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We recently had the privilege of sitting down with the Managing Director and one of the top agents for Signature International Premier Properties to learn about his journey from computer software to real estate. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, David shares his thoughts about finding success, the importance of an effective CRM, and offers advice for novice real estate agents. David joined us virtually via Zoom, hence the virtual background of one of his recent listings.
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From Humble Beginnings
A career in real estate is not always planned – and this was true for David. In the early 2000s, he co-founded a software company in the retail point-of-sale space. After successfully operating the company for seven years, David was offered the chance to sell his company, with one major contingency – he had to sign a 5-year, non-compete agreement. This left a void in his future and prompted him to pursue a new opportunity – real estate.
David had experience working with real estate agents as a client in the past and admits he wasn’t always 100% satisfied with their work. He felt, however, that he possessed the skills necessary to succeed as an agent and therefore decided to obtain his real estate license.
After three years of working in the industry, a friend remarked how good he was at the job, which inspired him to pursue it more full-time.
“I realized when someone made a comment and said, ‘you’re really good at this,’ that I kind of felt like it might be my calling,” David said. “So even though I started out liking real estate, buying, and selling, now I absolutely love it.”
Today, David is consistently number one or two in sales out of the 1,450 agents at his brokerage house and is continuously recognized as a top agent in Southern Florida. He oversees approximately 100 transactions per year, focusing on the luxury real estate market.
Automating the Real Estate Industry to Improve Efficiency
Starting and operating his own software company gave David the entrepreneurial experience he needed to succeed in real estate. In addition, it provided him with insight into how he could improve his workflow as an agent.
As David managed his daily operations as a real estate agent, he noticed a large portion of his time was spent completing repetitive tasks. This revealed the need for automation – a strategy that would later prove immensely beneficial to David’s business model.
“What I found myself doing early on was a lot of repetitive tasks. For every transaction that came along, I found myself doing the same thing. My background in software made me realize the value of automation. If I could apply some automated techniques to my systems, it would make me more efficient and able to handle more clients and keep my business flowing so I could service my clients with their best interests in mind.”
The search for automation leads to Cloze
With this realization, David set a goal to find a customer relationship management (CRM) system that would consolidate all his data into one platform. He wanted to simplify his tasks as a real estate agent so that he could focus on the aspect of the industry that matters most: his clients.
“There were a lot of big software players out there. I did some demos. I Googled a bunch. I tried a bunch. Cloze had a free trial. I had an extensive database of contacts, emails, and everything else,” said David.
He admitted, however, that many of the platforms did not satisfy his needs. He wanted something that could take all aspects of his data – client information, contacts, property data, etc. – and condense it onto a single page. Following his experience in the software industry, he knew this was the key that would allow his business to grow. His ongoing search led him to Cloze, and he was amazed to find software that met his needs.
When I got the magic message that everything was finished, I started clicking through my contacts. I was literally mesmerized and blown away that [Cloze had] somehow automated and consolidated all of the important information that I needed in one place.”
Since finding Cloze, David has not turned back.
I’ve seen a lot of other software packages come and go. I’ve seen a lot of other people try to get into the market, and I just won’t let go of this. I think it is phenomenal. It has been an incredibly powerful tool for me,” he said.
Not only does the platform help David organize his book of business, but it also permits him to quickly analyze market data to present to his clients – a strategy that has set him apart from the competition. He focuses on presenting his clients with facts and avoids speculation; he wants to ensure they understand current market conditions so they can be realistic about their expectations.
“I am able to apply a lot of analytical decisions to my sales pitches. When I present myself to potential sellers in a listing appointment, they ask me two questions: What’s my property going to sell for? How long is it going to take?” said David. “I try to avoid any type of opinion in my discussions. I always base them on facts.”
Cloze has allowed him to organize and present the data to create a positive impression on his clients, winning him deals at the end of the day.
Using Cloze CRM to Better Serve Clients
Throughout his professional career, David has used technology to his advantage. From starting a software company to now using Cloze to manage his real estate business, he has relied on technological innovation to build his own success.
One feature that has aided David in developing his business is the daily agenda tool on Cloze, which was designed for agents to “live” on. The Agenda has everything an agent needs to know each day and prioritizes tasks by importance. As an individual who starts his day early, sometimes at 3:30 a.m., and one who is very task-driven, David can use Cloze’s daily Agenda to schedule his day and make every minute productive.
Tip: The Cloze Agenda is where you start your day and check periodically to stay on track and get things done.
Cloze automatically gives me my daily agenda. I scan through it every morning,” he reports. “It helps me plan out my day. I’m pretty busy, start to finish. I’ve got a lot of different tasks to complete, and the more efficient I can make my process, the more I will be able to accomplish.”
Overall, Cloze helps David improve his client communications and stay organized. For example, occasionally, a client reaches out to him eight months, or even two years, after closing and asks him for their closing statement. Since Cloze automatically organizes all communications and documents, he can simply open the client’s profile and find the necessary forms in a few clicks.
“I can immediately go to that contact in Cloze. I go to their files, and it is one of the most recent ones there. It is so easy to find.”
Tools For Clearer Communication
Cloze has also allowed David to guarantee clear communication with his clients. During their first meeting, David always asks his clients how they prefer to be contacted. However, he also explains how he relies on texting, noting that it’s incredibly efficient and just plain convenient.
Texting is one of the most efficient ways to communicate with people. [Cloze’s] recent integration of texting is phenomenal,” said David. “It’s a game-changer. Consolidating all of the information into one place is what [they] have done. It really, really works for me.”
Another feature that David relies on is the email tracking feature in Cloze. As email messages are sent, Cloze monitors which ones are opened. This ensures he can provide his clients with real-time, transparent data. For example, if he is negotiating an offer with another broker, he knows if a broker has opened an email. Not only does this help him stay relevant to his clients, but it also permits him to see if the other party is lying about opening a message (a common technique brokers use to buy time).
Additionally, this feature continuously monitors when an email is opened, which gives David leverage during negotiations. He admits that he recently had a deal fall through – the other agent reported the party was no longer interested. However, almost two weeks later, David noticed that the other agent had revisited their email communication. Now, David knew there was renewed interest in the deal. This prompted David to call the agent and close the deal.
“It was interesting how I knew they didn’t really go away. And it was amazing to me to use that as leverage to discover they still had interest.”
Tip: Cloze can tell you when someone opens an email you sent or clicks on any email link. Learn more about Cloze email open tracking.
David’s Top Advice for Novice Real Estate Agents
Challenges for New Agents: Marketing
Even with innovative technology, new real estate agents have a difficult road ahead of them. David recognizes the challenges new agents face when entering the market. In order to get a new listing, you need to have transaction history, making that first closing even more crucial.
However, in today’s world, marketing is the key to overcoming this challenge. New agents can market their brokerage house’s recent listings and closings, creating a brand for themselves within their marketplace.
“Make it appear that you’re involved somehow and convey that. Using consistent marketing is the most important piece,” said David.
In addition, he advises staying present with clients – this includes warm, cold, and hot leads! Marketing can help an agent do this.
“You don’t know when that buyer or seller is going to be ready to make a move, and if you’re not in front of their face at that moment … this tends to not be such a loyal business. They will pick the person that seems best at the time,” said David. “If you are constantly involved, whether it’s through social media, email, or some type of interaction, you’ll have the best shot of getting that person as a client.”
Approaches to Marketing
There are numerous ways to leverage marketing in your favor, but David attributes his success to a blended marketing technique. He uses social media, email marketing, and print. He sends weekly flyers to specific markets and runs targeted ads through Google or Facebook.
However, David also encourages agents to strategize their marketing plans and allocate their budgets appropriately.
It is essential to understand that the real estate industry is cyclical. For example, in his market, neighborhoods with more family-owned real estate tend to sell in the spring and summer so families can be settled when school starts. Getting to know how different areas perform and then sending targeted ads to those based on the season is the key to building revenue.
In the end, a methodical approach to marketing can make or break an agent’s business potential.
Make Real Estate Your Identity
As you can see, David has made being a real estate agent part of his identity.
He told us a story from a class he took years ago. The instructor was a professional broker, and he illustrated this in the most brutally creative fashion.
“Early on, I remember sitting in a class where the instructor said to everybody, ‘In ten minutes, I’m going to randomly walk around the room and pick up someone’s cell phone. I’m going to have you unlock it and go to the contacts. I’m going to scroll through the contacts and pick a random person to call and ask them if they know what you do for a living.’”
While the instructor didn’t subject anyone to this ordeal, it instilled in David’s mind how essential it is to let everyone know what you do because being a real estate agent is your living – your life.
“I’m a guy who’s out there always introducing myself; finding out what people do, how long they’ve been there; letting every single person I come in contact with know that I’m a real estate agent. Not just a real estate agent, but a real estate agent who can [help them] accomplish their goals if – and when – the time ever comes.
“Everybody should know what I do for a living. It’s that important. Because it’s my business,” said David.
Commissions: A Constant Challenge
Even with his years of experience and credentials, David still must navigate the sensitive issue of commissions. The industry rate is 6%, which David stands by today. However, he has received significant pushback from clients in recent years, especially in markets that include a discount brokerage house. Clients are constantly looking for the best deal, and, according to David, “The commission reduction conversation de-incentivizes a lot of agents from selling their property.”
Understanding and communicating your value as a real estate agent wins you 6%. And, in the end, it can benefit your clients. Practicing your pitch can help you win business at your deserved commission rate. If you are a novice, David recommends working with a seasoned agent.
“If the seller wants to cut your commission or there is a discount broker in the area and they are offering 5% commissions, the 1% commission that the seller thinks they are saving on a $1 million house is $10,000,” he explained. Remember, though, “people are going to be negotiating by a far bigger swing than $10,000, so what you need is a powerhouse agent on your side to not only make up for that money but to also incentivize and get it closed, accomplish your goals, and move on.”
For some sellers, David said, it’s about the game. They want to win and will nickel and dime you. Others, if they set clear goals and expectations, are happy and will move forward.
Keep in Touch with Past Clients
Working as a real estate agent can help you build lasting friendships. As clients and agents navigate the transaction process, they come to know each other well and build a relationship based on communication and trust. This should be the goal of all agents.
By making friends with clients, an agent can get in touch with them more easily down the road. They may not stay in touch, but they have built a foundation that permits the agent to contact the client, even months after no communication.
David encourages agents to use this for future potential.
“I track all of my previous sales, and I will round-robin automatically through that list. The interesting thing about our business and prior clients is that we become friends. Friends for life,” he said.
Whether it’s sending a letter or a quick text or picking up the phone and calling, David always ensures that he stays connected to his clients. When business is busy, Cloze reminds him automatically to get back in touch with his sphere of influence.
The automated reminders that pop up … It’s time to get in touch with so and so … That will spark a phone call or email to touch base with them,” he said.
David also noted that these calls aren’t about getting more sales but about seeing how clients are doing personally.
“It’s really nice to have that sphere of people to go back to. And then that cascades into additional recommendations and referrals,” he explained.
Many agents overlook follow-up contacts because they falsely assume that people don’t move very often. David noted, however, that the market in South Florida tells a different story. People tend to move around, and this presents agents with an opportunity for repeat business.
David shared the story of a client with whom he had recently closed. He initially sold this individual’s house four years ago, when he decided to leave his community in Boca Raton and move to South Florida. When the client decided to return, he used David as his agent again, thanks to the ongoing communication the two had maintained.
The Importance of a Human Approach
To David, getting to know people on a human level one of his favorite parts of this career. During his initial meetings, he never takes a contract with him.
When I go on listing appointments, I never bring a contract. It’s against the standard in the industry, but it has helped me gain confidence in my sellers.”
When he first meets with them, it’s just a simple meet and greet. He tells them information about the neighborhood and his ideas for selling the property. If they decide to move forward, he does everything else electronically.
Real estate sales are involved processes, and they offer a lot of opportunity at getting to know people. After all, you’re working so directly with your clients and talk with them so regularly, you become friends with them throughout the process. David enjoys making friends with his clients and doing so has the added effect of helping him with his business.
“Real estate is just like any other business. You have to create some type of unique value proposition for yourself over the thousands, ten-thousands or plus more agents in your area. Finding that unique value proposition is the most important piece to your business. Conveying that out to the world is the second most important piece.”
Have you tried Cloze?
Cloze is a smart CRM (customer relationship management) platform with a built-in AI personal assistant that gets rid of data entry and helps you close more business with your leads and your sphere of influence.