The right foundations

Dave Eller is well known in the industry as one of the country’s best auctioneers and trainers. In this extract from his book The Real Estate Athlete, he discusses why strong foundations are essential for your career in real estate to thrive.

When you have a strong foundation, you can build anything on it! This is as true in the construction industry as it is in building your career. The foundation of a building needs to have the right mix of cement, gravel, water, sand and steel. It is built strong to enable multiple levels to be built above it. The strong foundation will allow it to withstand the test of time.
Elite athletes, such as boxers and martial artists, who compete at the top of their game, still train the basics. The basics hold them in good stead. That foundation allows them to add additional manoeuvres and techniques to their arsenal. Every move is built on top of another.
It still amazes me that anybody who decides to get into real estate sales can do a one week registration course and then be let loose to sell a person’s home. Once they are registered, it is assumed that they possess all the qualifications they need to write the advertising, market the property, negotiate the sale and put the contract together.

By and large, what happens when a new person begins in real estate is they ‘get thrown in the deep end’. There is often little support. If they do learn from watching others in the office, they are often picking up bad habits from those agents. Additionally, the successful agents, the ones that are doing things correctly, are busy with their own work and don’t have time to mentor new salespeople (and there is generally no benefit for them to do so). This is why it is important to join a team that has a principal or sales manager who takes time to nurture new members.

This, however, can be difficult to know when you are applying for a salesperson role. So what do you do? When starting your career in real estate, you should begin with the mindset that you are self-employed. ‘What!’ I hear you say. Yes, self-employed. The biggest mistake that we can make is to think that we work for anybody but ourselves. We are all self- employed, and everything we do, every seminar we go to, every training session we attend, every book we read, everything to further our education and make us better in our role is an investment in ourselves. At the end of the day, everything that we accomplish or don’t accomplish is our responsibility. Therefore we should always look at ourselves as self-employed: a business within a business.

If you take this viewpoint seriously, then you will look at your skill set objectively and take note of what you need to know in order to properly undertake your role. Any new start-up business needs to look at the things they need in order to operate effectively. When you enter the world of real estate sales, you are a new business. Can I suggest that if you are ‘testing the water’ with real estate sales to see if you like it, don’t! You won’t succeed. You need to head into this full steam ahead, and be prepared to do it properly.

To perform competently as a salesperson and not be swallowed up by the world of real estate, you need, amongst other things:
Copywriting skills: how to write an effective ad that engages the buyer. Most ads written by agents are lacking in quality. It’s not meant to be just a set of words strung together outlining the property’s features. You are in charge of presenting this property to the world! How are you going to do that?

Negotiating skills: this is an art in itself and encompasses many areas such as effective listening skills (we all think we have them but we don’t); an understanding of body language; knowledge in objection handling, and closing techniques.
Local knowledge: an understanding of the property market in the area that you intend to service, as well as an overall knowledge of the larger area it forms part of. This includes sale prices, property details, land sizes, and so on. Yes, I know this can be found on whatever real estate information portal you may utilise, but you need to have this type of information in your brain at your disposal. By all means use that portal, but know the information details off by heart. So when you are chatting to prospective sellers and buyers, and they ask questions, you have the answers right there and then.

You are not going to be an expert in these areas when you start in real estate. And you may be thinking that you can learn as you go. Well, I would not want you practising on my house! So instead of just hoping that these skills will manifest themselves over time, why not strengthen your foundation from the get go. Do a course in copywriting, body language, effective listening and negotiating. There is a plethora of books, internet courses and other educational materials for you to sink your teeth into to learn the necessary skills.

Don’t be like the 95 per cent of salespeople who just wing it. Don’t take short cuts. Get the right training. Learn the right way. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed. The drop-out rate of salespeople in real estate is very high. The biggest drop-out level is in the first six to twelve months of starting their career. That’s because they do not go into it fully armed with the tools they need to be their best. The next biggest drop- out rate is during times of a ‘tough’ market. Once again, they don’t have the foundation to enable them to weather the storm.
You will find that these experienced agents who do make it through the tough times will achieve this by sticking to the basics. There is nothing fancy about real estate sales: there are basics that you need to adhereto. Just like the elite athletes,the basics will also hold you in good stead. This will enable you to build the career that you want.The Law of Foundation is the first building block to your real estate career. The reason the industry has so many ‘cowboys’ is because they are not taught how to start from the beginning. They see the end goal and want to jump straight to it. They want the glory without the groundwork. Everyone has to crawl before they can walk, and walk before they can run. The correct foundation will give you a better career.

To be a real estate athlete, remember the Law of Foundation; when you have a strong foundation, you can build anything on it.

Dave Ellers book “The Real Estate Athlete” is available on the iBookstore for $7.99.

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Dave Eller

Dave Eller is Australia’s leading Connection Coach for real estate sales professionals - connecting them with passion, success and work / life balance. He is a Licensed Agent, Auctioneer and nationally qualified industry trainer, for more information visit www.daveeller.com.