From Inertia to Engagement: A Matter of Momentum

Today’s economic conditions have ravaged investor confidence. From the toxic mortgage debacle to Wall Street’s collapse, investors have been pummeled with devastating news and events leaving them confused, distrustful, and angry. As a result, buyers are manifesting paralytic investment behaviors. Furthermore, sales agents’ ranks have been decimated by these same conditions precipitating a mass exodus of agents from the industry. The result, industry momentum has slowed to a near standstill; buyers aren’t buying, and agents are ill-prepared to assuage buyer concerns.

Unless America’s citizenry has neither future need for housing nor believes residential real estate a viable investment vehicle, the current market conditions, while problematic, are impermanent. Fortunately, impermanence enables change resulting in recovery and engagement. Unfortunately, unless investors and agents anticipate, understand, and prepare for future market changes, the current unengaged conditions may be prolonged     and worsen.

So, what’s needed to restore momentum moving buyers and agents from inertia to engagement? Let’s consider 3 perspectives offered by Peter Senge, Kurt Lewin, and Shoeless Joe Jackson.


In his 1990 seminal book The Fifth Discipline,” Peter Senge reintroduced the concept of metanoia or “shift of mind” to a rapidly changing global environment. Senge offered metanoia in the context of deep learning; learning that is both adaptive and generative. Learning that expands and enhances our personal and professional capacities. Learning that recreates us; in turn enables new and revised thinking and behavior.

Residential real estate agents must immerse themselves in learning. They cannot be baffled by the causality and dynamics of the global recession, cessation of credit, and turmoil in the financial sectors. They must learn and understand current market conditions in order to influence buyer inertia. Actionable knowledge can be reduced inertia and increase receptivity. Translating complex data for buyers in clear and concise terms demonstrates agents’ mastery of the facts, trends, and issues associated with today’s markets.  Evidence defeats disbelief. Translating market data can enable buyers to make informed investment decisions.  Using a data driven approach enables agents to segregate fact from fiction in the buying process; in turn establish a foundation of fact. This foundation of fact can reduce or eliminate speculative discussions about market movements which frequently disrupt and derail closing conversations. This context provides agents with opportunities to manage factless and emotional objections to buying today.

Barak Dunayer, president of BARAK Realty comments: “At least 50% of the sales process is nothing more than a head case.  Meaning, one’s mind set, geared towards learning, growth and limitless possibilities is an essential component of success. However, positive thinking alone does not guarantee success and action must be taken today in order to guarantee the outcomes of tomorrow.” So confronting today’s realities head on rather than retreating into inertia is the key to working through these challenging times.”

Learning enables increased professional capacity. Adopting a lifelong learning orientation to professional development may require residential real estate professionals to reflect and retool in order to succeed in the 21st century real estate environment.  Learning stimulates movement from inertia to engagement.

Kurt Lewin

The ground breaking social psychologist Kurt Lewin conducted foundational research in change management. Emergent from Lewin’s work was a 3 stage transformational change process that included unfreezing, cognitive redefinition, and refreezing. These concepts are critical to generating movement from inertia to momentum. They are applicable to both buyers and agents. Let’s focus on how these variables can operate in transforming sales agents’ orientation to one of lifelong learning resulting in professional movement from inertia to momentum.

Unfreezing or disconfirmation occurs when the dependable and relevant constants in life are threatened. These threats could be economic, technological, or personal. As a result personal and professional equilibrium is disrupted causing anxiety. Typically, with anxiety comes reflection; in turn the motivation to change in order to reestablish equilibrium.

Cognitive redefinition occurs when new learning has been explored and practiced. New learning occurs, old concepts may be enhanced by new meaning, and irrelevant ideas and practices discarded. Sales agents adopting a lifelong learning orientation towards professional development are constantly analyzing current market and trend data, experimenting with innovative marketing and sales processes, and evaluating feedback from qualified performance coaches. They create the future today through redefining their orientation toward the work of sales agentry; a metanoia, a shift of mind.

Refreezing, the third stage evidences the internalization of new learnings may lead to new meanings and behaviors. These new meanings and behaviors bring reinvigorated and new professional capacities. They enable fresh thinking and action. This transformational change process stimulates movement from inertia to engagement.

Stan Ponte, Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s International Realty comments “To succeed in today’s challenging markets; brokers must approach deal making from an entirely new standpoint. An educated, informed approach is needed to bridge the gap from interest to closing.”

Shoeless Joe Jackson

In the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” spectral baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson informs farmer Ray Kinsella “If you build it; he will come.” In the movie Jackson’s reference to “he” was Kinsella’s father. In today’s professional reality, if the statement were rephrased “If you build it, be prepared for what comes.” The power and potential inherent in metanoia and transformational change to enable sales agents to abandon inertia and initiate engagement are limitless.

We assert residential real estate professionals are the architects or victims of their professional future. Shoeless Joe Jackson encouraged Ray Kinsella, to “build.” We too can build;   build commitment to professional development through life-long learning.

The 21st century residential real estate market has irrevocability changed.

Will you?

Let’s practice, play, and win.

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