Fitting the Training to the Audience

In developing training for your office, you can't use the “one size fits all” approach. Training guru Mike Ferry of The Mike Ferry Organization offers advice on how to focus training to meet the needs of each sales group.

How does a broker determine what type of training is most beneficial to a particular office?

Ferry: First, the broker needs to divide the sales team into three categories—salespeople who are untrained or unproductive; salespeople who are untrained but moderately productive (10 transactions a year); and salespeople who are highly productive.

What sorts of training should you offer the unproductive group?

Ferry: These associates, whether they are new to the business or just not producing, need to learn basic real estate skills—how to develop a work schedule and a budget, how to prospect, how to make a basic listing presentation, etc. Meet with these associates in small groups as often as three times a week for an hour until you’ve established a basic skill set for selling real estate.

What about the moderately productive salespeople?

Ferry: The first challenge here is to demonstrate the need for learning to this group. This sort of salespeople may be selling enough homes to get by and don’t know what they don’t know. And if you tell them, they’ll get mad. The key here is to first spend time helping them understand what they earn and what they could earn if they really improved their selling skills and spent less on expense direct-mail solicitations.

Once you’ve gotten this group beyond its complacency, focus training on really learning how to sell—developing a center of influence, building client referrals through follow-up, and improving closing techniques. This group should meet once or twice a week for an hour to do role-playing and other exercises that will improve their skills.

What about the top performers? Do they need training?

Ferry: Everyone can benefit from training, but this group is often the most challenging for the broker to train in-house. Some brokers are actually afraid to tackle them, but if you can increase the sales in your highest sellers, you’ve had much more impact on your company’s bottom line than you will if you get a moderate producer to go from 10 to 15 transactions a year.

The top performer group will benefit most from training that helps them learn to operate their sales activities like a business—controlling expenses, leveraging the brand name they’ve created for themselves, and staffing issues, and understanding where their business comes from. This group usually does better meeting once or twice a month at a “mastermind” session where group members can share ideas and ask each other and the trainer for advice.

Any last words of advice to help brokers in preparing their training materials?

Ferry: Three things need to happen during any training session:

  1. You need to educate participants on an issue.
  2. You need to motivate to want to try it.
  3. You need to entertain them enough so that they’ll come back.
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