Get Over Your Fear of the Phone!


Prospecting is the core of our business and is especially difficult for new brokers who are subject simultaneously to the dual stresses of learning real estate and building relationships. If brokers choose to get overwhelmed they can fail. I have trained scores of brokers as they enter the business (many amongst the most successful in New York City) and have some tips that will be instructive.

I have been in sales most of my professional life. I know firsthand the impact activity makes on success. While a broker at Morgan Stanley, I set the obscene goal for myself of making 300 prospecting calls a day. I would not leave the office until I hit my goal. Often, I would arrive at 7:00 a.m. and leave at 9:00 p.m.—but I always got my 300. I never left before I reached that magic number.

SEE ALSO: Housing Demand Shaped by Increasing Desire to Move and Shifting Migration Trends

Eventually, I transitioned into sales training and management with the express goal of driving sales and organizational growth. I closely monitored all of the brokers’ activity metrics such as calls, meetings, networking events, etc. What I found was almost a 1:1 relationship between activity levels and sales success.

This is true in investment sales. This is true in retail leasing. Sales is a contact sport. All else being equal the more owners you speak with the more deals you close and the more money you make. Period. End of story.

Enter call reluctance. Call reluctance is a form of avoidance behavior.  Essentially, brokers “manufacture” other activities and priorities (e.g. research) because it becomes emotionally difficult to make calls. The difficulty stems from constant rejection and the long real estate sales cycle that provides little positive reinforcement. Left unaddressed call reluctance destroys the majority sales careers.

Some manifestations of call reluctance are:

Lack of assertiveness. Not asking the extra question and giving up at the first sign of resistance on the phone.

Hesitation. When you are on the phone and hesitate you provide the other person the opportunity to end the call, something you are unconsciously hoping for.

Too much planning, analysis and research. You are all prepared to make calls. You know the general ranges in your areas, the recent comps and trends. You are not analysts. Over-researching is a way to avoid action and still feel busy.

Low energy. Lack of energy and enthusiasm translates into less success.  Working fewer hours, taking more breaks, longer lunches, etc.

Low confidence. If you do not believe in your mission and ability no one else will either.

The cure is simple. Set activity goals and follow them.

New brokers cannot control many things but they can control their actions. What happens too often is that they get tripped up in their efforts—they worry about how many leads they have, how many meetings they got, etc.  After a tough morning of calls, they may decide their lack of success is because they do not know enough about valuations or trends and stop making calls and begin doing research. They let their feelings and thoughts drive their actions.

Instead, actions should be driven by goals. Achieving goals drives positive feelings and thoughts. In contrast to feeling defeated after a fruitless morning of a handful of unsuccessful calls and giving up for the day, they will feel good about themselves because they hit their call goals. Without executing the right actions, such as making a certain number of calls, a new broker will significantly reduce their chances of success. Everyone who enters the commercial real estate world wants to make a lot of money; the failure to set goals and achieve them severely limits earning potential.