Create a Great Selling Team

Developing a team need not be complicated.

November 1, 2002

Team selling is one of the fastest-growing trends in real estate, and there’s a simple reason: It helps real estate professionals increase their income while reducing their workload.

Long hours are common in this industry, and most salespeople would like to reclaim their personal life from weekend showings and endless evenings of calls and paperwork. Team selling allows salespeople to make multiple things happen at once, which translates into more sales.

Developing a team need not be complicated, but how do you know you need one? Here are some warning signs: First, you’re working too many hours, sometimes 60 or 70 hours a week. Second, your service is declining. You want clients to tell you, “This is the best I’ve ever been treated,” but that’s not the response you hear. Third, you have a burning desire to build your sales.

If that describes you, get some help. The first step is to identify your most productive activities. Make a list of all the tasks that best support your role as rainmaker and lead fastest to income—that is, prospecting, listing, negotiating, and selling. These duties may include calling FSBOs, writing offers, and making calls to your farm and sphere. These are the things you want to continue to do yourself.

Hire an administrative team member to assemble pre-listing kits, put up signs and lockboxes, create brochures, deliver packets, and prepare CMAs. One way to sort out what you should delegate is to determine your hourly rate by dividing your annual gross commission by the number of hours you work. If you can pay someone less than your hourly rate to do the task, delegate it.

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is hiring a buyer specialist first. A buyer specialist may bring you another 30 transactions per year, but that’ll simply add to the customer service and administrative chores you were having trouble completing in the first place.

Many salespeople hate detail work such as setting up mailings, so find someone who thrives on it. Interview candidates with this in mind, asking questions that allow you to judge their work style—for example, “Describe a stressful work-related incident and how you handled it.”

When you do hire, test the relationship with a three-month trial period. You can help things go smoothly by setting up systems for managing repetitive work, such as contact management and gift giving. All of this will free your time and improve your service.

After you have a productive administrative assistant, the next steps are to build your team with one or more buyer specialists, followed by a closing specialist. Commission structures for buyer specialists vary widely, from 25 percent to more than 50 percent. Pay more if the specialists handle virtually every part of the sale or the lead comes directly from their sphere. Measure specialists’ value by how much work they take off your plate.

With all your assistants, insist on an “it’s my pleasure” attitude with clients. Answering any request with this small phrase makes a big difference in how customers feel about working with your team. The typical response to customer requests is “OK” or “no problem,” but those words don’t mean you really want to help!

What results can you expect from creating a selling team? Whether you bring in $40,000 a year or $400,000, the rule of thumb is a doubling of sales volume. As the adage says, “The purpose of an organization is to allow ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”

Sample interview questions are available at

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