"Learn Who You Are First"
Apr 20, 2015
After writing these articles for a number of years now, some people think of me as some sort of expert. I suppose after having been in commercial real estate now for a little over 30 years and in sales for a total of 40 years that maybe I have been around long enough to see what works and what doesn't work. I have had my share of successes and failures over the years. I often have other sales professionals contact me from time to time from around the world who comment on my thoughts and end up wanting to pick my brain on how they can advance in their own real estate careers.
Recently, I have had two people that approached me with similar issues. They both had not been successful thus far in real estate and have been working in the field for some time now. They were looking for ways to improve their performance. Both were seeking mentors and told me, "I am a quick learner. If only I had someone that could teach me the business, then I would succeed".
From here, the conversation typically leads to questions on how to best market oneself and how can one make money in a hot market when inventory is tight and there is too much competition? This tends to usually lead to discussions on what training programs they should look into.
Recently, I started working with a residential broker who I have known as a friend outside of real estate for over 20 years. I know he has always been successful in residential, but I have never been able to work with him until now as we are putting together a commercial deal for the first time. Firstly, I appreciate a residential broker. I admit that it's a job that I could not do. The paperwork and disclosures would kill me.
My friend indicated he had felt the same way about commercial real estate. He pointed out that, "like most residential brokers, he is not a salesperson." Instead, he considered himself as more of a marketing guy. Marketers get listings and then they wait for people to come in to visit their listings. Then they wait and hope they can expand their business by picking up new clients. However, he said in commercial, we are the salespeople and we have to make things happen out of "thin air." I thought this was one of the best summaries of the difference between residential and commercial.
When I started in commercial real estate, I had no commercial sales experience. I only had experience in business sales, but more importantly I had success. I started my career in 1984 when computers did not exist and all we had was a phone and a reverse directory for a database. My first broker told me, "Here is your desk. Now get to work!" From the day I started, I have never had a bad year in production. Sales, servicing clients, and closing deals come natural to me. Have I taken classes to improve myself? Yes. Have I had mentors along the way? Yes. But my success was already built into me. I was going to be successful regardless of taking classes and having mentors. Having those just made me even better.
In most instances, when I receive phone calls from professionals seeking my advice, most people don't ask me the most important questions, which are "Is commercial real estate the right career for me and why?" and "Why do I think I can do this?"
This leads to what I would recommend you do first if you currently are not producing and you have been in sales for a while––find out who you are.
I recommend everyone take a personality profile test to do just that. I give a sales drive test to all of my potential agent candidates. This test costs around $300 and takes around 30 minutes to complete, but it will provide you with the best understanding of who you are and what skillset comes natural to you.
It will prove to be the best $300 you ever spent. If you learn that sales is a career you can succeed in, then the rest can be developed. However, if you learn you are better in marketing, then residential or some other marketing type work would be better suited for you. You may learn that both sales and marketing are not your strengths at all and you should seek a different direction for a career all together.
Find out who you are first before you seek out mentors and trainers.
Written by: Hans Hansson
Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 30 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website, www.commercialspacefinder.com.