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One of the benefits that the Top 5 in Real Estate Network® offers its members is the opportunity to participate in monthly ‘This Way to the Top’ webinars. Each month we focus on a single topic of interest, which is also reflected in our coaching programs, our community interchanges and in the member content, strategies and systems that are shared with Top 5 members. The goal is to assist our members in becoming even more proficient in each area of focus.

My recent association with the elite agents who are members of Top 5 has brought additional clarity regarding the topic of success in real estate. These exceptional performers have common traits, business philosophies and work habits that have not only helped them get to the top, but stay there.

In a recent Top 5 survey, I asked members, including our Top 5 Advisory Council, about their strategy for success in 2013. Here are some of the most mentioned areas of focus:

1. Contact Relationship Management – The most important technology you own is your client relationship management system. A CRM that is set up correctly, managed daily and used as a power tool will generate more profitable business than any other source of prospecting. Your CRM must be real estate-specific, manage people and properties, include action plans and be able to work on any device.

2. Lead Generation, Management and Conversion – While most brokers want more leads, we have learned from experience that with proper lead tracking and a focus on conversion, most brokers already have plenty of leads to hit their goals. Things that should be tracked include source, first and second touch, potential transaction value, who the lead was assigned to, notes and conversion-to-client ratios. By tracking these and other key criteria, you have clarity as to what is working and who is working. Once you have this data, you can make adjustments.

3. Business and Life Planning – Building a strategic plan that covers all areas of your business with action plans and critical due dates on key activities will produce real, measurable results. Write down your income goals and break down the tasks into the smallest details, then spend time every day completing each task in the priority you have identified.

4. High-tech Tools that Make a Real Difference – Power tools matter. Unfortunately, choosing the right tools can be all-consuming. When looking at technology, ask yourself: Will it save me time? Will it make me money? If the app, tool, system or device won’t accomplish at least one of these two criteria, it rarely gets a second look. Arm yourself with tools that are proven and stop being distracted by shiny objects. By the way, incorporating mobile solutions as part of your technology strategy in 2013 is critical.

5. Social Conversion – The right social strategy moves the client efficiently through the proper communication exchange to a point where it becomes appropriate to have a real estate-related conversation. That’s how you convert “friends” into “clients.”

6. Geo-targeted Farming and Marketing – With the data available today, you can find the areas that are producing results and target those as geographic farms. This targeted marketing mix includes mail, email, door knocking, community involvement and giving back. A very large percentage of Top 5 members maintain that their unfair competitive advantage is their farm and the foothold they have in specific geographical areas.

7. Sales Training – Being exceptional salespeople means you are trained to effectively communicate, market and close transactions in a way that is not offensive to your clients. You are in sales, and sales training is critical for the next level of performance and higher customer satisfaction.

8. Short Sales and REOs – Being experts in the “not-so-fun” areas of this business allows you to provide a higher level of service to your clients. Know the market, the players and the processes, and then partner with the right people to allow you to provide the best service.

9. Time and Life Management and Balance – The key to “having it all” is to learn the power of prioritization and execution. Some things are more important than others, but the squeakiest wheel—not the most important one—usually gets the grease. Simple, prioritized to-do lists, following your business plan and identifying your “big rocks” first will bring a higher level of fulfillment.

10. Web Strategy – You must have an integrated strategy that brings all of your media together to create a better experience for your consumers. Combining social, video, IDX, lead generation and landing and squeeze pages are all part of a Web strategy that should be well-thought-out, managed and executed this year.

11. The Power of Video – Video for listings, personal promotion, marketing and blogs will become more important this year than ever before. A high-quality video strategy will help you differentiate yourself and provide new opportunities for growth.

12. Global and Luxury Real Estate – Great opportunities to work with buyers are coming from outside the country today. The high-dollar and international buyers and sellers have specific needs, culture and demand an exceptional experience. Building an international and/or luxury side of your business will provide a serious boost to your income, visibility and credibility in your market.

13. Leveraging Yourself Through People – Most top agents believe that nobody can do it as well as they themselves can; but they also realize a great assistant can often do things more efficiently. Ask yourself one simple question with each activity that takes you away from your family: Should I be doing this myself? If the answer is no, create a system or outsource that activity to an assistant. And remember, 70 percent of our daily activities typically do not include our two most important tasks: prospecting and presenting.

As you consider your own keys to building a killer business in 2013, I hope the above suggestions from some of the top agents in the country will be helpful. There’s no reason why it can’t be our best year ever!

Verl Workman is a speaker, coach, business consultant and president of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®.

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