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Hiring Do’s and Don’ts (Part 1)

This is a two-part article on the do’s and don’ts of hiring. In this issue, we will discuss Hiring Don’ts. Next month we will cover Hiring Do’s.

First a question: Do you believe successful hiring is an art or a science?

Many real estate agency leaders will say that hiring is an art. Without  effective hiring and induction systems, they’d be right. But with systems, you have more certainty of finding and developing winners, moving hiring from art to science. MORE

To give your hiring increased effectiveness, here are some Hiring Don’ts.

Nine Hiring Don’ts

  1. Don’t believe you are a good judge of character

In many areas of your life, you probably are a good judge of character, but when hiring you are dealing with people who are trying to impress you. Many will say the right things. And you don’t spend enough time with them to form a character assessment with any accuracy. Belief in your good judgement of character can blind you to clues you may have detected had you been more open minded.

  1. Don’t look for another you

I couldn’t manage another me, and I doubt you could manage another you!

You are looking for somebody who can be trained into a winning salesperson. They may not be as good as you, but can they be trained into a winning salesperson? That’s all you should focus on.

  1. Don’t wing it

Prepare before you phone applicants. Prepare before you interview. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

  1. Don’t develop systems ‘on the trot’

The number one cause of high turnover of salespeople is the absence of a hiring system for attracting, sorting, interviewing, testing and inducting candidates.

Hiring systems keep you on track and, most importantly, get recruits started off right. Developing systems as you go reduces your chances of having your new salesperson pay his or her way quickly.

You might think you are saving by not investing in a hiring system, but you’ll spend a lot more in lost wages.

  1. Don’t talk too much

You are interviewing a candidate, not the other way around. Interviewing is like a sale – you are better off asking questions than you are making statements.

Too many statements mean that you are talking about you and your company. You want the candidate to open up and convince you on why he or she is right for this position.

Ask questions and listen. Secondary questions are very important.

  1. Don’t rely on ‘gut feel’

You can ask questions to uncover the attributes you expect your candidates to exhibit (see Part 2 next month, Hiring Do’s) and you may find evidence that this person will be a winner. If you rely on gut feel, your emotions will cloud your judgment.

Gut feel has its place, but it’s a better tool for firing than hiring.

  1. Don’t procrastinate

The idea is to move people through your hiring system as smoothly and quickly as possible. Decide quickly. Winners won’t wait around too long.

  1. Don’t act out of desperation

If you are desperate for staff, you will probably make the wrong decision. Keep only quality people on your team. Seek out quality people to join your team.

  1. Don’t fall for ‘junk statements’

A junk statement is any statement that sounds good but provides no real information. An example is, “I’m a team player“.

Statements like this should raise a red flag. Can they prove it?

When you detect junk statements like this, question further. “You say you are a team player. What does that look like to you?

A second question: “Can you give me an example of a project you were working on as part of a team, your contribution to that project, and a specific example of how you worked with the team to bring that project to completion?

A third question: “When I ask your referee about your contribution to the team, what do you think he (or she) will say?

Drill down. Ask for evidence. The candidate will know that you are serious about finding the right person. The good ones will appreciate your questions. The wrong people will shuffle awkwardly.

This not a definitive list of Hiring Don’ts but if you address the issues in this list, you will greatly improve your chances of sorting the winners from the wrong people.

Next month we’ll look at Hiring Do’s, in Part 2 of Hiring Do’s and Don’ts.

Gary Pittard
PS Pittard periodically broadcasts a webcast entitled How To Find Good People. This webcast is free and designed for agency principals. It is by invitation only, as we cannot accept some agents owing to contractual obligations to our current members. For more information and to check your eligibility, please follow this link.

The Pretence of Social Media


Social media marketing is, or should be, a company function, and not a task undertaken by individual salespeople. Real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, says, “The pretence of social media is that it is a viable replacement for prospecting. It is not.” In this short leadership session, we discuss the folly of wasting too much time on social media at the expense of speaking with people by telephone or face-to-face.

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How To Make More Sales

Let’s give some thought to how we can make more sales despite the gloom and doom about the current state of the real estate market in many regions.

Reality

The market is your reality. As professionals, we must learn to thrive in all markets, whether booming, static, or down-turning. If you don’t like the reality of this market, ask yourself, “Can I change this? MORE

You know the answer. So you only have two options: 1. Handle it; 2. Leave the industry.

Belief

Our beliefs determine our reality. If you believe you can make sales, you will make sales, provided you do the right actions.

Don’t listen to people who call it a ‘tough market’. Are sales being made in your area? If so, why aren’t you getting a share of those? Think: what must you do to make sales?

There are sellers in your area who want to sell or need to sell. Find them. Talk with them about pricing their properties so that they sell. The longer they wait in a falling market, the lower the price they will receive. Help them to get moving. Instil a sense of urgency into them. Believe that there are plenty of sellers like this just waiting for you to find them, and then go looking!

Negativity

Have you heard any good news about the real estate market lately? Have you heard anything about the market that you didn’t already know? So why are you listening, reading or viewing this drivel?

The only purpose served by negative market news is to inform sellers so that they understand the importance of pricing their properties to sell quickly. Beyond that, this negativity will eat at your morale.

Turn off the news.

Positive Action

Have a plan. Take positive action and have a plan that will lead you to your goals.

You must know where your business will come from. Examine all the possible listing sources (for example For Sale By Owners – FSBO) and for each source ask yourself, “If I spoke to 50 [FSBOs], how many listings would I get?

Your knowledge of your ratios is crucial, too. How many potential sellers do you need to speak with from each listing source to get one listing?

If you spoke to 40 people per day for 5 working days, for 20 days a month, that’s 800 people spoken to in the month. How many listings would that give you?

A lot more than you’d get if you didn’t speak to 800 people.

Positive action will give you a feeling of being in control. Try it.

Change Your Tactics

What worked in a boom doesn’t work in a down-turning market. Conversations with sellers in booms are different to conversations with sellers in down-turning markets.

The key to making sales when the market changes is to adapt.

A popular definition of insanity is repeating the same actions while expecting a different result. If what you’re doing now isn’t working, change tactics.

Train Harder

What book are you reading now? When was the last time you attended a sales seminar? What audio or video on sales have you viewed in the past month?

And I don’t mean YouTube and Ted Talks. Professionals use the ‘free stuff’ as a secondary training source, not their primary training source or their only training source.

YouTube and blogs like this are good for topping up knowledge and for getting you thinking, but they are not organised into cohesive training systems, such as Pittard’s Winning Ways – A Smarter Sales Career. Get more of the training you need, not ‘fast food’ snippets from blogs, short videos and podcasts.

Practise More

In my book, Why Winners Win, I say that acquiring knowledge isn’t enough. We must practise what we learn in the field and keep practising until we get it right. In that way, knowledge turns into skill, and skill is what you need in challenging markets.

Knowledge + Practice = Skill

Add to this Competent Action and results are inevitable.

Work Harder

A swear word for some, but winners work – they work smart and hard. Prospect more – put yourself in front of more potential prospects. Business is out there. Believe it. Go looking for it!

A Better Alternative

In challenging markets, it can be easy to wallow in misery, to blame the market, or some external force that’s preventing you from making sales. That thinking and lack of action can send you broke. Even worse, it can drive you out of the industry feeling like a failure.

A better alternative is to take charge. You can’t control the market, but you can control YOU.

You can find sellers who want or need to sell. You can make sales. You can win.

This market could be the best thing that ever happened to you. It’s all a matter of perspective, and of attitude and action.

Gary Pittard

The Game of Life


In this short sales session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, discusses the importance of clear and precise communication. He also points out the dangers of failing to push the ‘pause button’, instead sending abusive messages that you may later come to regret. Negotiation is the Game of Life, says author Chester Karrass. The better we are at communication and negotiation, the better our professional, and personal, lives will be.

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Reviews: Your Name in Lights

Here in the digital world of the 21st century, let’s give some thought to happy client reviews and, in particular, how we use them.

Some salespeople appear to be more interested in seeing their ‘names in lights’ on sites like the major property portals and Rate My Agent.

Less, if any, attention is given to Google and Facebook. MORE

Search Engines

When a client searches your salesperson’s name online, they probably use a Search Engine, and it’s probably Google.

Try it out – ‘Google’ your salesperson’s name:

Do the top search results point to your agency’s website, or to realestate.com.au, ratemyagent.com.au or similar site?

Your agency website or a personal profile website controlled by your agency   should be at the top of the search, otherwise you are handing over search prominence to third parties. That’s never a smart thing to do.

Give thought to putting focus on getting Google and Facebook reviews elicited directly from happy clients.

The Reward

Two years ago, a Pittard client in Queensland began a quest to have 100 Google Reviews on his website. To make it easier for salespeople and clients to do this, Pittard designed the Rate-Us quick links for Google and Facebook reviews.

Recently, the leader told me, “I got two listings last week where the clients told me that they called me in because of all my good reviews on Google”. For the effort came the reward.

Discipline

All this cost the leader was a bit of effort, and a lot of diligence and follow-up. Every listing and sale his salespeople made, the leader asked the question, “Where is the Review? Eventually the team got the message and asking for reviews became a discipline.

Focus

The focus on Google and Facebook reviews begins with the leader. We make the decision, we convince the team how important it is, and it is up to us to follow up to ensure that asking for reviews becomes a discipline.

From focus comes consistent results: Listings, sales and profit.

Don’t allow your salespeople’s profile to fall into the hands of others outside the agency. Take control and get reviews in your own right.

Direct enquiry to your website. After all, you own that!

Gary Pittard

PS Pittard periodically broadcasts a webcast entitled How To Make Sales In a Tough Market. This webcast is free and designed for agency principals. It is by invitation only, as we cannot accept some agents due to ourcontractual obligations to our current members. For more information and to check your eligibility, please follow this link.

Know Your People, Encourage Your People


In his final ill-fated expedition in Africa, explorer Henry Stanley paid the ultimate price for straying from his usual practice – he didn’t choose his people and he didn’t know them. This short leadership session from real estate agency profit consultant Gary Pittard reminds us of the importance of knowing and encouraging our people.

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Two Types of Salesperson

A change in the market has exposed many of those who looked like winners during the boom. Back then, it was easy to look like a hero – if you could get the listings and held onto them long enough, prices would rise to the sellers’ enthusiastic expectations and you’d make a sale.

Times have changed. Now skill is required to make sales.

In the down-turning markets of Sydney and Melbourne I have noticed the emergence of two distinct types of salesperson: MORE

  1. Those who can sell property;
  2. Those who can’t.

I recently visited a real estate office and spoke with a salesperson who last financial year earned $160,000. In this current financial year, he admitted that he’d be lucky to make $60,000. He said that he’d given up on his goals.

But did he really have goals? I suggested that if he had goals, he would have adjusted to suit the changing market, increased the actions necessary to achieve his targets, and got back on track to achieving his goals.

I asked him to show me his goal calculations and the plan he put together to show how he was going to achieve his goals. He didn’t have any plans. He hadn’t calculated his goals.

And in the absence of a clear reason to achieve, and to do the actions necessary to achieve, his results drifted downwards, helped along by the challenging market.

His leader asked me to talk to the team and suggest some actions. He didn’t like my reply.

The leader thought I was going to read the riot act to the team, tell them that they’re a bunch of lazy so-and-so’s… but instead I said that I didn’t blame them for not doing the right actions – I said…
“Nobody around here has a ‘Why’.”

  • Why would they need to prospect?
  • Why would they need to have those tough conversations with sellers about price?
  • Why would they need to study and hone their skills for this current market?
  • Why would they need to instil a sense of urgency into their sellers and get them sold?

Nobody had goals. Nobody had a reason to do the actions.
The result? They had become salespeople in group 2: they had become salespeople who can’t sell.

They can fix this, but not by doing the same things they’ve been doing.

It’s an old chestnut, but goals work. They inspire us to do the actions necessary to achieve them.

Sure, a downturn in the market might be a setback, but with a goals-focus, a market change is but a blip on the horizon – winners adjust and get back to work on the right actions.

After all, they have a good reason to do so!

Gary Pittard

A Deeper Understanding


In this short sales session, real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, discusses one major difference between the order taker and the professional salesperson. That difference can be summed up in one word: understanding. The more you understand your clients’ needs, the better placed you are to not only make a sale, but to have all parties leave the negotiation feeling satisfied with the result. A sale and a delighted client is the ultimate reward.

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Create A Success Environment


Real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, says, “Real estate agency owners have the options to build their companies into success environments, or do nothing and create mediocrity environments by default”. In this short leadership session, Gary shows how to create a success environment – always the most profitable option.

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Are You Sure It’s the Market?

A lot of leaders and salespeople are complaining about the ‘tough market’. But is the market really the whole problem?

The advice I’ve been giving to Pittard clients is that we can’t change the market – it’s the hand we’ve been dealt – and so instead let’s concentrate on what we can control. MORE

Skill

My friend, Peter O’Malley, author of Inside Real Estate, said:

“When markets change, salespeople need to re-skill.”

Techniques that worked during the boom, no longer work. Conversations at the listing presentation are different to boom-time conversations. Price must be discussed carefully, and sellers must understand that the longer they wait, the lower the price they will eventually get.

Do you know how to make listings saleable in down-turning markets? If not, it’s time to re-skill.

Client Selection

You must be choosey with the clients you take on in challenging markets. List sellers who aren’t serious about selling and they will consume masses of your time and office resources for no result.
Even worse, they can shatter your confidence and morale.

Sometimes it is better to be the second agent that takes on a listing and not the first. And it is never a good idea to take on those sellers who say things like, “If I get my price I’ll sell”.

Focused Action

You can wallow in the difficulty of this market, or you can rise to it. It’s your choice.

It follows that if you intend being selective with the clients you take on, you had better be prepared to do a lot of prospecting. This will increase your opportunities of finding sellers who are serious about selling.

If you have not set clear goals, calculated the income you need to achieve and designed a plan to achieve that income, you are probably drifting downwards with the market.

Goals and targets give you focus – and in a challenging market you need focus. You must know how many people you will speak with each day. Thanks to the goals that you want so badly, your actions will be focused. Results are just a matter of time.

You Are Better Than the Market

Before you are tempted to blame the market for poor performance, remind yourself that this thinking can send you broke.

Look to your skill, focus and client selection.

What are you reading right now? What audio or video programs have you studied recently? Are you learning material that will help your career?

Your results will improve when YOU do.

You are better than the market. Now go and prove this to yourself.

Gary Pittard

Love Of Quality Work


Are you the type of person who does just enough to get by at work, or does quality work mean something to you? Real estate agency profit consultant, Gary Pittard, says that a love of quality work is one thing that differentiates winners from their mediocre counterparts.

This is not ‘going the extra mile’, it’s doing what you said you would do, in the manner you said you would do it, when you said you would do it.

How much better would many salespeople’s careers be if they delivered quality work? If you love quality work, you will deliver it.

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A Sure Way to Higher Profits: why coaching salespeople pays dividends

Many offices struggle and so do their salespeople.

In the nineties, salespeople wrote on average $135,000 in fees. Since 2010 we have seen little evidence that this average has changed much, despite selling fees trebling over that time and markets booming in many regions. MORE

Pittard salespeople are well trained – they are inducted with a solid foundation of training, testing and practical work experience prior to them being appointed permanently to the sales team.

Yet, despite this training, we still see that salespeople need a coach. Left to their own devices, many salespeople will drift toward the easy tasks, those tasks that do not put them at risk of facing rejection, tasks that are usually low on productivity.

All salespeople, but particularly those who have not yet reached winner status, need a coach. And the person best placed to coach salespeople is their leader.

Keith Rosen, author of Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions, released his latest book, Sales Leadership in late 2018. He surveyed business leaders and asked what values they compromised most due to the pressure to perform.

They listed:

  • Making an impact by being a trusted advisor and guiding people down the best path for their career
  • Developing people to help them succeed and observing them advance in a career they love
  • Achieving team goals that are bigger than the individual’s
  • Family, contribution, life balance, integrity, patience, living in the moment
  • Helping people achieve things they didn’t think were possible

Instead of compromising in these areas, would your business be more profitable if you embraced these values and stepped up to the duty of coaching? You know it would!

Myth of micromanaging

People often say, “I don’t want to micromanage my people”. I say, “Why not?” Some people need micromanaging.

When salespeople are new, they need to be micromanaged. And this micromanagement must continue until they reach a minimum performance standard – in Pittard offices, that’s $300,000 in gross fees. After that level, they don’t need to be managed as closely.

Clarity

Coaching sessions must never be about pointing out what the person being coached is doing wrong and what he or she needs to do to remedy the situation. That’s lecturing, not coaching.

Good coaching begins with a clear goal, what is to be achieved from the coaching session, a clear agenda to give structure to the session and clear agreement that the actions uncovered during the coaching session will be followed.

The coach leads by asking the right questions, rather than offering opinions – the coach ‘draws out’ the actions necessary for improvement instead of forcing the coach’s ideas of the right actions onto the person being coached. Good coaching is collaboration, not lecturing.

Leaders who have attended Pittard’s Agency Profit System® have a Training & Coaching manual packed with plenty of tips to turn a leader into a coach.

I recommend that all leaders read Sales Leadership by Keith Rosen. I guarantee that it will help you to become a better coach.

The reward will be a happier and more effective sales team, you will feel more fulfilled as a leader, and your agency will be much more profitable.

That’s a win for everyone!

Gary Pittard

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