The Difference Between Being Great and Being Good

Dec 13, 2021

I asked a friend of mine who has been in the commercial real estate business for over 38 years how many great brokers has he seen in his days. My friend has worked in the same institutional shop his entire career. His office specializes in primarily retail investment sales. This particular office over the years has been known for doing some major transactions, yet his answer was surprising. He told me other than himself, just one great broker.

What is the difference between a good salesperson and a greatsalesperson? How do we measure success to even answer this question?  Is it strictly production?  Is it stature in the office or is it in the community where they serve? Is it their knowledge that they exhibit, or their sign of commitment?

I couldn’t believe he only knew one great salesperson in mind.  My friend is considered one of the top brokers in the country for this international firm, and yet, in his measurement of success­ –  he does not put himself at a level of greatness.

In the investment game, he said brokers “get lazy fast.” Once they have established a list of clients, they simply work that list over and over again. They start coming into their office later,  take it easy until 11:00 and work until 4:00and then go home early. They are smart and they do very well financially. They’ve developed a system that keeps them performing at a high level.

A GREAT Salesperson

In that group,  there was one guy that was different. He came into the office around 8:00 and stayed till 5:00. He left to go home to have dinner with his family. At 7:00 pm, he came back to the office and often times worked until 11:00 pm or later every night. He was active in the community and made a point to take time off to see his kids play. But other than that, he was  laser focused on his work.

Over the years, he became known as one of the best retail investment brokers in his metro, then later he was recognized as top broker in his state. A few years after that, he was one of the top five investment brokers in the country.

He came from nothing, but during his career he was able to own his own private jet that would allow him to travel to meet his clients. He was a rockstar in his profession. Eventually, he left the firm and started his own company, buying assets for his fund while hiring brokers that mirrored his drive and determination.

Can Everyone Be Great?

No.  I have seen many salespeople have long careers with success in a number of fields outside of real estate. I would not label them as “great” however, I certainly respect their work.

Can a Good Salesperson Learn From a Great Salesperson?

Rarely to great salespeople have time to mentor or teach up-and-coming peers. But you can certainly learn by watching great salespeople carefully and take notes. You can pick up a lot of ideas from them and use them to improve your skills and your business.

Written by: Hans Hansson

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Hans Hansson is President of Starboard Commercial Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 35 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email [email protected] or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,