“At the age of 9, our family got into financial trouble. Why? Because of property,” said Terence Soon, Group District Director at Huttons. This was the turning point that would shape Terence’s philosophy on selling property. Despite his humble beginnings, Terence Soon now heads his own division of almost 200 agents, the Terence Soon Division, which is a part of the RTD group within Huttons. He was the top district director in 2016, 2017 and 2018. And he was promoted twice, once each year, in the process.
Humble Beginnings and Philosophy
What sets Terence apart is that he never tries to misinform his clients and his only goal is to hit his own targets. No more, no less. First, let’s take a dive into Terence’s past, to understand how Terence achieved his successes. When he was 7 years old, his family was still doing well. But 2 years later, everything changed. His father’s business suffered tremendously because they were misled by unscrupulous property agents and made an erroneous investment in Chinese property. At his lowest point, he had to collect water from other places with his father and fill up 3 water barrels that his family would then ration. His father was resourceful and managed to bypass electricity to their house, but even that was limited and had to be used sparingly.
Fast forward 10 years, Terence started working a TV sales promoter fresh out of Polytechnic. Even though he was a natural salesperson, earning a solid $12,000 every month, he had to work long hours and knew that he was at the mercy of the company with little to no chance of career advancement. Furthermore, the work culture was toxic, to say the least. From fake punch cards to fake customers, the other promoters resorted to underhanded means to sabotage his sales, so that they could boost their own sales figures. From there, he learnt to manoeuvre through company politics, which is akin to treacherous terrain dotted with landmines hidden underground. Not only that, he also learnt to “build capacity rather than find more water”. His mentor then gave him that piece of advice, warning him that even if he could make a million dollars in sales, keeping it or replicating it was the real challenge.
Tired of dealing with the politics and the long hours at work, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his friends by joining real estate. They had entered the industry a year and a half before him and seemed to be doing well, but Terence was still reluctant, since he was earning a considerable amount every month. Soon, Terence found success knocking on his door as he knocked on the doors of clients. In his first year at his previous company, he set out alone in his real estate journey, making the rounds and knocking on doors alone, going to roadshows alone. The legwork paid off, since he made $320,000 that same year. For the next three years, he would continue to work as hard as possible, hit his target of $300,000 each year, then take the rest of the year off. When he made the move to Huttons in 2013, he struggled to find his footing in his first year, making $120,000 his first year, which meant that he did not reach his usual target. But by 2015, Terence managed to make a million year on year. Terence even managed to set a personal record of earning 3 million over the span of four years, making $350,000 in one month at his peak.
To Terence, having a good mindset is more important than the method, technological aids like apps are just a bonus to him. His experiences have culminated in him wanting to “be as wealthy as possible within the shortest span of time” to maintain a healthy work-life balance, whilst keeping his conscience clean and staying humble about his successes. Since Huttons’ agents have a reputation of being more lowkey about their successes, as compared to other property agencies, he does not feel the need to show off his wealth. During the interview, he also gave off the impression of being very down-to-earth and friendly. Even though he was proud of his accomplishments because of the amount of hard work he put in, Terence did not have an air of superiority.
Helping Others Gain Financial Stability
When he joined Huttons, he brought 28 people over from his previous agency and since then, the Terrence Soon division has consistently formed up 25% of the RTD group, which is the target he set for himself. The decision to expand and build a team came after he got married. Terence sees teambuilding as a way to broaden his alliance with others. Instead of having rivals, he prefers having comrades that he can collaborate with on projects. Moreover, he wants his agents to earn as much as he does, to acquire the same level of success, if not more, so that they can become financially stable as well.
Unlike other teams, he has never done a mass recruitment, instead choosing to take in mini-teams. Apart from Huttons and RTD training, Terence has developed his own syllabus that even includes one-to-one training. Every agent that he coaches, he coaches from the bottom of his heart. That being said, he can be very strict and has terminated slackers in the past. As in baseball, Terence has a 3 strikes rule, if you lose all your chances, you’re out.
For those that are ready to put in the work, Terence has a comprehensive 3-pronged approach to training agents. Firstly, he imparts knowledge to the agents. To ensure that his agents have a good foundation in this industry, he provides very in-depth information on real estate to them, so that they will be understand the laws, regulations and other technical details. Secondly, Terence believes in utilising data. He teaches agents to utilise facts and figures to persuade clients and increase credibility. However, he notes that this depends on the clients. Lastly, he teaches agents how to be better salespeople by upgrading their marketing methods. After working since he was 11 and selling various things since he was 13, Terence has about 20 years of sales experience and knows a thing or two about selling his personal brand. From telemarketing to SEO and ad-word marketing, Facebook to gmail newsletters, Terence has improved in his marketing game by leaps and bounds. And he’s moved on with the times. In fact, Terence has 11 marketing methods on hand, but every agent has a set of methods that best-suits them. RTD group is also pioneering a marketing licence and has been the leading division in terms of the number of leads received.
Since property agents are already swamped by their everyday workload, Terence filters through all the training sessions for his agents, picking more important and relevant sessions for agents to attend, and even takes the time to tailor trainings to each agent based on their strengths and weaknesses. As he’s able to sustain himself with his own sales records, he only takes very little commission from the agents in his team, choosing to ensure that his agents are able to live a comfortable life instead.
Instead of working himself to death and biting off more than he can chew, Terence sets realistic goals for himself and is satisfied after achieving them. For instance, he will set a specific target for a single project that he truly believes in each year. He does not aim to earn every single cent possible, only choosing to earn a certain amount, before going on holidays or spending time with family. He tells his agents to take pride in their jobs and to never devalue themselves by working for low commission. However, Terence also ensures that buyers earn money as well and always gives out ethical sales advice because he never wants others to suffer the same fate as his parents. In terms of team building, he strives to maintain his numbers at 25% of the group, instead of conducting mass recruitments and working himself to the bone. By growing gradually, he does not compromise on the growth of his agents and still gets 8-10 hours of sleep a day.
Ultimately, Terence wanted to get rich quickly by being a property agent. Now that this career has changed his life for the better, he wants to do the same for others as well. Not just for agents, but also for clients, by giving them sound property advice and asset management. Due to crooked property agents, he grew up in a poor environment and had to hold down odd jobs as a teenager. He already lost 20 years of his youth working, so he does not want to lose 20 more working his life away.