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Bottom of the Barrel

My wife and I have a property on the market. It’s with an agent we trust, and it’s listed exclusively.

Around 6 weeks into the marketing campaign, I received a phone call from another agent who asked whether I’d consider changing agencies. My reply?

“How would you feel if other agents rang your exclusively-listed clients?”

That wasn’t a response this agent was expecting and there was silence. Eventually he said, “I’m just asking“. I repeated my question – ”How would you feel if other agents rang your exclusively-listed clients?” He didn’t want to answer that question, so I hung up.

I think that agents who prospect other agents’ exclusive listings are the bottom of the barrel. If a salesperson’s main way of getting listings is to resort to that tactic, in my opinion the salesperson is unethical and unprofessional.

Think about it. If I sign an agreement with you, I am giving my word that you will be my exclusive agent. My wife and I believe that a deal is a deal, and we know what Exclusive means. For those who don’t, the dictionary definition of Exclusive is: restricted to the person, group, or area concerned.

So when an agent calls a seller who is listed exclusively with a competitor, the agent is asking those sellers to break their agreement, to break their word. That is unethical, grubby conduct for any professional to indulge in.

In every area there are people who are ready to sell and who are not yet listed. They can be found through marketing channels such as print, through digital channels, and through prospecting.

The latter channel, prospecting, is a dirty word for many salespeople and for some, like the agent who called me, they go for the low-hanging fruit – sellers listed with other agents.

We are better than that, or we should be.

To an ethical professional, resorting to such tactics because “everybody else is doing it” is not an excuse. You can’t be honest and ethical when it suits you. You are either a bottom of the barrel agent, or you aren’t.

Which agent are you?

Gary Pittard

Personality Matters

In this short sales session, real estate agency profit consultant and trainer, Gary Pittard, relates the story of a café with a chequered history of success.

What was the ‘secret ingredient’ that made the difference between the proprietors who failed, and the proprietors who succeeded?

Good food? Some of the failed proprietors had good food too. Yet a good product didn’t save them from oblivion. The ingredients the failures lacked was PERSONALITY.

A good product alone will not suffice. People buy you before they buy your product or service. Personality matters. Let yours shine!

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The Fine Line

If you ask salespeople about areas where they think their leaders could improve, the two most common responses would be 1. Stop micromanaging me, and 2. Give me more support.

Support is an interesting one. Salespeople have difficulty defining what they mean by support. All they seem to know is that they want more of it.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Should a leader micromanage at all?
  • If so, when should the leader micromanage?
  • Should a leader take a more hands-off approach and trust the salesperson to do the right actions?
  • What support should a leader give?

During presentations of Pittard’s five-day Agency Profit System, a real estate agency management and business system, we break down the stages of Training & Coaching and discuss these very issues.

There is a place for micromanagement and a place for a more hands-off approach. The art is knowing which salespeople to micromanage, and which salespeople should have a more hands-off approach. It’s a fine line.

Micromanagement

There are two types of salespeople who should be micromanaged:

  • Rookie salespeople
  • Salespeople in a slump.

Both need micromanagement until performance reaches what we call Professional Level – the point where they produce, or are back on track to produce, $300,000 in gross fees in one year.

Micromanagement takes the form of goal setting, planning, actions and results accountability, one-on-one coaching, and actions monitoring.

Leaders work with rookies and slumping salespeople and put them on the path to peak performance. If this is not done, rookies will fail, and slumping salespeople will remain mediocre.

This is a loss to the individual and to the agency.

Mentorship and Support

Once a rookie achieves Professional Level, or the slumping salesperson is back on track, micromanagement gives way to mentorship and support. This is when leadership becomes more hands-off, although the leader continues to give support and advice when required.

In these levels of Training & Coaching, the greatest gift a leader can give a salesperson is time.

The level of mentorship and support each salesperson requires will vary, but in all cases, you only discover when to mentor, and what support to give, by spending time with your people and asking this one question:

“How can I help you?”

It’s a great question, isn’t it?

The higher the level of performance a salespeople is, the less mentoring they may require, but the support they need might be greater because they are so busy. Give them time and how you can help will become clear.

You might offer an assistant, or perhaps the services of a listings prospector for a week, perhaps marketing in a specified area, or you might call some of the salesperson’s vendors. Although salespeople may not be able to define support, when you ask how you can help, you help them to clarify the support they need.

There may be a fine line between micromanagement and the hands-off approach, but if you keep in mind that rookies and slumping salespeople need micromanagement, and everyone else on the team require mentorship and support, the line is a little easier to see.

Remember that salespeople at all levels require your time. This is how you create loyalty in team members.

You cannot buy loyalty; you must earn it.

Gary Pittard

What message are you sending your team

Leadership success hinges on the messages we send to our team.

In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, says that whether positive or negative, all messages are communicated by word and by action. The more we leaders understand this, the more careful we will become about what we say and do.

Leadership matters. It matters a lot. We might have been great real estate salespeople before becoming leaders, but sales skills do not automatically transfer into leadership skill. We have to work at that.

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Sellers of the Future

“…and if you can’t be with the one you love honey.
Love the one you’re with, Love the one you’re with.”

Stephen Stills

Buyers are the sellers of the future. How we treat people during the buying phase of their home ownership journey determines the likelihood of them selling with you when the time comes.

Throughout the sellers’ market that in some areas is now past, many buyers received less than stellar service. At times when there were multiple parties vying to buy a property, it was easy for agents to be blasé in their treatment of buyers.

But buyers have long memories. They remember how they were treated and the day of payback for agents who treated them badly will come.

It is common for agents to disclose one buyer’s offer to other buyers, ‘playing them off’ against each other. They call this negotiating, but it is poles apart from ethical negotiation and is unprofessional to say the least.

Agents allow buyers to pay for pest and building reports on properties that the agent knows those buyers don’t have a chance of buying on their budgets. Underquoting to buyers is a practice that still abounds.

It’s interesting that at the high-priced end of the property market, the service many agents provide is slick and professional – for sellers and for buyers. These agents know that for a high fee, often in excess of $60,000, treating people well is profitable practice. It’s not always this way, but it often is.

However, work your way down the fee scale and you often see poorer service. It should not be this way.

All clients, whether buyers, sellers, landlords or tenants, deserve 6-star service. Giving this level of service pays dividends long term.

I am a great believer in “What goes around comes around“, and possibly you are too.

Treating all clients well is rewarding and a nicer way to do business.

Give buyers the same standard of service as you give to property sellers and those buyers will be more likely sell with you in the future.

If you plan on being in real estate for the long haul, always remember that buyers are sellers of the future.

As Stephen Stills said, “Love the one you’re with“.

Gary Pittard

What Will You Do Differently

In this short sales session, real estate profit consultant and trainer, Gary Pittard, points out that as we approach the halfway mark in the year, now is a good time to reflect on your results so far. If correction is needed, the sooner you begin the better.

Are you happy with your present results and income? If not, what will you do differently from this point onwards?

If you keep doing what you have been doing, your results for the second half of the year will be almost identical to the first half of the year. To achieve different results, you must do different actions and, often, more actions.

Only with change comes progress and improvement. What will you do differently?

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Too Busy To Lead

In my 30 years as a real estate agency management consultant, one of the biggest challenges I see agency leaders face is when the leader is too busy to lead. This can be the agency’s “Achilles Heel”, which stifles growth and profit, and much more.

This problem is particularly acute for leaders who list and sell, and who have few, or no, salespeople.

The combination of a busy leader and a small team can create for the leader a situation where the leader is working hard but has little free time. Although making money is good, if you do not have time to enjoy it, you’re on a treadmill and going nowhere.

Too busy to lead

If you have a business with staff, you have an obligation to lead your team.

This particularly applies to salespeople, who can easily become distracted, and because of the amount of rejection that goes with this role, discouraged.

Salespeople need leadership. The newer the salesperson, the more leadership and coaching he or she needs.

Fail to lead and, although you might be bringing in income, your salespeople may be underperforming. You work hard to pay the salaries of people who aren’t selling. Not a good position to find yourself in. It’s the costliest expense for an agency.

It’s quite common to see a high performing leader, perhaps one other high performing salesperson and then two or three salespeople who are not getting results.

Our industry has come to accept that that’s the way it is – one or two at the top, and then a big gap to the pack of mediocre performers at the bottom – but this is false.

Underperformers are that way because the leader tolerates underperformance.

Tolerate it long enough and it becomes normalised.

Every salesperson should be held accountable and required to perform actions that achieve results. There should be no ‘passengers’, no matter how long they have been with the company. Whether they are commission-only or salaried is irrelevant.

Too busy to coach

Leaders bring out the best in each salesperson through team training combined with one-on-one coaching. It is during these sessions that the leader bonds with each salesperson and guides the salesperson in setting goals, formulating plans, and committing to actions that produce results.

If this sounds time consuming, it is. But the rewards can be great. Instead of a leader and perhaps another high performer, imagine how much more profitable your business would be if your entire team performed at high levels.

The sure sign of a leader who is too busy to coach is a prevalence of underperforming salespeople.

Coach correctly and the reward is higher profit and more free time.

Too busy to train

Coaching and training are not the same. Training is all about education. Coaching is about implementation. But you cannot implement what you don’t know. This is why training is so important.

Leaders who are too busy to train their people doom their businesses to mediocrity. Often they are so busy that they never wake up to the fact that the cost of lost business far exceeds the cost of training and time out of the office.

Good training that is compatible with your company’s culture pays huge dividends. Never be too busy to train.

If you want some good training for your team, check out Adam Horth’s The Winners Circle Real Estate Podcast. New episodes are released on the second Thursday of every month. This outstanding training is free.

Too busy to recruit

At some point leaders lose team members, either through termination or resignation. Leaders who are too busy to recruit deplete their sales teams and lose business.

The lower the number of performing salespeople on a team, the lower the profit can be. Not always, however. If the leader lists and sells, the income from those sales can be highly profitable, and this is why so many leaders sell.

But are you a salesperson or a business owner? If you are a salesperson, who is leading and managing your business? And how do you take extended leave from the business if the business depends heavily on you?

Leaders need followers. Sales businesses need salespeople.

If you are too busy to recruit, expect to stay small and work hard selling to keep the doors open. Recruits are your future.

An old excuse

“I’m too busy” is one of the oldest business excuses there is. Salespeople use it all the time – “I’m too busy to prospect” is an old chestnut.

But are you busy working on the right activities? As a leader, your primary duties are to lead, train, coach, and recruit. Those tasks form the bulk of your job description.

Fail to perform the actions necessary for success in the role – for whatever reason, including being too busy – and you devalue your business.

Be busy by all means, but be busy on actions that will boost your profits, increase your free time, and give you a business that is a joy to own.

Gary Pittard

You Pay for Action

In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, says that salespeople, whether salaried or commission-only, must receive clear direction on what actions are required of them.

Many salespeople either do not know what is required of their roles, or if they do, they refuse to do the actions required of those roles.

Could the problem be caused because leaders do not give their salespeople clear job descriptions? Have you ever seen a job description for a salesperson?

Never allow a salesperson to get away with saying, “I know what I’m supposed to do – I’m just not doing it”?

Since when did Sales become a democracy? Smart leaders give their people two options only: do what you are paid to do, or leave.

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The Prospect Pipeline

No doubt you have heard of the Prospect Pipeline, a good analogy to describe a constant flow of prospects, from which business should easily flow.

Business should flow, but it doesn’t always. Your Prospect Pipeline requires care and attention if it is to produce the desired results.

Real estate salespeople can become fixated on immediate leads, and it is right that they are. After all, without good leads it’s hard to get results. This is one of the functions of your Prospect Pipeline, to provide you with prospects that are ready to buy and sell now.

But if that is all you focus on, your pipeline can become clogged, and ‘now’ leads will dry up.

The pipeline analogy implies that if you pour plenty of prospects in one end, they will flow through the pipe and come out the other end as sellers and buyers that are ready to do business. It’s as though the process is automatic, but it is not.

If you want to keep your Prospect Pipeline flowing, you have work to do. That work takes the form of diligent follow-up.

In your Prospect Pipeline, there could be three types of people – let’s not be in a hurry to call them prospects just yet.

The three types of people are:

  1. People ready to do business now – this is the end of the pipe.We do not need to say much about ‘now’ clients, except that they are the reason why you have a pipeline in the first place. The goal of a good prospect pipeline is to give you a constant flow of this type of prospect.
  2. People who will do business in the future. These people should become ‘now’ leads.These are the people many salespeople neglect. ‘Futures’, must be moved through the pipeline so that they reach the point where they become ‘now’ leads. You achieve this by following up your ‘futures’ regularly, always with the view of identifying when they are ready to buy or sell.The reason this group is most neglected is for the reason I stated earlier: real estate salespeople can become fixated on immediate leads, and do not invest the time working their pipeline, nurturing the people who will do business sometime in the future but who are not ready now.It is shortsighted to contact prospects, identify the likelihood of them becoming buyers or sellers in the future, and then forget them, only to find they list or buy from a competitor.

    Leads must be cultivated, not ignored.

  3. Non-prospects.They most likely won’t do anything.Too many of these and your pipeline can clog. If you want to get results from your Prospect Pipeline, you must fill it with… well… prospects!Non-prospects are common in rookies’ pipelines. They have a friendly conversation with somebody and confuse nice people with prospects. Poor qualifying results in low quality prospects in their pipelines.

To earn a place in your pipeline, all the people in it should be identified as buying or selling in the future, and qualified to find out when that is likely to be, or ready to buy or sell now.

Nobody else should be in your Prospect Pipeline.

It’s similar to the GIGO formula referred to in the computer industry when referring to data – “Garbage in, garbage out”. Instead, let’s make it PILO – “Prospects in, leads out”. Fill your pipeline with quality prospects and quality leads will come out the other end.

Those who are in your Prospect Pipeline should be followed up until they do business, or you identify them as a non-prospect and remove them from your pipe.

Do this and your Prospect Pipeline will flow, giving you quality leads that turn into listings, sales, and income.

Gary Pittard

What and How Do You Study?

In this short sales session, real estate agency profit consultant and trainer, Gary Pittard, says that if you aren’t studying your profession, it is only a matter of time before your competitors overtake you. A rusty salesperson is a broke salesperson.

What are you studying now? And how do you study?

Today we have many options – books, audio, video, streaming, live webcasts, blogs, online subscriptions, seminars, webinars – we truly are spoilt for choice.

Yet despite this, many choose not to study. Perhaps they think they know all they need to know. Only an egotist would think this way, and ego has sent many people broke.

Skill and knowledge are marketable commodities. Ignorance is not.

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An Excuse-Free Environment

“You’ve either got the results you say you want, or you have reasons to explain why not. Developing a rigorous and honest relationship with results moves you powerfully toward creating extraordinary results.

Reasons and results both take time. One is an investment in continuous momentum, and the other stalls us in our tracks.”

Cara Licastro

As business leaders, we owe it to ourselves, our businesses, and our teams to create an excuse-free environment. Excuses rot a business from the inside out.

In the past we’ve all made excuses. I’ve made my fair share over my lifetime, but they never got me anywhere. When we make an excuse, we close the door to finding solutions to the challenges we face.

From late 2019 through to mid-2020, I lost 18 kilos. Those kilos were self-inflicted, the result of bad food choices over time.

I could say that I was genetically predisposed to getting fat, that I was busy and didn’t have time to eat right, that I was big boned, or that they were ‘Covid Kilos’, but that would have kept me fat.

Here’s the truth: for too long, I put too much of the wrong food down my throat.

No excuses. It’s on me.

Acknowledging that was the first step, which opened me up to doing something about it. Eat smaller portions of the right food and move my body more.

Market Shift

In many areas across Australia and New Zealand, the market is shifting from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market. When markets shift, so can salespeople’s results. Listings take longer to sell, buyers are fussier, offers harder to extract, and even harder to get sellers to accept. Have you ever noticed that salespeople are happier when they’re making sales?

When (not if) the market shifts, morale can change in an office. This can create an environment where excuses flourish.

If leaders allow it, salespeople will blame the market instead of their failure to train around the skills they must develop for the new market. They will blame buyers for being fussy, sellers for being greedy. Excuses, excuses, and no solutions to get results being sought.

Leaders must be on guard and stamp on excuses as soon as they hear them. They must also not make excuses themselves.

I found myself in a position of talking with leaders about this recently. These leaders made excuses for their team’s poor performance – echoing the excuses given to them by their salespeople.

Excuses are contagious! Instead of looking at why their people were not making sales, wouldn’t these leaders do better if they looked for ways to overcome the challenges of the new market?

Can their salespeople set healthy targets and plan how to achieve them?

Can their salespeople prospect more?

Can the office do more marketing for listings?

Can their salespeople hone their listing presentations, adjusting them to the new market?

Can their salespeople train how to ask sellers to reposition their prices?

 

If so, what’s preventing them from doing so?

Excuses possibly?

All leaders can create an excuse-free environment, if we call out excuse-mongering when we detect it and then focus on solutions.

This is a very profitable activity for leaders to do, and you do your team members a great service.

Gary Pittar

The 600 Pound Gorilla

All leaders want high performers, but sometimes we should be careful what we wish for. That high performer could be a 600 Pound Gorilla. You don’t want one of these!

In this short leadership session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, says that while high fee production is a must-have ingredient for all real estate salespeople, it is not the only must-have ingredient.

Leaders who allow deviation from their culture and standards could be setting themselves up to develop the type of salesperson they don’t want.

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