The most successful professionals I know are committed to life-long learning. By this I don’t mean they are attending classes at the community college or getting and MBA. Rather, they have a discipline of learning something new through their interactions with clients, their failures and successes, and from studying their industry. I’ve identified four essential areas of knowledge I believe are important for professionals to be gaining in knowledge and understanding so they have what it takes to provide great customer service and help their clients achieve their goals. Knowledge of Yourself – As professionals we must have a keen understanding of ourselves if we are going to achieve the highest levels of success. We must understand the behavioral aspects of our personality style; our personal communication style and how it affects our interaction with others; our learning style and in what settings we are able to absorb and retain the most information; and finally, we need to have an understanding of our strengths and weaknesses. Two resources that I recommend for helping you gain knowledge about yourself are DISC Profiling from TTI and Strengths Finder from Gallup Inc.
Knowledge of the Client – This type of knowledge is best gained through direct communication with the client and from questionnaires on needs, wants, and expectations. Taking the time to research industry articles on consumer trends is also great way to stay ahead of your competitors. In real estate there are many different types of clients from first time homebuyers to seasoned investors to commercial clients to farm and ranch clients. The ability to discuss the “basics” around many different types of transactions demonstrates your knowledge and value to a client. The best site for real estate agents to gather hard data on consumer trends is Realtor.org and for up to the second consumer research all professionals should be using Twitter. This relatively new social media service provides amazing research capabilities for professionals in the service industry, giving them information on customer satisfaction, expectations, and popularity trends.
Knowledge of the Market – Understanding the economic market consumers are operating in is a major strategic advantage for you in your business. Being able to articulate the specifics of the market and how it affects your clients’ buying and selling decisions will set you apart in any presentation. I encourage you to have a weekly discipline of reviewing the current market, emerging trends on pricing, marketing, and sales. Being armed with this knowledge will not just differentiate you, but help you provide better service to your clients resulting in them achieving their goals faster. The Kiplinger Letter is a good resource for national market trends in all industries. If you are Portland metropolitan agent, you can find market stats on my blog as well.
Knowledge of your Business – While this knowledge area could potentially seem overwhelming, I encourage you to focus on two key components: Your Numbers and Your Services. Sales professionals must know how many contacts it takes to generate a lead/referral, how many leads/referrals turn into appointments, how many appointments turn into signed contracts, and how many signed contracts actually turn into paychecks. Remembering all of this can make your head spin but if you start the year off by using these metrics you will quickly gain the knowledge you need to set weekly business generation disciplines that will lead to better use of your time and money.
Secondly, you must know your services and product better than anyone else. Too often we fail to know how the services we provide can positively impact the experience and outcome for our clients. We assume that our reputation, brand name, or smooth talking will win their allegiance. This is not true. Consumers want choices and they want to have explained the benefits of all the services you offer. If you cannot articulate everything that you bring to the table you leave the door open to your competition or someone from your own office. Take the time to learn all of your companies’ services and products that are offered to potential clients. Get training in any areas where you are weak in presenting or need more knowledge.
As you review each of these four areas of knowledge, I encourage you to write down 3-5 action steps you can take in the 30 days to gain more knowledge. Set goals with timelines for completion and share them with a peer or your manager; asking them to hold you accountable.
Question: What knowledge area do you need to work on the most in 2010 and what 3-5 steps will you take to grow in this area?
Make it a great day!