In January, I reviewed 10 characteristics that are commonly found in the best commercial brokers in the business. That column was written in response to dozens of emails asking for such a list. The response to that article was so positive that I have been asked to provide a follow-up. Below are 10 more characteristics possessed by the most successful salespeople in the commercial brokerage business. Again, they appear in no particular order.
There is a saying I love that goes, “Prepare to win, or lose to someone who does.” Preparation is so important, yet studies find that only about 5 percent of brokers actually prepare properly. Most salespeople make the fatal mistake of starting in the middle. They start with action rather than preparation. When you finally get to that listing presentation or a meeting with the CEO, you’ll only be as good as your preparation. Great preparation allows you to give a great presentation and make a lasting impression. In order to be successful, professional salespeople prepare effectively. Preparation will allow you to ask the right questions and respond effectively to the client’s objections, quiet their fears and gain their trust.
An important part of preparation is knowing the client and knowing the client’s business. Today, there are so many ways to obtain information. The Internet can be used to search clients’ Web sites, or you can review annual reports (if the client is a public company), read their literature, use your network to obtain information or speak to their competition. Prepare, and the probability of success is much greater. Wing it, and you are likely to lose to someone who doesn’t. Preparation takes time and hard work and should be done well ahead of time. Keep the old adage in mind, “The workday begins the night before.”
One of the most important elements within successful real estate brokers is their will. A burning desire to excel separates the great salespeople from the average. The average person who enters the brokerage business rarely puts much effort into acquiring expertise. This is particularly true in the early stages of a broker’s career, when the learning curve is steep and the challenges can seem daunting. Desire is a differentiator between those who can break through and those who cannot. The answer to how much stress, anxiety and pain someone can handle before quitting is determined by desire. Most great brokers possess an overwhelming desire to prove something to someone. It might be the world or it might be just to themselves or their families, but that desire exists.
And that desire is critical. Remember that it is not education, looks or connections that decide who succeeds and who fails-it is determination. Top brokers possess drive and stick-to-it willpower. This desire leads to success, and success is more fun than anything else you can name because everything else you can name flows from it.
13. Be a good listener.
As we go through our days meeting with existing and potential clients, we are constantly giving advice and recommendations to those we work with or are hoping to work with. Consider this: How comfortable would you be with a doctor who prescribes before she diagnoses? Too often, salespeople rush into giving advice without a deep understanding of the problems or issues. Communication is among the most important skills in life. Communication consists of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Listening is the most important of these for brokers. I enjoy watching our top salespeople in meetings with clients as they work hard at listening.
Unfortunately, most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. I cannot emphasize enough the need to first understand, and then seek to be understood. Most successful brokers understand the needs, concerns and status of their clients. They listen with the intent to understand, to really understand. Novice salespeople sell services while the pros sell solutions to needs and problems.
14. Realize that YOU are the product.
To effect any transaction, the person conveying the message must be believed by the client. Unfortunately, this is most evident when the “you” is ineffective. Have you ever walked out of a store because the salesperson was too pushy, or worse, insulted you? Then you went down the street and purchased the same exact product somewhere else because the salesperson was “nice” to you? You bought the salesperson-then you bought the product. In a service business like real estate brokerage, services can be, and indeed, are different from vendor to vendor. Notwithstanding this fact, clients must believe in, and like, the messenger or the message has no credibility.
How is your personal product? The top people in our field focus intensely on making themselves salable. They work on their people skills, such as their ability to establish rapport, including making people feel at ease and developing common ground. They have an enthusiastic attitude and show sincerity genuinely. They are creative and suggest solutions that are not obvious. They are focused on their image and always look the part; at the same time, they know their product (service) cold and have an ability to speak clearly to convey the correct message. They are always prepared and really know the market. All of these characteristics lead to a reputation that often precedes the top broker into a meeting, creating a competitive advantage.