What Salespeople Need to Know

By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine

Entering real estate sales can be an unforgiving experience for the unprepared. And its easy to lose faith when you haven’t landed a sale, your phone hasn’t rang in days, and your bills are piling up at home. Are you scared yet? There’s no reason to be. To a large degree, real estate success comes from sticking to the fundamentals–generating leads, learning your area inside out, and (especially) cultivating referrals, according to Danielle Kennedy and Warren Jamison, authors of How to List and Sell Real Estate: Executing New Basics for Higher Profits (South-Western College Publishing 2002; $29.95). The book provides a step-by-step training program that guides readers on how to build a sustainable, profitable real estate business. It’s also a great refresher course for experienced practitioners who are in a slump or who just want to get some pointers on how to do it better. The new edition of the book, first published in 1996, includes such extras as advice on e-mail marketing, technology tips, and a CD ROM containing forms and checklists.

Newbies will find the book especially useful because it balances out theory with concrete information, such as scripts for common situations they’ll encounter. From getting a listing to closing a sale, Kennedy has been there and is ready to share what worked best for her. The book’s structure of makes it an ideal training tool, either for independent study or for brokers mentoring new recruits. Its “21-Day Breakaway Schedule” provides daily lesson plans on topics from lead generation, listing, and customer service skills. The schedule includes reading assignments from the book, which contains 28 chapters focusing on farming neighborhoods, conducting open houses, and closing the sale, among other topics. It even assigns homework activities. Goals such as learning about your area and rehearsing scripts are marked “Special Achievements;” they can even be carried out before you get a license. To accomplish the “Repeating Achievements,” however, you must be a licensed salesperson. These include strategies for honing your skills in prospecting, listing, and servicing customers. For instance, one activity calls for you to contact five FSBO prospects a day; another requires you to schedule two open houses for the week.

The book also provides you with strategies on improving your study methods so you can absorb the glut of information needed to become a top producer. “Chapter 3: Build Money-Making Skills Fast with Hyperlearn and the Latest Techno Tools” helps you to read and retain knowledge more quickly. You can use it to do everything from recalling floor plans from memory to keeping the parts of a purchase agreement straight. Hyperlearning includes these easy steps:

  1. Name it. Define what you’re setting out to learn in concise, concrete, terms. Write a chief goal first, then break it into subgoals. For instance, you might aspire to learn the floor plans and amenities for every house in your sales area. Starting out with just the listings you or your brokerage currently carry makes the goal more manageable.
  2. Concentrate it. Collect all relevant information in one place. Scan your materials to familiarize yourself with the topic, then reread it carefully.
  3. Organize it. Take notes, breaking your material down into smaller study units.
  4. Reassemble it. Use your notes to create a self-teaching course that works for you. This might involve a combination of techniques such as flash cards; mnemonic hooks (rhymes or other devices that help you recall information); and cassette tapes.
  5. Review it. Go over the material twice daily–concentrate, work fast, and be thorough.

How to List and Sell Real Estate also stresses the importance of building repeat business. “Chapter 12: Servicing Listings Fast” covers how to demonstrate your enthusiasm and professionalism from the minute you capture a listing until closing. This includes setting the right price, maintaining contact with customers, refraining from making promises that you can’t keep, and preparing sellers for the market process. As throughout the book, the chapter offers specific examples of how to handle common occurrences, such as telling sellers that their home is overpriced.

In addition to bottom-line-oriented tips on how to build referrals and increase sales, the book also provides advice that can make new salespeople feel more in control. For example, “Chapter 4: Confront an Old Pro and Win” shows you how to hold your own against experienced salespeople. For instance, an experienced salesperson with a referral business probably doesn’t have the time to spend on FSBOs. The book shows you how to make the most of that opportunity and win the business. The chapter also offers tips on how to present yourself when old pro has an offer on your listing.

It’s easy to lose hope when you’re trying to break into the real estate game, but adopting the right attitude and learning the fundamentals will take you a long way toward success. How to List and Sell Real Estate: Executing New Basics for Higher Profits gives you a systematic plan for leaning essential skills that will serve you well, whatever your experience level.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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