The road to real estate success is paved with strong connections, integrity, and a genuine focus on meeting the needs of the client
While many people say that “location, location, location” is the most important rule in real estate, when it comes to starting your business and keeping it strong for decades to come, the real name of the game is “connection, connection, connection.”
If you study top producers, the most successful agents always have a deep knowledge of the inventory. Their most important skill set, however, is their ability to build strong connections with the potential leads they meet.
The following “rules of the road” will help you maximize your connection with buyers and sellers, regardless of how long you have been in the business.
Rule 1: Focus on your clients, not the ‘me-me-me’ approach to marketing
Agents who market themselves by proclaiming they’re No. 1 in the market or who focus on their achievements are ignoring a critical principle when it comes to marketing and sales: WIIFM or “What’s in it for me?” Building connection begins with being focused on what matters most to your clients, not on how great you and your company are.
Rule 2: Listen and ask questions
Skilled networkers focus on asking questions, often using the words “how” or “what” as a way of discovering what they have in common with a potential client. For example, “Tell me what you like about working as a (fill in the blank?)” “How do you like to spend your time when you have a day off?” Commonality leads to connection which is the foundation for building trust and future referrals.
Rule 3: Always tell the truth, no matter how painful
Telling the truth is critical to building trust. There will be times throughout your real estate career when you may not want to disclose what’s wrong with the house, when a client asks you to compromise your integrity, or when you’re tempted to stay quiet when you need to speak up about an issue. It’s better to confront problems head-on. If you need help, speak to your manager or broker about how to handle the situation.
Rule 4: Show up and be 100% present
This means putting your phone on airplane mode or turning it off completely so you can devote 100 percent of your attention to your client. There’s nothing quite as aggravating as having your clients ready to transact and receiving a phone call, text, or notification that interrupts the closing process and causes your clients to change their minds.
Rule 5: Only do business with qualified buyers who agree to work with you exclusively
Because today’s market is especially difficult, make sure that any buyer you work with is pre-approved (not just pre-qualified) and agrees to work with you exclusively. If they’re looking with other agents or refuse to work with a lender to get pre-approval, don’t waste your time.
Rule 6: Focus on right-now business
In terms of setting priorities in your business, always focus on who is “closest to the money.” The priority for making this determination is “properties under contract,” “active listings,” “buyers who must transact in the next 30 to 90 days (usually referrals, expired listings, FSBOs, and relocation clients), and those who plan to transact more than 90 days from now.
Rule 7: Every client deserves the best possible service you can provide
A great lesson I learned from Jon Douglas early in my career was the following:
Whether a client has a $50,000 condominium or a 50 million dollar estate, they each deserve the highest, most competent, and professional services we can provide.
Rule 8: Under-promise and over-deliver
Agents often get into trouble when they promise their clients too much and fail to deliver on what they promised. For example, if a Seller wants a CMA and you think you can have it ready by 5:00 p.m. this afternoon, tell the Seller it will be ready at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow. That way, if you have an emergency, you still have plenty of time to complete the CMA.
If you finish the CMA early, you look efficient because you delivered it earlier than you promised.
When agents take listings, they should promise no more than 70 percent of what they think they can deliver, and then wow the client by delivering more than they promised.
Rule 9: Shut up and sell!
Keep your opinions to yourself. Instead, ask questions and take notes on what your clients say. I can’t tell you how many times I had clients who loved a house the way it was until the listing agent waxed on about how it could be remodeled based on her taste, not that of the buyers.
In fact, I remember showing my very first buyer a house that I thought they would hate. Turns out they purchased it because it reminded them of their grandmother’s house.
Rule 10: It’s their house, it’s their mortgage and it’s their decision
You are not the decision-maker. Instead, think of yourself as a “conduit of information.” Your goal is to provide your clients with the best possible information so they can make the best possible decision.
Rule 11: Don’t be attached to the outcome
This can be extremely difficult, especially if you need the commission to put food on the table for your family. This is why new agents should be prepared to go at least six to 12 months before they receive their first commission check. Again, your focus must always be providing the best possible service to each of your clients, regardless of what is going on in your personal life or financial situation.
Rule 12: Your job boils down to 6 words: Generate leads, convert leads, close transactions
There’s a saying that nothing happens until someone generates a lead. When you’re new in the business, spend every possible minute engaging in face-to-face lead-generation activities. Moreover, your lead generation time should have the same priority as going on a listing appointment. Never cancel it unless you would have done the same thing if you had a listing appointment.
The road to real estate success is paved with strong connections, integrity, and a genuine focus on client needs. These 12 rules of the road serve as guiding principles every agent should embrace, regardless of their experience level. Applying these principles consistently is critical to having a long-lasting, successful real estate career.
By Bernice Ross
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