This article is part of a larger series on How to Become a Real Estate Agent.
Success in real estate depends on an agent’s ability to negotiate deals, manage appointments, and serve clients. You also have to stay on top of industry news and trends. However, the best real estate agent tips for success are those that help generate a constant stream of high-quality leads. The following 14 tips will help you become a more successful agent in 2021:
1. Create a Business Plan
At the end of the previous year, each one of us should revisit or put together a business plan for the following year. This might seem like a burdensome task, but it will give you insights as to what activities may have helped a business grow over the past year and what may have failed. Think of a business plan as a recipe or set of instructions you can use to repeat what worked again and again.
In real estate, we equate success and failure to whether a transaction closed and if we made money. However, achieving long-term success is not always that simple. While some of us think we can just go by the “seat of our pants and just wing it,” know that if you don’t have a plan, you just got lucky. A business plan forces you to analyze where your business came from as well as the success of lead generation systems.
This secondary benefit is also important, as real estate agents, especially newer real estate agents, often invest money in systems that do not give us a financial return. However, we usually don’t realize if the system isn’t earning us money until we can’t pay our bills, or don’t have anything in escrow. If you aren’t regularly revisiting your business plan, you will find yourself in a fight-or-flight situation, scrambling to create future income almost every single time.
For help getting started with this task, check out our article on how to create a real estate business plan.
2. Use a Database to Categorize Your Contacts
When we first become a real estate agent, we often put everyone and anyone we meet in our contact database. However, over time, you will find that some leads are more likely to result in the purchase or sale of a home than others. This is why it is important to categorize contacts so that time and resources are best spent on those clients who refer frequent business to you.
The easiest way to organize your database is to put clients in three different groups. Your first group is your hot leads. These are clients who always have you “top of mind.” Anytime someone hears that a real estate agent is needed, you are the first real estate agent the client recommends. Take very good care of your hot leads. When you show genuine gratitude to those who refer business to you, the money will come.
The second group is your warm leads. These are clients who may refer to you only on occasion, but still have potential to be moved into your hot lead group with more nurturing. The last group are cold leads. These are folks you’ve helped, but have never referred another lead your way. While you should spend more of your time following up with the other groups, don’t write these folks off. These clients still know how you do business and may refer you to a lead in the future.
Pro tip: Never underestimate clients who may infrequently send business your way. Any business is good business. Treat all referrals equally, whether they send you 10 deals a year or one deal a year.
3. Work Your Sphere of Influence
The people who know, love, and trust you are the best sources of leads and future business. These folks sing your praises and know firsthand how you handle your business. You want to make sure to consistently stay in touch or “in the flow” with this group of folks since they will refer you to family members and close friends. However, you don’t want to be considered desperate and touch base too frequently. Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries are a great way to stay in touch more often and not look like you are chasing business.
This group will also talk to each other and possibly compare your services, your commission rate, and closing gifts. I am not suggesting that you have to clone each of your transactions to match what you did prior, since every transaction is unique. Just get ready for potential uncomfortable questions if you significantly change the way you do business.
4. Make Use of Online Tools to Get Organized
Time is of the essence in real estate. If you do not have organized systems, you are going to waste a lot of time. I know that many times you hear the phrases, “I am spinning my wheels” or “time is money.” With the advance of technology, you should have whatever you need to handle a real estate transaction at your fingertips.
A cloud-based system, Dropbox, for example, is an excellent resource that I use to stay on top of my escrows, whether I am in or out of the office. Dropbox is also compatible on my phone, laptop, and standalone computer. As real estate agents, we are multitasking all the time. We are working a deal on the phone while driving to another client. You must have task-based systems so that you are reminded of what task needs to be done next.
Another helpful tool for staying on top of your deals is to utilize a contact relationship management (CRM) platform. In addition to helping you categorize your contacts, these tools can also be used for saving reminders and prompting you for next steps. Considering our days are filled with appointments, meetings, showings, and possible distractions, tools like these reduce the risk of someone getting off track, which can cost business opportunities.
One example of a CRM to consider is LionDesk. This is because not only can you log into the system to be reminded of the tasks you have due that day, it also lets you connect to potential clients via text and email without leaving the platform. It even features a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence, which can help to automatically categorize a client based on their level of interaction, saving you even more time. Learn more by visiting LionDesk.
5. Acknowledge Real Estate Is a Full-time Commitment
Real estate is not a club that you join and sometimes choose not to go to the meetings. It is a full-time commitment and a full-time job. I am not sure if there was a rumor or urban legend that states that you could get into real estate, only do it part time, and still be successful. If you think you can do real estate part time, you have already set yourself for failure.
Real estate is a full-time commitment 100% of the time. Set your expectations and schedule your time accordingly.
6. Invest in Brand Building
Whether you work for a large or small office, or perhaps have opened your own real estate company, name and brand recognition are important. You need to create your own look and feel that people in your community recognize. For example, when we look at a logo with a smile and an arrow, we immediately know it is Amazon. A green circle with a mermaid in the middle instantly tells us we are at Starbucks. This is called your brand.
While these two examples have the benefit of large marketing departments that focus entirely on this concept, having a brand is just as important for a boutique office for building trust—and memorability—in the community.
At minimum, you need to have a logo, set color pattern, or tagline as part of your marketing plan. As a smaller brokerage, I focus my branding on a more personal touch. When you are in Tracy, California, and see a yellow and green sign with a tagline that says, “Hire me as your realtor and you will have a friend for life,” you know it is At Home Real Estate Group.
7. Re-evaluate Your Website
Having a website is an important component for prospective clients to find us with modern technology. In fact, many would say that if you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. Information is truly at our fingertips, 24/7. Many real estate agents think that they need to pack their website with extensive information that may contain a lot of words and the use of a tiny font.
The truth is, the design, word, and picture placement on your website needs to be clean, neat, simple, and to the point, like the ones you can create with Placester. You want to give the visitor enough information to be interested in your services, as well as a need to have you contact them to answer any additional questions. For more tips on how to make the best use of your website, check out our article on the subject.
8. Learn How to Say No
As real estate agents, we are always being asked to get involved in many different committees. However, if you say yes to every cause that comes your way, you risk overextending yourself. Please remember, for every yes you say to a request for your time, you are actually saying no to yourself and those important people around you.
Therefore, be selective about how you spend your time. You will feel better about yourself, and your clients will feel that energy resulting in a more positive transaction.
9. Call Your Clients Quarterly
Did you know that the number one thing our clients want from us is care and concern. Calling your client quarterly and truly listening to what they are saying will bring you business opportunities. This is where it is also helpful to have a CRM like LionDesk, because these tools let you take notes on the “pleasure and pain” items that your client is experiencing.
For example, is your client celebrating a happy occasion, or by chance did they experience an event that made them sad? Listen for things you can do to make their lives easier. This is great information to recap and ask about on a future call. Please know that these calls will take some time, but the return will be great and worth the time investment.
10. Schedule a Campaign of Postcard Mailers
Along with quarterly calls, website presence, and company branding, another way to stay top of mind with your clients is to give them something of worth. One of these items can be a postcard mailer that includes gardening tips for the spring. Another mailer can be a postcard reminding your clients to change their clocks during daylight saving time. These postcards need to be easy to read and contain a “tidbit” of useful information.
Many brokerages offer agents a set number of postcards. However, if yours doesn’t, or if you would like to simply add more, a company like ProspectsPLUS makes it easy to create postcards designed with real estate agents and brokers in mind, and can help you create targeted mailing lists. To learn more, visit ProspectsPLUS.
11. Schedule Holiday Pop-bys
Truly one of most well-received marketing campaigns has been holiday pop-bys. I take my hot lead group of clients and choose 100 clients to personally visit. When I visit these clients, I bring them a holiday item. During Thanksgiving, I dropped off jam with a note, “Real Estate Is My Jam.” If the client was not home, I left the item at their front door. My favorite pop-by this year was holiday wrapping paper that included a note, “Looking forward to wrapping up 2020.” The cost of this campaign was extremely reasonable and was well-received by my clients.
12. Provide Yearly Market Analysis
Whether the market is hot or stagnant, a homeowner always wants to know the market value of their home. Completing a yearly market analysis of your client’s anniversary will be welcomed. I would suggest you touch base with your client and wish them a happy anniversary. I prefer to call my clients and speak with them personally. During this call, I wish them a happy anniversary and ask them questions that may involve the family, their job, or “what’s new.”
The natural progression of the conversation will usually include the present market. I share with them that I have run a market analysis and give them the option to have the information emailed or potentially presented in person.
13. Get Involved in Community Events
The community that we live in has demonstrated great support for local real estate agents. While it isn’t possible to play a major role in every cause, as real estate agents we still need to support our community and the events that are organized.
Fundraising, or a cause that needs financial assistance or physical help, is a great way for real estate agents to get involved, and is a terrific networking opportunity. I do remind you to participate with a giving heart and not expect business referrals in return. A genuine giver will always be rewarded.
14. Set Time to Implement Affirmations & Positive Self-talk
Most real estate agents have high expectations of their self-performance. When goals are not met and tasks are not completed, we can talk negatively to ourselves. The negative running loop that goes through your thoughts can sabotage success. When these thoughts arise, it is important to change the self-talk verbiage in your mind to say something positive and productive. Making this a repetitive practice or habit will help you talk more positively.
Consider scheduling “you time” on your calendar several times a week. This should be a block of time for you to step away from the stress and the business cycle, even for just an hour. It is also a good idea to implement helpful tools for self-care like saying and writing daily affirmations, as this will allow you an opportunity to shift negative thoughts to positive ones.
When I am having a challenging day, I find that going on a walk and taking deep breaths of fresh air gives me incredible energy. I also love the energy of music that helps to shift my mood. However, my favorite “go-to” when having a difficult day is to call clients who lift me up in spirit and remind me why I love selling real estate. I call it a real estate pep talk. Everyone needs to feel the love sometimes.
The most successful tip, in addition to the 14 tips listed above, is very basic. Just show up. Everyone—no matter how they start—must put in the time and effort to get results. It also isn’t about working harder, but working smarter. My motto in real estate has always been “selling homes with patience, integrity, compassion, and confidence.”
Wishing you good health and continued success in 2021.