I’m often asked what a salesperson can do to get up and running when they’re just starting out or to make their business better than it has been. Boy, that’s always been a tough question to answer, because there are soooo many ways to answer it. But I’ve come up with a list of what I believe are the top 10 changes anyone can easily make to get themselves moving in the right direction to ensure they have a stable and predictable sales business.
1. Know yourself
The first step in making a move in any direction is to know where you are at the start. In growing a business that means knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Analyzing these factors can help you make better decisions about how you want to run your business.
What are you good at, and not just in sales related strengths? What can you use to your benefit? What advantages do you have over your competition and what do you do better than anyone else, your Unique Selling Proposition or Competitive Edge? Do you have unique resources you can draw upon that others can’t? What factors mean that you “get the sale“? Understanding your strengths will help you
Conversely, in what areas do you find yourself weak? Where can you improve? Be honest, we can all do things better! What should you avoid doing? What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses? What factors cost you sales? Understanding your weaknesses will make it easier to define the training, support and assistance you’ll need to overcome the barriers to taking your business where you want it to be.
2. Plan your work, work your plan
You wouldn’t try to build a house without drawings and plans (at least I hope not). You wouldn’t build a plane without very specific plans (at least not one I’d fly in). Successful businesses require every bit as much planning.
A comprehensive business plan has many components, far more than we need go into in this discussion, but all follow a clear sequence. First you need to set goals for yourself; financial, personal and professional. These goals need to be specific. They must be measurable. “I want to be the best…I can be,” is not specific, nor is it measurable. “I want to earn X dollars,” “I want to complete the following courses,” are both specific and measurable. Goals also need to be achievable and realistic and they must have a time frame for completion. Without a time frame, it becomes too easy to develop “I’ll-get-to-it-later-itis,” or procrastination. When setting time frames, keep in mind that there are three that need to be considered; long term – where you want to be in five years, mid term – your three year goals and short term – your one year goals. Setting goals gives you targets to hit.
Next you need to determine how much you need to earn to reach those goals. Say, for example, you want to earn $100,000 and you know that each transaction nets you $10,000. That’s 10 transactions.
You then need to determine how many people you need to speak to every day to get one transaction. Then it’s a matter of setting up a specific sequence of tasks required to ensure you’re going to speak to that many people every day.
3. It’s a numbers game
Once you’ve determined how many people you need to speak to, it’s important to remember that not everyone you meet, call, network with or otherwise pester is going to want to speak with you. Prospecting is nothing more than a numbers game. No matter how you do it; contacting your database, calling, doorknocking, using social media, networking, flyering, open houses, it doesn’t matter, it’s a numbers game. And you have to meet those numbers every day or you’re just not going to reach those targets.
4. Be comfortable with discomfort
Now that you understand that it’s a numbers game and that you have to sift through a lot of dirt to find the hidden nuggets of gold, it comes down to just doing it. Which is a lot easier said than done, isn’t it? Making those calls, going out and putting yourself in front of as many people as you need to in order to reach the number of contacts you need, asking for help or any other way you’ve chosen to meet your targets can be incredibly uncomfortable. You’re putting yourself out there and opening yourself to people saying no. Face it, rejection is tough to take. And it can stop you dead in your tracks if you let it. So the obvious answer is; don’t let it. And here’s where your paradigms, your way of thinking; the thought process you default to consistently, determine your ability to act or restrict your ability to get where you want to. Bob Proctor says, “To be able to shape your future, you have to be willing and able to change your paradigm.” In other words, if you truly want to move toward reaching a goal, you have to be willing to change the way you think about the things preventing you from achieving it; you must undergo a paradigm shift.
Now that you’ve recognized you must take action, you need to become comfortable with being placed in uncomfortable situations. Face the fear and take the action anyway. It’s only when we allow ourselves to enter our discomfort zone that we can make changes to our paradigms. Learning to accept that we must do things which make us uncomfortable and doing them despite the discomfort is the key to shifting our paradigm, to overcoming our fears and the paralysis they cause.
5. Develop Discipline
People don’t fail because of what they don’t know. They fail because they don’t put into action the things they already know they need to do, as much as they need to do them, as often as they need to do them. If you want to reach the goals you’re passionate about, you must make a conscious decision to do the things that need to get done and to do them consistently. You must develop the self-discipline required to make that first, often painful, move out of your comfort zone and then maintain that momentum.
First, you have to come to grips with the fact that you are where you are because you’ve done things the way you’ve done them, for good or bad. And if you’re not where you want to be, recognize that you need to change the way you’re doing things. That’s the first step.
The next step is to create a strategy that takes you in the direction you want to go, in a very systematic way. “First, I need to do this. Then I need to do this…” And this brings us back to the second step in our list, Plan your work and work your plan.
6. Follow a schedule
One of the basic concepts to understand about time management is that time is finite. There’s only a specific amount of time in each day and it’s essential that priorities be managed. When you fill your life with trivial things, you limit the amount of time you have for the important ones. However, when you fill your life with important things, you can still find time for the less important ones.
The whole point of this is to make sure that you work on what Brian Tracy calls the ‘VITAL FEW’ tasks rather than on the ‘TRIVIAL MANY’. Once you’ve established the priorities, your Vital Few, the most difficult part of managing your time will be to ensure that the Time Vampires don’t take hold of you. Avoid the pitfalls of trying to do too many things at once, putting off things just because they’re unpleasant or large, allowing people or other things to get in the way of completing the priority task or forgetting why you’re doing what you’re doing. You must hold yourself accountable and be strict about it.
Remembering that your first priority in real estate is lead generation, it only makes sense to schedule the first appointments in the morning, when your energy levels are at their greatest, for prospecting.
Traditionally, lead generation is done in the mornings and lead follow up is handled in the early afternoon, at which time your energy is usually somewhat reduced. Schedule slots after lunch for your lead follow up. The rest of the day can then be used for appointments.
We’ll look at the intricacies of scheduling in another post.
7. What you don’t know can hurt you
As I said in the first part of this post, know your weaknesses. Ever gone to a seminar and suddenly realized, “Wow, I didn’t know that”? What you don’t know can hold you back from making that one small change that allows you to significantly grow your business. And even more that that, what you don’t know you don’t know can have a significant influence on your ability to provide even better service to your clients. Take advantage of any training your office offers, attend as many seminars and information sessions as you can fit into your schedule, get a coach, read and read and read some more or listen to audio books. You never know where or when the next nugget will pop up and you’ll be off to the races.
8. Systems, Systems, Systems
What do really successful REALTORs® do differently than the less successful ones? They do the same thing, every time, for everyone. They have systems in place that ensure that things aren’t overlooked or missed or skipped. They have a sequence of events mapped out for every listing, every buyer, every offer and every marketing effort. Having everything systematized means that you can spend more time doing the things that produce money, like prospecting and networking, instead of the things that cost money, like designing marketing pieces or putting together and sending newsletters manually. And best of all, there’s really no secret systems. There may be some slight differences in the order or specific action, but they’re all basically the same. If you’d like some examples go to the Silver Bullet Downloads page. There are loads of them there.
9. Underpromise and Overdeliver
True sales mastery is about providing outstanding service to your clients. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it and in a way that makes people sit up and take notice. As Richard Robbins says, “Deliver the Unexpected.” Go above and beyond what the average agent does. Give people a reason to want to work with you again and to want to refer anyone they know to you.
10. Act in an Ethical manner at all times
As REALTORS®, we subscribe to a Code of Ethics. However, our day to day interactions with the public and our colleagues are ruled by something even higher. The “Golden Rule” says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In real estate, that concept becomes of the ultimate importance as you’ll be dealing with colleagues, clients, and service people and want to make sure that you develop a reputation that you can be proud of. There’s nothing that destroys a REALTOR®’s reputation faster than taking a less than ethical or flagrantly nonchalant approach to your dealings with others.
I’m sure there are more keys to success, but I’ve found that if you concentrate on these, you’ll be well on your way to having an incredibly successful career.