The Burning Flame To Success
Passion is the defining factor that determines Fallon Loo’s success in investing, sales & marketing, and mentoring
Being passionate and motivated are key ingredients to success, and in GS Realty sales director Fallon Loo’s case, she demonstrates these virtues admirably, whether it is in real estate investment, sales & marketing, or mentoring her peers.
Where investment is concerned, her perspective is quite simplistic. When saving money in the bank is compared to investing in real estate, the better choice is clear.
In an exclusive interview with Property Insight, Fallon commented that values in real estate always go up, as supply is finite. As a matter of comparison, she cited that the top ten tycoons in the world would have something to do with real estate, and that the top five will not be in direct selling.
She indicated that the property market in Malaysia is considered very solid in Asia Pacific, because properties in Malaysia are still considered very cheap, when compared to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Furthermore, she stated that in developed countries, their economic growth would be linked with the property industry. Therefore, real estate is very important for developing countries’ growth.
Location, price, developers
Sharing on her investment strategy, Loo said that she looks for location and the developer when buying properties. She would consider a property development if it is at the right place by the right developer. Citing Bukit Kiara Properties as an example, the developer has excellent branding, and that buyers would not make a loss if they bought the developer’s properties.
Beyond location and developers, she had also cited the importance of sales packages. With the property market already being very competitive, developers are trying to adjust the price of their mid-range products, and offering terms such as low down payments to make it easier for people to buy properties.
Among the places that she likes to invest in includes the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), Bangsar, and Mont’Kiara areas. As a real estate professional, she has the advantage of getting first-hand information from developers. This allows her to buy developments before investors. She also obtains good tips, and this allows her to make substantial profits from investments.
She cited an example of her investment experience that took place about four years ago, where she bought a condominium in the KLCC area from a developer that had a reputation for poor workmanship. She bought two units of the development despite being discouraged by her peers, who were worried by its branding.
Her rationale for her purchase was that there was nothing to worry about in regards to the brand as the location was considered prime, and the price of the development was going to appreciate. At that time, she bought it at RM780 per sq. ft.
Since the time of completion, almost every day, she had received calls from people wanting to rent or buy her units, or have ready tenants. This drove her to sell a unit at RM1,480 per sq. ft. and she had requested for her units to be removed from listings. At her selling price, this implied almost a doubling in value of what she had originally invested in.
The moral of this story is that as an investor, we have to be really sharp, and that we have to truly believe in the real estate industry. This implies that by being truly passionate in the industry, investors would be able to spot emerging opportunities, regardless of market condition.
The secret of Fallon’s success in investing is attributed to her passion in the things she does. In her professional experience, she has sold knives, software management, insurance policies, and properties. While such products may not be related to one another, from her perspective, the task of selling is still the same. The only difference is that she is selling to different markets.
“Product knowledge is the key to success. You have to master the key,” she emphasised. “A lot of people just sell for the sake of selling. To me, you have to love something in order to sell. You don’t sell just for the sake of selling. You need to love it, be passionate about it.”
“I’m a very positive person. I’m very passionate and enthusiastic when I do things. Honestly, I wasn’t like that previously. When I was young, I didn’t have such a strong character. After I had returned from the United States, I was moulded that way, because I learnt from the best. I won the All American Scholarship and am proud of this, because my company has twenty thousand representatives for selling knives, and they only give this scholarship to the top 25 in the country. When you are following the right people, you are doing the right job.”
Fallon attributed her selling expertise to the time when she first learnt how to sell knives through raffles from CutCo & Vector Marketing in the United States. By going through intensive training, she built her confidence and learnt how to sell.
Upon her return from the United States in 1997, she started working in an information technology (IT) firm, selling software management applications. Fallon cited an incident a few years after then, when she observed her sister’s associates, who were in the insurance industry, were having a conversation. In spite of her sister’s associates being poorly conversant in English, Fallon observed that they were earning more than her. This prompted Fallon to venture into the insurance industry.
She was then referred by a colleague to a star performer in the insurance industry. In this respect, Fallon remembered her mentor’s advice, to lower down her self-esteem, learn from the master who is good in the business and excel. Never look down on anybody, lower her ego, and do better than her contemporaries.
Fallon followed the star performer for a week and learnt the tricks of the trade. In the first year when she was in the industry, she qualified for the ‘Million Dollar Round Table’ (MDRT) standard within 46 days. In subsequent years, she achieved her targets within one to three months.
After being challenged by her sister to qualify for the ‘Court of the Table’ (COT) standard, which was six times harder than MDRT, Fallon went for it and achieved the qualification in three months. However, in subsequent years, when more people qualified for the standard, she was no longer excited about it.
At that time, she met a schoolmate who had suggested that she should consider real estate marketing, because there is a very big market. After posing some questions about his earnings, the sales turnover of the best agent, and how well his group’s performance was, she decided to venture into the real estate industry.
“Right now, my mentors are developers and partners. They did not come from rich families,” Fallon shared. “What are the common traits of these people? What do they have in mind? I’ve found one thing (consistent between them). The rich people wake up early. That’s why I do the same thing now.”
Mentoring leaders of tomorrow
Given her accomplishments as an investor and sales person, it is natural of her to be passionate when she mentors her colleagues. Fallon urged, “You have to love learning, and be passionate about what you are selling. If you can’t, fake it until you can make it.”
“Look at Jack Ma, the founder of Ali Baba,” she exclaimed. “Look at his face, at his size, that doesn’t matter. He has a very good vision and dream. That’s what I always tell my people, dare to dream and think big. Be careful with what you think, because that’s what it’s going to be. You will realise that soon. Even if you have confidence, it is not guaranteed you will win. However, if you don’t have confidence, you have definitely lost it.”
As sales director, Fallon is overseeing a big team. However, while there are many people in her company, they are not united, because they tend to only do their jobs within their own teams. Given these circumstances, her job is to unite her colleagues, and she mobilises the whole team and gets them to focus on two to three projects at one time.
With her colleagues having conservative backgrounds, she commented that their perceptions are that it isn’t easy to make money in real estate, as it requires knowledge, going for examinations, and a lot of thinking. However, she disagreed, stating that one doesn’t need to go for exams and gain specific knowledge in real estate. Citing an example, she had a negotiator joining her company, and after two days, was already able to sell a condominium unit.
A matter of pride
Motivation is the most important factor to success. Its importance is above talent and education, and Fallon illustrates this by sharing her experiences in mentoring her colleagues.
Based on her experience, Fallon noted that 80% of her top sales people were less educated, while the remaining 20% were educated. The reason for the difference is that those who are educated aren’t able to lower their pride. They felt it is beneath them to go to the booth and wait for people to come in. However, this cannot be expected to happen currently.
She exclaimed that for a sales person, it is important to go all out and reach clients through various avenues, such as booths, social media, and outside networks, instead of being expected to be spoon-fed. “That’s why I always tell my colleagues, ‘if you are educated and you can put out your ego, you’ll be the top of the crop. No one can beat you’.”
Citing her standard operating procedure for training, a new colleague is assigned to a trainer and placed in a group. Weekly meetings are held with all the agents, after which, she has a meeting with the leaders. She gives motivating speeches to her colleagues, and invites those who successful close deals to share how they do so.
She explained that a good sales agent must have purpose and certain qualities. The importance of the right mind set is not to be underestimated. He must have the desire to always win, excel, and find a way to do so.
“I always tell my people, it’s either you are a turkey or an eagle. Turkeys can never mix with eagles. When turkeys sit down together, they know the market is down, and it is hard for loans to get approved. Even though units are sold, the loan ratio requested will not be approved.”
“When they sit with the eagles, what do they discuss? Susan just sold seven units today. Linda closed 14 units per day. When the turkeys come into this environment, they do not fit in.”
“You want to be my top sales person? A person needs to exceed RM11million. How much was the top sales amount achieved last month? RM10million. You have to keep on raising the bar. I am not talking about group sales. Even for some agencies, the entire sales team cannot achieve this amount. To me, it only takes one agent.”
“Therefore, we need to create the winning platform for them. A lot of eagles like to be on stage and we have to recognise them.”
The flaming route to success
The implications of the experiences that Fallon had shared are not to be underestimated, as they are not just applicable to real estate investors, but also to any individual.
Real estate can bring good returns on investments, but it is important for real estate investors to be passionate about the industry, and become sharp enough to spot investment opportunities for themselves. Anyone can master a subject as long as they are truly passionate about it, and this is equally applicable to real estate, whether it is about investing or selling.
Humility plays an important role for anyone. With humility comes the willingness to learn and respect others. At the same time, it is important for people to have confidence in what they do. By being passionate and confident in what they do, these qualities would pave their way to success.
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