I was asked to complete that sentence the other day by a woman who had just received her real estate license and hadn’t yet made the choice of what brokerage to join.
She wanted my take on what I would do to be successful in today’s real estate market. That’s a really good question, but at the time she asked it, I wasn’t able to give her the proper answer due to a time restriction, so I told her that I’d post the answer here today.
To answer this, I have to go back and review the mistakes that I made in my early career and also look at my successes. I made plenty of mistakes, but had relatively few great successes in terms of the impact that they had on my career. Let me explain that further. Some of my mistakes were potential game ending ones. Like not really prospecting for business. Like flitting from one business generating scheme to another without giving anything an honest try. Like deciding that I knew better than those who were trying to guide me. And, as I said, there were plenty of others.
Some of the successes were as follows: I was incredibly fortunate to start with a Manager and a brokerage that gave me the opportunity, gave me the training, gave me the space to screw up and then gave me the chance to learn and grow. Thank you Michael Fassio and Merrill Lynch Realty (Merrill Lynch sold their real estate brokerage to Prudential Real Estate Affiliates in the fall of 1989).
Another success I had was when I received my first commission check nearly 6 months after beginning my career, I spent the entire check on a PC, monitor, printer and some database software. I then spent the next 30 days learning how to use it. This was no small event. In January of 1987 when I bought that computer, there was only one other computer (to my knowledge) being used by a real estate agent in all of Sonoma County, California. None of the real estate offices had one for that matter. So, what I did flew against the conventional wisdom of the time and all of my friends thought that I was off my rocker.
As I said, I spent all of January 1987 learning how to use the computer in my business. The time spent nearly put me out of business in the short haul, but that computer knowledge turned out to be the best investment in myself that I could have made. In short order I was able to set up a prospecting database and client tracking system. That spring I was able to connect my computer to the MLS. We take that for granted now, but at the time, you had to go to the office and wait your turn at a terminal for MLS access. Being able to access the MLS from home at 6 AM in my robe was a huge competitive advantage.
I was set up at home to prospect and track expired listings and to prospect and track FSBO leads. Seemingly overnight my career was off and running and I have never looked back.
So to my original point, what would I do now if I was starting over? My first step would be to find a broker that I felt could give me the training and support that I would need. Michael and I knew each other before I got my license, and we also had the bond shared by Viet Nam veterans. We had an easy way of talking with each other. So, find the broker that you can connect with as your very first step.
Next I would determine just what my goals are in terms of income and then determine how many sales I needed to make to get that income. First, you have to determine how many prospects you would need to get 1 sale. The numbers of prospects are different for each of us. Over the years I have heard 100 prospects will equal 1 sale. Lately I have heard people saying it’s 200.
So, let’s just do worst case scenario. Say it takes you 300 prospects to make 1 sale. And lets say 1 sale equals $5,000.00 to you after your split. And let’s say that you wanted to make $100,000 in your first year. So, 300 prospects times 20 sales gives you a whopping 6,000 prospects that you need to contact in that first year.
If you divide 6,000 by 50 weeks, you come up with 120 prospects a week, which looks like 20 a day, 6 days a week. That’s a tall order in any one’s book! Every day, you have to contact 20 new people and add them to your database. Then follow up with them. Then create a transaction. Then close an escrow (Oversimplification I know, but I am trying to make a point)
So, once you know your numbers, you can get started. Buy a computer. Something that can send and receive email, surf the MLS and run some sort of contact manager software. Mac or PC, your choice (Our antiquated MLS systems require PCs to access their databases. I have been assured that this year that will change. We’ll see)
Get a Smart Phone. I don’t care which one. Get one on the network that works best in your area of operation. Pay no attention to hype or ads. Ask your friends what they use and if they like it. Make sure that it will sync with your computer so that you always have your calendar and contacts with you.
Now, here is the biggie...learn how to use both of those tools. Most of us can’t use more than 25% of the capabilities of our technology tools. You are starting out…take the time to get it right, learn how to use the tools.
Next, I would join Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and have complete profiles on each of these networks. This is how you are going to meet the 20 new people every day. Learn how to search for and connect with people that want to do real estate transactions. Use your computer database to keep track of the vital info on each of your new prospects. Listen to what they say and when appropriate, jump into the conversation with useful advice, fun things and educational information. Keep the self promotion to no more than 10% of what you do or say on these networks.
Hold open houses whenever possible. Even though you will meet more prospects in a shorter period of time by using social networks, there is nothing better than meeting people face to face. Especially people who are out shopping for houses!
Follow up with hand written notes, emails, pokes, tweets, phone calls (be sure to observe Do Not Call and do not mail laws).
There’s much more to this, but I am very confident that the steps that I have outlined above would give that new agent a great start. If she’ll stay focused and do this, and not give up, she’ll be rookie of the year!
What do you think?
About the Author: Jerry is a 23 year veteran of the real estate industry and has done it all from listing and selling, to managing single and multiple offices. He has been the IT Director for a major SF Bay Area company, and has also been the Training Director for another major SF Bay Area company. In addition to writing this blog, Jerry is the Principal of Jerry Kidd Training and Consulting, specializing in showing real estate professionals how to utilize today’s exciting social tools to create and nurture relationships with home buyers and sellers. Visit http://www.JerryKidd.com to learn more about the training and consulting services offered.