What Are the Best Tips for Developing a Strong Real Estate Sales Force?
If you’re developing your real estate sales force, you know that that can be a daunting task. Especially if you’re just starting out, the jump from zero to a successful real estate sales force can sometimes seem out of reach.
But don’t worry! There are several simple, common sense tips you can follow to help you develop the best real estate sales force for your company.
Hire the “Teachable”
As you carefully choose your sales force, the most important thing to consider is whether the person you’re considering hiring is teachable and willing to learn.
If the person you’re interviewing seems too arrogant or stubborn to listen and learn from your training process, don’t hire them — no matter how good of a sales rep they seem to be.
The same goes from your current employees. As a team leader you must motivate your current employees to continue learning and innovating (regardless of how well they are performing).
Train, Train, Train
The people you hire probably have a lot of talent and maybe even a lot of experience. However, never underestimate the importance of proper training.
Unless your sales force gets regular and understandable coaching, you can’t reasonably expect them to follow your specific company sales processes.
The right training methods will help your team understand your processes inside and out while evolving with the market, making them amazing additions to your team!
Cultivate a Culture of Collaboration
After you’ve hired and trained the right people, your next step is to create the perfect company culture to inspire the best teamwork possible.
If your sales reps don’t feel like they’re members of a unified team, that will most likely reflect in your company numbers. Instead of leaving your sales force to their own team building, try to actively encourage teamwork through goal setting and reward setting.
Besides cultivating a culture of teamwork by giving your team something to strive for, smart goal setting also gives your sales force the focus they need to work toward an objective.
If you want to have a certain number of leads closed by the end of the fiscal year (or even just by the end of the month), let your sales force know! If your team has a time-sensitive goal with KPIs (key performance indicators) in place to keep them accountable, it is less likely that anyone will waste time.
Remember, your sales force is made up of people who have their own lives, interests, and desires outside of work. Some might be motivated to do the best they can all the time, but others might not even know their limits because they’ve never had incentive to push themselves.
Creating a rewards system will help your real estate sales force stay motivated and even excited to reach goals and work hard!
Ask for Advice If You Need It
Finally, if all that sounds great, but you’re too busy to create a strong development strategy from the ground up, we have a solution for you!
I am now offering a free lead conversion training in which you’ll learn exactly how you can create an amazing real estate sales team by utilizing our sales force development resources!
Thinking strategically about how to grow your business is one of the first things to get thrown to the wayside when things get crazy. This is a problem because you need to continually grow your business beyond your existing clientele for it to be healthy. But sometimes we get too caught in the trenches of running our business, and we forget to work on our business.
This is especially difficult for people who are heavily and intimately involved in the day to day operation of their businesses. People who feel that they themselves are the best salesperson on their team, and the most motivated, driven team member at the company. And at some level this kind of makes sense—why shouldn’t you be the best person on your own team? It is your company after all.
The problem that arises, however, is that there is only a limited amount of time in each day. Day in and day out, if you are knocking down doors, leaving no stone unturned, and asking for business from anyone and everyone, you will have no time to focus on overall direction and strategy, let alone spend time with your family or take a vacation.
This is why it can be extremely valuable—indeed, absolutely necessary—to hire and train awesome people to assist you. And if your interest lies in growing your business, then the most critical area to hire good people for is lead generation. These people are called inside sales agents (ISAs). A good inside sales agent is a highly effective and accountable salesperson who prospects, follows up with leads, nurtures leads, and sets appointments.
Hire Masters of Lead Generation
Put simply, these are the people who turn cold-called prospects, into warm, likely clients. They are masters of lead generation and will help you grow your business.
So let’s say you are going to do it. You carve out the time to recruit, network, screen, and hire your dream agent or ISA. Then day one rolls around and you suddenly realize that you have a massive amount of training on your hands. So you say, “Hey, start calling all these leads I have, or start generating your own.” All they need to do is have conversations with people and the business will follow from there.
That should take care of it, right? But now things get complicated. You’ll begin to hear the following:
• I don’t know who to call.
• I don’t know what to say.
• I’m better in person than on the phone.
• I’m too busy to lead generate.
• These leads suck!
These reactions can occur even with good, smart people. They are overwhelmingly the result of the ISA having a negative story or narrative that they tell themselves, a lack of understanding of the sales funnel, and an overall lack of confidence. These factors will lead to call reluctance, an inability to turn a “no” to a “yes”, and a general lack of comfort throughout the sales process.
So how do you get these good, smart people coupled with the skills and discipline they need to help your business?
It’s All About the Story
A critical step to turning your ISA into a lead generation master is dealing with the garbage that people already have in their minds. False ideas and perceptions with regards to what it means to do lead generation, make phone calls, and close sales.
If your sales person has good stories in their head—if doing those activities that lead to production have a positive connotation—they will be unstoppable. If they have negative stories in their head about lead generation, setting appointments, and what those things mean about them as a sales person, then no matter what you do or say, they won’t lead generate.
This will more or less fall down to your company values. You need to emphasize that being productive, being creative, and connecting people with products that help them are nothing short of heroic acts. This is how your employees build value for your company—by understanding that their productivity and success create value for themselves and get them closer to the life they want to live, in addition to creating value for clients.
Understanding the Sales Funnel
Once you have built up that positive narrative, the next step is to ensure that any ISA you hire to help you out understands the sales funnel.
The key areas are:
• Who are you selling to?
• Where do the leads come from?
• What perspective do those leads have when they get to you?
Understanding this portion of the sales funnel is crucial. A misunderstanding at this stage is the most common cause of your agents’ complaint, “These leads suck!”
Instill the fact that LEADS ARE LEADS. They may all have different time and follow-up requirements in order to become sales, but a lead is a lead. We all want the hot-and-ready leads, but those are few and far between. The money is made in the follow-up.
Properly teaching your agents how to work a database and lead pile while setting the right expectations for understanding each type of lead is the key to keeping your agent’s head and energy in the lead follow up game.
Turn a “No” to a “Yes”
The next critical step is to make sure they have the confidence to take objections, and to turn a “no” to a “yes”.
Objection handling often stops agents in their tracks. They are afraid that they won’t know exactly what to say when the lead objects to them or objects to an appointment. The old school way of handling objections with snarky scripts is so 1990.
These days we handle objections in a much more sophisticated and conversational way. Teach your agents to ask questions to get to the bottom of a lead’s objection. Offering leads a different solution to reach an even bigger and better outcome is the best way to handle a negative response.
What This Means for You
Alright, so let’s bring this all back home. Even if you are killing it, if you are the best person at your business or too critical to the daily grind, you are going to hit a ceiling. You can only do so much! And as the owner and leader of the company, you need to have time to look at and consider the big picture. That’s how you will grow your business.
So you need to be able to hire good people, and then train them to be ISAs who are masters of your sales process. They will bring in the leads, nurture the leads, and close the leads. You will be amazed (and maybe your pride will even be a little hurt) at how much awesome ISAs will be able to grow your company without you in the trenches each day.
Connect with other top real estate teams about inside sales and lead generation on our Facebook Group
I’m Dale Archdekin, I’m an ISA coach.
Today I wanted to talk about a topic that comes up pretty frequently when I’m coaching people on developing an inside sales team, or even hiring a new inside sales agent.
That would be Skills Based Assessments.
So I know that all of us – for those of you who are with Keller Williams like I am, or if you’re with another brokerage, you may have some kind of hiring and screening process that they suggest that you go through.
At Keller Williams, it’s called Career Visioning and it used to be called the Career Select Process.
A lot of the processes they teach real estate agents for screening new candidates for whatever position they’re hiring for tend to be very lengthy, very involved, very one-on-one, they take a lot of time, a lot of interpersonal time – where you’re having conversations with people about their entire life history, their entire life story, just to see if they’re going to be a good fit for your culture, for your team, whether or not you can determine whether they’re going to do a good job at the job also.
And a lot of these hiring process are based strongly or focused a lot on personality assessments – whether it’s a DISC, or it’s some other – the AVA that Keller Williams used to have (which is now the KPA), and I’m sure that other brokerages also suggest other types of personality assessments because they’re very popular now.
Those kind of assessments and those tests work very well, and it’s something that’s absolutely necessary.
However, I think that for hiring an inside salesperson (ISA) for whom skills is the utmost-importance (because if they don’t have the phone skills or the sales skills, it does not matter how great a fit they are or what kind of personality they have or how simpatico you are with them and their past life and everything they’ve done in their lives and how they feel), if they can’t get people on the phone, keep people on the phone, and set appointments with them over and over again, they’re not going to work out in that role. And if you’ve invested 10 hours of interviewing that person, just to find the right person who then can’t make phone calls and actually convert to appointments, it’s a total waste and you’ll have to start over again.
So what I do for myself when I’m hiring and what I coach my clients to do is to really bring in a lot more skills-based testing into your recruiting process from the very beginning.
So that involves role playing with them – first off, it starts off with how they speak to you over the phone, how do they present themselves, are they articulate, are you able to understand what they’re saying, are they able to clearly communicate with you, do they sound like someone you want to talk to, do they sound interesting, do they sound fun, do they sound nice, do they have a personality. That’s the first step.
The second step is role playing with them. Trying it out, trying these scripts out. And I really only hire people who have no real estate experience; I want to see how people with no industry experience handle that – that’s when you truly see what kind of sales skills they already have, and whether or not they can actually get on the phone and be successful at it.
The next step from that is, what I do is have them come in, sit in a chair, and start making calls on a recorded line. And I coach my clients to have them do this as well.
The one caveat to this – if you choose to have an unlicensed person come in and make phone calls to consumers, you need to know what your local state and federal laws are and you need to abide by them.
Whether you shadow them (you’re on the call too, listening in but they’re the ones doing the talking) – however you make that happen, the burden of legality is on your shoulders.
But what I’m saying is, if you can actually put somebody into a role where you get to see them do the job function before you invest 2-4-6 hours, however many hours, 8 hours, of interviewing and personality assessments so that you can actually see whether or not this person can carry out this job, you’re going to save yourself a lot of time and a lot of headache, and you’re really going to set yourself up the best for finding a great candidate who’s going to do awesome for you.
An ISA is an Inside Sales Agent. I explain the role of ISAs to my clients in terms beyond the general view of appointment setters or lead scrubbers—ISAs are skilled real estate professionals who are highly trained, skilled and dedicated to their craft in the same degree as an outside agent. The advantage of the ISA is that they specialize in the initial tasks of lead generation, lead nurturing and setting listing and buyer consultation appointments.
The ISA’s role is most effective when the scope is limited to tasks that develop the position into a lead generation and conversion machine. The raw materials are leads and lists—the product is viable listing or buyer appointments that result in contracts.
Here is the basic structure of the inside sales role:
ISAs receive inbound leads and conduct rigorous outbound prospecting to uncover leads.
ISAs scrub leads, determine motivation, timing and ability.
ISAs set the listing and buyer consultation appointment for an outside agent.
ISAs also maintain a nurturing database of leads and work that database to produce future appointments.
Different teams and agents have varying degrees of difference with this model, like not using the ISA to set appointments or having their ISA conduct marketing and advertising efforts, but the role’s effectiveness is greatest when clients adhere to the above description.
When am I ready to hire an ISA?
If you are already bringing in around 150,000+ in annual GCI, and you already have a solid and well-trained assistant handling your transactions for you, then you are ready for an ISA. At this point you are able to scale and do more business. You can leverage your lead generation while producing more appointments and contracts. The other requirement is that you must have some type of lead generation platform or farm in place, or well-established online profiles where you can run advertising. You will also need inbound lead sources for the ISA as we will discuss below. Once you get your ISA, and if they are effective, then you will quickly need to add additional agents to your team. An effective and efficient ISA can easily serve 4-5 agents.
You must have leads
It sounds obvious, but some agents think that they will create leads by hiring an ISA. That is possible if your ISA does outbound prospecting—calling expireds, withdrawns, for-sale-by-owners and maybe doing circle prospecting.
In my experience, these outbound sources, by themselves, are not productive enough to make your ISA profitable. To maximize profitability, you should have inbound leads that you feed to the ISA, supplementing their outbound efforts. Inquiries on listings or paying for advertising on listing aggregators like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor are often the best leads and will convert the fastest, but they are very expensive. If you have leads from farming, direct mail, radio or TV, those are great too.
The pursuit of raw internet registrations and home valuation leads can be a source of inbound leads for your ISA, but maintain awareness about the inefficient and time-consuming nature, as well as the low conversion rate, of these type of leads.
A common error I’ve witnessed among agents is signing up for a Commissions Inc. or BoomTown lead generation platform and jumping to this conclusion: “Oh my god! I’ve got hundreds of leads coming in each week. I need an ISA to work all this business.” What they don’t realize is that the industry standard for converting these cold internet leads is in the low single digits. You will gain a volume of leads from these platforms, but between 12 to 18 months of leads are necessary to see any real conversion from them. Yes, an ISA is the perfect person to work leads from that type of lead capture system, but just know that it’s a longer term play than the faster converting listing inquiry, marketing response or aggregator advertising methods of lead generation.
You must be ready to train the ISA or leverage that training to a third party
Too many agents oversimplify the process of hiring an ISA. They think, “I’ll just find someone who likes making calls and turn them loose.” That doesn’t work for outside agents, and it certainly doesn’t work for inside agents. You must prepare to train your ISA completely. And what does “completely” look like? If you wanted to replace yourself with agent, how would you train them? To what depths would you take that training? That is the question you need to ask, but more importantly, that question needs to be followed by action.
Although the ISA is only working the initial stages of lead generation and cultivation, they need to have an in-depth understanding of all of the processes before and after their position.
They should understand the process of buying and selling a home just like you do. They should know and comprehend the mindset, thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams of the typical person buying or selling a home. They should know the circumstances that led to each type of lead source you work. Every lead source has its own unique mindset and expectations. Intimate knowledge of buyers and sellers will give your ISA the rapport needed for building a foundation that can develop trust and set appointments. If you find it overwhelming to fit training into your already hectic schedule, leverage a third party, like my company, Smart Inside Sales, to learn the most efficient and effective methods for recruiting, screening and hiring inside sales agents.
Don’t try to take the cheap way out
The best way to ensure your success is to pay the price it costs to find, train and compensate a skilled salesperson. If you want to drive sales and GCI, then you can’t get away with a low dollar-per-hour, part-time ISA. It never works that way. The best scenario is to hire a full-time, committed ISA to work in your office and alongside your team. They are a team member. They are a sales person. They should operate that way and be treated as such. Don’t make this position an experiment. You wouldn’t experiment with hiring an administrative assistant, buyer agents or listing agents. Likewise, make the ISA role a legitimate and key position in your team.
You must budget for 6 months to one year of pay for your ISA
A brand new ISA can take upwards of 6 months to go from a monthly loss, to a recovered cost and then to profitability. Don’t get me wrong, you will have appointments and contracts along the way, however the bulk of the ISA’s production will happen in the second 6 months after the ISA has finished climbing the huge learning curve. They will also be starting from scratch and will have to build a database of nurturing prospects and, as we all know, that takes time. So before you hire your ISA, commit to the reality that you may be paying this expense for a minimum of 6 months before seeing a return or recovered cost. Pledge to not second-guessing this expense before that 6 month mark, but do not act blindly. You will need to measure the progress of your ISA, ensuring they are the right fit and progressing toward the success and profitability you seek.
Ready to hire?
Leveraging an ISA can be rocket fuel for the growth of your business. Having a dedicated and skilled Jedi master to squeeze every dollar out of your leads is a great way to go. If you get the right hire, give them the right training and resources, then your ISA can produce 50-60 transactions for you in their first 12 months. What does the “right training” look like? Well, if you want more help with how to structure or train your ISA, check out my ISA Sales Department in a Box. You can access my secrets and strategies in on-demand packages, or we can discuss working one-on-one.