I wrote a post a while back for our real estate business and life coaching site (www.nikkiandchris.com) and thought it might be good information to share with those of you in our seniors real estate community.
If you are intending to practice real estate sales for a while, consider what you will do differently so that you don’t make the same mistakes many other agents make in today's market!
Mistake #5: Not Connecting
No doubt technology is a "must have" in today’s business world and real estate is no exception. Clearly you know you have to get your name out there through marketing, and of course if you aren’t prospecting, you aren’t generating leads.
The key in all of these things, however, is CONNECTING with people and building relationships.
FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, postcards campaigns, calendars, 33 touch email programs, phone calls, networking groups, door knocking, and calling on for sale by owners and expired listings are ALL great ways to make contacts, but are you doing it for the sake of contacts only, or are you really CONNECTING?
The point of all these strategies is to build a relationship, which eventually (hopefully sooner than later) turns into a source of business opportunity.
In his book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, John Maxwell defines connecting as: “The ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”
If you are just randomly communicating without building a CONNECTION, you are probably feeling really frustrated in your efforts. Whether building your personal, professional, or public platform, Connecting with people is what makes the real estate game work.
You might be saying, “But Nikki, I am an internet lead specialist and I generate a bazillion leads every single day from people I don’t even know through my handy dandy how powered internet marketing strategies.” And to you we say, “That rocks.” So now that you have all these names and email addresses, what is the next step?” Well, naturally the answer to that question is to build rapport with them through adding value and letting them get to know you so that when and if they need a real estate agent, they think of you (and call you!).
Every lead generation activity is about relationship building.
Even FaceBook is about connecting with people. The same thing can be said about technology as is said about money, “It is good for the good it does.”
Think about the act of calling on someone trying to sell For Sale by Owner (FSBO) or a person whose listing just expired (Expired Listing)... you aren’t calling on a building or an address, you are calling on a person. A person with goals, dreams, problems, and challenges. Chances are, if you are really good at this type of prospecting, you are a master connector.
BTW… You will find that the best scripts (the ones that work) are designed to create a connection quickly and naturally.
When you are going down your daily task list, ask yourself, “Am I connecting with people and building relationships?"
CONNECTING is Key.
Mistake #4: Generalizing vs. Specializing
We have all heard the phrase, “Jack of all trades and master of none.” This is true in the real estate business for sure. I even heard someone say the other day at a networking function, “Hi I am ____ with _____ and I specialize in helping people buy and sell homes.” Really? Specialize?? Isn’t that what EVERY Realtor in town does? How is that specialized?
It’s no wonder that Realtors feel strung out all the time in their lead generation efforts. When you look out your window and realize that every single individual person on the face of the Earth is a potential lead, it can blow your mind. Where to start? What to say? How do I connect?
That is the real question. How can you possibly connect with anyone and everyone in a meaningful way?
Face it — You can’t. No wonder you are tired.
What would happen if you had a clearly defined target market or speciality and were seen as the Expert so that people were calling YOU and seeking YOU out for advice and guidance? Would’t that feel great?
In order to become an Expert in your field you have to pick one area that by knowing more about it than anyone else YOU are the go-to person. Doing this provides a lot of benefits. Here are the top 3.
Have you ever heard someone say, “You should talk to my friend Bob. He specializes in helping people buy and sell houses.” No! But you may have heard something like this. “You should talk to my Nikki Buckelew about your mom. She is the only Realtor in town that knows everything there is to know about helping elders sell their long time family home, do an estate sale, and move into an assisted living community.”
Specializing sets you apart from the bazillion other agents in your market.
When newspapers, blog writers, and meeting planners need a quote or a guest speaker, they look for experts. They want someone who has something that no one else has. It also gives you the upper hand in driving web traffic and FaceBook conversations.
People remember the names of specialists. They rarely remember the names of a generalist.
Specializing helps you to focus your energy and time.
Knowing your ideal client allows you to focus your marketing message and your time. Instead of chasing every deal that you hear about, you know which ones fall in alignment with your personal goals, values, intentions, and strengths.
When trying to handle condos, commercial, rentals, and listings in far away reaches of your geographic knowledge base, you spend an excessive amount of time learning about those areas of the business.
By creating a specialty practice, you spend more time CONNECTING and serving clients rather than trying to learn everything about stuff that may only be used once in a blue moon.
You can still make money on those transactions, just refer them to an expert in that area. As a specialist working with senior clients, I often had top agents in my office refer to me their elderly and family estate-related clients. Naturally, I happily paid those agents a referral fee. They had no desire to hand-hold and they knew my entire system was set up to do just that.
True professionals recognize when they are out of their strength zone.
Think about your ideal client. Create a specialty. Be an expert.
Mistake #3: Learning the hard way
There are as many ways to be successful in real estate as their are real estate agents. If you were to talk to 100 different successful agents you would find some similarities in their businesses (foundational pieces) but you would also find that none of them operate exactly the same.
Several years back when the book, the Millionaire Real Estate Agent (MREA), came out we began hearing the phrase, “Follow the model.” Gary Keller had compiled the best practices of the best of the best in the industry and created a book that outlined the path to the 7th Level. This was a game changer for many of us in the real estate industry at the time, including us.
(It is my humble opinion that the MREA book and Keller's later book, SHIFT, are two must reads for any Realtor who plans to grow and maintain a successful real estate business).
There are some challenges, however, that I struggle with when coaching agents using these (and any model that touts a hard and fast formula for success).
Although there are foundational models that are universal, there are no two people alike. So even the implementation of the foundational models are going to be somewhat different for different people and different personalities.
Remember that all books were written during the market conditions for when they were published. The market changes. Case in point... the book Shift came out as a sequel to The Millionaire Real Estate Agent (MREA). Unfortunately, after the market shifted, there are still people quoting dogma from MREA that was no longer relevant, and if they had read SHIFT they would realize that “oh my gosh, there is a revision!”
Here is what I mean. The basic premise in the MREA is to build a successful real estate business that you can later either reap the benefits of passive income by letting someone else manage it or you could sell it (like we did). The 3 L’s, Leads, Listings, and Leverage are key to creating this 7th level business.
Question: Is having a 7th level business what you want?
If so, great. If not, then what do you want and which parts of the MREA model best serve YOUR VISION of your business? When coaching people on the MREA models and SHIFT principles, it became very clear that not everyone wanted to build a 7th level business. Some people just want to sell enough to fund their vacations, while others didn’t need the money at all and just wanted to positively impact the lives of others. They found that selling real estate fulfilled both their competitive and philanthropic needs.
So if your goal is not to build a 7th level business or to sell 100+ homes a year, do you need to follow ALL the MREA models exactly?
Answer: Yes and no.
Some of the teachings are just good common sense practices for any business owner and following them to the letter is necessary. Others incorporate the practices of a big team or a highly leveraged sales business. If that is not your goal, then you must know what you want and follow those practices that best fit your needs. It is not a one size fits all book, but what book is? Interpretation is key.
By the way, there are plenty of successful real estate agents in all parts of the world who do NOT follow the models outlined in the MREA book.
Consider asking yourself the following questions when someone starts to preach real estate dogma….
- Will running my business this way create joy in my life?
- Will running my business this way create profitability?
- Will running my business this way create joy AND profitability?
Don’t settle for less than a “HELL YES” when answering #3.
Mistake #2: Daily schedule not aligned with what matters most
This one is so NOT new. As a matter of fact, we will still have this one on our top 5 list 15 years from now and forever and ever and ever.
Realtors often get into real estate for freedom, flexibility, and financial prosperity. Many of them end up with freedom and flexibility, but miss out on the financial prosperity.
We talk with Realtors daily who go on and on and on about how busy they are and that there isn’t enough time in a day and that they need an assistant, and so on. The first thing we want to see after they share with us their goals and top priorities is their calendar (two weeks back and two weeks ahead).
It rarely surprises us these days to see that their calendar is either largely blank or includes only standing appointments and home inspections.
One of the hardest things to master in this business is your daily discipline of generating new leads. No matter how you shake it, without leads, you are out of business. So what could be more important than this part of the job? Well, let’s see. FaceBook status update, creating a flyer for this week’s open house, going to lunch at Broker tour, sitting in on yet another home warranty training class, and let’s not forget helping other agents in the office who are new.
Pick a distraction -- any distraction. It’s easy to not lead generate.
Agents will ask us to give them an outline of an ideal schedule. There isn’t one. The ideal schedule is the one where you are doing the 20% of what matters most 80% of the time.
Pick a time -- any time. Just do it. Daily.
Your 20% that matters most.
So what things are in the top 20% of mattering most? This is one thing from MREA that no one can argue. Not even me. In order to be successful, these are must do’s (albeit there are variations on HOW to do them).
Generating new opportunities (leads and connections). Actively. This means talking to people! Pick a strategy that works for you and just do it — daily.
Lead follow up and conversion. When you have leads, you must CONNECT and follow up consistently until they are ready to buy or sell.
Going on appointments. REAL appointments with real sellers, real buyers, and real referral sources. This DOES NOT include obligatory appointments with those not feeding your financial or opportunity pipeline (while sometimes important, they fall in your 80% and should be dealt with AFTER your 20% tasks).
Negotiating contracts. This is ultimately what your client hired you to do. Do it often and do it well.
Closing sales. This means making sure those contracts that you so effectively negotiated get to the closing table. Some of this can be delegated, but it is still ultimately your responsibility so don’t lose sight of the goal.
If these things are not on your calendar then you are missing the boat. What if you don’t have listing or buyer appointments that day? All the more time you have to be CONNECTING with people!
The truth is that if you are spending two or more hours a day actively connecting with potential sources of business, you will have ample appointments and more leads than you can handle.
You won’t have time for all the distractions.
Just Say NO to the distractions and say YES to doing the things necessary to achieve your goal.
What happens if you allow the distractions to eat into your productivity time?
Answer... Your family loses (every time).
Inevitably agents tell us that these are the top 3 priorities in their life:
- Time with family
- Successful business
- Health and wellness
Guess which 3 things are NOT in their calendars? You guessed it.
When you daily schedule lacks discipline, your family and your health and wellness lose every time. You will work late and sacrifice your kid’s soccer game, the beautifully prepared meal your spouse created, and the measly 30 minutes of daily cardio it would take for you to get rid of the love handles and boost your metabolism.
You know it’s true.
Ask yourself what you value most and then compare your answers to what your daily schedule looks like.
Mistake #1: Lacking a sense of purpose and passion
As we talk with agents from all markets including internationally, we see the same trend. People are working and working and working and they see no light at the end of the tunnel. They are feeling defeated, disheartened, and disillusioned.
When we ask them what their dream vacation is or what gets them excited and energized outside of work, they can’t answer the question!
No wonder people feel frazzled, burned out, disconnected, and frustrated.
Without a reason to be doing what we do, what’s the point? Paying bills? Buying groceries and gas? Keeping the creditors at bay?
Oh yea, that sounds exciting ... makes me want to jump out of bed and deal with people every day.
We are creative people. We literally create our lives moment by moment and day by day. The way we do that is by attracting the things into our world that we choose to attract. So, if you are feeling “stuck” it may be because you lack clarity around what you really want.
I was at a business women’s meeting and the host asked everyone to share a personal goal and business goal with the group. Most of the women had no trouble telling a business goal (although they lacked timelines or specific numbers) but several of them absolutely could NOT come up with a personal goal. By the way, “I want to just be happy and continue to grow my business” is NOT a goal — at least not one designed to create results.
What is your PURPOSE behind the work?
What are you PASSIONATE about?
Just paying the bills is not going to be enough to charge your batteries. Look beyond it. Look at once the bills are paid and the kids are through college, what then?
To create it, you must see it in your mind first.
Picture it in high definition.
Define it in full color.
You know what it is!
Let it out!
Dream out loud!
Go back and rekindle that passion you had before the kids came along, before the economy went to hell, before your mother in law got sick, before life circumstances caused you to put it on a back burner.
Light your soulfire!
When you start dreaming again, your business will turn around. I promise. Create some dreams, define your WHY in your life, and then set your goals. Not the other way around.
The Universe couldn’t care less that you want to sell 10 houses next month.
What the Universe wants to know is WHY it’s important to you!
Without a vision, a purpose, a passion that keeps your fire lit, it’s too easy to become distracted and scattered, to lose faith in the models and systems, chase every prospect that fogs a mirror, and hide out behind your Facebook status.
We have found that we can teach, coach, train and consult about things like scripts, dialogs, systems, models, lead generation, database management, social media, technology, team building and all the other topics for which real estate agents think they need coaching, but without a clear vision, a purpose, and a passion, no amount of coaching is going to help.
If you want success in real estate and a successful life, put first things first.
- Take care of you
- Honor yourself
- Stay in integrity
- Align with your spirit
- Find your passion
- Work in your zone of genius daily!
|Nikki Buckelew is the Founder and CEO of the Seniors Real Estate Institute and administrator for the Certified Senior Housing Professional® (CSHP) designation. A veteran REALTOR® of over two decades, she holds a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. As a professional speaker, coach, and trainer, Nikki is committed to empowering, equipping, and educating real estate sales and senior housing professionals seeking to better serve the mature market segment.