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Op/Ed

Caveat emptor: How to actually purchase real estate products that will help you succeed

Real estate products are a dime a dozen, and they all want your attention and dollars. Here’s how to think critically so your money goes only to tools that will better your business (not just theirs).

Have you ever heard of the Milgram Experiment? Named for Stanley Milgram, this was a psychological experiment conducted by Yale University in the 1960s to measure the degree to which people blindly follow a perceived benevolent authority. Without going into too much detail, the results indicated that 65% of participants would blindly follow a perceived benevolent leader all the way to the end, whereas 100% of participants would follow a benevolent leader for a short time.

We have benevolent leaders in real estate, too.

They are the people that conduct webinars and workshops, are admins of social media groups and forums, and those who purvey their products to the real estate masses. But, do the products touted by benevolent leaders actually help you — the real estate pro — to succeed?

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Which products actually increase your business?

This morning I deleted approximately 50 emails from my inbox that were attempting to sell me some real estate related product. In addition to lots of email, I am also swamped with sponsored items in online news feeds, remarketing, an onslaught of free webinars and workshops, and products foisted upon me by the admins of large real estate Facebook groups. Because the presentation of these items is so fast and furious, it becomes difficult to identify products or ideas a real estate agent really needs in order to learn more, act better, and put more transactions into the pipeline.

How can you judge when you are being treated like a fairgoer that is being shouted at by carnies? How can you figure out which products you really need and which benevolent leaders you should really listen to?

3 ways to select the best products

Here are 3 ways to cut through the crap and select products and services that may actually work well for you:

1. Before buying anything, know yourself. Conduct a behavior traits assessment and spend some time analyzing your results. Use online search tools to locate and take a free DISC assessment or use the assessments in such books as Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0 or Marcus Buckingham’s StandOut 2.0. Your results will help you to more objectively look long and hard at what you are talents. For example, if the results say that you gravitate towards the interpersonal, then do not purchase anything that is going to force you to sit at home all day, fold letters, and send regimented emails.

Takeaway: If you select products and programs that play to your strengths (not your weaknesses), the likelihood that you’ll use them increases significantly.

2. Save $299 or more per month; get your own accountability partner. If you are highly self-motivated, then you may not need an accountability partner because you do a good job meeting or exceeding your goals all the time. You might, however, like to have a mastermind partner — someone either within or outside of your industry that you can touch base with to brainstorm ideas or share your personal goals. If you hang around the water cooler (read: Facebook) for more than an hour, some agent will be asking for a recommendation for a coach. While there are many good business coaches out there, most real estate coaches focus on accountability programs. As we’ve all been told to make our bed and get our chores done since before Kindergarten, we probably don’t need to pay anyone to parent us.

Takeaway: You can save yourself a bundle if you find your own accountability or mastermind partner. Don’t pay someone to babysit you.

3. Know when you are being sold to. You’re a salesperson, so you should recognize when you are being sold to. Because tons of agents in one Facebook group were raving about a specific book a few weeks back, I decided to read it. What I saw was a huge agenda: the book pitched other books and products by the same authors and was so elementary in its advice for real estate professionals, that I was surprised that it had already sold thousands of copies. Because the book was well promoted and its followers had reached the tipping point, I was duped into purchasing a lower quality product. (The good news is that I was only out about 14 bucks.)

Takeaway: Pay careful attention to whether you are just becoming part of the bandwagon or whether the product you are evaluating will actually provide you with what you need for your business.

Avoiding getting duped

Derek Sivers’ 2010 TED Talk, “How to Start a Movement” discusses the importance of finding a good first follower in order to start a movement. Lots of products have huge groups of followers, so you may be easily duped. Try to be a fly on the wall to evaluate whether you are following blindly or whether you will actually benefit from what you are about to purchase.

When it comes to real estate products, look long and hard at the benevolence of the leader. Is he or she working to advance his or her self interest? Are you blindly following a perceived benevolent leader (like in the Milgram Experiment)? Are you being influenced by the mass of people who have already purchased the product or drank the koolaid?

The bottom line is that you can make more money and be a better agent if you select products and programs that benefit you. Don’t drink the koolaid; it’s filled with sugar and can be harmful to your health.

#thinkcritically

Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.

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