I read a post a while ago from Wall Street Playboys that laid out some harsh truths regarding finding a career. Most are worthless and won't ever elevate you to wealth, since you're working to make someone else wealthy. One of the only careers (and at base, the only career) where you have an opportunity to make real money is in sales.
This betrays what I think is a basic truth that crystalized for me after reading that article - you need to sell something other than your labor to get rich.
As I have mentioned on this blog before, I had been taking courses to get my license to sell real estate in New York. I now have that, but haven't really gotten started yet. Fortunately, before I decide to get started, I decided to attend a Craig Proctor seminar to get some ideas.
Those outside real estate probably don't know who Craig Proctor is, but he is one, if not the most successful real estate salesmen in the world. He made millions closing hundreds of deals a year. Now he is sharing that knowledge with others.
Upon attending Craig's seminar (though he himself was not there), a few truths were laid out that I furiously wrote down. These basic concepts apply not just to real estate, but for all sales, including game, which is at its core selling yourself to women. Obviously the application will be different for different areas, but the basic concepts are well worth memorizing.
When Craig started out in the early 90's, he realized early on that real estate was not like other businesses. Unlike, say, a dentist, realtors are usually out chasing business rather than having business come to them. This is exhausting, and is the reason why most realtors - 80%, are basically broke.
When looking at realtors, most do not close any deals in a year. 20% are basically penniless, 60% live commission-to-commission, 15% make a good living, and 5% are rich. Not surprising then, that 80% of real estate agents don't last five years.
In other words, real estate is like most things in life. A few do well, most are losers.
While this might sound dejecting, the winners will see this as an opportunity. It is not difficult to beat your competition since most of them aren't very good at what they do. And the reason why they aren't very good at what they do is because they refuse to learn how to be good and take action accordingly.
Your competition will never learn anything new. Do not be like that.
As Craig studied how other businesses and the real estate agents that were rich work, he realized a few commonalities:
1. They were willing to constantly learn new things.
2. The overwhelming majority of the business they did was with strangers.
3. They generated their customers automatically, not manually.
The last two things warrant some more detail.
Most real estate agents only sell to friends and family. Though real estate commissions are very high compared to most industries (in terms of gross income), this is simply not a large enough pool of customers to be well-off, much less rich, on. People after all, are not in the habit of buying real estate with the frequency that they buy other things. Real estate is perhaps the ultimate non-perishable good. Your social circle is just not going to be large enough for you to get rich in selling real estate. You need to do business with strangers.
Successful businesses will sell overwhelmingly to strangers or they will go broke. The same is true of real estate agents, though it may not be as obvious because of the high gross income from commissions based on the thing being sold.
Equally as important, successful businesses and realtors generated their customers automatically, not manually.
What does this mean?
Most businesses do not generate their customers by spending time chasing them down. There is a passive, automated marketing scheme to get them hooked. Real estate is somewhat different in that most of the business agents generate is manual - they chase people down. Not only does this waste a massive amount of time, it is counterproductive because most people you don't know and chase down in such a blatantly obvious fashion want nothing to do with you.
You do not generate your leads through manual labor. If you do this, your income will be sporadic. If your income is sporadic, your lead generation is not automated.
One such example of manual labor to generate leads is the fact that many real estate agents go around knocking on doors. Read above to realize why this is a bad way of doing businesses.
How do you generate automatic leads then? Through direct response marketing that works or doesn't work immediately. Equally as important, you should not be spending any physical time doing this beyond setting it all up and responding to inquiries.
Psychology & WIFM:
When you're selling something, you always need to be mindful of the psychology behind the sale, stand out with your product, and tap into that radio station that all consumers listen to - WIFM, or What's In It For Me?
Two truths emerge:
1. Consumers care about themselves.
2. Consumers do not like salespeople.
Think about that second one for a moment. Any time someone has actively tried to sell you something, rather than you consciously going to buy something, what is your feeling? You want to get away from the salesperson as quickly as possible, right? It's not even that the product that the salesperson is selling is bad, it's just that the interaction is unpleasant.
This leads us to the obvious conclusion - you need to remove yourself from the equation.
There is quite obviously a huge real estate market, which means consumers want to buy, or in this industry, sell, real estate. However, consumers don't want to be goaded along by salespeople, just like anywhere else.
Most real estate ads act in the manner described above and that's why most realtors are not successful. The best way to advertise, and what Craig did, was realize that people, if they are looking to buy or sell, will respond positively to ads catered around what their property was worth, or what their options for buying was.
Start off with a basic ad, in the mail or online, centered around a consumer's ability to find out what his home is worth online, or alternatively for those looking to buy, offering "lovely homes" or "desirable neighborhoods" with a "free list with pictures."
In doing all of this, you, once again, must eliminate any self-promotion (though take care not to violate any of the disclosure laws in your area - disclosure is not self-promotion). When prospects wish to see databases of properties on your site, don't force them to sign up. Your site should weed out good prospects from bad ones. Remember, all you need are some prospects to do very good business. The definition of a good marketer is a good tester - someone that tests ideas and uses what works while discarding what doesn't.
Once prospects decide to look around at things and you know they are interested, that's when you send a non-threatening email.
The prospect must perceive you as an expert. You must offer specific information and guarantees that others don't. This is how you stand out, not by acting like a doofus. This is part of your USP or "unique selling proposition."
You must also be conscious of two more things:
1. People treating you in a certain way is your own choice.
2. Entrepreneurs need not be innovators. You just need to do what works. You must also be a marketer.
This is, of course, just the barebones of what I saw, but these more or less universal points are what are most important for life.
Wrapping up, I learned a lot from attending this seminar, and it was free. I would like to make time to attend a two day super conference at some point, because this seminar was just scratching the surface regarding all the actionable advice.
One final point: most successful systems in life are basically akin to a franchise. McDonald's operates on a franchise model. Its franchisees are not allowed to change how the basic business is run. Why? Because it works. It's a system.
The way to succeed is finding the systems that work. You do not need to do everything on your own or be a pioneer to be successful. Find what works and use it. Again, the definition of a good marketer is a good tester.