“Indeed, the persons who take the greatest pains to proffer such advice are themselves unable to put it into practice.” - Seneca
In order to grow, evolve and move forward as real estate agents and as an industry - we have to look at our past with open eyes.
Let's be honest.
Real estate sales hasn’t always been pretty.
Throughout the years, I’ve seen agents in screaming matches, fist fights in the bullpen (or, as we used to call it, the ‘octagon’), go through bankruptcies, and divorces. And tragically, even colleagues who have taken their own lives...
Understand, I’m not sharing any of this to point fingers or hurt feelings – rather, just to share truth. With truth we all grow.
Big Money. Big Cars. Big Hair.
When I was a kid, I was always outside. At 10 years of age I had a paper route and rode my bike over every square inch of the small town I grew up in. One of the parking lots we would cut through was a real estate office. This was back in the early 80s—the heyday of agents with flashy jewelry, gold coats, big cars, and bigger hair.
Being a young kid, I didn’t understand what their actual ‘job’ was. But for some reason it appealed to me, and about a dozen years later, I found myself freshly hired by a well-known national franchise and one of the most productive offices in Phoenix, Arizona.
Like many bright-eyed young adults in their early 20s, I saw nothing but opportunity. Then came day 1....
The ABCs of Real EstateMy broker, who I looked up to, had me sit in the conference room and watch a series of VHS training tapes to teach me the ropes of real estate sales.
Forty-five minutes into what was to be a week-long training series, I remember my stomach turning in knots. I was beginning to wonder what I was getting myself into as I watched minute after excruciating minute of objection-handling-techniques, closing lines, cold calling and other ‘tactics’ to talk people into what they didn’t want to be talked into.
It just didn’t feel natural.
There was no authenticity, no connection to my core.
But, I did what I was told, behaved how I was trained, and grinded through it, month by month, deal by deal. For a kid in his 20s, I made a decent living. But what I hadn’t yet grasped was the fact that this training was putting me on a path to owning a dead-end ‘job’ and not a business.
I Saw My Future
A couple years into my career, I was up late watching a movie titled Glengarry Glen Ross.
It was a story about the cut-throat business of real estate leads and sales. One of the main characters was an aging salesman named Shelley Lavene (played by Jack Lemmon). Shelley was once a superstar salesman. Now, years later, older, broke, struggling to make ends meet, Shelley was working out of fear and necessity.
What he needed was motivation…
Enter Blake (played by Alec Baldwin): a slick, good-looking, brass-knuckles, super-salesman who came to the sales office to get the team focused.
His message: A.B.C. = Always. Be. Closing.
Just as Blake went into his motivational rampage, I saw myself 40 years into the future. Panic ensued. My video sales training began to stream before my eyes, my heart started beating faster, my breath shortened and became more labored.
I realized if I stayed on the same path…I’d be Shelley in my 60s and 70s—we all would be.
I didn’t sleep well that night. But by the time morning rolled around, it hit me. I’d been in the real estate business for 3 years–and I finally realized, these guys are full of $#÷x!
Why am I listening to them?
The ego-driven trainers, old-school ‘it’s a numbers game’ brokers, the get-rich-quick-charlatans whose only motivation is extracting money–and not the sustainability of my business. Why am I trying to be something that, deep down, is not me—that goes against the core of my inner-being and against the grain of human nature?
I realized that the only thing their version of the ABCs guarantees is that if you follow it, you’re guaranteed to Always. Be. Chasing. And that, my friend, is not a business. That’s not a life.
Yes, real estate is in fact a number’s game—but our teachers were wrong. It isn’t about burning through a list of real estate buyer leads, trying to find a ‘yes’ in a haystack of ‘no thank yous’ from a cold call list.
The real numbers game is about relationships. How many relationships do you have? How many times do you communicate with them and offer value (and not a sales pitch)? How much rejuvenation time are you taking so you’re properly fueled with passion and purpose? How often are you diving into your real estate crm to truly understand who will provide your next referral?
So be careful of the training ‘gurus’ you listen to and the conventional ‘wisdom’ you assume to be true – after all…if the ‘wisdom’ of the sales trainers of the 70s and 80s were right, we’d still be memorizing canned one-liners on our cassette decks while feathering our big beautiful hair.
Originally posted on August 23, 2013. Updated September 20, 2017.