During a late afternoon panel at Inman Connect New York on Wednesday, moderator Sarah Jones of Bamboo Realty kicked off the conversation by telling the crowd, “I guarantee you will hear something you haven’t heard before.”

  • Enticing agents with short-term gains is typically in no one's best interests.
  • Hands-on training and mentorship creates the atmosphere necessary for company growth.

During a late afternoon panel at Inman Connect New York on Wednesday, Sarah Jones of Bamboo Realty kicked off the conversation by telling the crowd, “I guarantee you will hear something you haven’t heard before.”

Indeed, Jones said, she was quite familiar with the subject matter at hand: “Buy. Sell. Repeat.” But after conversing with featured speaker Nick Segal, president of Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage, in preparation for #ICNY, her perspective shifted.

Here’s what he had to say.

Never take your agents for granted

No. 1 — brokers have clients. And those clients are their agents.

“Raise your hands,” Segal said to the audience. “How many of you feel like you have great security and absolute confidence in the future financial state of your business?”

There was a good share of hesitant hands in the air before Segal drove home his point: Real estate is never at risk of being boring. That also means that when you turn out the lights, some of your agents may not be at the office when you wake up the next day.

From this standpoint, Segal said that every day he asks himself, “What are we going to do as a team to ensure that people not only come back, but they come back as ambassadors?”

Build loyalty amid uncertainty

It comes down to looking at short-term versus long-term wealth. If you’re an agent, there’s always a level of uncertainty about your next transaction, i.e., “Am I really going to do this again?”

“If someone is seduced by short-term wealth, their loyalty has just been bought,” Segal said. “How long will that loyalty last?”

This is made more complicated by a competitive landscape. Segal is based in Los Angeles, and there are upward of 30 brokerages in Beverly Hills alone. That’s a lot of noise for one marketplace. (About a quarter raised their hands to indicate — “yeah, we can relate.”)

How do you differentiate yourself? By building a culture of loyalty, which can only begin with the person in a position of leadership.

In many ways the foundation for loyalty at your brokerage is the trust of your agents. So that begs the question — can you trust yourself to not let them down?

“When I know that I’m solid and grounded, I can look at anybody and say, ‘this is my word.'” Segal said. “And that resonates with people viscerally. That’s how you build rapport and when they start to feel comfortable with you.”

There should be enough confidence to go around

With 228 agents and projected growth ahead, Segal has a lot of faith in his agent training program that he calls Value Conscious Negotiation. He describes it as a road map for agents to chart their course and define their own version of success. The eight week program’s 45-minute sessions are posted online so they’re watchable from a smartphone or from the comfort of your pajamas.

One of the program’s core lessons is identifying your value proposition as an agent.

“So often we don’t invest the time to be able to articulate — ‘why should I hire you?”” Segal said. “How would you answer? And would you be articulate?”

His teaching of negotiation is a six-step process that aims to help agents walk into a room with highest degree of confidence even on their first deal.

Another tactic he uses is to ask agents who had a solid year, “What was the one distilled thing that you knew that you did well that was repeatable and made you money? Write it down and keep doing that same thing.”

He encourages those who had less-than-stellar outcomes to identify what they should have done — but didn’t. From there, an accessible action step comes to life.

Given these snippets of information, a picture emerged of a business atmosphere where mentorship trumps management.

Closing thoughts

How did the company expand from four agents in 2009 to where it is today?

One communication at a time, and from a team seeking the opportunity to learn every day and hold each other accountable. While tech-to-human tools promote efficiency and workflow in the modern business model and new real estate marketing like content marketing and PPC is done virtually and at better scale, all the talking and reflecting going on at Partners Trust shows that human-to-human connection perseveres at the forefront.

Email Caroline Feeney.

Connect with me on Facebook! | Follow me on Twitter!

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