Agent Essentials

Shop Talk - The Real Estate Agent Podcast

Real Estate Agent Podcast Episode 60: Bill Kurzeja

Episode 60: Bill Kurzeja
January 27, 2021

Bill uses what he learned from the military and various sales positions to instill confidence for agents who want to create their own luck.

They fail to realize that they created that luck. There isn’t such a thing as just getting lucky, you have to get up and keep grinding.

Bill Kurzeja

About This Episode

Bill is the Owner and Founder of Professional Success South, where he helps teach salespeople how to better do their jobs. Though real estate isn’t often thought of as a sales job, sales is a huge part of what every agent does, and being equipped with the right skills to excel at sales can help you grow your business to greater heights.

Find out more about Bill and Professional Success South at

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Episode Transcript

JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I’m Jon Forisha, and joining me on this episode is Bill Kurzeja, Owner and Founder of Professional Success South, a professional sales training firm devoted to helping you increase your confidence.

JON: Bill, thank you for joining me. Thank you so much for having me. So let's just start with your background.

BILL: Yeah. So really, I go back to my high school days. I was a very, as we would call it now an introvert, so shy and a little timid. I have my core group of friends and no problem outside of the classroom or any, you know, anywhere where there weren't adults, I guess, in a sense, but when it came to classroom experience and so on and so forth, I just wanted to get through it. That transitioned into what going into college. I attended Penn state for a little while, and then I just wasn't ready to keep going through school, right. That whole process of school. So, I transitioned to tech school. I loved working with my hands. And then from there I went into the military and this is where I really learned how to communicate, how to, to be clear and defined as well as how to listen and follow. Uh you know, we tend to watch a lot of military movies and think that it's all about command and you just follow the orders, but there's a lot of back and forth up the chain of command, as well as down the chain of command. And really what the military did for me is teach me how to use my voice, how to be confident in how I do it and how to help people grow and use theirs as well.

BILL: So after eight years in the military, I transitioned into the retail world and automotive sales specifically, and it was an eye opener for me, really a different world that kind of shoots from the hip. I know that your listeners, your audience is primarily of the real estate and sales industry. And, you know, there's a lot of similarities between automotive sales and real estate when it comes to people trying it, okay, there, there really isn't, you know, you don't go to college and get a degree in real estate, nor do you go to college and get a degree in automotive sales. So there's a lot of similarities there. I picked up pretty quickly cause I applied process and discipline and moved up the ranks from the civilian sector, I was promoted rather quickly, finance sales manager, eventually general sales manager of running the whole store and did this throughout the country. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about it was really teaching and empowering the people starting out in the business and helping them grow. And that's what led me a little bit over five years ago to transition into owning my own company and, and doing what I do now. And that is consulting and teaching and training individuals and organizations with a focus on communication, not only communication with consumers, but also internal communication within the organization. And how do we build better processes?

JON: Wow. That's very cool. That's very cool. I think that what you said about automotive sales being similar to real estate, I think you're right. I mean, a lot of people do just kind of dabble in it and think they can do it part time. Maybe. I actually had an episode of the podcast a few months back all about veterans and real estate. Oh yeah. How do you think, I mean, you said that your military background helped you maybe come out of your shell a little bit, but how else do you think it helped with sales?

BILL: Well, really the discipline of it. So what people don't tell you about sales is not everyone buys, you know, you see a TV show, especially in real estate, these million-million dollar listings and all these big players that have their shows and you think that every person they speak to is in the market and they ended up purchasing, well, it doesn't work that way. Right? It's a lot of, you know, digging in the trenches. I call it, it's a lot of cold calling, emailing phone calls, door to door businesses, shaking hands, and really developing a process that works, but also sticking with that process. And that's where the struggle comes into place, right? Because we're, we live in a society where we want that instant gratification and I get it and I do as well. But what, what I've learned over the years is that in order to create that instant gratification, there's a lot of process and discipline in front of that. Right?

BILL: So, you know, one of the things that I hear people say a lot, Oh, I got lucky, right? They had a good month or they had a good six months or in real estate, you had a great year. I got lucky. They failed to realize that they created that luck right there. Isn't such a thing as just getting lucky, you have to get up and keep grinding. So if you look at, if, if an agent had a great six months, let's talk about the six months, 12 months prior to that, what were you doing? How were you doing it? And that's what led to those successful six months. How do we replicate that? How do we stay in that? So really that's the key. And that's what the military taught me coming out. The gate was, it's all about the process and the discipline in it.

JON: Yeah. Yeah. It's something my CEO says all the time is that, you know, financial success is a lagging indicator. You know, when you do everything else, right. Then you'll see the financial success. So totally agree. So as far as routines for salespeople, for real estate agents what kinds of routines do you recommend people start?

BILL: Well, just simply. And I just think people in general, the first thing I always start my day with is exercise. Okay. And the reason why I talk about that when it comes to all the other processes in our life, is it helps get your mind straight, gets you focused. It helps you bring, bring that clarity, but it's also something that's a very difficult task. It's something we do not want to do. There Aren't many people that wake up and go, I want to exercise. No, we want to roll over and go back to sleep. Well, if you can complete this task in the morning, whether it's exercise for 30 minutes or whatever it is, you are setting yourself up for success the rest of the day. So then you get into making your phone calls, sending your emails, all the different things that you need to do to make contacts, right.

BILL: To load the funnel. As we say, in sales, you need that sales funnel full and you need that repetition of follow-up in there. Okay. So if you're making video content, if you're posting on social media, so designing a timed timeframe to complete these things. So my first hour is making phone calls. Then my next hour is sending emails. Then I go into my video and social media content. Then I go back to my phone calls, right? And then if you do this for an eight hour day consistently over the course of time, you're going to build those appointments. You're going to build those sales based upon that discipline. So really that's, that's a typical schedule and it's, it's writing that out and putting it into paper that really helps people see it and then work within it.

JON: Absolutely. Having it written down and staying accountable. That's huge. So what kind of advice would you offer to somebody who is getting into a sales oriented job and is just feeling very shy and very nervous about, you know, actually cold calling.

BILL: You want to practice it. Okay. So most people enjoy sports or play a musical instrument or, you know, paint. Their, everybody has something that they enjoy doing. They're passionate about it, right? If we take that same mentality and apply what we do for a living. In this instance, it's sales and phone calls and emails and stuff and so forth, then what are we going to do? We're just going to elevate our game, right? So come up, there's plenty of scripts out there that give you a baseline. I'm not someone that says you want to follow a script word for word, but it definitely starts the process mentally of what to say and how to say it. Now, give it your own personality and then practice it. We all carry around a digital device that has a built in recording system. So practice on that, right? So if you're too shy to speak to somebody at a certain point, speak to your phone, make a video, you don't have to send it to anyone and play for yourself. And the more you do that, the more comfortable you're going to get with saying it. And then the phone call is second nature. You're just saying it, you're reacting to it. Then it's just a flow that you get into. So the more time you spend practicing the better the results will be. Yeah.

JON: Yeah. That's great advice. What would you say is the difference between selling yourself and selling a product?

BILL: Selling a product it's easy to see the value in the product, right? So in real estate, does it have what the square footage is, does it have a beautiful kitchen, upgraded appliances, you know, different things along those lines. So that value there is with the product and there, and people are going to see that and feel it and touch it and understand it right away. When it comes to selling yourself, you have to be able to, to create an environment of safety is what I call it. Right? So I teach middle and high school students how to build confidence and communication. And the one thing that we start off with always is what percentage of communication is body language? And what percentage of communication is your words? Right? And a lot of people are shocked at what the number is and it's 93% body language.

JON: Oh, wow.

BILL: Okay. So what does that say to you? It says that we're selling ourselves before we ever even get to say anything. Now, obviously if it's over the phone or through an email or something, that's a little bit different, but when you're meeting people face to face, they're there. I don't want to, I don't like using the word judge, but they're, they're getting a feeling and we're getting a feeling about them through our eyes and through their actions, how they're standing, you know, are they making eye contact different things along those lines. So practice again, back to practice, fix your posture, sit up straight, stand up, straight, stand tall, look out and up instead of in and down, right? Because when you stand tall and you're looking out and up, it presents yourself with a feeling of confidence, right. That the other person or people feel, and confidence is important when you are a sales consultant, because the consumer, in order for them to make a purchasing decision, they have to have confidence in you. Right. Cause you're, you're giving them the information. They have to believe the information they have to trust the information. And that gives them the ability to make a decision, a purchasing decision. So, yeah. So that's definitely where, where to start with yourself over the product.

JON: Yeah, for sure. I mean, so many sort of cliched lines come to mind, like dress for the job you want. Yeah. So getting more into communication. I mean, what part would you say that communication plays in sales?

BILL: It's the biggest part of the whole process. So your word is everything you have as a salesperson. Okay. The product does its work. It's created the consumer to come to you right now. You are the one that takes it over the line, right? So, so having that confidence and that ability to do that is extremely important. You have to build, like I said, that safety that a customer can make the purchasing decision. A lot of people get caught up in sales thinking. I have to sell someone well, to be perfectly honest with you, we're not selling someone, something, we are earning their business, right. We are helping them make a purchasing decision because in real estate, if, if, if a consumer is in the market and they contact you and you build the list and so on and so forth of homes that they want to go see, and you set up a couple appointments to go see them, and this is your first chance of meeting face to face.

BILL: The product brought them there. So they already know they like the houses and so on and so forth. Right. You need to be the deciding factor. Right? So now they're making a decision of, are, am I going to purchase from this person or with this person and very easily, it can go one of two ways and that person's still going to purchase, but they're not going to purchase with you. Right. So how do you, how do you make sure that you're the one and that is by always communicating on time. If you say you're going to do something, I'm going to send you an email in an hour, make sure you send it in like 45 minutes. Right. don't forget to follow up with someone or do something that they requested you to do. These are the little things that get lost in the shuffle and we fail to do them sometimes.

JON: And to us, Oh, it's no big deal. I'll get you to the email in an hour or so. Right after the fact. Well, you're just planting those seeds of doubt in that consumer of why should I do business with this person? Okay. You always want to oversee that expectation. I have four children and we've been at Disney family for many years and I actually went through their program, their school, their university, and a lot of what they teach is to, you know, what you tell them in an over exceed that. So when you go to a line at Disney world, and it says 60 minutes, right. In actuality, it's, it's 45. Okay. It's less because what they want, they want that you to get to the, to the front of the ride and get about to get on and go, man, that was the fastest 60 minutes I've ever felt. Right. That's how you, that's exact, that's what works. Right. And that's what keeps bringing people back for more so over exceed the expectation.

JON: Wow. That's really clever. Yeah. Under promise over deliver.

BILL: Yeah. I have another cliche statement.

JON: Yeah, exactly. There's, there's a reason all of these are so often repeated. Absolutely.

JON: After the break, Bill talks about why training for a triathlon is a lot like mastering your sales technique.

JON: You’re listening to Bill’s advice, and you’re feeling great. His advice for building confidence is totally clicking with you, but you don’t yet have a role in which to use it. Might I suggest real estate? Whether you’re just considering becoming a licensed agent or have been in the business for decades, The CE Shop has what you need to grow in your career. With mobile-friendly courses that are entirely online, you can learn when and where it’s most convenient for you. Use promo code SHOPTALK to save 25% on your online education.

JON: So given, you know, the last few months with COVID-19 and all the weirdness as a result of it how would you say communication has been affected?

BILL: Well, it's changed the communication as far as what we're comfortable with. Right? So a lot of people struggle with the video. Part of it, meaning the zoom calls and different methods of talking with our, our potential clients or current clients. So, you have to work to get better at it. And how do we get better at something? It's just keep practicing it. I don't care if you have to go in a different room in the house and zoom call your spouse just, just do it right. If you can get comfortable. And, and I tell salespeople this all the time with your pitch, with whatever it is that you're, you're, you're offering practice with people that you see every day. Because if you can be comfortable doing something with someone you're seeing all the time, it's so much easier to do it with someone you may never see again.

BILL: Right? So with the tech, with COVID and the current situation, you want to practice all things more often, right? So you can build that confidence in them and then, you know, be, be open and honest with your consumers. You know what? This is new to me. I just started this. They're going to appreciate your honesty more than if you mess it up and then you don't open up about it. Right. So, you know, we purchase and we do business with people that we trust and we trust people that have flaws because we have flaws. So remember that and always be open to share certain things and, and bring the customer and the potential client into your circle and it'll turn into relationships. And that's how we end up earning people's business.

JON: Yeah. I like that. I like that advice a lot. That is just, just having the sort of confidence and self-assurance to be able to tell somebody that you're new to this. I mean, that really does break down a lot of those barriers.

BILL: Absolutely. I mean, people understand.

JON: Yeah, definitely. So sort of along those lines with confidence, I mean, do you think confidence can be taught or is it just innate?

BILL: No. Confidence definitely, definitely can be taught because at some point in our life, no matter what it was, we were not confident in something right. That we are confident in now I've mentioned parenting, right? So I have four kids. My oldest is 24. So the first time I stepped to the plate with the newborn baby, I was, I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't have confidence as a parent, but at this point I know what I can and can't get away with, with different avenues. And that's why sometimes they always say like the child further down the youngest in a family, have they earned or get different treatment than the first born. Right. And that's just because we're trying to figure it out in the first birth and you have a lot more confidence than the end. So, you know, yes, it definitely can be taught, learned, improved upon that.

BILL: You know, we're always learning. I was listening to a lot of audible books and I was listening to the way it was put about education. You know, if you're, if you're trying to get an a, in a class that has an end to it. Right. So, Oh, I got the, a great now what, what if you're trying, if you're, if you're trying to learn something and understand it, that never ends, you're always learning right. There is no end in sight. You don't hit the plateau. So that's the same with confidence, right? So at some point we're a little bit more confident and it just keeps growing. And that's why I always use and refer to practicing anything that you do, because the more you practice at something, the better you're going to get at it. And we just don't talk about that when it comes to what we do for a living or different things, we talk about it with sports or with music and different talents like that, but we just don't apply it to what we do for a living. And it's, it's quite interesting to me that, that we don't see that, that relationship there. Yeah.

JON: Yeah, totally agree. I think a lot of people get into real estate and then the sales aspects of it almost take them by surprise for they're like, Oh, well, I didn't really want to be a salesperson. And I mean, that is what you are as a real estate agent. So yeah. So for, for those managing others or building out their own team, how can they instill confidence in everyone they work with?

BILL: Practicing it, right? So, yeah. So don't just talk about it, show them, okay. If you are the leader of a team, then, then you're there for a reason for a purpose, right? What's the best way that someone can learn how to make their first cold call, seeing someone else that's been doing it a while, do it right in front of them. Right. And over and over and over again. So really leadership is about showing and not about telling, okay, so, you know, you have the two terms, you have a boss and you have a leader, you know, to me, a boss is someone that stands over and tells people what to do. And a leader is someone that leads from within and that's by showing them what to do. So if you really want to build confidence in your team, you know, make it a routine, whether it's daily, weekly, however, the scheduling allows that everyone kind of gets together.

BILL: And we, we work on this, what we're doing, how do we present a house right now? Like you said, with COVID, if I was leading a team of sales people in the real estate industry, I would be practicing zoom calls. I would be practicing virtual walkthroughs. Right. Because we have a lot of that going on. What type of equipment are you using? How are you using it? Try it this way. It'll present the room in a different light, you know, all these different things, showing them how to do it and not just telling them to do it is very important.

JON: Definitely. Yeah. Okay. Well, let's shift a little bit to another thing that's just pivotal and sales, which is staying positive and motivated. How do you do it? I mean, you said at the beginning that some people seem to think, you know, every sales opportunity is an opportunity for more money and that's just not the case. A lot of them, they ended up not choosing you or not choosing your products. How do you stay positive?

BILL: So I call it "embrace the no." All right. So in every sales industry, there is a percentage of failure, right? So there's a percentage of people that we're not going to earn their business. They're not going to purchase so on and so forth. Well, what happens when there's a percentage of failure, that means there's a percentage of success. Okay. So that means that the more failure, if we know, say it's 20% success rate, that means 80% of the people say no. Well, the more I can build up that 80% number, get closer to that. The closer we are to a sale, right? So if it's 80%, that means you're going on 10 phone calls, you're going to get eight nos and two yeses. Well, guess what? Every time I get a no, I check that off. And one step closer to a yes. All right. So if you look, if you understand that no is part of the equation, then it's easier to recover from it. The problem is, is that a lot of times, especially social media has done this to us and, you know, TV, so on and so forth. It's created this idea that everyone is successful. It's very easy to do, and it's not, it takes work. It takes effort and understanding and embracing that part of it is so much more important than embracing the success of it. Right.

JON: Definitely. Yeah. Treating it like a numbers game and not taking it personally. I mean, easier said than done. I'm sure. But absolutely the one sheet that was sent over when we booked this interview, it said you recently started training for a triathlon, even though you only recently learned to swim. Is that right?

BILL: Yes, absolutely. I'm currently 46 years old and two years ago is when, when I started the journey with triathlon and, you know, I was, I was approaching my, I was 44 approaching a birthday. And I said to myself, I wanted to get healthier. I wanted to be around as my kids are getting older. I want to be in great shape for my grandkids. So on and so forth, I needed a goal. So I've played sports my whole life. And this was something that I've wanted to do. You know, I've, I've rode bikes and I can run in the military. We ran all the time. But the swimming aspect of it was what really created the fear for me. And I learned how to swim when I was young at the YMCA, but I always referred to it as I learned how not to drown.

BILL: Right. You learn how to survive. I didn't learn how to swim the length of a pool over and over and over again. And that's where, you know, that statement comes from. So I went out and I hired a coach and I still have the coach now a couple of years later. And, you know, he taught me all the correct techniques and the styles and how to do it properly. And all I've done since is practice the fact that I practice. So I train every single day, whether it's running, swimming or cycling. And unfortunately this past year, I wasn't able to actually compete in triathlons, but I did get a few in last year and we're just getting set for next year with, I set a goal of wanting to be in the top ranking of my age class. So my 45 to 50 year old male bracket. And, you know, I have a handful of years left to get that before I hit my 50. And, you know, that's, I know I want to do it. And I know these are, these are the times that you have to put that energy in to get to that goal. Right.

JON: Yeah. Wow. That's impressive.

BILL: It's addictive.

JON: You know, I've heard it is. Yeah. Wow. Yeah, for me, it's the same thing with the swimming. That's the part I would definitely struggle with.

BILL: Yeah, but it's, it's interesting. Right. And not to too much of a tangent, but I never realized how much technique was involved in it. Right. How our bodies naturally don't float. Right. They kind of go down and you're swimming against yourself in a sense, and you know how to raise your back, end your legs and lower body. And, you know, it really helped me learning that and focusing on that really helped me with what I do professionally and that's, you know, coaching and training and how to break down and be very clear in different styles and techniques on how to do things, how to save things because there's a lot to it. Right. It's not just showing up. Right. You have to really prepare for it.

JON: Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. That's a useful metaphor actually. I mean, knowing how to approach each situation and being trained for the right sort of movements of the sales pitch can definitely help you succeed. Yeah, absolutely. So you've already mentioned a few different ways that people can practice, you know, gaining confidence or becoming more confident in how they come across. But do you have any specific exercises for people to try?

BILL: Well, the first thing is you need to know what you're currently doing. Everyone, everyone is at a level of success, right? So, you know, whether you're selling a property a month on average, or, you know, however you are succeeding or not succeeding, there is a level there that you are currently at. So you have to figure that out. And how do we do that? Well, you have to journal so that you have to write it down. Or like I said earlier, we have a computer in our hands at all times to make a video journal. If you don't, if you can't remember, or you're not good at writing it down, start to build a habit of keeping video or audio notes about your daily activities. And you're going to immediately start to see the holes. You're going to see the successes and you're going to see the holes as well.

BILL: And then don't try to fix everything at once. Okay. So if it's, I need to make more attempts, meaning phone calls, emails, so on and so forth, block out a section at a time and start with that. Because again, we work, our mental state works when immediate gratification. And if we don't see any type of result in a relatively fast pace, then we're going to quit at it. Right. It's just like exercising or sticking to a diet or changing our eating habits. So on and so forth, you need to have little goals in mind and then work your way towards the bigger ones. Right? So again, remember you already are at a level of success. So how do we build on that? And how we build on that is taking those baby steps and it's, and you're going to see it. If you write out what you're currently doing, evaluate it and then focus one at a time.

BILL: So a lot of times it's, it's really an attempt, right? We find out that we're not making enough attempts to try and reach potential clients. Okay. So if we just add an extra 30, 45, 60 minutes into our daily routine, we're going to exponentially reach more people. Right. And at a relatively quicker pace. Right. So, and it helps then you, you start, we start to go down the road of, okay well what's our social platform looks like, right? So building out your social platform, because we live in a unique advantage right now with so much exposure, right? You don't have to, I use bill Nye, the science guy. Now he's definitely a highly educated gentleman, but he's definitely not a science guy. Right. So he's gotten that title and that position based upon his presence online, right. People love him. And he definitely brings a great message, but ultimately that's because he put himself out there. So you can, no matter who you are, you may never even have sold a property, but you can legitimately build confidence in yourself by putting yourself out there with content and other people seeing that they don't know. Right. They're going to trust and believe you and the content you put out there, and then you can, that's how you get that introduction. Right. So there's little things here and there, but first you have to know where you're at and then build on that.

JON: Yeah. Great advice. All right. So this is my last question. And it's one I ask of all of my guests. And it is, if you could go back to the beginning of your career and change one thing, what would it be?

BILL: Well, I don't, I don't have, I don't necessarily have any regrets or things that I wish I did differently. Obviously there are some the biggest things would be, stay the course, right? Believe in yourself. Because looking at me as a younger version of myself, I lacked a lot of confidence and belief in myself. I refer to, as I felt like, you know, I was the, the adolescent in the room of adults, right. No matter what the situation was so on and so forth, where in actuality, I was the expert, I was the adult and I belonged there. You know, I belonged in that group. So really that would be the one thing, just stay, stay the course and stay confident. And, you know, it takes time and energy and effort, but it will pay off.

JON: All right. That's a great way to end it. Well, thank you bill, for coming on the show. If anyone wants to learn more about you, where can they go?

BILL: My website is professional success, and I'm on all the different social platforms as well. So yeah, I look to have conversations and, you know, just, you know, reach out to me and we can talk.

JON: Excellent. All right. Well thank you, Bill.

BILL: Well, thank you so much for having me.

JON: That’s it for the episode, thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the talk, you can subscribe to us and leave a review on your podcast player of choice. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.