What’s the difference between a top performer and everyone else? Even more importantly, how can you know where you stand? Here are a few questions that’ll help you figure out how you’re doing — and what you need to improve in 2021.

The difference between top performance versus mediocre performance is often quite small. With 2020 drawing to a close, you might be taking stock of your career and trying to determine your success so far. 

To see how you measure up, examine your business and personal skills in light of the 13 top-producer characteristics below. Here are a few questions to get you started.

1. Do you have at least one specific niche you serve?

Top performers normally have one or two niches where they are the recognized expert. If you haven’t niched your business, 2021 is a great time to start. Niches can include geographical areas or a specific market segment such as relocation, probate, estates or new homes.

2. Can you accurately price properties without looking at the comparable sales? 

Top performers normally have a strong grasp on market conditions and pricing. They can rattle off the best buys in every price range they serve. To improve your pricing skills, pay special attention to the comparable sales, and check for new listings daily. Make a point of seeing as many homes as possible in your service area. 

When viewing property, estimate the selling price before looking at the information sheet. Track where listings sell and how accurate your predictions were. Remember: Knowledge is power.

3. Do you price your listings close to where they sell?

Top performers price properties accurately. To evaluate your performance in this area, look at the last 10 properties you listed. Did at least eight houses sell within 5 percent of your initial asking price? If not, strengthen your pricing dialogue. 

The longer a listing stays on the market, the lower the price. Show the seller the financial benefits of selling quickly rather than testing the market

4. Are you obtaining a full commission on at least 90 percent of your listings?

Top performers earn full commissions. To increase your commission rate, determine what services will motivate sellers to choose you over competitors. 

Some ideas include using a chatbot to convert leads like the one from IMRE.ca, creating a social media marketing plan for each of your listings or using drone photography along with 3D virtual tours. 

5. Are you strong enough to stand up to the attorney, business manager or accountant when they are wrong? 

Top performers recognize that they are the real estate experts and speak up when necessary. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, consider taking an assertiveness training class.

6. Are prices in your area increasing, decreasing or staying flat? 

Top performers know the market statistics cold. To determine what type of market you are in, look at how much inventory is on the market. 

If there is less than six months, you are in a seller’s market with upward pressure on prices. If there is six months of inventory, you are in a flat market. If there is seven or more months of inventory, you are in a buyer’s market with downward pressure on the prices.

7. Do you have a written business plan?

Virtually all top performers have a written business plan. They know how many listings they must take and how many buyer sales they must close each year to hit their goals. They also monitor and control expenses. 

If you need help creating a written business plan, consider hiring a coach or working with a mentor who can show you how.

8. Do you give sellers a written marketing plan as part of your listing presentation?

Top performers have a written plan for selling their listings. They create a profile of the seller’s ideal buyer and then target their marketing efforts to the profile. Their marketing plans include print, social media and web advertising strategies. 

If you do not use a written marketing plan on your appointments, now is the right time to put one together for your next listing appointment.

9. Do you contact past clients and your sphere of influence regularly?

Top performers stay on top because they leverage their contacts. If you are having challenges in this area, identify your top 150 contacts who are most likely to refer business to you. Next, make a point of contacting five of these contacts each day by commenting on their social media posts, calling them to just see how they are, sending them an article that would be of interest or a video that makes them laugh. 

Keep in mind that the most recent NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers says 77 percent of the sellers only interview one agent before they list their home. Make sure that agent is you.

10. Do you have excellent problem-solving skills? 

Top performers have excellent problem-solving skills. When they need answers, they know whom to ask. Most are also good at being the calm in the middle of the storm. If you lack strong problem-solving skills, find a mentor who can help you strengthen this skill.

11. Do you follow up on all leads in a timely fashion?

Top performers seldom let a lead get away. They respond to email inquiries on the same business day. They also call back all open house leads. If you are poor at lead follow-up, consider hiring a virtual assistant or using a chatbot for lead conversion.

12. Do you delegate?

Top performers recognize their strengths and weaknesses. They focus on what they do well and delegate everything else. If you are too busy, ask yourself what you could have someone else do. 

Easy places to include using a transaction coordinator, having someone drop off keys and brochures, or having a personal assistant who handles errands. Use the time you save to prospect for new business.

13. Do you actively prospect for new business at least four days per week?

Top performers are proactive in their approach to business. They do not expect leads to come to them. Instead, they door-knock, call on expireds and FSBOs, and regularly prospect their referral database

If you are waiting for the business to come to you, you will never be in control of your business. Ultimately, top performance is about controlling your lead generation and lead follow-up activities. 

Most clients want the best. If you want to be a top performer in 2021, work on developing your market knowledge, improving your negotiation skills, doing a better job of marketing and keeping in continuous contact with your referral database.

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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