammates.’”

Sean eventually became the Director of Training with Coldwell Banker in Columbus and Cincinnati.

“I was kind of given a blank slate to create whatever I felt was the best training program for our agents.”

Sean shares His Relationship Marketing Philosophy

First and foremost Sean teaches agents that relationships are founded on common ground.

So identifying that common ground is his first step. And social media provides all the details he needs.

“You can follow people and you can read the streams and you can read the stories. I think too many people in our real estate business, their database consists of name, address, email, and phone numbers. We need to have way more columns in that spreadsheet. We need to have first name, last name, spouse's name, birthdays, anniversaries, kids' names, pets' names, where they went to college.”

These aren’t data points. They’re meaningful touchpoints as well as conversation starters.

Sean is a popular speaker, busy Ambassador at Inman Connect events, blogger and an agent with Coldwell Banker King Thompson.

He’s also into cults, well not exactly.

Cults, Kults and Finding Your People

“It's my job to build a cult-like following. Right? And I spell it K-U-L-T not C-U-L-T,” Sean clarified. “It's the Cameron Crazies, it's the Cubs fans, it's the Ohio State Buckeyes, it's Gator Nation.”

Of course, these are sports examples, but the idea of building a rabid fan base is the right one. People who support you no matter what. They pick up the phone when you call. They like the posts you share. And most of all, they trust you.

And gaining that trust is tricky. Because though a person may know you and like you, they might not trust you with the inside knowledge of their family and finances -- two elements that need to be transparent in a real estate transaction.

So Sean overcomes that barrier with what he calls The Three C’s.

“The first one is confidence,” he told me. “If a salesperson has confidence in what they do and, and who they are, you're going to start trusting them more.

Confidence + Competence + Consistency

Competence is the second one.

"When someone has competence, and they know what they're talking about, they know their stuff, you trust them more.”

Competence, says Sean, comes from knowing your data. Having market information at your fingertips. Knowing your tools and using them well.

“And the third C, which I'll argue is the most important one, is consistency,” he said.

Delivering on what you say you’ll do, over and over again.

And that means being responsive, having high quality work, and standing behind your own product.

These deep relationships take time and effort to cultivate. But there is a risk, albeit a small one, in becoming too close and jeopardizing your ability to do business together.

It’s the old, ‘best not to do business with friends’ adage.

Just recently, I had a couple who wanted to build. And they were going to talk to a builder. And they kind of went and talked to a builder and they said, ‘Hey, we're going to get all this commission. So would you list our house for free, because you're going to not have to do anything on the other side?’

Because of the friendship, they couldn’t see Sean’s value.

The Relationship Side of Leads

So what is a lead?  

To Sean, it’s a potential relationship.

“I just know them less than I know these people, right? We talk about putting leads in the funnel and you'll get some out the other side. Well, what happens to the ones that got put in the funnel but didn't make it out?

They had a shitty experience, right? Marketing expert Seth Godin talked about flipping the funnel.

If you turn that funnel on its side, and you build relationships, and you solve problems, and you have fun and you qualify people by asking the right questions, and you put them through the funnel backwards, and you give them a great experience as they go through…  When they come out the other side, they're gonna tell everybody!”

So it’s not a click. It’s a form. It’s not a lead.

It’s a person out there.

A person thinking of doing something. People aren’t just leads.

“I think just being respectful of people and not treating them like a lead. Treating them like there's a person who has a concern on the other end of this question."

Perhaps the one distinguishing characteristic about a lead is that the conversation began with real estate. And that can be a challenge with relationships.

So I wanted to know: how do you steer the conversation to real estate without sounding… salesy?

For Sean, it comes back to that third C: competence.  

I’m meeting Ted for beers. I probably want to take maybe five minutes before I go leave the office and just jump on MLS and see if there's any listings around where Ted lives. Anything that just went into contract.I don't need to walk in and say, ‘Hey, Ted, good to see you, by the way the house down the street's in contract.’ I don't always have to talk about real estate. (But) I always want to be ready to talk about real estate.

And that goes for social media, too. Sean has mastered the art of talking about real estate on Facebook without actually talking about real estate.

“You can say, ‘Showing houses to Shannon and Jeff today up in Dublin. Taking them out for happy hour afterwards. Who's got the best happy hour in town?’”

Welcome To Sean’s Club

Sean’s system of staying in touch is a thing of beauty.

It’s called the 4H Club:

Every day when I come into the office, I do my 4H club. First H is I write five handwritten notes. The second H is a hot sheet. I run the hot sheet for my market, see what new listings have come on the market. The third H is happy birthdays. I roll through my Facebook and I wish people happy birthday. And if they're someone I know, they're going get a video text from me.
Then the last H is my high-fives. I do five likes on Facebook, I do five comments on Facebook, I do five retweets or comments on Twitter, I do five likes on Instagram, and I send five random texts.

That's 40 people he’s touched before nine o'clock in the morning.