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Building the right Sales Team

When it comes to building a successful sales team, there are key areas you need to review – these include your own approach and management style as well as what motivates your individual team members. Story by Bill Robertson.

“A Manager must find out if the person not doing well is a ‘cannot do’ or a ‘will not do’ type of individual.”
“Where there’s a good, well-run and profitable sales division, there will be a manager who runs great sales meetings.”

Over the years, I’ve found many Real Estate principals and managers suffer from “I learned through the school of hard knocks, so my people can do the same”. Added to this, most managers are so busy with their own personal tasks that they don’t have the time to manage their existing team, let alone the newcomers.

This article is aimed at those responsible for the sales production of the team such as the principal, person-in-charge, manager or sales manager. When it comes to production within the Real Estate profession, are sales the direct result of either: the quality of the listing; the volume of listings actually taken; or the effectiveness of the sales agent at marketing, negotiating and making sales?

Keys to success
For a sales agent to be successful at both listing and selling, they need to want to be successful. They need to be motivated and committed, and provided with the right tools, training, mentoring and support. They also need to be well supervised, feel part of the team, and realise they’re in business for themselves with the applicable long hours.

From this, can we then assume that the main reasons for failure in Real Estate sales are either that the person didn’t have the desirable attributes, or the manager didn’t keep their end of the bargain – or perhaps both parties let each other down?

Weighing up experience vs no experience
Do we look for those with a well-established track record, as well as those with no experience in Real Estate sales? Yes, but be warned. The experienced sales agent is likely to be with a competitor and, if you poach them across, they could demand a higher commission split. In reality, most good experienced people can’t be recruited because if they do ‘cross over’, they want to leave something they don’t like, such as accountability.

In our current business climate, there could be many professional individuals who have been successful with a past non Real Estate career and, due to circumstances, are looking for a new career in sales within another spectrum. All that is needed is to get in touch with them, hire them and teach them the business of Real Estate.

There are also individuals who have something to prove and are very committed to becoming successful for other reasons. Perhaps local community people who know their area well, members of local sporting and business clubs, Mums who have time for a re-booted career, career-change Dads – all that’s missing is the Real Estate knowledge and skills. They have the ethics, the drive, the energy and the enthusiasm to have a good crack at a new career. Why not capture these people?

It’s not difficult to find such people as they’re normally within the professional business circles that all good Real Estate principals and managers move in. Surely this is much better than placing an advertisement in the local newspaper for a ‘motivated person’ with Real Estate experience to come and work for you?

‘Will not do’ vs ‘cannot do’
Finally, what about the people that are currently in a sales team who are just along for the ride; those who are holding the sales manager and sales team back? If a Real Estate principal or manager employed the right person plus gave them great support, but they are not doing well, or hovering between ‘break even’ and ‘broke’, is it them, is it the sales manager, or is it the market? Or, perhaps it’s a combination of all three?

A manager must find out if the person not doing well is a ‘cannot do’ or a ‘will not do’ type of individual. If they’re a ‘cannot do’, perhaps responsibility lies with the manager for not coaching or mentoring them, and not finding out what exactly gets them up in the morning.

However, if they’re a ‘will not do’, it becomes easy because a mistake was made in hiring them in the first place; it becomes a ‘shake hands and go separate ways’ situation.

Retaining successful sales agents
How does a manager keep good operators? It’s important to have systems in place that keep the good operators for as long as possible. All good people will leave – it’s just a matter of time – we must enjoy the journey while they are there with us.

There are many ‘pull pressures’ that keep the good people. It’s often said that “where there’s a good, well-run and profitable sales division, there will be a manager who runs great sales meetings”. Therefore, conducting focused and meaningful sales meetings is a must. A sales manager will not keep their good people if they do not do this well.

A good manager will run a great weekly sales meeting with the core purpose being to compare the listing and sales targets to the actual listings taken and sales made over the previous week. Also discussed is the quality of stock in-hand, the status of stock in the pipe-line, plus buyer activity etc. Not many managers do this well.

Finding a well-balanced team
As the principal/person-in-charge/manager or sales manager, remember you’re the person responsible for the sales production of the ‘team’. You will rarely have a team of top agents. However, you can achieve a well-balanced team consisting of some exceptional and high producers, some middle producers who are consistent and loyal, and perhaps one or two new people progressing through the ranks. Plus, as the senior team member, you can be the ‘I only list what I want to, and when I want to’ member of the team.

It’s the quality of your people that will make your sales division profitable, your people well respected in the community and give you stability; not playing the ‘revolving door’ numbers game. If you stay focused and nurture your team, you have every chance of achieving more sales, more often.

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