For years I’ve seen it happen.
A new wave of agents gets into the business filled with enthusiasm and ready to sell, sell, sell. A couple years later, many are looking for a new line of work. Based on my observations the dropout rate for agents within two years is about 90%.
To be honest, I struggled for years to find the right direction and maximize my efforts. Now, I realize what the issue was for me and, I believe, for many that get into this business.
It comes down to this: Simple does not mean easy
I want you to let that sink in for a minute because understanding this concept is key to winning in this business.
Let me explain.
At its essence, real estate is a simple business. You have clients that want to sell their home, and clients that want to buy a home.
Add to this the fact that you don’t need to go to school to start selling. The barrier to entry is low. You need to commit some time, put down a little bit of money and within a couple of months, you can sell multi-million-dollar homes.
Sure, on the surface. But dive below and you will soon discover there’s much more that goes into becoming a successful a real estate agent. Unfortunately, most don’t see it. Instead, they get into the game with the perception that selling is going to be easy. Many misjudge the time and planning required to make this occupation successful and rewarding. They see agents selling home after home but can’t (or don’t want) to see the thousands of hours those same agents put in to be able to sell all the homes. They don’t realize how fast things can go sideways and the pressures that can arise.
Many new agents come into the business overconfident as to what it’s going to take and ill-equipped to deal with the roadblocks and challenges that all of us encounter. And, as a result, the majority of agents crash and burn. 90% are gone within two years…
So, what do you need to do to increase your odds of survival?
If you’re a new agent that’s serious about this career choice or someone that has been in for a few years but you haven’t hit your stride, I’m going to spend the rest of this post sharing some insights that have helped me throughout my career.
But before I get into this, let me give you a bit of my background. I’ve been in the real estate game my entire life. Both of my parents sold real estate and my mom never wanted me to get into the business. It wasn’t a “reputable” career. She had me pegged for an attorney, a doctor, or at least an engineer. But that wasn’t for me.
Throughout my years I’ve built teams, won awards and last year alone did over $130 million in sales. I’ve made a good life for myself… and what I’m going to share are some of the pillars, I have fallen back on time and again that have helped me. Maybe they can help you.
The three things are: Understand the value you bring. Build your relationships, build your pipeline. Play the long game.
Now, let’s go deeper into each one.
1. Understand The Value You Bring
Without a doubt, this is one of the most important things you can do to help your career. Period. End of story. And yet…it’s one of the hardest things to do.
When I sit down with a new agent looking for some advice, this is always one of the first questions I ask. And honestly most struggle to articulate the value they deliver. I get it – hell, it took me nearly 10 years and a lot of trial and error before I figured it out.
Now, ten years is a long time. It might only take you a year. For someone reading this right now, they might already have it nailed. So, whether it’s 10 years, 2 months or somewhere in between you owe it to yourself to find it.
I’m convinced that without it you are just another agent with little to distinguish you from any other agent. In other words, you are just a percentage point. No different than anyone else. Now, an agent that understands the value that he or she is bringing...well, that’s someone that stands out.
Can you succeed without it? Sure. But you’re going to be selling yourself short and, leaving money on the table, and, most importantly, not living up to your full potential.
Ok, so how do you do you go about finding your value?
It requires a healthy dose of self-awareness. You need to be able to assess where your strengths are, and the kind of agent you want to be. Are you an agent that is comfortable working in a high-volume type of space, or do you want to focus on the upper end of the market? Both work, both require a different skill set. Are you better in a team setting or working solo?
Additionally, you may find that what was working for you a few years ago isn’t right for you going forward. And so, things need to change.
Understanding your value comes from doing a lot of different work, selling in different environments and ultimately finding the fit right for you. And once you have it, your value will separate you from the pack and keep you focused on the kind of work you enjoy and excel in. It becomes the roadmap for where you want to go in your career and will help you make better decisions about the type of clients you want and the ones you are willing to walk away from (more on that point later).
That’s part one. There’s another part to all of this.
Once you understand the value you bring, you need to find the ways to let clients and potential clients know. There’s an art to this. Talk too much about your value and you are going to turn people off. Don’t talk enough about it and clients will never understand what makes you different.
In my work, I have a face-to-face meeting with each potential new client. We sit down across from one another and I explain to them the value I’m going to deliver in the relationship. I use this meeting to make an impression to give them a sense there is a lot more happening with me versus an agent that is getting a key and opening a door.
And at the end of the meeting, one of two things is going to happen. They will like what they hear, understand what separates me from others and decide to work with me, or they don’t see the value and decide to go somewhere else.
For me, either way, is a win. If they walk this probably wasn’t going to be a good match down the road. Better to pull the chord earlier in the process versus dragging things out and end up spending too much time and energy chasing something that is never going to work out.
But let me be totally upfront with you. The first few times I went through this process and the client decided to bounce, I freaked out. In my head, I began to second guess myself and I started wondering if my commission was too high. Maybe my approach was all wrong? Maybe what I thought was my value…wasn’t. All of these things started flooding over me. Sometimes I did end up making compromises just to close the deal…and the reason I did it was out of fear. Fear that I needed the sale. Fear that I wouldn’t be able to close another deal because I didn’t have a pipeline of clients. And that leads me to my second pillar.
2. Cultivate Your Relationships… Fill Your Pipeline
The name of the game in sales is keeping your pipeline full. When you do, it provides options and leverage. It allows you to focus on the right type of clients – the ones that will help build your business down the road. And conversely, having a full pipeline provides you with the option of walking away if and when a client is not working out.
Without a constant stream of prospects, every sale and interaction become critical. I know – I have been in that situation. You begin to get desperate and start to make compromises you know are bad for your brand and your business, but you do it anyway because you feel you need the sale. When too much is riding on one deal…you are not in a good place. You have lost your leverage.
A strong and healthy network can keep business flowing. Simple, right? But there are a few things you need to keep in mind as you go about building your network. The first is this. It’s going to be hard work and it never ends. Building a reliable network that can sustain you requires constant management and attention. But if you want to get to the point where you are not only surviving day-to-day but growing you have to be constantly working on building your network.
But please keep this in mind: A relationship isn’t just about what someone else can do for you
If you want to build, maintain and eventually utilize this network, then you need to give more than you ask. Simple concept…but hard for people to execute.
Because we are too focused on ourselves. We think everyone in the world is into our story, our business, our sales quota. They’re not! They don’t give a shit. They care about themselves and their needs. Especially when you are just starting out. New agents think friends and family will decide to work with them based solely on the relationship. Rarely does that happen. People are going to be making one of the largest investments of their lives...they look for a person who has experience.
To build a long-term relationship, think about it this way: Give, give, give, give before you make an ask. Gary Vaynerchuck calls it a "jab-jab-jab-right hook".
And start by going the extra mile with your current clients. Do the unexpected, extend yourself. Be memorable and stand-out. You want to build a network…start by over delivering with every client you touch.
Next, there’s Dunbar’s Law of 150. This law states we have a limit as to how many stable social relationships we can maintain. I’m bringing this up because agents need to know there’s a ceiling as to how big they can build their network. Developing the kind of relationships that are strong enough where someone will take the time to write a review for you or recommend you to others or meet you for a cup of coffee, requires work. And you won’t be able to do it for everyone. But if you focus, and actually care about your group -- 150 is more than enough to build and grow your business.
In a follow-up post, I’ll share with you some of the tactics I use to stay connected to my network.
3. Play The Long Game
Those that come into real estate with the idea this is an easy business many times fall into the trap that there are quick wins to be made. Rarely is that the case. I’ve seen plenty come in get a few sales under their belt and think how easy the real estate game is. And then the game turns. Leads dry up. Clients change their mind. Shit happens and suddenly it’s a different situation.
This is a marathon, people. And business is going to ebb and flow. So, if you are sincere about making real estate sales your profession and not just a side hustle – you have to be thinking long-term. This isn’t a hobby business.
Now, when I talk about this sometimes there is confusion as to what I mean. Some take it the long-term means a more…casual approach to business. Let me make sure you understand that IS NOT WHAT I’M SAYING.
Playing the long game means you have to realize things have a natural rhythm and progression. Things can’t be rushed but that doesn’t mean go slow. Quite the opposite. You have to hustle like hell day in and day out to make those things happen and stir up opportunities. But you just can’t stir things up. There needs to be follow-up and more follow-up. Then developing connections, and on and on…
The long game does not mean slow… it means moving as fast as you can for as long as you can. And when you come across challenges, as we all do, understanding the value you bring, having a network to draw from and understanding you are running a marathon will help you, not only get through it but come out even stronger.
A final thought. At the Sereno Group, we have a saying: Crawl, Walk, Run. It means you can’t walk before you crawl and you can’t run before you walk. It’s another simple concept but one that’s not always easy to follow. We live in an instant gratification, get it done yesterday world – crawl before you walk is hard to do. Our inclination is to assume we can start running. Here’s my advice – patience. Some things can’t be rushed. Some things need to simmer on the back burner until they’re ready. Simple, right?
Sure, but not always easy…
Want to dive a little deeper into the long game? Check on this video on the topic.
I hope some of this has helped or at a minimum stopped you long enough to think about things in a different way. Share with me your thoughts, comments, and questions. I’ll take them all. Thanks, you for your time.