It’s a “truth” (almost) universally accepted in our industry that 20 percent of real estate agents will make 80 percent of the money — and you could make an argument that this number is valid. Is there some predetermining factor that dictates who is going to excel and who will be mediocre — or worse, who will completely fail? Is there a “sales gene” that some of us have and others don’t?

Maybe, but probably not.

In working with and training real estate agents all over the country, I’ve found that most top producers share several common traits. These include high levels of organization and motivation, plus the willingness to work very long hours, among others. These traits alone, however, are not what make agents successful. Instead, it’s their ability to be constantly rejected over and over and over again without giving up.

This is what creates the massive income gap known to many as the 80/20 rule. I spend so much time training agents on proactive prospecting methods (making regular prospecting phone calls, canvassing neighborhoods, knocking on doors, and so on), and I get pushback from them almost universally.

“What if someone yells at me on the phone or hangs up on me?” Good question. The answer? Nothing will happen. The worst thing someone can do to you is hang up the phone. If you are canvassing a neighborhood and someone doesn’t want to answer the door, they won’t. It’s that simple. You can leave a business card with a note and be on your way.

Getting over this fear of rejection is a skill that you can learn, and it’s just like many other life skills you may try to master. Practice makes perfect. You’re not going to wake up one day and not have that queasy feeling in your stomach when you pick up the phone to make a cold call. You’re not going to finish this article and no longer feel like your heart is going to beat out of your chest when you approach the front door of someone you haven’t met. It takes some getting used to and, believe me, it will get easier each time.

On the other hand, if you don’t put yourself out there in the first place, it’s likely you’ll avoid these methods throughout your career, which will leave you at similar production levels year after year.

If prospecting is a daunting task to you, try this approach. Schedule specific days and times for prospecting and follow-up activities on your calendar. This creates accountability and will help ensure that you get these tasks done. Instead of merely adding these items to a to-do list, where they can easily be demoted to the bottom, you are setting an appointment with yourself to get them done.

If that’s not motivation enough, imagine what could happen if you don’t prospect — 30, 60 or 90 days from now, you may not have any business at all. Just because you don’t have any income for a month doesn’t mean you’re not going to have bills to pay, children to feed and all the rest. Simply put, prospecting is the only way to ensure that new business keeps coming in.

If you’re serious about your real estate business, you must embrace your fear and use it as motivation to put yourself out there. Give it a try. I think you may be surprised at how easy it really is — and how many of the people you contact are really grateful for the expertise you can offer.

Ross Malpere has been working in the real estate industry since 2010. He lists and sells homes in northern New Jersey.

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