5 Questions to Ask Before Investing in a New Agent

The following five questions will help brokers invest wisely in those who'll run the most profitable small businesses.

April 1, 2011

By far, the greatest challenge for most brokerages is balancing the effort to increase head count while signing only the most potentially productive salespeople. Ray Garrett, district staffing manager for ZipRealty of Central Virginia, says a mistake many companies make is recruiting and interviewing salespeople as though they’ll be employees, rather than affiliated agents of the company. "Our approach reframes the recruiting concept, with the belief that as brokers we do not ‘hire’ salespeople but rather invest in small businesses," he says. Assuming a brokerage offers a strong technology package, expert training, and great support, Garrett says, the following five questions will help brokers invest wisely in those who’ll run the most profitable small businesses.

  1. What are your goals for this year?  When you invest in any business, you need to know what the immediate return on investment is likely to be.
  2. Do you have these goals written down on paper? No bank will lend to an entrepreneur who doesn’t have a written business plan. So why would you invest in a salesperson who doesn’t? Always have salespeople submit their financial goals in writing to demonstrate that they’re serious about the business.
  3. Where do you see your business three years from now?  The purpose of this question is to understand whether the salesperson has a long-term plan that’s defined. Yes, it’s important for the person to continue growing. But your objective during the interview is simply to evaluate the salesperson’s level of planning.
  4. Who are your potential clients, and what is your plan to reach them? Interviewees need to be able to give a more specific answer than "my sphere of influence." There are many different customer demographics within a single sphere. Salespeople who can describe the different customer makeup of their sphere and provide a detailed marketing plan are already thinking like a business.
  5. What do you need from me to help you reach your goals? Cut to the chase. A venture capitalist asks this question of potential investments; so should you.

You invest a lot of time and money in your sales force. With these five questions, you can begin to evaluate potential recruits as business investments—and help salespeople understand that they are indeed running a business.