Profile: Salesperson Ownership

Key to steady business

July 1, 1996

Name: Counselor Realty Inc.
Location: Spring Lake Park, Minn.
Size: 120 salespeople

Counselor Realty Inc. has a turnover rate of 2 percent to 10 percent each year, and its salespeople average 12 years' experience and $2.5 million in annual sales.

One key to those solid figures in today's grueling business is salesperson ownership of the company. When salespeople affiliate with Counselor, they purchase shares that give them ownership rights to do such things as help create and implement company policies and hold a company office, such as president or office manager.

"Each salesperson has an equal say in the company's policies," says Barb Solyst, a salesperson and Counselor's current president. "No matter how long salespeople have been with the company, they can serve on a committee or run for a company office."

Since it bestows great authority on its salespeople, Counselor is careful about whom it affiliates. Salespeople must have an annual sales volume of $2 million and two years' experience. After they've submitted an application and undergone a credit check, they pay a deposit toward their stock purchase, which generally runs about $5,000.

"Our primary asset is our reputation," says Greg Anderson, a salesperson and the company's immediate past president. "So we look at prospective partners' reputation in the industry, their sales volume, how well they'll fit in, and whether they're team players---basically whether they'd make everyone else proud to be representing our company."

After salespeople are affiliated, they undergo a six-month trial period. "We don't like to call it probation," says Anderson. "It's a feeling-out time for them and us to make sure it's a good fit, because we're not just bringing on a new salesperson---we're bringing on a partner."

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