In 30 years I have interviewed countless winners, and have noticed one big difference between winners and their mediocre counterparts:
Winners do the hard tasks. Winners understand that the hard tasks pay.
In truth, the ‘hard’ tasks aren’t hard at all. Simply, salespeople don’t like doing these tasks so they avoid them. In their minds, they make these tasks seem harder than they really are. They invent excuses for not doing them. When asked by their leader, “How much prospecting have you done this week?”, they reply, “I’ve been too busy”. This is nonsense, and a fundamental cause of low results. MORE
I doubt that there is an occupation where people love every task they are asked to do and this is certainly true of Sales. Salespeople do not like certain tasks, but like them or not, some tasks are important and must be done.
How much better would your results be if you did more of these important tasks?
Gone are the days when we take on sellers who say, “If I get my price, I’ll sell”. Leave those clients for desperate salespeople who don’t prospect. Choose motivated clients and give effective listing presentations. The better your listing presentation, the more saleable your listings will be.
This brings us back to prospecting – talking to people – delivering good listing presentations, better seller coaching, and working with qualified buyers. One activity links to others, and all lead to more negotiations and then to more sales.
The reward for doing the actions that most salespeople avoid is that you get results that most salespeople don’t get. The hard tasks pay!
The market often gets blamed for poor results, but it’s not the market: it’s low knowledge, low skill and low action levels that cause poor results.
I can’t control the market, but I can control me. I can study and learn. I can practise and hone my skill. I can do more of the right actions – those tasks that mediocre salespeople call ‘hard’.
And so can you!
A common complaint from leaders is that their salespeople lack focus. It has a been constant theme in my 30 years as a real estate agency profit consultant.
One leader said his salespeople had the attention span of a gnat.
A short attention span is not a problem for most people. Watch people doing leisure activities – things they love to do. They have no trouble giving these activities their full attention. MORE
When they watch a film at the cinema, they’re not fidgeting or walking in and out. If the film is interesting, it gets their full attention.
When the activity is interesting, it has no trouble garnering focus. Salespeople who aren’t focused on the job have managed to turn selling into a chore. Simply, they don’t find the work interesting.
Most salespeople love to do listing presentations and put sales together – who doesn’t? – but won’t do the more mundane tasks that increase the likelihood of them getting to the interesting tasks. Prospecting is a classic example.
Because they avoid prospecting, they do fewer listing presentations. And so they hop from task to task, working on the easier, less productive tasks.
Jeb Blount said in his excellent book, Fanatical Prospecting, that the number one reason for failure in sales is an empty pipeline, and the root cause of an empty pipeline is failure to constantly prospect.
Salespeople who have clear goals and written plans seldom lack focus. They have fun at work, and they get results.
They might find some tasks more interesting and enjoyable than others, but they do the tough tasks because they are working toward something bigger: they are working toward meaningful goals, something they WANT.
With a bigger picture to focus on, they understand that by working on the right tasks they will not only achieve their goals, but also derive huge satisfaction from the process of getting there.
Goal setters know what I am talking about.
Studies have shown that when somebody sets a goal – a goal that they have a 50/50 chance of achieving – they immediately feel happier. They are then happy to do tasks that would be otherwise judged arduous or mundane.
Short attention span? That is for goalless drifters.
Professional sales is not a lottery. It is not a matter of luck. You can control your results. You can achieve meaningful goals. And you can focus, over the long term.
Below are snippets are from surveys conducted by Roy Morgan over a 17-year period. I have been following these surveys for 25 years and note the position of our industry moves very little in the list of most trusted professions.
Most Respected Professions: Nurses, Pharmacists and Doctors
Least Respected: Car Salesmen, Journalists and Real Estate Agents.
Roy Morgan 2000 MORE
Directors of Public Companies on 25% (down 1%) and Business Executives on 18% (down 2%) are both mid-ranged in the overall result, but well ahead of Real Estate Agents who have equalled their record low rating of 7% (down 3%) and perennial cellar-dwellers Car Salesmen on 4% (unchanged).
Roy Morgan 2017
Yet over the past 30 years I have met many thoroughly decent real estate people, far more than the ‘other type’.
So why does our industry have such a poor reputation? We know the answer:
You can argue as much as you like about whether this happens, but a recent spate of $800,000 fines on some Victorian agents for over or underquoting should be ample evidence that this practice is alive and well. And I wouldn’t suggest it stops at the border into NSW, Queensland or South Australia.
Character issues aside, let’s think about why it happens. One reason alone:
Salespeople do not know how to handle PRICE.
Salespeople know that regardless of the market – boom or down-turning – sellers almost always expect more for their properties than they are worth. Honest agents who give honest price appraisals risk sellers’ displeasure and risk losing listings. So, the weaker and/or less ethical adopt the attitude, “If you can’t beat them, join them”, and quote high because “that’s the way it’s done”.
But now they paint themselves into a corner. They have begun the relationship on a foundation of dishonesty. By allowing sellers to believe that their unrealistic expectations are achievable, salespeople now must use techniques to persuade sellers to retreat from their high prices. Enter buyers.
Salespeople lure buyers with low price ranges – “Offers above $x” – their argument being that they will get buyers to their open inspections and, once they get offers, they “can negotiate the offers upwards”.
The fault with this thinking is that if you quote low you will get low offers. And when you negotiate from a low base, you will always get a lower price than you’d get had you started high. Any negotiation expert will tell you that.
Agents then present these low offers to sellers saying things such as, “Market feedback is lower than we expected”. It used to be called ‘Conditioning’. Now it’s called ‘Educating’. The technique is the same – deliver good news during the listing and bad news during the marketing campaign, with the hope of getting sellers to reduce.
How often have we seen buyers who have been given low price estimates pay for pest and building reports and then attend the auction, but never get an opportunity to bid because the price has galloped beyond the lower price estimate given to them by an agent?
These are disgraceful practices and agents who indulge in them should be struck off for life, not merely fined.
Foundation of Honesty
The smarter approach is to lay client relationships on a foundation of honesty. Tell sellers the truth about the likely sale price of their property. I realise that this is easier said than done: it takes skill.
I have often said, “To tell the truth in real estate and still win the business, you had better be an outstanding presenter”. There are techniques that will allow you to handle price honestly, with both buyers and sellers.
Learn these techniques and you will make sales and keep your integrity intact. You will enjoy a successful real estate career.
Don’t let anybody tell you that it cannot be done. Handling price and laying foundations of honesty make for a rewarding and prosperous career, and meaningful client relationships.
Many agents do business this way and you can too.
Let’s give some thought to how we can make more sales despite the gloom and doom about the current state of the real estate market in many regions.
The market is your reality. As professionals, we must learn to thrive in all markets, whether booming, static, or down-turning. If you don’t like the reality of this market, ask yourself, “Can I change this?” MORE
You know the answer. So you only have two options: 1. Handle it; 2. Leave the industry.
Our beliefs determine our reality. If you believe you can make sales, you will make sales, provided you do the right actions.
Don’t listen to people who call it a ‘tough market’. Are sales being made in your area? If so, why aren’t you getting a share of those? Think: what must you do to make sales?
There are sellers in your area who want to sell or need to sell. Find them. Talk with them about pricing their properties so that they sell. The longer they wait in a falling market, the lower the price they will receive. Help them to get moving. Instil a sense of urgency into them. Believe that there are plenty of sellers like this just waiting for you to find them, and then go looking!
Have you heard any good news about the real estate market lately? Have you heard anything about the market that you didn’t already know? So why are you listening, reading or viewing this drivel?
The only purpose served by negative market news is to inform sellers so that they understand the importance of pricing their properties to sell quickly. Beyond that, this negativity will eat at your morale.
Turn off the news.
Have a plan. Take positive action and have a plan that will lead you to your goals.
You must know where your business will come from. Examine all the possible listing sources (for example For Sale By Owners – FSBO) and for each source ask yourself, “If I spoke to 50 [FSBOs], how many listings would I get?”
Your knowledge of your ratios is crucial, too. How many potential sellers do you need to speak with from each listing source to get one listing?
If you spoke to 40 people per day for 5 working days, for 20 days a month, that’s 800 people spoken to in the month. How many listings would that give you?
A lot more than you’d get if you didn’t speak to 800 people.
Positive action will give you a feeling of being in control. Try it.
Change Your Tactics
What worked in a boom doesn’t work in a down-turning market. Conversations with sellers in booms are different to conversations with sellers in down-turning markets.
The key to making sales when the market changes is to adapt.
A popular definition of insanity is repeating the same actions while expecting a different result. If what you’re doing now isn’t working, change tactics.
What book are you reading now? When was the last time you attended a sales seminar? What audio or video on sales have you viewed in the past month?
And I don’t mean YouTube and Ted Talks. Professionals use the ‘free stuff’ as a secondary training source, not their primary training source or their only training source.
YouTube and blogs like this are good for topping up knowledge and for getting you thinking, but they are not organised into cohesive training systems, such as Pittard’s Winning Ways – A Smarter Sales Career. Get more of the training you need, not ‘fast food’ snippets from blogs, short videos and podcasts.
In my book, Why Winners Win, I say that acquiring knowledge isn’t enough. We must practise what we learn in the field and keep practising until we get it right. In that way, knowledge turns into skill, and skill is what you need in challenging markets.
Knowledge + Practice = Skill
Add to this Competent Action and results are inevitable.
A swear word for some, but winners work – they work smart and hard. Prospect more – put yourself in front of more potential prospects. Business is out there. Believe it. Go looking for it!
A Better Alternative
In challenging markets, it can be easy to wallow in misery, to blame the market, or some external force that’s preventing you from making sales. That thinking and lack of action can send you broke. Even worse, it can drive you out of the industry feeling like a failure.
A better alternative is to take charge. You can’t control the market, but you can control YOU.
You can find sellers who want or need to sell. You can make sales. You can win.
This market could be the best thing that ever happened to you. It’s all a matter of perspective, and of attitude and action.
A change in the market has exposed many of those who looked like winners during the boom. Back then, it was easy to look like a hero – if you could get the listings and held onto them long enough, prices would rise to the sellers’ enthusiastic expectations and you’d make a sale.
Times have changed. Now skill is required to make sales.
In the down-turning markets of Sydney and Melbourne I have noticed the emergence of two distinct types of salesperson: MORE
I recently visited a real estate office and spoke with a salesperson who last financial year earned $160,000. In this current financial year, he admitted that he’d be lucky to make $60,000. He said that he’d given up on his goals.
But did he really have goals? I suggested that if he had goals, he would have adjusted to suit the changing market, increased the actions necessary to achieve his targets, and got back on track to achieving his goals.
I asked him to show me his goal calculations and the plan he put together to show how he was going to achieve his goals. He didn’t have any plans. He hadn’t calculated his goals.
And in the absence of a clear reason to achieve, and to do the actions necessary to achieve, his results drifted downwards, helped along by the challenging market.
His leader asked me to talk to the team and suggest some actions. He didn’t like my reply.
The leader thought I was going to read the riot act to the team, tell them that they’re a bunch of lazy so-and-so’s… but instead I said that I didn’t blame them for not doing the right actions – I said…
“Nobody around here has a ‘Why’.”
Nobody had goals. Nobody had a reason to do the actions.
The result? They had become salespeople in group 2: they had become salespeople who can’t sell.
They can fix this, but not by doing the same things they’ve been doing.
It’s an old chestnut, but goals work. They inspire us to do the actions necessary to achieve them.
Sure, a downturn in the market might be a setback, but with a goals-focus, a market change is but a blip on the horizon – winners adjust and get back to work on the right actions.
After all, they have a good reason to do so!
A lot of leaders and salespeople are complaining about the ‘tough market’. But is the market really the whole problem?
The advice I’ve been giving to Pittard clients is that we can’t change the market – it’s the hand we’ve been dealt – and so instead let’s concentrate on what we can control. MORE
My friend, Peter O’Malley, author of Inside Real Estate, said:
“When markets change, salespeople need to re-skill.”
Techniques that worked during the boom, no longer work. Conversations at the listing presentation are different to boom-time conversations. Price must be discussed carefully, and sellers must understand that the longer they wait, the lower the price they will eventually get.
Do you know how to make listings saleable in down-turning markets? If not, it’s time to re-skill.
You must be choosey with the clients you take on in challenging markets. List sellers who aren’t serious about selling and they will consume masses of your time and office resources for no result.
Even worse, they can shatter your confidence and morale.
Sometimes it is better to be the second agent that takes on a listing and not the first. And it is never a good idea to take on those sellers who say things like, “If I get my price I’ll sell”.
You can wallow in the difficulty of this market, or you can rise to it. It’s your choice.
It follows that if you intend being selective with the clients you take on, you had better be prepared to do a lot of prospecting. This will increase your opportunities of finding sellers who are serious about selling.
If you have not set clear goals, calculated the income you need to achieve and designed a plan to achieve that income, you are probably drifting downwards with the market.
Goals and targets give you focus – and in a challenging market you need focus. You must know how many people you will speak with each day. Thanks to the goals that you want so badly, your actions will be focused. Results are just a matter of time.
You Are Better Than the Market
Before you are tempted to blame the market for poor performance, remind yourself that this thinking can send you broke.
Look to your skill, focus and client selection.
What are you reading right now? What audio or video programs have you studied recently? Are you learning material that will help your career?
Your results will improve when YOU do.
You are better than the market. Now go and prove this to yourself.
Let me introduce you to Joan Carter, who retired on 30 June 2018, ending a successful twenty-four year career in real estate sales.
Before real estate, Joan was a school teacher. Throughout her career, she was often in the Top Ten Salespeople in the Pittard rankings. She was part of a very impressive pool of winners whose results far exceed typical industry averages. Joan was often in the top three. MORE
Throughout her long career, Joan set a standard to which many people would never have the guts to aspire. She was a shining example of everything a real estate salesperson should be – a person of character who’d never lie or stretch the truth to make a sale. She was a winner who wrote high figures consistently from the beginning to the end of her career. Joan was no ‘one-hit wonder’.
I’ve heard salespeople say things like, “I’ve been in real estate for thirty years” as though it’s supposed to mean something. What does it matter if you’ve been in real estate that long if your results are poor?
These people will say, “I don’t need to prospect – I get plenty of referrals”. But they have seldom nurtured their networks and the truth is they don’t get that many referrals. Some of these self-appointed superstars write little over $130,000 in fees per annum.
Competence doesn’t just happen. Time in the industry is no guarantee of competence or high results. Nor is it a guarantee that you have joined the ranks of true professionals.
Champion cyclist, Anna Meares once said, “True success is measured in longevity”.This certainly sums up Joan Carter, who enjoyed a long career with high results and happy clients.
Not a person to cruise toward retirement, Joan decided to finish with a bang. In her last year in real estate, she produced $815,327 in fees, all in a country town with a population of 3,800 people – that’s people, not properties. In her last quarter she produced $188,446 in fees.
Now that’s a winner!
Ask Joan the secret of her longevity and success and she will tell you that she is a product of consistent training, dedicated practice and large amounts of competent action. Joan was never too busy to attend training and never once uttered the famous loser line, “Been there, done that” when referring to training.
The reward for competence is high levels of client satisfaction, trust, and a high income.
It’s worth working for – competence doesn’t just happen.
During the boom, I heard many salespeople talk up their results. Many of them are quiet now that the market has turned. Now I see many leaders and salespeople in a state of panic. They’re not making sales and they’re blaming the buyers.
It’s time to get out of panic mode and get to work.
Do you have listings? How many are you personally managing? If you have stock, you can talk to the owners about the state of the market. If they want to sell, they must understand that their properties are commodities on a market. Overpriced properties don’t sell. MORE
Are you prepared to recommend that people withdraw their property from the market if they won’t reduce to a price that sells? What good is overpriced stock and stubborn clients? They demotivate you and give you false hope. Some sellers need to be politely ‘fired’.
Are you prepared to prospect to increase your chances of having motivated sellers to work with? Inaction has consequences. So does action.
Don’t blame buyers. They will buy properties that are priced fairly for TODAY’S MARKET. You are not paid to get yesterday’s prices.
If you want to motivate your buyers, motivate your sellers first!
Properties that are priced right sell.
The days of “If we get our price, we’ll sell” are over! This is not the market to ‘try’. This is print-age mentality. In the days of print, about 1 in 30 used to buy the properties they enquired about. In the age of digital advertising, it’s more like 1 in 6. Sellers who sit on the market overpriced, burn good buyers.
Consider the Digital Footprint – if buyers see an overpriced property sitting on the market, they begin to wonder either of two things: What is wrong with the property, or
What is wrong with the owner?
They think that something is wrong with the house, or that the owner doesn’t want to sell. Either is not a good reputation for sellers to have, about themselves or their property.
In the days of print, sellers could sometimes find a naïve buyer who would pay over the market value. They don’t exist anymore. Buyers do their research online and know current market prices as well as agents. Holding out for a price is an outdated strategy, especially in a falling market where the longer you wait, the lower the price you will receive.
The skills you needed during the boom are different to the skills you need when a market turns. Now you must have those tough conversations with you sellers. Put price on the table and address it head on. Avoid those conversations and you’re sure to fail.
Sales success still comes back to this one question:
“If your listings were half price, would they sell?”
A good question to ask your sellers, too.
Late last year, I read a Real Estate Business Online article entitled, Purplebricks already effecting ‘dramatic change’ in commission-charging agents’ behaviour. It quoted Purplebricks global COO Neil Tavender stating that since entering the Australian market, Purplebricks has caused traditional agents to reflect significantly on how they operate.
Tavender was quoted as saying, “We have seen in some instances where commissions have come down from 2.5 per cent to 1.8 per cent. But obviously with the fixed cost models that they have, with premises and associated costs, that is not a sustainable future.”MORE
Personally, I think this is a bit of a stretch. In states where the market was tanking, WA for example, you hardly hear of Purplebricks. Pittard has clients across Australia and none have raised Purplebricks as being a threat.
The fact is, weak real estate salespeople have been discounting their fees to win business long before Purplebricks came along. The recent boom in some states was the reason some salespeople discounted their fees – they wanted to win listings and discounting was the only way they could see to do it.
But Neil Tavender does make a good point: discounting is not a sustainable future.
If you feel that you must discount to win business, if you think that fee is all you’ve got, you have no alternative but to be cheap. And no matter how cheap you are, somebody will always be cheaper.
A better way to win business at a fair fee is to prove your VALUE CHAIN. Your value chain consists of things you can do for sellers that other agents do not do.
To create a value chain, think: why should sellers list with you?
You say you are good, but in what way?
Salespeople often give this little thought. The result is that they look the same as their competitors. When you look the same, you can only compete on fee and giveaways – lower your fee, or perhaps throw in some premium advertising.
Cutting your fee, or adding incentives, cuts into your profit. It demonstrates a lack of business acumen. And if you lack business acumen, how could you expect sellers trust you to sell their properties?
Think about your value chain – it’s the key to winning business with a fair fee for your hard work. Leave discounting to those who have no value to offer.
An interview of William Danko, co-author of Richer Than a Millionaire with Richard Van Ness, will be released this month on Pittard’s streaming platform iTrain®.
In Professor Danko’s previous book, The Millionaire Next Door, co-authored with the late Thomas Stanley, the focus was on what it takes to become a millionaire. In Richer Than a Millionaire, the focus has shifted to two areas: what it takes to be wealthy, and what it takes to be well-adjusted.1 MORE
This is an important distinction. What’s the point of being wealthy if your spouse and kids hate you or have no time for you? What’s the point of being wealthy if you’re miserable or unhealthy?
I like this broader focus. True success is building not only a healthy financial life, but a healthy personal life too. You can be successful and have little money, and you can have enormous wealth and still be unsuccessful.
Many people labour under the mistaken belief that most people gain their wealth through inheritance. The belief that you must be born rich is mistaken. According to the research in Richer Than a Millionaire, most wealthy people developed their wealth in one generation. This should give hope to us all!
Another key to being well-adjusted and wealthy is a happy relationship. Divorce, the authors say, can set wealth creation back by decades. On a personal level, long-term loving relationships do wonders for life enjoyment and longevity.
Fundamentally, we all feel this is so. But I wonder how many people stop to appreciate what they have and work on both their personal lives and on wealth creation. According to Richer Than a Millionaire, we can and should do both.
If you would like to improve your relationship with your significant other, read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This interesting read might make you rethink how you and your spouse can get the most from your relationship.
And if being wealthy and well-adjusted is your goal, read Richer Than a Millionaire. These two books together are sure to give you a new perspective.
Rich and miserable? That’s not for you, is it?
You cannot watch, listen to, or read the news for long without being bombarded with bad news, gloomy forecasts and general negativity. Bad news sells.
Let too much of it into your head, and your performance will suffer. I believe that in life we get the ‘negatives’ for nothing. We must work for the positive. We must consciously seek out the good, the positive, focusing on what we can do instead of worrying about things that are beyond our control, much of which will never happen. MORE
And then there’s those little ‘voices’ in our head, the voices that tell you that you won’t amount to much, that you can’t do something, that real estate is too hard. Those negative voices are the committee in your head.
You may have heard the saying, “Feelings aren’t facts”. This is never truer than when it comes to listening to the ‘committee’.
You’re not stupid, you’re not a failure, despite what the ‘committee’ tells you. Don’t fall for it.
Understand that we all have our own committees and you can bet that yours is no more negative than anybody else’s. Replace the committee’s negativity with positive Affirmations. Change the inner dialogue.
When you think about it, why shouldn’t YOU succeed? Other people have succeeded, so why not you?
If you want an antidote to the committee’s negativity, develop a bigger picture of what you want from your career and your life. Set goals and write positive Affirmations that will change your thinking over time. Goals and Affirmations will help to quiet the committee.
Focus on the positive. Let the committee find another audience.
In an age where people can be quick to assert their rights but slow to live up to their responsibilities, we at Pittard advise our leaders to hold their people accountable. That is, accountable for doing winning actions, in large quantities, on a regular basis.
In Sales, there are right actions and wrong actions. The right actions lead to a listing, a sale, or a price reduction, and eventually to properties sold and fees received. The wrong actions are a waste of time and don’t lead to results. MORE
In my 25 years as a real estate agency profit consultant, I have had the privilege of working with many winners and I have seen that they share many qualities.
One of these qualities is that a great salesperson never waits for their boss to put pressure on them. They put pressure on themselves to do the right actions. They hold themselvesaccountable.
They apply pressure to themselves so that their leaders never have to.
Canadian trainer Brian Tracy says, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”. Nobody is going to make you successful. Many people can help but ultimately you and nobody else is responsible for your success.
You have the choice to:
It all boils down to this: you can do, or you can be a person who doesn’t do. If you don’t, it’s nobody else’s fault.
Hold yourself accountable. Your success is in your hands.
It always has been.