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James Houghtaling

When was your first job in real estate?

I first began working in the real estate industry as a licensed sales agent in June of 1992 in Indian Rocks Beach, FL.

Why did you want to be in real estate?

I thought the income potential was incredible and the idea of running my own business was very appealing to me as well!

What prompted you to move into coaching?

As I did well in my first few years of selling (45 closings my first year) I was asked to speak at my company, board rallies, etc. and realized that I enjoyed the teaching/coaching/training/speaking elements even more than I did being out in the field with sellers and buyers. A friend of mine and I started doing larger events and then began our own company traveling to do seminars and sell our coaching program—that partnership officially began in June of 1997.

What do you see as your "value proposition" for a potential client?

I’m not a big fan of this ‘value proposition’ phrase, but I would say that what I offer to an agent who is committed to growing their business is three-fold: motivation, skills training, and systems development. I can help any agent evaluate where they are, where they would like to be, WHY they want to be there, a plan to make that happen, and then provide all of the needed guidance, knowledge, and tools necessary to help them make it happen. I just can’t do it for them or want it more badly than they do!

What is the biggest challenge most agents face?

I’m not sure if there a singular challenge that most agents face—there are really a number of them that I see most often. One-a real lack of clarity on what they want and a vision for their life and business. If you aim at nothing, you’re guaranteed to hit it. Secondly, I see the fact that it has become harder and harder to get people on the phones in the last 3-5 years especially so the need for accurate contact information and an ability to get people to actually answer and respond is a major challenge all agents are facing. Third, but definitely, not least is the challenge of being persistent enough and committed enough in the face of discouragement, failed expectations, and the increasing lack of loyalty that we see from the public at large. There are a lot of things that come up and challenge an agent in their quest to hit their goals and they just have to persevere through them all!

Many people have a natural fear of prospecting and rejection. How do you get your agent/client over such a fear?

I have a number of ways that I try to tackle this issue. One is to help them identify a goal that they want badly enough that they
are willing to do things that are uncomfortable to them to reach it. Secondly, I try to help them see that the person is not really
rejecting them personally, they’re just rejecting the service that they are offering at the moment because they don’t have a need to
sell or buy property.

How do you coach your clients on time management strategies and especially dealing with procrastination?

Time i$ money! By helping them see the value of their time I try to get them excited about maximizing every available moment of it. I have a daily ‘time in motion’ tracker that helps them analyze the gap between their ideal schedule and the reality of how
they spend their time—and the we work to eliminate waste, improve efficiency, and learn to delegate when possible. Procrastination is just like entering into a negative amortization loan … the payoff just keeps getting further and further away!

How do you coach your clients on maintaining a healthy work/life balance?

That is always a tough issue to crack. I DO tell them they have to have at LEAST one day a week off (or 2 half days) just from a burnout avoidance standpoint. Obviously, a client who is single and/or has no children can put in more hours a week and ‘get
away with it’ than a client who has a family. Have a huge income and/or a lot of success but terrible relationships with their spouse and kids has not really won anything. Scheduling and pre-planning time and days off/away from the business are
definitely a must and a key to really enjoying their lives!

Are great sellers made or born? Explain.

I’m assuming that by ‘sellers’ you mean ‘salespeople’, not home owners looking to sell their property?! Going with that assumption—I think great sales skills are both inherent ~and~ learned. Having a personality style that is more people-oriented definitely helps but isn’t absolutely necessary. Selling is about asking questions to identify a genuine need that someone has for the product/service that you have and then demonstrating how you and your service/product WILL meet that need. Communication ability is a key part of this process—things like tonality, ability to listen, etc. and some of these things come naturally to some people, but knowing the specific questions to ask and the way to ask them is definitely a learned skill. I have seen plenty of agents who weren’t ‘born’ with strong, outgoing personalities learn the skills and become great salespeople. Also, there are lots of agents who have ‘natural talent’ and yet don’t bother to put in the effort to learn the keys to selling … and are mediocre.

Do you use an accountability coach? Why or why not?

Truthfully, I have in the past, but I have found that my best ‘accountability coach’ is my beloved wife. I can’t imagine that my accountability to anyone else would be of higher importance to me than being accountable to her. She helps me tremendously
with my business and is really all I could want in a coach—supportive, creative, brilliant, and doesn’t take any BS!

Espresso Agent > James Houghtaling

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