Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine. In addition to writing print and online articles, Erica oversees the magazine's Broker to Broker content, co-manages the 30 Under 30 program, and manages the YPN Lounge. Connect with her via email: email@example.com.
Boulder, Co.–based RE/MAX agent and author Mario Jannatpour has developed a low-cost training system for real estate newbies based on his first rule of thumb for success: honesty.
December 19, 2012
Mario Jannatpour doesn’t believe in the 15-minute coaching call. He doesn’t think real estate training should cost thousands of dollars. And he has no interest in growing a sales coaching empire. But he does want to make a difference.
Jannatpour discovered his true calling in life when he made the switch from software sales to real estate in 2002. The Boulder, Co., market has been good to him, not just through the boom but after the economic downturn as well. Jannatpour was able to grow his client base and build relationships in his community. This past year was Jannatpour’s best, up about 30 percent from 2011 with 16 closings at an average sale price of about $450,000.
Now Jannatpour has set out to help other real estate professionals get off the ground by creating five 60-minute training DVDs that incorporate lessons from his book, The Honest Real Estate Agent: A Training Guide for a Successful First Year and Beyond, published in 2011. The “work at your own pace” tutorials are on sale at Amazon.com for about $20 each, covering topics from “Your First 30 Days” to “What Customers Want and Expect from You” to “Top 10 Mistakes Agents Make.” He also has nearly 100 training videos available for free on his YouTube page.
“There are two issues related to training for new [practitioners] — the first is it’s cost-prohibitive for a lot of people to buy from the traditional trainers out there or to sign up for a coaching program,” Jannatpour says. “And I think a lot of the mentoring new [salespeople] get is not effective because they’re getting advice from veterans who have been in the business 20 years. They’re sending out mailings and magnets, but that doesn’t translate well for new [salespeople] who are growing a client base.”
Jeff Rising, SFR, is a distressed property specialist with Foundation Realty in Adrian, Mich., who appears in Jannatpour’s fifth DVD, “Short Sales and Foreclosures.” As someone who has attended a variety of training classes and programs during his 11 years in real estate, he says the strength of Jannatpour’s videos is their back-to-basics approach.
“Mario’s book and video series, The Honest Real Estate Agent, makes it really simple and concise so new or even seasoned agents can better focus their time and advertising dollars without feeling completely overwhelmed,” Rising says.
Being a REALTOR® who still makes his living from selling real estate, Jannatpour says his methodology is more hands-on, with tips that focus on growing a knowledge base and demonstrating value to potential clients.
“It’s not just building a relationship and being nice to people, but it’s a matter of locking in that relationship for the long term,” Jannatpour says. “Customers want an agent who is an expert, not someone who is average, and not someone who has a basic level of competence.”
Here are three tips for growing your real estate business from Jannatpour:
1. Become a Local Expert
Study the geography of the area, analyze market figures, familiarize yourself with contract types and disclosures, and strengthen your negotiation tactics, Jannatpour advises. As your knowledge base grows and you feel more confident about what you do, it will begin to come across to clients.
“You don’t want to start a relationship where you are begging someone to work with you,” he says. “You want the client to work with you based on your level of expertise and knowledge.”
It also helps to get organized, because customers want detail-oriented agents who listen to their needs and follow up. Take advantage of tools to manage your time and costs, says Jannatpour.
2. Expect Respect
You must build client relationships based on mutual respect. “You want to spend time with real, qualified clients,” Jannatpour says. So if clients don’t return your phone calls or don’t show up for meetings, it may be time to fire them. “You don’t want to waste your time chasing hope.”
Respect has to go both ways, he says, and it can sometimes take months or years before a relationship leads to a sale.
3. Level With Your Clients
Honesty is Jannatpour’s first rule of thumb. If you’re unfamiliar with an area of town, be upfront about it and refer those clients to another agent in that area.
“I vowed I would be different from other real estate agents who are just focused on getting a paycheck,” Jannatpour says. If an issue arises – whether it’s a transaction hurdle or a property flaw – be honest with your clients about it, because no matter how much you try to conceal something, the issue will come out eventually.
“Your motivation is to help your clients, not to make $100,000 a year in commission,” Jannatpour says. “Being honest with your clients will come back to you tenfold because they’re going to be satisfied for years to come.”
Jennifer Belford, a new sales agent at RE/MAX Above & Beyond in Marion, Ill., found Jannatpour’s tutorials on YouTube earlier this year and has been a fan ever since. She ended up purchasing his DVDs and found “Your First 30 Days” particularly helpful in getting her business off the ground. She still watches Jannatpour’s videos to stay motivated.
“As a real estate agent just starting out not long ago, I was in need of guidance,” Belford wrote. “I cannot say enough about how excited I was to find him. I feel like I have succeeded in many ways because of him.”