By Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing, ProspectsPLUS!
Despite media hype regarding the current state of our housing market, new waves of agents are joining the ranks of Realtors® eager to make their own mark in this business each month. Though certainly faced with a few more challenges than they might have had years ago – new agents today are also blessed with considerably more opportunities and resources than have ever been available in the past. To help explore some of those answers – I wanted to re-visit the expert advice of some of the industry’s top professionals. I asked them…
1. What does every new agent need to know? 2. What “must-have” items do agents need in their “tool chest” to survive? 3. What do they need to do to create and keep the right mindset for success?
Joining me to share their valuable insight and perspectives are industry leaders Real Estate Speaker, Coach and Author, Bernice Ross; President of Frogpond.com, Susie Hale; Speaker, Coach and Author, Darryl Davis; and Speaker, Trends Expert and Author, Stefan Swanepoel. In this article, we’ll focus on the first two questions, what agents need to know and what vital tools they should have. Look for our follow up article on developing the right mindset in which power speaker Matthew Ferry also weighs in! Now, let’s get started!
Q: What does every new agent REALLY need to know?
A: Bernice Ross: First, I would recommend that agents make sure they know all the legalities required by their board or MLS. After that, they can really focus on the one thing that will take them throughout their career – KNOWING their market.
Start to train yourself to really know your inventory inside and out. Make yourself an expert at your own market area, inventory, communities and price points. For example, don’t just look at a flyer or the MLS listing to get the price of a house. Walk inside home after home, and see if you can start to predict what the price is or should be. Drive different routes to work each day, look for the new FSBOs and Expireds that pop up. Study your market until you know it in your sleep.
I also always teach agents to make the shift from telling and describing what you do to asking questions. Dive into conversations with your customers to unlock what is most important to them. It is the key to more effectively communicating. I believe it’s more important than ever to build your business starting with who you know and expanding from there. I recommend a great book, The Go Giver, by Bob Burg. It teaches valuable lessons regarding the power of giving and really connecting.
A: Susie Hale: First of all, I’d want them to know that they have options and resources that are available to them such as mentors, managers and people to help them. I always encourage agents, especially new agents, to really reach out beyond themselves and ask questions to build their skills and knowledge base.
I’m also a big advocate for social networking. It allows you to truly grow your relationships in a unique, dynamic and faster way. Ultimately, marketing is creating a conversation, and by utilizing social media, you really do eliminate the gatekeepers, drive traffic to your website faster, and meet your customers who are alert, inquisitive and prepared to learn. So, jump in and get involved!
A: Darryl Davis: Good question! I’d say that agents need to know the number one thing they have going for them is enthusiasm. As a new agent, you come from space where anything is possible. I challenge you to keep that enthusiasm and commit to this question, “How am I going to play this game called real estate?” If you can stay in that state of inquiry and keep discovering–it will fuel the hunger for knowledge and source the enthusiasm you need to really thrive out there.
A: Stefan Swanepoel: New agents need to know that there are a ton of opportunities to position yourself to be a great agent. There is so much changing about our industry because of social media, e-marketing, consolidation, and globalization that ours is an industry in transition. Stay ahead of that curve by constantly learning and finding your niche in all of it. I recommend you bookmark www.retrends.com for a constant stream of information regarding all the trends that affect real estate professionals today.
Q: What “must have” items do agents need in their “tool chest” to survive?
A: Bernice Ross: There are some tremendous resources out there for agents today. For example, www.Point2Agent.com is a great service that provides powerful websites for associates, and most importantly, syndicates them to more than 40 different web portals such as Trulia, Zillow, Yahoo, Facebook, Google and more with just a push of a button. In this instance, distribution trumps destination. Since consumers are going to all of these sites, you can just post your listing once and Point2Agent does the work of spreading the word! It also has a built in tracking tool which is a necessary component for getting new listings and price reductions.
I also recommend agents get engaged in social media such LinkedIn and Facebook and choose a URL for your business that says what you do, who you are, and where you are. So many agents just use their name, but that doesn’t tell the consumer what you do! Also, consider adding video features to your site for a search engine boost. There is a free service, www.tubemogul.com, which provides a single entry point for deploying uploads to the top video sharing sites, and powerful analytics to track who’s viewing them! These are just two items to try. As a coach, I am always on the watch for the tools and technology that will help my clients be more successful and productive. I invite everyone to stop by my site regularly at www.realestatecoach.com. I’m always posting new articles and links that can help you grow your business.
A: Susie Hale: Well, obviously, my advice to agents is to get connected in the world of social media. Dive into the conversation that is out there and make your name known. Your “social intelligence” should include a website, e-zine and social networks. Make them definitive parts of your marketing plan. Why?
They are relationship builders They remove the “gatekeepers” in your business They achieve branding goals faster and communicate your company culture They propel lead generation and keep your current customers up to date They position you as an expert and allow you to beat your competition
Use connecting systems to allow you to easily send information throughout multiple social channels such as www.hellotxt.com which does the work of updating all your social networks at once. If you want to continue to learn more about social networking and tap into what the experts are saying across the globe, I invite you to visit us at www.frogpond.com. We house information and articles from some of the best minds in the business and you’re free to browse and learn at any time!
A: Darryl Davis: Well, as you know, I can be a little different! When you ask me about “tools” – rather than a “thing” or gadget, my first reaction is to say, more than those, agents need listing and selling techniques as their “must have” tools.
For example, I teach my students to work with FSBOs and Expireds. To me, Expireds right now are even better than FSBOs, in that any time a homeowner comes back on the market with a new agent, they know, even more than the FSBO, that “Elvis has left the building,” as it were. They know that they have to price it right and be committed to selling. My students and I have an expression that we use with homeowners, “You can’t be committed to price and committed to moving. So, are you committed to moving?” It’s a dialogue that works – try it!
I will also remind agents that the old adage that “any listing is better than no listing” is not true. Walk away from overpriced listings. They not only make you look bad, they are adding to the overall problem we have in this nation. Consider this – if every agent took just ONE overpriced listing off the market – that would mean a million homes taken out of the inventory glut.
I’ll add one more technique for aggressively pricing your listings. I’ll illustrate it this way. I used to be a soccer coach, and there was one technique that helped our team stay undefeated. Sometimes in soccer you’ll see a “beehive effect,” which is when players swarm to the ball. I taught my kids to think ahead. They learned that wherever the opponent was with the ball, not to chase him. Instead, they were to figure out where the player was going next and meet him there. It’s the same with pricing listings in today’s market. Try this dialogue: “Mr. and Mrs. Seller, if the market is going down in price, we can’t price it at what the market IS; we have to price it at where the market is GOING to get it sold.”
A: Stefan Swanepoel: The first tool I would say an agent needs is a plan. If you don’t have a road map, you really have no way to reach your destination. I recommend a website www.createaplan.com. It is the only company that I know of that is CRS approved for their business planning products for agents. It will help you get on track and stay there. Another great thing to consider is hiring a coach. While it may be too much money for some, the right coach is usually worth the investment. If not a coach, consider a mentor. Ask someone you look up to, such as a broker or a successful colleague that is willing to let you shadow them. You may also consider www.isucceed.com. This is a great mentoring service for a low as $1 per day! Agents from all brands and all areas are represented and there’s a wonderful audio file library to pull from.
I would also steer agents towards focusing on the right designation for them. Find what you’re passionate about and start learning the skill set you need to become an “expert” in that field. There are more than 70 designations out there, visit www.redesignation.com as a great resource. There you’ll find information to become specialists for Buyers, Seniors, Short Sales, Eco-friendly, and more.
And now, here’s my two cents: As someone who has been around this industry for more than 20 years, I echo so much of what our panel has said. When I speak to new agents, I too tell them to do EVERYTHING they can to maintain that “can-do” spirit and “anything’s possible” attitude that comes with being new. It is the edge you need to keep sharp as you build your business.
I will also tell you that there is never going to be a better time to set up the systems you need for long term success. Over the course of the last year, when times were tough in our business, I saw so many agents leave the industry after many, many years with nothing much to show for it. Why? They didn’t treat their real estate career as a business. They didn’t keep track of the most valuable assets they had as a salesperson: their customers. Your database is much more than names and addresses – it is the BOOK of BUSINESS that will take you throughout your career. Treat everyone in it like the VIPs that they are – and you’ll enjoy a long career filled with referrals!
Put a system in place to make sure you’re staying in touch with them EVERY month. Even if you just start with 10, 20, or 50 people in your sphere – consistency will allow you to grow that base in no time. ProspectsPLUS! makes it easy to stay in touch with direct mail campaigns that work. Learn more about them here or call our inside marketing team at 866.405.3638. They’re happy to get you off on the right foot!
A huge thank you to our panelists for their advice and expertise! As new agents, you need to ALWAYS be learning, gathering, fine-tuning and growing. Look to these experts for valuable information! Bookmark their sites and call for more help. They are incredible resources for agents new and experienced! Here’s how to get in touch:
We’re committed to helping you grow your business quickly, effectively and with LESS headaches. Stay tuned by bookmarking our blog at blog.prospectsplus.com for more! Of course, you can find me at www.prospectsplus.com. And follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/prospectsplus.