Time to Change Your Stripes?

5 tips for how to shake things up for the better.

March 1, 2002

So you’re stuck in a rut. Your tried-and-true way of dealing with challenges and people don’t seem to be working for your business. It might be time to change your sales philosophy.

Philosophies are based on what we believe and value. But we sometimes hang on to our philosophies after they no longer serve us. For example, if you’ve always banked on immediate gratification and quick outcomes, you may be creating a negative self-fulfilling prophecy, because gratification isn’t usually immediate in real estate sales.

There’s a saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Your philosophy about how to succeed in sales may actually be a kind of insanity that’s leading to negative outcomes. Examine your philosophy, values, and routines, and you’ll likely find the insanity.

It’s not easy to dig yourself out of a rut, and it takes time. But if you exercise willpower and discipline, it won’t be too long before you see results. Commit to these five steps:

1. Examine your values.

A man who’s studying for his real estate license recently sent me a letter saying he wants to be an actor but sees real estate as a way to make an easy $50,000 a year while maintaining his flexibility to go on auditions.

In the letter he asks, “Do you think I can pull it off?” Of course not. My response is always that this is not a part-time business. Too many people enter real estate with a philosophy that it’s easy to make lots of money quickly without much effort.

Although they experience early on the error of their thinking, many salespeople never give up the hope of a quick buck. If you’re hanging on to beliefs that don’t match the reality of the business, it’s time for a fresh outlook.

2. Be proactive.

A negative sales philosophy is based on receiving rather than giving. A receiver sits and waits. A giver gets up and acts. Are you holding on to a fantasy about how you thought this business should work? Are you willing to give up the fantasy and get to work?

You need to build your business from within yourself. It takes a strong commitment each day to put forth the effort to produce new prospects. But when you do, there’s no better way to make a living.

3. Associate with people who share your new philosophy.

Are you feeding a negative philosophy? Are your lunch mates feeding your old, self-defeating philosophy? When you hang around people who tell you you’re wasting your time holding open houses or making introductory calls, you’re asking for trouble. Be selective about whose advice you heed.

4. Break a routine.

Instead of going directly to the office as you normally do, call on five FSBOs. Hold a weekday open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. When you’re in the office, make a conscious effort to replace bad habits with good ones. A bad habit might be gossiping with co-workers. A good habit might be going directly to your desk to answer problem phone calls or follow up on e-mail leads.

5. Cut yourself some slack.

If you start returning to your old behaviors, don’t beat yourself up. Stop and tell yourself, “I temporarily went south, but it’s not a problem.” Then point your compass north and keep going.

Once you experience the satisfaction of treating this business as a journey rather than a destination, you won’t let your sales philosophy go astray again.

Danielle Kennedy is a consultant and speaker on real estate sales and marketing topics. She is the author of three books, How to List and Sell Real Estate,Seven Figure Selling,and Workingmoms.calm: How Smart Women Balance Career and Family.

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