A few weeks ago, I completed reading a fantastic book: The Hard Thing About Hard Things. One of the many valuable recommendations was a really great concept: Every member of your organization should know clearly and in writing, what is "good" and what is "bad" in their given role. And so, in a moment of inspiration, I wrote this document for real estate agents. We can't (and won't) ever be perfect every day. But without knowing what good is, we can't get close to becoming who we should be.
Good Real Estate Agent, Bad Real Estate Agent
Smart Prospecting Predicts Success
Good agents know that prospecting for new business and leads is the most fundamental predictor of success. Good agents take a pro-active approach to contact their sphere-of-influence, expand their network, and continually look for opportunities to form connections with others. Bad real estate agents rely on marketing “shiny objects” and want an “easy fix”. They think that the newest online gadget or phone app is a real solution to their lack of business. Bad agents don’t keep in contact with their sphere of influence and do little networking. Bad agents are not consistent in their marketing efforts and tend to move from one thing to another.
Good agents strive to add value and provide information, support, and advice to people in any context, knowing that business success comes from providing value and serving others. Bad agents only want “good leads” and do not provide value to people unless they are a great prospect. Bad agents immediately want to know they are getting paid and fail to understand that real estate is a service business- the more you serve the more business you get.
Good agents are excellent at evaluating leads and categorizing them appropriately. They don’t wear rose-colored glasses. Good agents will quickly access a lead for viability, motivation, and move rapidly, if possible, to mitigate any potential issues. Good agents continually work to improve viability of a potential client to achieve their goal. Bad real estate agents don’t see warning signs that a lead is not viable. In their desperation to do business, bad agents spend valuable time and resources working leads inappropriately. Bad agents will ignore or downplay potentially negative issues early in the prospecting process, rather than face them. Bad agents try to “speed up” a lead that is simply not ready to make a decision. Bad agents will refuse to acknowledge problems or issues until they have wasted many hours of their time and then they will complain that the leads are “bad”. Bad agents do not recognize that a key component of prospecting is assessing lead motivation or fixing (or not fixing) critical issues (i.e. financing problems, credit issues, divorce.)
Motivation and Hard Work
Good real estate agents are self-motivated and have the discipline to work hard consistently. Bad real estate agents lack motivation and are variable in their work habits. They do not work consistently and blame their lack of success n external factors, such as “no one seem to want to buy or sell” or “I just don’t get any good leads.” Good real estate agents understand that their own drive, work ethic, and commitment is the #1 predictor of their success. Bad real estate agents get into real estate for “easy money” and don’t put in the requisite effort to succeed.ce, legal problems, etc.)
Get Comfortable with Rejection
Good agents are comfortable with rejection. They understand that a “no” is not a reflection of their worth as a person and is not forever. Good agents know that if you don’t go after what you want, the answer will always be no. Good agents have thick skin. Bad agents take rejection personally and get upset. They are not strong enough to move past rejection and they tend to see it as a judgement on their worth as an individual. Bad agents let the fear of rejection block their future efforts to prospect and generate business. Bad agents would rather feel “safe” and not do any business, than face rejection. Bad agents use excuses like “I’m not good on the phone” or “they like email better” to enable them to hide from having real conversations and connections with people, where they might face rejection.
Respond and Connect Immediately
Good agents are FAST whenever a lead presents itself. They know that a lead is a valuable, time-sensitive opportunity and will move quickly (within minutes) to get that lead started on a path to achieving their goal. Good agents will pounce on a lead immediately and will connect with that person as soon as possible, using the most effective form of communication possible (i.e. they will choose in person vs. phone; phone vs. email; email vs. text). Bad agents take their time to respond to a lead. They choose whatever follow up type is most convenient for them personally. Even if a lead gives a phone number, they will choose the less effective form of communication, in an effort to “hide” from the person or just take the easier route.
Always Improve, Every Way You Can
Good agents continually refine their skills. They read books, attend classes, listen to podcasts, learn from others, and generally improve their skills constantly. Bad agents do not improve their skills and seldom put extra effort into understanding their industry and their craft. Good agents understand what they know and what they don’t know. Good agents will not give advice or claim expertise on things they don’t actually understand. Once they identify an area of weakness, good agents proactively try to learn and become proficient in this area. Bad agents don’t have a clue about what they know or don’t know. They think they understand things they don’t really understand at all. Bad agents make statements that they are not qualified to make (regarding law, accounting, or finance), and frequently provide answers that are inaccurate.
Good agents seek mentors. They strive to create close working relationships with individuals that can teach them and help guide them toward success. Good agents are willing to provide their time and energy toward helping their mentor, with the understanding that the mentor will then help them achieve their goals. Good agents strive to strengthen these symbiotic relationships in a way that serves each person. Bad agents do not seek mentors. Bad agents, if they do reach out to a mentor, constantly want help with their own issues and fail to recognize that relationships require both give and take. Bad agents take up valuable time from mentors and feel entitled to it.
Commitments Reflect Your Value
Good agents keep their commitments. If a good agent says they will do something, they do it. They will do their very best to under-promise and over-deliver. Bad agents make commitments and then don’t keep them. They offer up excuses “I was busy” or “my schedule changed” or simply fail to even indicate why they didn’t follow through. Bad agents chronically over-promise and under-deliver. Good agents understand that every action (or lack thereof) is a reflection on their character. They carefully guard their reputation and do their best to always meet a commitment, however small it is. Bad agents fail to recognize that every action, no matter how small, is a reflection on their commitment and trustworthiness as a person. Bad agents do not understand that the role of a real estate agent is built on service and trust. By failing to follow through on their commitments, they put their overall capacity into question with potential clients, mentors, and colleagues.
Manage the Process
Good agents understand the real estate process and manage their contracts proactively. They track the
progression of each of their clients towards achieving their goals, and carefully monitor the individual steps,
dates, and information needed throughout the transaction for it to be successfully closed. They minimize
surprises and think carefully about how to move a transaction forward. Good agents develop and use
systems, processes, and other project management tools to stay on task and to minimize last minute “emergencies”. Bad agents lack systems and processes. They operate each transaction as if it was the first time and put their transactions and their clients at risk due to their lack of planning and thought. Bad agents have continual “crisis situations” and then expect others- the other agent, clients, title company, lender, inspection, broker, etc. to compensate for their own lack of planning. Bad agents forget major (or minor) items that need to be completed to get a transaction to close.
Understand and Communicate Effectively
Good agents communicate effectively with their clients. Good agents act with empathy and will work to present solutions to clients, in a format and style that suits the client’s natural preferences. Bad agents are typically poor at communication, forcing clients and partners to have to ask for information, rather than present information proactively. Good agents establish goals and set boundaries with clients upfront. They end every conversation with “Is there anything else I can do for you?” Bad agents do not clarify goals with their clients. They don’t communicate reasonable boundaries to clients. Good agents strive to understand the preferred communication style and personality of each client. Good agents will be analytical with analytical clients and emotional/ empathetic with more personality-driven clients. They will mold and modify their own style to make their client feel at ease and secure. Bad agents do not think about their client’s preference for communication style and information. They do not recognize that different types of natural preferences exist and treat all clients the same. Bad agents only understand their own way of relating to the world. They use logic when a client might want a more empathetic approach. They use emotion when the client might want a spreadsheet. They are woefully inept at reading people and catering to their needs as individuals.
Work with Excellence
Good agents take pride in completing their work with excellence. They are motivated, not just to do business, but to do it with excellence, even at their own expense. They will behave ethically and present choices to their clients that might not be in their own best interest, but will be in the best interest of their client. Bad agents just want the money. They frequently push clients into purchase decisions they are not ready to make and offer advice that is self-serving and limits their options.
Good agents understand that being a real estate agent is a demanding and vitality important service.
They recognize their unique role in helping their clients achieve their goals and strive to guide them effectively in some of the most emotionally challenging, financially-impactful, and difficult life changes they will ever make. Good agents take pride in their work and recognize it for what it is- a critically important role that should be performed with excellence.