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The other day I was meeting with a group of new agents. They had lots of questions, as new agents always do. Some asked what is the best way to get buyers. Others asked how to get listings. Another group wanted to know what one thing they should do to get started quickly. The summary of all their questions was this: what is the secret to success? Most of them didn’t like what ultimately was the answer: set up your database, then find what works for you and do a lot of it.

There are many ways to generate business. Some agents thrive on FSBO’s, others expireds. There is geographic farming, open houses, contacting your sphere of influence, direct mail, local circulars; you can work with estate attorneys, builders, investment groups, and of course there is the Internet. With the Internet an agent can spend a lot of money developing an awesome website, or pay for leads to services that will place you high on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. rankings… or pay Trulia and Zillow. There may be something that works really well in your area that doesn’t in another. Ask a group of high-producing agents what they do and you will hear all sorts of ideas that work. And you will also consistently hear about one thing: the Database or Customer Relationship Manager (CRM).

When I started selling real estate in 1986, I had a simple system that consisted of manila folders numbered 1-31 and another 12 folders set aside for each month of the year. In my system I moved the contacts’ name from today’s folder to whatever day’s folder I wanted to contact them again. Now we have computer programs that will do that for me and a whole lot more. I’m not as concerned about what program an agent uses, rather that they use one. I have not met an agent doing 20 or more transactions a year that does not use a database. It is almost impossible to do a large amount of business, consistently, without one.  I have a CRM that I use every day.  As a manager, I find I need it more than ever before.

The other thing these successful agents will tell you is that they didn’t try to master all marketing techniques. Rather they found the one or two that they felt comfortable doing, and did it a lot. Personally, I was never good and calling expireds for a few hours a day. It was not me. I discovered what worked for me; face-to-face was where I got my best results. I could knock doors, or do open houses and generate new clients very consistently. This was what I was comfortable doing, and I was good at it right away.

If there is a secret to this business, it is the answer I gave early on. Use a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) program, and find the marketing plan that fits your personality and your skill set. Keep it simple and work.

Ron Bentley is the Regional Designated Broker with Equity California Real Estate.

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