Real Estate Agents: You Don’t Work for Wal-Mart

The numbers game will wear you out. It will leave you dissatisfied, frustrated, and rejected.

The whole idea of the numbers game is that if you spend enough time dialing, churning through prospects, you’re bound to make the occasional sale.

Burn and churn, baby.

Problem is, when you do make a sale, you believe even more that the number of prospects you burned through was the secret to success.

“I made 100 calls and got 2 deals.” So you make more calls. “If I make 1,000 calls I’ll get 20 deals.”

The thing is, real estate is not a game of small-scale volume. You don’t work for Wal-Mart.

Outside of the exhaustion and relentless rejection behind this approach, here’s the real tragedy: its not about how many sales you are making…but how many sales you are losing.

Count the Cost

Is it really worth mowing through 1,000 calls to get 20 deals? Some might say yes.

But what if I could show you a way were you could mosey through half as many calls and still make 20 deals?

Think about it.

When you’re operating out of the old numbers game paradigm, how many leads do you burn through with every call you make?

And how much time do you spend chasing and following up with prospects who will probably never work with you?

It’s really a bad deal to get into. It’s a treadmill.

And I’ll go on the record as saying that yes, some real estate agents love burning through a list and yes, they will actually make very good money doing it, but…

Just because they’re really good at it and it’s the way they found success, doesn’t mean that it IS the only way to success. If they believe this, then they suffer from the I’m-a-hammer-and-everything-else-is-a-nail-syndrome.

Don’t fall under this guy’s spell. He’ll wear you out. No, he’ll chew you up and spit you out. And when you fail, he’ll make you feel like its your fault.

But it’s not. The approach is just not for you.

Dr. Bernie Siegel said “It was impossible to fail with the parents I had. If I got an F in Music, they’d look at me and say, ‘I guess you’re not a musician’.”

How to Carve Out an Approach That Is Right for You

If something about the burn and churn approach doesn’t sit right with you, reconsider your options. In all probability, if it doesn’t sit right with you it’s because it’s an old school approach inappropriate for our current economic view.

I can’t think of any consumer who appreciates cold calling, hustling, rapid fire questions, impatience.

Besides, when you churn and burn you’ll soon find you’re trapped, making huge numbers of calls to reach that tiny percentage of prospects who will buy from you.

In a nutshell, here’s the ugliness of churn and burn:

  • Burning through calls involves huge investments of time and energy to achieve a few successes.
  • Numbers-game scripts talk at prospects and lead to rejection in all but a tiny percentage of calls.
  • Prospects know that they’re just a phone number to you and that you’re not interested in engaging them on a human level.
  • The only goal is to move the sale forward, or to get a quick “no” so you can move on to the next call.

The mystique of the old numbers game is that you’re bound to “hit” once in a while.

But people who sell the old way never ask themselves how many opportunities they’ve lost in a day because they haven’t gotten to the truth with their prospects.

Now, when you focus on quality rather than volume, when you focus on building a relationship instead of closing a deal, when you focus on every call is a chance to unearth a possible client.

That means your calls have to be more thoughtful and efficient.

And you have to walk into them with this mindset: I’m simply here to say hello to this person.

Now this doesn’t exclude you from the ABC rule: Always Be Closing. If you can bump the fruit into your basket in under five minutes to get a contract, by all means do so.

Here are a few tips to consider when making phone calls to prospects:

  • Starting calls with a focused problem statement makes it easy to create two-way dialogue.
  • Your attentiveness to your prospects’ concerns makes a real human connection possible.
  • The goal is to learn the truth and explore there’s a fit between your solution and your prospect’s problem or concern.
  • And when you’ve learned the truth, whether the answer is a yes or a no, rejection is impossible.


If you’re feeling guilty that you should be playing the old numbers game because your colleagues are making sales from it, consider this: All you’re seeing from them is how many sales they are making–not how many sales they’re losing.

And consider that by refocusing your attention on the quality of each call versus the volume of calls, you can experience new sales success you may never have thought possible.

For more information, see my short story about Tammy and Rick, southern Illinois agents making it happen in this recession. [About half way down the page.]

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[…] Gary Elwood of ProQuest Technologies offers a wonderful discussion of this very thing in his article, Real Estate Agents: You Don’t Work for Wal-Mart. […]


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