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Focus On Your "Why" To Be A Successful Real Estate Agent

“The interesting thing is: if you do it for love, the money comes anyway.”
– Richard St. John

heart-shaped cloudMany companies in the real estate industry proffer shortcuts to success. There is no end to the seminars, tools, and techniques available for purchase, all promising to help you bring in more leads and make more sales.

The truth is, just because a process works for one agent, there’s no guarantee you can recreate its success. Two agents can seemingly work alike in the same market for the same number of hours, and the outcomes can (and likely will) be wholly different.

That's because success can’t be attributed to a process; success is tied to a person.

Who you are, what you care about, and how your behavior reflects your values—that's what resonates with people and brings you success. 

Succeed by Inspiring

There are essentially two ways to influence human behavior: You can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

In this case, "manipulate" doesn’t necessarily refer to subversive, deceptive, or unethical practices. For example, if you manipulate your commission rate low enough, you may cause people to do business with you. Other examples of manipulation include “flat fee” and “MLS only” pricing, or, if you’re a broker, throwing a pizza party in the office to try to correct low morale.

The other way to influence behavior is to inspire it. With this method, people take action because they want to. It feels right in their gut. For instance, one agent may engender trust by being true to her word. Another may enjoy repeat business because he is active in the community in which he lives and lists.

Many agents and brokers struggle to influence clients. Collateral. Pricing. Marketing. Advertising. Social media. You can spend a lot of money in each category. Manipulation does not work. It’s a shortcut and a salve.

What about inspiration? Few consider it. It’s nebulous; there’s no 20-point plan readily available to buy as an audiobook; and it requires a greater investment than a few hundred dollars. However, inspiration provides a greater return over a long period of time.

Lead with "Why"

Simon Sinek is a teacher and speaker, credited with discovering the Golden Circle, which “explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages, and organizations over others.” According to Sinek there are two methods for businesses to communicate:

  1. Communicate what you do and then talk about how you do it.
  2. Communicate why you do it, then how you do it, and finally, what you do.

The first technique is by far the most common; in the real estate business, it’s almost ubiquitous. A typical agent or broker starts with what he or she wants to do and then formulates how to achieve the goal. For example:

What: “I want to make money.”

How: “I’ll help people buy and sell homes.”

Why: “Uh. I want to make money.”

If you lead with what you do, you’re trying to make a sale armed solely with facts and figures and tactics. You may be equipped to manipulate the consumer into a transaction, but there’s little chance of repeat business, raves, or referrals. Your business is beholden to advertising, marketing, and the constant demand to bring in new business—the most ineffective and unprofitable way to run a small business. I call it the “hamster wheel”—running and running, but making no forward progress. I ran on it for years. 

Contrast that with this purposeful approach: one night at a sushi restaurant, I had the pleasure of engaging in a conversation with the chef, Yasu. Within five hours of meeting him, I knew how he came to live in Denver, how he and his brothers built a very successful business, and how much charitable endeavors meant to him personally. Yasu could have given me a coupon to sell me more sushi, but instead he sold me on Yasu

When you lead with “why,” you reveal something about yourself and inspire others to reciprocate. Your business is built on you. 

But why should anyone care?

The truth is, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.


We're Wired To Be Connected

We also see this in nature. It’s how we’re biologically wired. If you look at imagery of the human brain from the top down, you’ll see it’s broken down into three major components that correlate perfectly with the Golden Circle.

The neo-cortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought. When speaking to a home buyer about price per square foot, you’re speaking to this part of the brain. You can give facts and figures until you are blue in the face, but if it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right, or does not compute as rational, the sale is not going to happen.

The limbic brain is responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It is also responsible for all our human behavior, all decision making, and has no capacity for language.

If you don’t know what you do and why you do it, how will you ever get someone to identify with it, use your services, and more importantly, be loyal and refer their friends and family? It’s not the more you give, the more you get. It’s the more you give, the more you inspire others to give.

When you put yourself out there, when you take the risk based on time and energy, you inspire others to emulate that behavior, not for some kumbaya reason—it’s just the anthropology of it. It strikes a chord with our inherent humanity and the core of our culture.


Prepare for some heavy lifting. We can’t do it for you. But we’ll give you a hint. A person may buy five to seven homes over the course of their lifetime. There is a lot of “life” going on in those 20-, 30-, or 40-year periods when they are not buying. Nonetheless, you can provide regular and considerable value to that relationship: inspire and help others and be genuine.

Remember, this is all about people.

Dave Crumby

Dave is the Chairman of Firepoint / Realvolve, a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) platform built expressly for real estate agents. Dave began his real estate career as an agent in 1996. Dave authored in 2013 the book titled 'REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate’ that has since become a best seller. The book features Dave's experience and the wisdom of other successful real estate leaders, such as the CEOs of Zillow, Trulia, Better Homes and Gardens, and many others.


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