Is there a doctor in the house?

TONY WILLIAMSON B.Comm GAICD owns RE/MAX Real Estate Services in Cairns. The business, which he opened in October 2009 enjoys the largest market share in Cairns. His team includes a sales division of 18 agents and a property management division of 200 properties.

I am often asked what makes a good sales agent and am happy to share my view on this, which is based on my own experience, my observation of successful agents and the teachings of learned people in this industry and others.

I will begin with an insight into my own start in real estate.

I did my ‘apprenticeship’ with Ray White in Cairns in the late eighties, when the market was tough, when property was selling at somewhere around $80,000 on average and commission was running at around 2.5 per cent or about $2000 in total on a sale.

A good ‘apprenticeship’ is a prerequisite for a successful real estate career, I believe.

There I was, a young agent who was a very good lister.

Unfortunately the practice was that I handed the property over to others in the office to sell. Ninety per cent of the total commission went to the selling agent and 10 per cent went to the lister – so I was earning on average $80 a sale!

I eventually left real estate, went to university, graduated with a commerce and accounting degree… and promptly went back into real estate sales. An appointment with Price Waterhouse to discuss managing the tax implications of my healthy income resulted in a job offer. I was an accountant there for five years before the real estate passion reignited an inner flame. In 1999, I bought a half share in a Century 21 office in Cairns before eventually opening my solely owned real estate business, RE/MAX Real Estate Services in 2004.

Back to the question of what makes a good real estate agent…

I suggest taking the sales agent out of the picture and asking yourself instead what makes a good doctor.

I call this applying the ‘doctor mentality’.

The good doctor is the one who asks you the best questions, and gives you the best ideas to move forward with that will make you feel better.

That is the mentality I expect each of my 18 sales agents to have, as I do of myself. As agents meeting and speaking with our clients, our role is to consult, ask loads of questions and gather as much information as we possibly can so that we can offer the client a series of events that will move them forward to where they want to be.

Qualities that I believe are found in our best agents include:

  • Believing in yourself as a practitioner – someone engaged in the practice of the real estate profession, a skilled person who practices in their area of specialisation… think medical practitioner;
  • Possessing not merely a positive attitude but a truly powerful attitude;
  • Having a personal desire to not only succeed but excel in every aspect of your profession;
  • Totally understanding that as a real estate agent you can’t change the market, only your response to it;
  • Understanding that no matter how tough it is out there, you have to be tougher;
  • Having the ability to get back up and make the next call;
  • Having the ability to reject rejection;
  • Having the courage to go back again and again to get that business; and
  • Being able to read and emphasize with a client, and to demonstrate value in face of every possible scenario.

What I learned through that tough ‘apprenticeship’ period was:

  • That you have to know how to take the hard knocks;
  • That when I had my own office, I had to create a fair office that was transparent, a good place to go to work and a fun place; and
  • That the 90/10 arrangement was ridiculous, and not the way to nurture, reward and retain good agents.

The business culture in my office is about making money, having fun and going home; and you have to get the balance right.

I have a commitment to my sales team that involves ongoing training, mentoring, support and encouragement that will keep them at the top of their game.

If you are a sales agent who feels you are struggling in your profession, or you have a colleague or staff member who appears to be doing it tough and unable to make headway, consider these a launch pad for positive change.

Get the profile/prospect relationship right. Accept and understand that working on your profile is the best form of prospecting.

  • Have no fear of selling the marketing campaign. If you believe in it, you won’t have a problem.
  • Think about power management, about the time you are ‘on stage’, even more than time management.
  • Stay pumped up. Don’t allow yourself to deflate.
  • Consult – like the good doctor – and forget the traditional concept of the listing presentation.

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