Coffee Break with Sahsha Graves
► Psst... After you enjoy the full interview, be sure to watch Sahsha answer even more questions in the Xpresso Round Video.
DMAR: Can you tell us about yourself and how you got into the real estate industry?
Sahsha: I actually started in the real estate industry about 14 or 15 years ago selling title and insurance. Then I went to work with my dad at his insurance company selling commercial insurance. I enjoyed it but really missed the business-to-business relationships I previously had and wanted to get back into that. I knew a rep who worked with Chicago title, got in touch with him, and that's how I got back into the industry.
D: How would you describe your job at Chicago Title?
S: I love my job. At Chicago Title my focus is on coaching and teaching REALTORS® how to earn more money. The idea is to work smarter instead of harder. I’ve learned from really successful REALTORS® and others in the industry, and I love being able to share that information with those who are new in the business as well as those who are more established.
D: Walk us through a typical day in your life.
S: I have three kids… I feel like I have ten million kids, but I have three kids at home. In the morning I get up at 4:30 AM and go work out at 5:00 AM. Then I come back home and take the kids to school. I usually have an appointment in the morning so I go to that. I always try to go into my office at least once or twice a day to make sure that I'm connecting with the girls who I work with as well as my closers. Mostly I'm out and about in different offices, helping people or setting up appointments.
D: When did you first join DMAR?
S: I think I joined DMAR three and a half years ago. I've been in business for about five, so it was pretty much when I first started. I worked with Beau LaPoint, Chair of the Affiliate Council at the time. When I first became a member I knew almost immediately that I wanted to do a little more and really get involved. And here I am, now in my second term as Chair of the Industry Partner Council. I'm probably a little too passionate and sometimes I say yes to a lot. But love it. I love DMAR. I love being involved.
D: And how did you decide to join? Did someone introduce you to DMAR or recommend membership?
S: In the beginning, I just decided. I saw what Beau LaPoint, Chair of the Industry Partner Council, and past Chairs had done for our Industry Partners. I decided that I really wanted to get involved. For the first year of my term, it was more because I really wanted to be there. The second year, because of the merger with DERA, it was a lot of me deciding but them also asking me to stay another term.
D: Can you share a little bit about your experience being on the DMAR board of directors?
S: I love it. I feel in the past there have been people who have perhaps been slightly negative about Industry Partners, but it's definitely not that way anymore. I can't believe the support that I get as an Industry Partner there. We all work as a team. I feel so supported by the REALTORS® and I think that we as Industry Partners have a real voice and the REALTORS® are willing to listen.
D: How has being a part of leadership changed your perspective of the industry or the Association?
S: I think that being involved in leadership has helped me get to know the people who I needed to know in order to take my job to a different level. I am very much based in a territory but because of everything that DMAR has provided and the opportunity to network with people all over the Denver metro area, I now know a lot of different people in the industry and it has given me more business. Being involved in leadership has also helped me to simply get my name out there a bit more. I love DMAR; I’m thankful for the staff and everything that they do for us, the Board, the opportunities and resources... I'm just so appreciative of all of it.
D: DMAR Affiliates recently changed their name to Industry Partners. Can you tell me the thought process behind that change and why you think the new name is more fitting?
S: Prior to the merger, the DERA (Douglas Elbert REALTOR® Association) called their Affiliates “Industry Partners.” I think it's a nice name because I really do look at myself as a business partner with most of the people I work with and that's what I try to help the Affiliates or Industry Partners feel like, too. If you're helping someone grow their business, you're definitely a partner in their business.
D: As Chair of the Industry Partner Council, what are your goals for 2017 for Industry Partners?
S: My main goal for 2017 is to help our Industry Partners understand the value of being a Partner. Another goal for the new year, which is always a focus for me, is to make sure that we are giving back to the Industry Partners. So many of them come into this industry feeling like a victim and, as a result, they don’t get business. They think the phone will just ring off the hook for them and I really want them to know that they have to work to get it. They will also benefit and see an increase in their business if they get involved with the Association and create a team with the REALTOR® members. It's important that we all work together. My goals really are to keep that going and to add value to the Industry Partners' careers.
[Tweet this] "They think the phone will just ring off the hook for them and I really want them to know that they have to work to get it."
D: The events definitely are a benefit but it seems like some people attend without having a plan of action.
S: Exactly. I want to focus on coaching the Industry Partners and teaching them how to market themselves at events so they are actually getting more business out of it, instead of going to the events and not really having an agenda or a plan. I think it’s all about being strategic. Let's say perhaps you want to set four appointments when you get to the event. Set those four appointments first thing and then have a great time while you're there.
D: Having a plan in place before attending an event is a great suggestion.
S: Sometimes when you go to a networking event, you don't think ahead of time about having a plan for the event. You just think, “I'll go and then I'll get business.” But if you have a goal, something like “I'm going to talk to four people and set up four meetings from this,” you get that out of the way right away. Sometimes you end up making six appointments instead of four without working too hard to get it done. It's just what you have in your mind, what your vision is for that event. I enjoy network meetings and events…. just being open, talking to everybody, being proud of what you do and who you are. I love that stuff.
D: When networking, what are your strategies for who to connect with? Do you try to connect with the newer agents who perhaps don't have an established sphere, or do you equally target everybody?
S: I do both. I absolutely love working with newer agents because they're hungry. They don't really know what they want to do. The hard part in sales, though, is the fact that salespeople usually have this picture of everything they want to do, but how do you implement all of that? When I meet with a newer agent, I try to get them to focus on four things that they can do really well and track that over a six-month period. Then they can change it from there.
With the more established or more veteran agents, I basically look at what could be of value to them or how their business could be improved. I try to figure out what is not working for them in their business or what's frustrating for them and then try to find a solution for that. I'm very careful of what I bring to them because I know they don't have the time to go through every product that we have. A lot of times, though - especially because I'm getting respect from the board and many well-established, influential REALTORS® - they're really willing to hear what I have to say.
D: So once you establish a connection or relationship, how you maintain that? Do you have any tips?
S: Absolutely. I personally have a database of 300 people and I touch base with those people every two weeks in one way or another. I make sure that I'm always in front of them, always appreciating them and always asking for their business. I think that there's not enough appreciation. Even when someone doesn't send me business, there's still something of value that I find in their friendship or whatever. I think it's good to point those things out. I think that helps with my business and networking.
D: What would you say are the biggest benefits of membership for the Industry Partners?
S: The events are the biggest thing that I value because I’m a people person and I love building relationships with people. I get a lot of my business from developing relationships with people. One of the things that I think is crucial to being an Industry Partner member is simply knowing where the events are, where the REALTORS® are going to be, where they want to put their money and where they want to put their time.
RPAC (the REALTOR® Political Action Committee) is a perfect example. RPAC is so important to the REALTORS®. It could change how they do real estate so they need to be on top of it; therefore, I think it's necessary for the Industry Partners to be involved and know what's going on as well. Attending the Industry Partner Council’s monthly meetings is beneficial; you find out what events and programs the REALTORS® are attending and get a better idea of how you can help them. By focusing on getting my name out there and being involved with all the DMAR events, I’ve honestly doubled my business.
[Tweet this] "By focusing on getting my name out there and being involved with all the DMAR events, I’ve honestly doubled my business."
D: That’s great! Do you think you get direct business from being involved in DMAR or is it more indirect?
S: I would say both. A couple of weeks ago one of the board of directors actually came up to me after an RPAC event and said he's going to send me all of his business in 2017. And I barely did anything to get that. I just asked him if he would send me some business maybe one time. So it’s definitely indirect and direct.
During my second term as Chair of the Industry Partner Council, I am being a little more direct and actually calling those people - those on the board or people who are a little more influential - and asking them to send me business. It's wonderful. You just have to gain their respect. If you can do that, I believe it all comes back to you.
D: We recently launched the new Industry Partner Directory on the website. How do you think that will benefit members?
S: I think it will be awesome. Just being able to search for and find who you're looking to do business with is great. And with the logo or picture on each Industry Partner profile... it feels real. I want people to be able to see our faces or see what company we're with. It’s a great benefit.
D: Do you have any marketing strategies you can share?
S: I do all kinds of marketing: text messages, Facebook, email, videos. I try to do everything. Nowadays, I feel like if you're not doing everything, you're kind of missing the boat. With that being said, there are a lot of people who hate text messaging, but would love for me to call them. You really have to balance who you are targeting with what form. I do a lot.
[Tweet this] "Nowadays, I feel like if you're not doing everything, you're kind of missing the boat."
D: What are your thoughts on social media? Is it helpful or more of a distraction?
S: Social media is my favorite. Specifically, Facebook. It’s my favorite thing ever (laughs). I love Facebook. It's personal but you can build your business really well off of that.
D: And when using Facebook to build or grow a business, do you think it’s better to use a personal page or to create a separate business one?
S: I know this is a touchy subject with some people, but I think it's better to use a personal account. One of the reasons I love Facebook is because it allows me to connect with people on a personal level. Personally, when I’m using Facebook, the last thing I do is go to someone's business page. The only time I ever do so is when someone has asked me to “Like” their business page. But honestly, I “Like” it and then I usually never go back.
Personally, I don't recommend that people create a business page; however, there are a lot of people who would disagree with me. I just prefer the personal side. I want everyone to know what I'm doing in my personal life because I mix all of it together, I think, really well.
D: Other than Facebook, do you use any other social media channels?
S: I need to. I'm on Instagram, SnapChat and Twitter but I don't know how to use all of them (laughs).
D: What do you think of SnapChat?
S: It's fun. I mostly use it with my friends and family, but sometimes there are REALTORS® on there that I'll send a SnapChat to. It's fun but I don't really know what I'm doing so I have to be careful (laughs).
D: Switching gears a bit, what are your thoughts regarding the recent change in regulations and how that affects sponsorship for some of our Industry Partners?
S: I’m nervous about it. Part of the reason I'm nervous is because I absolutely love the company that I work for. They don't want to do anything wrong. They want to follow all of the regulations. With these new regulations, every company perceives them differently. It does make me nervous to participate in certain things because I don't want to go against our regulations and I certainly do not want my company to be in trouble or violate any of the policies.
With that being said, Chicago Title has an amazing president. I’m pretty sure she recites the regulations in her sleep (laughs). She's very careful about what we do and how we're involved with things.
D: People really do seem to be interpreting these regulations differently. Do you see them as being somewhat vague or perhaps confusing?
S: In the beginning it says what we can do and then it goes on to say what we can't do. It can be perceived in a lot of different ways, definitely. But there are also some things that are very black and white that simply aren't being followed.
D: You're on the board, you run the Industry Partner council, you have a full-time job, you attend meetings, you attend events you have a family…. How do you maintain work/life balance?
S: I don't know (laughs). One of the things that I try to do is time block and be strict about my time blocking. If I want to work out, I have to go at 5 o'clock in the morning, otherwise I don't have another chance during the day to do that. My husband is amazing. He is a financial advisor and he works from home and helps me a lot with the kids. He's amazing. I am able to do what I need to for my work. It's flexible, which is great because I do have a lot that I have to fit into a day.
D: What is your proudest business accomplishment this year?
S: I went through an intense coaching program for three months before Christmas. Chicago Title took one of our top sales executives out of the industry and made her a coach for some of the sales reps. You had to be selected for this coaching program and I was lucky enough to be in the second round. It was a crazy three months.
What I learned from that coaching program was amazing and I’ll be able to draw from that for the rest of my life. I’ve actually already used some of what I learned in that coaching program to help some of my REALTORS®. It has totally changed my business.
D: Do you have any resolutions, personal or professional, for 2017?
S: I love my job, I love the people I work with and I love my kids so I’m pretty happy right now. I’d say for 2017 I have a few things I’d like to focus on. First, I want to be better at time blocking. That's one thing that I'm really focused on. Second, I want to being healthier. My kids are almost all teenagers so I want to be a good role model for them and be healthy.
D: Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?
S: I should have that “big vision” in my head, but honestly I don't. In five years, I definitely want to double the income that I make and I know I can do it with some of the skills I’ve worked on and coaching that I’ve completed. I always want to be a huge supporter of and for DMAR and the REALTOR® and Industry Partner members by making sure that I'm involved and promoting different things. Basically, I just want to keep going at the rate I'm going and continue to gain more business and make more friends.
D: What are some of your favorite activities outside of work?
S: I don't have a lot of activities that I love to do because honestly, outside of work, I like doing work... But my family is super important to me, and we just got a new puppy who keeps me busy. I have three girls so I love to get my nails done and they love it too. That's just one of the things I can do with just them when I'm able to get away. Also, my middle daughter wanted a little more personal time, so the third Wednesday of every month I take her to lunch; it's just me and her, and I spend as much time as she needs. I also love to read.
D: Since this is our Coffee Break series, I have to ask, how would you describe your relationship with coffee?
S: I actually don't think I started drinking coffee until probably about 10 years ago. I didn't start drinking coffee until way later after college and high school. I'm addicted. My kids are addicted, too. I have apps for it and I get all kinds of gold stars. My favorite drink is definitely a Grande White Mocha. I also enjoy the seasonal drinks. I love coffee.