We all tell our potential clients that we can “net them the most” or “get their home sold in the shortest time”, or “find you the best home”. But what REALLY distinguishes a great agent from a mediocre agent? What is the difference between a successful agent and a struggling agent? After some reflection, I can sum up the difference with these three words; SKILLS, SERVICE, TRUTH.
In order to be a successful real estate agent, you will need to develop the skills required to gain clients. Without clients you have no business, so skills should be the foundation of your business and the most important thing that new agents or agents looking to grow need to focus on. There are many, many ways to get clients in real estate – from “old fashioned” techniques such as door-knocking or cold-calling to the multitude of online lead generation techniques.
Whichever method you choose to generate your leads, though, there are commonalities and that is that you will need to learn what to say once you are in front of a lead – whether in person, on the phone, or online. Learning what to say will set you apart from the average agent who bumbles through their own attempts at gaining a client’s business. Let’s be clear, we are in a sales business so your message must be tailored at making a sale. By “making a sale” I mean you have made a sale when a client chooses to use your services. I see too many agents make the mistake of thinking that by just “being myself” and “being a good person” they will be successful agents. I can contest that every top-producing agent uses scripts and dialogues to make a sale – get comfortable with scripts and dialogues to propel your real estate career.
If you are using more modern lead gen techniques like online lead gen, you will focus more on the messages you are using in your drip campaigns and your messages used in online marketing and ads. At some point, though, you will need to talk to people so learning the skills required to convert online leads to physical clients will be critical to your success.
Learning skills is like building muscle – have you ever made a gym commitment and become frustrated that your “new body” isn’t happening as quickly as you had hoped? Developing skills is like that. If you are hyper-focused on developing skills and attack your skill development daily for a concentrated period of time, you can develop skills quickly. This is, however, very challenging and just like someone looking to go from overweight to fitness competitions in a short period of time – it will take a toll on you. I usually recommend that agents make skill development a part of their routine day. Just as adding daily exercise will eventually lead to improved physical health, daily skill development will lead to improved lead conversion and a healthier bank account!
Sometimes we, as Agents, can be mislead into thinking that price is the most important thing clients are looking for. The reality is those who provide the best service will always build a better long-term business. What does it mean to provide great service?
Communication – probably the single most important aspect of providing exceptional service is being able to communicate effectively with your clients. When polled, communication consistently comes up as the reason someone chose to work with an agent again, AND why clients chose NOT to work with an agent they used in the past.
Selling your home can be a nerve-wracking experience. As an agent, we often forget how difficult the process is for the homeowner. We go through the process from a salespersons view – preparing the listing, gathering photos, posting on MLS, marketing, etc. The homeowner wants to know (usually INSTANTLY) how the viewings went, if there was any interest, if their home is getting attention from buyers, and what should they be doing next?
If you can set up a great communication plan with your clients this will take care of most of your service needs. For example, we often pre-templated all of our communications in email or phone so that when a listing is taken we didn’t need to *think* about what communications should we be having with our client, we would rely on our PROCESS to ensure we were communicating the same way and the same amount with every client. We developed our process by going through a planning exercise to determine what touch-points a client should have during the process. When someone lists their home, for example, and you drive home with a signed listing contract – what is the next communication? Do you talk to them the next morning, do you not communicate for a few days? If you create a communications plan perhaps you have a templated email that says, “Congratulations on listing your home with the Home Selling Team. We are excited about getting your home on the market and getting it SOLD! The next steps you can expect will include…”. If a client received this type of email the next morning followed by a phone call from you or your administrator shortly after, do you think they would feel much more comfortable about the listing contract they signed the evening before?
Service includes communication but what else is included in providing exceptional service? How about being available to answer their call or get back to them in a short period of time? How about actually doing what you say you are going to do? If you say to them you will have someone come over today to install a lawn sign and it doesn’t get done, would that diminish the client’s trust in you just a little? If you say that marketing materials will be delivered to their home between 2-4pm today but they don’t arrive until 6pm when they are having dinner, do you think this will make them question (even just a little) your competence?
So hopefully you can see that providing exceptional service includes communication, responsiveness, and doing what you say you are going to do. Keep your clients “in-the-loop” throughout the process, be responsive to their needs, communicate effectively, and do what you say you are going to do. Wherever possible, create a checklist, process, and templates to ensure you maintain consistency. Consistency will lead to repeatability and allow you to repeat exceptional service without putting too much thought into what you’ve done or not done. When you have one listing it is relatively easy to provide exceptional service – but if you think bigger and ask yourself how can you provide exceptional service if you have 20, 30, or 50 listings at a time… you will develop a way for yourself to provide consistently exceptional service for your clients – and this will lead to long-term relationships and many more referrals.
“The truth hurts”. Have you ever heard this expression? Many people live in an ideal reality – where what we want to happen is often a utopian view of life. When you discover the truth it is often disappointing or challenging to handle. Have you ever had a Seller that wanted to list their home for more than you recommended? Of course you have – this happens nearly every time. Their utopian vision of what they would like to sell their home for is often much different from the reality of where their home will actually sell. Have you ever had a Buyer who has their dream home in mind with a budget that clearly doesn’t fit that reality? Sure you have. First thing to understand is that this is natural. I often joke that Realtors are the worst sellers – they are usually overpriced and have just as difficult a time accepting the reality of the market as the public (if not more).
Earlier I spoke about skills and the importance of skills in obtaining and converting leads. When I look at top-producing agents around the globe and I compare a top-producing agent to a SUPERSTAR agent – I’m talking about agents selling 50, 75, 100 and even 300+ homes each year – the skill that these agents have over other agents is their skill (or ability) of telling people the TRUTH.
You may think you are an honest person – and you probably are – but are you telling your clients the truth all the time? When they say to you, “I’d like to try it at this price then we can look at reducing later” do you accept this in order to take the listing? Or do you tell them the truth – that doing this carries risks that they could lose money. When you have a Seller lead do you tell them upfront what their home is REALLY likely to sell for or do you know you’re competing with other agents who will price it high so you tell the Seller they can sell at a price that isn’t realistic in order to take the listing?
Telling the truth comes with risks as a salesperson… the more truthful we are, the more risk we have in losing that client. Let’s face it, if a client is living with a utopian view of the sales process and we come in and tell them the truth – they will likely be put-off by that, right? Sure, some clients may appreciate your truthful message immediately, however most clients are going to feel that your advice (although 100% truthful) comes across as negative or pessimistic. I’ve even been accused of pricing homes low just so that it would be easier for me to sell because I’m lazy and don’t want to work for a higher-priced sale. I won’t argue with that… given the option to sell a home quickly versus sitting on the market a long time – I’ll choose quickly every time.
We know the truth, right? We study homes and prices every day, right? We know what price a home is likely to sell for, right? So if you develop the skill of telling the truth – in a way that won’t lose clients – you will be propelled from good to great.
So how do I develop the skill of telling the truth? The key to this skill is simple, but not easy. I can tell you the secret to telling the truth but to implement it – when a great listing or buyer is on the line – is one of the most difficult skills to master. In order to truly be able to tell clients the truth, YOU MUST BE WILLING TO LOSE IT. If you are not at all tied to the outcome of the conversation, or not tied to the outcome of the sale… if you are 100% comfortable if that client lists that home with someone else – you will be able to tell them the truth all the time. If there is even 1% of you that doesn’t want to lose the listing then you could bend the truth just a little… that’s the difference between a top-producer and a Superstar.
So who do you want to be? Do you want to be a Superstar Agent? Learn the skills needed to get and convert leads, develop a plan for providing absolutely exceptional service, and finally, learn to tell the truth with your clients and I’m 100% certain you will be on the path to great results and great wealth.