What a gyp is right, Anthony :-)
Daniel is right. However, his prose makes is seem so easy- a favorite pastime. He's right- you can't work with a chip on your shoulder and you need to go back to the basics. Passion should be the foundation of any successful career-building top producer. However, when the game changes as it did in the last five years, so do many "top" agents.
Systems, routines, tools- they change. I am busting my but (or is it butt?) doing old-fashioned high-level reach-out-and-touch customer service with current and past clients. I keep notebooks of my buyers listings to schedule my showings, call my listings/sellers once a week, mail copies of newspapers articles showing MORE price declines to my sellers, network on Facebook and LinkedIn, email often, send thank you cards- lotsa (I enjoyed our talk- that kind of stuff) etc. Then I drive a lot showing homes- every day! Still, it's very hard for me to earn what agents earn representing banks and foreclosures in my market. So, I must work smarter. Don't get me wrong, I am doing more than most in my market and making some money BUT I am limited by the human condition and few agents can manage dozens of homes sitting on the market month after month for years. Those qualities of top agents- patience, fortitude, endurance, empathy- they require time and energy. It's hard to maintain that energy for many "Realtor activities" for homes that don't sell- and short sales that go into foreclosure. Most of the previous great agents I know cannot fathom getting in their cars and ferrying buyers around. THEY SHOULD, don't get me wrong, but many will not! The real money is still with the listings BUT it's with BANK-OWNED listings. (I'm speaking generally- this will not be universally true everywhere).
John Souerbry (below) has it right BUT that business plan that agents develop rarely considers the sea-change of events that rocked our real estate industry. Most foreclosure agents are not consumed- worrying about the "marketing" of listings. In a robust market, the marketing becomes more of the business plan rather than the "work crew" that helps to clean out homes that were just foreclosed. I knew offices full of wealthy agents that are now closed. I'm not saying foreclosure agents don't work- THEY WORK HARD. They have figured out where the maximum value for their labor exists and they focus on maximizing their self-worth through smarter productivity. You've got to figure out where the money is and adapt- reinvent yourself to serve in that new capacity. That, my friend, is not so easy.