Master the Ground Game

There are basic tactical activities that agents MUST do consistently to run a successful business and earn a full commission.  In an ultra-competitive market, get back to mastering the basics!

This week I was asked to do a presentation on “Protecting Commissions” for a local brokerage. Management felt that agents have been discounting commissions at an alarming rate. The brokerage (loaded with great tools and resources) felt that agents were defaulting to giving away their commission as a strategy to attract listings in an undersupplied market.  I led off by saying, “In the absence of value, the conversation will always focus on commission.”

I explained how important it is to prospect daily to keep your pipeline full to protect you emotionally from the disproportionate amount of “No’s” we receive compared to the “Yes’s” we get. I also explained that a full pipeline positively affects your confidence. Agents are always hungry to hear about any new digital technology to fill their pipeline. However, a significant portion of agents are frustrated with technology. It appears to be a love-hate relationship.

All of this brought me back to what I call “the ground game”. There are some basic tactical activities that agents MUST do before they can look at investing time and money in more advanced strategies. It is important that agents not be dismissive of these basic activities as if they are beneath them.

Ego doesn’t pay the bills!

Let me give you some examples of what I think are the critical basic ground-game activities that every agent should be doing every week. Until you master these basics and do them consistently, you will continue to struggle with generating opportunities and earning full commissions.


Wear your name badge and career apparel.

If you can imagine this, not one person in my meeting this week was wearing their name badge. You’d think I was talking to a room of secret agents. Your name badge is worth at least one deal a year to you because strangers will strike up a conversation at Starbucks or at the grocery store simply because they realize you’re in real estate. It is a simple activity, but never walk out of the house without your name badge on and a pocket full of business cards.


Take your happy pills before you leave the house.

We are in sales. No-one will engage you unless you look approachable. We all have crap going on in our lives. If you let it, that crap will negatively affect the opportunity in front of you. You must put your crap in a box and leave it at home. I love the old cliché “90% of people don’t care about your problems and the other 10% are happy you have them.” Being in a good mood is a conscious choice. Choose to be happy and you’ll do more business.


You never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.

When I see how some agents dress today, I’m appalled. Many agents on my Zoom meetings look like they just rolled out of bed. Their hair is disheveled, their clothes look wrinkled, they have bad lighting and messy backgrounds. Based on their appearance, I would not trust these agents to sell my house. Don’t make your job tougher than it needs to be. Every time you leave the house, either physically or digitally, dress for success. Appearance matters (even when you are just running errands).


Get back to the tried-and-true basics.

Houses are selling so quickly these days that many agents are not doing the basics when it comes to marketing (open houses, circle prospecting, just listed/sold cards, etc.). You can’t maximize the seller’s profit if you don’t do all of these things to generate maximum interest. Bring your A game to every listing (even if you think it will sell in minutes). You can’t honestly earn a full commission and feel good about it if you don’t deliver full service.


Build a case for value to defend your commission.

Consumers have many choices when it comes to selling their house. They can choose an iBuyer, a discount broker, a limited-service broker, a menu-of-service broker, or a full-service broker. Let me say it again “In the absence of value, the conversation will focus on commission.” To build a case for a higher fee, you must deliver a higher service. You can’t expect sellers to choose you and feel good about paying full fees unless you deliver a better service than the competition. You either do more or charge less.

The greatest challenge most agents face isn’t the competition, it’s themselves. I am shocked at how little some agents are doing for prospecting, marketing and servicing clients. No wonder they are resorting to cutting commissions to compete! But here in lies the rub: if you reduce your fees, you won’t have enough REVENUE to be able to invest in your business to deliver an exceptional service, and you won’t have enough TIME to invest in great customer service because you have to work with more clients to earn the same income.

What’s the answer? Be exceptional at what you do. Hone your craft every day. Always look for how you can improve your service, so clients WANT to hire you and they are willing to pay more. That is how a successful, profitable, long-term business is made.

You can’t focus on the long game until you master the ground game.

If you want to learn more about how to improve your skill set in 2021, check out

Chris Leader
Leader’s Edge Training

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