By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Do you love selling, but find it difficult to concentrate on parts of the business you find less appealing? Pushing aside that paperwork or putting off those cold calls might grant you a temporary reprieve, but you’ll pay for it later. Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (Berret-Koehler Publishers, 2001; $19.95), by motivational speaker Brian Tracy, teaches readers how to keep procrastination from sapping their productivity and churning up unnecessary stress in their lives.
The book is divided into 21 rapid-fire chapters, with tips to help you stop dragging you feet on essential tasks, get organized, and stick to your goals. The book’s central tenant is simple; discipline yourself to tackle your most challenging, most essential tasks first, and everything else will fall into place. After all, the author says, if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, odds are that it will be the worst thing that happens to you all day.
Your “frogs”are the essential, high-priority tasks that you can’t afford to put off. Why does it pay to eat your frogs first? In most cases, Tracey says, a few complex tasks generate the majority of your business–these tasks should leapfrog less essential jobs to the top of your to-do list. To prioritize a task, examine the consequences of putting it off. The greater the impact, the higher you should place it on you list. For instance, you might not enjoy cold calling, but if you need a steady stream of customers to keep your business running, it’s necessary to discipline yourself to work at it every day. (If you are a less experienced salesperson, consult with your broker to help identify your frogs.)
Of course, convincing yourself to eat your frogs isn’t always easy; but realizing that procrastination creates negative momentum that stalls your productivity is the first step toward changing. As the author says, “If you have to eat a live frog, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” One way to jumpstart your productivity level is to plan your week out in advance. The author advocates the 90/10 rule, which says that spending 10 percent of your week on planning yields huge productivity benefits. Getting your goals down on paper organizes your thoughts and allows you to develop workable plans. At the end of your workday, make a list of everything that you need to do the next day.
The size or complexity of a project may be another excuse to procrastinate; in such cases, eat your frog one piece at a time. Tracey advises breaking a big project into several manageable chunks to make your workload easier to digest. For instance, you might want to pick times during each week to focus on different aspects of lead generation, assigning specific days to cold call, update your database, and follow-up with past clients.
The key to overcoming procrastination is to take basic routines and repeat them until they become part of your work style. It might not seem like it would make much of a difference to start writing down to-do lists, but you’ll soon find that they help you stay on track. The frog metaphor provides a solid hook to embedding these ideas into your memory. Eat that Frog provides a silly, but memorable, metaphor to communicate the importance of tackling worst things first. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get you to remember a basic principle and turn it into a regular habit.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Real estate is a tough business to break into, but new associates should remember that even their office’s seemingly invincible top producers total gross sales once equaled $0. It takes time to master the real estate game, but the first step is understanding the fundamentals. Beginning salespeople, or laypeople considering real estate as a career, can use Your First Year in Real Estate: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional, by Dirk Zeller (Prima Publishing, 2001; $19.95) to gain a ground-floor understanding of the business. It provides rookie salespeople with a field guide to the industry, including advice on how to select a company, develop mentor relationships, and meet sales goals. Brokers can recommend the book to their new hires or skim through it themselves for ideas on how to develop their training programs.
The book picks up at the beginning of a salesperson’s career, suggesting criteria to use in selecting a brokerage, with particular attention given to how much assistance companies give new recruits. The book advises applicants to:
- ask whether the company has a formal training program. A company without a formal program might show less commitment to assisting novice salespeople.
- find out how many salespeople the company trains annually, as well as the drop-out rate for new salespeople. This serves as an indicator of the brokerage’s success at nurturing new salespeople.
- determine how much it costs to hang your license with the company. What annual or monthly fees do you have to pay? Who pays for overhead such as business cards, postage, and advertising?
- look for a company that offers floor time. Floor time, the rotation of salespeople to answer phone calls from newspaper ads and signs, can give beginning salespeople valuable chances to make contacts.
The book also includes advice on what new salespeople can expect at their workplace, with explanations of how to build relationships with coworkers and managers. It particularly stresses the influence that mentors can have on a new salesperson’s development. A mentor can not only help salespeople with networking and developing contacts, but can also offer insights based on their own setbacks and successes. The book cautions against always choosing the company’s top producer as a mentor. Instead, says the author, new salespeople should select mentors who reflect their ideals and goals in terms of work/life balance, hours, and salary.
Once salespeople find role models they want to emulate, they shouldn’t fall at their mentors’ feet and say, “Tell me everything that you know about real estate!” Instead, they should ask focused, direct questions that will help them build their skills, such as:
- What are the essential skills to achieve peak performance in real estate sales? Dig beyond superficial answers such as “being good with people.” Find out the “hows” of mentors’ real estate success. How do they prospect effectively? How do they manage revenue? How do they overcome buyer objections?
- What are some of the obstacles that I’m going to face? In order to meet challenges head on, new salespeople need to know what they are getting into. What roadblocks presented the hardest obstacles for the mentor?
- What resources are available to better ensure my chances of success? Whether it’s a motivational book or a trainer, every real estate professional probably has an informal list of the top books, scripts, or coaches that have influenced their career.
- What expertise did you have in the past that helped you to develop your real estate skills? All salespeople bring their own experiences to the table, and not everyone follows a straight path into real estate. How has the mentors’ background affected them—positively and negatively?
- How can I help you achieve your goals? Sometimes, you can learn more by helping others than on your own.
- Would you listen to my goals? A mentor’s most important contribution can be to act as a voice of experience that helps you evaluate whether your goals are reasonable, and how you’re going to achieve them.
Brokers can also keep these questions as they work with beginning salespeople. These are things every newbie needs to know but might not know enough to ask.
Finally, the book helps guide salespeople through traditional rough spots for new salespeople, such as call reluctance. Many salespeople get into real estate because they enjoy working with people. Paradoxically, however, they get cold feet when it comes to cold calling. The book teaches strategies to overcome procrastination. (This material could also serve as a refresher course for experienced salespeople who find themselves lagging on this essential task.) One way for a salesperson to overcome call reluctance is to treat cold calling as an unbreakable appointment, setting aside a regular block of time to prospect without interruptions.
The only major elements separating new associates from top producers are experience and a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, the real estate profession’s unique demands, including a relentless need for self-motivation, weeds out many wannabee sales superstars. Your First Year in Real Estate gives new real estate professionals a head start to prepare themselves for these obstacles and avoid becoming a drop-out statistic.