Andrea Quyn, an agent at Roseville, California-based Suncal Real Estate Group, recently wondered aloud to her real estate coach why she has trouble acquiring listings.

The reason was her “fear of the unknown,” explained her coach, Julie Harris, who runs a coaching business with her husband, Tim.

Ask an agent why they hire a real estate coach, and they’re most likely to tell you that they want to learn stuff like accountability or new business practices, not how to cope with fear.

Yet a recent survey by Inman, along with interviews with real estate coaches, reveals that the tens thousands of real estate agents who hire real estate coaches, whether they realize it or not, are often enlisting the services of fear doctors.

Respondents to the survey who were working with real estate coaches often cited “fear” as the biggest weakness their coach has helped them addresses, such as “fear of failure,” “fear of success,” “fear of rejection,” “fear of taking listings” and “fear of trying new things.”

Mike Ferry

Mike Ferry

Those results wouldn’t surprise Mike Ferry, a man whom many regard as the granddaddy of real estate coaching.

“The word fear is one of the biggest challenges that our clients face, and the fear they have is normally coming from a lack of business or sales experience,” said Ferry, who says his coaching company, The Mike Ferry Organization, has 3,000 clients.

The most common fears weighing down real estate agents are psychological in nature, such as fear of shame and fear of embarrassment, according to Tim Harris, Julie Harris’ husband and business partner at Tim and Julie Harris Real Estate Coaching.

Those deep-seated fears would seem to underpin others often cited by agents, such as the dread many of them they feel towards cold-calling and door-knocking.

The medicine administered by coaches to cure such fears is often a cocktail of training, encouragement, borderline therapy and goal setting.

Ferry’s says he builds confidence in his clients by teaching them what to do and what to say.

“Fear is normally overcome through taking positive actions and using the right words when talking to prospects and clients,” he said.

Julie and Tim Harris

Tim and Julie Harris

The Harrises take a more therapeutic approach, cultivating a “mindset of service” to conquer the “inward focus” that breeds fear in clients.

They even instruct clients to hang signs in front of their desks that read: “How can I be of service to you. I am here to help you solve a problem.”

“The fear can’t exist while you are having the ‘being of service’ mindset,” said Tim Harris. “It’s almost a mystical experience when you find yourself having conversations, going on listing appointments, working in price ranges you thought were out of your league as a result of this shift in mindset.”

The Harrises are far from alone in exploring emotions with his clients.

Fifty-six percent of respondents to Inman’s survey said they discuss their emotions during coaching sessions (though respondents were still more likely to say that their coaching sessions usually cover business tactics, “stumbling blocks,” “goals” and “performance”).

“Totally changing my attitude from feeling worthless and suicidal to believing I have a wonderful future and having exponential confidence in myself,” was how one respondent described the benefits of working with a coach.

Dirk Zeller

Dirk Zeller

Fear often stems from past experience, upbringing or even behavioral style, said Dirk Zeller, CEO of Real Estate Champions. So it’s vital, he said, that coaches tailor solutions to a client’s behavioral style that will help the client achieve “clarity in purpose” and goals.

“It’s getting the person moving toward their goals in small ways so you can create some momentum,” said Zeller, who said more than 1,000 agents enrolled in his company’s coaching programs on an annualized basis. “If they don’t move, the fear only grows larger.”

Later into her coaching call with Julie Harris, Quyn made a tweak to Harris’ original diagnosis of Quyn’s trouble with scaring up seller clients.

While Harris had pronounced “fear of the unknown” as her client’s ailment, Quyn decided what she really was afraid of was “personal rejection.”

Harris’ prescription?

For starters, improve your prelisting package, scripts and ability to handle objections.

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