Have you ever wondered what makes a good agent great? We have all met someone who stands head and shoulders above the crowd, regardless of the economic climate or the state of the property market. We can be forgiven for thinking that these people are simply lucky and that their ongoing success is because they are in the right place at the right time, or that they work for the ‘right’ agency. But, while these factors may play a role, they are by no means the sole reason for a top agent’s success.
Surprisingly enough, agents of this calibre don’t own a magic wand, nor do they have access to some sort of genie held captive in a bottle. The reason for their continued success is that they simply stick to the basics.
Property Professional chatted to Anthony van der Riet, a business coach and property trainer at The Coaching Factory, and asked him to name the top five guidelines that every agent should follow.
1:Set Goals and a Daily Activity Plan
There are hundreds of estate agents who earn huge sums of money because they have a goal, a business plan and a structured daily activity schedule in place. And, no matter what, they do what has to be done.
Unfortunately, there are also thousands of agents who have the knowhow and qualifications, yet battle to make ends meet. These are normally the agents who blame the banks or the fact that there’s no stock and they end up drifting from one agency to another, expecting different results. Highly successful agents, on the other hand, are disciplined and task-oriented, which means they’re not likely to do things on the spur of the moment. They don’t go shopping in the middle of the day or start working at 11am. They are focused and know exactly what must be done, from Monday to Sunday.
2:Create Effective Presentations
It is amazing how many agents forget that they are the ‘product’ and homes are the ‘commodity’, and that clients ‘buy’ them before they buy a property or sign a sole mandate. Unfortunately, many take shortcuts and go and see a potential seller with only a computerised valuation print-out and a glossy brochure without realising that these are only some of the important ‘tools’ they need to do the job properly.
The majority of agents these days don’t prepare a proper Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which should include properties currently on the market, those that have been sold and expired listings. The CMA should also include the profile of the company and of the agent, properties on the market as well as those sold (with pictures), a marketing plan, knowledge and statistics of the area, letters of recommendation, the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) Code of Conduct, a Fidelity Fund certificate and tips for making the home more attractive to buyers.
A good presentation should leave no doubt in a client’s mind that this agent can sell the house for the highest possible price, in the shortest time, with the least amount of hassle.
Life is a stage and yet agents spend little time role-playing. This practice is recommended for those who want to sharpen their skills and perfect their sales and negotiation techniques. Unfortunately, many are reluctant to role-play for fear of looking silly or of making a mistake in front of their colleagues.
The truth of the matter is that while a mistake in front of one’s peers may cause a few sniggers around the office, it won’t cost the agent a cent. On the other hand, making mistakes in the field can cost hundreds of thousands of rands.
The fact is that many sales people refuse to participate in this form of training because of a lack of knowledge on the part of the manager, a lack of preparation, or both. Most superstars in the industry today have had the benefit of learning from another agent, either by observing them in action, or by being coached in the finer details of performing in front of a client.
4:Stay in Touch
There is a saying that goes ‘staying in touch is staying in business’. This does not mean posting messages on Facebook or WhatsApp and expecting all your old clients to contact you when they need advice. It means you have to make them feel you are contacting them personally, which has to be done at least six to 12 times a year.
Some of the most successful agents remember to send a card on a client’s birthday. They send out newsletters mentioning things like wedding anniversaries and would never dream of allowing a Mother’s or Father’s Day to go by without sending a card.
A commission cheque is a report card that indicates how well one has performed during the year. If our children come home with poor marks, we take corrective measures to assist them in order to improve the situation. Sometimes we have to put our pay cheque next to our children’s report card and see who needs remedial action the most.
The method of looking at ourselves as we really are, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, is one of the most important aspects of finding our true identity, as well as of finding the pace that is right for us. Self-evaluation happens when we take accountability for our actions and either change our habits or find a coach or mentor to hold us accountable. Every profession has basic rules that need to be followed. In journalism, for instance, the most basic rule (apart from the ‘i before e’ bit) when writing an article is to tell the reader who, what, where, when, why and how. If a writer doesn’t get the basics right, the story will be muddled, hard to understand and not worth a read. The real estate profession also has basics that have to be followed if an agent wants to sell consistently well.
“There are the basics of real estate and then there are shortcuts, and when agents take shortcuts they tend to fall off the bus,” says van der Riet. “The basics of real estate are like the foundations of a house that ensure a strong structure that will last for a long time and not crumble and crack when there’s pressure or a change of surroundings. The basics must always form part of an agent’s working life. Interestingly, when an agent does this well, it becomes known as an advanced technique that contains the basics, but with more structure and information.
“The first and most common reason agents take shortcuts is because they feel they know what they are talking about and can verbally convey to a seller what their house is worth without a proper presentation that contains facts and statistics. Experienced agents are often accurate about the price, but by not backing it up with a visual presentation containing comparable properties, time on the market and percentage of asking price achieved, they lose mandates to less experienced agents who do the basics with enthusiasm.” Van der Riet also stresses the need for agents to be prepared at all times. “There’s a saying that goes, ‘you don’t prepare to get a mandate when you get an appointment – you stay prepared so you can get mandates’. There’s so much information that needs to be current in order to stay ahead of the opposition that this has to be updated on a weekly basis.”
So what makes some agents rise above the rest?
Van der Riet notes that highly successful agents possess a great attitude which, in his opinion, is the most important ingredient. They also have the discipline needed to get stock, because if agents have stock, buyers will find them. In other words, if you have stock, you have a business. He says that top performers also know that interruptions are the thief of time and that there’s a time and place for everything. “They know how to say ‘no’ to people, whether they are clients or colleagues, and do not try to please all the people all the time. Top agents have learned to only deal with qualified buyers and sellers by asking the right questions early on in the conversation and will walk away if they realise that the buyer is not a ‘good prospect’.”
Another point he raises about outstanding agents is that they follow a strict budget and do not spend their whole commission every month. They save in order to weather all conditions and for this reason, they don’t go into panic mode when the markets quieten down or if they have a slower month or two. They also participate in office activities, attend sales meetings, training courses, property expos and share their buyers and stock. Top agents also invest in themselves and don’t wait for the company to do things for them. They are proactive and make things happen according to their goals and plans.
“There are the basics of real estate and then there are shortcuts, and when agents take shortcuts they tend to fall off the bus,” says Van der Riet. “The basics of real estate are like the foundations of a house that ensure a strong structure that will last for a long time and not crumble and crack when there’s pressure or a change of surroundings”
Words: Lea Jacobs