By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
The real estate profession exacts a stressful toll on new salespeople, and the field is likely to become even more competitive as the economy winds down. The numbers tell the story. The real estate industry as a whole has an annual turnover rate of 45 percent, according to Christopher Lee, CEO of the Los Angeles-based real estate consulting firm, CEL & Associates. Out of those that remain, scores more are just getting by. Starting a new job is almost never easy, but it can become virtually impossible for new salespeople who fail to plan ahead.
The second edition of Up and Running in 30 Days: A Proven Plan for Financial Success in Real Estate, by Carla Cross , ($27.95, Dearborn Real Estate Education Company, 2001) lays the groundwork for real estate success by providing novice salespeople with the tools to create and follow a basic business plan. The book stresses the importance of crafting a plan that establishes an organized activities schedule and provides a roadmap for future growth. Both salespeople just starting out and those with slightly more experience who want to jumpstart their businesses can benefit from the book’s to-the-point advice and numerous checklists. Additionally, brokers who regularly work with new salespeople can use it to help orient newbies to the real estate business.
According to the book, a well-designed business plan should :
- Create a prioritized activities schedule, with an emphasis on money-generating activities.
- Have established methods for setting goals and tracking results.
- Accentuate relationship, consulting, and questioning skills over hard-sell closing skills.
Without a plan, the book says, salespeople tend to spend their time “getting ready to get ready,” focusing on a task’s preliminary aspects without ever concluding the activity. For instance, some new salespeople spend so much viewing inventory that they have little time left to actually show homes.
The book organizes its lessons into a series of four weekly plans, with goals and activities designed to literally get salespeople up and running in 30 days. Week one concentrates on prospecting and the listing process, week two introduces new sales skills and shows how to assemble listing presentation materials, week three covers purchase and sales agreements and customer objections, and week four stresses refining seller and buyer presentations.
Up and Running in 30 Days stresses the practical over the theoretical. It provides numerous checklists, forms, and worksheets that teach new salespeople how to set benchmarks and turn their attention towards money-generating activities. For example, Chapter 12 includes forms to create an business plan by setting monthly earnings and using activity sheets to plan for ways to meet these goals. The book also contains overviews of key topics that put the activity sheets into context. A summary of industry trends (new to this second edition) addresses technology, systemization, and relationship marketing, among other areas. Other chapters provide brief tips on selling skills, lead generation, and ways to improve productivity and time management.
The book’s bottom-line approach to the material is both a strength and a weakness. It provides a good introduction to real estate planning but doesn’t go far enough in its analysis to introduce readers to the business’s complexities. Still, it’s to-the-point format should help novice salespeople grasp the basics of real estate business planning without a lot of excess flab. The checklists, forms, and worksheets can go a long way toward getting beginning salespeople organized, and in many cases, that’s the first step to success.