Walk a mile in their shoes

Great agents put themselves in the other person’s shoes to understand what then need and where they are going.

Topic – The 30,000 foot view

Mentor – Tami Bonnell – EXIT Realty Corp. International


Kevin:   One of the delights of being at Inman Connect in New York is just the people we meet, the opportunities we have to talk to some of the best real estate brokers and business leaders in the world. Joining me now is Tami Bonnell. Tami is the CEO for EXIT Real Estate. Exit, E X I T?

Tami:   E X I T.

Kevin:   E X I T Real estate. And Tami also has been responsible and been behind building three major brands in the States. Tami, great to talk to you. Thank you very much for your time.

Tami:   It’s my pleasure.

Kevin:   As I said, what I did omit to say was that you’re also ranked in the top ten business leaders in the Swanepoel Ranking but only two women in the top ten, you’re one of them so congratulations.

Tami:   Thank you very much.

Kevin:   We’re catching up with Sherry Chris a little bit later in the show too, to talk to her and she’s also in the top 10.

Tami:   Absolutely.

Kevin:   It’s a great achievement but can I ask you about the brokers and the agents in your group. What have you identified that they do help? The really top ones stand out. What do they do?

Tami:   Well number one, they have accurate market knowledge, so they really understand their market place. The consumer is looking for the solution, so are agents. They’re looking for, what is the solution for what it is that I’m working towards and so when they can understand both the market place and what’s going on in their own individual markets, where the opportunities are and they can also understand people, that’s when I find they excel. It has to match both. They have to really put themselves in the other persons shoes and understand what that person is feeling, where they are going.

Tami:   People move because of their circumstances and that’s the same with agents. When brokers bring agents in, they move because of their circumstances. They’re not making enough money, they don’t have enough leadership. So being a really good corporate citizen, paying attention to your community, understanding your market, but really understanding your consumer and your people. I think those are on the top of the list.

Kevin:   It takes a long time to develop that type of feel or that type of empathy for the market and the people in the market doesn’t it, so a broker moving into an are fresh up, how do they get started?

Tami:   Well I find, there are several ways of approaching it but I find that if you can get the 30 000 foot view understanding the trends that are happening all across the country, and then have the 2 000 foot view so your own individual state or province, depending on where you’re living. And then really understand the street level view, and technology has made it so that we get a tremendous amount of data and that really helps, but I always recommend that they connect with people that work on their business not in it. Appraisers, Home Inspectors, Mortgage Companies, people responsible for the planning boards, so they can really see windows of opportunity before anybody else. It’s pretty quick to gain respect if you really know what you’re doing, because the agent that’s sitting in front of you is saying, “How can you help me? How can you help me do better? How can you help me be more professional? How can you help me make more?”

Tami:   And the consumer is sitting there with the same concerns right? They want a trusted advisor and when you can give them a solution, even a long term solution. Asking them effective questions about where you see them going over the next 1, 3, 5 years. What is their magic wish list? And you can really help them to get there. It really does make a difference. We’ve witnessed people going into a brand new market and being in the top three in market share in a year, but they have to pay attention to that.

Tami:   There’s in my opinion, there are only three ways you can fail. Number one, you don’t have enough data. You don’t have enough knowledge, you don’t have enough information. Number two, negative habit patterns. They’re either intimidated so that they don’t have enough conversations with people, or they’re so driven, they don’t do their homework before they jump out and get in front of people, and so it’s really important to do your homework first. And the third one is distraction. We all have technology in front of us and they get so distracted. It’s so easy to get distracted with their smart phone, their tablet. When really they need to be in front of people and they need to be present. That is probably the most difficult thing now. They get up in the morning and if they go to social media right away and then all of a sudden check all their emails, a chunk of the day is gone. You have to get to the major priorities first, before you touch anything else to do with the distractions.

Kevin:   That is such a powerful point because I think it’s so easy to get distracted and believe that we can effectively work off our tablet to make contacts and to reach out through texts and emails. It’s really you can’t beat the face to face and you’ve gotta develop to have that conversation.

Tami:   People want to matter.

Kevin:   Yeah they do. Can I ask you another question. This is a gross generalisation but let me go with it and see how you react.

Tami:   Okay.

Kevin:   My experience is that women are so much better at communicating and building relationships and I can say that as male, so therefore if that’s the case, does that’s make a woman a better broker than a woman a better broker than a male?

Tami:   Well you know it’s funny, they actually just did a study and there’s great book, it’s called ‘Humans Are Underrated’ and they did a study and determined that women are better. I couldn’t make that judgement call myself, but better than 60% of the people that are making money in the United States in real estate are female so that’s better than 60%.

Kevin:   Better than 60%.

Tami:   So that gives you a picture but what I find so fascinating is, the number one skillset people are looking for and it’s in all fields, to make 100 000$ a year or better is empathy and obviously I think women have that more naturally.

Kevin:   And what is it about women. I mean I know with my wife, I can come home from having a conversation with someone and she’ll ask me a question that didn’t even occur to me to ask. Is it just that women are more in touch with the emotional side or the family side? Is it that men just want the bottom line? I don’t understand.

Tami:   Well I think that’s a good generalisation right?

Kevin:   It is a generalisation.

Tami:   But then we have things that happen on one extreme or the other. You still see women that don’t ask those effective questions and the same thing turning around with men but I think people can be educated into it as well, and it really is about paying attention and being present with that person.

Kevin:   It’s a nurturing thing too I think isn’t it –

Tami:   Absolutely.

Kevin:   Women are so much better at nurturing than men and maybe that’s what it is. Maybe it’s a nurturing relationship and building that –

Tami:   Well it’s a relationship right. This is a relationship business. So finding out what’s really important to that other person really does matter, but for people that aren’t as empathy oriented, there’s so many easy ways for them to do their homework. They can follow people on Facebook. They can connect with them in LinkedIn so they can see a little bit more of their life, so that they know the right questions to ask when they get in front of them.

Kevin:   Mm-hmm (affirmative).The American market of course are divided between buyers’ agents and seller’s with 3% commission generally on either side. It’s a big commission fee. How open is that to new models coming in? There’s gonna be an attack on those fees to actually lower them, do you feel?

Tami:   Well I really don’t believe that that’s a concern for people that know their business. –

Kevin:   Yes.

Tami:   And really that’s the problem. The threshold of getting in to this industry in the United States, it’s way too easy to get in. And when you can get in to an industry really easy, you think it’s gonna be easy to do business and that, personality is gonna be enough. And I find with all this talk about disruptors, the best way to focus on building your business is to really make sure that you have enough education to be the solution for that person. –

Kevin:   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Tami:   I’ll give you a great example. I coach a lot of the people within our organisation and I had a gentleman that said, “Just tell just one thing”. And I said, “You need to be a part of the solution. Ask effective questions right? Where do you see yourself in the next 1, 3, 5 years? When do you plan on retiring? What is your big picture dream?” And it went from him doing a little bit of business to, he did seven transactions with one man by finding out he wanted to retire in ten years, he wanted to buy a house now so it would be paid off by then, so he gave him advice to find, he gave him a referral to the area that he went to. He paid it off in two years time because he put in an Airbnb. He paid it off in two years time. He paid off his primary mortgage and he bought five investment properties so he ended up with seven transactions just by asking the right effective questions.

Kevin:   Great agents don’t make assumptions. Great actions ask the questions, –

Tami:   That’s right.

Kevin:   And I think that’s the big difference and when we as agents and brokers can understand that, we start to then empathise more by not making our own assumptions about what people wanna do or where they wanna go.

Tami:   Right. And even asking the right effective questions about communication. How would you prefer to be communicated with? How often? What’s important information for you to have, because we’re all different personality profiles, so what might be important to me might not be the same thing that’s important to you and there are way too many assumptions being made. So getting in the habit of asking really good effective questions and making sure that you take notes and you really keep track of what’s important to that person. The more they are a priority for you, the more business and more referrals you’re gonna do from it and this business still, the highest place people still end up doing business is personal referrals.

Kevin:   Tami just in closing, could I ask you, what did you hope to achieve or learn from coming to Inman Connect and if so, have you achieved it?

Tami:   Well I actually always like to see what’s new, what’s up and coming. We have an entire tech team that’s here that pays attention to all the new things that are being launched. I think it’s very important to be present and up to date with everything that’s going on and you can’t do that sitting behind your desk. You absolutely have to be present. So getting the information of all the new things that people are doing, making sure that you don’t miss out on a window of opportunity, I think that’s definitely a priority and I believe that I absolutely got that but it’s also being able to connect with our own people and making sure that you’re visible in places that are really important for them as well.

Kevin:   It’s what we said earlier isn’t it about, it’s so much what you learn, it’s what you do with the learning so I guess the challenge now with you and your team to go away, disseminate what you’ve picked up and then learn how you’re going to implement that into your organization.

Tami:   Well and I think it’s implementing a few things, not a lot of things –

Kevin:   Yes, the key things –

Tami:   Because then you’ll stick with it and follow through.

Kevin:   Yeah. Tami, great talking to you, thank you very much.

Tami:   Thank you very much.

Kevin:   Been wonderful to have have you here, yeah thank you.

Tami:   It’s been a pleasure.

Kevin:   Yeah we met so many wonderful people in New York at the Inman Connect conference. Gonna stay with this for quite a lot of time. Tomorrow, Sherry Storor will catch up with Lindsay from Climb Real Estate, another interesting story to tell you but that’s coming up tomorrow. See you then.


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