August 8, 2016 by Jeff Lowen
Ever wonder why someone gets their license and dives into real estate? I think when I got mine, it was on a dare. Maybe alcohol was involved, I can’t remember… Hehee, kidding, of course. Seriously, what compels someone to join the ranks of $40,000 annual earners?
- According to the BLS, real estate agents earned a median salary of $40,990 in 2015. The best-paid earned about $105,270, while the lowest-paid earned approximately $21,540. The highest earners worked in the metropolitan areas of Indianapolis, New York City, and Reno, Nevada.
- The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) estimates that there are about 2 million active real estate licensees in the United States.
Over the years, I’ve heard a thousand reasons. Few are so compelling that it moves the soul. Many emulate that of a late night infomercial on becoming a Warren Buffet-sized real estate investor with just a few short courses. Most are money motivated. Saving the commission on the sale of your own or family member’s house, or making a decent living without having to go to an office, flexible schedule, unlimited income, etc.
Ever hear a college grad claim, “I can’t wait to graduate and get my real estate license?” Believe it or not, I have. Most statistics don’t put a real estate agent on the top of the most prestigious jobs list.
Courtesy Forbes Magazine
On the flip side, if you look at the above image, all of these ‘so-called’ prestigious professions have little to do with marketing their craft. Sure, if you’re running your own private practice, it’s an afterthought, yet being a real estate agent it’s not only a prime objective, agents are #4 on the best jobs in sales and marketing list, too.
Let’s face it, regardless of how and why you got into this business in the first place, sales jobs are not for everyone. It’s a contact sport and your tools are bringing value through self-promotion, mastery of advertising and marketing your own services (and your clients’ homes), and articulating it all into a neatly packaged format that innocent passers-by can not only digest it, but it compels them to think of you at their dinner table conversations. Yet, making sure they hear you is not the best approach.
Many agents find quickly that being a licensed real estate agent has very little to do with buying or selling a house. Sure, it’s extremely important to know the mechanics, but being great at that alone won’t sustain your income.
With so much self-promotion, it’s no wonder that this particular profession promulgates a healthy dose of chocolate-flavored ego, right? People love to talk about themselves, to begin with. Give them a real estate license and ‘BAM!’ All of a sudden, they’re shifting into overdrive. Have you ever been to a party or office function and found yourself amidst the company of someone that might not know your name, but he’ll make sure you know his. And what he does, how good he is at it, how long he’s been doing it, what his specialty is, and… Well, you get the drift. Regardless of his profession, not many want to be subjected to this type of torture. Yet, it’s extremely easy if you’re not watching out for it, to fall into this trap of brandishing your self-proclaimed qualities with little concern of how you’re being perceived.
Let’s break it down.
If you find you’re doing most of the talking at any conversation – including the ones you have with your kids, you just might be that guy I mentioned in the last paragraph (or his sister!). Slow down, Charlie! This is true for all human species, not just men. We have immersed ourselves in a culture where standing behind your pulpit and crooning your opinion is becoming second nature. Thank you, social media!
If you want to jump in the bucket with the rest of the statistics, that’s your business. However, doesn’t it make just a little bit of sense to understand the psychology behind people just wanting to be heard? As evidenced from the pulpit example, this is a current human need, in case you haven’t noticed.
When you speak with someone, are you truly listening; or are you thinking about what you’re going to say next by completely glossing over what the other person is trying to get across? Do you “talk TO” or do you talk WITH someone? Note: ‘Talking to’ is the same as ‘talking at.’ One indicates a single direction, the other indicates participation from everyone.
I once had a close acquaintance that was so involved in getting her own point and opinion across to me, that she never heard me mention it was my birthday. Too bad, I was hoping at least for a drink or something! Ha! I’ll most likely spend my next one with someone else.
I talk with (and coach) many agents, new and seasoned pros alike, and their biggest obstacle in their life and business is the fact that they are having trouble getting out of their own way. Do you think you’re smart? Can you carry on an intelligent conversation? Well, if right now you’re thinking about just how smart you are, you might be part of the problem. I’ve had mentors and close relationships that brand me ‘wicked sma’art,’ or ‘genius-ish’, even, to drop a label or two. However, I will be the first to tell you that as each day passes, I realize I’m anything but. The smarter I get, the more I’m interested in others over and above my own goods.
Socrates was quoted as saying, “I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.”
With that said, here are a few tips to increase your audiences’ participation in your next conversation, promotion, and message.
- Be curious. Have a genuine interest in who you’re speaking with. Be curious about their lives, their situation, their opinion.
- The client, customer or prospect is ALWAYS RIGHT. Yes, I know this is a dying mentality. However, go back to Dale Carnegie school and realize that no matter what your counterparts are saying, they truly believe it’s right. Disagreeing with them only bruises the relationship. You can agree and gently guide to a more advantageous idea, can’t you?
- Practice listening. What was that you said? If you asked that, it’s most likely your brain was focused on your own thoughts and not of the person that is right in front of you. In a world where many of us aren’t happy unless we’re prospecting for new business, posting on Facebook and listening to the news all at the same time, is it any wonder we’re all a little scatterbrained? Focusing on being a better listener means dropping the belief that multitasking is a good thing. Especially when you’re engaged in a conversation with someone.
- Don’t get offended. It is said that when you say, “I’m offended,” you can’t seem to manage your own emotions, so you expect others to do it for you. Get ahold of your reactions. People have and are entitled to their own ideas and opinions. News flash – isn’t that what America stands for, anyway??
- Ask questions. Did you get that? What if I could show you a way to be a great conversationalist, garner deep friendships and in turn people would gravitate toward your sparkling personality? Would you want to know about it? When you speak, more questions should emerge from you than statements. Virtually, anything you say can be in the form of a question, and at the very least, it keeps your company engaged. Wouldn’t you agree?
Now that you’re aware of this, I challenge you to take the next 7 days – that’s it – and really engage these ideas and see how they transform your business and personal conversations. This stuff causes relationships to grow… and grow fast. You’ll learn a lot about others, about yourself and about the impact you have on the world.
I encourage all my agent clients to practice asking questions. This helps them to be more curious, and much better listeners. Incidentally, when you’re good at asking more questions, any arguments or disagreements you might have magically disappear.
The world is a diverse, beautiful place, full of ideas, opportunity and wonderful people just waiting to be found out. When you’re in the business of sales, a contact sport, nothing is better for your ‘self-promotion’ than your genuine interest and desire for the lives you come into contact with. That’s being a dynamic, compelling agent and truly making an impact on others.