• The best real estate prospecting method is the one most comfortable for you.
  • It would be nice if passing the real estate exam was enough to launch a fabulous career -- it isn't.
  • If you are forced to work in a way that makes you squirm, you'll soon burn out and leave the industry.

So about real estate prospecting — I hate cold-calling, door-knocking and calling expired listings. I don’t like sitting across the kitchen table from a homeowner and telling him or her that their listing is worth far less than they think.

And I don’t particularly like asking my past clients for referrals.

And yes, I realize that Brian Buffini and the entire Ferry organization are cringing after that lead in.

But I do love writing, technology, modeling (financial modeling, not underwear modeling) and project representation.

So guess how I prospect and who my prospecting is designed to reach?

Everyone has an opinion

When we all get started as agents, we saddle up next to a grizzled vet and start asking questions. We ask how they do it, how they got started, what they do every day, etc. We get tons of advice, most of it highly varied, about how to build our businesses.

Ask a roomful of seasoned producers how they make their phones ring, and you’ll get answers that run the gamut — “You need to cold call,” one will say. Another will tell you, “Get out there and network,” while a third will tell you to “Buy a ZIP code on Zillow, and get reviewed.”

You know what? They’re all right, as the best prospecting method is the one most comfortable for you.

A license is no guarantee

It would be nice if the singular act of passing the real estate exam was enough to launch a fabulous career — it isn’t.

If you are unwilling to undertake the actions that make your phone ring, then you will quickly wash out of the business.

Yes, a commitment to clients is important, as is an appreciation of architecture, development, infill, smart growth, fair housing, construction and every show on HGTV.

But real estate sales, like any form of sales, is a numbers game, and without an equally deep commitment to prospecting in whatever form best suits your personality and talents, your career will never reach its full potential.

Bob Dylan and Adele

Singer Adele leaves the

Singer Adele leaves the “Late Show With David Letterman” taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Feb. 21, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/FilmMagic)

I would urge fellow brokers to become versed in the best practices associated with the most popular methods of modern prospecting.

If you want to grow your brokerage, recognizing that every agent is a unique individual is key.

A one-size-fits-all — or even a two-sizes-fit-all model is inadequate in a time when the struggle for individuality so permeates our culture, especially for the next generation.

Can you imagine Bob Dylan as an opera singer or Adele fronting Nickelback? I don’t think their career would have turned out quite the same way.

So, brokers, don’t expect every agent to prospect the way your best producer does. Or the way you did when you first got started.

Find your niche or die

Young agents, I urge you to accept the fact that without prospecting, you will starve in the real estate business.

You must explore the myriad methods of modern prospecting and not stop until you have found your niche. When we, as human beings, are placed in uncomfortable positions, we unavoidably struggle out of those positions.

It’s how we’re wired, and when applied to the search for palatable prospecting methods, it means that if you are forced to work in a way that’s uncomfortable for you, you’ll soon burn yourself out and, statistics show, leave the industry.

In case the message is not yet clear, prospecting is the key to agent success — or failure. And while the time-honored fundamentals of sales will always apply (be prompt, be professional, be prepared), sales and prospecting methods and channels are becoming increasingly diverse.

So young agents, work to find your prospecting comfort zone, and don’t stop until you do. It’s absolutely vital to the success and longevity of your career in real estate.

Rick Jarvis is a co-founder of the One South Realty Group in Richmond, Virginia.

Email Rick Jarvis.

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