During AREC 12, Kevin Turner asked Tom Panos to moderate a session with top agents Mat Steinwede and James Tostevin. While both agents have very strong personal brands, they both still maintain that a dedication to prospecting is crucial to your success.
Tom: OK, so I want to start off and say James, the thing that I’m really curious about is that I notice people who write big numbers don’t last long – they do it for two or three years – but James Tostevin just does not disappear. How do you stay motivated?
James: I have always enjoyed what I’ve done immensely. I’ve done it for 27 years and I’ve been in sales for the vast majority of that time. The car I drive, the house I live in, the beach house; I find those things motivating. I have the need to earn. I went through a divorce about six or seven years ago so it’s very motivating.
Tom: You’re still pumped, aren’t you?
James: I say to people, “I love what I do” so much it’s almost insane! They look at me like it’s just words, but it’s not. I mean, I seriously get a buzz out of going to the office and I have to be encouraged to go home at night. I love my wife and I love being around my kids, but I really do enjoy what I do immensely, so I do get a kick out of it and I enjoy the thrill of listing. As James Conway, Managing Director, said the other day, “If there were two things you could do all day long, prospecting and listing, you’d be a very happy man,” because they’re the two things I enjoy the most. The prospecting is something I do genuinely get a buzz out of; it’s something I enjoy doing day to day.
Tom: Mat, I want to ask you, you’ve been writing big numbers. I remember in the other group that you’re in you were the number one, and you’re always writing huge numbers. How do you stay motivated?
Mat: I think a little bit like James; the desire, you’ve got to have the desire. But I think now I value time more, so when I’m at work I’m super-productive. What drives me today is to have more time to surf, to spend with the kids and do other stuff.
Tom: So what you’re basically saying is that you’ve worked out it’s not how hard you’re working but what you’re working on that’s more important, and you pick that now because you value your work and your life outside of work.
Mat: Yes I do, more so today; I think people waste time at work. You’re there to do the job, get the numbers, do what you need to do, take care of your clients. I think outside work fills me more today than work does.
Tom: I’m curious. Some of the people who sit in your office, or within five metres of your office, won’t be doing much at all. What is it you observe them doing that is wasting time?
James: I think with prospecting very few people do it. They very rarely do it for blocks of time. They might be in the office for half an hour, out for an hour, back in for forty-five, back out for an hour and a half; there’s this criss-cross effect within the office and outside the office. So for me, on Fridays I’m just in the office making prospecting calls from 9am till 4.30pm. Tuesdays and Wednesdays there’ll be a block of a minimum of five or six or seven hours, where I’m just doing prospecting. We’ve got people in the office who can do it for an hour and then they have to go off and do something else, whether it’s an appointment or to talk about the footy results, or what they did on the weekend. I mean, I like talking and catching up socially with the guys, but when I’m at work, I’m focused on work.
Mat: I think also when people prospect, even when they are prospecting for the hour or two or whatever they’re doing, they’re doing other stuff at the same time. And I think it’s about owning that space of time and owning it completely and getting as much out of it as you can.
Tom: Mat, roughly per week, what would you say for prospecting?
Mat: Two hours a day, 9am to 11am five days a week.
James: I do it Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but I would typically do more than that. I think mornings are a great time to do prospecting.
Mat: You’re in the zone!
Tom: OK. Can I ask how many hours do you work a week, James?
James: I actually stopped working it out a long time ago. It’s probably seventy-something, but I do a bit from home.
Tom: OK. Mat, have you got a rough idea?
Mat: Mate, I think that the line between work and not is a bit blurred for me. I’m always on the phone making deals, doing what I need to do. Always calling people.
Tom: Sometimes you hear people say, “Oh no, when I get home I turn my phone off – that’s it, it’s all over.” Do you think that’s true?
Mat: I think there’s a time and a place you can do that, but I just couldn’t go and turn my phone off at 6.30pm and that’s all there is to it. If I’m working on a deal I’ll do what I need to do; the family’s all right and so I’ll put the deal together at 8.30pm at night if I have to.
James: I agree with Mat. I do believe in coming home and having the phone off for a while and having dinner with my wife, and having a chat about the day, etc., but I’ll check the messages later. But once I’m home, I tend to be at home; it’s like when I’m on holiday, I’m on holiday.
Tom: I want to move on to the topic of brand, because although you guys prospect a lot, I can’t help thinking that you also run attraction businesses; whilst I don’t work in real estate I work in publishing, and when I talk to other real estate agents they treat you like you’re brands.
Mat: I think there’s a critical zone that you reach, whether it’s five years, eight years, ten years, but there’s a zone where all of a sudden business changes and it changes dramatically. I list a lot of good property today and most of it I don’t prospect for necessarily. They call because of the brand I’ve created within the marketplace. I do see each client as either a help or a hindrance to that, so if something happens on a property, like mistakes, I go out of my way to make sure that that client is completely happy. It’s very important to me, because it affects the brand either way.
James: I agree with Mat. I did have one of my very good friends, Andrew Kelleher, challenge me recently as to why I keep doing the prospecting – is there really a point? Because I’ve had 27 years in real estate and surely they’ll remember me and come back to me. But I said to him, What if they don’t?” For me, I need to keep putting my name, and the Marshall White name, in front of people.
Mat: It’s the momentum. It does take work to keep the momentum going; it doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in your business.
Tom: So on that topic of momentum, what would you say to the $59,000 version of an agent? What would you say to them that they should start doing immediately to get out of the stuck zone and get into this momentum zone and move forward?
Mat: Prospecting. Pick up the phone and just prospect. There is no secret to this business, none at all; it’s just day after day.
Tom: Mat, are you saying just go to RP Data, print off all the streets and say “Hi! It’s Mat Steinwede; do you want to sell your house?”
Mat: I would. I would have a core area, I would go out and meet people, I would go and doorknock, I’d do anything, I’d just get active. You know, the universe rewards proactivity. Do something, because so many go to work and they’re there for eight or nine hours, and if you measure the dollar productivity activities that they did every day it would be like one.
James: I think you need a database or a client list of 500 as a minimum. I’m talking about a younger person here, or someone that’s come from outside, from a different industry to real estate. I think they need a database of 500 as a minimum and I think you need five years minimum, so there’s some traction that you get after five years.
Tom: I want to thank you. I rate you guys as two of the most influential people or stakeholders in the real estate industry, without a doubt. And I’m just happy that Kevin, who organised this, has got me to chat to you guys. Thank you so much.