I’ve been a real estate agent for 11 months. When I first started, each day was an adventure. I couldn’t wait to meet clients and see how I could help them. I was productive and successful and I made a good living. Now it seems I can’t do anything right. I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I almost walked away from real estate forever yesterday. I got a call from someone who was referred to me. This fellow said he was ready to list with me and he did not want to work with anybody else. I cleared my schedule for him and within 15 short minutes, he decided to call someone else. What is wrong with me?
I’d love to say notes like this one are rare. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common messages I get from real estate agents. I used to think only brand-new real estate agents would write with tales of woe – until a grizzled veteran with 35 years’ experience under his belt shared pretty much the same story with me while he downed a bottle of beer at a real estate conference.
As a point of reference, this man has forgotten more than most real estate agents ever learn, yet at different times in his career, saw his sales productivity plummet. There had to be a reason why and I was all too interested in hearing what he had to say, if only due to morbid curiosity and because I wanted to compare his experiences with those of real estate agents I’ve encountered.
Here’s what I learned: It really doesn’t matter how much or how little experience you have in the real estate business. Sooner or later you’ll feel as if you’re staring into a chasm of uncertainty, unclear about how your career got so fantastically off course.
It starts innocently enough – you lose a deal, an appointment, a closing opportunity – it really doesn’t matter.
It starts innocently enough – you lose a deal, an appointment, a closing opportunity – it really doesn’t matter. Taken by itself, it’s no big deal… until the mistakes or losses begin piling up and you’re afraid to do or say anything because you just know, no matter what you do, it won’t matter.
Whether you call it mindset, stinkin’ thinkin’ or you use more colorful language to describe your career funk, you have to find a way to overcome this or your career will be in full-fledged freefall.
Here’s what to do if you make up one day to the horrific fear that you might have lost your mojo (or wonder if you ever had it in the first place).
First Things First: Get the Diagnosis Right
For purposes of this exercise, we’re going to assume that all of the fundamentals of your business are right:
- You haven’t dramatically shaken up your marketing plan in a way that is negatively impacting your business
- There hasn’t been a downturn in your local market affecting most real estate professionals in a similar way
- You’re working a similar number of leads as you were before your numbers fell
- You haven’t changed your presentation or the way you interact with prospects
Getting your head screwed on straight is simple, but it is rarely easy.
If none of the above issues are impacting your performance, it is entirely possible that your problem is one of mindset. Getting your head screwed on straight is simple, but it is rarely easy. Here are two strategies that have worked well for some of my clients.
Riding Your Own Coattails: Pluck Wins from Past Successes
When your career has you a little down in the dumps, the first order of business is to bring you back up. At times like these, it’s hard to imagine yourself having ever done anything right, much less doing something well enough to feel worthy of taking a victory lap.
Since your first inclination is to discount past real estate successes as a thing of the past or impossible to replicate, switch gears for a minute. Think of wins away from real estate, such as athletic achievements in high school or college, or the time you accomplished something that is still near and dear to your heart. Revel for a moment in your glory days. You deserve it.
The point here is to simply take a moment to realize you have a history of accomplishment. Now, let’s dig a little deeper. How did you succeed? What steps did you take to reach that particular goal? Even if it was a lifetime ago, what helped you keep pushing even if the odds were against you?
Once you’ve identified some of the strategies you’ve used in the past, simply modify them a bit for real estate. Yes, there are nearly universal success principles which you can draw upon in different situations. Find them, pull them out of your mind, then put them to work in your real estate business.
Tap into Past Failures Even When You’ve Been Throat Punched
Some of the best sources of inspiration for future successes can be found after you’ve been throat punched by life or circumstances. Don’t believe me? I doubt there’s a kid alive who ever accomplished anything immediately. They walked before they ran – and they picked themselves up off the ground and tried again even if they took a tumble after learning how to navigate in an upright position.
There are countless examples of this in your own life, whether you’re thinking of your experience learning to play a musical instrument, if you ever played a sport, or done or tried anything.
Failure happens all the time. As hokey as it sounds, you can either choose to pick yourself up off the floor when you’ve been throat punched by life or circumstances, or you can stay down and wallow in your pity or self-loathing.
Here’s the thing: past failures are only indicators of future results if you give up or refuse to try. Some of the best future outcomes come on the heels of overwhelming, abject failure.
Past failures are only indicators of future results if you give up or refuse to try.
Failure is kind of like negative entries on your credit report: it’s a snapshot of the here and now. Fast forward a day, a month, a year, and the picture you see can be completely different. And this is the beauty of the human experience – we can learn from our setbacks.
In keeping with the credit report theme, we all know there are valuable lessons to be learned from financial setbacks. If nothing else, we learn how not to handle our financial lives. And if your real estate business has fallen into a funk, you’re essentially getting feedback from the market that something is a little off – even if it is nothing more than the way you look at things.
It’s OK to Fail as Long as You Get the Point
Failure sucks – and you probably shouldn’t get too used to it or you’ll find it incredibly hard to pull yourself back up when your worst days come (and they will).
There is inherent benefit in losing if for no other reason than you finally understand what doesn’t work. But for any of it to matter, you really need to learn the implied lesson from the negative experience.
One of my clients, RB, had an interesting perspective on this subject. He once told me, “Ken, I don’t care what it is, you’ll keep making the same mistakes over and over until you embrace the mistake and what you need to do in the future to keep from making it again. It’s just that simple.”
RB calls this failing forward, which has enabled him to reach most, if not all, of his goals in real estate and in life.
In a sense, this is simply another way of looking at failure being OK as long as you get the point but said a different way.
The Final Piece of the Puzzle
The final piece of the puzzle is the one many people struggle with. I get it – it can be a challenge to confront some of the reasons you aren’t reaching your goals.
You’re trying to write a compelling real estate story which is predicated on reaching all of your goals. In order to get to this point, you have to embrace the idea that fixing what is broken in your business can really be as simple as changing the way you look at things and pulling a series of small wins from things as simple as past successes and failures, then applying them to real estate.
Here’s a parting thought: your real estate business managed to get off track right before your eyes. One minute things were progressing nicely, then – bam! – before you knew it, you were questioning things you thought you knew to be true.
Take these ideas out for a test drive. When your career is in some kind of a tailspin, an undeniable truth is that something caused it. If it isn’t something structural in your business or your presentation, the biggest remaining possibility is your mindset.
Give some thought to the mindset you bring to your real estate career. You might be surprised at how quickly you see a noticeable improvement.
Ken Speegle is Realty ToolKit’s resident real estate industry expert. Every week he writes insightful, in-depth articles about topics related to real estate marketing, each designed to help make you a better, more profitable real estate professional. Ken is the founder of therealestatewriter.com and has been a real estate copywriter since 1994.