No matter how you slice it, being a real estate agent is not easy. That hasn’t changed over the years. Because, at the end of the day, being a realtor is just a sales job after all. And selling takes tireless prospecting, day and night. And the ability to handle a lot of rejection for days, weeks, and sometimes even months on end.
Unless you have an iron will and a relentless mentality of mining for gold, you will fail. I don’t say that to be mean whatsoever. I say it very matter-of-factly. Because the truth is this. Most new agents fail because they have no idea of the uphill battle they’re in store for. Even worse, some look at other successful agents and think it’ll be easy, only to be faced with extreme hardship and failure early on.
In this business, it’s not what you know. It’s definitely, who you know. Because, if you know the right people with deep enough pockets, finding buyers and sellers is far easier. But we all know that’s not the reality for most real estate agents, right?
So why do most agents fail and so few of them succeed? And what separates successful real estate agents from those who ultimately fail and give up? It is one thing and one thing only—your ability to become a sales and marketing machine. That doesn’t mean you can just market in spurts. It means staying committed during long periods of insufferable droughts while mining for gold.
Why Most Real Estate Agents Fail
The sad truth is that most agents fail. It’s not for lack of skills or talent or connections. It’s for lack of motivation. Because anyone can succeed at this as long as there’s a burning desire. But let’s look at all the stats here for just a moment. How many real estate agents actually fail?
Tom Ferry says that “in 2014, NAR reported 87% of all new agents fail after five years in the industry, with only 13% making it.” Now, I’m not sure if that’s entirely true because I can’t find that NAR report. But what I can tell you is that it’s likely something around this number.
Even though that study, if it exists, was done ages ago, the numbers are likely somewhere in that range. It’s similar to the results from the Harvard Business School study on goal setting. That study found that 92% of people fail in their goals. So, whether we’re talking 87% of 92% you can guess that the range of success is small.
The question is, what are the problems that are facing these agents that make them fail? And, what can you do to overcome some of these problems? Clearly, starting out in any new occupation is hard. It takes time to get good at it. But being an agent takes a certain personality and an unwillingness to give up.
#1 — Lack Of Self Discipline
For newcomers to the real estate space, the big struggle is self-discipline. With no framework for what you should be doing, your success boils down to your ability to stay disciplined. Can you wake up and start cold calling prospects? And can you do that consistently, day in and day out?
If you’re not cold calling, what are you doing to find new buyers or new sellers? There are tons of marketing activities you can engage in, but with no discipline as a framework, it’s tough to stay motivated. Otherwise, there needs to be something really pushing you to get things done.
If you lack discipline, you’ll fail as a real estate agent. Actually, if you lack discipline, you’ll fail at pretty much any endeavor. That’s just God’s honest truth. But how do you instill discipline fast? That’s the real question, isn’t it?
#2 — Poor Time Management
Another major reason why most real estate agents fail is their inability to properly manage their time. When you have poor time management skills, it’s hard to get ahead. And that goes for anything you do in life. Because, the truth is most of us are driven by the habits that hold us back.
If you can’t properly manage your time, it will be really hard to do the real work. And by real work I mean prospecting. Whether that’s door knocking, cold calling, direct-response marketing, social media direct messaging, or something else, it must be done.
The problem is that being a real estate agent is usually just a side hustle for most. It’s not their main occupation. When it’s their main occupation, and they’re relying on it to create an income, they’ll do more of what it takes. So don’t dabble as a realtor. Go all in.
#3 — Bad Habits Hold Them Back
Everyone struggles with bad habits. Everyone. It’s not just real estate agents. But if bad habits are holding you back, now is the time to reign them in. Because, let’s face it, focusing on your goals and dreams is exponentially harder when you are dealing with bad habits.
For example, my dad was a heavy drinker and smoker for many years. And I know for a fact that it came in the way of his dreams numerous times. Sadly, it destroyed his health, business and relationships. When a person battles addictions, it’s hard to focus on anything else.
It’s easy to see why a real estate can fail when they’re struggling with bad habits. Especially, when those bad habits are addictions that eat away at their will to overcome major obstacles in business or in life.
#4 — Lack Of A Positive Attitude
Look, there’s a lot to say about staying positive. Since we are energy at our core, and all thoughts carry energy, your thoughts and outlook create a certain frequency of vibration. When you have negative thoughts and a negative attitude, you have a low vibration.
Like attracts like. And if you have a low vibrational frequency, you’re going to attract the wrong things in life. But, when you have a high vibrational frequency, and keep a positive attitude, good things happen. It’s literally the core tenet of manifestation.
Whether you believe in this kind of thing or not, it’s easy to spot a realtor with a negative attitude. All you need to do is pick up the phone and talk with 10 realtors and you’ll easily spot the ones that lack a positive attitude or outlook.
#5 — Poor Communication Skills
Communication is the cornerstone to any successful individual. Especially a real estate agent. When a realtor cannot communicate properly, the likelihood of failure skyrockets. Think about it yourself. How many times have you dealt with an agent who had poor communication skills?
This is not just about a real estate agent. It also applies to everyone else involved in the transaction. But since the agents are at the core of the deal, communicating directly with the sellers and buyers, it’s important that they communicate effectively.
Please note, it doesn’t mean replying instantly to someone at all times of day and night. It means that when you do reply, that you do so stripped of emotion and carefully thought out words. The goal is to always create a win-win scenario and you can’t do that without effectively communicating properly.
#6 — Poor Marketing Skills
One major reason for failure as a real estate agent is simply poor marketing skills. Marketing is a vital skill. It’s necessary both to find sellers and buyers. It’s also vital for selling a home fast. This means that agents need to have a clear understanding of online marketing, direct-response, email marketing, social media marketing and more.
The reason why most realtors don’t market more or show up on social media is their fear of judgment. The truth is that people are going to judge you no matter what. The difference here is that successful real estate agents show up day after day. It’s not about doing this for a week or a month. It requires real consistency.
Put a system into place where you document your daily journey of marketing or customer interaction. Then convert that long-form video into short-form social media posts that you can upload multiple times per day.
#7 — Bad Customer Service
Some agents just don’t have the ability to stomach their clients. They’re either too sensitive or take things too personally. This usually results in poor customer service. But the truth is that the customer is always right, and sometimes you have to put up with needy or closed-minded individuals to get the deal done.
When you have bad customer service, it results in negative reviews. And the first thing someone is going to do is to take a look at your reviews. Especially, if they don’t come through a referral. And, why should someone refer you when you have bad customer service.
Most real estate agents can avoid failure by really taking care of their customers. And I do mean taking care of them. That means bending over backwards to make sure that they are absolutely happy about the entire process and that all their needs are met.
#8 — Not Entertaining All Offers
Some agents fail because they refuse to entertain all offers. Now, I know what you’re thinking. What if the offer is too low? The truth is that some people will start low to figure out the level of seller motivation. But, when listing agents refuse to entertain the offer, not only might there be legal ramifications, but you’re essentially closing the door before you know what’s behind it.
There are times when someone will come with a low-ball offer. When the market is hot, it’s easy to reject an offer like this. But what happens when the market isn’t hot? Either way, low-ball offers can lead to great offers and even the actual buyers. Plus, when you immediately reject low-ball offers, it’s poor customer service and it can result in negative reviews.
I get it though. Sometimes, a seller has clear motivation where they really need to sell. Maybe it’s a pre-foreclosure, probate, divorce, relocation, or something else. In that case, it’s easy to accept offers from companies like OpenDoor, OfferPad or Fast Cash Offers.
#9 — Failure To Adapt To Technology
As a software geek or self-proclaimed technophile, I understand that not everyone is like me. But as an agent, you must adapt to the evolving technology out there. For example, using 3D tours is one way that agents can adapt to technology.
3D touring software has come a long way since the early days of Matterport. And there are many service providers who can help to implement 3D tours into your listing. But it’s not just about 3D tours. Adapting to technology means going all out.
For example, building a website to market the property like this one for Palmasola in Punta Mita. You must really leverage technology to not only succeed, but to also set yourself apart as a real estate agent from the rest of the crowd.
#10 — Lack Of Persistence
Persistence is the key to success. Although it’s last on the list, it’s not the least. Most know that I wrote a book called The Art of Persistence. It’s literally an entire book dedicated to the art of being persistent. The trouble that most people face is that they’re not persistent at all. In fact, they give up way too easily. And that’s really at the heart of why so many real estate agents fail.
Persistence means doing things every single day that are non-negotiable. That means you do them every day without fail. Things like cold calling, door knocking, posting on social media, and so on. It really takes an iron will to make it as a realtor (or in any profession for that matter).
The thing about being a real estate agent that’s a little different though is that you need to be somewhat of a self-starter. There’s typically no one hanging over your shoulder ensuring that you’re doing the work that needs to be done. That’s why you need persistence.