This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. All month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to drive growth in 2022. It’s always smart to go Back to Basics with Inman.
I love new agents. I love their energy. Their passion. Their courage. Real estate is an extraordinary industry, and, in some ways, I think this is one of the most amazing times to jump in.
In other ways, there is more competition than there has ever been, which is all right because there are also more resources for new agents than there have ever been.
One of my top pieces of advice from the get-go, before we dive into the “stuff you should ignore,” is to be careful who you take advice from. For example, don’t take financial advice from someone who isn’t financially comfortable. Don’t take business advice from someone who doesn’t have an established and thriving business, and don’t take real estate advice from an agent who is not at a level you wish to aspire to.
Most people who offer advice are well-meaning. Not all are – but most. Even so, you’ll want to take your lead from those who lead the way by example.
All that said, you may hear some of the following suggestions as you start your real estate journey; here’s my take on them:
‘Do it the way it’s always been done.’
We’ve come light-years from the “way it’s always been done.” One of the things that meant in the past was learning “hard close” strategies such as “find a pain point and leverage it.” Don’t do that.
People don’t want to be sold, talked down to or leveraged. They want to work with a trusted professional who can coach them to make great decisions for their families.
Top agents never stop evolving. Our industry, technology and even how we communicate are constantly changing. To get ahead and stay ahead, be ready, willing and eager to evolve and consider “new ways” throughout your career and life.
‘It takes money to make money.’
I get investing in yourself, and there are certain things that you must invest in when you first start. However, the idea that you have to pour cash into marketing as a new agent just doesn’t fly. I’m a big fan of not spending money if you don’t have to.
The best thing you can do as a new agent is: Get comfortable being uncomfortable with prospecting and master the phones. Picking up the phone to call FSBOs, expireds, and people in your sphere will cost you nothing but earn you a very good living once you get the hang of it and get consistent at it.
Door-knocking is the same thing. It won’t cost you anything to introduce yourself to the folks in your neighborhood farm and offer a Neighborhood Market Report, which is a family-friendly way of saying Comparative Market Analysis.
Hosting open houses is another great way to help build your brand and business without doling out a lot of dollars. Once you’re established and build your bottom line, it’s totally appropriate to start investing in direct mail marketing and advertising. While you’re getting started, take a more frugal approach as you allow your coffers to grow.
I will never be a fan of memorized scripts because they only work when the other person knows their part. Instead of “scripts,” we prefer to teach dialogues to help agents communicate more effectively.
One of the biggest problems with memorized real estate scripts is that they completely take agents out of the present when they are having a conversation. When you’re worried about getting out your whole spiel and what you will say next, paying attention to what is happening right in front of you is tough.
To get the best results in your real estate conversations, speak from your heart, not your head. Actively listen, ask questions and learn about what your prospects or clients need and are committed to. Use metaphors and analogies to actively engage with your prospects more effectively.
‘Only work with buyers when you are starting out.’
One of the biggest reasons agents start out as buyer’s agents at the beginning of their career is because they think it’s easier. Many believe that working with buyers feels less like “selling” and more like serving. While I love helping agents work with buyers, and teaching them to only work with them when they have a Buyer Agency Agreement in place, I prefer for new agents to learn good listing skills first.
The bottom line is that you are building a real estate business and the primary product of that business is real estate. If you were going to open up a donut shop, what would you want first – the customers or the donuts? The donuts. No donuts, no customers.
When you are the listing agent, you will have a stronger business foundation and be more in control of your time and income. Start with listings, then add in buyers if you like. My recommendation is to have 75 percent of your business come from listings and 25 percent from buyers.
‘Call until you “get one.”‘
Old school real estate training put agents on the phones, and their instruction was to “call until they got one.” In other words, until they got a listing appointment.
While I love teaching agents how to build their phone skills effectively, I don’t think prospecting calls should be about “getting” or “taking.” When your only goal is to get an appointment, you set up a win/lose scenario. Get an appointment, and you’re a winner. Don’t get the appointment, and you feel like a loser.
With that backdrop, it’s not hard to see why so many agents come to despise phone prospecting practically on day one. Make your goal about serving the person on the other end of the line. Build rapport and cultivate a connection.
When you come from a place of service, you create a win-win, and you’ll feel more authentic and confident in your calls because you’re not looking to “get” anything. People can sense that.
‘You can build your database later.’
Yes, you can build a database later, but it’s much harder. One of the things that I think is incredibly sad to see is how many agents fall out of this business when the market makes a shift because they do not have a book of business that they can rely on. Without a database, you will always be a transactional agent, always looking for your next deal.
When you have a database of the people in your sphere of influence, you can more easily stay in touch and stay top of mind which is the key to longevity in this business. The more people that know you, like you and trust you, the more business you will attract. That doesn’t happen unless you consistently stay in touch, and that doesn’t happen unless you have a system to manage your database.
When agents decide to wait until “later” to put their client base together, they often find themselves too busy to do it or feel like it is an enormous task. Conversely, agents who start out building their client base from the beginning don’t have that huge mountain to climb, and they grow their database organically as they go. That gives them a more solid foundation to stand on than being transactional.
I hope this helps, and I sincerely wish you well on your new real estate journey. Don’t get discouraged, don’t listen to those who tell you that you can’t, and don’t take advice from those who can’t back it up with experience and results.
I’ll add one more piece of wisdom that I’ve learned along the way that has helped so many agents throughout the years. “Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s hard.” Don’t try to take it all on at once.
It’s all right to be a beginner. Give yourself the grace to be that. It’s OK to be in a state of learning. In fact, it’s more than fine. The savviest agents are lifetime learners.