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An Agent’s Dirty Dozen of "Do Nots" - Part 1

November 04 2012

problems solutionsImagine life as an agent where the failure landmines have already been scouted, freeing you to focus on real estate. You immediately avoid 12 "Do Nots," saving you time, energy, exasperation and possibly your career.

Taken from years of experience consulting hundreds of agents across the nation, I have identified the top mistakes agents make and paired them with my most effective advice in order to create solutions you can readily apply. If you are afraid of prospecting, unsure about how much technology is enough, and frustrated that your day is more white hot treadmill than lucrative career, read on – it just might make a difference in your life.

Do Not...

1. Move too quickly or hardly move at all. There is an impatience with real estate licensees that creates an environment for making quick decisions on important topics. For example, they want a website, so they go online, search out an affordable template, pay the money and throw something out into cyberspace and they call it "good." Looking closely at the material, however, it is dated, obviously a template, does not reflect their personality, and often has clerical errors in the text. Or they go the other end of the spectrum and keep a to do list that never ever gets addressed. Making money is more important than building a sound business foundation.

  • Recommendation: Slow down and define exactly what is that you wish to achieve. Talk to your peers and get recommendations from trustworthy sources. Make your decision with research under your belt and your objectives clearly in mind.

2. Think prospecting is scary. There is nothing more disturbing than hearing a sales associate say they don't like approaching people they don't know, even if it is via a letter, postcard, social media or e-mail. Additionally, I've seen licensees waiting in the office for walk-in traffic or in-house referrals rather than being proactive in building their own businesses.

  • Recommendation: Sit down and create a sphere of influence list – those individuals you wish to make contact with on a regular basis. Divide those names into the following categories: (a) Advocates – People who can't wait to refer you to everyone they know; (b) People who know you and like you on a casual basis;  and (c) Those you wish to develop a relationship with, either from an association you belong to or a geographic area.

    While this may seem insurmountable to many associates, by starting with a sound list, it becomes easier to create a plan of action to build relationships with those individuals. A solid foundation of 200 names (including all contact information) is worth its weight in gold. Next determine what you will send to these different groups at least six times in an 18-month period. Why every six weeks or so? It is frequent enough to stay top of the mind with those prospects, but not too frequent that it annoys them.

3. Not understanding the value of a niche. Many licensee's marketing efforts use the "shot gun" approach - no clear idea or objective in mind, just paying money for billboards or mailings they can send out to random names in their list of contacts. In today's environment, a expert in your local real estate market is highly sought after.

  • Recommendation: It is human nature--people like to work with people they know, trust and understand. Often, it can be as simple as having the same interests like golf, swimming, children, etc. The critical aspect for sales associates to understand is that they will draw to them people who appreciate their ethics, point of view and interests. For example, seniors adore young people who respect them for the lives they have lived and they also appreciate other seniors who happen to specialize in real estate. Identifying who you know and what groups you want to be part of requires thought and true passion for whatever direction you decide to take. Dive in and become the only logical person to approach when someone thinks of the area of real estate you have chosen to be an expert in.

4. Cold on Technology. The real estate transaction of the future is changing daily. We are becoming more automated every day with apps, software, and internet options that are staggering to account for. Rather than identify the areas that technology can help them in facilitating a transaction and relationship, many agents simply shut down and refrain from exploring options that might work for them. I'm working now with a licensee who still hand-addresses every postcard and letter because she doesn't even know how to use a spreadsheet or Word document. She did over 500 cards that took her three weeks before she mailed them. Imagine--120 hours down the tubes, which got her no return!

  • Recommendation: (a) The bare minimum requirement is to have an automated contact management system like ACT!, Outlook, or a real estate specific like Online Agent or Top Producer. Take the time to install one of these systems early before you build such a client list that transferring the data will feel daunting. Take at least one to two hours a day for the first month after you install the software to become familiar with how it works. (b) Invest in a smartphone now and download several applications which can help you streamline your work efforts. Consider the purchase of a tablet of some sort – iPad, Google Nexus, etc. and download handwriting software. Many real estate contracts can be done right on that pad electronically.

5. Technology Rules! The other extreme is the techno nerd who loves every new gadget, is ahead of the curve in terms of what will be available online and in Best Buy three months from now. It mortifies them that their computer may be six months old and out of date. 4G? Old stuff. Now we need to decide which QR code will win out. The search for the coolest applications on their smart phone is compelling. The smart phone never leaves their side. I believe they forget how to breathe.

  • Recommendation: Create a technology plan at the beginning of the year, defining the applications and uses imperative to the growth of your company. Concentrate on making your technology fit the way you do business, not do business to fit the newest technology. To be first isn't always the best, due to the bugs associated with a new offering.

6. Not having a clear strategic plan. Often, real estate licensees run from year to year, comparing past results with how they are doing at the moment. Their advertising has some structure, but no clear focus as to what they stand for.

  • Recommendation: In November, take a day to evaluate how your business has developed over the last two years. Determine the goals you've met and those you did not achieve. Consider new opportunities that may arise in the upcoming year. Take a fundamental look at your business to determine how you solve the customer's problem better than anyone else. Without a clear idea of identity, it makes it very difficult to carve out a niche in the marketplace.

Read Part Two tomorrow for the remaining six trends!

Karel Murray--author, humorist and business trainer--speaks nationally and internationally. She is the author of "Hitting Our Stride: Women, Work and What Matters", "Straight Talk – Getting Off the Curb", co-author of "Extreme Excellence" and publishes a monthly online newsletter, Think Forward®, The Profitability Blueprint Series: Career Building Concepts for the Real Estate Licensee, and numerous articles in local, regional, and national publications. You can access her web site at