A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working on a writing project, in which I took my friend Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning series, and wrote an inspiring story specifically for real estate agents. One of the great things I learned during that time was this: whenever you write a book on any subject, you naturally strengthen the muscle and the discipline of the subject matter you're writing about.
I think it goes back to the whole concept that to be able to teach anything, whether a technique, a strategy, or putting an entire system in place to achieve some great objective -- to be able to properly communicate its most fundamental principles -- you must first learn that subject matter at its highest level, and master the truest understanding of its principles. You have to look at it from several perspectives. But more importantly: before any person can achieve anything great, he or she first has to achieve self-mastery.
Just a few days ago, I reviewed a document Jay and I first worked on nearly ten years ago, "The Clarity Report". Now, we consider it to be one of the most important documents in the life of the real estate agent. We originally created "The Clarity Report" as a result of having learned a marketing strategy back during the early days of our working together, on internet marketing. At the time, we wanted to gain an understanding about the fundamental principles of marketing. We were willing to suspend our narrow focus on marketing principles as they related to real estate, and just focus on those principles where they are related to acquiring a customer, no matter who the customer or client is. The breadth of that approach to thinking about marketing ultimately helped us transition from operating our brokerage to marketing NAEA.
In real estate, we try to persuade home sellers to choose us, as opposed to another agent. But a new dimension appears when you have to start marketing your services to real estate professionals. Many of the same principles apply, like "Your Home Sold, Guaranteed!", which is a direct response marketing value proposition attracting a certain client segment. You have to understand the same things when you're trying to go help a real estate agent get more listings and grow his/her business. Again, we come back to the question I touched upon earlier: is there anything that could be more important than gaining clarity?
While growing my business over the last decade, some of the greatest benefits I've experienced came when I figured out how to translate everything I was learning in my real estate business into what to do at NAEA. A major advantage came when I was able to look at any given problem from several different angles and understand the principles and truths embodying any specific tactical strategy online. How do you get someone's attention? At first glance, this question might seem easy enough to answer, but it actually requires you to look at things from from multiple angles. And you have to be open to the possibility your least intuitive thought may actually be your best option! How do you capture someone's attention with an ad on Facebook? What if you would like the attention of a homeowner wanting to sell? How do you appeal to the real estate agent who wants to get more listings, more clients, and more predictability?
But here's the problem with always looking at the most pressing needs of your business from multiple angles all the time: you have to do that without losing yourself in the varying perspectives -- at some point, you have to get clarity about what is most important. And not just about whichever problem it is most important for you to solve on one particular day - you have to fit solving that one problem into solving your most pressing problems, and in which order you need to proceed. On the contrary, the conclusion Jay and I came to is that the most important thing you can do as a real estate professional is to get absolute, 100% clarity about the best way to grow your business.
Around that same time, one of the things Jay learned about marketing was how to push the free line. The question we had to ask was: How can you give away your best material in order to attract your client? The problem there is, our best material is not always what the client wants. What I mean is, most people out there think they want another closing; they may think they need another tactic, or they are looking for something shiny, which in all reality, does get their attention. Attention does not come free. The most important part of the top of the sales funnel is getting someone's attention. What we don’t want to do is just give minimal value away as a gimmick; we want to give something away that is extremely important. We know no matter who you are, the less clear you are about your business, the less action you're going to take. In such cases, confusion will set in about how you assign priority, and then you’ll reach a place of stagnation, followed by negative growth - a place where you do not want to be!
What we want to do instead is help you, the real estate business owner, understand where you want to be in five years and what you are going to do in the next 90 days to get one step closer. Depending on your rate of growth, you might need to think about what you need to do only in the next 30 days. For me, when I'm driving into work every day, I am asking myself what I need to focus on that day. The balancing act I am always working on is whether I'm doing something to create a customer or keep a customer. Am I creating a transaction or am I keeping a transaction? Both are necessary. What I realized is, you can't play the whole field with everything you do. According to the theory of constraints, you have to understand your sales funnel. But more importantly, you have to understand your biggest challenge, or problem. I'll make the point directly: your biggest problem is not the problem itself, but how you are thinking about it.
This is the essence of self-mastery: getting 100%, absolutely clear about where you want to be, and the number one constraint holding you back from getting there, and then subordinating everything else while you (re)move that constraint. This is the best advice I could give any entrepreneur.
I am not trying to take credit for this idea. If you haven't had the opportunity to read The Goal, a great book based on the theory of constraints, you should read it. It was first recommended to me by Verne Harnish. He is an accomplished author in his own right (see Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: Scaling Up), and is also cofounder of YEO (Young Entrepreneurs' Organization) and one of the best mentors for helping people grow their business. Most importantly, he is one of the best stewards of the concept and the principle of first being 100%, absolutely focused on what you need to do, and then prioritizing. Your top priority, as I see it, takes priority over your other priorities. So what is the number one task you need to get done and how do you focus on just that task? That is the question you should be asking yourself. Sales and marketing are not going to solve your problem. Instead, be thinking about sales and marketing, and how they're going to grow your business.