From Dumpster Diving to Building a 3.4 Billion Dollar Business – Interview with Sharran Srivatsaa
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The Sharran Srivatsaa Interview
Sharran Srivatsaa is famous for growing Teles Properties 10X in five years, expanding from one office to 22, from 35 agents to 600, and from $300M in sales to $3.5B. But what you may not know is that Sharran endured some serious challenges along the way. In fact, he suffered through some hungry days early in his college career—going so far as to face off with a raccoon in a dumpster for a Subway sandwich and a box of Pop-Tarts!
Today, Sharran serves as the CEO of Kingston Lane, a push-button technology platform designed to help real estate agents supercharge their sales and marketing capabilities. He is also a serial entrepreneur and sought-after keynote speaker whose thought leadership has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and Forbes, among many other publications. On this episode of Founders Club, Sharran sits down with Oliver to share his sage advice for entrepreneurs, explaining how he tackles to-dos, why he recommends getting a coach early on, and what you need to know about negotiating an acquisition.
Sharran weighs in on the future of the real estate industry and offers insight around the strategies he used to recruit and retain top talent at Teles. He also walks us through the marketing and pricing pieces of his legendary listing presentation and addresses the power of scripting and role play to win business. Listen in to understand how Kingston Lane is working to give agents their time back and get inspired to own your brilliance—and create tomorrow today!
To learn more about Sharran, visit https://www.sharran.com/
Here is how the interview breaks down:
[1:30] The impact of Sharran’s 5am Club
- Started to improve personal health
- Grew organically to 4K people
[7:33] Sharran’s approach to creating tomorrow today
- Make list of things to accomplish night before
- Helps entrepreneur avoid overwhelm
[16:36] How having to dumpster dive in college shaped Sharran
- No meal points at beginning of freshman year
- Take more risks, less afraid to lose than most
[20:11] Sharran’s first entrepreneurial experiences
- Sold ethernet cable in dorms ($57K in 3 weeks)
- Programming contest led to joining startup
[26:16] The power of scripting to win business
- Explain how home fits in overall marketplace
- Frame self as data expert (next record price)
[33:50] Sharran’s move from investment banking to real estate
- Passive investor in Teles, principal asked for guidance
- Grew from 35 to 600 agents + $300M to $3.5B in sales
- Strategy to recruit great people vs. sell more homes
[39:46] How Sharran recruited for Teles DNA
- Agents who identify with mission don’t want to leave
- Identify team member who embodies and deconstruct
[45:24] How Teles attracted top talent
- Build ‘pearl necklace’ along California coast
- Systematize processes to give agent time back
[51:59] Sharran’s advice around acquisitions
- Shop business every year, feedback = goals for year
- Separate team into acquisitions and business growth
[57:24] The common terms of an acquisition deal
- Get cash or stock upon sale
- Earn out over 3- to 5-year period
- Bonuses based on milestones
[1:06:56] How to negotiate an acquisition deal
- Identify 3 things you can’t live without
- Ask what’s important to them beyond $ terms
[1:11:16] Sharran’s insight on the job of a leader
- Think ahead re: bigger + better future
- Develop cadence to connect with team
[1:18:57] Sharran’s approach to tackling to-dos
- Put to-dos on calendar rather than list
- Aim for 100% say-do ratio
- Do what brings joy and hire out rest
[1:30:25] Where Sharran thinks the industry is headed
- Agent as quarterback (relationship manager)
- Banks, institutional buyers entering space
[1:39:46] Sharran’s famous listing presentation
- Build buyer avatar with client in real time
- Anchor pricing discussion in data
- Establish winner-sinner range
[1:56:39] How Sharran systematizes training
- Theory-practice-role play-mastery
- Role play 5 minutes/day in group setting
[2:04:19] The idea behind Kingston Lane
- Agent hand in database + go away
- Done-for-you systems generate appointments
[2:10:16] Kingston Lane’s 4-step Hero Process
- Context bridge
- Urgency loop
- Story ask
- Goodwill river
[2:22:25] Sharran’s advice for getting to the next level
- Pay for mentor or coach early on
- Invest amount that’s painful but doable
Sharran Srivatsaa is famous for growing Teles Properties 10X in five years, but what you may not know is that he endured some serious challenges along the way. Today, Sharran joins Oliver to share his top advice for real estate entrepreneurs, explaining how he went from dumpster diving to growing a $3.5B brokerage!
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Full Transcript Below:
Oliver: Welcome to Founders Club, the show for real estate entrepreneurs.
Sharran: If we can build a model which would then give them people time back, that will be amazing. So our pitch was this; hey Oliver, if you sell seven or more listings a year, the Teles platform saves you one day a week. What would you do with an extra 52 days a year?
Oliver: I love that.
Sharran: That was the only pitch.
Oliver: Welcome to another episode of Founders Club. I’m very excited to be out here today at the Hotel Del Coronado interviewing Sharran Srivatsaa about how he 10 x his business from 300 million to 3.4 billion in five short years. He’s going to be sharing the entire story.
Sharran: If your content is not even worth your car payment, then you should be producing nothing. Just stop it.
Oliver: And a lot of tactical information that you can use in your business to grow, increase profits, increase joy and lower stress. Looking forward to jumping in.
Oliver: So after long awaited adieu… Adieu, is that even a? Is that how you say it? After a lot of back and forth, why finally I am very excited to be sitting down with Sharran about his journey and all the amazing things that he’s been able to do in the real estate space. So very excited to have you on the show. I’m drinking a Coronado. Some like it blonde, and Sharran is enjoying a Bombay and tonic.
Sharran: That’s right.
Oliver: So cheers.
Oliver: Thank you. Looking forward to pulling some nuggets out of this guy. You started the 5:00 AM club. Tell me about that.
Sharran: So about four, five years ago, I don’t talk a lot about this, but I was struggling with my health. It was to the point where I was getting so many blood tests that it got one week I was getting blood tests in the morning and in the evening, and my doctor called me, and he said, hey, these last few tests that we had done, your numbers look better in the morning than they do in the evening. You should just wake up earlier. You’ll live longer. And he was actually joking. He was just making conversation, and I took it seriously. So I said, how do I wake up? And he went with this joke, and I was not a morning person. So I said the only way I can wake up is if I got some accountability and got some friends in the process.
So I got three of my last three people I text messaged. I texted them and said, hey, for the next week, would you mind chiming into this conference call number? I just need to wake up, and you’re my accountability partners. They said at 5:00 AM Pacific time? After saying yes, they said, well, what are you going to say on this call? And so we got on the call, and I told them I’d give them an inspirational message or something that we’d` work through, no more than three to five minutes. And that marked like the first week of the 5:00 AM Club with three people on. Those three realized it was okay, and they invited three more, and they invited 10 more, invited 50 more. And today we have almost 4,000 people on the call at 5:00 AM every morning.
Sharran: And we do it seven days a week, 365 days a year, holidays included. It’s five minutes at 5:00 AM, free to the world.
Oliver: And so it grew completely organically.
Sharran: Yeah, completely organically. It’s people promoted people, people invited people.
Oliver: That’s amazing.
Sharran: And now I have some guest hosts because I mix up my voice a little bit in there, but we do it seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Oliver: Every day. All days.
Sharran: We have a couple of billionaires on the call. It’s mostly 70% entrepreneurs.
Sharran: And then a good third from the real estate industry. So it’s been all growing organically.
Oliver: That’s amazing. That’s a very cool story. I didn’t know that it was kind of out of need that you started it. I always kind of assumed you were like a morning person, and just loved getting up and getting after it. But that’s interesting.
Sharran: Yeah, and I think it’s a testament to people that if you really want to change something about your life, you totally can. And I don’t mean that a hokey kind of way, but I thought the impetus and the trigger was the health. But I went from being a night owl, a complete night owl. Like I would stay up till 2:00 AM, and then flip the whole switch. And now if I don’t wake up at 4:45 every morning, it’s not as fun. So if anybody’s interested, 5am Club.net.
Oliver: Very cool. 5amClub.net. Definitely go check that out. I think that’s a great way, and it’s only five minutes.
Oliver: What do you do at 5:05?
Sharran: So I’ve realized that there’s one thing that I talk about a lot, which is routines drive results. And after you’re in the morning, you’ve shared a message like, I’m up.
Sharran: There’s no hope of going back. To share a good message…
Oliver: Right, once you’re on, you’re on.
Sharran: You’re on. And so I try to use that hour time well. I try to either either get a quick workout or walk in, and I try to write or think, use that hour in the morning well. Everybody says, oh, you need to journal, you need to meditate, you need to work out, you need to do burpees, you need to like drink a Kale smoothie. Like how many things can you do at five in the morning? Right?
So I decided that was my time. It was my personal time away from my family. So no pressure. Like I’m up. Whatever I get to want to feel like doing, I use that time very personally for that. And some days I just sit there and I play on my phone, and I guess that’s okay, too. But at least I’ve gotten it out.
Oliver: I think that’s a really important message too, because a lot of people, they just feel like they can’t get enough stuff done in the day. And what I’ve found too is because I always go to the office early. I’m usually in by like seven o’clock, and that first two hours of the day is when I actually get the most stuff done by far because the phone’s not ringing, the emails aren’t blowing up, the people aren’t coming in and out of the office.
Oliver: So it’s been a shift. So getting up at five and listening to a nice positive message and then getting your day going is huge. One thing you mentioned, I watched your interview on The Passionate Few, which was awesome, by the way.
Sharran: Thank you. Thank you.
Oliver: So shout out to them. You should check that out as well. One thing that you said though, is that you said the 5 AM club changed your life. Is that the health thing, or is that because you’ve become more productive, or what was the message behind that?
Sharran: So the message behind that was that a lot of times we go through our lives and if you look back and you say, hey Oliver, what are your top 10 accomplishments, or things that you’re proud of? You’ll instantly go to, hey, you know, my family. That’s generally and my work, I’d say my work top, top few, right? If you ask me now, and I turned back and I look at my life, multiple sold companies, bunch of great, fortunate to do a lot of things, amazing family. I’d say my family is number one. The 5 AM Club is number two because never have I ever done anything for 1,400 days in a row, and coming up with a message.
And actually it’s an opportunity to change a lot of lives without knowing who these people are. There are people on the call that have fixed their marriages. Like I had two people that were struggling that got off of the call every day, and I still don’t know who they are. They sent a random messaging. I know one of my friends, Jason Farris in Fresno, California, lost 142 pounds because he used the call as an anchor to go workout.
Oliver: Very cool.
Sharran: I have a whole seventh grade classroom in Texas that listens to the call every single morning because their teacher listens to the call, and once a quarter they actually send me drawings and letters, etc. So it changed my life because it gave me a true sense of public accountability. See, I can’t sleep in anymore.
Oliver: Right. Seven days a week.
Sharran: Ever. Seven days a week, right? And yes, you can get a sub, but knowing that you can completely build a new routine, and still touch people that you don’t know, and it happened every day and it happened for free.
Oliver: It’s really amazing.
Sharran: Yeah. So it’s changed my life and I can never, that’s the one thing that I’m the most proud of outside of my family. And my family. I didn’t even do anything. Like my wife does all the work.
Oliver: Okay. Very cool. I mean, the impact that you have had on people through that platform is just unbelievable. And I see it. We’re at a lab coat agents event right now, and you can’t go down the hall more than 10 feet, and every 10 feet someone’s coming up to Sharran, giving him hugs, giving him love. Telling him how awesome he is.
Sharran: Thank you.
Oliver: Which he is. And so a very cool man. Props on that. 5amClub.net. Definitely go subscribe and get on the calls. One other thing that you said in that interview that I thought was really awesome, and I think you said your dad said this to you when you were growing up, is create tomorrow today. And I think as an entrepreneur that’s like a very powerful thing for people to do. So why don’t you tell me a little bit more about creating tomorrow today?
Sharran: So as mostly, especially entrepreneurs. I’ll tell the story very quickly. So my dad, I will never forget, we were very middle-class, humble family. I was the only child. My parents chose not to have more children because they didn’t have enough resources to actually give more than one child a decent life.
And so my dad, my parents did things very intentionally. They didn’t have a lot, but I still remember every night, like Oliver, every night we would finish dinner, we’d start to clean up, etc. My Dad would take a few minutes. He would go sit down at the kitchen table, and he would start writing. And I remember the notebook was very similar to yours. He would write the date on top, and he would just write a list of everything that he was going to accomplish tomorrow. Not a to do, but things that he was going to accomplish. Right? Which meant that he ain’t coming home unless those things got done. And he would decide, and design, create tomorrow. He would do it the night before. And I saw my dad the days that he would lose his cool more often, etc., were the days that he didn’t do that. And he did that 99% of the time.
And so he always would tell me before I left for college, he told me, he’s like, if there’s one thing I could give you, I’d be just plan what you’re going to do tomorrow today, create tomorrow today. Otherwise, you’re just going to wake up and go by the seat of your pants. He’s like, I’m not asking you to plan ten years ahead. I’m not asking you to plan a year ahead. Just plan tomorrow.
Oliver: Love that.
Sharran: And my dad is retired. He still does that every single day. And it’s like one of my strongest memories. And for the CEO’s that I mentor outside the real estate industry, I just tell them, I have CEOs right now of $100 million plus companies texting me their schedule every single day because they planned tomorrow today, and we have agents, brokers, etc. that won’t plan like what they’re going to say to a client sometimes.
Oliver: Yeah, exactly.
Sharran: And so now there’s a reason why CEOs of a hundred million dollar companies, they are CEOs are a hundred million dollar companies, and they don’t mind doing the mechanical work of planning tomorrow today.
Oliver: Yeah. It’s almost like this is one of the things that our coach talks about a lot, is if you’re not planning, it’s like going out to sea in a boat, and just disconnecting everything with no map and just floating and just seeing where you end up.
Oliver: Right? Like that doesn’t sound very appealing. So by taking, I’m sure it’s not more than five minutes?
Sharran: It’s nothing.
Oliver: Five, ten minutes. Take the time to map out your day the next day. What a great way to start the day. Then you’re clear. You’re intentional about what you’re doing.
Sharran: Exactly right.
Oliver: And you can maximize results.
Sharran: Yeah, exactly right. And from an entrepreneurial perspective, for your listener, what is the only thing that affects entrepreneurs is overwhelm. They say yes to too many things. They want to do more than they can handle.
Oliver: And the shiny red button.
Sharran: Totally, right. And it’s the only way to separate overwhelm. Overwhelmed from anything else overwhelmed from success is you. It’s the plan. You’re just saying, hey, there’s these hundred rocks. I want to use all of them, but I’m going to do 13 tomorrow. That’s all it is. It’s a very mechanical exercise, and you and I being entrepreneurs, we don’t want to do the mechanical exercises. We think it’s like, not that we’re above that, we don’t need to do that. But that’s probably, call it 101’s, probably the basics. That’s what we need. Fundamentals.
Oliver: Very foundational. Very powerful. And you’re still doing that to this day?
Sharran: Every single day.
Oliver: Love that.
Sharran: Every single day.
Oliver: I’m going to start doing that. This is my commitment. Sharran is going to hold me accountable. I’m going to do this every day.
Sharran: You hear that? Oliver’s going to send me like a picture of his journal, right?
Oliver: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I’ll do that. One thing that you talked about was your journey from India to the United States. I’ve talked to a lot of people recently about just like what that transition was like, but I’m curious what it was like for you. Was it just complete culture shock, and at what age was that in your life?
Sharran: Yeah, so the backstory is that my parents realized that I was ADD, ADHD or had symptoms thereof. I was dyslexia or had symptoms thereof, and that’s where I got kicked out of music camp, kicked out of art camp, kicked out of science camp. Kicked out of all, and only because I was structurally struggling to do this. I remember there’s no formal diagnosis, but my dad said to me, he goes, hey, like we need to give you a better infrastructure to succeed in, and this is probably not the right fit for it.
And my dad, my parents sold everything that they had. Every single thing that they had to get me out of India. It was less about culture shock, and it was more about I feel a responsibility because my parents sacrificed so much.
Oliver: That’s interesting.
Sharran: Yes, I feel so much, right? Like I can’t, what do I do? Go back now? I can’t.
Oliver: Because they put it all on the line for you. Now you feel like you always have to perform to not let your parents down.
Sharran: Totally. And I still feel like that sometimes today, and because I can never repay my family for putting everything on the line and letting me go be me. And that’s for an only child that’s hard to do. Yeah. And don’t have the financial resources to do it either. So I feel a sense of responsibility.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: And I think our kids have it easy.
Oliver: So tell me about like, did you always know you were an entrepreneur? Because I feel like a lot of people that I know that are successful entrepreneurs, they have that like I used to be ADD thing. And I don’t know if that’s just maybe part of like the DNA of being an entrepreneur, or if that’s actually you had ADD, or what? Like when did you recognize that?
Sharran: Yes. What I realized was it was more about being impatient, and I just felt like everything just took too long. It was like, hey, why does it take us this long to build this company? Why does it take us this long to create this result? Why has it taken this long to do this? And I just want things faster. And I believe that when you’re an entrepreneur, you get to buy time.
Sharran: Like how can I say, it doesn’t need to be perfect, but can I get a 90% result as soon as possible? So I realized I was really impatient. And so I remember doing a paper route when I was a kid, and I was like that paper runs so inefficient. And my dad was like, well, you should go do it. I’m like, I will, and I’ll have the route done in half the time. My Dad thinks that crazy, but you have this need. I think there’s this incessant need to make the ordinary better, make something that does not exist, actually make it real.
Oliver: Hence, a tinker.
Sharran: Oh, totally tinker. And I think we get a lot of joy tinkering and not having built anything. Like the process is so much more exciting for us. So I almost believe Oliver, that the entrepreneurship is a curse. It’s a curse because, and I’ll tell you why. My wife, the kindest person that I know. She has to live with someone that is constantly on their phone, not because I’m trying to be rude. That constantly needs stimulation, that goes to the beach and can’t relax, that can’t play with the kids. And it’s not that I don’t care about my kids.
It’s just that there’s too many ideas. There’s too much wanting to do more. And I think it’s a curse. And my wife and I have talked significantly about that. And so now she understands that if she forces me into a box to do something, which is what I didn’t want to be in. Same for you. And when I realized that impatience and it’s actually a superpower. I don’t mean to be hokey, but that’s the advantage.
Sharran: Right? And so…
Oliver: And I think to add to the curse part, I think a big part of that is the not being able to turn it off.
Sharran: 100%. Yeah, yeah.
Oliver: Right? When you’re at home, you want to be present. You want to be at home. You want to be giving them the attention that they need. But at the same time, your brain might be over here working on what am I going to build? How can I do this? How can I improve this?
Sharran: And my wife said something amazing. She said to me, you know, I stopped saying to you, be present, because I know what you’re gonna say. And I said, what do you think I was going to say? She’s like, well, you wanted to say it, but you didn’t say it. So I would always say in my mind, this is really bad. I always say in my mind, well, if you want me to pay attention, make it interesting. Right?
Oliver: Aha! Good luck with that.
Sharran: But that’s amazing because now what we are drawn to is, there’s only two times an entrepreneur can turn it off. Two times, outside of sleeping. Number one. Even that’s really hard by the way, right? Two Times. Number one, when you go watch an amazing movie, you can actually turn it off. And number two, when you have some kind of sports or entertainment, when you have to focus on something else.
Oliver: Right, and it’s in your face.
Sharran: That’s it. All the entrepreneurs are standing in the Guns and Roses concert behind the speaker because they’re distracted by everything else, and I think that’s the only time you can get us to turn off. So the only time I turn off is when I got to watch a movie, or I play a sport. And every other time like running is like the worst because I think about stuff all the time.
Oliver: And I share that. I share that, man. It’s a big challenge. The other thing I wanted to ask you in terms of like your earlier years was I read in Forbes an article about you being broke in college and actually having to eat food out of a dumpster because you were so broke. And to think about like being there, and how far you’ve come and the things you’ve been able to do is quite remarkable. So why don’t you tell me like quickly that backstory, but then how that might have shaped you moving forward?
Sharran: Totally. So I show up at college my freshman year from India and I have a couple hundred dollars, a hundred, couple hundred dollars. Not more than that. I remember I had a hundred dollar bill and a little change, and I had a check for school that my parents sold everything, gave me this check. I went to Financial Services. I hand the check in, and she says, Sharran, everything’s good to go, but it’s an international check so it’s going to take 10 to 14 days to clear. So I was like, that’s cool, whatever. So I realized that I don’t have any meal points on my meal card in the cafeteria because my check never cleared, but it was going to happen in 14 days. So I went to all these college pizza parties and all of that, and finally the pizza parties run out and I’d gone maybe a day, day and a half and I hadn’t eaten. And I saw somebody take a couple of boxes of pizza and throw it in a dumpster.
So I waited till it was nightfall. Put my hoodie on. I jump in the dumpster. I find a couple of slices of pizza. I grab it and I run to my dorm room. And then I think, oh my gosh, this is delicious pizza. Like this is fantastic, but so grateful. I’m just so grateful. So thankful. And then when a couple of days go by, I see a couple of guys throw like these Subway sandwiches into a dumpster. I was like, this is my lucky night.
Oliver: I’m about to come up.
Sharran: I wait for nightfall. I jump into the dumpster. I got these couple of bags of Subway sandwiches, and I also see Pop-Tarts. I’ve never seen Pop-Tarts before. They’re the good old American classic, right? And so I’m look in this box, and I grab them because they had it looked like strawberries on them.
I grabbed them. Suddenly something whacks me in the face. I started bleeding, and I look and it’s this raccoon in the dumpster. And we’re talking about, it’s not big. We’re talking like a 10 by 5 dumpster, and the raccoon is in the corner. I can hear the raccoon growling. Fight or flight kicks in. I kicked the raccoon. I grabbed the Pop-Tarts. I grabbed the Subway sandwich, and I jump out of the dumpster and I run. I run, Oliver, like I have never run before. But I didn’t know what else to do. I could not ever do that again.
Oliver: That’s crazy.
Sharran: But the fight or flight totally kicked in, and I stopped and I ate the sandwich. And I was thinking, oh my gosh, if my parents who had given up so much, only knew that this is what had happened. If this is the baseline, if this is what I have to work with, it can only get better from here.
Oliver: Yeah, can’t get worse, for sure.
Sharran: And so so I was thinking, I always think worst case scenario. If that’s what happens, we’ll still be okay. And I think from an entrepreneur’s perspective it helps you take more risk. Because people always are like, hey this is my band.
Oliver: And also be less afraid to lose, right?
Sharran: Totally. That’s’ why you hear stories of people that are saying, hey, I went from bankruptcy and I came back. Like why? Because they were able to do it all over again. Once you hit a low point and you can tell I have a lesson from that, my lesson is more if this is what it takes, I can just take more risk than most people because most people are unwilling to do that. Worst case scenario, that’s what’s going to happen. But for us, we take a lot of risk everyday. We lay it on the line everyday. Buildings, businesses are all in our name, and I learned that I can just take a little bit more risk.
Oliver: I love that. And that’s crazy. And what a great story around like really being down and out. In my mind, that just illustrates perfectly how no matter what situation you’re in right now, there’s always room to get better. And at the very least, hopefully you’ve got food on the table and a roof over your head. Right? And you just keep plugging.
Oliver: So then what was next, right? Like you’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time. You’ve had several successful runs at companies. What was the first entrepreneurial journey?
Sharran: So the first one actually started in college. I showed up in my first dorm room, and I realized this was old school when we were in college. No Wifi, right? So they had just put internet cables in the dorm room, but as soon as you enter the door, there was the box. And then there were the bed, the closet and the desk. And I said, that’s so weird. Like there’s 13 feet from the box to the desk.
So I went to Minneapolis and I bought this cable, and I realized, oh my gosh. Like someone has to go a whole day by cable, get it cut to the right size. So me and my roommate at that time, we put everything on his parents’ card. We bought rolls and rolls of internet cable because I didn’t have any clothes in college. And we sold internet cable to like eight, nine hundred dorm rooms at $3 a foot. We made $57,000 in three weeks. And that paid for my second year of college.
Oliver: That’s unbelievable. So let me just rewind that. You went to college. You only had one year covered?
Oliver: So now you’re in the, I need to hustle to make this continue to happen.
Oliver: So you saw an opportunity because in the dorm rooms, it wasn’t convenient or close enough to get the wires to connect to the computer to the outlet?
Oliver: So you went and basically imported computer cables?
Oliver: And then sold them to everyone in the dorm rooms?
Sharran: Yeah, cut them to the right size and sold them to everyone. $3 a foot.
Oliver: And you made 57 grand in three weeks.
Oliver: That’s unbelievable.
Sharran: Yeah. And that paid for the second year school.
Oliver: That’s unbelievable. Good for you. So what paid for the third and fourth year?
Sharran: So I did internships, and I had a mail route, a paper route, and I did internships and I taught tennis. Those are the three things that I did in college, and that paid for everything. And I was very fortunate. We got out and I finally had a friend like co-sign a small loan from [00:22:30] me. But other than that, we got it all paid for.
Oliver: Good for you, man. What a cool story. Back to the entrepreneurial theme, you told me awhile back about a business that you started right out of college, which was your first big acquisition. Tell me about that whole thing.
Sharran: I was presenting at a nerd programming contest, a computer science programming contest in Berkeley, California, and there’s this guy who was up on the panel of judges. So I didn’t win the contest. I was on the panel. This guy comes to me after and he says, hey Sharran, I love your idea.
Sharran: I’m sorry you didn’t win, but I just funded a few others to start a company. I think what you’re writing about, your technology would actually be a good fit for that. And so he made the connection, and I joined them. I was not an early founder, but I joined them at a good time early, and then we integrated what I wanted to do into that business. It was during the heyday of the technology boom, so we were able to raise a lot of money and then we got acquired, and it was a good transaction for everybody.
Oliver: And that just happened because you were presenting at this fair?
Oliver: Happened to get…
Sharran: Yeah, a judge on the panel, yep.
Sharran: Yeah, and the interesting part about that is that the guy who was a judge on the panel that day who gave me that shot is twenty years later, is my partner. So he became my partner then. He helped me learn, help me invest more, helped me find companies, get into real estate. And we’ve been partners ever since. We’ve been partners in every venture ever since up until today.
Sharran: Yes. Still today. He and I are 50 50 partners.
Oliver: Look at you.
Sharran: Yeah, similar to you, and yeah.
Oliver: That’s really amazing. Yeah. What’s his name?
Sharran: His name is Peter.
Oliver: Peter. Shout out to Peter. Yeah, you’ve done good with this man right here. So then you did that, right? You had the acquisition, and then you went to Goldman?
Sharran: Yeah. So after we sold our first business, I was barely 21. I was like, what do I do with all this cash? So I paid off all debt, etc. And I took five years off, every 21 year old’s dream.
Oliver: Oh my God.
Sharran: So I taught tennis in the Caribbean, Dubai and Maui for five years.
Oliver: That must have been rough.
Sharran: But actually, after a while, I can never do that again. You got rock fever, and you’re working in the hospitality industry. Then I said, well, I’ve got to actually do something to get back in mainstream America. So I went to business school, got my MBA, and then I was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in New York.
Oliver: That’s not easy to get into.
Oliver: Right? So what made you feel like Goldman was the right choice, and then how did you get in?
Sharran: Yeah. When you get to business school, everyone has like three or four career paths and everyone said, hey, investment banking is the hardest. They’re going to put you through the ringer in the interview process, but don’t even bother with Goldman because the stats are almost impossible. They’re stacked against you.
Sharran: And it’s true. It’s totally true. The odds are stacked against you. So what happened was I started on the interview process, and I had 39 individual scheduled one-on-one interviews to get the job at Goldman. This is not including breakfast, lunches, dinners, coffees. This is 39 interviews in four cities, one-on-one scheduled interviews, just in what? A six, seven to ten week timeframe to get the job.
Oliver: And how many of those are with the same people versus one at a time?
Sharran: Not many repeats. I’d say probably 80% of them were all new people, not the same people.
Oliver: Wow. Wow. So is that like their general screening process?
Sharran: I think they were unsure of me the most probably, but I had a lot more than the average, but in the teens, 13 to 15 seemed average. But when I told people I had 39…
Oliver: It’s unbelievable.
Sharran: Yeah, they wondered. They were like, wow, they were really not sure by you.
Oliver: That’s crazy. 39 interviews. I don’t know. Did you ever get discouraged during that process? Like maybe this is too long of a road? And how long of a period of time were those…
Sharran: It’s about like seven, eight weeks. It’s like a whole semester of college because you’re just doing that.
Oliver: So you’re doing interviews like every other day.
Sharran: Yeah. You’re on. Or so you did multiple a day. I would do like two days in San Francisco. I’d do ten interviews. I’d fly to Atlanta. I’d do four. I fly to New York. I do eight. They’d say go to Chicago, and they’d pay for all of it to go get interviewed. But you’re going back to back to back to back.
So you’ll appreciate this story. I’ll never forget this, right? I walked into this interview, this managing partner, amazing, amazing businessmen. Been at Goldman 15,20 years. He walks in. I can tell he’s putting on a show. And he sits down, he grabs a notebook, like a leather bound notebook. He goes, these are all my prospects. These are people that I’ve never talked to in the last three years. Here’s a phone, here’s my prospects. Call them.
I said, wait, what are you talking about? And I said, well, so I compose myself and I said, okay. Can you give me a script? Because I have no idea what to say to them. Can you give me a script? Oliver, I kid you not. He picks the book up. He puts it in his backpack. He shakes my hand, and he says, you’ll do great.
And he walks out the door, and before I say, I said, wait, wait, why? Why did you say that? He goes, I do that in every interview, and everyone wants to be a hot shot. Everyone wants to come in and show me that they’ve got the skills to make the call, that they’re brave. He said, what you said was good. You said, hey, I’m willing to do the work. Just show me how, walk me down the path a little bit, and that’s when I learned. I have a friend. His name is Jason Capital. He says that when you’re doing script, you don’t care. Right? When you’re doing script, you don’t care. And I’m not saying you need to have your entire presentation scripted out, but there’s some key positioning moments.
Oliver: Positioning, questions.
Sharran: Questions. Exactly that you should be thoughtful about. And until then, I had never scripted anything. And then I realized that scripting is about precision. You want to have the emotion, but you want to do it right as many times as possible.
Oliver: That’s a great way to look at it, because it is precision.
Oliver: And it’s consistency, right? If you’ve worked with [00:28:30] experts to develop a script that is designed to get you the result you want faster…
Oliver: Right? If you just do that consistently, you will get the results faster.
Sharran: And I think what the complete opposite of that, regardless if you’re a CEO, president of a company or you’re a top end salesperson, the problem is that one, you are already scripted in your own scripting. You just don’t know that. Right? But if you can’t actually mechanically understand that it’s a script, you never know when you can change something.
So if you hear a great way that President Obama says something or whatever, like, oh, where do you install that in your business? You have no way to do it because you never think about it naturally. So I like the scripts because when you hear something better, you can swap it out. You can change it. And the power of the script is not in your delivery. The power of the script is in your organization and preparation. And that’s the cool part.
Oliver: And just to add to that, improving your script, one of the things that I love to do, I kind of am an infomercial geek and so like…
Oliver: The infomercials, they spend lots and lots of money designing scripts that are designed to convert people in a short amount of time by just running, running, running, and the nuggets that they spit out and the lines in those infomercials are unbelievable. And by taking those nuggets and putting them in your presentations, in your cold calling scripts, in your advertising, it moves the needle in a big way.
Sharran: So let’s give them a script, right? So here’s the intro. I’ve been on 240 listing appointments in the last 24 months. We’ve won 96% of them, over a billion dollars in listings taken. And in every single appointment, I use this same frame and script every single time, right? When someone tells me every single time you should pay a little bit of attention to that.
Oliver: This is a good time to get a notepad.
Sharran: Right? So the interesting part is this. Most clients, most consumers, most homeowners have no idea of how their home fits in the overall market. So I always say Mr. & Mrs. Client, there are 131 million housing units in the United States.
Sharran: There’s 13.3 million housing units here in California. I say that all for a reason. So you frame that, right? You say it all. Right here in Orange County we have 987,000 housing units.
Oliver: Wow, that’s a lot. Right?
Sharran: Yeah. And then you say here in Laguna beach, or here in this community here in Windsor, we have 432 homes, of which 19 are active. Active just means that they’re on the market for sale. Do the definition. 12 are under contract and 24 have sold. Out of the 24 that sold, two hit a record price. Would you like me to show you how we can make yours the next record price?
Oliver: Oof. That’s good.
Sharran: Right? You do that. I don’t change it at all.
Sharran: It’s the same thing.
Oliver: That’s good.
Sharran: Right. I don’t change it at all. It’s the same thing macro to micro. So you’ve done the macro, now they see how their home fits in the overall marketplace, now they see how you get the record. Now whatever you say, would you like me to show you, then say, “Here’s my seven step process.” Your seven step process is automatically connected to them getting that. Doesn’t matter who comes after you, you have won.
Oliver: And there’s a zero percent change they’re saying “No” to that question.
Sharran: Correct. Of course. Yeah. And so, it also frames you as a data expert without having to memorize a lot of data points.
Sharran: I only know three and then I just change that at the end.
The funny part is there’s no other way to frame pricing. So a lot of times I’ll go, “What do you think my home is worth?” Or, what do you think… Any time you get into an economics conversation, if you can’t frame anchor macro and come down to micro, it’s very hard for you to show expertise. So you always do that and then you can say anything you want after, and good things happen.
Oliver: So you start with U.S., state, city name.
Sharran: City, county, and then that neighborhood.
Oliver: And then whatever sold.
Sharran: Yeah. The key is always saying, “23 sold, two hit a record price. Can I show you my seven step plan to get you to be the next record price? Can I show you how you can become the third record price?” Because that’s what they want. And don’t promise them the world. Don’t say, “I want to make you number one.” You just say, “I want to get you in that upper echelon.” Now, the comps become easier, the framing becomes easier. You can say, “Hey, we should list at this strategy, a little bit below market.” You can start to… Now, they need your advice, and it’s not their choice of pricing anymore.
Oliver: That’s good tips. And, it really positions you as an expert, right? Because no other agents are saying that when they walk in there, and just being able to use the big data and the small local data in combination, and then presenting your solution as the answer.
Sharran: Well the one last thought around that is, everybody believes that when you talk numbers, you need to show numbers. That’s a big fallacy, right? When you talk numbers, you don’t need to show numbers; when you talk numbers, you just need to establish authority, and show path, show story, show formula. No one’s asking you for evidence. People are just asking you for a path to get to what they want.
Oliver: I love that.
Sharran: That’s all that is, and so, here’s what most people do. Just take real estate folks for example. They’ll walk into an appointment, they’ll hand you what we call comps, or comparative market analyses, or how other homes are sold in the neighborhood. What do clients do? They go to that, and they start flipping the pages, and on the third page they’re like, “Oh, my kitchen is better than that. What is this?” And now you’re flipping. It is a very-
Oliver: And now you have to defend, now you’re on defense.
Sharran: It’s a very clumsy experience. And so, now you’re having to show evidence. Instead, if you do the macro to micro frame, and then lay out a plan, now you’re just promising the plan. And the plan gets very exact. If they ask you a question and you can answer it with the comp, that’s cool, but don’t let the comp drive the pricing conversation. So everybody relies on that, and it’s the messiest possible process. Because I’ve never seen a comp conversation go well. Ever. Ever. Because they don’t agree with us, right?
Oliver: Yeah, no they never agree. What comes after that?
Sharran: After Goldman’s an amazing story happens. So we investment bankers, so we help companies sell, et cetera. And my partner today, the same partner, we’ve been investing in a lot of companies, and we just happened to invest in this real estate company passively called Teles Properties. We had 35 agents, one office in Beverly Hills, California, roughly selling 300 million dollars worth of real estate. So, for Beverly Hills market it’s not bad, you sell four homes.
But, it was a small operation, and we’d invested in this company. And one of the principals actually called us in and said, “Hey, the original partners, they’re all fractured on the new vision for the company, so we’d love your guidance as investors.” So we came in to help them settle their scores and get on the right path because we were investing in it, but we realized at that point that they were not getting along and it was going to fracture the company. So I thought there was a lot of potential, and so I actually resigned from my investment banking job and moved out to Beverly Hills, California, with the belief that we can build an amazing company. And so we had 35.
Oliver: That’s a strong move.
Sharran: Yeah. All the mechanics were in place. We were just getting out of the crisis. It was 2010. It felt like there was a whole ten innings ahead of us, and so I came on. We cleaned out the balance sheet, bought out the partners who didn’t want to be there, and we went from one office, 35 agents, and 300 million in sales to 22 offices, 600 agents, 3.5 billion in sales. So we grew 10X in five years.
Oliver: My man. I love that. I’m curious, what was it initially that attracted you to them as an investment, from an investment banking standpoint?
Sharran: Yeah, great question. So, I didn’t do any diligence in this investment at all. My partner’s broker friend in the agent, was the principal broker. So we invested out of pure trust in my partner’s relationship for 40 years. It was almost like your principal broker asking someone and then they writing a check. We had no sense of it whatsoever. We were just real estate investors. I didn’t know nothing about the brokerage business. I’d never talked to a client, I’d never talked to an agent.
Oliver: So this person just presented the opportunity, and because of your trust in them, you moved forward.
Sharran: Yeah, we just made a passive investment.
Oliver: So then you came in there. There were some struggles happening. What did you do after you cleaned up the balance sheet? What was your growth strategy?
Sharran: Yeah, so we realized, I’ll never forget this day. So I went back to New York to clean up everything at Goldman and all of that. I went back to New York, and I went into the Starbucks. It was a month into running Teles, and I had no idea how to do anything. We were losing money, we were not getting growth. I thought I was all this and a bag of chips. I remember going to the Starbucks, ordering a black tea lemonade. I sat in the corner on 63rd and Third in New York, and I bawled my eyes out. I cried my eyes out, because I had no idea what I was doing. I had no clue.
Oliver: So this is overwhelm setting in?
Sharran: Complete overwhelm. And I didn’t even understand the business. I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t know that we got paid when… I had no idea. And when you have no idea, I like to say this often, is transformations don’t happen in isolation. There’s no way. Transformations do not happen in isolation. You can’t get yourself out of a tough position by yourself, because if you could have you would have never gotten there in the first place. So I called one of my mentors who lives in New York. He was a great mentor for me for the last 10 years, and I said, “Hey, can you talk to me about this?” And Oliver, so I walk into his house, he sits there in his leather seat in his office-
Oliver: In his chair like this.
Sharran: In his king chair. And he says, we do all these questions, and he’s like, “So Sharran, what business are you in?” And I said, “Well, we’re in the business of selling real estate.” He goes, “Let me ask you again. What business are you in?” I said, “Well, I’m in the business of selling real estate.” He goes, “I haven’t heard you selling real estate ever. Do you have to wake up tomorrow and go out and sell real estate tomorrow?” I said, “No.” Then he’s like, “Well, you’re not in the business of selling real estate. What business are you in?” And I said, “I don’t know.” And he goes, “You’re in the business of hiring amazing people and giving them an awesome environment to sell real estate. Your job is not to sell real estate.” He goes, “You’re thinking about how to sell more homes. In fact, you should think about how to build an amazing agent culture and give them a lot of tools and services and a platform so they can go be successful, and then as a result you’re successful. So the business that you’re really in is hiring people to sell real estate.”
And I stopped. I was like, “I’m good. I love you.” Hug. I’m like, “I don’t want to talk anymore. I’m out.” Because now I realized that it’s not my job to go sell more homes. It’s not my job to fix the balance sheet. It is my job to go out and find amazing people so that I can give them a platform so they can go create an amazing lifestyle for themselves.
Sharran: So, we changed from a real estate company to a human capital company, right? We became a place where we attracted people. We don’t need to attract property. So if you go on real estate company’s website, and this is across the board, what do you see? Look at our homes for sale. Nobody goes there. But what you should see is, person, person, person, person, person. People, people, people, people. You’re not selling homes, you’re selling the advice and the perspective around that. As a company, that’s our job.
As soon as I realized that, I said the strategy from our growth is going to come from recruiting, and recruiting great people, and building a great platform, and not just figuring out how we can sell more homes. And that shift was the shift that I really needed.
Oliver: Wow. And that’s a huge shift in thinking because you’re thinking, and I think a lot of brokers think this. We talk about this a lot. I mean, Sam. People think that they’re in the business of selling real estate, right? And ultimately, if you’re running a brokerage, your agents are really the ones that are in charge of selling the real estate. Your job is to support them-
Sharran: One hundred percent.
Oliver: Provide training. Provide accountability. Provide the systems for them to plug in and go out and succeed at a high level. And that’s a big shift in thinking because now you’re thinking a lot less about how many units are we selling, what price points, what’s the volume, this and that. And now you’re thinking more about how am I getting good talent? How am I retaining good talent? What perks am I offering? What’s our company culture like?
Sharran: So, for everybody, recruiting is the answer, you can say that. But, there’s a lot of thought that goes into that, right? You guys are very thoughtful about it. So, I sat down and after six months learning the business, this applies to any company anywhere but it definitely applies to what we do, is I said, “What are the reasons why people join us?” Nobody asks that question, right? What are the reasons why people join us?
And there are three broad reasons. Number one, they join them because of you. “I love Oliver, Oliver’s been great to me, I’m connected to Oliver, Oliver will always do right by me.” They join because of you. Number two, they join because of the model. The platform, the services, the benefits that you offer as a company. That’s number two. It’s essentially a model. And number three, they join for identity reasons. I need to be with them because they are my people. The identity decision is super important.
So if you break it all down, flip it now. When do they leave? They leave when they find another model. As soon as they find another model, they’re gone, right? It’s a little harder to leave Oliver; they’re like, “I can’t do it now. I can’t do it at Christmas. I can’t do it at Father’s Day.” And they stay with you because they feel a connection to you. It’s the first reason why people leave, and let’s say companies tell me, “Oh, I have an amazing model.” I go, “Yeah, you’re going to be able to recruit them, and they’re going to switch like that.”
So the model is the first reason people come, people also leave. The second is they come because of you, but when they come because of their identity, and they’re connected to who you are, the mission that you stand for, et cetera, they never want to leave because you never have to… They have to leave, their identity changes, and how often is that, right? And when we changed and we started recruiting people to our identity, we didn’t have to do what people call retention. We didn’t have to do retention because they were already connected.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: So there’s no retention anymore. So our entire process, we said, we may recruit fewer people, but if they come in the right identity, you never have to call them, you never have to take them to lunch, you don’t have to do all that because they believe what you believe. And that’s why I said if we can find people in the, we call them Teles DNA, Big Block DNA. If they’re Teles DNA, it gets very exciting.
Oliver: So tell me more about that identity, right? Is that what you would say is how you were recruiting top talent? And what was that identity for you guys, and how did you create it?
Sharran: Yeah, so, great question. So let’s talk about how we created it. We looked at, in the last 18 months, because we’d only been around 18 months, 24 months, we looked at the last 18 months and we saw who came in, and who’s done amazingly well, and who embodies the Teles DNA. And we saw there’s this amazing kid named Andy, and we said, if everybody was like Andy… That was just a model for us. And then we went and said, what is Andy like?
Oliver: What makes Andy Andy?
Sharran: So I went on Google, I typed Andy, I picked the first picture. That’s Andy. Who’s Andy? What does he drive? How old is he? What are his fears? What does he believe in? What are his aspirations? You just write. And then, when you actually meet Oliver, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, Oliver’s like an Andy.” And then it becomes really easy.
So you don’t have to go crowdsource what all your partners think and what your managers think. You don’t have to do any of that. Don’t do that, because you have self-bias in there. “Oh, I don’t want to say this, I don’t want to say that.” But when you just go find a person that is already embodying that identity, just deconstruct that and now you know, yeah you’re building an army, but what does the military do? They’re like, “Oliver is a bad ass. Let me go find more Olivers.” Right? Because they know that works. And we just deconstructed a model DNA, and we just said, what’s the model? And we just matched the person to the model.
Oliver: I love it. So you basically just went out, just to kind of put a bow on this. You looked at your entire team, who you had already, found the person that was the ideal Teles person, got very clear on what made [00:44:30] that person that person, and then went out and tried to just focus on finding more of that.
Sharran: Yeah. Actually, in our recruiting calls we would ask our managers, the first question you would ask is, “Is she Teles DNA?” I don’t care whether she does… People always say-
Oliver: Don’t care how much she sells, this, that.
Sharran: Yeah, oh, she’s a top producer. We’re not even got to the conversation. Is she Teles DNA? Yes. Awesome. Let’s do whatever it takes to make that happen, because I had this illusion, or delusion, that if we built the company like that, over and over time, you would get to the perfect DNA. You would almost be like the Borg. You’d get to the perfect DNA because you have people… That’s why when we had our acquisition, we had very few people, when what they believed in, ever leave. People left, they just had a disconnect with the identity, but others they never left because they believe in the mission. So, once you get that you never have to do a retention ever again because now they’re your peeps.
Oliver: Now they’re your peeps. I like that. So, tell me a little bit about… Because one thing I noticed early on about Teles, because we obviously watch all the other brokers and what’s happening, is you guys were really good at recruiting top talent. When you came into San Diego, you guys pulled a bunch of big names. And you didn’t really get a lot of agents, but the agents that you got were very high quality, very committed to the business, very, call it Teles DNA, right? But what was it that attracted them to you? What was the Teles difference?
Sharran: My entire pitch was one thing, and if you notice it was not the agents that were big agents. It was where they were located. So what we decided is, what I would tell people is, “My goal is to build a pearl necklace. I want to start in Carmel and I want to get pearls all the way along the coast, all the way down to Coronado. And I just want a big team in each market, so I can just service the entire coast.” And so my job was to sell the dream of the pearl necklace. So I would walk into a marketplace, or whoever, I’d be like, “You guys are a dominant team here. You’re going to be the pearl of my necklace down here, and I’ll build everything around you.” So I would actually go in an and I would build something for them, right? And they would get very, very excited. So it’s all about the pearl necklace.
Oliver: Crazy. And was that strategy based on those just being the high value properties near the coast, or what was the thought there?
Sharran: We had a good blend of both unit-driven volume and sales volume, but I just wanted Teles DNA teams that, when you move a team over, you help set them up, they build a new identity with you, they want to invest in that process. That team is still there, right? So for me it was more about, does the team have a commitment, or do those agents have a commitment to that marketplace? Can I make them the pearl in that marketplace, and can I invest in them? Can there be a daisy pearl of referrals across the board? We didn’t want to be the number one agency in Newport Beach because I didn’t want agents tripping over each other. I’d much rather have agents across the board because we can sell in different marketplaces.
Oliver: I love that. Tell me about how you were able to go into those markets and poach those big teams. What was it about you and the company that kind of drew them?
Sharran: Yes, I’ll give you the recruiting pitch; it was very simple. We realize that when an agent joins the business, wherever you are, if you’re a real estate agent, if you are a sales professional entrepreneur, you want to two things. The reason that you don’t want to work a nine-to-five job, and that’s totally cool, I like that too, is you want uncapped income potential. You’re just like, “Hey, no one’s going to tell me what I make this year.” And so you want uncapped income potential, and you also want full control over your time.
Well there’s a problem there. Most people think they can do nothing for work and make a lot of money. We all know that that’s a recipe for disaster. That doesn’t happen, right? So I thought, I have to do something that impacts one of these two things. I either need to increase revenues or I need to decrease costs. I need to increase joy with giving them more time, or I need reduce stress by giving them more. So it’s either increase revenues, decrease cost, increase joy, reduce stress.
And I was like, “I don’t know if I can increase their revenues, because that’s not under my control. I don’t know if I can decrease their costs. Maybe, with some splits. I think I can increase their joy, give them more time back. I think I can reduce their stress by giving more time back.” So I said, “Hey, if we can build a model which would give the people time back, that would be amazing.” So our pitch was this, “Hey, Oliver, if you sell seven or more listings a year, the Teles platform saves you one day a week. What would you do with an extra 52 days a year?”
Oliver: I love that.
Sharran: That was the only pitch. There was nothing else. Because what we did is we built systems that allowed big agents with big teams and big business to process their business faster so it would save them 20% of time, which is one day a week. So now when you take that back, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I can have more time with my family. I can go prospect more. I can sell more. I can do more. Now it gets more exciting.” We had one singular pitch, and we built the entire company around that.
Oliver: That’s really amazing. And really smooth. So the pillars are increase-
Sharran: Decrease costs.
Oliver: Decrease costs.
Sharran: Increase joy.
Oliver: Increase joy. Decrease stress.
Sharran: That’s it.
Oliver: And the decrease stress was the one that you guys decided to focus on.
Oliver: And how did you execute on decreasing stress?
Sharran: So we realized that a lot of times what agents would do is either they had or didn’t have their own checklists in this process, right? And we said, wouldn’t it being amazing if the agent didn’t need to be involved, if we could just do it all. So hey, when I take a listing, these 19 things happen. Okay, great. What if we just did it, and did it at scale, because we’re already doing the same thing for everybody. So let’s just do that.
And so we took all the pieces of the process out that didn’t need agent involvement, and we just systematized that. And once you systematize it, you can have technology do it, you can have work flows do it, you can have people in the Philippines do it. It doesn’t matter as long as you manage it well. And everything came down to operationalized success. That’s what we say, we always say, we had to operationalize success.
Oliver: That’s very cool. And that was your whole pitch to getting these agents is, “I’m going to give you one extra day per week.”
Sharran: That’s it. Because now, what most companies, most brokerages, most agencies, most any company, what they want to do is they say, “Hey Oliver, come work for us. Here are the 10 amazing things we do.” You start getting recruited. “Hey Oliver, we’re adding three more. Now we do these 13 amazing things.” Now you and me and Sam are like, “How do we add more stuff to this?” Now we add more, we add more, we add more. They’re not using any of these anyway. Now it’s like a comparison of the size [00:51:00] of the list, right? And so you don’t have a way to know whether you’re waking up in the morning and delivering on a promise. So I always tell people it’s not about how you scale-
Oliver: That’s good.
Sharran: Right? It’s not about how you scale. So think about this. It is not about how you scale, it is about how you scale your promise.
Oliver: I like that.
Sharran: So if someone asks me how do you scale your businesses, no. It’s how to you scale your promise. What was the whole in Domino’s, “Hey, if we don’t deliver it in 15 minutes, or whatever, your pizza’s free”? They had to scale that, which meant they had to have good drivers. That’s what they fixed, [00:51:30] right? They didn’t have to fix their pizza; they had to fix their delivery. So they scaled the promise.
Oliver: The systems, the operations, all that.
Sharran: Right. So it’s not about how you scale your business, it’s how do you scale your promise.
Oliver: I love the clarity behind that, too. And then, to your point, there’s an accountability in delivering on that promise.
Sharran: Right. Totally.
Oliver: Which is perfect, so both sides know exactly what’s happening and it’s very transparent. So then, you built Teles up to quite a large scale. Thank you, Michelle, for the extra beer, because we were getting a little low.
Sharran: I’m going to chug this.
Oliver: Back to, you built Teles to quite a large company, right? And then, at what point was it that you either decided to sell, or knew it was time to sell, or were you just approached? Or, tell me about how that went down.
Sharran: So, the one thing that I recommend to entrepreneurs all the time is, people talk about right place, right time, right? And so I always tell them, “Hey, it’s very hard to do that. It’s very hard to get right place in your business at the right time.” So I always say, “Hey, get to the right place all the time, and the right time will just happen.”
So the faster we can just get to the right place and just stay there, as long as possible. It’s like, I just need to get to that mountaintop. I’m going to wait here. That sun will rise. The right time will happen. You can’t time, but if the right time happens in the wrong place, it gets messy.
So from my investment banking background, I suggested that we go to market and pretend, in a very good faith way, that we’re going to sell the business every year. So every year, we ran a process to sell our business. Every year, we did it softly, because I wanted to know what our business was worth, and most importantly I wanted to know, no company will tell you, “Oh, your business is worth three dollars.” They will say, “Your business is worth three dollars only, and let me tell you why.” Because that’s their ego.
And I said, “Great, bring it on. Tell me why.” “Oh, you don’t have this, you only have 13 offices. If you had 15, we’d pay you more.” So I’d go back and say, “Well, they told us if we had 15 offices and 18 agents and we got these splits, they’d pay us a lot more. Great. Hey team, we should build that.” That became the goals for next year.
Oliver: That’s amazing.
Sharran: So every year-
Oliver: What a great strategy.
Sharran: Dude, it’s super easy, right? Every year we went, we did the… So, I know when the market was starting to change. I knew when it was getting to the point where we would get good value, but… While some of the details are confidential, we were at the right place, they found us at the right time. They wanted California operations. They wanted our footprint. They lit up our entire footprint overnight. They could not have built it, it would’ve taken them 10 plus years to build that. And they had a great brand, they had the resources. And they said, “Hey, how do we turn on a little Douglas Elliman in California, and I think we were kind of almost a match made in heaven for them, because it was the perfect footprint for the-
Oliver: The Douglas Elliman DNA.
Sharran: Yeah, yeah. You know, it was a good model match. And so they were able to integrate and do that very quickly, and they had a 22 office presence right away, which they didn’t have to build.
Oliver: So every year, you were going out shopping the business as if it was for sale, even though maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. Then, based on the feedback you received on what could make it worth more, that became your goals for the next year. So you deconstructed how to get maximum value and then went and did that and built it for maximum value.
Sharran: Yeah. One analyst in a big company who we were looking at was very kind in the process. We had gone to them three times. I’d become friends through this process. They were like, “Oh, here comes Sharran again.” But they would just refresh their numbers, refresh their process, and he would always say, “Hey, it’s amazing. You guys always hit the numbers that we want you to hit.” And I said, “How do you know that?” And he’s like, “Well, it’s in my model.” I said, “Well, can I see it?” He’s like, “Well…” And as a good faith gesture, he gave me a screenshot of the model that we had to reverse engineer. So me and my COO, we reverse engineered the acquisition model and we said, this is what we need to build to.
Oliver: Wow, that’s great.
Sharran: So we got, again, right place and the right time happens.
Oliver: So then, did they seek you out, or was this at one of your annual shopping sprees?
Sharran: No, so Douglas Elliman connected with us.
Oliver: So they contacted you?
Sharran: They contacted us. We did a-
Oliver: They were interested in seeing-
Sharran: Then we went through the process. Exactly.
Oliver: If something could happen.
Sharran: It was over 18 months. It was a 12 months to 18 month deal. From the first conversation, they were actively looking. And, my partners and I were very… It was tough, right? So for anybody that ever… I’ll give you acquisition advice, right? I’ve had three deals so far, three exits, and every time you go through an acquisition, a couple things happen. First, you always start thinking about how amazing it’s going to be when it’s done. That’s a very hard feeling. I would bring it back to the present because the current job right now is to grow the business because that’s what they’re interested in.
The second thing, what we did is we’ve separated our team. We said, “There’s going to be an acquisition team, and a business growth team.” Because the one thing that companies hate when they buy you, is, during the time they’re buying you, you’re flat and you don’t grow. They’re like, “Oh, you took your eye off the ball and the business didn’t work.”
Oliver: You let your foot off the gas.
Sharran: So what happened for us is, when we separated it, we were still pushing hard, growing, and we also felt like we had more options. And they were like, “Oh my gosh, even though these guys are doing the deal they’re growing during the time we’re doing the deal. This is amazing.”
So the two things I would tell you is, bring your focus back to the present, and split your team so one team works the deal and one team works the growth. Because having growth during acquisition talks is-
Oliver: That’s great advice.
Sharran: Oh, it’s amazing.
Oliver: And it gets them just salivating more over closing the deal because they’re like, “Man, we really have to close this to get in on the action.”
Sharran: Yeah. I think we grew more during the deal period, because at that point it also gives you confidence that, oh my gosh, I can do this. I can grow more. I can be more. I can give more. Even though I’m semi-distracted on the other side.
Oliver: That’s great. It took about 18 months. I want to talk about this whole deal, because I think a lot of people that listen to this have businesses that are exit-able.
OliSo, they approached you, and you kind of thought there might be something there. What were the terms of the deal? I know you can’t disclose numbers or whatever, but what were the terms?
Sharran: Yeah, so, I’ll give you the high level. Let’s actually back up. So a lot of people are probably wondering, “Hey, how does a company get value? What is the offer that’s made, et cetera.” Right? Instead of thinking about valuation, I will actually say, because the value that you bring is how the buyer looks at the deal. So, to me and you, buying a business for 72 million dollars may be a steal. To them it may be like, well you’re using a wrong multiple. To you and me, it’s only worth 72 million because when we integrate it into our operations, we can’t get more synergies out of it. So I like to tell people, take out the multiple number, take out the formula, because the world’s changed. People have no problem coming in and saying, “I’m happy to pay 32 million dollars for your business. You may think it’s worth 132, but this is what I’m willing to pay because this is the value it adds to me post-acquisition.”
So the thing I realized, Oliver, was, I think about more pieces to the deal. So the pieces generally are, “Hey, do you get cash or stock?” Very simple, do you get cash or stock, right? And if they’re a publicly traded company, you get stock; if they’re privately traded, “Hey, I get some Big Block stock, you get some Teles stock.” Right? So cash or stock. The stock is more illiquid, so generally when you get stock you get more stock than par. If you’re getting it cash you can generally get a little less because you get that value upfront.
The second piece of the puzzle is you get some form of earn-out. You say, “Hey, you can’t just walk away tomorrow, Oliver. You have to stick around.” Or, “Your business needs to look as healthy with us. What am I going to give you over time, because that is my insurance policy for it not happening.” Right? That’s number two.
And the third is all these bonuses. They just call them milestones or something formulaic. “Hey, if you hit three billion dollars in sales, you get another clip. If you hit that, we give you this.”
Oliver: This is after the deal closes?
Sharran: After the deal closes. Yeah, generally after the deal closes. So most deals will always have some form of an upfront payment, either cash or stock. Some form of what we call an earn-out or formulaic payment, and some kind of a milestone. And so, our deal was structured exactly that way. We had all three parts to the puzzle, and then it became a question of, “Hey, you picked this number. It’s going to be $100. How much of the $100 do I get upfront? How much do I get during the three, five year period? How much do I get if I hit certain milestones?” And then you try to figure out on your team if you’re willing to take that deal.
Oliver: Makes sense. Makes perfect sense.
Sharran: Yeah, and a lot of people think that, “Oh yeah, I can go out and someone will just pay me this.” Well, it doesn’t work that way anymore. Because the biggest, biggest thing… Why do people buy companies? Very simple reason. It’s called build or buy. If I can’t build it, I’m going to go buy it. But if I can build it in two years, I don’t need you, so what am I willing to pay for you? The cost it would take me to build it in two years.
So for most buyers of companies, the cost they’re willing to pay is replacement cost. And if your replacement cost is that good, you should at least get that. So, it’s easy for me to walk into my negotiating table and say, “Hey, we have 22 offices, 650 agents, do the math.” How long would it take you to build that? 10 years, and X price. Great.
Oliver: I’ll wait.
Sharran: Yeah, this is [01:01:00] not hard math, right? 10 years and X price. Awesome. Say you’re more amazing than we are. You can do it in five. And nothing happens to the economy. You still have to run your current business by then. What is that number? Cut that in half. I still win. And so that’s when you know you’ve created a lot of value in the business.
Oliver: So that value, then. Tell me about how that translates in terms of an earn-out, because I think a lot of people… I don’t know if fear is the right word, but when they sell their company they’re maybe worried about having to stay on as an employee afterwards. Tell me how that was for you, and what you would say to that.
Yeah, so, listen. My wife always says this, if you wanted to run the company, you shouldn’t have sold it. Right? So I’ll tell you that right now. Somebody paid you for your company. Say thank you, be deeply kind and grateful, do whatever the contracts ask for, and service the deal like your life depended on it, because it is your responsibility to your culture, your shareholders, that you committed to doing.
Sharran: Responsibility to your culture, your shareholders that you committed to doing that.
Oliver: you can smoothly pass the baton right?
Oliver: Because it’d be terrible if you built a company, pass it off and they ran it in the ground.
Sharran: Totally. And so the… Is not having the say difficult for you? It should be. It was for me, I was not the boss. I couldn’t, it was less about being the boss it was more about I couldn’t just have an idea and just do it. That was really hard.
Oliver: You had to run it up the chain.
Sharran: I would run it up by a couple of people. They’re publicly traded, so it’s not on brand. I’m a director. They’re like, what did Sharran say? Is it going to affect the stock price? I get it, I get all of that. At that point is when you realize, hey, you know what? I’m willing to do this.
What we did was I talked to the team and I was like, hey, what are my parameters? What can and can’t I do? Awesome. If I can do this, then I’ll do that. And at the point in which I feel like I can’t do this anymore than maybe time for a change.
Oliver: So you worked that stuff out in advance?
Sharran: Correct. You should work it out in advance because people have different expectations. The buyer is going to come in and say, Sam Oliver, I bought your company. You’re my slave, I expect you to do whatever I say. But that’s, you can’t do that. You’re caging the beast when you do that. So if you negotiate that upfront and say, hey, can we write a, I call it the mutual expectations document. Can you write saying, hey, I have, they still have the right to send out emails. I still have the right to accounting documents. I still have the right to my car allowance. I’m just coming up with stuff. But if you don’t write that now you’re sucked into the parent companies-
Oliver: How they do it.
Sharran: How they do it. And you have no say in it unless you can say we already pre-agreed upon this. I would say the hardest and most complex discussions happen for us negotiating that. Because we were not in New York, in California-
Oliver: And that’s when you’re in the nitty gritty. The, yeah, I like that, I don’t know about that.
Oliver: And so how long did you have to stay on before the deal was finally done and you passed it on?
Sharran: Yes. So we… I stayed on… They chose to rebrand the company right away. Sometimes some companies like to do it that way sometimes some don’t. We chose to rebrand it right away, we rebranded all 22 offices in 90 days. And that-
Oliver: To Douglas Elliman.
Sharran: To Douglas Elliman, that was, I took up heavy role in that because I wanted to make sure when the rebrand happened. All my, all our agents were supported through the process. I stayed six and a half months, ensured that the rebrand was complete. My transition was complete to a new COO and that was when I left.
Oliver: And that was when you left?
Oliver: That’s great. How did you celebrate when you closed that deal?
Sharran: You know the interesting part is, I’ll give you this one story. This was a good one. This is a good, I haven’t told anybody this. So my… We don’t partake in a lot of fun festivities. This is like, it’s a once a year thing, so I’m glad to hang out and do this with you.
My COO and I, we’ve been working this deal. We get together with our spouses and we go to this restaurant to celebrate closing the deal. And my COO looks at me, he’s like, here’s the drink menu. I said, “I don’t drink.” He goes just today. I said, “Okay, I’ll have the first one” He goes, I’ll have the first one too. There’s probably 18 drinks on the menu.
Well, we ordered the first one and I said, “Great.” And I’m already feeling terrible. Then this my partner said, “Oh, we’ll have the second one on the menu.” And I said, “I don’t even know what the second one is.” He goes, ah, it’s fine. You don’t drink anyway. Then he said, “We’ll have the third one on the menu.” And I said, “You at least got to choose.” He goes, no, we’re already in order now.
Oliver: We are running down the list.
Sharran: So he took a magic marker and he started scratching out. He goes, we have 13 more to go. We didn’t even get through half the menu. We got kicked out of the restaurant because neither of us do that.
Oliver: Just having too much fun.
Sharran: But we had three goals in the transaction. It was about do we take care of the agents, do we take care of our staff, do we take care of our shareholders. Me and my partner had the sticky and anytime, I will tell you the deal fall apart at least 100 times. I’m not joking. At least 100 times the deal fall apart. At least one. When I say fall apart, it was a shy of us, them saying, you know, just telling us to bug off. And us saying that it was done. It was reply all saying, no, we’re not moving forward, 100 times.
And it’s very normal because I’ve done three of these. Very normal. And so we would always go back to, hey, we talked about making sure that agents have a good place to go. Making sure all our staff have jobs that they wanted and making sure our shareholders have an insane return. And so we always would go back to does it solve all three-
Oliver: Check the boxes.
Sharran: Okay, awesome. Let’s just stay in the game. Let’s be kind, let’s be supportive. Let’s just and anytime it was out of integrity with those three, that’s when you could actually throw up a fight. But untill then we stayed with those three. So you should always have like a, when you’re going through something tough. Hey, I want to buy this house, I want to buy this beach house in Carlsbad. Awesome. That’s there. These three things. Hey, I won’t give anything less than this. I won’t give these terms. As long as within those three you can stay in the game. It gives you like a, your plan tomorrow, today. And then you stay with stay with the process.
Oliver: One of the things too that Roland Frasier shared with us, you know him-
Sharran: Great interview.
Oliver: Was just getting really clear on the what you want, what you want but is negotiable and then what you know they want it and then making sure that you’re approaching that deal with all of those things. These are my must haves. These are would be great to have but I could give up and then these are their must haves. And then working those angles to try and put the deal together.
Sharran: And it’s funny how many things are such easy gives. Such easy gives. We acquired a company recently that of a COO that I mentor and the only thing that person wanted was insurance for their cousin because there was not, you’re not part of the family and couldn’t get it. And he said that to me over drinks. We were the only people that offer, it was nothing.
Oliver: it’s so easy for you.
Sharran: We bought a company for the price we wanted because we offered, like we paid-
Oliver: To give the cousin insurance. Amazing.
Sharran: And so sometimes you just have to kind of have that conversation and that’s a rapport, is that you have to ask for it. If you had to put everything aside, what three things do you want? Even, let’s say, we don’t buy this company. Hey, you either like the deal or not, but if you don’t like it, tell me what three deals and they’ll tell you.
And my favorite question is, hey, let’s say we agreed on all terms of money. What is something that is not in the money terms? And you’d be shocked as to how many things that are not in the money terms. I’ll tell you a very important thing is title. I’ve had deals, see deals blown up because people couldn’t agree on the title of the incoming CEO.
Oliver: Oh my God. That’s so easy to fix too, right?
Sharran: But they don’t talk about it. And sometimes you have a bigger company that can’t give you the title because of rationale or heirachy-
Oliver: Or someone else already has that title.
Sharran: Exactly. I have seen deals break because of that.
Oliver: So that comes down to just asking in advance and hey, what are the non-money related things that are really important to you in this deal?
Sharran: And you can say, hey, I’m not asking you to show your cards. It’s always what I say, hey, I’m not asking you to show your cards. But if we could work on anything that is non-monetarily related, what would that be? And then generally-
Oliver: It’s a great question.
Sharran: Then what you do is you always offer first. For example, hey, my company’s health insurance is on this. I hope to at least have it for six more months so I can find my own. Would that be okay with you? I always say, would that be okay with you? That’s, so that they’re like, Oh My Gosh! He’s asking for permission and he’s so respectful before he does the deal. How cool is he going to be when he’s our employee? And now you’ve offered something there and they’ll say, well, hey, all company members have company cars. You’re like, done, can I get an i8? That’s when the good stuff starts to happen. But we never ask because we assume it’s all money related.
Oliver: I love that. That’s great tip. Digging into the nitty gritty, ask the right questions, find out what’s really important to them and then sell based on those things. And then be clear on the things that you’re willing to give up as well. Because if it’s not that important, you just let them have their way. They feel like they got a win and everybody moves forward.
Sharran: The one exercise that we did was probably our pivotal exercise in the whole thing was me and my COO, we sat in a room and we said if we were in a very good faith way, if we were our buyer, if we were Douglas Elliman and we were buying a company right now, the transaction has closed, everything is done, what would we do and what would we be excited about?
Oliver: Great question.
Sharran: And so now you’re like, okay, if I were, I would move these people, I would put those people, I would change this, I would market it this way. I would say our new thing is this. And so we come up with all of the things that will be amazing. And as you have discussions, you could see those things because you’re like, hey, wouldn’t it be amazing when we’re sitting here a year from now and we were the number one independent in the country?
But you acquired us and you became the number one independent in the country. Well that’s pretty cool. That’s an added benefit that you never thought of. So now the PR guy is thinking, oh, wouldn’t this be amazing that we could actually sell this story? Wouldn’t this be amazing that in the living room when my agents walk in, where they can say, hey, we’re the number one independently owned brand in the country.
But they never think about those things at all. So we just sat there and we made this list and you get excited about it for them. And then you know, it’s a good deal.
Oliver: And to your point you can pre-frame those things now. You’re adding them into their conversation and just giving them clarity on closing the deal. Easy. Thank you for that, that’s a great story.
I want to kind of pivot now because you are an awesome entrepreneur. And I want to ask you some kind of tactical/operational questions. So in your mind, what is the job of a leader or what is it that a good leader should be focused on every day?
Sharran: I think the job of a leader is to do two things and well, I like to focus on just doing these two things. Number one is to be so far ahead thinking about a bigger and better future. Our job is to consistently and constantly be focused on thinking about a bigger and better future. Because when you and I are focused on thinking about a bigger and better future every day we come to work energized, excited that today’s problem does not bother me right now. I know that this will go away and I can create something else. I’m open to opportunity.
When you think about a bigger and better future, it takes away all pain of the presence. So that’s number one. I want to wake up and be like, what can be. Because nobody else, my COO wakes up and makes sure that the trains are running on time. That’s my COO’s job. My director of design wakes up and makes sure that everything looks good. My director of ops wakes up and makes sure that all the bills are paid. My engineer’s wake up and make sure that this product works-
Oliver: Everything works.
Sharran: Sharran wakes up and does what? Thinks about how great this can be, that’s the job.
Oliver: Let me ask you this. From a tactical standpoint, are you talking about a year out, 10 years out? What does that look like to you?
Sharran: Great question. I think it’s two, more than three years is too far. I can’t see that far. I do a 3- 1-30. My 3-1-30 is essentially, hey, in three years I’d love to have 100,000 members paying us x dollars a month. In one year I want to hit this big goal and the next 30 60, 90 what do I get? 90 is a very good period for us. Even for the COOs I mentor, I always talk about the 90-day kind of the 90-day March-
Oliver: Sprints or whatever.
Sharran: 90 days is long enough where you can actually accomplish something powerful but short enough that you can actually see it and experience it. I’ll give you a cool story. Four years ago we hired a very expensive coach and me and my partner and we brought on a third junior partner in our fund and we did a planning session.
So we built a 25-year plan and to the point where we were like, we’re going to be x number of a value of the size of our portfolio in 25 years. This is the personal lifestyle that we want. And the theory was 25 years, each year has four quarters. So there’s a hundred quarters. In every quarter you have to make 1% progress.
Oliver: That’s a great way to look at it.
Sharran: And so we built this plan and selling [inaudible] was a big part of that plan. And so we’ve gotten a little kind of resting on our laurels with that. But we hit the plan. And so every quarter if we miss something, we’re only 1% behind. If we hit something, we only know we have that 1% goal.
So we have a couple of goals about acquiring a certain number of rental units and it’s been very easy because it’s like, hey, you write this many offers, you get this. But then at the end of the quarter you hit that goal where like we hit the 1% goal and we’re on the plan. And the reason we did the 25-year goal was that one of my 50/50 partner, he’s 63 and my other partner who is younger than us, he’s 27 so we have very different lifestyles. And so what one person’s risk appetite is, is very different from the others. So you needed a artifact or document to dial everything forward. That’s why we needed that.
If you have a partnership and you don’t have, I hate to call it an operating agreement, but more standards like partnership standards, it’s going to break. Because you and Sam have a great relationship. But I guarantee you the relationship is trumping the friction right now because there’s probably some things that irritate both of you. Very normal, but there are partners out there that have just gotten together in the last two three years and they wonder and when you have three, two people start to bend together and they’re like, Oh My Gosh! Oliver is terrible. And it’s really, really toxic for the partnership. So that’s why having an artifact like a plan or a 90-day plan, et Cetera, is very good. Tactically if all of you are not playing from the same playbook, it’s a little messy.
Oliver: So that was number one, is the big vision. Number two for what leaders should focus on?
Sharran: Number two is I think to me is all about the word cadence. It’s I think a lot of times what we believe is, Oh yeah, I’m going to come into the office. I’m going to talk about how amazing this company is going to be and then I’m going to go back in my shell and my video calls, my podcast and then never talked to you again.
I think cadence is so important. When I say cadence, for example, in our company on Sunday nights, Monday mornings I write one email to the entire company. That’s my weekly kickoff. On Friday, my partner writes a weekly top 10 recap, recapping that weeks goals. And in the middle on Wednesday afternoons, we do what we call a culture call where someone’s from the company leads the call, leads a video call and teaches something.
They get to teach something that’s very personal to them that they love. So what we do is you connect three times a week that way. And we do a daily huddle every single day of the week at 9:30 to 9:45. So everyone, the entire company is on a video chat, but it’s very fast, very quick.
That cadence keeps you, keeps your culture, keeps your focus and nothing’s ever off. You can course correct very easily. It’s not like, oh, Sharran showed up again three months later. It’s Sharran showed up every single morning for us. And so as long as you keep thinking about a big future and as long as you execute cadence today, that’s, those are the two things.
I love that, I think that’s great advice. And I love the idea, so three times a week, once on Sunday, that’s you writing in to the whole team weekly kick off. End of the week, your partner writes it, it’s a recap of the week. Wednesday, your team lead a call on what? I’m really curious about that one because what are they teaching on and how do you structure that?
Great question. Every week one person owns the call and they have full control over this call, video call. Recently we did a book review. So a person just said, hey, here’s a book that I really loved, it impacted me this way. She came on the call, she talked about the book for a few minutes and then she opened up the call and she went person by person until time ran out and said what each one had thought about the book and we learned, it was very cool, like people that wanted to share.
One of our team members decided to live the complete nomadic remote lifestyle and he’s been in 17 countries in the last 25 days. And what he did was he talked about the last seven countries and what he’d learned. Every time something is super important to that person, they get a chance to come out and share it. One of our teammates, she turned into this minimalist revolution. So she just got rid of everything in her house and she’s given us a tour. There’s nothing there. And so now we start to realize why they think that way and our interactions with them at work. Because their emails are cleaner, they say fewer things and you get to connect with your team at a much deeper level. Because once you get the team together, no team member, we lead the calls all the time. We get on, we kick it off, we set the agenda and how I get out, I’m like, hey Michelle, thank you so much for leading the call today. Click! I’m out. It’s Michelle now and now she gets to do that and she gets to have the influence and there’s a little bit of ownership deposited into the company. And the more ownership that our team can have, that’s when good things happen. So now you have people saying, okay, I believe in this big vision, oh, I own a piece of this today. And small things like that can have a lot of impact.
Oliver: That’s very cool man. That’s really good advice on things that people can focus on. One other thing that’s a big challenge for a lot of entrepreneurs is tracking to-dos. And then not only that, but holding people accountable when you assign them things. What advice do you have around attacking those types of things?
Sharran: So the interesting part, I went from… I’ll tell you, the average entrepreneurs to-do list that nobody agrees to. So let’s actually call it out. You wake up in the morning and just assume your to-do list is empty, which is never the case by the way. Let’s say you put 15 things on the list, you go through and you have an amazing day and you crush those 15 but suddenly at 6:00 PM that night, there’s 41 things on that list. Why? Because it keeps getting added. That’s who we are. We want to do more, be more, create more, do more. And we don’t have the discipline to knock off those 15 and then start, we don’t have that.
So the problem is as you do that you are out of integrity with yourself to be able to deliver on what you said you were going to do. When someone tells me I’m going to get your spreadsheet done, and then the next day they say, I’m still working on it. No, I don’t care that you mess the deliverable with me. You must the deliverable with yourself and there’s a daisy chain of that that happens in your life.
So the reason why entrepreneurs get overwhelmed is because they lose integrity with themselves on the things that they said they were going to put on their to-do list and get done. And if you can just fix that, fix that right now. Just fix that right now. And there’s an easy way to fix it. You can keep a capture mind dump list, but I don’t a to-do list anymore. If it does not have a place on your calendar, it’s not going to get done.
Oliver: I like that.
Sharran: It’s very simple. It’s very hard to do by the way. So you’re saying, hey, we’re going to shoot record this podcast, we’re going to record this interview. If there is no place for it on the calendar, it was just a to-do. It’s been a to-do for us for the last year, but as soon as it got a place on the calendar, it became real. This an artifact. And you know that you’re committed to that. And if you had to do a project, you also start, stop.
The delusion of time. So we’ll do things like call the dentist, work on presentation. I’m sorry, call the dentist and work on presentation have the same two lines on a to-do list, but they have completely different size blocks on a calendar.
Oliver: Definitely. That makes sense.
Sharran: And so when we don’t have the velocity, the size of the task on a to-do list, we don’t get to say this as a small, medium or large, we don’t do that. We just write a list. And when you look at 14 things, you get overwhelmed.
Oliver: And if one of the things on your list takes six months to complete, it’s going to be on your list a long time.
Sharran: Exactly right. And then you keep transferring it to the next day and then you’re out in integrity with yourself. And so I say, if it’s not on your calendar, it’ll never get done. To big projects what I do is I divide the project into 10 chunks and I just say project for Oliver, one out of 10, two out of 10, three out of 10, four out of 10, five out of 10, if I get done early, I can cut it up, but at least now I know that I have nine more blocks to get this done, so at least it’s on the calendar. So just being committed to yourself is super important.
My COO calls it from an accountability perspective, we call it the say-do ratio. I say, I’m going to get this done, I say I’m going to get four things done. I got three things done and 75% I failed. We want our say-do ratio to be 100%. I say I’m going to get four things done, I do four things.
Oliver: I love the say-do ratio.
Sharran: That’s all that is, and he’s like, hey, let’s not overthink whether you delivered or not, whether you met a deadline or not. It’s the say-do ratio. That’s all it is. You said you were going to get done by Friday at noon. It’s not done by Friday at noon. You screwed up. I have the right to call you out. Everybody has the right to call you out. And all the rule that we have is, hey, if you’re not going to get it done, you have to give us at least 24 hours notice because it’s uncool otherwise.
Oliver: I like that. That’s good accountability.
Sharran: Yeah, that’s all it is. But when we get to the say-do ratio, everyone is like, our say-do ratio’s off today. And I think that’s what gets people in line.
Oliver: I love that. So take your to-do list and put it on your calendar is what I’m hearing.
Sharran: Yeah. Choose what’s on your list. Give it a space on your calendar-
Oliver: And if it’s a bigger project, break it into chunks and put it on your calendar.
Sharran: Chunk it up. Yeah, I love doing one out of 10, two out of 10, three out of 10 so now you know you have 10 hours dedicated for this project and it’s off your to do list. When the time comes you are just committed that you’re going to get it done because you set some time to do it.
Also we have this weird issue with deleting things from our calendar, that’s not a normal thing we do. The average person doesn’t delete things on their calendar, we just put things on which is okay. I’ve noticed that when you put something on your calendar you may just move it but you will probably not going to delete it. So moving it at least moves it back into a certain time space as opposed to down your to-do list which will never get done. I don’t mind rescheduling, but that stays on there.
Oliver: That’s great advice. And one thing I really like about your approach to things is that you tend to look at things really simply and break them down in a very simple fashion and you’re really good at building systems around things in a simple manner. So walk me through your approach to systematizing things.
Sharran: There’s this amazing, you know this person, he’s amazing. His name is Dean Jackson. The Marketing Buddha. I love Dean Jackson. If you’re not following Dean you should think about him. Dean talks about it this way. He says, he calls it the MOO method. He’s like, if you’re the cow, if you’re a cow, your only job is to make the milk. You should not be milking the cow. You should not be transporting the milk. You should not be making it butter or cheese. You should not.
He goes and as early entrepreneurs, yeah, we may have to do all of those things, but at some point, if you don’t have a vision for not stopping to do those things, you will always end up doing those things. And I don’t mean like delegate, I just mean knowing truly what you are good at and how the company will fail without you. For me the simplest thing is, does it give me super amount of joy doing it? If it-
Oliver: The joy test.
Sharran: Joy. Yeah. And I say, and it’s like is it really easy, do I have to remember a bunch steps? No, I can’t. People are like four steps and I’m like one. If I have to call Oliver, I press this button. Awesome. If I can do that, this is very good. And we spend a lot of our time thinking about how to make a decision. I just want to kind of make one and move on. And so I try to make it super, super, super simple.
The other way is I have a couple of really, really, really lazy friends and I always think if I gave this job to a really lazy friend, how would they hack it and get it done? Lazy people are amazing at finding the small-
Oliver: The shortcuts.
Sharran: The shortcuts and they’ll get it done and they’ll get it done right. And when you can start thinking that way. It’s pretty amazing. So there’s a, I have a COO who runs a $27 million company in California. He asked me, he’s like, how do you create so much content? And I said to him, I said, “Well, let me give you the reasons behind this. Is your content.? I asked him, I said, “Robert, is your content worth to you $612?” He goes, what do you mean 600. I’m like, is your content worth $612 a month? He’s like, you mean, should I hire a person? I’m like, no. I’m just going to assume that you drive a car that has a $612 monthly payment. Is your content worth at least your car payment? He goes, what are you talking about? I said, “If your content is not even worth your car payment, then you should be producing nothing.”
Oliver: I love that.
Sharran: Stop it. Your content is not even worth your car payment, which is why we’re like, oh, I need to post more on Facebook dude. No you don’t. Everyone is like, be everywhere, do everything. It’s really easy. I’m like, no, you have no commitment to the cadence of you delivering content. You have no commitment.
Grant Cardone, 17 email messages today and you still don’t on subscribe, but you think when you send an email to your clients two times a week, you think they’ll unsubscribe. I don’t understand that. That’s weird to me. Why? Because we say, hey, my content is so much more valuable than my car payment. Now I’m going to go actually hire somebody.
The best part when someone asks me, how do you keep something really simple, hire somebody. Because what will happen when you hire somebody is that you’ll realize pretty quickly a few things. Number one, Oh My Gosh, I am not an amateur anymore. Now I’m a pro. Because this person is there to support me. Number two, Oh My Gosh! I have to, I can’t, I have no more excuses, so I can’t do mediocre stuff anymore. I have to up my game. Oh My Gosh! I can’t hyper control the process. Oh, funny. I have more time. Oh My Gosh! I actually enjoy this because I’m not doing the things that I’m not good at.
So suddenly by hiring somebody you turned pro and turning pro is the hardest thing for people because they’re like, they want to over-complicate it and they say, oh, how do I do this? What app do I use? What caption do I use? Do I put a link into Manychat? No, you can’t learn all that. There’s no way. You can’t even record a video. When are you going to go figure out how to hack in Manychat, you’re never going to do it. And then three years go by and then the platform goes away and you’ve lost all your chance to create impact. So to me it’s just like, how do I, is your car? Is something worth your car payment? If it’s not, don’t do it.
Oliver: Don’t do it.
Sharran: Drive around in your car.
Oliver: And that just reminded me of another point I just interviewed Greg Reed. He makes similar point. And I asked him, hey, how do you write a great book? Because he’s written 78 books in 50 languages. And he was like, my best tip is don’t write it. He was like, hire a ghostwriter who’s a professional at writing books and just share with them the ideas and give them the what you want in it, the how you want it to look and let them add the descriptive language and the grammar and the everything and make it look very readable and present it in a professional manner.
Sharran: There’s an amazing book, by the way, I generally don’t recommend a lot of books because everyone’s very individual in how they think about the world. There is an amazing book, it was written by this guy who is a friend of ours. His name is Cameron Harold. And he wrote a book called Vivid Visions and Vivid Vision, I think. And he describes in his book, there’s no mission statement, vision statement, values. He just describes his story like the sound of music. This is beautiful meadow. We’re sitting there, he describes exactly what he sees and then everybody’s enrolled in that identity of that vision.
So my coach always tells me, she goes, Sharran, it’s your job to turn on the camera or record on your phone and like deeply describe in vivid detail what you want. And then other people get joy of doing what they do really well to support you. And she’s like the day you can describe what you really want with insane detail is the day amazing things start happening for you. So dude, that’s when I was like down to the color of the wall to what you want to eat for breakfast to how you want your signature to anything. If you can describe that people around you are like, Oh My Gosh! I can create that vision. And that’s their joy.
And so I think we as leaders need to really think about how we communicate what’s in our head. And we’re in the future. Dude, you and I are thinking about what’s going to happen three years from now and we can’t communicate that to the person in front of us and they’re like, well Oliver what are you talking about? I can’t, I don’t understand anything you’re saying. And that’s why they call us like ADD, they call us like he’s distracted. He’s not dependable. He doesn’t follow up. No, you just don’t connect with my vision. And I think it’s our responsibility.
Oliver: And so the solution there is the vivid details. And sharing that in great detail so that people can connect with it.
Sharran: Yeah. I’d say, I want this party and I see tablecloths like burgundy tablecloths. Tell them exactly. And then you will find the event planner will be like, Oliver, I’m so sorry I couldn’t get burgundy, but does crimson work? That’s what’s going to happen. And that’s when your life really literally lights up.
Oliver: I love that and I want to shift gears. I want to shift back to real estate. And I know that you’re very, you have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening and you are the type of guy that’s always looking way out in the future. I’m curious as to what your thoughts are on where the industry is going and what the next big things are in real estate.
Sharran: I think that, first let’s talk about kind of the role of the agent. Because I think the role of the agent is very central to us, what we do and the agent experience in one have a pretty complex transaction. So to me, I believe that the role of the agent is going to go more towards a private banker, where they have the deep relationship with the client. They have, I don’t think it’s about a salesperson anymore. It’s almost a relationship manager [inaudible] where you get to be the counselor, the advisor, you share perspective. But you have a deep bench of resources that you bring people in.
So yes, I still work with you. I still talk to you, but you say, Oh yeah, you need a contractor. I’m going to call Jimmy. Oh yeah, you need an appraiser. I’m going to call Sally. And then you become the real point person. And now you may ask, well, how is that different from what I do right now? Well, what the difference is, the entire job is their relationship and not the transaction, you’re a straight up quarterback. You just call a play and you pass, you call a play and you pass. That’s all you do and you get paid a little less for that. But you can handle so much more than you can be in your joy a lot more. And everybody that is working in the transaction is a specialist.
The reason why we get kind of a bad name sometimes is because an agent who’s getting going in the business and no fault of their own, is like have done three deals. I need to do marketing on this property. I don’t have any money, so I’m going to do it on Microsoft Word. And it’s not their fault, they just don’t have the resources. But it’s a disservice to the client. Now you’re the relationship manager. You’d say, hey, we’re going to call a marketing company and they’re just going to do the job. Yeah. They may be cookie cutter, but you get to marshal the resources of everything that’s necessary. So even if there’s state regulations, national regulations it doesn’t matter, you get to be the relationship for a large asset. Because they still kind of need that.
Oliver: And I also think that that’s a big opportunity to plug into different profit centers. Because there’s a lot of things that you can get in on an affiliate relationship or a profit sharing or even starting your own company, like home staging or marketing, or drone videos that you can now sell to other agents along with getting discounts on your own stuff.
Sharran: And people don’t understand. I think the problem is-
Oliver: Getting discounts on your own stuff.
Sharran: Yeah, and people don’t understand. I think the problem is, even if you go through an online portal, even when… someone asked me this question. We do a third of our businesses in Australia and New Zealand. So, in Australia and New Zealand, when I go down, the people are like hey explain iBuyer to me. And is it going to work? And I was like well, I don’t know. I think so, but here’s the interesting part. Have you bought a book on Amazon? You go to Amazon. You search for the book, the book pops up, you click yes, you go to the next page, you say click click. This is the option that I want. I’m going to choose this. It drops you the form. You fill out the form. You fill in the shipping address. You check a couple of boxes. You do the capture. You haven’t even bought a book yet.
Sharran: Let’s be real. It’s taken like four minutes to buy a book. Sure you have one touch ordering after that, but it takes a while to do that. We’re talking about a home. An asset that’s work, sometimes a million times more.
Sharran: And, at least, several hundred thousand dollars times more. How many pieces of the process are there? The client is paying for the insurance policy of having somebody know the process really well that they can talk to, they can interface with. And that person will actually have the human touch to guide them through the process. So anytime some tells me, hey is this going to… I’m just like listen. It takes like fourteen clicks to buy a book. You think someone’s going to buy a home in four? I don’t think so.
Sharran: But is it going to happen as the model’s coming? Yeah, so I think number one agents are going to become these relationship managers, private bankers of sorts.
Oliver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sharran: I’d be shocked if the banks didn’t get into the space. You know, the guys. The second thing I truly believe is that you’re going to have a small portion of the market become institutional buyers.
Oliver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sharran: Because they just have the capital. They’ll find the spreads.
Sharran: And I think that’s just a valid source.
Sharran: The one thing that I think, what I’d love to see in the U.S. market that is actually there in other parts of the world, is I’d love to see non-distressed auction.
Oliver: Auction, okay.
Sharran: Yeah, non-distressed auction.
Oliver: Got it.
Sharran: Because I think for us in the U.S. when we say auction we instantly go to courthouse steps, REO et cetera.
Sharran: But, in Australia and New Zealand for example, right now, most of the properties to get are sold at the auction. They’re sold at the banging of the gavel.
Oliver: Oh interesting.
Sharran: And it’s the most… if you think about it what we do is we do auction anyway. We list a property. We get a bunch of offers.
Sharran: We bid the offers up, and we take the highest offer.
Sharran: That is a auction. That’s all it is. It’s just asynchronous.
Oliver: A cleaner system, right?
Sharran: It’s just asynchronous, right? It’s not in a line.
Oliver: A cleaner system because-.
Sharran: But if you have an auction and you say we have 24 people in the room. Everyone’s here. Everyone’s going to make an offer, the seller will actually make more money because you have the live auction capabilities.
Oliver: Mm-hm, (affirmative).
Sharran: I would love to see a non-distressed auction because even the stock market. The stock market right now is an auction. A bunch of people want to buy the stocks, a bunch of people want to sell it. It finds the right price. Non-distressed auction can do one… I think there’s a lot of baggage behind that word, but there’s parts of the developed world, Australia, New Zealand right now, that are selling homes at auction. Thousand per day.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: And getting higher price for sellers. Which is super interesting?
Oliver: And how does that work? There’s like a period of time where they market it, and then a set time for the auction?
Sharran: Exactly. That’s it.
Oliver: And then everyone who’s interested shows up that day.
Sharran: And you buy it. It’s just like an auction at Christies or Sothebys.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: Yeah, so I really think that there’s going to be institutionals going to come in. Agents are going to become the bankers. I’m super curious, like for example, I’m super curious about buyer agency. If I were a betting man I would wager that buyer agency is going to go away. Because agency’s one of the most pure things that we have. We actually represent a buyer. But the world has shown, Australia, New Zealand, parts of Asia, there is no buyer agency. A listing agent is the deal. And it’s very interesting. If you and I were to get into real estate today, what would we do? We knew nothing? We would go be on a team. The team would send us some buyer leads. We would open the door for a buyer, and we would say would you like to write an offer?
Sharran: We’d say sign here. Talk to my loan officer. No negotiation and never have to talk about a price. Yeah, after they negotiate, but if I’m stuck I talk to my broker. The buyer agent’s job is a lot easier than the listing agent. We have court cases right now that are challenging buyer agency.
Sharran: So, what may happen? I don’t know. NAR is a huge lobbying body.
Oliver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sharran: But there is a significant amount of money there.
Oliver: Yeah, I’m curious to see what happens with all that and the whole lawsuit thing. I think there’s a lot of fear around the iBuyer thing.
Oliver: Which I personally don’t understand because from my perspective, if I’m an agent, I’m just going to go out and partner with three local flippers.
Sharran: Exactly right.
Oliver: And now all of a sudden I’m offering the same iBuyer service as every other iBuyer that’s out there. And you just give the owner three options, right? We can either list it for retail.
Sharran: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Oliver: I can get you an all cash offer in twenty-four hours.
Sharran: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Oliver: And the best part about that is most of the time those flippers that you work with, they’ll usually relist the property with you, so you’ll get a double commission. And, you know, you get a nice property to market after they’re done flipping it.
Sharran: So I’ll tell you what happened for folks that don’t believe this. I was in a conversation, a team in New York State, in a high end part of New York called me. And they had a listing on the market. It was roughly… it was a celebrity’s home. So it was priced at 9.1 million. It’s been on the market six months. Had not sold. Local market iBuyers, people that come together, made an institutional offer on that home for 7.9 million. Right? So the consumer calls his agent and says, hey I think I’m going to go with the iBuyer. The agent calls and he’s like Sharran, you need to save this listing for me. And I don’t do this, and I say hey well let’s take this call. And she says, okay. I’m going to put you on. I’m like, right now? You’re talking to the client right now? You have to give me a little bit more time.
Oliver: We’re doing this?
Sharran: We got on video and I presented something which you presented. I said listen, Mr. and Mrs. Seller, you got an offer for 7.9 million. That’s offer number one. Now we have another option. We can take your home private market. That’s option number two. We can run that for thirty days because there’s a celebrity appeal to this home. Option number three we can do a sixty day on market, and the list price that we would come into would be the iBuyer price that you already got. Because the market’s already validated. And, number four, I said I actually use auctions for two situations in the U.S. One is either distressed, or two it has unique value.
Oliver: Oh, I like that.
Sharran: Yours has unique value. And I said, we can also go the auction route, and the reserve price becomes the iBuyer price.
Oliver: Love it.
Sharran: So I said, regardless.
Oliver: You have nothing to lose.
Sharran: Nothing to lose, and if you can manage sixty to ninety days, worst case scenario you can take the iBuyer offer. So we got the listing back, and then now she’s in process, right?
Oliver: That’s good. That’s real good.
Sharran: The interesting part is the average agent wants to now tell people why the iBuyer is a bad option as opposed to just inserting the other options that you have as a part of the process.
Oliver: So you saved that deal?
Sharran: Oh dude, you know? And she got [inaudible].
Oliver: And what’d it sell for?
Sharran: It hasn’t sold yet. Six more months.
Oliver: Okay. So it’s in process.
Sharran: Yeah, six more months.
Oliver: So we’ll follow up on that.
Oliver: I love your approach to the listing process, and I know one thing you’re famous for is your listing presentation. And why don’t you give me the 30,000 foot view on why your listing presentation is so effective.
Sharran: So, how all this happened was when I got into the business originally I’d never talked to a client. And I realized that if I was going to help agents and support them in their business, and they are in the living room a lot, I should be at least supportive in that part. So I started going on appointments with agents. So after we went on the first 161 appointments, I realized that we had something. So what we had done, was before every appointment we actually prepared. Which is a novel concept by the way. Most people don’t even want to do that. And, after every appointment what I did, I got in the car, and into my phone I just rattled every question that the seller had asked us.
Sharran: So, I had 161 appointments worth of questions. I said there’s got to be a pattern here in some way. So, I took the 161 questions. I categorized them on the white board. I just put it all up, and I found there were roughly ten, eleven topics in chunks.
Oliver: The reoccurring themes.
Sharran: The themes that the clients asked for.
Sharran: We took all our listing materials and we threw them out. You know, the people will say oh, you didn’t come in with a big leather book and you need the thud factor. You only stressing the client out. Right? And so we took away all of that, and we actually built a ten page book. And the ten page book, it didn’t matter whether you have the book or not. It’s the story behind it. And, we synchronized a flow that actually built people up through those ten questions. That was the pathway of emotions. And what that we want 84 out of 84 listings just doing that process.
Oliver: One hundred percent.
Sharran: One hundred percent success rate. And I believe right now if you use that process you will win every single time. Because it’s just engineered to hit every emotional state. If you have a shot at getting it, if you have a shot at getting it, you’re going to get it. And it gets pretty exciting when you can do that.
Oliver: So, you went on these 161 appointments. You found all the objections that you were getting. And like a statistician you kind of found the ten most common things and then deconstructed your listing presentation to handle those in advance?
Sharran: Right. Not-.
Oliver: Or script out the objections? Okay.
Sharran: Yeah, so you do what you would do before. What would you do during? And what would you do after? So let’s bring it to life, right?
Oliver: Let’s bring it to life.
Sharran: So, a lot of times people will say the one question… There’s three questions that generally, in some way, shape, or form agents get asked about. How are you going to market my home? What do you think it’s worth, and what are you going to list it at? And what do I pay you? What’s the fee? Generally, those three will come up in an appointment.
Oliver: Right, how much does it cost? Exactly.
Sharran: If it’s a real appointment, right? The fee will generally come last because people are too politically correct to bring it up first. Most people are nice. They don’t want to start asking about what the price is before you tell them what you’re going to do, generally speaking.
Oliver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sharran: So the average question the client will always ask would be something like this. So, let’s say you list it. What’s your marketing? Why is it better than the other person?
Oliver: Tell me what you’re going to do to sell this home.
Sharran: Tell me what you’re going to do to sell it et cetera. And most people will say well let me… they’ll start saying we do this. We do that. We do this. We put it on 132 websites. You know, we bring all these marketing material. And now you’ve just flooded the client with what they think. The problem is what they’re asking is not how are you going to market my home.
Oliver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sharran: That’s not what they’re asking. That’s the question they asked, but that’s not what they’re asking. What they’re asking is who is going to buy my home? They’re asking who, and then they’re asking how are you going to reach that person? So what you should say is listen Mrs. Client, it is not about our marketing, it’s about who you’re going to market to. Who you going to market to? Let’s talk about like the ideal buyer, now you take it away from the marketing and you say… And my favorite question is this. So, Oliver, why did you buy this home thirteen years ago? And I know you’re going to be kind of irritated at me for asking that. I’ll actually say that. But there’s a reason, and I will tell you that in just one second. And then you say okay there’s a reason. You say well I bought it because of this. It was the right price point. I drove by it. And now you start describing to me a buyer’s viewpoint on the home that you had 13 years ago.
I start to tell you now whether those correlate or don’t, and that becomes who I start to market to. Now you can say so I think the right person to buy a home like this is so and so criteria, works here, lives here, likes to surf, loves this. I walked… now I have an avatar of this person. Now you say-.
Oliver: That you’re building in real time at the appointment.
Sharran: So the best part is this. Let’s just say something happened and the home doesn’t sell. [inaudible] Mr. and Mrs. Client, do you believe that the avatar that we built together was the right one? So now it’s not about me not delivering on the marketing, it’s about us not agreeing on the right avatar.
Oliver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sharran: So it’s much easier to ask for the price reduction. It’s much easier to ask for their listing being renewed. So now you can say, well Oliver now that we’ve figured out that this person looks like this, now let me walk you through our marketing plan to reach that person.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: Now it’s not like we do we do we do. It is we do this to reach that. We do this to reach that. We do this to reach that. And you have to be very good at your craft when that happens, right? But once you get good at that, the client will go back and think oh yeah Jimmy said this and Johnny said this, but Sharran and Oliver, they had this plan to reach our version of ourselves thirteen years ago and that’s when they get emotionally tied to you.
Oliver: And involving in that creation process.
Sharran: Totally. And so think about it. This is just one part of the ten part process. So once you’ve done that everything stacks on it.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: And that’s just like an introductory example. If you can nail that down, it changes everything completely.
Oliver: And where can people find more on your listing presentation? Because I know you’ve done this in detail. So if someone wanted to learn that presentation, which I highly highly recommend people do, where can they find that?
Sharran: So there’s only two places to find that. Place number one is in very elite mastermind groups like Closing Table that you and your partner run. I’ve shared things that I’ve never shared anywhere else in that. And, we have some amazing success story there. So you can get a complete behind the scenes at Closing Table.
Oliver: Love it.
Sharran: Or you can go to our company, Kingston Lane. Kingstonlane.com and there are bits of pieces of it. But how we run it is we run it through our mastermind program, so ours is not in person. Ours is virtual, and thousands of people around the world. And we break down exactly how we do things. Those are the only two places you can learn about the actual process.
Oliver: And how do they get involved with that second one that you just mentioned?
Sharran: So Kingston Lane is kingstonlane.com. And we are a pushbutton marketing platform for real estate around the world. We have tens of thousands of agents across the world in 12 countries, and our job is to get agents tools to make a ton of money.
Oliver: So, it’s very top secret. It doesn’t sound like we’re going to get a whole lot out of that. So why don’t we do this? Why don’t you give me one more golden nugget from the listing process.
Sharran: Let’s talk about pricing.
Oliver: Love it.
Sharran: So it’s not about price, it’s about pricing. And most people have never explained pricing in the living room because they always are like oh my gosh, what if I tell Oliver that his home is worth 7.2 million, but he thinks it’s worth nine. I’m going to lose this listing right away. So, price means nothing. It’s all about pricing. Price is like is it list price? Is it sales price? Is it [inaudible]? What is it? I don’t know. So when you talk about pricing, there’s two things that you always need to know. You go to discover and you got to disassociate. Let me tell you what that means.
You got to do whatever it takes, as fast as possible, to ask as many questions as possible to find a way for them to give you something related to price. Something related to what they’re thinking. If you don’t have that, you’re going to be totally out of the ball park. And people are like well Sharran, tell me what that is. So I’ll give you an example. The easiest way to talk about pricing is to always anchor in the data. So you say Mr. and Mrs. Client I actually went out and printed out the title property profile. Or it can be public record or whatever. And it looks like you bought this home 13 years ago for 612,000 dollars. Is that right? Awesome. And then you can… now there’s an anchor.
Oliver: I like that.
Sharran: There’s an anchor, right? And you can say, hey and I instantly go to the other extreme. And in this neighborhood in the last seven years, the highest priced home that has sold, do you know what it is? I actually had to look it up. Oh, it’s 1.3 million. So now you’ve hit the bottom and then the top end automatically.
Oliver: And the top. Love that.
Sharran: So now, you’re done. Now you just have to finish up. Figure out where they are in the range. Then, I got to the next question which is I call it the sinner winner. Say Mr. and Mrs. Client, let’s just say, I know you’re moving to Idaho right after this. Let’s say we launch our marketing tomorrow, beautiful things happen, we go on the market in 14 days we get the offer that you want at a price that you want, the terms that you want. And in 37 days you get in that new Tesla you bought, Model X. Details, right? And you’re driving to Idaho. And you have a big smile on your face. What number is on that contract?
Oliver: Oh, that’s a slick way to get them to give a number.
Sharran: Right? And so now they’re like well, most of the time you’ll get something. Then they’ll say, if they kind of push back you’re like, all I’m asking is I want a happy day and a happy number. What’s a happy day and a happy number? Now they can’t go above 1.3 because that would make them look like a jerk. So they’ll say Sharran if you can get me one one, this is a great day. So now I know that one one I’m a winner. And you say, all right Oliver now I got to ask you the tough question. At what price do we not have a deal?
Oliver: Oh, that’s a good one.
Oliver: So now you’re finding their top and bottom.
Sharran: Right, so now that’s called the sinner. Hey, below that the sinner price, don’t even bring it to me because I’m going to get offended. All right, so now I have the range of the 631 from the public record buy, and the highest price sold. I have the winner price, and I have the sinner price. Now I have discovered… now whatever I do in between I can get excited with. But most people will say… they’ll dance around. They’ll say, well what do you think it’s worth? Have you been into open houses? Well, they don’t want to do that. They’re looking to you, right? And they’ll say something like this. Well, Oliver, you’re the expert. You tell me. Or some version of that, right? And you just have a really difficult time with that answer because they’re like oh my gosh and I’m on the spot now. You’re the expert, you tell me is a half-assed compliment.
Take it. Say, oh yeah thank you. Thank you.
Oliver: Thank you, yeah.
Sharran: And then you laugh, and then you just go right back to the question. Give them the same question again. People hate getting the same question again because they don’t want to give the same answer again. Because if they give you the same answer again, they have to compliment you again and that would be crappy. So just ask them the same question again. Right? So when you discover where they are, at least you’re in the ballpark with pricing.
Disassociation is the key to everything, and I will tell you this. This one thing. This one thing alone will change your listing career forever. This one thing alone, right?
Oliver: Listen up.
Sharran: I say Mr. and Mrs. Client. The list price is an invitation. Mr. and Mrs. Client, the list price is an invitation.
Oliver: That’s a great line.
Sharran: Right? Now they know that if I listed my home at four million dollars, I’m not inviting anybody.
Oliver: Right, no one’s coming to that party. Yeah.
Sharran: No, an amazing agent in Santa Monica, Ellen Conrad, taught me that. She walked in, we had an appointment together. She said you know Mr. and Mrs. Client, the list price, don’t be attached to it.
Oliver: It’s just an invitation.
Sharran: It’s just an invitation. And I was like this is amazing because now, what it does for them, is it disassociates what they listed for and what they’re going to get. So the key, you have won. If you can say hey, what if I listed your home for a dollar? You’ve disassociated the price, right? And that’s super super exciting. So always discover, use the winner sinner questions, and always disassociate with the list price is an invitation. And then, now you’re in complete control. Now when you’re doing pricing you’re only talking about the invitation.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: And it becomes very easy after that. So I actually go into deeper as to how you do that.
Oliver: That’s amazing insight on pricing properties. And I love it. The winner and the sinner. I love that because then you’ll find their range, and then you kind of repackage the data to present and kind of find that invitation price.
Sharran: And a lot of agents will be like well, Sharran, my clients are not like that. They’re much harder. They won’t give it to me, et cetera. And I will tell you, I’ll give you two answers to that. If you’re the person who’s a doubter, who’s a hater, who doesn’t want to do the winner sinner right now, that’s totally cool.
Oliver: Haters listen up.
Sharran: But here’s the deal. Everybody wants every potential answer, and I’ll give you every potential answer. Now if you have rapport you can play a game. So the game is this. I play the game if I have rapport. The rapport is, hey Oliver so I’m going to play a game. Are you cool playing a game with me?
Oliver: I love it. Let’s play.
Sharran: So now I got this, right? So Oliver, there needs to be two variables. It’s going to be price and how long it’s going to take to sell. You pick a number and I’ll give you the other number. Right, so for example, if you say, say it’s a one million… if you say 14 million, I’m going to say 322 years. Right? So now you break the ice.
Oliver: That’s great, yeah.
Sharran: So what’s your number? And you say well, you may say two million. I’ll say 19 months. And then if you flip it, you say 4 days, and I say 982,000. We play the game, and I say keep playing. Keep playing, right?
Oliver: Oh, that’s super good.
Sharran: But you need rapport for that. I saw an agent, very very smart, Andy Stavers in Newport Beach. What he did was, the client wouldn’t let him off the hook. And these are all [inaudible] stories, he takes his pen, and he pulled out a business card. He writes the number. He puts it in his pocket. He says, I really don’t want to affect the possibility of how much you can get for your home, so I have it right here. Why don’t you pick a number? Well let’s see if this matches.
Oliver: Oh, I like that.
Sharran: But, that was rehearsed.
Oliver: That was slick. Yeah.
Sharran: That was rehearsed. That’s how you do it, right? And so what are they going to say? They have to give you a number. You’ve committed with the number, that’s okay. You can see, now what’s a possibility. Right? The interesting part, everyone feels like they need to get their way in. Sometimes, ten percent of the time, fifteen, they’re not going to give. You have to pick a number. But my offer to you would be never pick a number. Never pick a number. And you may say oh Sharran that’s lying. You can’t give them a range. I’m like yes, you can give them a range. You can’t just say the property is worth 900 to one one, because they know that. What you can say is Mr. and Mrs. Client, here’s what we do. There are pricing strategies that we use to pick the right price. Let me give you an example. If I bought a buyer to the property today, the perceived value, not the fair market value because the fair market value is not established until the property closes, so agents that use fair market value use bad terminology.
Sharran: The perceived value is roughly a million dollars. However, if we price the home at 950,000, we would call that event pricing and it would create an auction-like environment. We would get more offers, and it would be my job to drive that price up. If you have the more traditional sense, you would price it at 1.1 million, a little over asking, we call that aspirational pricing. And you would leave some room to negotiate.
Oliver: Aspirational pricing. That’s money.
Sharran: Yeah, you would leave some room to negotiate. Which one of those connects with you the most?
Oliver: Oh, that’s good.
Sharran: Right, so now you still give them the range.
Oliver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sharran: But you actually explain the pricing associated with the range. And now you frame it around that. If you tell them 900 to one one, they already know that. And when you tell them that you actually lose credibility in the process. And I think that’s where you do small things like that with a client, and the client’s like well Sharran’s super smart. I’m like I’m not I just structured this really well.
Oliver: And I love what you said about like gameifying the process, right?
Sharran: Yeah, totally.
Oliver: Like, making it a game. Okay, let’s go back and forth. Okay I’m going to give you the time period, and you’re going to give me the price. Or vice versa. And we’ll play the game until we land on what makes sense for you as the seller. In terms of what price you want versus how long you’re willing towait.
Sharran: Totally. And the interesting part is this. What most agents have is one way to describe pricing. And their way, they’ll just bring out a CMA, or they’ll just talk about comps, right? I can do eight different ways.
Oliver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sharran: And so based on what’s their feeling, I can say oh Mr. and Mrs. Client, the pricing actually is one of three ways. As an agent, you have nuances related to the property. As an appraiser you have nuances related to the community. And as a contractor you have nuances related to quality of construction. Let’s actually blend those three values. So the clients are like wait, that’s awesome, right? So if you are not getting through, you should be able to go like eight levels deep on how you explain pricing. That’s why we get good. And, I just didn’t make this up over night. This is very practiced, right? You can’t beat me. I don’t mean that… you just can’t. I’m too good because I’m so deep in this stuff.
And so, it’s not that we practice. It just comes out. I can do this all day. But because it’s a practice, and you know the language patterns, and you can just-.
Oliver: And you’ve systematized it, right?
Oliver: You know the objections. You’ve planned for the objectives in advance. And that allows you to win the game at a high level.
Sharran: Yeah. Totally right.
Oliver: Awesome. Love that advice on pricing. So, I have one more agent-related question, and then I want to get into what you’re doing now with Kingston Lane because I think it’s super awesome. This is a question from Kerry Shoal. She’s in also our Closing Table Mastermind. So shout out to Kerry. She runs a large team, and her question was how do you systematize training to help your agents increase their conversions?
Sharran: Yeah, I love this. This is one of my favorite questions. First we all have to believe that we can get better with training. If you don’t believe that you can get better with training, if you don’t believe that there is a better opportunity out there, you’re leaving an insane amount of money on the table. I will tell you, Oliver and I are a part of a lot of mastermind groups, we sit there, we sit in the back with our hoodies on, taking notes. Because we know that we can take good ideas and implement it in our business, right?
There is one way to train. And this is the only way I believe. And the way you train is through role play.
Sharran: The role play way is the way to train, and the more, and if you do it every day, you win more. And when I say every day, I mean you’re role playing five minutes a day. Everybody gets in the morning, it’s 9 a.m. to 9:05 a.m. Partner up, we’re talking about hey somebody just answered the phone and they want to see the listing that you have an open house on, go. And then you just go. And you just go. And you’re like okay that was better. Now you do it. That was better, you do it. That way when the call comes you’ve done it 14 times. When you do 30, 60, 90, 120 minutes of training, it gets very tiring and it doesn’t register. So, doing one question or one topic a day every single day of the week is super important.
Oliver: That’s good.
Sharran: So I would say theory, practice, role play, mastery. That’s how it works. Learn, that’s theory, practice and I will tell you, all of us should be practicing in the car. If sales is your jam… so me and my wife leave home at the same time every day and sometimes she’ll follow me around. And I’m in the car driving. And I’m just like doing the script and my wife looks at me. My kids windows are rolled down and they’re laughing. They don’t realize that I’m better every day because I practice every day. Theory, understanding, practice it, practice it, role playing, that’s when it comes to life. And when you have it, that’s when mastery comes. Mastery’s like on demand I can do seven levels of pricing. But, everyone thinks that it’s theory, mastery. There is no practice and no role play.
Oliver: That’s a great point. Yeah.
Sharran: And, role play is when it makes it super real.
Oliver: That’s when you internalize it.
Sharran: Everything. Everything happens in role play. Sudden you just go to [inaudible], and you have to go into role play. And the more comfortable you get doing role play, something pretty amazing happens. There’s a Navy Seal quote which is my favorite. You’ll love this. It’s that you don’t rise to the occasion, you default to your training. You don’t rise to the occasion, you default to your training.
Oliver: That’s powerful.
Sharran: So if you can crush it in the role play in the office, I guarantee you you will handle the pricing objection just fine.
Oliver: Because it will just come out naturally.
Sharran: Just fine. And you’ll just instantly go… that’s why I generally say Mr. And Mrs. Client only because I know I can flip the client, right? So even when I answer something to you, I do it in role play form because it forces me to get in that state. And so, theory, practice, role play, mastery.
Oliver: I love that you said role play. I think role play’s hugely important. I also think that when people hear the word role play, they kind of take it to like a hoakie place. And or they don’t know how to do it. So how would you recommend actually facilitating that?
Sharran: Yeah, so I’ll give you a fun story. And then we’ll go to something live. So, nobody knows this. We’re doing a lot of firsts on your show.
Oliver: So you heard it here first.
Sharran: Nobody knows this. This was a time when my partner Peter Lowey and I, we flew to New York to meet with Douglas Elliman. This was the early stages of the conversation on the acquisition. We fly to New York multiple times to meet with them. And, my partner Peter is from New York. So we wake up at 5:00 a.m. in the morning, and he wants to walk Central Park. So we walk Central Park, and Peter told me, he’s like hey, you’re going to be responsible for answering all the tough question. I said okay. And he goes, okay, and then he asked me the question. He goes Sharran, walk us through the three years worth of growth. So he asks me the question that he knows that I’m going to get asked in the board room. And then I answer the question. He goes, okay that was all right. Let’s do that again. And he’s like-
Oliver: Tweak this, move this. Right
Sharran: Change this. And I said Peter, I don’t know how to answer that question. Like, how would you say that? So he would say it to me, and I’d say great. Ask me the question again. And then go back and be like oh it’s interesting that you asked that because we’ve been thinking a lot about that. There are four ways in which I think about it. One, two, three, four. He goes, that’s good, four’s too many. Stay at three. Okay, hey it’s interesting that you asked that. There’s three ways that I think about it. One, two, three. Blah, blah, blah, blah. And by the way, there is a fourth as well, and then you add that, that way it keeps people engaged. But I completely had the pillars scripted out. So if I of all people, if partners, principals, CEOs of companies can script out what they’re going to say in important situations, you should too.
I have a friend. His name is Jason Capital. And I’ll tell you this. If there’s a quote that should completely change your life it is this. When you don’t script you don’t care. It’s so awesome. When you don’t script you don’t care, or if you don’t script you don’t care. And when I heard that from Jason, I was like this is amazing. You’re taking a lot of care.
Oliver: And it makes total sense.
Sharran: Two ways to practice role play. Always, always, always, always, always take it extremely seriously and get in character.
Sharran: So, you never want to be mean. You’re not trying to role play the jerk client. You’re trying to role play a middle of the road situation so you can build confidence.
Oliver: I think that’s important too. You’re not trying to throw the other person off. You’re not trying to throw random curve balls. You’re trying to role play the most common things, right? Okay, go on.
Sharran: Correct, exactly. And so Oliver you would say, say it’s a buyer consultation. You say oh you know what? We have to sell our home to buy this next home. I don’t know if we can afford it. What is the first thing that you say? So, gurus in our industry who’ve never actually talked to a client will say something like well I can appreciate that. Well no, you can’t appreciate that. You can’t. Don’t say that, that is something that was written in a script book that no one has ever used with a client. That’s disingenuous. Don’t say that. Because you’ve never talked to a client, you can’t say that. And people starting neuro linguistic programming are saying that the world has changed, you can’t say that. You can’t say you appreciate that, that’s not cool. You can say oh my gosh, my brother was in a similar situation. That’s cool. You connect.
Oliver: Right, get on the same page.
Sharran: Right, so ask the question. So one person asks the question. The other person answers the question in a very normal way. So one take it very seriously and ask the question. And the second thing is it gets completely more powerful if you can do it in a group setting. If you’re in a group, I ask you, there’s eight other people, you and I, it’s our turn. You answer. And the group’s only job is to tell you the good things you did.
Oliver: I like that.
Sharran: No I would have done this better BS. No.
Oliver: Or you missed this or that, right.
Sharran: No. Nobody says that. Because that’s what everybody’s doing. Oh, I would’ve said it differently. I would’ve said this.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: No, only what Oliver did well. And then the next person.
Oliver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Sharran: The job is me leaving the role play session with brimming confidence.
Oliver: Yeah, you’re feeling good. Everyone’s giving love.
Sharran: Yeah, yeah.
Oliver: Much better environment.
Sharran: And that way you don’t feel like you don’t know you’re scripting. Now everyone is like.
Feel like you don’t know you’re scripting. And now, everyone is like, so anytime someone comes out of a scripting session, you will see them come out like this. Because they-
Oliver: Totally. No, I’ve been there. I’ve seen it.
Sharran: Yes because they feel like, “Oh, I have work to do.” Not “I have work to do,” it’s like “I’m getting this.”
Sharran: That’s when it gets super exciting. So be serious, ask one question and then do it in a group where you really lift other people up. Amazing things start. People will start to share more. The next person wants to go now as opposed to not wanting to go, right? So it gets really exciting.
Oliver: Great advice on role play and holding your team to a higher standard. So that was for you, Keri. Wanted to kind of transition now into what you’re doing now.
Oliver: And so now Kingston Lane, that’s your new passion project.
Oliver: Amazing software. Why don’t you tell me kind of what the thought process was on what led you down that road?
Sharran: Yeah, so great question. So we, after we sold the business, I was reflecting and I thought about, if there’s one thing I could do differently, what would it be? And the thing that I want to do differently was, agents, I honestly believe this, you work so hard. You work so hard. You have to wear so many hats. Everyone is teaching you something new to do. Everyone is giving you a new hack. Everyone’s giving you a new piece of system. Everyone’s giving you a new software.
Sharran: Everyone is selling you something new and it’s okay, I know they all good, they all work, but you don’t even have time to put your kid to bed. Right? So I was thinking, wouldn’t it be amazing if we created something that gave the agent control, but still did all the work?
And now here’s what I mean by that. So Oliver, you’re an agent, you want to run a Facebook ad. You would say, “Oh, I have to go on Facebook. I don’t know which audience to run it to. If I got the ad, what picture would I use? What copy would I use? If the ad got”-
Oliver: “Who am I targeting? How do I split tests?” Yeah.
Sharran: Right. And, “If I got the ad and I got the lead and I actually got the lead, what do I actually say to the lead? What script do I use? Does it go into automation?” You have lost yourself in the how before you’ve even done the what.
Sharran: Right. And so, I will tell you my entire goal has been one thing and one thing alone. Our first year, and you and your team have been a pilot for us, our first year was a, let’s introduce a lot of things to market, but there’s a devious plan behind that, right?
The plan is I would love for a way where you as the agent only work in your deep and extreme joy, meaning, Oliver, here’s what happens. You have a database. Your database has 800 people. I want you to hand me the database and I want you to go away. Give me your database and we give you engagement and appointments.
Oliver: Two steps. Give me your database. Go Away.
Sharran: That’s it. Because you… My job is to wake up and is to get your… Because now an agent is thinking, “Well how are you going to do that? Are you going to text them? How’s your copy? Is your copy better than mine?”
Oliver: “Are you spamming them?”
Sharran: “Are you emailing them? Are you spamming them?” That’s the problem, because now you get stuck in that inertia, right? We have agents in our pilot right now that don’t do anything, just handed us their database and we work it for them. Old leads that you’ve never talked to in three years.
Nothing. You don’t have to do anything. Our systems, our processes works them. Our copywriter roughly on average charges $1,000 per email to proof. Wow. I write the emails, it’s our testing. She proofs. Proofs for that. So these are best of the best.
Oliver: That’s a serious copywriter.
Sharran: Best of the best, right? And so the idea is, hand us your database and we hand you appointments. You need to wake up in the morning and you need to have four appointments and you have done nothing. So all our systems are being built in such a way we call it [done for you . We need to do everything for you. Database, we generate ads, we generate leads. It goes through all the automation and at the end we need to nurture the client so that you get appointments, so that you can go do what you do best.
If you have to worry about what app to use to create an upper and lower third, what app do you use to do a podcast? What app to use to do email marketing? Buy another CRM system that you don’t ever log into, right? I know you’re not going to do it. You know why? Because you’re an amazing sales person. If you were a CRM operator, you would be in another career. This should just be very clear. You’re not going to do it and it’s totally cool. Let’s own your brilliance. And your brilliance is with the clients.
Why do you think a amazing technology company out there right now, pick any one you want, why do you think they’re not calling your clients and talking to them live? Why? They’re getting in the business with [inaudible], but why do you think they’re not going? Why do you think that they’re building a technology business and not… They’re just not good at it. They can do it at scale. You are better at it.
Sharran: My heart goes out to you, the agent, for being the amazing agent that you are, for enduring the pain and the psychological fragility of your clients. Stay in that zone. Stay in that goodness. Stay in that power. Stay in that advisory capacity.
Oliver: And be clear that the only thing that you have that can’t be replaced by technology is the relationship.
Sharran: I’m not saying that I’m going to sell the house, I’m just saying I’m do whatever it takes to get you in the appointment.
Sharran: I am in, take your database and get your appointment game. That’s my job. It’s a very difficult game, but the game that you should not be playing, and by the way, I tell people all the time, agents will tell me, “I’m really good at marketing.” I’m like, “Great, go be a marketer.”
Sharran: I shouldn’t hear, “I’m really good at marketing,” from an agent. You should say, “I’m a really good agent. I’m a really good salesperson. I’m a really good selling houses.” People that tell me they’re a really good marketer and I’m like, “Well, if you’re a really good marketer…” I will tell you, the people that tell me that they’re really good marketers, I love you all. You are great marketers, but the problem is you overanalyze your marketing pieces so much that they never get out and that’s really hard. Not only is it hard on the marketing team that you work with, it’s hard on you because you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been working six months and I haven’t got [inaudible] card out.” And it crushes you, it crushes your [inaudible], crushes your soul. Whereas the person getting it is like, “Oh cool, Oliver.” And tosses it.
Oliver: in two seconds. Yeah.
Sharran: Right. And then here’s what agents tell me, Oliver. “Oh, you know, or those two seconds I wanted to establish a brand.” I’m like, “No, you don’t. No, you don’t.” That’s the problem. Someone has actually told you that it’s okay that they look at your picture on the way to their recycling bin. They think, you think that’s okay, but it’s not. We need much more quality interactions. We need much more valuable. We need interactions that actually are like, “Wow, that was amazing. No wonder I’m going to take an appointment with this person.” Right? And that’s been our thing of, hey, how do we get them to click a button and get a pdf, get an appointment, click a button.
Oliver: So walk me through how that happens. How does Kingston Lane do that for people?
Sharran: Yeah. So once we, there’s two ways a lead or a contact enters your world. You either know them or you don’t know them, right? When you know them, they’re in your database of some sort. And so we put them through a series of very curated, artificially intelligent automations on text, email, etc. Through that process, with the entire goal of them getting them to raise their hand and say, “Ah, that’s interesting. I want to talk to Oliver,” right? For new leads, the urgency is a little bit more. So I’ll give you the title of my current book right now. It actually will get released by the end of the year and this was the process. The process is this. The number one reason why agents fail in lead generation, right, is because here’s what we say, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to put them through ten days of pain.” Ten days of pain is a reason they don’t want to talk to you.
Sharran: You put them to ten days of hell. You call, text, email. How many times do you like getting called, texted and emailed within a one hour period?
Oliver: Not that much.
Sharran: Well then why do we do that to our clients? And we actually promote that as a strategy. We say, “Call, text, email on day one. Oh, but by the way, if they don’t answer, hang up immediately and text them.” How many, if someone, if I don’t answer my phone and you text me immediately, I think it’s an emergency with my son’s school. You’re intruding. We don’t… Why do we do things that we don’t like being done to us? Right. And I think that there’s a reason for that. The reason is there’s a lot of upfront, high pressure marketing or it’s 12 touches and then once the 12 touches are done, I’m going to get this lead back to you.
Sharran: Well of course you’re going to, you just totally burned them out. That’s why you’re giving them back to me.
Oliver: Not to mention the five other people that bought that same lead are also doing the same thing.
Oliver: So they’re getting like 300 phone calls in a week.
Sharran: Exactly right.
Sharran: So, to me, I think there’s a four step process that you can actually use and I’d love for you, to walk you through this. This is the core of my book. It’s called the hero method. The hero method is how do you make the client the hero? And if there’s anything that you take away apart from Oliver’s good looks in this appointment, in this meeting, right? If there’s anything that you take away, please take away this. How the client became your client is more important than the fact that how well you did for them when they are your client.
So, for example, just because you sold their home for over a hundred thousand dollars over asking, they do not remember. They do not remember. I will guarantee you, you quiz your clients, they do not remember how much money you saved them in your requests for repairs. They do not remember how much money you got them over asking. But how they became your client is a super powerful process. The listing appointment is a super powerful process. The lead generation is a super powerful process. The nurture is a super powerful process.
So there’s a four step process we should, very quickly, number one, let’s take a very simple lead. A lead comes in on your website. The first thing they should get is what we call a context bridge. A context bridge is, they’re just going to get a random email, but they have no idea who you are. They have no idea who Oliver Graf is. So you need to say, “Hey Sharran, thank you so much for registering on our website. I know you downloaded the five ways to increase the value of your home. Thank you so much.” Right? Now they’re like, “Oh yeah, I did do that. He followed up on that. That’s awesome.” That’s the context bridge, right?
And the next email, a day later is, “Hey Sharran, I just want to double check. A lot of times people re email me again and say they wanted the seven ways to do that. I just re included that. This is just as a courtesy. Thank you so much. Here it is.” Now what you’ve done is, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, Oliver’s such a cool guy. Yes. I forgot that email because I made that email go to [email protected] That’s why.” Because we all have the third email address. Now they’re like, “Yeah, I should probably mark this guy as white listed and listen to this guy,” because you were thoughtful. That’s the context bridge.
Now, what everybody does is they take that lead and they put them through ten days of pain and nobody knows who this person is and they’re like, “Do you want a meeting? Do you want a meeting? Do you want a meeting?”
Oliver: I love that you’re calling it ten days of pain.
Sharran: But that’s what it is. They…
Oliver: No, no, no. Totally. Yeah.
Sharran: That’s just amazing, right?
Sharran: So the second one, right after you do the context bridge is what we want to do is, I call this the urgency loop. The urgency loop just means, so in our five years of testing, we, there is something called a ten, ten, 40, 40 rule. Ten, if you take a normal distribution, ten, ten, 40, 40. Ten percent of people want to engage with you and talk to you right now. Ten percent of people never want to talk to you. Never. 40 percent need time. And 40 percent need education. 80 percent need time and education.
Oliver: Oh, that’s good. Really good.
Sharran: Now the best part is this, ten percent want to do something right now. I want to put a framework in place to activate that ten percent and the entire job of what we call the urgency loop is to activate that ten percent.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: Right? And so we have come up with an artificial intelligence sequence of 11 emails in seven days. It’s 11 touches, sorry, in seven days, that dramatically activates that ten percent, right? And so now I have, go to the context bridge. I’m like, “Hey, now I’ve got this urgency loop, and if nobody, if you don’t respond to that, I know that you’re not in the ten percent.”
Oliver: Right. You’re not ready now.
Sharran: No. So now you’re one of the 90 percent.
Sharran: Now I see if you’re into, not… I can’t fix time, but I can fix education. Now I say, “Okay, now is Oliver… Do I have to teach them more about this?” So I call the third step of the process the story ask. The story ask.
Oliver: The story ask, okay.
Sharran: So you say, “Hey, I want to tell you about my clients Sharran, my client, Sharran did XYZ, ABC. If you are anything like my client, Sharran, the one thing that he told was that he would have just had a 15 minute strategy conversation before he did anything. And as a commitment to Sharran, I want to do the same for you. It’s a 15 minute, no obligation strategy conversation. Just click the link below.” Right? That’s a story.
Sharran: So now I’m like, “Oh, now, I’m thinking I should probably call my agent and ask… this agent and ask this question,” right? So you’ve got the context bridge, think who you are, the urgency loop-
Oliver: The urgency loop.
Sharran: Figuring out who the ten percent is, the story ask, figuring out, who the other 40 percent. Now we have the other 50 percent left. And the last one is called the goodwill river. Now you have no idea what else to do. So what you do is you hit cadence every Wednesday, every Thursday, every other week, you’re dripping on them with a VIP list, with something of value, something thoughtful.
Sharran: But you’re staying on the cadence. What you send them is not important. When you send them is more important. So you’re always there, every week.
Sharran: Every week. I write an email a day, right now. My email, I have, I send a million emails a month. I have, I write one email a day. Right? And so I have the permission to be in your… in my subscriber’s inbox every single day.
Sharran: I can ask them for whatever I want because I’m not going to do it
Oliver: And they’re okay with that.
Sharran: And they’re okay with that. And I have actually skipped a day once because I changed am to pm in my distribution and I got hundreds of emails back saying, “What happened? Did you take me off your list?”
Oliver: “Why am I not getting an email?”
Sharran: “Why am I not getting this?” Et cetera. Right? So, I’ll say this again and when my book comes out, we’ll post it. But it’s the context bridge, the urgency loop, the story ask and the goodwill river.
Oliver: And the goodwill river.
Sharran: And the entire Kingston Lane, what we call it, the beast. Because we just say, hey, our job is to feed the beast and the beast will spit out appointments. So when we feed the beast, we go through context bridge, urgency loop, story ask goodwill river, and we keep staying it and we do it all for you so that you don’t have to do it and you can be out there serving your clients.
Oliver: So these people, when they’re part of your system, don’t need to worry about any of that.
Sharran: Nothing. They don’t even need to log into their CRM.
Oliver: So what are you calling this? Is this a software or is this a CRM or what do you refer to it as?
Sharran: So, we refer to it as a system, we call it the revenue systems. So it is, we try to aggregate the best pieces of software that we have, either what we’ve built or third party stuff. But we found the number one problem is not buying a piece of software, it’s buying multiple pieces of software and then integrating them all together. So we just do the integration, so that it all runs well. And what’s your goal with Kingston Lane? Again, this time the goal is I want to get, I just want to get as many people on to create… There’s two reasons why you got in the business. No cap in income and the least amount of time. Because now if you are only doing what you love, we get to do everything else.
Sharran: So there’s no, I don’t have a massive goal to sell the business. I just want to create as many millionaire entrepreneurs that I can, because I believe in this business, I believe in what agents do and I think they do too much. And because of that, it hurts them. It hurts their productivity, it hurts their joy, it hurts them, it hurts their service. And if you can stay in your joy and let us do the rest.
Oliver: What’s very interesting about what you just said is that it’s almost the same value proposition as Teles.
Oliver: It’s the saving people time.
Oliver: So if you’re in the business of saving people time, now you’ve just created a software that allows them to save time and have better results.
Sharran: So it’s funny you say that. You’re very intuitive. We, the thing is what couldn’t I do at Teles? I couldn’t serve agents around the world. And I wanted to build, I’ve never built a worldwide business. Had three, never built a worldwide business and I wanted to roll out. So we built an international platform from day one. So we have agents from 12 countries from day one. I always wanted to do that. And that’s the one thing we couldn’t do at Teles, to build Teles if you will, the brains for everybody. And that was the goal.
Oliver: So how can they get it? For the people that want to give it a try.
Sharran: Yeah, so it’s super easy. You can get free versions. You can get free access to stuff just to try it out, at kingstonlane.com. So it’s spelled exactly that way you say it, kingstonlane.com. And when you get in there and it asks, just reference the show and maybe we’ll send you some goodies as well.
Oliver: There you go.
Sharran: So kingstonlane.com, grab a free copy and it’s free to try everything. And we also realized one thing, Oliver. Nobody in the real estate business has any predictability in their income. So the one thing I decided, was that we would have no contracts, no commitments.
Oliver: Love it.
Sharran: So it’s monthly-
Oliver: Cancel any time.
Sharran: Cancel any time, month to month, because I believe that if we can’t earn the business and show you insane value, you should not pay us anything.
Sharran: And so, we are one of the very, very few, you know, kind of service system providers out there that are month to month, no contracts, no commitments, and for anything that we do.
Oliver: And we’ve rolled it out in our brokerage to our almost thousand agents and have gotten insanely good feedback. The coolest part is every, it’s so easy to use. You can just log in, you could launch a Facebook campaign in three clicks, you can launch a new listing in three clicks. Everything’s very simple.
Oliver: And designed to save you time and increase profits. So, amazing software. Definitely check that out. I wanna wrap up with two questions that I like to ask everyone and that’s, what is your favorite tools, apps, softwares that you just love in your business, that are saving you time, helping you do whatever it is you do to get good results?
Sharran: Yeah, totally. So we use a project management system called Monday, monday.com.
Sharran: It’s been great. We rolled it out recently. We committed, as a company, to using it as a power user. Everybody learned the system. Everyone’s using it. We cut email, cut slack. We have others, but if there’s anything related to a certain project, we do everything. We utilize the system completely. And when we started committing to the system, the system committed to us, right? It almost felt that way. And we got results when we said everyone is committed to doing this. And it changed everything. So when someone was out on vacation, everything was there and it was super powerful. We’ve all-
Oliver: That’s project management.
Sharran: Project management, project management. We launched a new podcast very similar to you, but we launched a new podcast just to help agents around the world. It’s free of course. It’s the Kingston Lane podcast. We try to keep it five to seven minutes, very tactical. So if you liked what we do, it’s very, very tactical. And we did the whole thing on all on free tools. We just wanted to do it all on free tools.
Oliver: That’s great.
Sharran: So we used anchor.com to deploy the podcast. And every tool that we use to deploy the podcast, we made sure it was free so we could go out and have this conversation and say you can launch an amazing podcast without audio engineering capabilities for free and add value that way. So, there’s a lot of free stuff out there and Anchor is one of ours. Just use it for free.
Oliver: So Anchor and monday.com definitely go check those out. And then, what is your advice to people that want to get to the next level? Because you’ve built several successful businesses, you’ve had several successful exits. So what, what is the Sharran formula for that?
Sharran: Yeah, so I’ll answer it differently. So let’s say I was the one, not the regret, but if I were to do one thing differently, earlier, what would I do? And it may sound a little hokey, but I would get a highly paid, highly compensated coach or mentor much earlier. Much earlier. And I’ll tell you what happened.
Sharran: So I was down in the dumps one day. Our business was not going, I was at, you know, I was at Teles. The business was not going great. I was trying to figure my stuff out. I called my dad and my, I said, “You know what? Hey Dad, I’m struggling with this.” My Dad’s like, “Hey, I heard there’s a speaker in San Francisco, you should go listen to her. She’s talking about how to save your health and save your business or whatever.” So I was like, “Whatever.” So I pay $300, drive to San Francisco. I go listen to the speaker and Oliver, everything she said felt like she was talking to me. I was going to raise my hand and she would answer the question. It was like a perfect kind of thing. And I was just sitting in the back of the room.
So I called my dad on the way back home like, “Dad, you won’t believe it. She was amazing.” And my dad said, “Well, do you think she could add better value to you personally?” And I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “Well, you should ask her.” I said, “Dad, I can’t. I don’t, can’t afford this.” So he said, I kid you not, he’s exactly this. He said, “Pick a number that is painful, yet affordable.” And let’s pick a number, right?
Sharran: And I said… he said, “Write an email to her saying, hey so-and-so, I saw you speak at this location. It changed my life.” And this was his quote. My dad’s big on scripting. He said, “I would like to offer you this X, $10,000, as a symbol of my seriousness.”
Sharran: “As a symbol of my seriousness. And all I ask in return is that you prioritize my communication. I don’t need one on one meetings, nothing. Just when I email you, email me back.” She responded saying, “Is this a joke?” Right? And I said, “No, I’m 100 percent.” Right? She goes, “Write it up.” So I printed the email, I didn’t know what write it up means, I signed it. I sent her the email, printed out, and a cheque for ten grand. She became my first coach. I paid her a ton more money than that over the years. And her entire job was to help me become a better leader, to grow, Teles 10x.
Oliver: That’s amazing.
Sharran: And if I could have accelerated that process in any way, I would have done that so much earlier. I pay so much money for coaching right now and mentoring right now. And I just believe so much in that. And-
Oliver: I actually do too, a hundred percent and I’m curious just what your thoughts are on what it was about her that had the impact.
Sharran: Yeah. So I think what I needed at that time was I thought I was, I had all the answers. And the interesting part is there’s, for entrepreneurs, when you and I are stuck on a problem, call it the 15 minute rule, if you and I work on a problem together and you’re really working on it and you try to solve it, and in 15 minutes you don’t get a solution, you get deeply frustrated. My wife, she’s an amazing engineer, et cetera. She can work for three days on a problem, but when you work for 15 minutes and don’t get it, so you’re deeply frustrated and you have nobody to talk to about it because now when you go to your team and say, I don’t know how to do this, you feel weird about it.
Sharran: And the second is, our highest of highs and our lowest of lows, the top five percent and the bottom five percent, it’s very hard to share it with somebody. So let’s say you’re having a tough day with your partner, who do you share it with? Not your spouse, they don’t want to hear it.
Sharran: Right? And nobody that can actually give you really good perspective. So the 15 and five is really important, so what she helped me was, get through the 15. I worked through a problem, I didn’t get a solution. She gave me a little outside perspective, changed my thinking and I was off to the races. It was really powerful. And the second is the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Yeah, we sold the business and we came home and my wife told me, “Go get some more milk.” That’s normal.
Oliver: “Yeah, take the garbage out honey.”
Sharran: It’s okay. It’s totally okay. Right? But, to have someone harness the entrepreneurial energy from the 15 and the five, gets super powerful.
Oliver: I love that.
Sharran: Yeah. So I would say just, the faster you can get a coach, and if the coach has not been there, done it, I’m sorry, it’s hard for me.
Oliver: Yeah, me too.
Sharran: I don’t think they can help see around corners. So if you asked me, “Hey, how do you 10x a business?” I could probably or Roland, we can give you the roadmap. I can walk you through the pain before it becomes pain. I can walk you through the success before it becomes success. But that’s like, you know, asking a golf instructor who has never hit a golf ball. It’s kind of weird. Right? And so I’m, I will gladly, I paid, when I was transitioning from after Teles to Douglas Elliman, after Douglas Elliman to the new venture, I paid a really well known coach who helps people with after selling businesses, I paid him $35,000 for one day.
Sharran: And you’ve done a couple of those, you’ve done a couple of those, a couple of power days.
Oliver: Yeah, no. We’ve done that too. Yeah, yeah. For sure, yeah.
Sharran: I did a one day and that was hard. First time I’d done that. I’ve done bigger cheques for longer amounts of time, but that also made me show up better. I was like, “Hey, I’m in, I’m making this work.”
Oliver: And now, a lot of people can’t wrap their head around a price tag like that. And the best way that I can describe it, and this is another one from Greg Reed, is he was like, “Look, I wanted to climb K2 or Mount Kilimanjaro.” And he was like, “I wasn’t going to hire some random person off the street to take me up there. I wanted to hire a Sherpa that’s been up it 10,000 times already and all I did is I walked in his exact footsteps up the mountain and it was the safest, quickest, most efficient route of getting there.” And so by just paying that money up front, you’re either going to pay in one of two ways. You’re either going to pay the cash or you’re going to pay in time. And in most scenarios, especially, you know, in really niche type situations, a lot of times it makes sense to just pay for the advice and shortcut the success.
Sharran: The few CEOs that I mentor, every Monday, I’ve told you this, every Monday I write a kickoff email to my company and I share that email with the seven CEOs that I mentor. I actually know one guy that has a huge company, 442 people. He actually takes that email, copy, pastes it, changes the name, and he sends it to his entire team.
Oliver: I love it.
Sharran: He’s like, “Why would I change anything?”
Sharran: “This makes total sense. And Sharran already wrote it. I’m just going to use the blueprint.” And now, his engagement is up, his culture is up, everything is up. And he goes, “Hey, this is amazing.” So we, I think you and I are similar. If you find a way to… If I told you that you could spend a weekend with me for $10,000, I’m picking up a number and I would show you how to take your listing presentation from here to here. You would be crazy not to do it. There’s no chance you’re going to get access to that unless you go to Closing Table.
Sharran: But that would be a no brainer investment. For someone who’s like, “Oh my God, it’s ten grand.”
Oliver: And you’ll make that money up so fast, right? That’s the crazy part.
Sharran: Like that. Yeah. Yeah, Keri Shull, they made, I think $1.6 million in 12 weeks or nothing, just by implementing a few things.
Sharran: Which is amazing.
Oliver: Yeah. She credits that to your listing presentation.
Sharran: Yeah. Thankful. Yeah.
Oliver: So if you want more on that listing presentation, come to our Closing Table mastermind.
Oliver: You can find out more at closingtable… closingtablemastermind.com. We’d love to have you. And really appreciate the time, man. It’s been an awesome interview. We’ll see you on the next Founders Club.
“Routines drive results.”
“Scripting is about precision.”
“The power of the script is not in your delivery. The power of the script is in your organization and preparation.”
“Don’t let the comp drive the pricing conversation.”
“We went from one office, 35 agents and $300M in sales to 22 offices, 600 agents and $3.5B in sales. We grew 10X in five years.”
“Transformations don’t happen in isolation.”
“We took all the pieces of the process out that didn’t need agent involvement, and we just systematized that. We operationalized success.”
“It’s not about how you scale your business. How do you scale your promise?”
“Our job as leaders is to consistently and constantly be focused on thinking about a bigger and better future.”
“If it does not have a place on your calendar, it’s not going to get done.”
“We want our say-do ratio to be 100%.”
“If your content is not even worth your car payment, you should be producing nothing. Stop it.”
“How do you keep something really simple? Hire somebody.”
“Price means nothing. It’s all about pricing.”
“The list price is an invitation.”
“You don’t rise to the occasion. You default to your training.”
“Own. Your. Brilliance.”
“Why do we do things that we don’t like being done to us?”
“I just want to create as many millionaire entrepreneurs [as] I can.”
“Stay in your joy and let us do the rest.”
- Big Block Realty
- Toastmasters International
- The Power of Focus: How to Hit Your Business, Personal and Financial Targets with Absolute Certainty by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt
- You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
- Closing Table mastermind
- Douglas Elliman
Connect with Sharran
Connect with Oliver
Other episodes of founders club you might like:
How to Invest in Out-of-State Properties ft. Maureen McCann
How to Make Big Profits Wholesaling Real Estate ft. Cory Boatright
Thank you for watching!
If you’d like to see all the episodes go to: www.OliverGraf.tv/FoundersClub
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas contact me here.