#1 – Good contact management system
As a salesperson, you have to be able to keep in touch with prospects and clients easily and effectively. You have to be able to put your hands on names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses in an instant.
You can track and keep your people and prospects the old fashion way (on 3×5 note cards), but you will outgrow that quickly. My advice is always to get a CRM software package. There are many available that are specifically designed for salespeople, like ACT, Goldmine, Shareware, and Salespeople.com. These are all made for anyone in sales.
Another option is to buy something that is specific to the real estate industry. The programs that are specific to Real Estate Agents hold many advantages over the general sales programs. They are usually programmed with letter templates and correspondence an Agent could use. They also have pre-created lead follow-up and client follow-up plans already build in. Most have plans to apply when marketing a property. They also have plans you can launch once you have secured a buyer for your listing.
I recommend a real estate specific software like Top Producer or Online Agent. With Top Producer, you can also just pay a small monthly fee per user for an internet access version. This saves you all the up-front costs of the software, and you gain the updates for free. You can also access your database from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a high speed internet connection.
A good contact management system is a must for any serious minded Agent.
#2 – Real estate calculator
An Agent must have the ability to help their client figure out the approximate mortgage payment, net proceeds after the sale, and down payment amount needed based on loan to value ratios.
Most importantly, an Agent needs to be able to figure out their commission amount. When selecting a calculator, select one that has the features you want. Also, ensure that you can learn to use it easily. Some have so many different functions and keys that are unnecessary that it can take forever to learn how to use it.
#3 – Professional Attire
Each real estate area or region has a level of professional dress. Your first impression to a prospect can carry a lot of weight. If you are dressed well, they will assume you are successful even if you are not. The public will make a judgment of you, fairly or unfairly, based on how you dress.
For men, in most markets except resort or tropical markets, I still believe that a suit is the correct attire for a professional Real Estate Agent. It was rare for me not to wear a suit to work. You feel better and more powerful when you are dressed well in a suit. When buying clothes, buy classics that will never go out of style initially. Stay away from the ultra trendy colors and styles. By investing in classics, you can mix and match and expand your wardrobe. Blue shirts, black shirts, and white shirts with red and yellow ties are part of the classic look.
For men, have your shirts professionally laundered. There is nothing as crisp, clean, and professional as a well starched shirt. It reeks of success. I would advise women to do the same thing with their blouses. When meeting clients or out in the public, make sure you portray the image of success.
#4 – Personal website
With more than 85% of buyers using the internet to search for properties, your website has become an essential tool for lead generation and exposing your sellers’ homes.
You don’t need the fanciest, most expensive website you can find. There are a lot of companies that make solid template, mass produced websites. These types of sites are extremely economical in the initial investment you have to make, as well as monthly hosting. Many of these companies build cost effective sites, so they can get the residual income they charge monthly from hosting your site.
You want to work with a company that builds template sites as well as custom sites. You also want a company that has the ability to place you higher in the search engine rankings. This is where you will generate the traffic and leads. I would encourage you to check out ChampionRealtorWebsites.com. They build template and custom sites. They also have a program that generates high search engine placement.
#5 – Professional business cards with your picture, note cards, and letterhead
These are all essential tools for a successful Agent. You want business cards with your picture on them to help create a quicker connection and recognition. My caution with a picture is, make sure it’s current. I have seen too many business cards handed to me by Agents that caused me to look three times at the card and person to detect any kind of resemblance. Too often, our old pictures can look like we just left the high school prom.
Also, having note cards, letterhead, and envelopes that identify you is advisable. We need to ensure the professional image is carried through with every contact and correspondence with our clients and prospects.
#6 – Clean, professional, reliable car
If you are a newer Agent, you will be working with more buyers than sellers in the early part of your career. By having a professional and reliable car, you can increase your probability of success.
Ideally, you never want to meet prospects for an appointment at the home they called or e-mailed you on. You want to meet them at your office. By meeting at your office, you can suggest that you ride in one car. With the vast increase in gas prices, you can make this a benefit to them. You are better able to model the consultative relationship you want.
Before taking them out in your car, it is better to conduct a buyer interview. It’s easier to draw them into your office for this type of meeting if you aren’t meeting them at the home. When they arrive at your office, if they want to go out to the home they are interested in without a buyer interview, if they ride in your car at least you will be able to conduct some of the interview in route to the home you will be showing them.
That is why you need a professional and reliable car. You must also have a car that is clean both inside and out. You don’t need to drive a BMW, Mercedes, or Lexus, but you do need a car that demonstrates you are doing reasonably well. When you are a listing Agent, you can operate by other rules. I didn’t have a buyer in my car ever again midway through my third year in the business. The exterior of my six year old 7 Series BMW was perfect. The inside, to be truthful, was a trash can with papers, cups, bags, and clothes. It didn’t matter though, because the seller couldn’t see inside my car.
My advice is, if you can’t afford a luxury brand of vehicle that is new or newer, buy one that is older with low mileage. Make sure it’s a classic in style and prestige. I drove my original real estate car for over eight years, and it still looked good when I sold it.
#7 – A headset for your phone
You all know what a proponent of prospecting I am. A headset makes it easier for you to prospect effectively. It allows you to stand while you are doing the prospecting. Your hands are free to use to engage your body in your communication. A headset will improve your posture, position, energy, and enthusiasm.
It will leave both hands free, so you can type notes directly into your contact manager while you are talking with the prospect or client. It’s the only way to do it.
My caution is, don’t go the cheap route. You can get cheap headsets for $50, but they sound like cheap headsets. Make the investment of a couple of hundred dollars and get a good one. I prefer wireless headsets because I am completely free to walk my whole office when talking to someone.
#8 – A number based business plan
Too few salespeople have a business plan to follow that encompasses the sales ratios and numbers of this business. They don’t know or calculate the number of contacts needed to generate a lead, the number of leads needed to generate an appointment, the number of appointments needed to create a committed client, or the number of committed clients needed to generate a commission check. Once you know that and your average commission check, you can calculate how to make any amount of money you desire to earn.
#9 – Sales scripts
Knowing clearly what to say in every situation really separates the high earners from the low earners in real estate sales. Success leaves clues for anyone who is seeking. Ancient scripture says, “Seek, and you will find.”
My best advice is find yourself some scripts that are proven and work. Invest hours weekly practicing them to perfection. A word of caution, practice does not make perfect as the old saying goes. Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect. To achieve perfect delivery, be sure to have the right attitude, expectations or success, pauses, and enough repetition to master each script.
Be sure that your role play partner is as committed to your success as you are. My best role play partner was my wife, Joan. I know there were times when, on the inside, she was thinking “not again”, but she never showed it.
#10 – Support system
This is not a tool in the classic sense of the work, but we can use it as our most effective tool. In fact, this should probably have been first.
I would never have had the success that I had in my real estate sales career had it not been for my wife, Joan. There were countless days I went home dejected, frustrated, and beaten up. There were even a few days that I wanted to quit. She would listen, care, and love me. Then she encouraged me that, even though it was a bad day, tomorrow would be better. She told me straight out that she believed in me and knew I was going to be successful. Her support role caused my success to happen. I think you will find that, with many successful people in life, there is a spouse, child, friend, parent, or significant partner that contributed mightily to their success.