It is a well-known fact that in today’s day and age, everyone knows someone or is related to someone who is a Real Estate Agent. According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, there are more than 40,000 licensed Real Estate professionals in the Greater Toronto Area. But there is a widespread belief that not all Real Estate Agents are created equal. Many seasoned, experienced, and well-educated people switch careers and enter into Real Estate only to fail at their career. Then, there are also those individuals that have solid-but not extraordinary intellectual abilities and technical skills who transition into this career and become hugely successful.
The economic climate today, is quite different than the way it was during a recession or slump time. Agents are not facing foreclosures, financing challenges or falling prices. On the contrary, the market now is hitting new highs and breaking records. In fact, in certain geographical locations, properties are getting multiple offers and subsequently are selling within days of being listed. For agents entering the industry in such a lucrative time, it seems that all agents should, by the sheer economic climate alone, be successful at selling homes. While the market and clientele are on an upward swing, Real Estate agents are up against a lot of competition and must subsequently be at the top of their game and able to distinguish themselves from others, in order to succeed.
The question arises, what does a Real Estate professional have to do to be successful and differentiate themselves from the rest of the crowd. Identifying individuals who have what it takes to be successful in this field comes down to a few simple things. Some realtors may be subdued and analytical while others may be more loud and forceful. Regardless of the approach or personality of the individual, there is a sure fire formula for success that every Real Estate Salesperson can and should follow.
I had a chance to sit down and interview a legend of sorts in the Real Estate Industry and someone I certainly look up to and admire. Rob Vivian -- Real Estate Coach, Mentor, Author, Public Speaker, and a Veteran Real Estate top producer for Century 21. Rob was gracious enough to spend some time with me and share his insights about a field, which he has helped define, and in the process train hundreds of Real Estate agents along the way.
According to Rob, in order for a Real Estate Agent to be successful, they must follow a simple paradigm, which consists of three things. “The first is to think big. You become what you think about. If you are not thinking big, you cannot be successful. So, size matters. Always think big. The second is to have a plan and the third is to have discipline.”
I find that there is a huge gap or void when it comes to Real Estate training. In any of the previous corporate careers I have had, the companies invested heavily in their management training programs, which was a requirement to complete before being placed in a job position. Often times, depending on the position, the employee had an option of job shadowing a mentor whom would be observed in order for the employee to gain a better understanding of what that specific role practically involved.
After a career in the finance field and optical industry, I was met with trepidation and uncertainty as I entered the field of Real Estate. I came upon the realization that the large organizations that govern or have an interest in this industry, which include TREB, OREA and CREA—are not interested in training new Realtors. And hence, there is no formal training available for Real Estate agents. It seems that the interest at large for these organizations is to pump out as many agents and collect fees along the way. However, joining Century 21 put me at an advantage as the company had hired Rob Vivian Coaching to instruct the new or seasoned Real Estate Agents.
Real Estate Coaching is a rather new phenomenon. It has not always been around. In fact, according to Rob, “Coaching only came into existence since the mid 1990’s.” So if all agents have a chance to be coached and trained, will this help them to be better agents? According to Rob, “Many realtors take courses but they don’t learn anything. This is because they are closed-minded and are therefore not coachable.” An agent can be successful if they “get connected with someone who knows what they are doing and be open minded and receptive to learning.” What Rob teaches are the skills that a Real Estate salesperson should possess which will set them apart from the competition.
So for all the new Realtors whom have successfully completed the OREA requirements, how important is Real Estate training to their careers? According to Rob, “In this day and age, a realtor that is new will not make it without coaching.” Coaching is necessary to gain the skills required, have accountability and to follow a plan. Rob’s mentor and coach was Richard McLean, who, back in the day, taught Rob the fundamentals of Real Estate and selling. There is a trend now that brokerages are moving towards making their sales team better. Training is being offered, sometimes at the agent’s expense, however, training should be viewed as an investment in oneself.
My personal experience as a Realtor has shown me that your motivation to succeed, attitude and social skills, have a lot to do with your success. However, this industry remains contingent upon the ‘numbers game.’ According to Rob Vivian, you constantly have to be generating leads. “One in four leads works out. Realtors are notorious for getting a couple of leads, working them and letting the hopper go empty.” It is the industry norm that 90% of the listings go to the same 10% of Real Estate agents—or in generic terms, it is often the same star agents who are consistent with their listings and do more than the average number of four to six transactions per year.
So what do you do to beat the odds? According to Rob, you pick three sources for lead generation and business growth-- and work them. “We call them pillars. Your Past Clients and Center of Influence Database, should be pillar number one and then you can add two more pillars to generate leads. Other pillars may include for instance; For Sale by Owner, Expired Listings, Farming your Geographical Neighbourhood, Cold-Calling, Open Houses and Calling around Active Listings and Sold’s.”
When you compare the Real Estate star performers with average ones, the difference is attributable to lead generation and social skills. Social skills have to do with proficiency in managing relationships and building rapport. Not all agents have a knack for this. In fact, social skills are playing an increasingly important role in determining the outcome of a Realtor’s success.
In summary, being a successful Real Estate agent is a culmination of a few factors. It is definitely a process, which takes time and commitment. Training plays an integral role in the longevity of a Realtor’s career, as does the ability to generate leads. Whilst it’s true that the first sign of a dedicated agent is a passion for the work itself, a star performer is never satisfied with maintaining the status quo. A successful agent is constantly striving to raise the bar higher and is fully committed to providing superior customer service and is not afraid of hard work. Successful Realtors know the importance of social skills in building and maintain relationships while adhering to professional ethics.
In the famous words of Rob Vivian,
“What drives everything is-- you become what you think about—If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t. Either way, you are correct. It’s really that simple.”