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Coffee Is For Everyone, Not Just Closers

Coffee Is For Everyone, Not Just Closers

If you haven’t seen Alec Baldwin’s epic speech to motivate a tired sales force in Glengarry Glen Ross, head to YouTube and watch it. It’s 8 minutes of pure viewing entertainment that you won’t want to take back. ‘Coffee is for closers’, I think I have used a hybrid of that line alone a thousand times in my career. As exaggerated as his portrayal of cut-throat real estate office culture may be, not a whole lot has changed since this cinematic classic was released in 1992.

The rest of the business world has graduated from a sales-at-all-costs formula and is firmly focused on curating relationships and paying careful attention to the needs of their paying customers. The bulk of the real estate industry, however, still falsely operates under the mantra of ‘he or she who sells more wins’. It’s wrong, it’s costly and it is proving to be the death of many careers and entire offices. 

What does success in real estate actually mean?

I guess we should start here, defining what a successful real estate career actually looks like. Does it only involve sales volume? #1 at this, #1 at that - our industry is constantly telling the world that sales volume is the true yard stick for our success. It simply isn’t.

If you spend $100,000 to make $150,000 in income, I would say that is a horribly built real estate business.  #1 in percentage of income spent on thoughtless advertising, #1 most likely Realtor to disappear once a more challenging market arrives. 

Same goes for the big-shot Realtor who closes half a million in a year, but every part of their life is unhealthy to obtain such sales levels., #1 Realtor in fees paid to divorce attorneys, #1 most likely Realtor to destroy themselves while trying to destroy it with their business. 

Profitable and sustainable, they both have to be part of the equation.

I would suggest that 90% of Brokerages are still designed to support models based solely on dollar volume and factor in neither profitability or sustainability. Durability and longevity in this industry win every time. Yet, our industry only seems to want to celebrate and chase those dollar figures.

It starts at the top, and today’s Brokers need to identify what success actually means under their roof. We need to support and encourage business models that are built to last. Look at it differently - healthy Realtors means your business is healthy too.

People are different, so why do they have to have the same measure for success?

Imagine telling your kid that if the person who scores the most goals on their team, regardless of how they score them, is the most important person on the team. They are the ones who should be treated like superstars and handled differently by the coaching staff. Your kid would tell you that you are crazy and that is a terrible idea for any successful team.

If kids can understand that this is a terrible model, then why do grown-ups running these giant franchise Brokerages do it? 

Every Realtor in an office has unique goals. Some personal, some business, but either way support them damn it. Any group functions better as a supported team than a bunch of mini-Kardashians doing whatever works best for them. Real estate is no exception to this rule.

The best restaurant in town

Ever been asked directions to the restaurant that sells the most burgers? No, because it’s never happened - they ask for the best, not the most. How about online reviews - nothing to do with volume there, it’s all about quality. There are instances in every industry where the biggest is not anywhere near the best. Sure, finding ways to cut costs and focus more on the bottom-line than the customer can work, but it is also a model that lacks sustainability. (I could insert a really good giant real estate team analogy here, but will just kinda make my point and write it like this instead).

You see the point here - quantity without the quality piece attached is a terribly inaccurate measure of success. A great business finds a way for them to run in parallel. Think of that the next time you see a #1 advertisement. 

Your cut-throat culture of quantity

To solve this problem we just need to find the root of it in the real estate industry, right? Done. - The Brokers and the Brokerages they have designed. That was easy.

Traditional offices are petri dishes for ego development built on a hierarchy of sales volume. Don’t believe me? Just look around your office. Those fancy corner digs for high-volume Realtors, the crappy old cubicles for the new guy, the board of shame that you call a ‘monthly sales board’. They all work to tear a team apart, not unite them. Offices that are designed to promote everyone’s success and limit ego growth simply are not laid out in this way.

I have written about this in the past, but how about competing Brokers? What message does this send to your Realtors? A message that money is more important to you than building a better Brokerage. There is no other answer.

There is still another level to all of this. The biggest thing these Brokerages do to promote this poisonous culture actually comes from franchise HQ - awards. Huge public acknowledgement based entirely on one thing - sales volume. 

Most of the awards are a farce anyhow. They should be called the ‘I made enough to pay my desk fees’ or ‘I successfully slammed through 100 transactions with people who will never do business with my team again’ awards. Awards based solely on volume are crap and they gotta go. 

And FYI, you look pretty arrogant congratulating yourself on social media for these presumed sales achievements. Your ‘valued clients that you could not have done it without’ are laughing at you too, trust me. 

So do we abandon this notion that this whole #1 thing doesn’t matter? Nope, but Brokerages are simply identifying the wrong people to celebrate. The best mentors, leaders and representatives for your brand likely aren’t the ego-maniacs begging for all the attention with their marketing. 

You know who they are, every great office has an army of them. The ones who quietly do a great job of balancing life and work with sales quantity and quality. Through good markets and bad, they always soldier on. They don’t seek the glory, they don’t run for the spotlight, but they certainly deserve it. They understand how everyone in an office is important, regardless of age, career-length or sales volume. 

Try giving these folks an award, we do at our Brokerage and everyone cheers for them. It brings the office together, unlike divisive volume-based awards. So, who’s #1 now?

Sorry Alec, coffee is for everyone, not just closers.

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