An underperforming economy is not an excuse for agents to do the same.

The economic news is not going to be good for awhile. There is no way to spin it otherwise. But that does not mean that real estate agents cannot make a good living in this market.

There are agents in real estate offices all over this country doing just fine, with one thing in common: They are immune to what can become a pervasive diseased called "hardening of the attitude."

They adjust to the times, whether they are good or bad. They’ve had a "can do" attitude since they got into real estate, and it has nothing to do with the circumstances of the market.

The fact that the economy may get worse does not matter to them. The fact that the economy is underperforming does not mean they should underperform.

The good news for us is that we do not have to look for a job or learn a new skill. We just have to focus on what we need to do, and do it well.

You may have heard the following story, but it is more important today than it has been in years:

Two men start chopping wood early one morning. Let us call them Agent A and Agent B.

Agent A is a hard worker. His answer to everything is to work harder. Agent B works hard, too, but he approaches his work a little differently.

During the day, Agent A never took a break except for a quick cup of water.

About every 50 minutes, Agent B would quit chopping, disappear behind the woodshed for 10 minutes, then return and continue chopping.

Who do you think chopped the most wood that day?

Answer: Agent B.

At the end of the day, Agent B had chopped a pile of wood twice as high as Agent A’s pile. What was Agent B’s secret? Agent A had to know.

AGENT A: How in the world did you chop so much wood? You took a 10-minute break every hour.

AGENT B: I wasn’t taking a break. I was sharpening my ax.

In other words, Agent B understood the importance of having the right tools and knowing how to use them.

Agent A never sharpened his ax. His attitude was great. He never quit. But he produced less for much harder work, because his ax had a dulled cutting edge. We all know people like this. We must be careful about making them our role models.

Can you think of any technology you need to learn that will help you make sales? Sharpening your skills is about "training." Skills have to do with your abilities and production.

In today’s world, one of the best ways to network with positive people is to attend training classes where you are most likely to meet agents focused on working harder at developing their skills.

You will be surprised how many experienced agents attend the training, because they know that a dull ax in these economic woods is not likely to cut it, so to speak.

I always ask about years of experience in my seminars, because I want the new agents to see how many experienced agents are in the room.

It is amazing. The oldest agent I knowingly trained had 41 years of experience. When asked why she attended, she said, "When I stop learning, I’ll stop growing." I was glad the new agents heard her words, but I needed to hear them myself.

The most experienced agent I ever taught was a graduate of the General Motors sales training program in Detroit. He had just entered real estate and, as he said, "I understand the importance of scripts." I learned more from him than he could ever learn from me.

What are two skills you cannot delegate (and therefore must carry a sharp ax at all times)? Here are two:

1. Prospecting: In this market, you must prospect every day. Are you doing it? If your answer is no, you cannot blame the economy for your lack of production. You might argue that you can delegate prospecting. I’ll accept that if you are already doing so successfully. Hoping a prospect hits your website does not count because it is passive.

2. Saying the right thing at the right time: In any market, can you delegate this? No. Who are you going to call when you are standing in the kitchen and the husband says, "I love this home, but my wife likes the first home you showed us"? If you don’t believe that you make your living by the words you speak and you are not learning scripts, don’t blame the economy.

If you are doing well in these two categories, great. If not, can you think of two more important skills you need to sharpen? Regardless of the skills you need to work on, be honest with yourself and start honing.

We are in for a long ride, with economic problems so thick we can cut them with a knife. We can make them much easier to cut, too, if we keep our training knives cutting-edge sharp.


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