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You First

In this short sales session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, delves into what it takes to reverse a sales performance slump. And it’s not what you may think – instead of focusing on actions, look first at the real issues.

It is easy to jump straight in and talk about actions. Sure, actions and results go together – if the results aren’t right, the actions aren’t right. But actions are a symptom. The real problem most likely isn’t fear, laziness, call reluctance or low motivation. The real problem is more personal.

When your life is right, your business life will fall into line. Success begins with YOU. Success is a case of YOU FIRST.

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Time, Attention and Care

I recently read an industry article about remuneration for salespeople, discussing which was best: salaries or commission-only.

While I do not intend to argue that point now, a comment from an industry leader caused me concern.

This leader said that commission-only percentages varied widely, but the common rule of thumb was that the higher the commission, the less support the salesperson received from the agency.

Why is this such a concern?

For any leader to suggest that not supporting any team member is a good idea, this is a clear indication that this leader has not studied leadership and doesn’t understand the importance it plays in results and profit.

If the highest calling of leadership is to bring out the best in our people, how can not supporting any salesperson in our company be classed as good leadership?

Whether we support our people should have nothing to do with their level of remuneration. If they are on our team, they should receive our time, attention and care.

These are the greatest gifts leaders can give their people.

Over the years, I have heard many leaders complain that salespeople are disloyal. This applies especially to those remunerated by commission-only. But are salespeople really disloyal?

Some are, but I wager that most are not.

The real problem could be that leaders have not EARNT LOYALTY. If the leader didn’t support the salesperson, giving that salesperson time, attention and care, can you blame the salesperson for going elsewhere? After all, they owe the leader nothing.

The title of Leader is not sufficient to earn loyalty and respect. We must earn these.

We earn loyalty and respect by giving time, paying attention to our people (especially by listening to them), and showing respect and care.

I believe that bringing out the best in our people is the highest calling of leadership. If they are on your team, that is your leadership mission.

Giving time, attention and care will take you a long way toward “Mission Accomplished”.

Gary Pittard

Leader and Coach

In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, discusses the dual roles of leader and coach.

Do you have a team of winners? Do you have salespeople who are new? What about established salespeople who are in slumps? Or salespeople who are doing well but want to take their performance to new levels? Or plodders? Or people who really should leave?

Many teams are a blend of these and if you have such a blended team it is your task as leaders to develop these people into a cohesive team comprised entirely of winners.

Like children, team members do not listen so much to what you say, but watch what you do. Your actions speak volumes about your intentions, culture and character.

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Two Lessons From the Pandemic

There can be no doubt that the pandemic, now in its second year, has disrupted business and the economy.

The real estate industry has been less affected than, say, tourism and entertainment, but the pandemic has still led to periodic restrictions on how we go about our daily business life.

But is it all bad news? For good business owners and salespeople, the pandemic has also taught us valuable lessons. Let’s look at two of those lessons.

    1. Flexibility

Tasks we could perform one week were no longer possible the following week. Other tasks became more important than ever before. To continue to succeed in Sales, we needed – and still need – to be flexible.

Flexibility is good. It allows us to quickly revisit actions that are no longer appropriate and change direction, to try something else.

If that doesn’t work, we try something else and keep trying different approaches until we find an approach that is appropriate for the current restrictions.

An example is open homes. Some pandemic restrictions made open homes a breach of health orders, but we have still been able to conduct individual inspections. Even these have not been smooth sailing, with some sellers and tenants refusing to allow strangers into their properties.

But we adapt and show properties where those restrictions aren’t present, and we make sales.

Such is the advantage of being flexible and moving forward, focusing on results.

    1. Contact

Another lesson from the pandemic is the need for contact.

During extended lockdowns, I made it a habit to call three people a day and ask how they were doing. A simple act that I found helped me as much as the people I called. It reminded me to take time to think of others and to take my mind off myself.

For salespeople, contacting potential clients is more important than ever before. If you can’t door knock, pick up the phone. Call people and ask how they are. The conversation will eventually turn to their plans around selling, soon or longer term. You might not be able to list them now, but these people go into your prospecting pipeline and are listing leads for the future. Cultivate relationships.

Our opportunities to list now may be somewhat restricted, but some will want to list now, and others when restrictions ease. High volume contact will tell you who’s who – short term or long term prospects.

You probably found that people are much happier to talk when their movements are restricted. Yet another bonus for prospectors!

As you read this, your region may be experiencing relative freedom, but we know that snap lockdowns can occur at any time.

But the pandemic lessons still apply. Flexibility and human contact are always good attributes for salespeople and business leaders to possess.

Lessons that, once learnt, should never be forgotten.

Gary Pittard

The Perfect Sprint Technique

In this short real estate sales session, real estate profit consultant, Gary Pittard, looks at a great sprint technique, which gives you a focused burst of productive activity. It’s an idea of author Mark McKeon, who calls this sprint technique ‘Go Zones’.

Nobody can work ‘flat chat’ all the time, but too many people work erratically at whatever activity comes to mind, or on urgencies that scream the loudest, failing to perform sufficient actions to produce high results.

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How Much Is Your Sales Department Worth?

I am not telling you anything you don’t know when I say that rent rolls sell for big money. But what about your sales department – how much is it worth?

Many, if not most, real estate agency owners place little value on their sales department. They believe their sales department isn’t as valuable as their rent roll.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. The sales department’s income and profit fluctuate and are often market dependent.When the market is good, the sales department makes money. Then the market changes to a buyers’ market, the sales department struggles to make a profit.

    If you doubt that, think about the real estate groups listed on the stock exchange. When the market was down, so were the share prices of those listed groups. “Profit downgrade” was the term used. At the time of writing, we’re in a sellers’ market and the share prices of those groups are up.

    Rental departments seldom experience such market dependent fluctuations.

  2. The sales department’s income and profit are dependent on the principal’s sales production.You cannot sell yourself. If you are the primary producer of income in your sales department, the value of your sales department is significantly devalued. When you leave, so will the income you produced.

    And if your plan is to sell but stay with the new owner and work as a salesperson, seldom does that succeed.

Most real estate business owners have given up on building a winning team. We constantly hear the excuse – and it is an excuse – “You can’t find good people“. That belief alone is sufficient to stop you from filling your team with competent people. They are profit killing words!

At least ten real estate businesses using Pittard systems make profits in excess of $1 million, WITHOUT the principal having to list and sell. How much do you think those sales departments are worth?

There will be people who say, “That’s because the market is booming“. To those people I say, “Are you making a million-dollar profit without needing to list and sell? Isn’t your market booming too?

Winners, whether leaders or salespeople, are often regarded as freaks by those who aren’t winning. It’s far easier to call somebody’s performance freakish than it is to look at what those leaders and salespeople did to succeed and then do the same.

But that does not mean that it can’t be done; it simply means that those people don’t want to do it.

With the right people, training, and leadership, your sales department can make large profits without your production being required to pay the bills.

You will need recruiting, induction and training systems, and you may need to work on your leadership skill, but it can be done.

If you are up to the challenge, if you want to build a PROFITABLE AND SALEABLE SALES DEPARTMENT, give me a call on +61 2 8217 8500.

Gary Pittard

The Lonely Leader

In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, looks at the life of the lonely leader.

They say it’s lonely at the top. But many leaders are lonely, not because of the nature of the position, but because they don’t have a team. And the reason they do not have a team is that they have never fully devoted themselves to building a winning team.

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Used to Low Numbers?

Do you remember the days when salespeople used to list large numbers of properties – eight or more every month? We seldom see numbers like these anymore – salespeople have become used to low numbers.

Many years ago we coined the term, “Take care of the numbers and the dollars will take care of themselves“. This is just as true today. When salespeople focus on gross commission, on the dollars, the numbers always suffer. Salespeople who focus on dollars set lower targets.

Let’s say that to achieve your goals, you plan to average $60,000 in fees every month. If your average selling fee is $30,000, this would be 2 sales per month.

That’s 2 sales at an average selling fee of $30,000 – but what if you make a larger sale, one sale, where the fee for that sale is $60,000? Most salespeople slow down; after all, they have achieved their dollars, so they coast for the rest of the month.

That is more common than you think, and it’s the danger of focusing on the dollars. A better way is to focus on listing and sale numbers.

Using the example above, if your focus is 2 sales and you make one sale at $60,000, you will push to get the second sale. If this second sale gives a $30,000 fee, you have made $90,000 in fees, all because you focused on the numbers and not the dollars.

The same approach works with listings.

Every salesperson has a list-to-sell ratio, for example, 2:1 where 2 listings result in 1 sale. In your current market your list-to-sell ratio might be 1:1, with one listing resulting in one sale. These are low numbers and low targets can be a recipe for low results.

If you have a listing target of 4, and you only manage to get 2 in the month, your results have dropped by 50% – that’s a big drop!

But what if you increased your listing target to 8? What if you were serious about reaching that target? Would you prospect more? Would you instigate more marketing?

Thinking bigger and aiming for higher targets almost always results in higher results, provided that you increase your prospecting and marketing activity to a level that should realistically yield those higher targets.

One thing’s for sure: if you have a target of 8 listings and you fall short by 50%, you finish the month on 4 listings. If you have a target of 4 listings and you fall short by 50%, you finish on 2 listings. Twice the results by aiming higher.

Train yourself to think bigger – get used to bigger listings and sales targets. Don’t get accustomed to low numbers, and don’t focus on dollars alone.

Focus on the (higher) numbers of listings and sales, and the dollars will take care of themselves.

Gary Pittard

Game On

In this short real estate sales session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, discusses the importance of being at your best during listing presentations.

Like it or not, sales is an emotional game. When we present, we appeal to our clients’ emotions – they make decisions emotionally, not logically.

Our own emotions can also affect our performance as presenters. The listing presentation is ‘Game On’. In these days of high selling fees, we risk a large amount of money if we go into the ‘game’ without being fully prepared.

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The Right Help

With so many offices making record profits, everybody is busy. But for leaders, you can be busy making sales, or you can be busy running a business. What type of busy are you?

Leaders who spend much of their working week listing and selling can, if they are not careful, fall into the trap of being too busy to recruit effectively. Recruiting effectively doesn’t just mean finding help, it means finding the RIGHT HELP and coaching them.

Selling leaders often don’t monitor their teams unless something goes wrong, and they don’t monitor the progress of individual team members either, unless the salesperson is in a slump.

This scenario is common in many real estate offices: when you examine the breakdown of sales production in teams led by selling leaders, you find that the leader is close to being the number one salesperson in the company, perhaps with one, and sometimes two, other solid performers. There is a gap between the higher performers and a pack of salespeople who aren’t doing well.

Stopgap becomes these leaders’ recruiting program of choice – a team member leaves and the leader, who is too busy to recruit properly, plugs the gap with somebody who, had the leader been more thorough with recruiting, probably would not have employed that person.

It is common for selling leaders to say, “I need an assistant“, and probably the leader does. But does the leader need a good assistant or just somebody to fill the gap? Does the leader need help from just anyone, or does the leader need the right help?

Recruiting should be targeted to address a need, not a stopgap measure to fill perceived deficiencies in the team. You can waste a lot in wages and time this way.

What do you really need? An assistant, or more salespeople? An assistant will enable you to work with more clients, but are you a business owner, or a salesperson in your company?

You might do better with more salespeople, but it takes systems, dedication, and focused work, to recruit, train and induct salespeople the right way, so that the ‘help’ you employ is the ‘right help’.
Many leaders put thorough recruiting into the too hard basket. They lower their standards in a desperate attempt to find anyone to help with the workload.

It’s a paradox: in the short term, recruiting properly adds to the leaders’ workload. Inducting recruits properly does also. But the long-term benefits of recruiting and inducting properly are people on the team who know what to do, who know how to get results and create happy clients.

In the long term, having the right people on the team requires less of the leader’s effort to lead, train and coach. The right people stay longer and enhance the agency’s culture. The right people are a pleasure to lead and very profitable.

Yes, I know you are busy. But before you appoint another person to your team, ask yourself, “Do I want help, or the right help?

There is a big difference, and that difference has a huge impact on your profit.

Gary Pittard

Fun

In this short real estate leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, discusses how to make your business a happy place to work by injecting a little fun.

But you must strike a balance between work and fun. Salespeople occupy their positions for one purpose: to make sales. When there is too much fun in the office it can often be at the expense of results. Leaders tread a fine line between balancing results while still making their offices a happy place to work.

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Reputation Matters

Ask any person how important their reputation is to them. Nobody will say their reputation doesn’t matter.

Sure, some say, I don’t care what other people think of me – but that’s usually to justify being rude or insensitive. If these people care that little about their reputation, they probably can’t be trusted.

In life, your reputation matters. A poor reputation can cost you good relationships, happiness and fulfillment. In business, a poor reputation can cost you repeat business and income.

Salespeople who treat clients badly believe that there are plenty more clients where they came from. What does it matter if you inflate the likely selling prices of sellers’ properties to win a listing? It matters a lot if you want to do business with those clients or their friends in the future.

What does it matter if you lower an estimated selling price to attract buyers? There are plenty more where they came from. Perhaps in sellers’ markets there are, but buyers become sellers one day and if you want to be their listing agent when they do sell, your reputation matters. It matters a lot.

In the 20th century, it was said that if you leave a client angry, they will tell 10-15 other people. That was last century, but it’s different now in the age of social media. Upset a client these days and they could tell thousands of people in minutes, depending on their social media following.

Pre-social media, a bad review was passed around by word of mouth. A bad review on Google or a similar platform can haunt you for years.

Reputation matters and in the age of social media it matters more.

Be careful with what you promise. Deliver what you promise. Be reliable. Do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it.

It’s a matter of integrity. It’s a matter of reputation.

And reputation matters.

Gary Pittard

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