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Balancing Selling and Leading: Ben Faulks

Ben Faulks of Ray White Belconnen shares his secrets to thriving in his business, and the importance of a customer-first leadership philosophy.

Becoming an agent and principal on the same day is a feat that not many in real estate can attest to. Leaving a career in banking, Ben Faulks changed to real estate in 2010 and set up the first Ray White office in the ACT.

At first, when Ray White was new in the area, Ben says it was difficult to attract talent to the brand, but since then he has gone from three staff to a massive 53 staff across three offices.

Navigating being an agent and principal while being new in the industry required a degree of trial and error, Ben says, but he had guidance from mentors like Chris Hanley and Mark McLeod.

“I had a lot of ambition and was keen to learn really fast. I got stuck in and wrote a lot of fees in the early years. But I was acutely aware of the need to build a better team,” says Ben.

Leadership philosophy

Being “relationship-based rather than transaction-based” is a large part of the culture that Ben has instilled in his team.

“Our focus is on providing extensive support for agents so they could spend more time listing and prospecting. Our top agent was my first sales associate, and he started with me when he was 18. He will eventually qualify at the end of this year as a million dollar agent at age 24.”

“Because I was a million dollar agent myself, I understand the pressures. It goes in peaks and troughs. I spend time with the team working on the headspace but also trying to backfill that with structures and systems. I do a lot of formal one-on-ones and mentoring with the team and with my top agents fortnightly.

“Our business philosophy as a whole is underpinned by our values and our values are a mix of stereotypical real estate stuff like leadership and success. But that is balanced out by things like teamwork, humility, and reliability.

“Relationships are at the core of what we do. That means building those repeat referral clients, having strong net promoter scores and putting the customer at the centre of everything we do,” said Ben.

How do you ensure the success of your team?

“It all comes back to the support we provide our agents. We are in the trenches with our agents every day. Most of our competitors are run by selling principals, but we have three principals in our businesses, none of whom actively sell.

“We are focused on the growth and development of our team and a positive culture and environment. It’s authentic within our business to help people feel valued and supported and help them see greater ambition for themselves.

“In our team and sales meetings, we peer nominate others for displaying values of the company. Rather than being words on a wall, one of our salespeople would, for example, nominate another person in the team for humility, or for teamwork for helping me with an open home when I had seven on, or something like that. It helps to uplift others.

“It’s cliche but it is that values-based leadership has set us apart. That’s why we keep growing.”

Balancing selling and leadership

Ben counts himself as a “highly ambitious and competitive” person but not aggressive in the sense of a win-at-all-costs mentality. He made a decision in his business to step down from selling and focus on being a principal and leader of his team, saying that both roles require a different tune of energy.

“There was a tipping point in the company when I was writing a million dollars in fees, I had a personal team around me and it could easily have become the Ben Faulks Show. But, I didn’t want that.”

Ben says the energy that is required for both is different. “I don’t think you can do both well. I made a decision if we were going to grow the business, that would be achieved by me not selling.”

“It was hard to step back from selling, there are a lot of wins when you’re listing and selling. Those quick wins are not there. We made it a deliberate staged process over 18 months for me to step out of sales. Now it’s totally satisfying seeing others having those wins.”

What qualities do you look for when hiring sales staff?

“Ambitious; they must be coachable, which requires curiosity. They must be hungry, but humble.”

“I don’t want to work with cowboys who smash deals together at any expense. I work with people in it for the long term and people who want to build that positive reputation.”

What is next for Ray White Belconnen?

“We are looking for future growth, I am excited to working with the next generation of leaders to transfer the lessons I’ve picked up in the last 7 years. There is a large appetite in Canberra for a values-based, customer-centric based approach.

“There average selling price here is $650,000 and we have about 6 per cent market share of the Canberra marketplace. We are the only Ray White that operates here so there is a lot of upside and potential for us.

“We are just getting started.”

Ben Faulks, Kate Strickland and Mark Earle will be sharing the steps they have taken to build a successful business at How to lead a winning team (in 2018) on 14 November 2017. Download the full program here.

 

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