Is the market calling upon real estate broker-owners to review how they train their agents to prospect for listings and find better-qualified prospects?

Could it be that there has been too much focus on tools and not enough on targets?

I’m not talking about tools such as social media or other technologies. These are tools that become weapons of mass frustration if not aimed at the right prospect target.

Technology, if we are not careful, can become the answer to everything but sales. I can head in the wrong direction faster, more conveniently, and at less cost — but it is still the wrong direction, if there is a better road available.

Namely, a niche. What are you doing to train your agents to prospect for buyers of new homes, for example? My guess is not much, if anything, because brokers and their trainers don’t tend to know that much about the new-home industry (with apology to those who do).

Some agents have figured it out on their own, but they are far too few in number. (Disclosure is due here: I do personally offer new-home sales training.)

Realtor Lorraine Kuney of Re/Max Executive Realty in Franklin, Mass., figured it out a long time ago with her team leader, Barbara Todaro. Their emphasis on new homes led them to represent builders in their area. But they never lost sight of their bread and butter: listings.

“We market to new-home buyers exclusively, because we are, first and foremost, resale listing agents. Not everyone can afford to buy new. We are the first to meet most mid- to high-end buyers, and most have homes to sell,” Kuney said.

“Many pay cash or carry low mortgages and purchased their homes long ago,” Kuney said, “and many purchase resales instead of new construction.”

If you have production builders in your market you may be even more fortunate, as you may have more new buyers coming into the market.

“Many new-home prospects turn to resales, if they find new-home prices too high. They start high, then with the help of resale inventory find the right price for their budget,” Kuney said. “This approach has worked for our team for years.”

Here’s a thought.

Suppose your office developed a policy to begin field training for new agents on the first day they join your office. They can spend the morning filling out the paperwork and the afternoon visiting the nearest new-home sales office or an area resale home or open house event, receiving on-the-job training and mentoring.

At the new-home sales office they can learn from the onsite agent about the development’s amenities, and how to register their prospects and themselves.

Most importantly: The new agents will go home that night having seen a home or two and having learned a lot about very particular locations (which is critical to getting listings in any market). These agents will also hopefully be inspired about the industry and your company’s training program.

As a part of the training, new agents could work on a split-fee basis with an experienced listing agent, for example, shadowing that agent through the listing presentation and other tasks.

By day two the new agents could learn the ropes about amenities, presentation tips, and prospect registration processes at other area new-home communities, as an example.

The critical factor is the confidence gained in learning about area inventory, and the importance of developing resources for answering all kinds of in-the-field questions.

Within two days, these agents would hopefully realize the very practical benefits of the company’s training and put it to work — all the while being reminded that the more buyer prospects they draw, the better their chances to list those prospects’ homes for sale.

The training method above isn’t really about your training budget, because there is minimum cost, other than the time involved — and perhaps the discomfort of revamping your system.

This method is about providing proactive, in-the-field training to agents who are desperately seeking a way to gain experience (and prospective clients) while differentiating their services, and to help broker-owners build a better recruiting story than their competition by tapping into the area’s market niches. Maybe it is time for some new thinking in your office.

Your thoughts?

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