Why the Industry is Sold on Kirsty Spraggon

Kirsty’s techniques are not rocket science. In fact, most of her teachings are a blinding flash of the obvious – but it takes Kirsty’s fresh approach, her energy and sense of humour to deliver that blinding flash in a way that enables other agents to apply it to their own careers.

Kirsty says that closing the sale and traditional selling techniques are a thing of the past. The way to success in the future is through understanding how to connect and open relationships for life using your emotional intelligence. Sold Magazine asked Kirsty to explain the emotional intelligence approach to sales.

I started out in sales some 17 years ago, and I realise now that the content on which we were training our sales forces back then has changed very little. Most sessions still revolve around typical traditional selling techniques such as:

  • How to Qualify the Buyer
  • Have an Agenda
  • Scripts & Dialogues
  • Handling Objections
  • 25 No’s Gets You a Yes
  • and of course, How to Close the Sale

None of this has much to do with genuine human connection and relationship building. It astounds me that research on Emotional Intelligence has been around for over a decade and yet in my 17 years in sales I never once attended a session on this.

In Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence he quotes statistics that show us that.IQ determines 20 per cent of our chances for success. The other 80 per cent is determined by our social skills, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. This are things like our ability to problem solve, get along with people, to understand others and build empathy and rapport.

There is no greater skill in life than to be able to build great relationships for life and business. And it is so valuable in sales. So where do we learn how to build relationships? There was no course on my high school curriculum for relationship building.

I was lucky enough to have wonderful parents who were great role models in this regards. My father was also in Real Estate and when I was about 16 I remember going out with him for a day of work experience. I thought this was going to be a drag; admin, paperwork, computers… but I was in shock. We spent the whole day having coffees, we went from house to house throughout my whole neighbourhood. It seemed he knew everybody. I had no idea this was what Dad was doing when he went off to work. So I thought,Wow, if this is what work’s all about then I want to be a sales person!

However, when I started in sales it was like it was almost trained out of you and everything that came naturally to me seemed to be the opposite to the training. I was forcing myself to try and remember every word of a script. I would write down religiously WORD FOR WORD every close and script I could. I couldn’t seem to remember them and nothing felt right. I just couldn’t say them.

I remember being in a training session where we were told to stop wasting so much time on what the trainer called “nescafe appointments” where people weren’t qualified to buy now so why were we wasting our time on coffees? However, when I looked at my current client list I noticed something. Out of the ten listings I had at that moment, eight of them I had met at a “nescafe appointment” nine to18 months prior and that was the first time I thought “maybe this guy’s got it wrong and I’m onto something.” It seemed my way was working.

At times I began to wonder if I was just getting lucky but when I made it into the top one percent of individuals in RE/MAX’s global network I realised I didn’t just get lucky and I was able to breakdown the process of how I did what I did and replicated the success again.

Furk, don’t work
I moved to Sydney to work as a speaker and coach just over 18 months ago in a ‘global financial crisis.’ Knowing just three people, I went from three to 1000 in under 3 months and I had so much fun doing it. I call it “furk” not “work.”

I assure you, there is nothing rude about furking and we should all be doing a lot more of it. The word came about when I got sick of people telling me that I am “working all the time.” I hardly ever work, well not in the way most people think of work. It’s not so much the definition of work that bothers me, but what society has made it mean. Generally, the word work conjures up feelings of pressure, stress, discomfort and a number of other horrible thoughts and feelings. I think, for too long now, we have been separating and compartmentalising FUN and WORK and it’s time we blurred the lines a little…

Hence the creation of the word FURK, which for me is about blurring the lines between work and play, clients and friends, colleagues and friends and not compartmentalising them as separate categories. After all, we spend the majority of our day and lifetime at work, so we may as well make it fun. Most of my days are spent creating, catching up and having breakfast, lunch and dinner with clients whom I consider friends, many of whom have become lifetime clients that I love having in my world. This is a much more sustainable way of doing business than the traditional “close the sale” ideology that the sales industry has been sold, where you are on the one-off treadmill and constantly looking for new business. Plus, it’s a much more fun way to grow a successful career or business.

I’m often asked whether one way is easier than the other. In the short-term it may appear that just closing a sale with someone who has an immediate need is more effective than investing extra time and energy in building rapport and opening a relationship. You may even feel that you would be better off financially just prospecting for those clients ready to use or buy your service or product today compared with nurturing relationships and dealing with those people who don’t have an immediate need. However, did you realise that you could be missing out on 90 per cent of your potential market?

This is because you would be limiting yourself to dealing only with the very small percentage of the market ready and willing to work with you today. Yet industry research strongly suggests that depending on your particular sales industry there is usually a nine to 18 month incubation period from the first point of contact until the time when a new client actually purchases your product or service.

Nine to 18 months. That means you would be missing out on a lot of business by only working with the “right here, right now” prospects. Not only would you be making things a lot harder for yourself in the long run, but you would also be doing yourself out of all the extra repeat and referral business that would otherwise come your way effortlessly through clients feeling so well taken care of and appreciated.

Opening relationships
If you choose to focus on closing sales you’ll be forever on the one-off treadmill – even years down the track you won’t be able to slow down or relax because you will have to be out there day after day working really hard to chase down the next piece of business.

Whereas, if you open relationships and invest the extra time building meaningful foundations from the outset you will find your business grows and takes on a life of its own in no time. Just like seeds scattered in the wind taking root and blossoming, referrals and repeat business will just start flowing in.

In the tough times this way of being in business takes on particular significance because you have a whole army of business ambassadors out there for you, advocating your service above any other because you go out of your way to look after them so well, even when there is no deal being made at the time.

Contrast this to if your business is run on the hand-to-mouth principle of closing a sale. This approach makes you totally dependent on new clients and extremely vulnerable to market forces outside of your control. If economic conditions change or a new competitor enters the market you may well suddenly see your customer pool shrink or even disappear.

The only sure way to ride out economic ups and downs is to have planned ahead and built a stable database of loyal, repeat and referral clients. because at the end of the day, even if there are fewer customers out there, there are always some customers. It’s your job to make sure that you are the person of choice in such times of increased pressure and competition.

It is so important to prioritise meeting people as an activity – a prospecting activity. I think many of us undervalue this, I know I did. Society teaches us it has to be hard to make money and we should expect to work our fingers to the bone – not true. I remember feeling guilty at one point that I was making such huge sums of money with such minimal effort. I used to believe that success had to be hard.

I have learned to consider my coffee meetings and networking events as me being hard at work and include this in my weekly schedule as prospecting time. You don’t have to be an extrovert to network, you just need to find the people you like being with and attract more of them into your personal and professional life. Now I realise that you can make the journey to success as difficult or as much fun as you choose it to be. Because of this I love my work and my days are filled with catch-ups, networking events, coffee meetings, taking a genuine interest in people’s lives and chatting away having a wonderful time …and they call this work?

I have learned that it really pays to ask yourself this: What kind of business do you want?

CLOSED = trapped in a cycle of forever chasing new business without being able to take any time off to actually enjoy your success
OPEN = repeat and referral-based business spreading like wildfire by word of mouth and business actually coming to find you – in good times and bad

Be yourself

Furk is all about having as much fun as possible. Now we can’t be having very much fun if we are not being ourselves. One of the core elements of furk is to BE YOU. Most of us go to work and put on some kind of suit. A metaphorical suit that is. Where we become responsible, proper and professional. Often leaving our goofy, silly, fun selves at home for our family and friends to get to know before and after work hours.

Yet authenticity is said to be the new buzzword of the 21st century and it’s about people craving something real from someone genuine. Authenticity is what they want! When it comes to relationship building one of the quickest ways for you to connect is to be you, to be real, open, honest and raw. To share something real with someone from the heart not the head which will enhance your connection and make it memorable. So open up and share part of who you really are. We are in business for a long time so it is a lot easier to be ourselves and build relationships with people who like us and are attracted to us for who we are. I encourage you all to take the suit off and bring more of you to your furk.

Now, to build relationships we must meet people.I dislike the word network because it sounds so strategic but I believe it is nothing more than focused socialising – and I love to socialise.So netfurking is the way to go;

The definition of a network is:-an interconnected system of things or people and everyone should create a strong network to support his or her business. A good network should fill in the gaps where you are perhaps not quite as strong, and enhance and support your business. I was a member of BNI (Business Networking International) to which I would attribute approximately $100,000 to $150,000 in referrals per annum – not bad for a weekly meeting!

Financial benefits aside, there were many valuable reasons for me being part of a networking group. I was educated by the various different businesses on things such as tax accounting, financial planning, marketing and so on – areas which were not my natural strengths so this learning proved invaluable to me. I made lifelong friends through BNI and we all became, in effect, a sales team for one another’s businesses, like raving fans spreading word-of-mouth referrals for each other. Remember to dip your toe in enough different organisations to find groups that work best for you. The idea is to find people you are comfortable with and enjoy being around. You should also feel confident enough to recommend them and want to build close reciprocal relationships with them.

Furking is for everyone
While most women are known to naturally have more emotional intelligence than most men (think of the ease with which many women can sit down and have a chat with other women without a specific purpose) like any skill in life, furking is just a matter of creating a new habit – developing and practicing the skill.

Furking is just as relevant for introverts as it is for extroverts. Extroverts will happily “power furk” and meet many people in one session at networking events or parties. On the other hand, introverts might prefer to focus on meeting one person at a time and striking a genuine, long lasting bond with that person. The key to successful furking is to do it your own way.

Kirsty’s Top 5 ways to furk

  1. Walk and talk. Why not meet your clients for a walk, a game of tennis or golf?
  2. Get an iphone. With the multiple applications you can use twitter and facebook on the go.
  3. Turn business meetings into coffees or lunch at a local café.
  4. Host an annual client function such as bowling, a movie night, picnic or wine tasting
  5. Bored with your office? Take your laptop to the beach, a park or get comfy in your PJs and ugg boots at home!Work As If You Own It is available now at or from good book stores. RRP $29.95

Sold Magazine readers can download one chapter of the book for FREE. Click HERE to visit and click on “resource centre” then “articles”. To view video on Sold TV.

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