I had the pleasure of meeting Leigh Brown a few weeks ago when I did a speech for the Council of Residential Specialists "Sell-a-Bration" event down in Florida. Leigh has turned herself into a titan of the real estate industry and a true master of sales and she has written a new book about it, called "Outrageous Authenticity: Your Are Your Best Sales Weapon."
Regardless of your job specialty, the lessons Leigh was written here will help in all aspects of life. I recommend the read and hope you enjoy the preview from my conversation with her below.
Brandon Steiner: Outrageous Authenticity- who is this book for and why did you write this book?
Leigh Brown: This book is for anyone in sales who wants to get to the next level, but doesn’t want to get there with the old sales model as perceived by the general public (aka the pushy/slick-haired/polyester-wearing type of salesperson). I wrote the book because in society overall, we are pushing harder and harder toward blandness-so afraid of offending people, we are hiding our opinions and our uniqueness. However, humans are drawn to one another when there is a spark of personality and the possibility of common ground and conversation. I want to see salespeople create success on a foundation of who they are at their core being.
BS: You’ve been in real estate for 16 years now. Is this where you always envisioned your life being?
LB: I grew up around this industry and fought it as hard as I could, but wound up selling houses anyway. I don’t know that I ever envisioned my future in a tangible way. When I was a super-shy kid in high school, I sure wouldn’t have imagined being on stage in front of thousands of people!
BS: When did the light bulb go on for you- what was the point where you realized, “Wow, I’m really good at this and I can help others.”?
LB: The first time I was given a microphone in a room of Realtors, to share what had worked for me-and many tried my ideas-AND they worked. That’s when I knew I had to get focused on providing sales training that is told from a practitioner’s viewpoint, not from a ‘sales trainer’ viewpoint.
BS: Explain the “7 Deadly Sins of Sales."
LB: Is there a character limit on your blog? It’s actually gotten up to about 11 now, and I keep finding new ones. =) This presentation was borne out of my rants (and the rants of others) on the things that drive Realtors crazy about each other. Once I saw the pattern, I realized it is not that different from industry to industry. The key is the solutions. I can’t stand people who bitch and moan and don’t provide ideas or solutions! Each of the sins is followed by ideas for absolution. =) The sins range from Ego Over Substance to Not Asking Questions to Inverted Priorities.
BS: If there were just two things that someone could take away from your new book, what are the two most important things they should know?
- 1. Who you are and what you believe are VERY important. So important, in fact, that you should not lose sight of that in your professional life-no matter what ‘they’ say.
- If you learn to embrace your authenticity, you’ll find that while criticism may come, you’ll find a tribe of people who are emboldened by your words and actions. You can actually change lives just by being you.
- And can I add a third? For heaven’s sake, update that headshot! Sheesh!
BS: What has been your life’s greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
LB: My greatest challenge is internal-the battle between professional focus and mama-bear worry. My son has health issues that cause us to constantly pause/think/consider the best course of action for him. I say that it’s internal because being a mama means your heart and mind are constantly on your kids-and that means your focus can’t just be work. He is like most kids with medical challenges-plugging along, not complaining, just dealing. And like most parents, I worry. I can only overcome by being open and frank about what goes on with us-I may reach someone else in a similar situation and at a minimum, my clients will know what my priorities have to be. There is a huge power in the transparency. And huge power in the prayer partners who have emerged along the way.
BS: In the real estate business there is a lot of client interaction. What are your three keys to customer service?
- 1. Answer the damn phone. Seriously. It won’t cause an allergic reaction up next to your face. In the same vein, respond to emails and texts promptly! Most issues turn into raging wildfires because a spark wasn’t handled right away.
- Ask lots and lots of questions-AND listen to the answers. The consumer will tell you what they need and how to provide a ‘wow!’ experience if you but ask.
- Don’t be afraid to take the wheel. In a large financial investment such as a house or commercial property, the consumer called you because they want a knowledgeable pro who can handle it. Letting the consumer run the show, in something they don’t do every day, causes probably 95% of the issues we see.
BS: What’s next for you?
LB: Now that I’ve got the first book out of my system, definitely more writing. More speaking (because yes, we need more female perspective on stages). A TED talk is my dream gig, so that’s in the works. And then, maybe I’ll run for public office again and see how far I can really get by being outrageously authentic. You in?
BS: Thank you, Leigh.