As with many things in life, knowledge is power. The more you learn the more you earn. And, therefore, the second key to succeeding in real estate is to make learning and development a core part of your overall strategy. Obviously, you don’t have to have 20 years of accumulated real estate wisdom to become a millionaire real estate agent. It should be just as obvious, however, that those realtors with the applicable knowledge and understanding will be better positioned to exploit opportunities that their less informed colleagues might miss. Having the knowledge and understanding relevant to a particular situation will also help you to make the best moves when others don’t see a way forward at all. The reality is real estate is not rocket science and, moreover, if you’re with the right broker or team, you will know where to find the answers whenever you get stuck. Nevertheless, time is also a significant factor in your success and, thus, knowing what to do in the moment can also pay off big.
The bottom line is this: If you’re interested in rapid success as a new real estate agent be sure you make learning and development a core, ongoing part of your overall success strategy. Do not plan to simply learn as you go. Rather, make it a part of your weekly schedule. It may seem like lost time now, but I promise—as long as you’re focused on the right things—in no time at all you will find that learning is an investment that pays far more than its fair share of dividends.
Keep in mind that there are certain continuous learning requirements that you—as a Realtor®–have to meet to maintain your license. There are also other workshops and professional development opportunities that I highly recommend (more on that later), which you will want to schedule into your quarterly and yearly calendar. In addition, to these activities, the following are the key learning strategies I recommend as part of your daily or weekly schedule:
Find a Real Estate Mentor or Coach.
First, in the beginning of your career as a real estate agent, a mentor is indispensible, and I highly recommend you find one that you can meet with for at least an hour a week at a minimum, or perhaps one hour every two weeks as you progress. However, you want a mentor that will give you time outside of this meeting for activities that will not take any of his or her time away—for example, letting you listen in on cold calls, going on listing appointments, doing open houses, negotiating closings, or just generally shadowing and observing. You can always jot down follow up questions for later, or during the weekly meeting. Ideally, your mentor will recognize this as a win-win, where he or she will benefit from your questions and ideas, and generally come to a deeper or more nuanced understanding themselves, as they help facilitate your learning (as the old Latin principle says, Docendo discimus—“the best way to learn is to teach”).
If you need more guidance and support than you can get from your broker, or reasonably expect from a mentor, you may need to hire an executive coach. Alternatively, you can set up an accountability group with some friends or colleagues to hold each other accountable to your goals and how you’re spending your time. You may not gain as much insight as you would from a mentor or coach (though you might be surprised), the truth is that real estate is not that complicated. Most new real estate agents fail not because they’re clueless about what to do, but because they don’t have the courage and discipline to do what they know needs to be done (especially the less glamorous grunt work around lead generation).
Form a Mastermind Group for Realtors.
As you progress in your career, you may find that you no longer have the same need for a mentor or coach as you once did. At this point, you will likely find meeting in a more collaborative relationship with a small group of peers to be more profitable. This is an idea that goes back to Benjamin Franklin and his “junto” group. Mastermind groups do not necessarily have to be made up of other real estate professionals—though some do find this more valuable. Sometimes it helps to get feedback and ideas from people who are working in different fields. The following are a few key tips to keep in mind to get the most out of mastermind groups:
- Establish a clear, shared purpose (generally focused on learning, sharing challenges, and feedback).
- Determine the frequency of the meetings. Once a week is best. Anything less than once a month has limited value.
- Determine the length of each meeting (usually 60-90 minutes), and the general structure (a few minutes for social time, progress updates from everyone, time for people in the “hot seat” (usually just 2 to 3 people per meeting) who share their current challenge(s) and who get feedback and ideas from the group).
- Establish clear ground rules with any agreed upon consequences for violations (these rule generally come down to number of acceptable absences, limits on tardiness, and overall level of commitment in general, etc.).
- Evaluation. It’s important to check in from time to time to see how the group itself is working for everyone, what if anything needs to change.
Embrace Scripts and Role Play.
Do not hesitate for one second to memorize all of your key pitches. If movies stars, CEOs, and presidential candidates can spend time learning their lines, so can you. Don’t let apprehension or pride get in the way of mastering your art. And if you have someone that you can work with to take on the role of the homeowner, all the better. It can feel a little awkward or uncomfortable at first, but nothing is as effective as role playing to prepare for the real thing. Give it a try—you’ll be glad you did!
Build Books, Blogs, Audios, or Videos into Your Daily Ritual.
One of the best ways to incorporate learning and development into your success strategy as a real estate agent is through watching, listening, and reading about real estate. The key here is to write this into your schedule. It’s far too easy to buy a book and then leave it on your shelf, or in your iPhone and never actually get through the book. Don’t let this happen to you! Put aside one hour (15 minutes at an absolute minimum) everyday, first thing in the morning, for quiet time where you watch, listen or read something on real estate, taking notes in a learning journal, and reflecting on the lesson you learned for the day (try to extract at least one useful nugget each day).
Carve Out Time for Reflection (Journaling).
Make sure you take a hard look at yourself as well. It’s not just about learning the ins and outs of real estate and the market. You also need to be able to examine your own strengths and weaknesses as a realtor, and make corrections wherever you can. Assessing yourself, reflecting on your experience, and taking time to write (i.e. journal) about it is an exceptionally valuable way to master your craft as an agent. You may need to learn to be more assertive, for example. Or perhaps you may need to learn to better handle rejection (Remember: it’s a numbers game, you have to get used to a certain number of Nos!, including phones being slammed down, and doors being shut in your face). But don’t just tell yourself, “I need to learn how to handle rejection better.” That’s no way to succeed. You have to create a strategy, and make a plan for how you will learn to handle rejection (or, more often, apathy and indifference). Role playing, accountability partners, and mastermind groups can all be very useful in this regard. Or maybe you need more help with learning the best way to get leads. Nevertheless, whatever successes you’re having, or challenges your facing, taking the time to journal or write about them, and reflect on your experience (and your thoughts about your experience), is a powerful tool for gaining clarity and insight. When you combine this reflection time with reading—and do it on a daily basis—you have a potent, timeless strategy for success.
Track, Measure, and Assess your Performance.
Most everyone in the world excels at fooling themselves. It’s as if it is a part of human nature. This is why measuring and tracking your performance over time is key to your success. How can you possibly know what or where you need to improve if you have distorted ideas about how you’re doing? Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, set clear written targets and goals, and track your progress daily or weekly (at a minimum). Track your hours in a spreadsheet. Are you planning to make some cold calls? Write down the number you made at the end of the day. Also, what were the results of those last 100 calls? How do those results compare to the month before? Is there some external standard you can compare yourself to (a benchmark from colleagues, or an industry average)? This data is priceless in assessing your performance and evaluating where and what you need to do to stay on track to achieve your goals.
One final point: There may be some things you need to unlearn as well. You may, for example, need to unlearn your ideas about sales and marketing. If sales or marketing makes you uncomfortable, that’s a good indication that you have some unlearning to do. In all likelihood, you probably learned what you know from those who are notoriously clueless about how to do it well.
These are some of the learning and development strategies that I have found in my own experience and research to be the most valuable. There, of course, are others. And there are way to incorporate technology and apps in whatever specific methods you adopt. But this is the key: Determine to make learning and development a core part of your strategy as real estate agent. Then design a weekly plan, and stick to it consistently! Because, as Anthony Robbins says, “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently!”