This is probably a misleading title. It’s probably more like “What the Top 1% of the Top 10% Do,” but that was too long of a title…even for me! For years, people have been asking me what the differences are between the top agents and the “middle of the pack” agents. They ask because I once was a “top dog” and secondarily, I either coach, train, have been mentored by, or mentor most of the top producers in North America.
When you talk about top producers, I’m not talking about the guy who consistently wins the top sales award at the office. I am talking about the people who are consistently at the top of their franchises or the top of their regions. Not only those who are just at the top regarding units sold but also those who are at the top in take-home pay.
I believe this person would be someone who is a high achiever, has a life, has a net income, and has the numbers to back it up. For years, I have researched the various causes for success in top agents. The upcoming list includes items that I have personally implemented, allowing me to be at the top of my game for so many years.
A lot of these items are common but not implemented. This is the missing link as to why there are so few top producers in the world. It takes dedication and devotion to consistently do what others don’t do so hopefully I can make this a little more compelling and a little more fun. The bright light at the end of the tunnel is the fact that you can earn enough money to buy real estate at possibly the best time in our lifetime. You’ll then be able to reap the cash flow and appreciation for future years along with a fixed, low-interest rate loan that will be paid off during your career. Yes, you can get rich in this business! I have done it, I’ve seen other people do it, and my coaching clients are currently doing it.
Here’s the list to move your way to the top:
1. I’m sure this first one is going to be a shocker – set goals. Don’t wait for what walks in the door. Don’t base your business upon a few good months and then take some time off or buy stuff. Know how many listing appointments you need to make every week, and know how many buyers you need to have under contract. Know your commission rate and know how to consistently answer the objections that get in the way of your goals. Have a plan for each day, each week, each year, 5-years, 10-years, and beyond. The best of the best have their day at least 2/3 time blocked knowing that it is the only way to accomplish the mandatory items to maximize real estate productivity. One of the tricks is that you have to know what those items are!
2. Fill your time blocked schedule with activities that actually make money in real estate. You won’t find too many of the elite agents spending half their day in social media. What you will find is pro-active, seller lead generation minimizing buyer participation, minimizing print advertising, maximizing their abilities to price correctly, and using the leverage that is natural to this real estate business. Top agents know that listings generate buyers, and if buyers are shown the right inventory, this will generate listings. As a top agent, understand that buyers and sellers generate commissions while also allowing the agent to evaluate real estate for their own purchases. It is an amazing business.
3. Understand what the objective of your activity. When you’re talking with a seller on the phone, you have two objectives: get the appointment and make certain they have enough motivation to make the listing presentation worthwhile. At the listing presentation, get the one-year listing at 7%, determine motivation, and price at the right price or have a future price reduction signed. Top agents understand the goals at each meeting, and it difficult to get them to leave until they have tried at least a few times to achieve these objectives.
4. The top 1% ask more questions, allowing them to get to the heart of the issue. When a seller says they want to sell because the house is too big, you can expect a top agent to ask more questions like these:
- “Why is a large home a problem for you?”
- “I understand that there is a lot of maintenance involved with a house this size. Did you know that you could pay someone to perform a lot of these items for you at a reasonably small price?”
- “Could you tell me again why a large house bothers you?”
A top agent would keep this line of questioning going until they found out that the true reason the person is selling, which is most often that they simply couldn’t afford the property and/or they wanted to free up some equity for other activities. Many sellers would be too embarrassed to explain this detail up front to regular agents so these agents would assume the house is too big. How can you get a seller to look at today’s realistic prices without constantly reminding them what the finish line looks like? Top people ask questions so that “finish line” can be determined and highlighted on a consistent basis, allowing the tough decisions to be made in this market.
5. Understand exactly what your customers want. Listen. Many consider most top agents as one who is full of ego, never shutting up in a meeting. The opposite is really true. The agent who knows the seller the best will the agent who wins the listing presentation. The agent who knows the buyer best is the agent who spends less time in converting them to a closed transaction. My coaching clients grasp this concept early – get the clients to tell you about their needs. This is the difference that will allow you to create a customized marketing plan to achieve their goals and achieve those goals faster than regular agents. When your client’s reasoning just doesn’t make sense, ask more questions.
6. The top people constantly are saying “I don’t understand what you mean by that.” They say this because they want the client to keep talking about any items on which they are unclear. The majority of agents is just happy to be talking with a buyer or a seller and is looking for the signature. Top people need to know with clarity what they need to accomplish. Top agents never forget that clients cost money until closing day and quality clients are required to make high incomes.
7. Top agents prepare a presentation based upon the client’s needs. For years, we were taught about canned listing presentations when that is about as far from reality as you can get! As stated earlier, the agent who asks the most questions to determine a need then prepares a customized marketing plan to fulfill that need will be the “winner” at the listing presentation.
8. Top agents stay in touch with their customers. Look for unique ways to constantly add value to your customer’s lives and “WOW” them. My past clients were treated to all of my listings before they hit the market as secret properties. They were given two phone calls a year to make certain each of their needs were met. They were offered opportunities for their accountants to call me regarding their tax returns after a major transaction. We followed a long list of major value points that we offered to a past client, requiring us to stay in touch with them. The top 1% constantly builds business from their current database.
9. Spend approximately half of your day in pro-active seller lead generation. Understand that obtaining a listing is the most important activity in real estate. Work hard to sell the home, prior to submitting it to the MLS but only with the seller’s blessings.
10. Top agents are relentless follow up artists. One example of one of my follow-up systems is the “Listing Leads A” (LLA) category. LLA is for a client that you weren’t able to close on a listing or who is “soon to list.” They have one of a million excuses as to why they wouldn’t sign that night. They might also be a seller who gave you a time in which you should call back for when they would be ready to list. These people are always ready to list sooner than they say they expect. If someone said they were going to list in three months, I made sure that every week I would time block my schedule to call all LLA with a piece of value such as a new listing, new sale, or a new interest rate that would affect their value. I would give them value so they weren’t upset at me calling prior to the scheduled time they asked me to call back. I could take advantage of any motivation that would cause them to list sooner. Follow-up needs to be built into all of your systems.
11. Make sure your client knows the next step. Have a time or a date for the next meeting. Have a checklist on what everyone needs to accomplish for the next meeting. By preparing your client, there is clarity at the end of a meeting and everyone knows what is expected.
12. Top agents become experts at answering objections. What do you say when a client states, “Well, I’m just going to rent it”? What about the objection of “I’m taking it off the market now”? These types of objections should be handled seamlessly, succinctly, and smoothly, creating an opportunity to once again show value to the client.
13. A top agent is always seeking to find what’s in it for their client. Though these agents could be top in the world, top in their franchise, or top in their city, rarely will they be bragging about it because know the client just doesn’t care. A top agent will find what’s important to the client.
14. Top producers can relate. They relate their marketing plan or their sales plan to the client’s needs. They spend so much time evaluating motivation that now they tie that motivation to the end result. Top producers help clients relate as to how their service will achieve a client’s goals.
15. The top 1% are amazingly flexible. They have plans for what will happen when interest rates go up, and they have plans for what will happen when government changes the rules. Daily, weekly, and monthly work plans are constantly evaluated to make certain they are doing what is most profitable.
16. Seek out the concepts that are most profitable. It is always great to hear people talk about the things that are most profitable in real estate, but if you don’t know what they are, they are of little help. Many trainers were not top producers themselves and are myopic in offering just one product or service. It is very difficult to build an entire career on staging, Feng Shui, social media, or stealth websites; however, if that is the only product, that is what you are going to hear about all day. The top producing coaches are expensive, create results, and demand that their clients are working the most profitable activities in real estate. If you don’t like it, you ain’t gonna do it!
I hope that you have enjoyed this insight into how a top producer’s mind works. If you need to fill in the blanks with any particulars regarding what to do next, please do not hesitate to call me at 800.792.5837 or email me email@example.com.
An oil and gas lease lottery millionaire by age 16, Walter S. Sanford was in massive debt by the time he was 22. Taking his winnings, he invested in over 400 units and found that high leverage real estate can be detrimental to your financial health.
Obtaining his real estate brokerage license during the 80s, Walter went on to become what some believe to be one of the top agents in North America. He built his career on systems that are in demand by virtually ever major franchise and top producing agent in the world. 1995 was Walter’s best year, in the midst of a real estate depression in Southern California, where he personally closed 316 transactions.
Walter Sanford now coaches some of the top agents and travels internationally to deliver his seminars based upon systems with velocity increased by technology. He is the author of 10 ground-breaking books and software that assist top real estate producers in not only beating the competition but also providing lasting estates for their future. Systems are his passion.
Walter has been buying or selling real estate for the past 35 years. It took a long time for Walter to find balance, but today, he runs a successful coaching and training business. He enjoys life in “small town America” with his wonderful wife and two darling daughters.
Many speakers and trainers have never been involved in real estate brokerage aspects and none have ever been involved to Walter’s extent. If you would like to know more about Walter, please visit www.waltersanford.com. You’ll find more information about how to hire Walter as a speaker or coach and how to obtain his ground-breaking products for your library. Walter can also be reached at 800.792.5837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.