Before applying any of the prospecting advice, particularly when working in the telephone niche, be sure to consult with your manager, local ordinances, and the “no call” list to insure you are not violating any rules.
According to documented surveys, the average Realtor earns less than $12,000 a year. A national franchise organization that attracts top-producing agents reports a yearly median income of $33,000. Yet every day, thousands of people from all walks of life obtain a real estate license because they think they can earn easy money in a short period of time. Unrealistic expectations, lack of education, and self-serving motives are partly responsible for the industry’s high turnover and low incomes.
I have a bone-deep belief that quality service is its own reward. When I was asked to write a book on doubling your income in real estate, it took me a long time to figure out how to explain that the only way to double your income is to forget about money and start concentrating on service. The problem is that nobody can forget about money in the real estate business. There is always a new quick-fix formula for success being test-marketed on Realtors, and they seem willing to listen.
Nobody wants to hear that there are no shortcuts in selling. You might think I am just trying to amuse you when I say that the luckiest thing that ever happened to me in real estate was being told by my first manager to go knock on doors to drum up business. I was six months pregnant, and she refused to give me floor time in my condition.
This is not an amusing story, but a tough selling lesson from my life that contains a basic truth.
During the past 30 years, I grew up in this business, so if you are serious about doubling your income, study every word I have written in this book. I did not try out a real estate career for one year, then drop out to become a sales trainer. I was in the sales trenches for more than a decade, listing and selling more than 100 homes annually during five of the most challenging cycles in the history of real estate.
I spent many years co-owning and leading a company of more than 100 agents to a 20-percent market share of business. All of these hard-earned experiences brought credibility to my teaching, which has kept me travelling throughout the 50 states, Canada, and Australia for the last 10 years. If I sound defensive, I am. To defend what I write and teach is a sign that I am alive and passionate about my vocation.
In writing this book, I interviewed hundreds of salespeople and managers across the United States who shared their stories with me. They all want financial freedom, but they want other freedoms too. Repeatedly, I heard them use the words “balance” and “control.” As I suspected, the meaning of success is no longer just about making money.
Double Your Income in Real Estate is a blueprint and an all- encompassing plan for the 21st-century professional Realtor. I show you how to double your income and enrich your quality of life step-by-step. We will go in search of two qualities that are at the heart of performance selling—self-discipline and human warmth. Each chapter challenges you to go deep into yourself and rediscover those qualities.
The latest advanced external sales skills are presented, but pay just as much attention to the sections devoted to building your internal strengths. I will examine your internal strengths by first asking questions, and I will never raise a question without formulating a common sense answer—one that you will find extremely workable in real life. These questions include:
- Can you double your income without your family’s approval?
- Are you willing to give up your old self-defeating habits?
- Perhaps you know how to sell, but are you afraid to sell?
- Do you know enough about real estate to deserve a bigger income?
- How do you close a successful sale?
- Are you working in a healthy selling environment?
- Why do you spend commissions before you earn them?
- Is your broker a manager or a leader?
- How does a company double its profits?
- What is the Leadership Management Formula?
- How does a leader influence motivation?
- How do you change an overpriced seller’s mind about market value?
In Chapter 1, we start by examining your internal strengths. If you are a seasoned agent in a slump, learning more sales skills may not be the answer to your poor production. Your problems could be due to an internal weakness. If you had more willpower, self-discipline, or faith, would you be so easily inclined to fall into a sales slump? How can you acquire these attributes?
Have you been neglecting your health? Turn to my health/wealth prescription at the end of Chapter 1.
Chapter 2 contains 16 of the nicest things you can do for yourself and your family, and it also includes 14 team-building lessons you can incorporate into family life while you are trying to reach your financial goals.
Chapter 3 tests your knowledge about the history of housing in this country during the last 70 years. This is the kind of information you need to refute a misinformed buyer who says, “We heard it would be better to wait until the market turns before we buy a house.”
When you double your income, you double your liability. Take the Home I.Q. Exam in Chapter 3 and find out what you do not know about the newest environmental matters. From then on, when a buyer asks you why a home has been tested for radon, you will not have to act like you did not hear what was said.
Chapter 4 is for agents who want to learn how to be team players and for managers who want to create a team. Questions raised in this chapter include:
- What role does the manager play in doubling your income?
- Is it better to work for a large or a small company?
- What is a model real estate office, and how does it carry out its business?
Chapter 4 presents my Leadership Management Formula, which can lead teams toward excellence. It contains six steps, including a 12-day training program for all experience levels.
Chapter 5 has some tough lessons on business development. Every agent who is serious about doubling his or her income must target eight niches.
- Which of these niches pay off the fastest?
- How do you go about dominating these markets?
In Chapter 6, you will get the opportunity to eavesdrop on how six-figure income agents take control of the listing presentation. Every technique is covered in a two-act, real-life listing play that is rich with conflict centered around the competition, fee cutting, and overpricing. Are you prepared to write and present my all-new professional proposal and market assessment to the for-sale-by-owner?
What is credibility marketing and the secret to generating valuable new leads? Read Chapter 7 on “push-button promotion” and find out. Learn the most attention-getting dialogues taught today that will convert your cold calls into hot leads.
In Chapter 8, you will study methods to find more prospects who are ready to buy now. Do you think open houses are a waste of time? Let me prove to you how wrong you are and how you can experience immediate income results by following my newest open house methods.
Today’s buyers want a deal. The high-income earners know the art of the deal. They know how to network with other deal-makers. In Chapter 9, find out how they create more sales. How do you teach buyers to think like sellers and sellers to think like buyers? Confront some of today’s most frequently spoken buyers’ objections with confidence, and learn common sense ways to overcome their resistance. Read about the classic closing moments of the real estate stars. Sponge off all of us, and watch your income double.
In writing this edition, I felt it was important to discuss ways of handling discount houses and fee cutters with whom you may be in competition when you go out on your presentations. Hopefully after reading Chapter 10, you will learn the importance of building relationships and that always adding value to your services will more than combat these issues.
The Broker Manager Survey in the Appendix will assist you when evaluating management performance. Most managers spend very little time throughout the year actively recruiting. This survey helps administration and management clearly see where they are spending most of their time. It helps management regroup and straighten out their priorities.
This book will challenge both salespeople and managers to change. Today’s consumers are value-driven, price-conscious individuals. Agents who try to combat buyer and seller objections with archaic sales pitches and fancy superlatives are a dying breed. If you do not adapt to the changing marketplace, you will not survive in the 21st- century selling environment.
The consumer is on a mission—to find a quality service Realtor to serve his or her housing needs. Become that kind of a Realtor, and let the words in this book inspire you on your journey toward excellence.
Willpower Comes First
This book is designed purposefully. The first order of business must be the willingness to change your behavior. Why talk about prospecting techniques or sales tips if you cannot practice successful habits each and every day?
There is too much talk and very little action in this industry. Trainers are making a fortune coaching agents because willpower and personal accountability are sorely lacking. Let’s quit talking and start taking some serious action. Double Your Income in Real Estate is a guaranteed plan for success, but you must make it happen. I have already proven it works. Now it is your turn. Put it into effect quietly, without grandstanding. Here is an example of wasting time by grandstanding:
When I managed a real estate company, I hired a very enthusiastic saleswoman who, based on her confident manner and convincing words, I predicted would become one of my biggest producers.
“I am going to earn $100,000 my first year in the business,” she said. “Ambitious goals,” I responded.
“You have to think big,” she said.
During her first month in the business, she called on for-sale-by- owners (fisbos), selected a territory, and sat open houses each weekend. In the second month, she stopped calling on for-sale-by-owners. In the third month, she stopped farming. After four months, all her business development activity ceased. She surprised me one after- noon when she came into my office, asking for her license back.
“I’m going to a bigger company,” she said. “Things are not hap- pening fast enough for me around here, especially in my territory where I go door-knocking.”
“It takes about a year before homeowners will believe you are serious about representing their best interests,” I told her.
“I don’t have a year to waste. Door-knocking is stupid, anyway. I just attended a seminar, and the speaker said farming is a waste of time. He told us not to bother with people who were not prepared to buy or sell immediately.”
About two years later, I ran into her at a local chamber of commerce networking meeting. I had not seen her name in the papers yet; if she had earned that $100,000 as planned, it would have become big news in our real estate community.
She told me, “I left real estate. I am now selling loans. That is where the money is. Let’s face it, everybody and his brother is trying to sell houses.”
I wished her luck. I wanted to tell her that I thought her best bet for making big money fast was to buy a lottery ticket. The odds against you are great, but it beats hard work, making sacrifices, and practicing patience. After I made a few other poor hiring decisions, I began to see the necessity of verifying a candidate’s internal strengths before making a final recruiting decision.
Although a large portion of this book is devoted to improving your external sales skills in order to make more money, this chapter presents the internal preparation and cleansing necessary to begin the process of enriching your quality of life. Start by answering these questions with complete honesty.
Is It Worth the Sacrifice?
If you have a deep-seated, passionate desire, need, or reason to double your income, sacrificing will not feel like some form of suffering. On the contrary, once you are well into the process, you will discover a great sense of liberation.
It will be a relief to have finally eliminated those wasted hours in your day that had very little to do with improving your standard of living. On the other hand, if you are not truly committed to the double income goal, you will end up feeling miserable and cheated, making life for others around you equally unbearable.
I learned about the integral part that sacrifice plays in achievement at an early age. When I was 3 years old, my father taught me how to ice skate. By the time I was 7 years old, I was training to become a competitive figure skater. The first time my parents took me to a professional ice show, the skaters made it look effortless.
I imagined being the star and promised myself I would become a professional skater someday. I took skating lessons for more than eight years, practicing every morning from 5 to 8 a.m.
When I was a freshman in high school, the process of becoming a figure skater started getting old and boring. I was tired of getting up at the crack of dawn. I was sick of practicing while all my friends went to dances, found boyfriends, got involved in after-school activities, and had social lives. I quit skating and abandoned my childhood fantasy of becoming a figure skater, but the valuable insights I gained about the importance of internal strength combined with external skill have served me well.
Let’s examine my decision. I was a good skater, but I did not want to pay the price to become a great skater, as Olympic hopefuls must do. When I was very young, I made the decision to skate, unaware that other parts of my life would have to be sacrificed. As I got older, I lacked the passionate desire that keeps committed skaters motivated and able to resist temptation.
Doubling my income in real estate involved more hard choices that, like my experience in ice skating, included sacrifice. I knew I had to be willing to give up certain fun blocks of time and focus on work. I said no to people continuously, and it took a while for me to get used to feelings of isolation.
But resisting temptation was the secret of my success. When I sold 100 homes each year, it was my strengthened willpower that kept me focused and out of the office where temptation lived. I had no time to gossip or indulge myself in leisurely lunches. It sounds boring and, at times, it was, but it was a small price to pay for something I wanted badly.
What Are My Secret Motives?
Are you financially burdened with your children’s college tuition expenses? Do you have dreams of building a comfortable retirement account during the next five years? Do you want to improve your overall lifestyle? These are all good reasons that can empower you to double your income, but before you go any further, ask yourself the following questions:
- What extra services can I add to show customers and clients that I am worth doing business with? (What is in it for them, not just what is in it for me?)
- How could doubling my income improve my quality of life and my loved ones’ lives?
- How will I appropriate the monies earned?
- Once I know specifically why I want to double my income, do I have the fortitude to forget about what my financial benefits will be and to concentrate on what is best for the customer and client in the long run?
I refer to question number four as “learning how to fly blind.” A writing professor once told me that, every time I begin a new writing project, I fly blind, never knowing exactly where I am going or how I will get there. For instance, when writing a short story, I know what my story is about, the location it takes place in, who my characters are, and the conflicts that must be presented, but I am not sure how the conflicts will be resolved.
You fly blind everyday. When you call on a for-sale-by-owner or visit your territory, you do not know if people will greet you with open arms or slam doors in your face. Never try to predict outcomes. Be prepared and approach your territory with a confident but not expectant attitude. Allow yourself to get swept away in the moment, and when you least expect it, you will knock on the door of a legiti- mate prospect.
Examine your motives and write them down, but then forget about them. I mean really forget about them. Otherwise, you will become obsessed about your own personal stake in each prospecting call. Never become too attached to one or two prospects to the exclusion of others. When agents acquire such habits of attachment to a few, they lose their perspective and use hard-sell closing techniques that push both buyer and seller away.
Become a fanatic about delivering impeccable customer/client service, and you will be amazed to find out that all your private wishes and dreams are being taken care of in the course of the process. I know agents who demonstrate a certain type of selflessness, and that behavior is appreciated and rewarded.
These salespeople manage to pull themselves out of bad sales slumps and double, even triple, their incomes—people like Dane Hooper, a real estate salesman from Illinois, who was in the business for more than 10 years. He believed that “If you give the service, the rest will come.” Here is an excerpt from a letter he sent me:
How Do I Confront My Fears?
Every time I conduct a sales seminar, I give my students a solution to their fears; otherwise, the most useful skills presented to them will be meaningless because they are afraid to sell. How can people be expected to double their income if they are immobilized in fear? I have worked with bright agents who could have easily doubled their incomes by adding a farm or for-sale-by-owners to their business development efforts, but they were terrified to knock on doors.
I know managers who were equally as terrified to door-knock or cold-call, when they were salespeople, and are now transmitting their hidden fears to their staff. They may preach farming in their training programs, but when I ask them if they have gone door-knocking with their agents, they give me a dirty look and start shuffling papers.
I use farming as an example when I talk about fear because it is one of the most difficult activities for agents and managers to adopt into their business development plans. Farming is another form of niche marketing. Do not doubt that niche marketing works. Oprah Winfrey’s millions of television viewers are the farm she visits five days a week.
When I owned a real estate company, every Friday, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., I took my agents out into their territories to walk, knock, and talk. It did not matter what the agents’ experience level happened to be; they would all come out into the neighborhood with me. They found out that door-knocking was fun, especially when it was done fast.
My door-knocking rules were:
- Be genuine, but get to the point. Agents who act like they have all day to chat are not respected by homeowners. You are on an investigation, so carry it out.
- Use the language of the people, just as if you belong in that neighborhood.
You: Hi Ethel. Remember me, the real estate lady from Better Properties, Inc.? Sorry to bother you, but I just ran out of houses. Do you know of any I could sell?
Ethel: Can’t think of any at the moment.
You: Keep your ears open because your neighborhood is so popular we keep selling everything we get our hands on around here.
The agents who had never door-knocked before were amazed to find out how responsive people were. They discovered that people love to brag about their houses as much as they like bragging about their children. After I knocked on about five or six doors, the other agents were dying to try it, too. Because they were willing to confront their fears, they discovered there was nothing to be afraid of after all.
Here are some prescribed procedures that will melt your fears away:
- Do not ignore your fears.
- Stop thinking and start acting.
- Buddy up with a winner.
Do not ignore your fears
In her book Elegant Choices, Healing Choices, Marsha Sinetar says, “Fear means we should pay attention. Just because we feel frightened does not mean we have to stop moving ahead.”
Ignoring your fears means that you are using large amounts of energy to suppress important feelings about yourself. The awareness and acceptance of your fears is the first step toward diminishing the power those fears have over you. When I first began my speaking career, I tried to ignore my stage fright. I would hide in the wings until I was introduced and then make a grand entrance down the middle aisle, always afraid I would fall flat on my face before I made it up to the stage. Then I would get my first look at the audience and have a panic attack.
One morning, while waiting in the wings and having an especially bad case of speaking anxiety, I decided to confront the source of my fears—the audience. I just walked up the middle aisle and took a seat in the middle of the group. I talked to people one-on-one, and they seemed excited to meet me. By the time I was introduced, I felt much more relaxed. I noticed such a big difference in my attitude that I now begin every presentation from the audience.
Since then, I have added more relaxation techniques for myself and the group. I ask the audience to stand up, look around, and see who else is present. I explain to them that the other agents attending the program are their friends, not their enemies. Despite the fact that they may compete against each other, they are partners in business. Then I tell the audience to shake hands with five agents and say, “Thank you for all the times you sell one of my listings and put food on my table.” By the time I get on stage, I am loosened up, and so is the group.
Stop thinking and start acting
I went to an all-girls high school. Every Friday afternoon, we had an after-school dance in our gymnasium. Each week, the whole scenario started out pretty pathetically. All the girls, acting as if they were bored to death, but secretly dying to dance, plastered them- selves against the wall on the right side of the room.
The boys, acting equally as cool, hugged the wall on the left. At the first dance I attended, I waited all afternoon for this one guy to make his move my way, but he never did. In homeroom class the following Monday morning, I found out from his sister that he spent all Friday afternoon trying to get up enough courage to ask me to dance, and then he spent Friday night in a bad mood because he never asked.
The following Friday, I decided I was not going to stand around and wait anymore. Yes, I was afraid, and my knees were wobbling as I walked over to my girlfriend’s brother, but I quit thinking about how nervous I was, gave myself permission to act on what I wanted, and then did it. “Wanna dance?” I asked.
“I was just going to ask you the same question,” he said.
For the next two-and-a-half hours, we danced our soles off. Once he and I got in the swing of things, so did everybody else. All the dances for the rest of the year were a big hit. The only regret I had was the time I had wasted the previous Friday afternoon hugging the wall.
As an adult, I have applied the same stop-thinking-start-acting principle to my business development activities. If I had sat around and waited until I was composed enough to pick up the phone, call an old customer, or knock on a door, I would have starved to death.
Buddy-up with a winner
Remember that doubling your income is all about doubling your business development efforts, so be honest with yourself and confront the business development activity that you frequently avoid.
Admit you are afraid to do it, and then seek out the champion of that activity who works in your office. Ask if you can watch him or her work. If farming is his or her specialty, go door-knocking with him or her. If another agent is great at making cold calls, sit beside that person or, with permission, pick up the extension and listen to a conversation with a prospect.
Managers should be aware of the fears of their salespeople. If cold-calling is a problem, they should hold frequent evening telethons so that the fearless and the fearful can work together in a room. This is the best prescription for overcoming call reluctance. Listen to people who possess the “phone home” tone in their voice. Those are the agents who do not sound as if they are talking to a chair or a table, but to a real human being with a heart and soul.
How Can I Become More Self-Disciplined?
If you are dead serious about doubling your income within the next six months, you must learn how to turn your time and energy into a profit. This means exercising self-control.
Here are five ways to expand your willpower:
- Write out your positive, passionate reason for wanting to double your income. Sign your name to the affirmation, and include an expiration date.
- Pause and ponder.
- During the long process, give yourself sneak previews.
- Never say die.
- Learn to live in the zone.
Write out your positive, passionate reason for wanting to double your income
Post this notice to yourself in a place that you pass frequently. This public notice is the first step toward boosting your willpower because, to resist temptation, you will often need to reread your strong uplifting reason.
The top producers I know all over the country are those who are able to meet deadlines and have passionate reasons for completing what they start:
- Bob in New Jersey needed a bigger home, because his wife was expecting their fourth child and they were running out of bedrooms.
- Susie in Houston was married to a pilot who was laid off after 20 years.
- Single Lynn in Chicago was sick and tired of pinching pennies every month, always keeping her fingers crossed that her check would make it to the water company before the shut-off date.
Liz’s daughter was a brilliant young woman who was accepted into an Ivy League school. Liz wanted to help her finance the tuition.
Richard’s daughter announced her engagement. She was his only child, and she wanted a traditional wedding. Her wish was his command.
Here are a couple of written goals:
I will double my present income from $50,000 to $100,000, so I can buy a home in a low-crime neighborhood where the schools are rated “excellent.”
I will earn twice what I am making right now, so I can hire an assistant to do my follow-up work, which will enable me to spend more time with my son. He has shown an interest in golf, and I want to teach him to play.
Caution: Be sure you stick with your plan as written. I have watched agents give in to the temptation of spending money foolishly once they double their income. What good is it to double your income if you have no control over expenses? The best way to learn how to save money is to handle your money in good times with the same respect you do when times are tough.
Pause and ponder
How bad do you want this dream to come true? Do you “have to” make it happen? Do you feel strongly about attaining this goal?
When I got into real estate, I had to make enough money to buy food for my family, no questions asked. When I write a book, I must be convinced that people are dying to get the information. Whenever I lose sight of this vision, I am tempted to weaken and procrastinate on the day-to-day writing required to complete my work.
I know my willpower is weakening when I hear myself saying, Who really cares about what I think anyway? Nobody will miss this book if it does not get published. Excuse me, Mr. Computer, while I go eat a brownie and take a nap. To prevent such negative thoughts, I keep fan letters at my fingertips so that I can read them when I begin to belittle my project. Reading them reminds me that I have an audience, that I am only temporarily afraid or tired, and that my fears are weakening my willpower.