November 7, 2013
May I Give You My Card?
Last week I wrote about the many different hats the successful real estate agent wears. Even with great skills, however, some personality types work much more effectively in the industry than others. At Warburg we have done a lot of work over the years to figure out exactly what abilities agents require in order to succeed, and what kinds of people tend to possess those abilities. Although we do a lot of training at Warburg, training only takes you so far. Many of these traits are innate.
As I've mentioned often in the blog, we administer the DISC personality test to every new hire. DISC stands for the four basic personality types: dominant, influencing, steady, and compliant. The majority of residential real estate stars have a high D, high I personality. They are smart, often impatient, perceive things quickly, and want to get to the point (that’s the D). At the same time they are friendly and want to be liked (that’s the I). They have strong opinions but also want to hear about YOUR opinion. And importantly, they are not shy about prospecting for business.
Prospecting is perhaps the crucial agent skill. Since agents are almost always independent contractors, they only make money when they close deals. And they can only make deals with buyers or sellers have decided to hire them. This seems obvious but I am always surprised by the number of agents who have said to me over the years, “Can’t you give me a piece of business? I promise I can make it happen if you will give me the lead." I am of course delighted to provide such leads when I can, but in fact securing leads is the spine of any real estate agent’s business. The primary reason high D and high I personalities do well in brokerage is that they go after business. They talk themselves up without seeming overbearing. They never leave a party without a lead (my colleague Richard Steinberg, one of NYC’s great prospectors, rarely leaves a plane flight without a lead!) More than any other single attribute, consistently feeding the pipeline of business is the successful agent’s most valuable skill.
That said, there are definitely other types who prosper in our business. High I, high S types also tend to do well. My wife is one of these, so it is a type I know very well. Generous and even-tempered, this personality is also detail-oriented and persistent. They draw clients and customers to them with their good nature. They will figure out what the client is looking for, and they won’t give up until they find it! When successful, these agents always generate the gold standards of our business: repeats and referrals. A word to the wise: High I, high S personalities will give you a lot of rope, but if you push them too far, that’s it. They are done with you for good!
Of course, there are numerous other skills which contribute to making a top agent. Even the high Ds have to learn to listen. We all need strong negotiating skills, which in my experience are less gladiatorial than strategic. The best negotiators are not the scorched earth fighters, but those who try to make sure that everyone emerges a winner. We need clear eyed financial skills, since both understanding a buyer’s financial overview and figuring out how to present the details with absolute clarity are critical components of our mission.
And finally, we need to understand that, for the home buyer or seller, the transaction is so emotionally fraught that every incident becomes magnified. Which brings me to the skill for which there is no D,I,S, or C: kindness. What is business to us is a critical life decision to those with whom we work. Attending the birth of a new life chapter requires sensitivity and a strong EQ. I don’t think there is training for those traits either.
You can read more on the Warburg Blog.