An Interview with a National Best Selling Author
October 29, 2014
By Tricia Covert
As we approach a new year in 2015, it’s common to reflect back on years past. In the real estate industry, it will be more than six years ago since the height of the recession that created the uproar in the market. It changed people’s lives, causing many professionals to have to reinvent themselves and shift to other careers – some being in real estate for many years.
Michael Maher has a very different outlook to the recession than most people in the industry. He is the author of a national best seller The Seven Levels of Communication and a successful real estate agent in Kansas City. For Michael, 2009 and 2010 were years of opportunity. Not only did he have his best sales year ever, but he decided to help other people in real estate. His book was published in 2010 – it now has over 250 positive reviews on Amazon with a 4.9 star rating.
Mentors in real estate have historically been important for achieving success and they continue to be today. As our Journal this month focuses on forecasts for 2015, “coaching” is the buzz word in the industry that will take us into the new year. Michael Maher’s book is an example of how coaching may be what salespeople are looking for to help them start a new career, reenter the market or in need of strategies to enhance their current careers. The book incorporates traditional tactics such as note writing, connecting verbally with people and helping others.
You are described in a number of ways: salesperson, author, coach, motivational speaker and business person. How would you describe yourself and your background?
I’m a Certified Master Coach and a trainer who also happens to have a lot of success in the real estate business. Before I entered real estate, I was a high school math teacher and coached three different sports teams. I also have a MBA in marketing.
Now, I like to call myself a “heart surgeon” and a teacher; I try to help cure callused hearts for people through my teaching. For many salespeople, what we experienced in recent years with the recession and general rejection callused our hearts. I try to peel the band aid and remind salespeople to follow their hearts. I feel there is an ongoing need for education in real estate and I teach through books, speaking, training and events. That’s what I do.
What kind of success did you have when you started in the real estate industry?
I immediately saw the fruits of my labor and achieved success very quickly. As a new agent, I went to grossing over $1 million (based on $40 million in sales) in my third year.
Who do you think your book is written for and what kind of person would want to read it?
To be totally honest and blunt, I wrote it to help my fellow REALTORS® who may be struggling mentally with regaining the spark that 2008 to 2011 took out of them. A lot of people wondered if they were crazy to stay in business through those years while it was so bad. I wanted to reassure them that it wasn’t crazy.
My best sales year ever was 2009, which was the worst market in Kansas City history. People need our help most when the market is the worst. This book was written for people, professionals and salespeople, who had a problem – the problem was scarcity. They didn’t have enough business, leads, referrals and enough life. The book was originally written to overcome those problems.
The years of the extreme recession are behind us, so who would benefit from your book today?
Anyone looking to grow relationships in their life would find this book beneficial. Also, I find that every professional in real estate and sales generally has ups and downs. This book is to take those people out of the trough and provide higher, powerful crests on those waves.
I believe the days of cold calling; door knocks and making people mad just to get one sale or one new appointment are over. The subtitle of the book is “Go From Relationships To Referrals.” It teaches people to approach sales in a different way.
Can you give me a personal example of how your methods worked for you?
My example is with my very first client. I threw them a housewarming party when they purchased their house. My first party was beer, pizza, a bunch of softball guys and their neighbors. My intention was simple: we’re going to celebrate this house. Well, unexpectedly the entire conversation at the party was about the new home and how I made it happen. I got eleven referrals from that first housewarming party. My true intention for the party was the benefit of the buyers, but I ended up getting rewarded for it.
A primary premise of your book is focused on the Generosity Generation. With many reports suggesting new generations, such as the millennials, are more self –focused, do you feel we can get there as a society?
Truly, I believe we’ve evolved from the Ego Era to the Generosity Generation and the millennials are leading the charge. Of course, in 2008, 2009 and 2010 we had the recession and that was the end of the Ego Era for the most part. But it was the beginning of an awakening for a lot of people – realizing that material goods are not everything. They had to learn that lesson because their material goods were taken away from them. Many people finally realized what is really important in life – that’s relationships. Unfortunately, many people in America had to lose their houses and other possessions to learn that lesson. Now, we’re soaring – there are those that understand that relationships are what matters.
The consumer use to be in a generation of: find me and sell me. Now, it’s much more: hear me and help me. The consumer started the trend and I recognized the trend very early on.
If a person implements your recommendation to be generous to gain referrals, how can they avoid looking as though it’s mechanical? Shouldn’t generosity be genuine?
I believe 90 percent of people understand genuine generosity. I also understand some people in the beginning are almost like fake helpers – they may not understand the benefit of helping. They just heard that by helping others, it’s going to help them. They do it and it’s mechanical. Then, here’s what happens: someone says, “wow that was helpful,” and they hear it over and over – all of a sudden that person understands that it’s great to give – they begin to think of themselves differently and their genuine qualities start to develop.
We’re all given a unique set of abilities, talents and traits to help others – we’re here to serve others. Very few people have taught us how to be proactively generous. Reactive giving is great – somebody has an illness or a hurricane hits and there are damages, we help. Proactive generosity is when we throw the world out of balance – that’s what I’m pointing out.
Your communication pyramid appears to be the foundation of your recommendations. What was the basis for developing the various layers?
The pyramid pretty much harnesses what you would find in marketing and communications – my marketing background helped me understand the outcomes in strategies. The visual of the pyramid was designed to help me explain the concept to others. What I found is true selling happens in the top 3 layers – all the layers build upon each other. For people with smaller budgets, the influential zone should be the focus. I would encourage those people to implement the top 4 levels and never forget how they got the business in the first place. Keller Williams, one of the biggest real estate firms in the country, grew by phone calls, events and one-on-ones.
The human behavior assessment, DiSC®, is in your book and you tie it to your poem called DISCOVERY. How important is it for real estate professionals to learn DiSC® when dealing with clients?
Communication is 100 percent about the response. You need to know how to communicate with the different behavioral styles. That’s one of the biggest mistakes agents make – they typically have one type of client that they work with best, and that’s the type that is most like them. Then, they get frustrated working with the other behavioral styles because they’ve never learned DiSC®, or learned how to communicate with different styles.
In your opinion, what areas are professionals in real estate needing to improve on most to be more efficient?
They are typically jumping from path to path. What they really need to do is just follow a path a little bit each day – success is not a 180 degree turn, it’s a 1 degree tweak. Agents need to focus – which is an acronym I made up: FINISH ONE CHALLENGE UNTIL SUCCESS – FOCUS. Whatever path you choose, go until success. Find what your niche and passion is when it comes to real estate – if it feels good, do it.
Michael Maher’s Seven Levels of Communication has been in circulation for 4 years. He is very proud of the daily emails he still receives from readers today who have implemented his strategies. What I enjoyed most about his book is how it’s written: a “how-to” book written like a novel with a main character that shows you how to implement the strategies – as Michael would describe it, “power parables.” His new book, The Miracle Morning for Real Estate Agents, launched this month. His book The Fix will be released sometime next year. Michael will also have an event here in Phoenix on October 30th – visit www.GenGenArizona.com for more details.
Coaching may not be for everyone, but incorporating a few fresh strategies may be useful for some professionals as they approach new sales and personal goals in 2015.
Note: If you’re interested in learning more about DiSC®, check online for various paid and free resources.
Tricia Covert is the Marketing Manager for the Arizona School of Real Estate & Business. She has more than fifteen years of marketing experience working in various industries at a corporate and small business level.
Find out about the Real Estate & Business Forecast for Arizona 2015 at our upcoming seminar on Friday, November 21st, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at our Scottsdale Campus