Don’t you just love all of those 80/20 rules? It seems like you can find them in any area of human endeavor. (My favorite is in that in any organization, 20% of the people do 80% of the work.) In sales, there are several applications of the 80/20 rule, but the one I want to address today is the 80/20 rule of listening during a sales call.

The problem with most sales calls is that the sales rep just won’t be quiet and listen to the customer. Ineffective sales reps have deluded themselves by the notion that if they just keep talking about how wonderful the product is and how great the deal is, the customer will see the light and sign on the dotted line. Unfortunately, this attitude ignores a couple of important sales principles: 1) customers usually only buy a product if they are convinced it will meet an important need in their lives, and 2) sales reps will never discover what the customer’s needs are if they spend all their time talking. In order to sell, sales reps first need to learn how to listen; specifically, they need to learn how to practice active listening.

The most important principle of active listening is to concentrate all your attention and energy on the task of listening to and understanding what is being said to you. The 80/20 rule of active listening says that in any sales conversation the sales rep should spend 80% of the time listening and only 20% of the time talking. In the vast majority of cases, the customer doesn’t want to know what you think, he wants to tell you what he thinks, how he feels and what he needs. The more you talk, and the more you concentrate on thinking about what you are going to say next (instead of fully listening to the customer) the more likely you are to miss important information or clues that you could use to truly help him. As a result, you may offer the customer a solution that makes sense to you but not to him. You may miss the opportunity for an important sale. You may even end up offending the customer and losing him for good. It is imperative that you stay fully engaged in listening to him and gaining a complete understanding of the meaning of his message to you, in order to effectively respond to his needs.

Sharpen Your Active Listening Skills

Active listening is nothing more than a conscious commitment to focus your attention on your customer instead of on your self or your surroundings. This begins by adopting the goal of actively listening and paying attention to everything the customer is saying (even if you thing she is a nattering old biddy that is just wasting your time.) Listening is the only way to learn the important things you will need later in order to match the customer’s needs with the right solution. Block out every distraction and focus all your concentration on trying to understand what this person really values, what she really wants, what she really needs, and what you can offer her that she will truly value. If nothing else, remind yourself that the ability to meet your quota for this month may be connected to your ability to maximize the profitability of this call!

If you are committed to the goal of active listening, then there is an easy-to-learn skill that can significantly improve your effectiveness as a listener. It is referred to as reflecting or mirroring, and it simply means to listen carefully and then repeat back to the customer whatever it is that he just said to you, more or less word-for-word (it doesn’t have to be perfect). The value of mirroring is that the only way you can listen intently enough to retain such detailed information is to block out everything else. Mirroring automatically neutralizes most distractions. It works like this:

Customer: We really need to find a different source for sodium hydroxide. It is a key component in practically every product we make, and we have been using the same supplier for years, thinking that a strong relationship would guarantee a consistent source. But lately, they have just been taking us for granted. They keep raising the price and hitting us with extra fees on top of that. They are also starting to limit the size of our order unless we commit to big, long-term contracts. The worst part is that we rarely ever get a personal contact from the sales rep anymore. I feel like they are gouging us and then ignoring us because they think they can get away with it.

There was a lot of information there, and it is all important. How can you make sure you will capture it all? It starts with mirroring and it goes like this:

Sales rep: Let me make sure I understand exactly what you are saying. It is very important to you to have a dependable source for sodium hydroxide, because it goes into everything you make. You thought you had that supply locked in through a long-time relationship with your current supplier, but lately they have been taking advantage of the relationship by ignoring you and gouging you. Did I get that right?

In mirroring, you start out by saying, “Let me make sure I understand exactly (what you are saying, what your situation is, what has been happening, what you are looking for, etc.). Then just reflect back to the customer the essence of what he said to you and close with some version of “Did I get that right?” He will either say yes (and probably continue to explain his situation in even more detail), or he will say no, and go back and clarify what you missed. Be sure and also reflect back to him whatever clarification he makes to you, so you both stay on the same page. Mirroring keeps you listening, and leaves you very little time or opportunity for getting distracted.

Now all you have to do is summarize the customer’s need in one simple statement, like so: It sounds to me like you are not only looking for a dependable source of sodium hydroxide, but you also need it provided at a fair price by someone who will take the time to listen to you and work with you as a valued partner instead of viewing you as a paycheck. Am I right about that?

Now, you are ready to sell the customer something he is ready to buy.


By James A. Baker
Baker Communications

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How to Set Career Goals in Real Estate

How to Set Career Goals in Real Estate

real estate career goals

How to Set Career Goals in Real Estate

Setting career goals in real estate takes time and reflection. You need to step back, imagine your future in a way that you can summarize in one to two sentences. Then, you must translate this vision into actionable objectives.

The modern real estate agent is always on the go. On a daily basis, she has homes to show, clients to meet, open houses to host, and paperwork to complete. Not to mention, that the industry is in the middle of a historic shift toward the web, and she now takes on additional web admin and social media duties.

With all these demands, it can be hard to step away to look at the big picture. This is a shame because taking the time to set goals has been shown to increase success in a variety of professional pursuits.

In this article, we’ll cover the 6 steps to create strong career goals as a real estate agent. All you need to do is make the time.

Steps to Set Career Goals as a Real Estate Agent:

1. Imagine Your Future

2. Create A Vision Statement

3. Create Goals for the 5-year Horizon

4. Create Goals for the 18-Month Horizon

5. Use SMART to Set Specific Objectives

6. Write Down Your Goals and Objectives

Career Goals

Imagine Your Future

For many, this initial step is the hardest. Before you set a goal you must be able to visualize yourself succeeding in that goal. If you can’t see it, it won’t seem possible.

So take some time—close your eyes if you have to—and think about yourself in the future. Try to imagine your most successful self. Here are some questions to guide you.

  • Visualize a typical workday. Where are you and what are you doing?
  • Imagine a conversation with a friend. How do you describe your work to him?
  • Think about a work party. What are you and your colleagues celebrating?
  • Who are your peers in the industry? Who do you admire?

After 10-20 minutes you should have a pretty good idea of your vision for yourself. Now it is time to put it into words.

Create a Vision Statement

A vision statement is a one to two sentence summary of where you see yourself professionally in the future.

It should include as much as possible from what you imagined in the previous step without over burdening it with details. You want a simple, broad outline that focuses on the “what.” We’ll get to the “how” in later steps.

Some good vision statements are:

“I want to manage the leading real estate group for ranch and land in Cameron County.”

“My career vision is to implement a new sales model that lowers fees for clients and increases volume for the brokerage.”

“My vision is to specialize in condo sales in the Dana Point area until I have enough experience to break into the luxury market. “


Organic IDXCreate Goals for the 5-Year Horizon

In the next steps you should set out long-term and short-term goals, as well as the objectives necessary to achieve each. Before continuing, however, it may be useful to explain the difference between goals and objectives and how they relate to vision.

A goal is a general plan to achieve a vision. An objective is a specific step that should be completed to reach a goal. Both are necessary.

Consider a travel analogy. You want to drive across the country. This is your vision, a broad outline of what you want to do. But you can’t do it in a single day, so you set out some rest points. You plan to spend the night in Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, and Utah before arriving in California. These are your goals, general descriptions of the steps you need to take to achieve your vision. The objectives are the driving instructions, the specific tasks that need to be completed to reach your goals.

You can also think of vision, goals, and objectives as a pyramid with one vision at the top, a few goals on the next level down and several objectives on the bottom level.

So, now you should create long-term goals for the 5-year horizon. Some good examples are:

“Complete the management training necessary to start a new real estate group.”

“Become the top-selling agent at my brokerage.”

“Implement a social media strategy that results in my listings being the most shared in the area.”

Create Goals for the 18-Month Horizon

Of course, five years is a long way off. Many things could change between now and then. So to make sure you progress down your intended path, you should create short-term goals for the next 18 months.

Some good examples are:

“Complete the requirements to obtain the Accredited Land Consultants designation.”

“Design and launch a new website with improved SEO value.”

Use SMART to Set Specific Objectives

In this phase, you should set out the specific steps necessary to achieve each of your goals. Aim for two to three objectives per goal. While developing your objectives, you should use the SMART construct. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and time-bound.



You can make your objective specific by including as much detail as possible. Consider the following:

A) Take a course in social media marketing.

B) By July 1st, complete with a 90% passing grade or higher in the Writing for Social Media online course offered on

Objective B is better than objective A because it is more specific.


A goal is measurable if it can be quantified. This will help you be able to say with certainty if you have achieved it or not.

C) By Aug. 30th, increase my monthly average website lead capture rate by 6 percent by integrating an improved CRM into my lead cultivation procedures.

D) Improve lead capture on my website.

Objective C is better than objective D because it is more measurable.


Creating unattainable objectives sets you up for failure. Your objectives should push yourself but not to the brink.

E) Sell properties worth $750,000 in my first three months.

F) By the end of my third month, complete all required shadowing, training, and assisted sales, and communicate my readiness to take my own leads.

Objective F is better because E may be unattainable.


You objectives should remain within the realm of possibility.

G) Improve upon last year’s sales, while starting a full time MBA program

H) Within three months, go to coffee with at least five successful agents and listen to their strategies for improving sales year to year.

Objective G is pretty unrealistic.


No objective is met without a deadline, so make sure you include them.

I) By Oct. 30th, complete the necessary pre-licensing courses and receive a passing grade on the New York state real estate exam to earn my real estate license.

J) Get my real estate license this year

Objective I is better its time period is more explicit.

Write Down Your Goals and Objectives

You real estate career goals are now set. All you have to do is write them down. This will allow you to refer to them and check your progress.

The next step is to put together an action plan to achieve your goals and objectives, but we will cover this in a later blog.


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      How to beat another broker in a competitive deal

      How to beat another broker in a competitive deal

      We started getting the barrage of calls and emails last summer.

      Apto currently occupies the second floor of a building right in the heart of downtown Denver. Our lease is up later this year, and since we’re a growing company, we’ll probably need to expand somewhere a little bigger.

      So it makes sense that it was last summer that brokers started pounding on our door. They would talk to whoever they could get a hold of on the phone―our customer support line, our salespeople, our operations manager…they even requested demos of our product just to make their pitch to us.

      For better or worse, we already had representation in place, thanks to our founder. He was a broker himself and had connections to get us an experienced team.

      But it got me thinking. What would it take to uproot an incumbent broker? Or just to beat another broker in a competitive situation? After all, our product promises to give brokers a competitive edge, and I do believe our technology lives up to that promise. But how exactly does it work? And what else does it take to win?

      It comes down to this: If you’re up against another broker in winning a competitive deal, you need to be more knowledgeable, more proactive, or more organized. To find out where your gaps are and how you can win, ask yourself these three questions.

      Do you know more than they do?

      Clients aren’t just expecting brokers to have basic property and comp information anymore. They can do preliminary research on their market if they’re so inclined. They’re looking to you to advise them on the best course of action. You need to demonstrate that you know the market and you can find the property best suited for their needs.

      As Brandon Geraldo, SVP at Colliers International, told us, “if you’re not going to be an aggressive broker, you have to know more than the aggressive broker to be successful. This has driven me to know my market better than my competitors and to be a great resource for clients.”

      Are you more aggressive?

      Alright, so maybe you don’t feel you have the competitive advantage when it comes to market knowledge. You know your stuff, but so does the other team. Maybe your advantage is that you ARE the more aggressive broker, and you won’t take no for an answer. You’re persistent rather than obnoxious, but you won’t stop following up until you at least get a meeting.

      When the brokers started knocking on Apto’s door, it seemed that many of the brokers called a few times and then gave up. If we were even a little dissatisfied with the representation we had, we would have taken a meeting with someone who demonstrated consistency and offered value.

      Do you have a system for outreach in place?

      Of course, you can avoid many competitive situations altogether by having a system for communication in place that keeps you top of mind with the right people―so they reach out to you when the time is right. If you’re building the right relationships in your market and maintaining that connection for the long haul, you’re more likely to be at the right place at the right time. And that takes an organized approach.

      We love this example from Jon Silberman of NAI Partners. “I’ve always been a CRM guy…You can’t possibly effectively manage a big enough base of prospects without an organized system.” He notes that the system reminds him of who he needs to talk to every day, and reminds him to check in with previous clients he would otherwise have forgotten about.

      And it’s often small efforts spread out over months or even years that have yielded the biggest returns. One example Jon remembers is a 50,000 sq. ft. office lease with a $700,000 commission. “It was from a phone call I made three years ago…from that one activity one day when I could have been doing something else.” Many brokers don’t like to admit it, but they have people who slip between the cracks. But if you’re diligent about your system of outreach, you’ll find clients reaching out to you. And if you do come up against a competitor, who’s going to win―the one who just started calling, or the broker who has been reaching out consistently over months and years?

      Written by Elizabeth Knight

      Elizabeth is a Marketing Manager at Apto. She loves words, cheeseburgers, polo, and the facepunch emoji.

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        Top 3 Listing Scripts For 2020

        Top 3 Listing Scripts for 2020

        How many real estate listing appointments have you been on in the past month? How many did you close?

        For most of us, it’s crucial that we nail each and every listing appointment we get.

        At Creath Partners, our associated brokerage, co-owner and listing expert agent, Garry Creath, used to go on a listing appointment every day, six days per week. He and his business partner maintained between 50 and 75 active listings at any given time.

        During that time, Garry perfected the scripts he used through continuous testing and improvement. And now, he’s revealing exactly what he said to win those new listings, over and over again!

        Out of all of Garry’s scripts, we picked the top 3 to share with all of you (plus a special bonus).

         Script 1: Closing the Deal 

        At the end of the listing appointment is where a lot of Agents start to fall off of…

        It’s not enough to just have a killer listing presentation, you also need to closing script that leaves your prospective clients with the memory of how competent you are and exactly how you’ll sell their home. 

        This script provides exactly what to say AFTER the listing appointment when it’s time to make the agreement and get your prospective client to sign on the dotted line.

        For what to do DURING the listing appointment, check out our blog post on Your 2020 Listing Presentation.  

        PRO TIP: Use the information from this blog in conjunction with what we gave you in the blog “Your 2020 Listing Presentation” and really SHINE on your next listing appointment! 

        Script 2: Expired Listing 

        As real estate agents, we are often taught to reach out to expired listings in the MLS as a way to prospect for clients.

        You may have even been given this script in the past, “Hey I saw that your home is no longer available for sale. I have a buyer who may be interested and I’d like to come by and preview it.”

        Perhaps you didn’t really have a buyer, but were told this was a good way to get your foot in the door. However, in many cases, the seller has already gotten calls from 10 other Realtors claiming the exact same thing.

        Instead of starting out with the same boring gimmick other Realtors use, Garry uses a different approach. 

        PRO TIP: Interested in expired listings being part of your specialty? Check out our blog post “Scripts and Templates to Turn Expired Listing Leads Into Clients” and download our free report, “How to Turn Expired Listings into Clients”.

        Script 3: Discounting Commission

        In any marketplace, if consumers believe that everything is exactly the same (i.e. a commodity) they choose what they are going to buy—or who they are going to work with—based on price. If all real estate agents are the same, they’re going to hire the one who discounts their commission the most.

        As a professional, we never want to be in a position where we are forced to give up our hard-earned commission to win a new listing. That’s why it’s so important for us to compete on value rather than price. We need to create a story for our clients to illustrate how we are different from the competition, and how those differences will benefit them.

        In fact, don’t leave it to chance and have only ONE thing that differentiates you. Differentiate yourself at every step (even with how you say “No” to discounting your commission) so that the customer will remember you for everything that is different.

        PRO TIP: Make sure to do your homework (and the math) before-hand so you’re able to answer any questions they throw at you. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, it’s always better to have it on hand than to be stuck trying to get out your calculator during your appointment! 

        Bonus Script: Online Contact

        How many times have you gotten the message (or a variation of), “I’m just looking for information, but I’m not ready to make any moves quite yet”…?

        Two of the absolutely worst ways to handle this situation (yet, unfortunately, two of the most common) are to: 

        1. Overwhelm the prospective buyer by moving too fast or trying to pressure them into meeting before they are ready. This can turn them off to you as a realtor completely before they’re even ready to make a decision. 

        2. Ignore the prospect completely, or send a one-off message of “When you’re ready I’ll be here”, without any other information or help. 

        Instead of scaring them off, or ignoring them completely, give them some information they can use and a reason to come back to you. 

        Garry likes to offer his Buyer Direct Program and then obtains the prospects email address to add to his database and make sure they get the information they need. 

        PRO TIP: Setup your social media direct messaging to be automatically respond to messages so that you’re not constantly tied to your phone or computer. 

        Now that you know exactly what to say, you’ll be armed with the perfect response to any situation. 

        If you’re interested in more tools, scripts, and strategies to help you with your real estate business you’ll want to tune-in to our next FREE webinar training! 

        Sarah Dibiasi

        5 Reasons You’re Losing Clients


        It happens to the best of us. You see a hot lead come in, you reach out, and then….crickets.

        Your first instinct is to probably write it off as a bad lead. But the truth is, “ghosting” could be a sign of a larger issue.

        From the smallest mistake to a bigger picture problem, there are a number of reasons real estate agents lose clients before they even get a chance to talk to them.

        Here are the top five.

        You’re Out of Touch with the Market

        Sure, this may not be your first rodeo. But even veteran agents can come across as amateur if they aren’t in-the-know on what’s happening in the market. When a client hires you, they trust you to be a market expert AND a real estate pro. This means staying up on local and national real estate trends, news and insights

        Not only does keeping current make you better at serving your clients, it will make you a more confident agent. An easy way to keep yourself and your clients in the loop is by subscribing to real estate news sites like Keeping Current Matters

        Add the articles to your website, share them on social media or follow-up to a client’s question through email. This is a great way to stay fresh and prove yourself as a relevant and reliable real estate expert who cares.

        Your Commission Doesn’t Match Your Value

        Any commission-based job can automatically get the stigma of being too salesy (ahem, car salesperson). Commission objections are a frustrating reality of the job, but an easy way to combat this is by making sure your clients know you are the trusted real estate advisor in your area. 

        Become a market expert, know your neighborhood and constantly monitor trends and insights. You can do this easily by subscribing to real estate news sites like the KCM blog, getting involved in your community, becoming a regular on, and signing up for your local board of Realtors’ market updates. People will always pay a premium for a high-quality experience. 

        You Bit Off More Than You Could Chew

        You took on one client too many, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to cover everything you need to do. You slip up once or twice, and before you know it, a client has walked away. Raise your hand if this has happened before.

        Ambition is an admirable quality, but it can backfire if you have way too much on your plate. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help as many people as possible achieve the dream of homeownership, but it’s most important to make sure every client is getting your absolute best always.

        That way, you’re the agent they recommend when asked, “who’s the best agent in town?”

        Your Website is Outdated

        If your website looks like it was built circa 1999, it’s probably time for a reboot. According to, 75% of consumers admit that they judge a business’ credibility based on their website design, so an outdated or poorly navigable website can turn away even the warmest of leads.

        Thankfully, it’s easy to keep your marketing modern with today’s resources. Unlike the old days, you don’t need to spend $2,000 hiring a web developer to build it out for you. Tools like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and Placester make it easy to build, customize and maintain your own website for 1% of the cost of what you would pay a professional. You can even easily link it to your KCM membership to get an instant blog.

        Here are a couple more ways to brand yourself as a market expert with content.

        Your Social Media is Nearly Non-Existent

        If clients are checking your website first, they’re checking your social media next. Instead of filling your feed with real estate memes and home decorating tips, keep it professional by positioning yourself on social media with:

        • Your listings
        • Market news
        • Local events
        • Local businesses
        • Client success stories

        Yes, it shows that you’re social media savvy. But mostly, it shows that you care.


        Sometimes the simplest faux pas can result in a big listing loss. By avoiding these common mistakes, you could not only keep current clients but also make yourself more appealing to future ones.

        Remember, recruiting new prospects costs five times as much as retaining the ones you already have. 

        Building and nurturing relationships through content marketing is an easy way to make sure you stay the trusted advisor for your clients. Keeping Current Matters makes this easy with ready to-share market insights that position you as a real estate expert.


        Keeping Current Matters