(This is Part 1 of a two-part series. See Part 2: Technology feeds real estate commissions.)

Top performers usually earn full commissions. What makes them different from agents who cannot persuade sellers to list at full commission?

(This is Part 1 of a two-part series. See Part 2: Technology feeds real estate commissions.)

Top performers usually earn full commissions. What makes them different from agents who cannot persuade sellers to list at full commission? Surprisingly, it’s very little.

Recently I interviewed a number of top-producing agents about the strategies they use to earn a full commission. There were nine clear-cut ways that these agents differ from agents who reduce commissions.

1. They are confident

Top producers who earn full commissions are confident that they provide the best value to sellers. They believe they are worth a full commission. Furthermore, they are not shy about telling the seller why they are the best choice to market the seller’s property.

2. They have a plan

Each agent interviewed could clearly articulate his/her Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which comprises the unique services they provide in order to market their listings. More importantly, these top performers educate the seller about how their marketing plan assists the seller in obtaining a higher price in less time.

3. They focus on two or three key differences to separate their services from those of competitors

Many average producing agents provide exactly the same services the top producers provide. An important difference, however, is that top producers discuss these services as a core part of their listing consultation.

4. They are unwilling to compromise their integrity

When a seller asks the agent to compromise on commission or on any other important matter, this group all responded the same way. They thanked the seller for the opportunity to discuss the marketing of their property and stood up to leave. More than 90 percent of the time, the sellers asked the agent to stay and ultimately hired the agent at a full commission.

5. They create credibility through the unique services they provide

Each agent interviewed offered at least one service other agents do not use. Strategies included servicing a specific niche such as probate or golf properties, belonging to a lead generation company, marketing with a unique (as opposed to a canned) newsletter, advertising on cable television or on radio, and marketing aggressively on the Web using pay-per-click services. These unique services attract clients and often provide the motivation for the sellers to pay a full commission.

6. They are early adopters

Sophisticated clients who use cutting-edge technology expect the agent they hire to be equally sophisticated. Strategies agents use to demonstrate their cutting-edge approach include posting multiple pictures to Realtor.com, posting their listings to multiple Web sites, CD brochures, and up-to-date technology such as a tablet computer, transaction tracking platform, and a combo PDA plus telephone. Even though these tools are readily available to most agents, very few use them.

7. They value being face-to-face

Every top producer interviewed shared this important trait: they love being face-to-face with sellers and buyers. As their businesses grew, they delegated paperwork and transaction management to their team or to a virtual assistant.

8. They love negotiating and live to overcome objections

Instead of cowering when the seller asks them to reduce their fees, they respond confidently by explaining how their services and a full fee are a benefit to the seller. They can articulate exactly what competitors will provide at a reduced commission and can show the seller the benefits of full service rather than limited service.

9. No attachment

When the sellers say, “We want to list with a competitor who will do it for less,” the agent wishes the sellers the best in marketing their property. If the seller is unrealistic about the price, they tell the seller pointblank, “I’m not the right Realtor for you. It’s better for me to let you down now than it would be to disappoint you later.” In many cases, they obtain the listing once it expires with another firm or when the seller cannot sell the property by owner.

If you’re tired of losing listings to competitors and having to take a reduced commission when you do obtain a listing, look for next week’s column, “Get the Commission Edge with Cutting Edge Technology.”

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” scheduled for release March 1. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.


What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

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