(This is Part 1 of a three-part series. See Part 2: Personality holds clues to real estate success and Part 3: 13 tips for improving real estate performance.)

What does it take to be a top producer? Is it training, connections, behavioral style, or just dumb luck?

(This is Part 1 of a three-part series. See Part 2: Personality holds clues to real estate success and Part 3: 13 tips for improving real estate performance.)

What does it take to be a top producer? Is it training, connections, behavioral style, or just dumb luck? If you’re dreaming about being more successful, understanding your strengths and weaknesses is the first step to increasing your business.

Undoubtedly, training influences success. Without ongoing learning and development, raw talent will only carry someone so far. Almost all top performers are learning-based. They actively seek training, read sales books, and attend conferences where they can network with other top performers. They study what works for others and experiment with new techniques within their own business. They have written goals and a written business plan. Training enhances each of these areas. Nevertheless, how many people do you know who are knowledgeable and yet do virtually no business?

The office I worked in California hired based upon connections. If you had children in private schools, were active in the local charities and were a member of a nearby country club, you were a high-probability hire. Hiring based on connections, coupled with a strong emphasis on training, resulted in a 50 percent to 70 percent market share in the highly competitive million-dollar-plus market. When it comes to working the high-end, training and connections do matter. Nevertheless, many well-connected, well-trained agents never did any business. They had the right contacts, but never converted those contacts into closed business.

While training and connections are important, behavioral style has a very strong influence on real estate success. The two most widely used instruments in the real estate industry for assessing behavioral style are the DISC and the Real Estate Simulator. Each of these instruments identifies characteristics that influence sales success.

Target Training International (TTI) has one of the most widely used versions of the DISC Behavioral Styles Inventory. This instrument looks at your natural and your adapted behavioral styles on four dimensions. People who score high on the “D” or dominance dimension are usually hard-driving, aggressive, and seldom worry about rejection. People who score high on the “I” dimension are “people’s people.” They love being with others, are usually quite talkative, and have no trouble connecting with strangers. People who score high on the “S” dimension are security-minded individuals who prefer systems and hate risks. They prefer the tried and true and normally hide their emotions. People who score high on the “C” factor are detail-oriented, may be uncomfortable with strangers, and prefer to investigate all factors prior to making a decision.

According to TTI, the behavioral profile of a successful salesperson is someone who scores above the 50th percentile on the “D” and the “I” factors. Only about 5 percent of the population has this profile. These individuals are best suited to being in sales. In contrast, individuals who have lower “D” or “I” scores often find sales to be very challenging. The people with a “D” at the 75th percentile or higher are usually fearless. They will tackle door-knocking and calling on FSBOs and expireds without hesitation. Rejection seldom bothers them. They are “bottom-line-get-it-done” types. The people who score high on the “I” factor will build their business by connecting with others. You will often find them organizing block parties, participating in numerous charities, and conducting their prospecting by being face-to-face. The agent who has both of these behavioral styles is learning-based, and one who has great contacts is usually a huge success. For them, real estate success often comes easily and quickly.

In contrast, people who score high on the “S” or “C” factor prefer systems and details. A systems or a detail-oriented approach helps agents be more knowledgeable and less likely to make mistakes, but this must be coupled with specific lead generation activities. Many agents who score high on the “S” and “C” factors will focus on their Web site, taking contract classes and doing other activities that support their preference for systems and details rather than prospecting. An additional challenge is many of them take rejection personally. As a result, they have more challenges doing the activities that generate business.

Regardless of your preferred behavioral style, we can all adapt. For example, someone with high “D” or “I” scores may not handle technology issues well. They may also overlook important contract details. For agents with these behavioral styles, being aware of their natural tendency to overlook details can help them avoid serious difficulty. Agents with high “S” and “C” scores can increase their success by using technology to prospect, partnering with someone who enjoys lead generation, and/or joining a lead generation company.

What other factors influence sales success? See next week’s column to learn more.

Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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