(This is Part 1 of a three-part series. See Part 2 and Part 3.)

Is personality, behavioral style, or training the key to helping new agents succeed? While many people offer new agent training, the number of new agents exiting the business without ever making a sale is disheartening. A new study uncovers what really matters most when it comes to hiring and training new agents.

With 25,000 new agents entering the real estate industry every month, the question for both agents and brokers alike is, “What does it take for rookie real estate agents to succeed during their first year in real estate?” With the market slowing in many areas, it seems safe to predict that the number of agents entering the business will decrease. In fact, the National Association of Realtors estimates that its membership may decline from 1.2 million to 800,000 by the end of 2006. If agents and companies are conducting fewer transactions, the cost of hiring the wrong type of agent will be even more costly than it is today.

In summer of 2005, isucceed.com, RealEstateCoach.com and RealEstateSimulator.com conducted a study to identify the correlates of real estate success for rookie agents, i.e., agents who have been actively involved in sales for less than two years. The study evaluated agent production as measured by number of listings taken, number of transactions closed, and GCI (Gross Commission Income). It also examined agent performance using three different assessments:

1. The Real Estate Simulator

This assessment contains three online video sales simulations, a quick IQ test, and an analysis of key behavioral factors related to real estate sales success. The Real Estate Simulator provides feedback on 12 different scales and compares the agent profile against those of agents who earn a minimum of $150,000 per year. Validation studies show that the simulator is a highly accurate predictor of real estate sales success for experienced agents. This is the first study to examine whether the same holds true for rookie agents.

2. The DISC (Target Training International online version)

The DISC assesses the agent’s behavioral style. Major corporations from over 100 countries use the DISC to evaluate behavioral style as it relates to sales performance. Agents who score high on the “D” factor (drive, dominance, i.e. the “get-it-done” factor) traditionally do well in sales. So do agents who score high on the “I” factor. These agents are “people-people.” The most successful agents (approximately 5 percent of the population) score above the 50th percentile on these two factors. Agents who score high on the “S,” or steadiness, factor succeed best when they rely on systems. Those who score high on the “C,” or compliance, factor are detail-oriented and often make excellent assistants or transaction coordinators. The challenge for “S” and “C” agents is that their behavioral style makes prospecting and converting leads more difficult than those agents who score high on the “D” and “I” factors. The DISC profile accurately predicts sales success not only in real estate, but in numerous other sales professions as well. The question is whether it is predictive of sales success for new agents.

3. The PIAV (Target Training International online version)

The Personal Interests, Attitudes, and Values assessment examines six key motivators underlying behavior. The six categories of motivators that drive behavior are:

Aesthetic

People who score high on the Aesthetic factor of the PIAV have an appreciation of form, beauty, art, and design. They are usually attracted to the arts, but may not be artistic themselves.

Individualistic

Power is the primary motivator for people who score high on the Individualistic factor on the PIAV. These individuals often seek to be a leader or influencer in their chosen profession. They are normally independent and may have trouble taking direction from others.

Social

Those who score high on the social factor love people. Their primary motivation is to help others. They enjoy being around others and will actively seek out social interactions.

Theoretical

People who score high on the Theoretical factor tend to have a mental focus. Their primary focus is seeking truth through observation and logic. These people tend to be intellectual and seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

Traditional

Traditional individuals prefer systems with defined rules and regulations. They are often politically conservative and place a high value on religion and authority. Order is extremely important to them.

Utilitarian

People who score high on the Utilitarian factor are motivated by money and security. They tend to be practical, entrepreneurial, and business-focused. Accumulating wealth is important to them, not only for themselves, but for their family as well.

Target Training’s cross-cultural validity studies based upon sales leaders from 178 companies show that the most successful salespeople in America (72 percent) and Germany (71 percent) score high on a single factor. Regardless of their DISC profile, “when it comes to what is on the inside of top performing salespeople, both United States studies as well as the German study confirm it is hands-down, a Utilitarian attitude (i.e. a focus on practicality, efficiency, or economics).” Target Training International’s research demonstrates that behavioral style is secondary to sales success. An agent with any behavioral style can succeed, provided their behavioral style is coupled with a high Utilitarian score on the PIAV. Does having a high score on the Utilitarian factor on the PIAV predict early real estate success or are other factors more predictive in new agents?

(Special thanks to Igor Kotlyar and Cabot Jaffee of the RealEstateSimulator.com, Stefan Swanepoel and Bill Shue of iSucceed.com, and Bill Bonnstetter of Target Training International for their assistance in conducting this study)

Is there a behavioral and motivational style that predicts new agent success? Does age or gender influence whether a new agent will succeed? See next week’s article, Part 2, for answers.

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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