Whether you are a novice or experienced “old pro” real estate agent, “The Champion Real Estate Agent” by realty sales coach and former top sales agent Dirk Zeller will alert or remind you of what makes a successful real estate agent. The book begins by explaining why selling real estate is the best business in the world, primarily because getting started requires minimal cash and the earnings potential is unlimited.

Next, the book focuses on Zeller’s definition of a “champion agent.” Although he discusses buyer’s agents extensively, Zeller says the best agents concentrate on primarily being listing agents because then the agent controls the inventory of homes for sale. “Listings equal revenue,” he advises.

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There is far more information in this jam-packed book than most readers can absorb or remember because the author covers all the bases of what makes for a successful agent. Zeller measures success primarily by net earnings, but he also advises agents to balance their lives by taking at least one day off each week, working only one or two evenings per week, and allowing plenty of time for family life.

If the book has a secret theme, it is champion agents concentrate on the sellers and buyers who are most likely to be profitable, now and with future referrals, rather than trying to please all prospects. Zeller then shows how to attract and keep profitable sellers and buyers, bearing in mind that “real estate sales is an odds-based business.”

Heavy emphasis is placed on champion agents devoting time each day to prospecting and lead follow-up, even when the agent is faced with frequent interruptions to serve existing clients. “Everything is hard before it becomes easy,” the author advises as he suggests keeping the objectives in sight.

Finding and following up with prospective client leads involves “dialing for dollars,” Zeller explains. Leads are the life-blood of real estate sales, the author emphasizes. But he doesn’t like open houses to generate new buyers and sellers. “I would rather have my skin eaten off by ants than do open houses,” he comments.

Zeller is a man of strong opinions. For example, he says, “Third-party lead-generation companies are the biggest threat to agents. We need to drive them out of business. These interlopers are, in effect, marketing for your customers and selling them back to you or another agent in the marketplace.”

Although it is the book’s shortest chapter, “Creating Leads through Interactive Voice Response Systems” is also the best. It shows how to use classified ads and mailings to get prospective buyers and sellers to phone a toll-free number to request more information, such as a special report. The result is the agent easily captures the prospect’s name, phone number and address for follow-up to see if they are hot or cold prospects.

The section of the book with which I had the least agreement is titled “Champion Sales Presentations,” about seller listings and buyer agency contracts. In these chapters, Zeller advises not wasting time with sellers and buyers who either aren’t serious or who won’t sign a listing or a buyer agency contract. “Very hard sell” came to my mind as I read this section.

One ingredient glaringly absent from these chapters is the lack of client references from recent satisfied sellers and buyers. Smart prospective buyers and sellers always ask realty agents for references and the best agents eagerly provide phone numbers and names of prior clients.

But Zeller totally neglects to even mention the importance for champion agents to provide such invaluable information as part of the listing presentation or buyer agency contract negotiation.

Chapter topics include “The Champion Agent’s Business”; “What is a Champion Agent?” “Attitude and Commitment Come First”; “Building Credibility and Trust”; “Leads are Your Lifeblood”; “Who Wants Referrals?” “It’s Easy Street on the Internet”; “The Champion Listing Presentation”; “Protecting Your Commission”; “Handling Objections Professionally”; “Making the Case to the Buyer”; “Buyer Counseling Interview”; “Time Management is Life Management”; and “Building Your Ideal Business.”

Although I don’t agree with all of Zeller’s advice, especially about never discounting sales commissions even to be competitive in a local market and requiring 90-day buyer agency contracts, the author provides good reasons for his strong viewpoints used with his coaching students. This ultra-complete book shows realty agents what it takes to be successful, as measured by high earnings and business satisfaction. On my scale of one to 10, this excellent book rates a solid 10.

“The Champion Real Estate Agent,” by Dirk Zeller (McGraw-Hill, New York), 2007, $24.95, 328 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.Amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

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