The meteoric rise of teams is only expected to accelerate over the next few years as the market softens and lone wolf agents grow hungrier for leads and support.

What should agent teams focus on? Should members receive a steady diet of leads, or should they be responsible for generating their own business? And what about dealing with agents who are a questionable fit? Should leaders try to sculpt them or cut them loose?

Successful team leaders recently addressed these questions and more at Inman Connect New York 2019. Here are eight tips for building a high-performing team that can thrive even in a down market.

1. Don’t let people call 

One all-important question is scrawled on a white board hanging in the office of Jeff Glover’s team: “How can we make it so that a customer never has to reach out to us?”

That’s to emphasize the importance of anticipating customers’ needs and placing a laser focus on customer experience, Glover said.

For example, sellers often call to ask about appraisals shortly after appraisers leave their homes. Why not call them first?

“We should have done a better job of focusing on the customer experience during the last shift [in the market around 2011],” Glover said. They will not make the same mistake this time, he said.

2. Don’t go overboard with leads

Veronica Figueroa, broker-owner of RE/MAX Innovation, said her team suffered an acute case of “lead fatigue,” with members feeling overwhelmed by a constant torrent of prospective customers to call.

To bring more order to the situation, Figueroa sliced her team into three pods of five, each comprised of a leader and two other agents. Now, one week out of the month, each pod is dedicated to taking and making calls. During the other weeks, they can focus on existing clients.

Meanwhile, Glover doesn’t send many leads at all to agents on his team. He’s found success with them hooking their own clients. Part of his secret has been putting all new members, including veteran agents, through six months of training where they serve exclusively as inside sales agents (ISAs), before they can go on listing appointments.

3. Don’t focus too much on the numbers

Focusing on whether team members are meeting their KPIs (key performance indicators) almost “crippled” Figueroa’s business, she said.

Nurturing agents and fostering a warm team culture must take precedence over the numbers sometimes, panelists agreed. One way that Figueroa mentors agents is by listening to their calls with customers and then offering constructive feedback.

It’s important to help agents grow professionally, she said. One way she did this was by nixing the hard line she had once drawn between buyer’s agents and listing agents.

“The minute I took away the glorified listing agent who was sitting back and wasn’t growing inventory,” the team’s listings jumped by 25 percent, she said.

4. Consider hiring a coach 

Both Figueroa and fellow panelist Therese Antonelli, broker-owner of Moving the Mitten Real Estate Group, said that hiring a coach had done wonders for improving the organization and accountability of their teams.

5. Perhaps, specifically, a recruiting coach

Antonelli said some of her team’s “low-productivity agents” likely won’t be able to weather the down market ahead. It’s more important than ever, she said, for her team to snag new talent. A recruiting coach she hired has been “life-changing” in that respect.

6. Because recruiting is key

Figueroa, too, said her team is “now accepting the reality that we have to be recruiting. We constantly have to be attracting new talent,” she said.

7. Hold accountability sessions

When deals are falling into your lap, as has sometimes been the case for agents during the last couple of years, “accountability kind of falls to the wayside,” Antonelli said.

But Antonelli has changed this by creating accountability groups. Once a week, she said, team members meet for an hour in a room — no drinks, no food and no cell phones allowed — and discuss whether they are meeting their goals.

At the end of these meetings, agents pair up in duos, and then check in with each other every day over the next week to hold each other accountable.

8. Fire bad fits

Figueroa says one lesson she learned is to release team members who aren’t a good fit before they “explode in my face.”

Best to be upfront about what’s working and what’s not with team members and adjust the nature of their employment accordingly.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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