When I was a brand new property agent back in 2008, I knew I had to put in the hard work. Everyone around me was already working hard.
But what I didn't realise at the time was that there were a lot of areas I didn't know about that actually could have a far bigger impact on my success than just hard work alone.
The thing is, it took me years of hard knocks, shedding blood and crying bitter tears to open up my eyes to this reality hiding in plain sight. I wished I knew it much sooner.
So, here are the 10 things I wish I knew as a brand new property agent:
- The RIGHT Mindset: Let me tell you a quick story; there were two brothers, Vlad and Stan, who had to chop down trees fast in just 6 hours. So Vlad rapidly went to work. Chop! Chop! Chop! When he took a break after 3 hours, he was very surprised to see Stan still sitting down, playing with his axe. "Hey Stan! Why aren't you cutting down the trees?" asked Vlad. Stan said, "I'm sharpening my axe first. A sharper axe will cut thrice as fast as you!" Guess who chopped down more trees? Stan. Why? Because he took the first 3 hours to prepare, and then the final 3 hours to do a more efficient job. So the moral of the story is, sharpen the axe! Personally for me, It wasn't until I saw consistent top producers hitting their sales target year after year after year that I realised that, actually, mindset was everything; your Agency, your Upline, your Division, your Title, your Opportunities, your Struggles... none of those mattered. You could have 2 different agents in the exact same agency under the exact same upline with the exact same resources and opportunities, yet one agent would always outsell, outperform and outlast the other. This scenario is so predictable, yet so underappreciated by many. Having the correct mindset set up top producers for success in spite of everything else going on in their own lives. In fact, their mindset is the price they paid for success. So what is 'the right mindset'? It's a combination of your daily habit patterns and subconscious decision-making abilities. Success is simply a by-product of your actions, which come from your mindset. It goes without saying, if you want to change your results, you've got to change your habits. What's between my two ears is the entire foundation of my life! I've got to sharpen it!
- HIGH Self Esteem: Growing up, I used to struggle with low self esteem issues. My classmates made fun of me because of my weird accent, broken nose and broken teeth. But it wasn't until I was selling homes that I realised that by projecting a poor self image to prospects and clients, I was only making things worse for myself. The high rate of rejection in this sales profession doesn't really help; honestly, sales is a brutal profession. Prospects can destroy your confidence in seconds with a short 'No'. That's why a salesperson's biggest armour is still his own self esteem. When you have a high enough self esteem, you can face 20 rejections in 1 single day and still go back home totally happy and yet have the mental capacity to be carefree with your spouse and kids. But imagine if you have a low sense of self worth, you'll be wallowing in self pity and crying your heart out even after one single rejection. You'll take everything personally. Remember, rejection comes naturally with the territory of Sales. But low self esteem is also one of the main reasons for the high rate of dropouts in the sales profession. That is why a high self esteem is so crucial. So, learn to build up your own armour... You'll need it!
- The RIGHT Marketing: Doing the wrong marketing was the single biggest reason why I struggled to gain real momentum in the first eight months of my property agent career. I couldn't get enough appointments. But I knew every agent ran some sort of marketing and almost everyone had difference advice about what worked and what didn't. Some said cold calling was responsible for their success. Others strongly promoted flyers. Yet others only believed in Newspaper ads (this was 2008). So it was no wonder I found all of this pretty confusing as a newbie. What I didn't realise that if I ran zero marketing, I had zero prospects to speak to, and therefore, I had zero chances of closing and earning money. Every Business needs Leads. In other words, it wasn't enough to be running any marketing; I had to learn to do effective Marketing that brought me not only prospects, but more importantly, paying clients. When you have the right marketing working in your favour, you'll have an overabundance of business, which is a good problem to have!
- QUALIFIED Prospects: I wasted a ton of my time working with unqualified prospects. Because I was blindly following every other agent I saw around me, I left a lot of things to chance. I was wrongly taught that it was 'a number's game'. I was agreeing to meet up with anyone and everyone. I grabbed any chance for a meeting without question and without thinking twice. And my conversions suffered. Somehow, I couldn't seem to be in front of the kind of prospects that I wanted to work with. Instead, I ended up talking to prospects who were angry, annoyed, insulting, aggressive, 'bo chup' etc. I was working with Nightmare Prospects. What I didn't realise at the time was that qualified prospects tend to close themselves without much work on the salesman's part. They were very easy to work with. I realised I just had to build a better filter in order to qualify prospects before I even agreed to work with them. Honestly, it had more to do with my own lack of courage in turning away bad prospects. I was scared. I was afraid of losing the opportunity. This changed the day I grew up a backbone and decided that this madness had to end. My sanity was at stake here! And a nice side effect of refusing to see unqualified prospects was that my closing rates suddenly shot up! You should focus on qualified prospects too!
- CONSISTENT Follow Up: Today I know that Follow Up is EVERYTHING. How I wish I knew this when I was new. That's because over a period of 2 years, I failed to reconnect with or otherwise touch base with roughly about 4,049 prospects that I had generated with my marketing and advertising. One day I was listening to Dan Kennedy's talk on fixing holes in your business. Basically, Dan was saying that there are hidden leaks in a business that the owner never knew existed. One of the biggest leaks was to do with insufficient follow up. 80% of sales took place after the first initial call. All we had to do was to fix the missed follow up. So I sat down and actually analysed it. I realised almost all my money was wasted, simply because I was losing business to others by neglecting to follow up! Not building a list of my own to follow up with was the biggest business mistake I made in Real Estate. I wrongly assumed I could simply buy lists from online list sellers and shoot them SMSes and emails whenever I had listings or projects to market. Bad mistake. It took me near-failure to realise that the money was in the List. That was the time my list saved me from going nearly bankrupt and propelled me back to the top. But having consistent follow up is one of the hardest jobs to do, unless you have a systematic way to do it. If not, you'll always start each year from scratch, fighting with everyone else for the same dwindling pool of active buyers and sellers. It's a Red Ocean! When you follow up consistently with your past prospects, you have an advantage over other agents!
- AMAZING Customer Service: Customer Service is highly underrated in our industry. When I say customer service, I don't mean occasionally sending your clients cheap Christmas cards or wishing them on Chinese New Year. Customer Service to me means doing my job as a realtor to 100% Satisfaction of my Clients. How do I qualify and quantify what exactly 'satisfaction' is? Well, I asked my customers what was important to THEM. And then I served them around those criteria. Doing that created fans for me. Why was that important? Because I wanted my clients to come back again to me in future. Buying a home is a very lengthy process, and on average, it takes about 5-7 years for someone to reenter the market in order to buy or sell a house. That is a pretty long time. So I wanted them to think of me the minute they decided to buy another house or sell their current home. That way, I didn't have to spend additional money acquiring them as a lead; now they already came to me for free! Providing amazing customer service to my clients ensured they did not hire another agent, even if he was their very own uncle, brother or son! From now on, provide stellar service!
- BUILDING Relationships: In real estate, a slowdown in business is virtually guaranteed. Everyone knows Property is cyclical in nature. Yet everyone pretends he's different and that he won't be affected. And realtors still panic with the first signs of an oncoming slowdown. One of the best ways that I've found in order to cushion yourself in economic slowdowns is to do business with referrals. It simply makes sense to keep your business pipeline always full. It is building relationships with your clients that actually sustains you in those tough times when many realtors quit. That was certainly the case with me. It was very reassuring when some of my past clients used my services again. When you have done a great job servicing your clients, you set the stage for a great relationship. Like any relationship, it requires careful nurturing on your part and this a long-term process. You can never build lifetime friendships in just days. It's the same with your referrals. Remember, referrals are FREE. They come to you from a powerful recommendation of your clients. It costs ten times to get a new customer than existing customers to do business again with you. So, start building relationships already!
- The RIGHT Team: I didn't realise how critical having the right team member was until my business almost got destroyed virtually overnight, all because of one mediocre agent. She was the weakest link. Because I never had been in a managerial position before in life, I never knew how to lead, attract, keep and grow the right team. I just expected them to somehow know what I wanted them to get done. Even my own upline was no different. Years later, I realised, actually it wasn't really our fault! Nobody taught us realtors how to manage people! All we were preoccupied with was selling houses. Not becoming better managers. Little wonder I still see realtors struggling with running a team. So why is a team important? It's so that they can take off your load and allow you the freedom to do what you love. Your income will grow because of multiple streams of passive income. More revenue sources than just your own hard work. Ultimately, everyone wants to have a team. You just need to learn the right way to build one!
- The RIGHT Systems: Hard work alone cannot sustain you in the long term; you'll need a reliable vehicle. The real estate profession is a marathon, not a sprint; yet that's exactly how most agents still work and then predictably proceed to get burnt out fast. And even I myself knew no better in those days. Only after I felt severely burnt out one day in 2010 that I realised that I was not superhuman. I had limits. No matter how much I wished to sell 200 homes in a year, it wasn't physically possible; I had reached my ceiling. Only a system could free me up. And I saw the magic firsthand the day I turned my system on. For the first time in years, I was able to totally relax, while enjoying the income and lifestyle that I wanted. I went on to share that system with my upline and then my close circle of realtors, who liked it so much that they really owned it. And I witnessed their lives and businesses transform over the years. Bottom line, you need a system to free you up, otherwise you'll stay a slave to your business!
- Getting COACHED: I resisted getting coached by a mentor for years. I suspected that most coaches only want to make money off you and deeply resented the fact that they usually had an ulterior motive for wanting to help me out. I also witnessed my upline's division boss favouring property agents with better sales performance over me, and I remember feeling a sense of unfairness at the time. It was just like the rich getting richer while the poor staying poorer. But I realised that having the right mentor was actually a much better shortcut than trying to figure things out blindly, without a GPS and getting knocked hard into unseen walls. Sure, there were mediocre coaches who sold only motivation, but I wanted someone who had been there before me, faced the exact same challenges as me and then successfully overcame them. In short, a coach got me results much faster than I could on my own. Why? Because you don't know what you don't know! Only a coach could see my flaws that I was blind to. I was too close to myself to see my own flaws! I needed a mirror to see myself; a mentor was that mirror. And once I found one such mentor, it took me only 6 weeks to triple my results, where previously I had been struggling for years, stumbling around on my own. He rapidly accelerated the time to see real results. So, having the right coach to shortcut your journey matters a lot!
So, there you have it... 10 things I ought to have known when I was a new realtor.
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Yasser Khan is a real estate coach, speaker, and trainer at YasserKhan.SG who teaches Realtors how to make more Money, have more Time and enjoy more Freedom without all the B.S.
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