Over the past couple of years, as the real estate market has started to uptick, I’ve noticed a crazy increase in the number of emails from Realtors that are looking to increase their #sales, production and commission dollars. Many real estate agents are feeling better about the market, their business and have some confidence that they can now grow their sales, not just maintain.
*Sidenote - there is nothing wrong with this, but the reality is that there is never a bad time to grow your business, if you have identified a great niche or market segment, are utilizing great marketing, taking calculated risks and using measurable control in your expenses.
Although I’ve spent the past eight years helping agents with increasing sales and productivity with online marketing and email marketing through , I was originally licensed in 1997 and started managing and leading agents and brokerages in 2001. The experience, time on task, sure volume of transactions I’ve been involved with, the number of Realtors I’ve personally worked with, I’ve seen the art and science of selling more homes and increasing your production. And with that, have developed the Persinger Real Estate Productivity Philosophy for this….
If you are a real estate agent and struggle to sell enough homes to make “ends meet”, this post is for you.
If you are a successful Realtor, but hit a plateau and are interested in taking your sales to the next level, a lot of the same advice will apply (and we even have an entire section for you that explains any differences).
If you are a rookie real estate agent and new to sales, keep reading. I guarantee you’ll learn something.
To me, increasing sales, productivity and profit is more than just the pursuit of making more money – though there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s about being better, the next best version of yourself (version 2.0 or perhaps Version 8.7), confidence in your ability and providing more clients with exceptional service, so they aren’t having to work with shitty, slimy real estate agents. And no matter how badly you want it be this way, simply being a “better agent” does not lead to an increase in sales and production.
Stop complaining that other agents need to raise the bar. Or that you are a "better agent". Or that those "guarantees" the jerk agents offer are a lie or bait and switch. Stop whining about how you know more about contracts or addenda. Posting in a Facebook group about how bad the realtors in your local market place won't help either, so stop that too.
In my daily marketing and productivity tips email a couple of years back, I asked a simple, short question to the 4,500+ subscribers...
"What would you do if, magically and suddenly, you woke up tomorrow and your business had doubled?
Hit reply and let me know.
I was shocked by the responses. But it gave me great insight to the mindset, limiting beliefs and personal constraints many agents put on themselves.
A word that was actually used a number of times in the responses was "Panic."
Now isn't that interesting?
And in reality about 50% of the responses involved similar responses that I would put in the category of "Panic, Freakout".
What this tells me: just as many real estate agents have a Fear of Success as those who have a Fear of Failure.
You have to get real with yourself here for a moment...
Are you the type of person that has a Fear of Success?
Are you afraid your business could be "too big?"
Which leads to one of the biggest, greatest, scariest myths when it comes to increasing your #sales production.
Myth: If I sold more homes I would be working harder and more hours.
This is a biggest myth about increasing sales production. Some people actually believe the more successful you become, the more time and effort it will take, and the less freedom you will have.
Think about it... if you are working 50 hours a week right now to make $100,000, do you really think you have to work 100 hours a week to increase your income to $200,000? And then would you have to work 200 hours a week to increase your income to $400,000?
That's obviously crazy. Any time you connect hours worked to your success you are setting up the wrong equation. The trick is not to try to apply more time or effort to the equation but to think of the equation differently. Like how effective direct response marketing is and how it adds a huge leverage piece.
The Reality: Everyone has the same amount of time, and hard work is simply hard work. As a result, what you do in the time worked determines how many homes you sell and if you can increase your sales production. (This right here sums up the secret to increasing your sales production. Time to deep dive into this.)
There are a bunch of related myths when it comes to time and "working harder".
Myth: I'm already too busy. Reality: Being too busy and not having time is having a lack of priorities.
Myth: I use technology to be efficient and get more done. Reality: You can be efficient without doing anything that is effective. Or as Peter Drucker said, "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."
Myth: Everything is important and needs to get done. Reality: The 80/20 Rule rules everything. Stop ignoring it. Stop forgetting about it.
Recently, some coaching clients shared with me they are not making more money.
They have been working with me for some time, but they have not started making a considerable amount of more money.
That's a problem, huh?
Well, not according to them, or to me.
(They are a husband and wife team)
When they first started working with me, they were working about 125 combined hours a week. They had all sorts of things going on in their business. They were doing social media, had even hired a social media manager. They were calling expireds, sometimes door knocking them. They worried about blog content and their Facebook updates. They had a distressed homeowners website they tried to upkeep.
They were bouncing all around like a jack-rabbit, on crack, on a hot stove.
But now they are working about 90 hours a week. They went from 125 hours a week combined, to 90 hours a week.
That is 35 hours less a week working.
That's like getting back an entire work week, every week.
An extra 4 weeks a month.
An extra 50 weeks a year.
They might not be making more money, but they created an extra year, every year for themselves.
When it comes to your #real estate sales business, decide….
Does business really need to be a 24/7 thing? Do you really need to miss out on your kids events and time with them? Do you really not have to have a social life with neighbors, friends and family and resort to "social media" as your actual "social life"?
Success comes in many shapes and forms.
You decide what you want it to be.
You have to be proactive in all of this though. Your business, your sales, your relationships, your production, etc. You have to be intentional and purposeful.
Or you suffer the consequences… I have no hard data to back this up, but I’ve heard a rumor that real estate agents suffer from double the divorce rate. And I’ve heard Jon Taffer from the TV show, Bar Rescue say that the divorce rate is 82% for married business owners.
Let’s try to make sense of those numbers for a moment.
(You might be wondering what divorce has to do with selling more homes, right? Everything. You can’t give focus to your work, when there is chaos at home. When you can’t give focus, you won’t be able to grow your business. Well, you could. But you would be doing it at the risk of your marriage, personal life and probably your health. That goes against what being a Productivity Junkie is about.)
To understand these numbers, it would help to know what causes divorce.
You hear money problems cause divorce right? So, if you are struggling in your business, that stress on you and your spouse, leads to further frustrations and arguments.
Being a business owner often leads to working odd hours. This holds doubly true for real estate agents. You are showing property at night, going out for listing appointments on Saturday and holding open houses on Sunday. Lack of personal time with and support from a spouse often leads to divorce. You gotta keep the romance alive. Hard to do if you are never together.
I’m a fan of dogged determination and 100% desire to succeed, but if you are doing it wrong, it could have a backlash on your home life, personal life and even your health.
Today’s article outlines the three most important things I’ve learned and observed about increasing sales over the past 17+ years in real estate, sales and business.
Your time is the most important thing
Neil A. Fiore said, “There’s a myth that time is money. In fact, time is more precious than money. It’s a nonrenewable resource. Once you’ve spent it, and if you’ve spent it badly, it’s gone forever.”
If you are trying to grow you business, how you use your time will account for 80-90% of your successes or failures.
What that means: you’d be better off working on less things, instead of trying to do more.
The reality is: Brute force only works so well, for so long. And if you are focused only on increasing your sales, chances are you're going to do it wrong. You are going work harder, work longer and try to do more. I’ve seen so many agents fail going this route.
They decide that they want to sell more and increase their production. They decide they just need to work harder, put in more hours and put more on their plate. This just leads you to overwhelm, frustration and burnout. Maybe you’ve been there? Or are currently there?
When I get emails from people who explain the fact that they can’t find any more time in the day, but the really want to know how to sell more or they ask me what apps, software or technology they should be using to be more productive, I always first ask about the person’s daily schedule. And more often than not, that person proudly tells me how hard they working, how busy they are, but undoubtedly their schedule is not consistent. It's usually very random. It’s not scheduled, structured or time blocked. It’s not proactive, it’s reactive. It’s not focused on the Impact Activities, Important Activities or High Dollar Producing Activities. It’s bouncing from what is currently urgent to the latest emergency.
Here’s the truth: If you are not growing your sales, you are not focused on the right activities and not managing your time effectively.
Some more truth: You are overwhelmed and struggle to get things done for the most simple of reasons…
… because today’s world is full of distractions, technology can be disorienting, your calendar and to-do list has become cluttered and you’re frustrated that you can’t take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
And it’s not really your fault. Not 100% at least.
You are being bombarded with the idea that technology or some app is going to make you more productive or increase your sales. Your brokerage, or your local MLS board is bringing in speakers giving you a presentation like, "The 40 Must-Have Apps To Increase Your Productivity."
If there are 40 Must-Haves of anything, then none of them can be that amazing. And all the wasted time it takes to download, learn and use is just obscene. Think about it… how many apps do you have on your phone or tablet? Even if you spent just one minute a day using each, how much time are you spending using it?
If you are spending 40-60 minutes in technology and apps to try to become more productive... do you see the problem here?
Your business isn’t growing because of your lack of tech savviness, that’s another myth.
To grow your business you simply have to start doing the right things. This means doing less, not more.
Doing more of the right things.
The Productivity Junkies Philosophy of “Selling More, By Doing Less.”
I had a #real estate coaching client send me this video. They told me it reminds them of coaching with me.
“The less you do, the more you do.”
Think closely about what I’m about to tell you, since it’s going to change the way you think about getting things done, productivity, selling more homes and making more money.
FOCUS is more powerful than any technology or tool, because the things that you focus on can either make you successful or cause you to fail.
The elimination of things from your schedule or to-do list that aren’t truly important or impactful is more powerful than any technology or tool. This is true because there are only so many hours in day. Everyone is given the same amount of time , what you do with it is the difference between selling more or getting burnt out.
Working More Hours Does NOT Work
The reason you cannot #increase productivity by working more hours is because you will just fill up the hours with more activities, tasks and projects.
By working more hours… by sacrificing more time… you simply are working more and longer. Working more hours in a day or week doesn’t equate to success.
As Tim Ferriss says about productivity in his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Work Week…
“…our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity. Few people choose to measure the results of their actions and thus measure their contribution in time. More time equals more self-worth and more reinforcement from those above and around them.
Before you start trying to do more transactions, I want to you cut back the hours you are working.
Yes. You heard that right. Cut back. Do less.
What you are doing here is you are finding your pace. Once you find your pace and you get comfortable with it, you can start to increase it.
Business and sales is not the only place this works by the way. For example, when trying to lose weight, it makes the most sense to get your diet right first. Start with healthy eating habits BEFORE starting an exercise routine. Why? Well, diet makes up 80- 90% of the success in losing weight. And if you start exercising first, your body is going to go into shock, wondering what is going on and desire more calories, because of this new stress of exercising is putting on it.
It's about priorities.
Now, for every person, the number of hours you are going to cut back to is different:
For some people, you might be working 10 hours a week. For others, it might be a 30 hour work week. For a rookie, it still might be about working 60+ hours a week, because you need to develop sales skills, learn about the industry and get educated about your market.
Now, you might be thinking “there’s no way I can cut back on the hours I'm working, Darin! I have too much to do!”
You have a choice here... continue to let that reactive thinking control you, your actions, your results and your income. Or bust that personal constraint and realize the reality: NOT all activities have equal importance.
Depending on your background you are bringing some baggage with you into this career.
If you were an hourly employee before, you are most likely thinking about trading time for dollars. But that's not the way real estate works. You get paid for a result.
If you were a salaried employee, you might be thinking about tasks and projects. Again, the way you get paid in real estate is if you get a house sold, not if you complete a bunch of projects by doing a bunch of tasks really well and really efficiently.
What you must keep in mind is you are not punching a clock anymore. You don’t get paid time and a half for overtime. You don’t have to impress your boss anymore. You are not climbing a company ladder.
You are the boss!
Track It, Measure It, Increase It
I'm a big fan of tracking and measuring when it comes to your sales and marketing. You need to know your numbers. It should not come as a surprise to you then, I'm a big fan of tracking and measuring your time, since I feel time is even more important than money.
The reality is a lot of people UNDERestimate where and how they spend their time. I'm going to give you an exercise in a moment about how to track your time, because you have to do this in a very specific way. It's not just about writing down what you did. It's about knowing how you are spending your time is connected to your goal of increasing your business.
But first, you need to check out the #Productivity Junkies Productivity Model.
The PJ's Productivity Model has 6 different areas that your activities could fall in to. Let's start at the bottom and work our way up.
1. Useless Activities
These are activities that don't contribute in any way to you growing your business or making more money. You know things like Candy Crush, watching that cat video, going to yet another webinar on something you already know, but still have NOT implemented. If you are brutally honest, I know you will find a few of these in your day.
2. Urgent Activities
These are things that you are usually going to find in your email or voicemail. They are activities that is someone elses To-Do List for you, not the To-Do List you created for yourself. They are not planned or scheduled, but you do it NOW anyways.
3. Emergency Activities
Now, up to this point you might be thinking to yourself, "Damn, this Darin guy is cold. He must be a Time Robot, or Productivity Cyborg, or something. He's like a bulldozer through excuses." I wouldn't say that is 100% true, because I do live in hard cold truth of reality, this is why I share what I share and the way I do. Because of this, I understand that you can't always control your schedule, your day or your plan. No plan survives its collision with reality.
An Emergency Activity is something involves the threat of an immediate deadline tied to a decision or outcome involved in something large. This typically means "keeping a contract together".
I'll give you an example from my life...
It was Friday night and the Impractical Jokers where in Seattle. Katherine, my wife, and I love the Impractical Jokers and we had tickets. As we were driving downtown to the show, Katherine was on the phone with a buyer, a home inspector and a listing agent. The inspection contingency deadline was for 9 pm, only 3 hours away and the buyer had some doubts and questions. Now, some trainers and coaches say your 20% is all about lead generation and prospecting and scheduling that at the same time every day so it gets done, but here my wife is 3 hours away from helping her buyer make a very important decision. Is she really supposed to ignore the call and just enjoy her night with me?
You can't do that, can you?
But don't confuse Emergency Activities with Urgent Activities. Urgent Activities usually don't lead to much of a pay off, but the Emergency Activities do. Think of it like the difference between an emergency room and an urgent care center.
- Treat severe and life-threatening conditions
- Hospital emergency rooms have specially trained doctors, paramedics, nurses, and other support staff that can recognize, diagnose and make recommendations on a wide variety of medical issues
- Emergency rooms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Urgent Care Centers:
- Focus on diagnosing and treating conditions that aren’t life-threatening yet they need to be taken care of right away
- Offer quality care on a walk-in basis
4. Low Dollar Producing Activities
These are the activities that you could hire, outsource or delegate for cost substantially lower than what your average dollar per hour income is.
5. High Dollar Producing Activities
The things that get you actually get paid for like getting referrals, buyers, sellers, lead conversion, appointments and contracts.
6. Impact Activities
This is taking time to truly work "On" your business. Creating strategies for your High Dollar Producing Activities. Creating systems for your business. Finding, training and developing the people who help you in the growth of your business.
Tracking Your Activities
So, track your time and activities over a few days, or a week to get a general idea of how you are truly spending your time.
The reason why the PJ's Productivity Model is colored is to make it simple to track on your calendar.
You're not going to write down every little exact thing you did. You are simply going to mark a chunk of time with a color. It's best to get some highlighters to do this easily and correctly.
If you are thinking you don't have the time to do this activity, immediately go back to the top of this blog and start reading again.
If you are thinking that you've done something like this before or this is too corny to do and it's beneath you, that's your problem. Good luck continuing to scramble around in your day to day and enjoy the roller coaster ride you call your income.
Once you have a few days of your activities tracked, you will start to get a clear reality check of how you are spending your time.
If you see any... I repeat any Useless Activities on your schedule, immediately eliminate them.
If you see a lot of Urgent Activities popping up over and over, work on controlling your environment and schedule. Make sure you are getting your High Dollar Producing Activities scheduled first and are following through on them.
If you see yourself doing a lot of Low Dollar Producing Activities, and you can't afford to outsource or hire, determine if they absolutely, completely 100% need to be done. For example, a Member of one of my programs identified that he was spending 4-5 hours a week on twitter, when he combined looking for articles to share, reading them and then actually being on twitter. He eliminated this activity and believe it or not, his business did not suffer from not being on twitter all that time. It actually improved.
Increasing your productivity = increasing your sales
If you want to grow your business, focus on being more productive.
Get great at marketing and conversion
Last but not least, the other important piece to this trifecta of business growth... Get great at marketing and lead conversion.
The Persinger Business Development Philosophy is: Marketing for leads, prospecting for appointments.
In today's "internet - Do NOT Call List - social media - people seeking out 10.4 sources of information before deciding - world it seems crazy to try Cold Calling as a means of lead generation.
Instead of Cold Calling for leads, you should be getting really good at marketing, to bring the leads to you and then picking up the phone to prospect for appointments.
If you hate picking up the phone to call random people because you're expected to have "X" number of conversations a day, let me tell you a story about how I started my #real estate sales career.
I was the first in to the office in the morning.
I would look up expireds every day.
I would search through the phone book, later on whitepages.com to find phone numbers.
I made countless of calls.
Lots of no answers. Voice mails. And hangups.
It was gruelling.
It was humbling.
A nice way to say it would be that it was character building.
Don't get me wrong, I had success.
But I had to keep showing up. Day in. Day out.
I basically had a high paying telemarketing job.
Once I started to understand business and marketing at a higher level, I started to understand the power of Direct Response Marketing and #Copywriting.
When I say marketing, what I mean is Direct Response Marketing and Copywriting. Developing this skill is truly the first piece of leverage you can add and should add to your business.
You don't have to pick up the phone and call strangers that are on the Do NOT Call list every day. You don't have to deal with all that rejection. You really don't.
Stop being a glorified telemarketer.
Start being the advisor, consultant and Approachable Resource you are and bring the leads to you.
Save your will power for picking up the phone to call all these leads you generate from your marketing or capture on your website to schedule an appointment.
A word about offline marketing: if you think that direct mail is too expensive, it's because you are doing it wrong. You are most likely doing branding and not focused on Direct Response. Direct Response is about having a clear concise message with a compelling call to action. These are things that I worked with my coaching clients on and I do for the associates at Persinger Group.
A few words on LEAD CONVERSION: There are two ways to convert leads to appointments. Writing great emails (that comes back to your copywriting) and picking up the phone. That's it. Your lead conversion should be early and often. According to the NAR 2012 Buyer & Seller Report, we know that 66% of Buyers and 65% of Sellers will work with the first agent they talk to. So the objective in your lead conversion is simple. Be the first agent they talk to.
That’s it. It’s not hard. It just comes down to priorities, speed of implementation and taking action.
Common questions and objections
“But I just want to make more money, I don’t care if I have to work more hours.”
Good for you. I admire your gusto. The reality still exists, you only get 24 hours in day just like any of us. Do NOT worry about just making more money. Work on making the same amount of money, doing the same amount of transactions, generating as many leads, referrals appointments as you do now in a significantly shorter time. Once you are doing that, go ahead and put more time in on the High Dollar Producing Activities and increase your hours to the amount you are ok with. The money will follow.
“But I don’t want to do that time management crap or your direct marketing junk, so I’m gonna do _____ instead.”
Awesome, go for it. Give it a month, and see what your numbers do. If your leads are increasing, it looks like you are going to start making more money, it will be consistent and you are happy with the hours you are working, keep on trucking. If not, give the stuff above a shot for a month and see how things go.
“I’m a part-time agent, can I sell more?”
Absolutely. You just need to make sure you’re still time blocking the High Dollar Producing Activities as often as you can. Finding enough time in your week to prospect and lead generate is your biggest challenge. So the PJ's Business Development Philosophy of Marketing for Leads will work better for you anyways. You do face the problem of "#be first" with your lead conversion though. But candidly, I wouldn't sweat it too much. Your competition is almost certainly going to drop the ball or be incredibly slow in their follow-up. So go for it!
“Should I focus generating buyer leads or seller leads?"
If you want to make more money and control your time better, focus on seller leads. When you lead with listings, the listings lead to more leads anyways. For more on Seller Leads, let's talk.
“Do I need to prospect on the phone 3 hours a day?”
Nope. Remember the PG's Biz Dev Philosophy,"Marketing for leads, prospecting for appointments". The TOTAL hours you spend on the phone each day is going to be in direct correlation to how many leads your marketing is generating and the size of your sphere. Now, if your marketing is generating so many leads that you COULD spend 3 hours a day on the phone trying to schedule appointments with leads, that's a different story. Most of my coaching clients conduct their lead conversion calls and sphere calls in a segment of 96 minutes that I call Focus 96.
"I'm already a Top Producer - what's different for me to go to the next level?
Take a look at your time tracker exercise you did. I've yet to work with any agent, no matter the production level that is not doing some Useless and Urgent Activities. Eliminate those immediately. Next, take a look at how much time you are spending in your Impact zone. It's great that you are probably spending a huge majority of time in High Dollar Producing, but chances are, you're spending little, if any time working on Impact Activities. Make a shift to that so you can bring in agents, or marketing coordinators, or lead coordinators to do your High Dollar Producing Activities for you now.
This section is from Lisa Archer, a client who has had tremendous success with growing her business.
18 months ago I said the dumbest thing in the world to Darin. I said I have too many leads to handle. Now, I run a team of over 20 agents and we are still growing. We have written 164 offers in last 3 weeks. Where would I be without him? Likely still showing every night, every weekend and not enjoying my family. I thank God for my big mouth and for coaching with Darin.”
Darin is a KICK ASS coach, motivator and a genius.
Yes, he has a mind that is incredible.
I feel that Darin is vested in my success both personally and professionally. He is a dear friend and I am excited we are now partners.
- Lisa Archer
CEO/Broker at Team Ludlow Realty
Co-Founder of The Geeky Girls
No matter what you chose, to follow my Philosophy or another coach, the key is to get your mindset right by not fearing success, prioritize the right activities and develop and enhance your direct response marketing, copywriting and lead conversion skills. Stop worrying about the small details, the technology or the apps and just make sure you are making progress.
How Else I Can Help
This is a beast of an article, and your head probably hurts at this point, but I want to make one last point.
Most people would rather debate what they think they know instead of implementing what it is they do know. People also love to debate minutiae.
Ramit Sethi writes on his blog, Iwillteachyoutoberich.com:
If you’re below the age of 125, you have heard people saying one of more of these phrases about losing weight:
- Don’t eat before you go to bed because fat doesn’t burn as efficiently
- If you cut your carb intake and raise your protein level, you can lose lots of weight quickly
- If you eat fruit in the morning, it’s easy on your digestive system and your metabolism will speed up
I always laugh at these things because they’re so absurd. Maybe they’re correct, or maybe not, but that’s not really the point.
The point is that we love to debate minutiae.
We love to debate details at the completely wrong level of analysis.
When it comes to weight loss, 99.99% of people only need to know 2 things: Eat healthier and exercise more. Only Olympic athletes need to know more.
I see this happening more and more with real estate when it comes to things like social media, lead generation, lead conversion, website platforms and ROI.
People want to debate the minutiae of it all. I don’t.
I want productivity.
I don’t want to hear opinions or guesses or theory.
I want to see people implement and get results.
Increase Productivity - Stop debating minutiae
As Ramit puts it,“…we feel like we really expressed ourselves, and it’s a good feeling. The problem is that the feeling is totally illusory when it comes to getting anything done.”
Sounds to me like the opposite of being a Productivity Junkie who wants to grow their business.
- Stay Productive
- Keep Focused
- Be Consistent
- Darin Persinger
PS: Yes, I cover a lot of stuff in this Beginners Guide To Selling More Homes, however, if you want more, if you want to go deeper with the PG's Philosophies or get accountability, let's grab a coffee or beer.