Most of the time.
If you are a 'top producer' - I am not picking on you. It may feel like I am, but I am not picking on you personally. What I am calling out is the tendency of our current society to focus on what grabs our attention, not what is best for our long-term fulfillment and growth.
What do I mean by top producer? I mean the people you think of when I say, top producer. Typically it is someone who sells a lot of homes and is ranked as "number one", either in your office or area. You might even look up to them. Certainly, you would be open to hearing a few ideas on what they have done so it might help you.
Nothing wrong with that.
Except...most top producers are good at one thing: selling homes(1)! Of course! That makes perfect sense. But how did they get there? How are they serving their clients?
In other words, is their goal to serve their clients, putting their clients' interests first at all times, or is their goal to sell as many homes as possible? (ie. To hit their financial goals for the year) I am asserting that those two things are mutually exclusive. I know that's a big leap for some people, and I don't have time here to go into it, but for right now would you be opposed to going with that assumption?
Most top producers do one thing: do whatever it takes to get the next deal done. They convince, they cajole, they get better at convincing and cajoling, they work hard. And they discount their fee.
No other PROFESSIONAL works this way. Not attorneys, consultants, accountants, or physicians. The better those professionals get, and the more experience they have, and the better the outcomes they produce, the more they charge. The more they turn away business that doesn't fit their standards. Sure, that is not 100% true, but it is true the majority of the time.
So in every other 'profession', the best of the best work on their craft, get better at solving big problems for their clients, and then charges even more for their services.
In real estate, it is almost the exact opposite. The people that sell the most can also discount their fee the most. Their business often becomes about their identity and personality: "look at me, I am #1, see how great I am". Their business then becomes about fulfilling those statements. They have to keep selling to be #1 - at any cost. Somewhere along the way (or always along the way) it became about making sales, not about serving clients.
Did you ever consider that we say 'top producer', not "top professional"? Another way to reference a top professional in our industry is 'trusted advisor'. What is a trusted advisor? When a client has a moment of crisis or strong need, and they pick up the phone and call YOU! They are not interviewing agents, they are not shopping rate or listing price, they are calling you to solve their problems.
While not every real estate situation is a moment of crisis, I assert the same premise applies: are they calling you, or are they interviewing agents? Do they want someone who puts their interests first at all times? Can you demonstrate that you are an expert in your field, and do they feel confident that you have the expertise and finesse to guide them through a transaction?
Most of the industry is focused on being top producers. I have seen little to any focus on being a trusted advisor. I have seen lots of lip service to being a trusted advisor, but very little commitment and action. Because when push comes to shove, many agents opt for the easy way out: do what it takes to get a deal done - to get paid. That's probably unfair. Mostly we all have been trained as salespeople. Heck, in California, most licensees are designated as "salesperson"!
Most of the industry is geared around sales. Making sales, getting better at making sales, making more sales. Almost no one talks about how to serve. No one talks about how to listen. No one talks about setting standards for who you work with and how.
If you have read the first chapter of my book, or read The Full Fee Agent, you might have an idea of what I am talking about. If you have read Ninja Selling, or participated in The Ninja Installation, you might have some insight into what I am talking about. But even in the latter case, it still really is about sales - there is not deep work into how to prepare yourself to be a trusted advisor. Being a trusted advisor starts with you. You have to be someone who can be rooted in who you are and what you do. You aren't worried about the external world. You are totally at peace with who you are, in your own skin. Your job in every conversation, in every interaction, is to find out what is going on with the other person and serve them. Authentically serving them makes them feel understood, heard, and taken care of. They trust you to take great care of them.
I can think about my journey (still going - haven't arrived anywhere). Teaching others how to be a trusted advisor - is hard. It's simply not how most people have been trained to operate and be in life.
Bob Berg & David Mann's book, The Go-Giver, lays out five laws that help guide. It still doesn't really tell you how to be that way, but it is another place to look. Here are their Five Laws of Stratospheric Success:
- The Law of Value - Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
- The Law of Compensation - Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
- The Law of Influence - Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.
- The Law of Authenticity - The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
- The Law of Receptivity - The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
There is no "arriving" in real estate. I can think of a handful of agents that I consider world-class. A few of them have been playing this game of real estate for over 40 years. They are still playing. Still learning. Still growing. Still humble. I find it incredibly inspiring.
(1) I am not really talking about teams. Nothing wrong with teams. But as I said in the first chapter of my book, most real estate agents are not professional managers. Running a high-producing team is a WHOLE other skill set - for which most of us are not equipped nor interested in doing. If you want to grow and run a team, GREAT! And, I invite you to consider that it is not about volume, but instead about how you serve your clients. Not service per se, but serving who the client is individually, what they are dealing with during the home selling/buying process - and creating a deep, trusted relationship. I assert that most high-grossing teams can be good at service, but not necessarily excellent at creating deep, trusted relationships.