Bums on Seats

What does it take to be a real estate salesperson? What skills, what experience, what capability?

I was at a real estate conference - an exclusive event for business owners. There was a break-out session on recruitment.  The moderator asked panelists the key question:

“What do you look for when hiring a new real estate sales person, whats the secret?”

There were various answers about personality, outgoing manner, network and so forth.  Finally the questioning got to the big kahuna of the group - a “hall-of-famer” from the sponsoring franchise group. His business was huge, dominating its geography for many years.  He was honest and direct in his response. “What do I look for when recruiting a new salesperson?” he repeated.  He answered himself, after a suitably dramatic pause, seriously, to rapt attention from the audience:

“Are they breathing?”

At that he stopped. That was it, end of story. The secret sauce.

The franchisor was horrified, of course. “He should not have said that” they lamented, “It's not the forum for that”. The issue wasn’t the factual nature of what he said - it was the unspoken truth that had been exposed.  Almost as if the secret handshake had been violated.

You see real estate is a numbers game - possibly the most important metric to a real estate office is the number of sales people.  The incremental cost of an additional sales person is trivial.  More sales people means more listings, means more chance of success, means more commission revenue. Managers constantly seek to hire.  More sales people creates the impression of size.  Bums on seats!  To grow your business, grow your team. 

Some of this is the beauty of real estate. There is no prototypical real estate agent. What the sales manager is looking for is people willing to take on the risk of being a 100% commission sales person, a person that represents or has an affinity for a segment of the market (eg the young urban professional, the retired towny, or maybe the business owner/operator). The Real Estate Agents Act is looking to change some of this of course - the Authority has yet to introduce on-going education requirements, but have certianly been clear they will.

So, what are the skills you are looking for in your real estate sales person? Do you really understand what that sales person needs to do for you? Are they trained? Do they have the experience? Are they using the best tools?

Do you have the best agency, the best sales person for you - or are you just seeing Bums on Seats?

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