According to Mr Tostevin, being successful in real estate means building a strong and diverse database as well as maintaining regular contact with those people.
“To get repeat business and get people making that contact with you, you need to make sure you get a certain number on your database, and from 500 you need to escalate that to 750, and from 750 to 1,000,” he says.
“When you hear databases of 6, 7, 8 or 9,000, or 10,000, that’s just comical, that’s just an embarrassment. You can’t have a database that big and be successful in real estate. Mine is about 3,000 and that’s hard enough to control – it’s hard enough to make the number of phone calls you need to keep in touch with people to make sure that when buying or selling, they think of you.”
Surround yourself with good people
Mr Tostevin attributes his success in part to the support team around him, with their youthful energy and willingness to learn.
“My legacy now is I want to guide those five young men that are 23 to 27 to become super operators, but I also want them to be nice people,” he says.
“I employ nice people who are easy to get along with and great individuals. I’m just determined for them to be unbelievably good at what they do, and they get to be fast-tracked and they get to hear what I do every day of my life. They get to hear how I present myself to prospective vendors, they also get to hear how I handle a mid-campaign meeting and a pre-auction meeting.”
Younger agents can often provide a good example for more their experienced colleagues, since they are less likely to have learnt or developed any bad habits that they cannot break.
“To be successful, you need to be willing to reprogram yourself. You need to be willing to make some changes,” Mr Tostevin says.
“It’s your willingness, your ability, and the time you set aside to keep in touch with a lot of people that will separate the mediocre operator from the exceptional operator.”
The discipline of prospecting
Real estate agents may not always enjoy making prospecting calls, but they’re an essential part of creating business, which means agents have to get comfortable with rejection and missed listings.
“John McGrath once said, ‘If you don’t miss some listings, you’re not chasing enough’. It’s true: you’ve got to miss some listings. We can’t impress every single person,” says Mr Tostevin.
“In terms of blocks of time, if you think prospecting is half an hour to an hour, you’re kidding yourself. Two hours is absolutely the minimum and 100 phone calls is the minimum.”
He says the real skill of prospecting comes from agents being able to offer something timely, personalised and valuable in each conversation they have with potential clients.
For more of James Tostevin’s secrets to success, check out the audio recordings below: