The Coldwell Banker CEO told the Inman Connect crowd that external lead sources like Zillow change, but organic lead growth puts agents in control.

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Cross country running and real estate have one thing in common: the need for endurance, according to Coldwell Banker CEO M. Ryan Gorman.

While people often look for shortcuts to their goals and don’t want to be told to “eat right and exercise,” the secret to success is not much of a secret, Gorman told attendees at Inman Connect Las Vegas on Wednesday in a session called, “The Role of the Agent in 2022 and Beyond.”

“This industry is all about endurance and consistency and persistence,” he said. “Anybody can be successful in real estate if you really work hard and consistently. You really have to put in the work.”

“Every agent needs to prepare themselves for an endurance race,” he added.

Acknowledging the audience, Gorman said the best agents are those who seek to be informed but don’t “freak out” at every hint of disruption. They “make sure they’re decompressing their clients” by letting them know they’re “the subject matter expert” in their business, according to Gorman.

Regarding lead generation, he noted that some agents have built their business on Zillow leads and have subsequently found that that external lead source changes over time. Agents should consider, “Where am I actually getting my business? Where am I allocating our time? What’s the exposure I have to someone else’s decisions as opposed to my own?” Gorman said.

That doesn’t mean that an external lead source is not a good place to get started, he added, but “if you’re really building up organically, then you’re in control.”

Asked about teams, Gorman noted that a well-run team — and he emphasized “well-run” — can help an agent be more efficient.

“That means more of your time can be invested in what’s going to give you the highest possible return,” he said. “Those who allocate their time efficiently are going to win.”

An agent’s brand is still “extremely relevant” because it can also boost efficiency, according to Gorman. He told the story of a broker who, after leaving Coldwell Banker, realized he was spending a lot more time educating his clients about who he was and what he did.

A big brand can surround an agent with a “brand halo,” according to Gorman. “You’re not wasting your time, you’re investing every minute of your time,” he said.

Coldwell Banker still offers its agents brick and mortar offices, but aims to equip its agents with everything they need so that they never have to come into the office if they don’t want to, but still provides them with an office if they do, Gorman said. In the latter case, the franchisor tries to provide opportunities to bring people together intentionally, such as through a “happy hour” or “mastermind” forums.

Coldwell Banker has also built intentionality into its diversity initiative, its Inclusive Ownership Program, which is aimed at increasing the representation of minority, women, LGBTQ+ and veteran entrepreneurs at Coldwell Banker franchises. Gorman said he wanted the program to be “materially significant,” not just a source of talking points or an ego boost.

“That program was designed to massively over-invest” in recruiting from underrepresented communities, according to Gorman, including making him a personal mentor to every single person accepted into the program.

“The flip side is, of course, if you don’t massively over-invest when you have a massive problem, then you’re never going to achieve your goal,” he said.

Before paying attention to diversity, Coldwell Banker’s open office manager positions were filled externally only 2 percent of the time, but are now filled externally 42 percent of the time, according to Gorman.

“It’s about a massive over-correction,” Gorman said. While some people complain “that’s not fair, that’s not equitable,” he’s focused on a goal of “seeing a different world than we have today.”

The session ended with Gorman refuting the idea that we’re in a housing bubble.

“A strong seller’s market is going to be with us for some time,” he said.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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