You’re in the middle of a crowded, noisy room.
It feels like everyone in the surrounding mob is turned toward you and watching.
They’re yelling things you can’t make out. It seems like they’re cheering for you…
You hope they are; but you’re not sure.
Some guy hands you a skuzzy plastic tube and says, “Just put the tube in your mouth…”
He knows you’ve never done this before. But he’s only half-paying attention to you. Mostly he’s talking and laughing with a group of girls hanging all over him.
You put the tube in your mouth; even though you just saw like eleventeen other people wrap their lips around it. Because…why not, right? You don’t want to seem lame and ask him to clean it first.
The tube is connected to a large funnel the guy is holding.
He fills the funnel with more beers than you ever drank in an entire night, and says, “When I lift the funnel above your head, don’t let the beer fill up in your mouth, just let it all glide down your throat!”
You’re thinking that sounds easier said than done.
You hear the mob around you begin chanting…
“CHUG, CHUG, CHUG!”
You wonder if they want to watch you succeed? Or are they hoping to see you fail?
You start to question what you are about to do. Why am I doing this? This isn’t like me to do something like this. I should just back out. Go blend in with the crowd. Be one of them. Watch somebody else look like a…
There’s no more time to question. The guy holding the funnel yells, “Go!”, and raises the funnel high above your head.
Of course, it is easier said than done.
It’s not natural for you…
You only manage one big gulp. Then beer fills your mouth. Your cheeks puff out. You choke. You cough. It all shoots out of your mouth. You shower the guy…the girls hanging all over him…and everyone else nearby, in warm beer. The rest of what’s in the funnel gushes down onto your face, your clothes, and the floor.
Embarrassed, you slip quietly back into the surrounding crowd hoping nobody noticed.
You hated everything about it.
But part of you still feels like you should have been able to do it…
Like you need to learn how to do it…
And like you need to learn to love doing it…
At least that’s what happened, and how I felt, after the first time I funneled beer.
If I hated it so much, what made me feel like I had to become good at funneling!?
The honest answer is…
A)…because I’d seen it in the movies.
B)…because it seemed like the cool thing to do.
C)…because I thought it would make me cool.
D)…because I wanted girls hanging all over me.
E) All of the above
Is it the only way to drink beer?
Of course not.
Is it the best way to drink beer?
Well, that’s a matter of opinion. But, if somebody tells you it is the best way, it’s probably because they’re good at it and they enjoy it…so, of course they’re gonna say that.
But what if you suck at it and hate it?
Is it necessary to be good at, or enjoy doing?
Nope. Of course not.
THE COOL KIDS MAKE YOU DO THINGS…
When you become a real estate agent…
It’s like you’ve walked into a huge party. You’re an excited, but nervous and unsure outsider, just trying to fit in with what seems to be a huge crowd of hustling go-getters.
You see the top producers—they’re like the cool kids in the middle of the room funneling all the beer.
They seem like they’ve got it all figured out. The industry showers them with praise. And buyers and sellers seem to flock to them, like girls to a drunken frat boy holding a funnel over your head.
You don’t get into real estate expecting that it’s going to be so hard to make a living, let alone become a top producer.
It’s not like you even have any idea how much business it will truly take for you to “succeed”. What’s enough? How many clients should you be able to find, work with, and close?
So, it makes sense that you look at the top producers for a benchmark.
It makes sense that you might strive to do whatever it is that they do.
It makes total sense that you get caught up in trying to be like them.
And that’s where “success”, and your entire real estate career, starts to get twisted…
TRYING TO GET WASTED
Even if you are wise enough to know that there’s no “right” amount of business…
Even if you realize that the top producers aren’t necessarily the best agents doing the best job for their clients…
Even if deep down inside you just want to make a good living and don’t even want to be a top producer…
…it doesn’t matter.
Because you quickly realize that finding and getting clients is pretty much the job of a real estate agent.
Sadly, you realize that it’s even more important than learning how to do the best job for your clients.
Not enough clients = nothing else matters.
It’s so important, that you need to figure out how to do it, and do it fast, or you won’t be hanging around this party for very long.
Even agents who have been around for a while, steadily doing business, want need more business than they can find and get.
It’s that desperate need that leads us to try things that we didn’t expect to be doing—things like “funneling”.
Not that we necessarily even know what funneling is when it comes to real estate sales. Not that we have a clue how to do it. And even if we get a clue, it’s not something most of us really want to do.
All we know is that we need clients. And to get clients, we need leads and prospects.
OK, great… How many is enough?
Years of research and analysis have led to this conclusion…
The absolute perfect amount of business you should do to succeed in real estate is somewhere around “as much as you can get…and then some”. (Give or take a few, of course.)
To help us get there, we are bombarded with tons of different ways to find clients. Too many for us to get into here. And it’s not the point. It doesn’t matter…
…because we also quickly find out that just finding leads and prospects doesn’t even mean it will lead to an immediate client, let alone an immediate sale.
In fact, a lot of leads and prospects are going to go nowhere fast…if at all.
Nope, we gotta woo them over time. So we figure out that we should create a database of people we know and meet. And we need to keep in touch with everybody in the database. And send them things. And do things for them. Until they do one of the following things…
– Eventually become a client
– Eventually buy or sell a house with us
– End up buying or selling with another agent
– Decide to never, ever buy or sell a house
– Or just plain die.
Or, in other words—until we are able to “funnel” as many people as possible, from being a lead → into a prospect → into a client → into a closed sale.
I mean, ideally, you’d meet people, they’d commit to working with you (and only you), and be so motivated that they buy or sell within the next, say…couple of hours.
But we know that’s not happening. We know it takes time and work.
A lot of wasted time and work.
You’re taught that quantity is key…
You’re told that it’s necessary to have tons of leads, listings, and buyers in your “funnel”. Told that if you do that, it will all work out. Sooner or later. Probably later.
What they don’t tell you, is that a heck of a lot of what you do won’t even lead to a closing, despite your hard work, good intentions, and attention.
But you figure it out.
Lots of your time and work are wasted; like the beer on the soggy rug when I funneled, and sprayed it everywhere at that party.
And you’re supposed to be OK with that.
BARELY GETTING BUZZED
There’s no one way to do things. There’s no “right” way. Just a whole bunch of ways.
So, where do you even start? What approach(es) do you try? What if the approach you choose doesn’t work? What if it doesn’t work quickly enough and it doesn’t lead to the overnight results you want and need?
It’s draining just thinking about doing everything it takes to find people to work with.
But it feels worse as you spend time with prospects, leads, and clients who go nowhere. They sap your energy, and your spirit, and taint how you feel about even the best clients you come across.
So, most agents never really get any good at steadily funneling leads into prospects, prospects into clients, and clients into closed sales.
A few do. And, of course, they become the top producers.
Instead, it’s like most agents are at the party, hanging around in the surrounding crowd. Nursing a drink or two. Barely getting buzzed. Watching the few who make their way to the center of the room to give funneling a whirl. Watching in awe at the even fewer who do it successfully.
Deep down inside, it’s not that you even really want to guzzle tons clients.
It isn’t that you’re too scared or overwhelmed to try. I mean, let’s be real…
You just don’t want to have to do that much in order to be a great agent, making a great living.
But, just being at the big old party that is real estate, it’s kinda hard not to feel like you should want to. Like you should be able to. Like you need to give it a whirl and figure it out.
You sorta stumble into either trying to compete and do tons of business, or just constantly feeling like you should be trying harder…
YOU ARE BEING JUDGED BY HOW MUCH BUSINESS YOU DO…OR DON’T DO
Nobody jammed that tube in my mouth, and forced me to try to swallow more beer than I probably should that first time I funneled.
And it’s not like anyone forces you to funnel, and strive to do tons of business in real estate.
But “they” kinda do…
The go-getters, the hustlers, and the top producers are good at funneling—they’re good at finding and getting lots of clients.
That doesn’t mean they are better at anything more than that. Doesn’t mean they are better agents than you, let alone the best agents. They are just good at doing things you may not be good at, don’t want to do, or don’t even want to learn to become good at.
But it does appear that they are the better real estate agents…or maybe even the “best”. And that poses a problem for you.
Because, like it or not, you are judged by how much business you do…or don’t do. You are judged by your peers, by the public, by clients, by your brokers, your managers, your friends, and even your family…
Not doing tons of business literally gets in the way of you even doing enough business, and making enough money, to survive as a real estate agent.
It’s ridiculous, but you’re judged on the misperception that quantity must mean quality.
And, on the flip side, you are judged on the misperception that a lack of quantity means you probably suck.
You find that you are surrounded by a mob of people all chanting “CHUG, CHUG, CHUG”, without ever saying a word…
So you are sorta forced to either figure out how to do tons of business, or just constantly feel like you should, or…
…what if you could flip this whole misperception in your favor?
DON’T DO SOMETHING STUPID
My son apparently snuck a peek at this piece as I was in the middle of writing it.
He went up to my wife and said, “Hey Mommy, what’s funneling beer?”
Without skipping a beat, she blurted out, “It’s something that stupid people do to get really, really drunk, really, really fast.” As if she’d expected this question to come up at some point in motherhood.
I had mixed feelings about her answer.
I mean, it was a good answer to give my son. But it also implied I was stupid, since I had funneled back in college.
However…I’m not stupid, so I just kept my mouth shut. No need to debate it. She wasn’t taking a jab at me. She was making a point. And proving my point would have been, well…pointless.
But, now it’s just you and me. So let me make my point…
When I first funneled back in college, it wasn’t because I wanted to “get really, really drunk, really, really fast”.
Like I said earlier, deep down, I did it because I wanted to fit in… To be cool… To attract girls…
And the way it looked to me, the guys who were at the parties funneling beer in the middle of the crowd were cool, popular, having a blast, and getting tons of attention.
At this point in my life, I know it sounds stupid. I don’t expect anyone to say, “Man, you were brilliant. Totally sensible plan to impress the ladies…” But I was young and figuring things out. It was just an immature attempt for me to get attention.
But it wasn’t that I was stupid, so much as funneling was a stupid thing to do, to get what I thought I wanted.
For what’s it’s worth, I ended up getting pretty good at funneling. I got soooo good at it.
One night, I funneled an entire jug of wine I stole from some dude passed out in a sombrero, in a Jersey shore hotel.
Doing that sort of stuff got me in with the crowd I envied. I became one of them.
But, deep down, I didn’t actually enjoy doing it. I didn’t even want to do it.
Funneling made me “cool” by some people’s definition, but it just wasn’t “me”.
IGNORE PEER PRESSURE
While being the life of the party led to my ultimate goal of meeting girls, the girls impressed by that sort of thing weren’t actually who I wanted to attract. And the relationships were never the best. They didn’t last and were a waste of time.
It turned out that the reality wasn’t even close to what I wanted and hoped for.
So, I quit funneling. And, of course, the crowd I hung out with gave me grief. You know, typical peer pressure. Like I was lame and a loser for not funneling.
I quit even hanging out with them. I ousted myself from the cool crowd. Did my own thing. Spent some “alone time”, as they say. I stopped chasing the attention. Didn’t try to impress anyone…not even the girls.
And I ended up meeting a girl so out of my league, so pretty, so smart and cool.
Literally the girl of my dreams. No…beyond my dreams. Beyond my reach.
And yet, she fell for me.
The same girl who would eventually tell my son that funneling is something stupid people do.
You know why she fell for me? Because I was the opposite of the guys I had tried to fit in with. She despised guys like that.
Good thing I questioned it. Good thing I stopped. Good thing I was true to myself. Or she never would have given me the time of day.
I wouldn’t have the wife I have. I wouldn’t have the life I have.
The point is…
…trying to be someone you’re not—trying to be someone you think others want you to be—can get in the way of ending up with the life you really want.
FOCUS ON QUALITY NOT QUANTITY
You’re not a bad agent if you don’t do as much business as people make you feel you should be doing.
You’re not “lazy” if you have no desire to cold-call, door-knock, network, market, and on and on.
And, you’re not less worthy of working with great clients or making a good living.
In fact, you might even be a better agent, more worthy of better clients, and an even better career, than top producing agents who funnel and do tons of business.
But it only changes for the better once you realize….
Not everyone is cut out to do tons of business.
Not everyone is cut out to do everything it takes to be a top producer.
(Pssst…It’s not even possible for everyone to be a top producer.)
And you need to know that. You need to feel that it’s OK. Because it sure feels like it’s what everyone wants and expects you to be….
At least it feels that way until you decide it’s OK.
Until you’re aware that there’s always gonna be a few (very few) agents at the center of the party grabbing the attention and the bulk of business.
Until you’re aware that there’s always gonna be a massive amount of agents who struggle and strive to become one of them, but never do.
Until you’re aware that that’s also where the opportunity is…
You don’t have to be either. You don’t have to be one of the few top producers in order to succeed and do really well. And you don’t have to be one of the many agents who struggle.
Everyone’s focusing on quantity. A few agents succeed. Most don’t.
Do the opposite…focus on quality.
That’s it. That’s how you beat top producers… And the rest of the crowd while you’re at it.
Focus on going after higher quality clients.
Look at it like drinking a couple of higher quality adult beverages from a nice bottle, as opposed to guzzling tons of cheap beer through a funnel and making a mess of yourself, the floor, and everyone around you.
FLIP THE FUNNEL UPSIDE DOWN
Half the battle is knowing this. The other half is changing your approach.
Because just knowing, feeling, and thinking this way won’t get you enough business to survive.
In order to pull it off, you will still need to find enough higher quality clients.
Let’s face it, lots of people are impressed by, and gravitate toward top producers. Maybe even expect it out of an agent. That logic is as stupid as thinking someone is cool for being able to funnel a jug of wine.
But the reality is, if you’re not a top producer you need to position yourself against them in order to compete…in order to make a good living.
You need to get them to come to you.
…because you aren’t like all of the noisy hustlers, go-getters, top producers and wannabes they seem to come across in this huge crowd of ours.
Even better yet…
…you can do it by simply flipping the funnel upside down.
You can carve out an awesome career flying under the radar working with fewer, higher quality clients.
And it’s actually easier to attract higher quality clients than it is to do tons of business.
Just don’t tell the top producers that…