Bad Advice Realtors Should STOP Taking

It’s time to break free from bad guidance, stop believing bull***t, and ditch destructive advice for good. In this podcast episode, I’m going to be pulling back the curtain on the bad advice often given to Realtors that can have the biggest negative impact on both your business and your happiness in this business.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The number one trap we fall into that we think is helping our business, but is actually hindering our growth
  • A universal misconception that will make you change how you think about your sphere of influence (or lack thereof!)
  • A common piece of advice that if taken, can cause you to miss out on the most rewarding aspect of this job
  • Terrible tech tips that are costing you unnecessary money and making you lose out on opportunities to grow your business
  • The one mindset shift that could be the difference between making it in this business or giving up

Tune in wherever you enjoy your podcasts.

Well hey there and welcome back to the Women Rocking Real Estate show. So happy to have you hear if you’re new and welcome back if you’re a loyal listener. This episode is one that’s been in the making for years. Throughout my 15 years in real estate, I have discovered there is so much bad advice out there when it comes to being a real estate agent, so this episode will hopefully help you break free from bad guidance, stop believing bull shit, and ditch destructive advice for good. Now as usual, this is just my opinion and someone else may have a completely different opinion and that’s cool. My motto with everything is to take what you want and leave what you don’t.

When I was thinking about material I could cover in this episode, the list of bad advice to potentially include was long. In addition to collecting a list organically over the years, I asked my followers on Instagram to let me know the worst advice they’d received and there was an impressive list of things. A lot of it was the pretty typical stuff and I like to go deeper, So I started thinking about the big themes and decided to focus this episode on the bad advice that can have the biggest impact on both your business and your happiness in this business. Most of the themes I’m going to be talking about, are not obvious ones. But hopefully they’ll challenge you to think about things differently and to maybe see things from a new perspective.

1. The more you learn, the more you'll earn

Alright The first piece of bad advice I want to talk about and wait for it, this is rich, because it comes from yours truly. Yup I have been giving some bad advice in every single episode, since I started this podcast. I began to realize the error of my ways awhile ago and added a caveat to what I say, but if you’ve ever stuck around to the absolute end of each episode, you know I end them all with “The More You Learn The More You’ll Earn” and I have come to learn that this is actually terrible advice. A lot of you listeners out there fall into one of two camps. You’re either spending too much time learning and not enough time doing what you’re learning OR you’re spending too much time learning from too many different people and you’re running around trying to implement it all. Either way, you’ve got Shiny Object Syndrome and you need focus and buckle down stat.

If you’re attending every office meeting and training session and going to every real estate conference and taking loads of notes but not doing anything with them. Or if you’ve got digital shelves full of online courses that you’ve taken but not even finished let alone implemented….I’m talk’in to you.

The first group of people can get stuck in learning mode because it’s safer than doing mode. They’ll tell themselves they’re not ready to start implementing anything they’re learning, because they don’t know enough yet or they’re not ready yet or all sorts of other excuses.

The second group of people gets motivation and inspiration from trying new strategies, but often find themselves getting easily distracted with other shiny objects as soon as things get hard or feel overwhelming. So one group is kind of paralyzed in inaction and the other group is sort of squirrelly and all over the place doing different things, but not consistently finishing anything or sticking with any strategy long enough for it to work. Both groups are obviously looking for results from everything they learn, but both groups self-sabotage getting those results. One from lack of action and one from unfocused and inconsistent action. The solution for both is to take imperfect, focused and consistent action and one of the ways to do that is to stop learning and start implementing. Easier said than done right?

Well there’s a few things you can do that can make it a bit easier.

  • Decide who you’re going to take advice from for the next year and then tune everyone else out. It’s a very noisy world out there and there are going to be what feels like a million people telling you to do a million different things. The first ones that you should tune out, are the ones telling you to do things that don’t align with how you want to build your business. If people are telling you to door knock or cold call and you don’t want to build your business like that, stop listening. Stop attending. Stop reading. Stop making yourself available to receive that message. Remove that voice from your world because it’s just going to make you second guess everything you do try to do as an alternative. If people are telling you to harass your friends and family for business and make 100 calls a day to your sphere asking for referrals, but you’re not comfortable building your business that way, tune them out.
  • Figure out who does align with how you want to build your business and focus on learning and implementing just what they teach for at least a year. Put all of your energy, attention and focus in ONE area only and then double down in imperfect action. When you start getting overwhelmed or it starts feeling hard, focus even more. Do not allow yourself to self-sabotage with distraction. Recognize it when you do it and come back and re-focus. Don’t allow yourself to start any new strategies, programs, courses or new trainings until you have completely finished and consistently implemented the one you’re focused on.

If you know you struggle with this issue and know you’ll have a hard time taking these recommendations, do everything you can to get support. If you’re in a program, go to all the coaching calls, get some accountabilibuddies, set goals, reward yourself when you achieve them, if you’ve learned how to brain prime from me, start doing it every day and focus on these themes.

2. Only focus on your sphere

The next piece of advice that I hear all the time that I don’t think is necessarily bad, but it’s certainly not always realistic and I actually think it’s dangerous and that is to only focus on your sphere of influence and build a repeat and referral business. That advice will work for a small number of you and not at all for others. But even for those that it will work for, it rarely works long term and I’ll explain why in a minute.

Let’s start with who that strategy is not going to work for. It’s not going to work for an agent that has just moved to a new community. You don’t know anybody yet, so you don’t have a sphere yet and it’s pretty hard to get referrals from people you don’t know. It can take time to build a sphere in a new place and your business can’t afford to wait that long to get going.

It’s also not going to work for people who’s existing sphere of influence is not at a place in their life where they are buying and selling real estate.

It’s also not going to work for people who just don’t have a big social network. Maybe you’re more introverted and prefer fewer, deeper relationships instead of loads of surface level relationships.

Regardless of the reason, there are probably lots of you listening that have heard this advice and feel discouraged. I want to assure you that you absolutely can build a real estate business without a huge sphere, but it will take longer and you will have to be super intentional and strategic around how you do it. The good news is that when you do do it the right way, you’re actually setting your business up for bigger and better LONG TERM success, than an agent who only focused exclusively on their sphere.

What about those of you that do have a huge social network? Should you rely on that network alone to build your business? In my opinion definitely not. You should definitely start there. They are for sure the lowest hanging fruit. But relying entirely on your sphere for business can be a dangerous gamble. Here’s why.

  • The Buying / Selling Lifecycle typically lasts on average 5-7 years. You need a pretty big sphere of influence to sustain your business before repeats will come up.
  • Your sphere needs to be at the right stage of life. Ideally buying their first home, so that you can benefit from trade ups. If your sphere of influence is filled with people who are already in their forever home, you will not be able to rely on them solely to sustain your business.
  • When you don’t make efforts to grow your business with people who don’t know you, you’re always dependant on your sphere and when the fruit has all been picked and the market starts drying up (as it always does in cycles) you have no in-fill.
  • The success of your business will always depend on how connected you are to people in your sphere. You have to build and nurture those connections and that is time consuming. As soon as you stop doing it, you’re at risk of other another agent having a closer relationship with that person. Let’s face it, every single person knows at least 5 real estate agents well enough to use them.

So to be clear, I’m not suggesting you don’t focus your business on your sphere. They will always be the easiest and fastest way to build a real estate business and they should be your priority. What I am saying however, is that you shouldn’t rely on it entirely. I have had so many agents contact me with the same story. Been in the business for 20 years, always did well and had a super strong repeat and referral business. Never advertised or focused on growing their business because they never had to. And then all of the sudden one year they noticed a big drop and the next year it got worse. Their phone suddenly stopped ringing and they don’t know what to do. Business begets business and lack of business begets more lack of business. It’s a slippery slope to recover from if you don’t catch it in time. But the simple way to prevent it, is to never rely entirely on your sphere for business. Make it your priority, but never neglect marketing and advertising in your business. If you’re not generating at least 30% of your business from people who have no connection to you, that’s a warning sign that it’s time to rebalance your business now.

3. Don't waste your time with tire kickers

Another popular piece of advice that I think gets taken too literally and is often viewed under a black and white lens vs. varying shades of grey, is “Don’t waste your time with tire kickers.” This often is in the context of buyers who can’t make a purchasing decision or sellers who just aren’t ready to sell. Now there are absolutely going to be times when you need to walk away from clients because they genuinely are not ready to make a decision. But I believe those situations are way fewer and farther between than agents think. I believe we are taught to have the wrong expectations of people and we are not taught how to properly listen, understand, coach solve and influence the decision making process effectively to actually help people through their own process. We are made to believe if it’s not an easy transaction, it’s not worth our time and that is simply not always true. In fact, some of the most rewarding transactions will be the most difficult ones. The best testimonials and referrals often come from the most challenging transactions. When we’re able to help people get out of their own way, that’s when our light shines really bright. But the only way we can do that, is from a place of empathy. So instead of viewing somebody as a tire kicker or getting frustrated by their inability to make a decision or being annoyed because it feels like they keep changing their mind, get to the root of the problem. Buyers are rarely actually tire kickers. Most of the time they just need help making a decision. There’s a problem that needs to be solved and it’s your job to figure out what that problem is, because they don’t even likely know themselves. That’s what real estate is actually about. It’s not about buying and selling properties. It’s about solving people’s problems and helping them make good decisions. In my 15 years of real estate I can honestly count on one hand the number of buyers who didn’t end up purchasing. When a buyer or seller genuinely has no intention of actually buying or selling, that can almost always be sussed out in an onboarding process. If the red flags are obviously waving from the get go and you take them on knowing that, but hoping to change their mind, that’s a problem and almost always a waste of time. But if someone is genuine and then starts struggling when a decision needs to be made, that’s a totally different situation and here’s the hard truth…..it’s normal!

These are huge decisions being made that materially and dramatically affect their lives. We shouldn’t EXPECT that these decisions are made easily. We shouldn’t get frustrated when they’re not. Instead, we should focus on getting better at helping people through those decisions. That’s where your true value lies. And when you can get good at that, people will be singing your praises from the hilltops and you’ll never need to hunt for business again. So the next time you find yourself frustrated with a client or wondering if you’re wasting your time, come from a place of empathy and ask yourself whether you really understand what the real problem is, that is keeping them stuck.

4. Terrible tech tips

Alright the next category of bad advice that has been given to realtors from coast to coast falls under the bucket of technology. There is a lot to unpack with this one, so we’re going to start with websites first. First if anyone has told you that you don’t need a website for your business, that’s terrible advice. You absolutely need a website. If you don’t believe me, go back and listen to episode 55. In it I talked about research that was conducted about people hiring realtors and it found that 93% of people would not hire a realtor that didn’t have a website. There’s two reasons you need one. First people are going to be searching for you specifically and you need a place for them to go to learn about you. The more important reason however is that as I speak, there are thousands of buyers and sellers on google right now searching for a real estate agent. Why wouldn’t you want to get found by them? Why would you prioritize your time randomly hunting around for people who might be looking to buy or sell OVER prioritizing making sure you get found, by the ones who are in the market already and actively looking right now?

So if the first bad advice about websites is that you don’t need one, the second bad advice is that you should just use the website provided by your brokerage. Terrible advice. For starters you don’t own it and if you ever leave you’ll lose everything. Secondly, agent websites through a brokerage are always provided on a sub-domain and because there is a sub-domain for every agent at the brokerage, you’re all sharing the same server which makes them notoriously slow. Third and work that you do to your subdomain, actually helps the SEO of the main domain which is the brokerage’s. Fourth, it’s the exact same website that every other agent at the brokerage uses, which is certainly not going to differentiate you. So long story short, don’t take the easy route and use a website provided by your brokerage.

The next bad advice agents are given about real estate websites, is that you need to have MLS listings on your site or an IDX feed. Here’s the bottom line, you do not want people coming to your website to search for listings. They can do that on thousands of other websites that are specifically designed and built to search for listings. You want people to come to your website to learn about & connect with YOU. You want them to come to your website to get educated about the real estate process and you want them to come to learn about the communities you work in. Listings on your website will not differentiate you at all, but your other content will. Agents are also given bad advice when they’re told that they need to have MLS listings on their site in order for your website to get found and this is bad advice as well. Unless you’re running paid Google Ads to your IDX listings on your website, they will rarely get found organically and that’s because you’re competing with realtor.com/.ca and Zillow and other websites that spend millions on SEO. If MLS listings are on your website, it means they’re on thousands of other websites as well, so it is not unique content. If you have an IDX website, check for yourself. Open a new private browser and search for an address of a listing that’s currently on MLS and listed on your website. See where your site comes up in the search results. If it’s not the top 2-3 results, no one is ever going to find your website that way. So if you’re paying a lot of money every month for an IDX website that isn’t doing anything for you, that’s a waste of money.

The last piece of bad advice related to your website, is that you need an expensive custom-designed site. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but for the vast majority of realtors, you do not need a custom designed site. You need a beautiful, personal brand, well-designed site that is search engine optimized and includes high converting copy, has opt-ins, community pages, a blog and the ability to add your own personal listings, rentals and sales. If it’s missing any of those things, it won’t work. You can get all of that with affordable real estate website templates. They look custom, but without the high price tag. Now you do have to be careful that they include the ability to add complex listings - with photos and floor plans and 3rd tours and mortgage calculators and all of that. A lot of the templates out there are just regular website templates and they’re not specific to real estate. Don’t make the mistake of getting one of them.

Now if you’ve been a listener of the podcast for awhile you already know I sell real estate website templates and a program to teach you step by step how to customize them. I promise I didn’t just tell you all of this to be selfserving and try to sell you a program I have. I created the program in response to the bad advice that’s been given to so many agents because I wanted to make it as easy as possible for agents to get the website they need and I’ve kept it as affordable as I possibly can. The templates & course at the time of this recording is only $100. I pay for a tech support team, so it is not a profitable program for me. But I know it’s such a key piece of the puzzle for realtors, that I needed to make it available and I’ll try to keep it as affordable as possible.

Alright under the technology umbrella, also comes some bad advice about CRMs. Do you need one? Yes. Should you pay for one that you’re not using? No. Should you use a CRM provided by your brokerage because it’s free? Not usually. Will a CRM help you generate leads? No. Do the software companies that sell them make you believe they will generate leads? Yes. Clear as mud right?

So let’s try to clear up some of the confusion related to CRMs. Some of you know this already, but I know there’s a tonne of you listening that don’t so the rest of you just bear with me for a moment.

A CRM is simply a software tool to help you store information about your contacts, transactions and tasks, however many of the CRM service providers evolved their software to also include websites for lead capture as well as email marketing for nurture campaigns and newsletters and that’s kind of where the bad advice started. Those service offerings are adons. They are not their core business nor their expertise. While the websites they provide are functional, they’re often not well-designed and therefore they create a negative user experience. They’re often also difficult to manage yourself and very expensive to customize.

When it comes to email marketing services provided by CRM companies, the problem is even bigger. While they may offer email marketing, they are not designated email service providers and as a result their email delivery rates are very low. Most of the emails you send will end up in people’s junk folder. Because email open rates are no longer a reliable metric, you can’t look at your open rates and take them as accurate. The only accurate measure now is your email click rates. Even if the emails do manage to make it into someone’s inbox, they’re not well-designed and therefore the user experience suffers again. People are more likely to delete them vs. Beautifully designed email that includes encourages the viewer to actually read the email.

When it comes to lead generation, the tool itself does not generate leads. It only acts as a tool to capture the leads. You’ve still got to pay for the landing page or the ad to get put in front of people for them to opt-into your CRM and while a lot of people pay for the tool, they don’t pay to for that second critical piece. Even when people do pay for that service, the leads that are generated are often very poor quality or if they’re good quality leads, you often have to share the commission with the company managing the lead gen. Why would you do that, when you can easily do exactly what they do on your own? Why? Because it feels like the easy button. The problem is that all of your time is then taken up chasing poor quality leads or servicing leads but then having to giveaway most of your commission. It can feel like a short term gain, but when you actually break it down, it’s a long term pain. Learning and setting up all of these systems yourself will feel like a short term pain, but it is a huge long term gain.

I’d rather see you only attract a few high quality leads per month, that turn into actual clients, than generate 100s of low quality leads that require hundreds of hours to follow up on and chase, only to have 1 or 2 turn into actual clients.

5. Work smarter, not harder

The last piece of bad advice that I want to debunk is a universal one - not just related to real estate, but to anyone and everyone. It is a saying that we have all heard adnaseum and while I obviously get and agree with the the principle of it, unfortunately I believe that it sends the wrong message and entices the wrong expectations and the wrong behaviours when starting a business. Any business and starting a real estate business is no exception. The advice is work smarter, not harder. I actually believe this saying should be “Work harder, then smarter.”

Let me explain. People who have made it, love dolling out this advice to new people. Because it sounds lovely to any newbie starting a new business. Who wouldn’t want to find ways to not have to work hard? Who wouldn’t want to find some hacks and some shortcuts to success, especially if they were smart hacks and smart shortcuts? The reason this advice is a problem is twofold. For starters, many people take what they want to hear from it and that is often only the work not harder part. Secondly, this advice was born by people who worked their ass off for years before they eventually got smarter about how they do it. But when they’re looking in the rearview mirror in hindsight, they think that if they’d been smarter about it sooner, they wouldn’t have had to work so hard and that’s the concept that they turn around and sell as advice. I’m guilty of this thinking myself. However successful people would very likely never have got to where they got, UNLESS they’d worked hard and made mistakes and tried different things. It’s in the journey of working hard that the learnings come of how to do it smarter eventually and if you try to skip that part and try to just do it smarter from the beginning, you don’t learn the grit and the perseverance that’s needed to make it. You don’t learn how to fall down and get back up….on repeat. I have yet to see a situation where success has come to anyone building something from scratch without a lot of hard work. Now in hindsight on the other side of success, a lot of that work might not look so smart. But that doesn’t mean they could have still gotten to where they eventually did, if they’d done it differently.

Now one exception to this rule in real estate, is where agents inherit a real estate businesses from their parents and have instant success with very little hard work in the beginning and sorry that situation just doesn’t count.

To make it as a new agent in this business, I’m going to be real with you…..you are going to have to work harder at it and for longer, than every other new agent in your market and no amount of being smarter about it is going to change that.

For those that do make it however, they eventually NEED to start working smarter to survive. You need to be able to recognize when it’s time to pivot from business generating activities to business optimizing activities. Eventually your business needs to be optimized by automating, eliminating and delegating everything that you don’t love doing. However I see a lot of agents kind of hide behind their computers doing those activities too soon in their business, instead of focusing their time and energy doing activities that are going to generate business for them. You don’t need to optimize your business, until you have a business to optimize. And that my friends is why I believe the saying should be “Work harder, then smarter.”

There you have it my friends, my take on the bad advice I hope you’ll think twice about taking. I hope you enjoyed this episode and if so I’d be so grateful if you left me a rating on Spotify or a review on Apple podcasts.

I will not be ending this episode with my usual bad advice so I’m going to have to think of something new to sign off with. If you’ve got any ideas, I’m all ears.

Until next time.

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