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Twenty speaking events in the last 45 days has created not only a lot of SkyMiles, but has given me the opportunity to have at least twenty real estate-related conversations while flying between events. As I began this series of events, I decided that I would do my best to get a feel for how the general public is feeling about the real estate industry—and about REALTORS®, specifically.

Some conversations lasted only five minutes, others 45 or more, but the overwhelming consensus was that people don’t feel they need a REALTOR®. To take it to the next level, most feel that the only reason they needed an agent in the past was because of the MLS. One professional woman from Virginia who owned at least four high-end homes stated that she felt she was a much better negotiator than any agent that had ever represented her. Another man who recently had his 4-plex expire stated that he was not sure it was still on the market because he had not heard from his agent in five months. A retired couple, who shared the same row with me, stated they just wished they could get someone to be honest with them, and felt the agents who they interviewed were more interested in the commission than actually helping them move.

While every interaction did not signify doomsday for REALTORS®, the vast majority were eye-opening. As a REALTOR®, I defended the industry with passion and enthusiasm. As President of RISMedia’s Top 5 in Real Estate Network, I took the time to describe our network of top agents and told them next time to seek out the exceptional. As I wrap up this road trip, I am convinced that as an industry, we must take the level of our professionalism to a much higher level—and we have to communicate to the world that we are professional, valuable, and focused on doing the right things all the time.

I have made it my personal mission to bring a new higher level of professionalism to this industry and scream from the rooftops that not all agents are the same! We have a short period of time to ‘step it up’ or I believe the consumer is going to demand significant changes in our profession. The responsibility for earning back our reputation as professionals falls on brokers and agents. We can begin to fulfill this responsibility by doing the following:

• Adhere to our code of ethics. There can’t be any grey areas. Do the right thing every time, regardless of how it may or may not affect your commissions.

• Become students of real estate. We must be true experts in our communities and in the types of property we list and sell. The attitude of “fake it ‘til you make it” is what got us here.

• Deliver more than the client expects. Exceed their minimum level of expectation. They think most agents are weak because too many don’t take their professions seriously. Over-deliver by providing better service, knowledge and expert representation.

• Communicate. One of the most consistent complaints I hear is that agents do not communicate. This blows my mind! With text messaging, emails, smart phones, Skype, snail mail and many other automated ways to communication, there is NO excuse for not exceeding this minimum expectation! Stop shopping for and buying technology for the sake of owning technology and start using your tools to communicate more effectively and efficiently.

• Learn how to sell. Ok, I said it! We are sales people. No matter how you try and spin it, we are in sales. We sell ourselves, we sell homes, we resolves concerns, and we offer solutions to our clients’ needs. As I interview the audiences at my events, I ask, “How many of you are in sales?” and the answer is eye-opening. Less than 25 percen of the agents I survey believe they are in sales. Let’s step up and own the fact that we are professional sales people! We get hired to sell our clients’ properties—or on the buyer’s side, we get hired to find the right home and negotiate a fair deal for our buyers. Stand up as agents, brokers and brands and be counted as sales people; be proud of the service we provide and raise the bar.

I love this business. I love being able to share sales strategies, technology solutions and most of all, I love interacting with the elite agents who are members of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network. They give me hope, inspiration and motivation to be a better agent, leader and sales person.

The ball is now in your court. What’s your next move?