How do real estate agents stay motivated? 10 proven tactics to bring back the fire

Mindset & Motivation
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As time goes on, the real estate landscape grows even more competitive. And with the right tools and motivation, even new agents can unseat the established rainmakers in their area.

For highly motivated agents, the sky’s the limit. But what about the days when your heart’s just not in it?

We reviewed our library of insights from top-performing brokers and team leaders to pinpoint tried-and-tested tips for boosting real estate agent motivation, even on the hardest days in the game. Because the truth is, we could all use a boost from time to time.

So what is it that keeps us driving forward in an industry where the average agent fails within the first five years? Why do some agents stay productive while others seem to wait for success to fall into their laps? And how can brokers and team leaders reach underperforming agents and inspire them to reach the next level?

Today, we’re exploring all this and more in our guide to maintaining your motivation in the fast-paced game of real estate.

10 proven tactics to increase agent motivation

  1. Keep it fun
  2. Recruit the right people for your team
  3. Set clear expectations from day one
  4. Onboard with intent
  5. Share specific feedback
  6. Offer public recognition
  7. Strike the right balance with performance tracking
  8. Use the right technology
  9. Give your agents systems they can grow on

Want to motivate your agents? Start with a good look in the mirror

The vast majority of team leaders and brokerage owners are top-performing agents themselves.

But as your company grows, it becomes harder to keep the balance between being the one everyone wants to follow and the one out in the field closing the deals. 

It’s not easy to let go of old habits, but if you truly want a highly motivated team to take your business to the next level, you need to spend more time leading and less time producing.

Here’s why:

  • 94% of workers say they’re more likely to stay with a company that invests in their careers. While some people hear the word “investment” and think of money, many actually equate it to time and attention from leader like you.
  • 75% of employees say their motivation and morale would improve with simple recognition from their managers. Encouraging words, recognizing a job well done, and even a small but thoughtful gift can be the key to unlocking increased motivation.
  • Employees who believe they’ll be recognized are 2.7 times more engaged

Take Robert Slack for example. He’s a broker who undeniably recognizes the power of leadership over producing — not to mention, agent accountability.

“We need our agents to show a positive return on leads. If we go in and see no notes and no showings, we’re going to sit down and have a chat,” says Robert, who runs a team with 600 agents across 700 zip codes in Florida.

By directly engaging underperforming agents, Robert invests in their growth and actively coaches them towards the next level. When done with care and respect, this can increase productivity, creating a more engaged and in Robert’s case, leading to over $1.5 billion in production. 

But his approach isn’t the only one.

Whether it’s gamification techniques, a data-driven approach to analyzing agent performance, or the divine art of shaping your company's culture, the best real estate leaders know how to uncover their team’s unique “growth language” for optimal results.

What keeps real estate agents motivated? 10 proven tips to get them back in the game

Now that we’re clear on the fact that you (yes, you!) as the team leader are the person responsible for keeping your agents motivated, let’s dive into some of the specific tactics that can help keep your team on track.

1. Keep it fun 

Whether you’re just getting started with building a team or looking for ways to get your veteran agents’ heads back in the game, creating a little space to find the fun can reinvigorate your team in no time.

It might sound simplistic but there are some very real benefits to a fun working environment. In fact, the Harvard Business Review states that injecting a healthy dose of fun into the office can lead to tangible improvements in creativity, engagement and a shared sense of purpose. 

Leaders like Taylor Hack of Edmonton-based HACK&Co know this all too well.

Taylor has a clear and detailed five-part strategy for coaching his team:

  • Look for gameness from the start. (More on this in a minute.)
  • Commit to in-depth mentoring. 
  • Give them the tools to succeed.
  • Unlock achievements to reward ramp-up milestones.
  • Build the customer experience around them.

The common denominator in each and every element? Taylor knows how to keep it fun.

“When I look at successful salespeople or real estate agents, they’re motivated by chase."

"Whether that’s chasing status, stuff, or help. But they’re much more modeled after predators than prey. And that pursuit is what we’re trying to foster,” he explains.

From the interview to onboarding and every day after, Taylor uses gamification techniques to increase agent motivation and accountability for better outcomes at the team level.

Plus, his team’s branding is a load of fun.

2. Recruit the right agents

You guessed it. A highly motivated culture starts with assembling the right real estate team.

Because no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to motivate a winning team if you haven’t filled your roster with agents that have the ability to execute your vision. Depending on your team’s culture, there should be certain traits to look for when hiring agents, and you shouldn’t settle for less.

Sometimes that means looking past experience towards some of the more “intangible” personality traits.

Michael Smith, CEO of Greenville, South Carolina’s Bluefield Realty Group, isn’t afraid to look beyond experience when building his top-producing team.

“I spend a lot of time trying to make sure we have the right people on the bus, and then in the right seat on the bus. I'm looking for the things that can't be taught, like integrity and work ethic.”

By focusing on character over experience in your recruitment and hiring process, you’ll be much more likely to bring on agents with the kind of deep, resilient motivation that can weather any storm.

3. Set clear expectations from day one

You can motivate new agents from the start by getting clear about your company culture and what they can expect to see when they start working with your team.

Justin Havre, team leader of the #1 RE/MAX team in Canada, is no stranger to hiring.

"What I've learned over the years is that you set all the expectations at the hiring table."

He went on to share the exact list of questions he uses to set clear expectations at the hiring table:

  • What kind of leadership have you worked under?
  • What has your experience been?
  • What worked for you during that time? What didn't?
  • What are your expectations of me as a leader?
  • How do you respond to accountability?

If you want to make sure your agents are motivated from day one, you need to set the right expectations from day zero.

Start by adjusting your interview questions and be sure to clarify your expectations to every potential new agent who comes through your doors.

4. Onboard with intent

Emily Smith, COO of Orlando-based Wemert Group Realty leads a team that produces over $283 million in sales with only 40 agents.

Her secret?

Every time a new agent joins the Wemert team, Emily and her leadership team invest their time and energy in ensuring new agents start off on the right foot by building healthy, high-performance habits such as: 

  • Proactive lead nurturing
  • Organized database management
  • Active adoption of the company’s culture code 

The right agent onboarding helps new agents hit the ground running, while ensuring that they don’t get discouraged along the way. And because Emily and her team invest the time and effort upfront, they also gain important insight into what each individual agent wants out of their time on the team.

As a bonus, Emily’s airtight onboarding policy also empowers the team to quickly set agents on a bespoke path to success, which is a major motivation booster in itself. 

For Emily, it’s time well spent.

“There’s no easy path in this business to relationships. If you’re really going to build a relationship-based business, you can’t be absent from your database."

"Your database needs your attention, it needs your time, and it needs effort. You have control of the success based on the time you spend nurturing it.”

Agents at Wemert Group Realty fill out a weekly database tracking sheet, and the team uses six and twelve-month evaluations as touchpoints to ensure the habits set in place on day one continue long after the initial honeymoon phase is over.

5. Share specific feedback

Meaningful feedback is specific feedback about the effort — not the person. And it is vital to keeping your agents motivated. Yet research shows that 17% of employees feel the feedback they’re offered simply isn’t specific enough. 

With the right system and real estate CRM, you can quickly pinpoint which one of your agents does best with Zillow leads, or identify your speed-to-lead superstar, and give that person well-deserved praise and recognition to help boost their motivation and encourage more of the same behavior.

At the same time, you can easily pinpoint the agents who are struggling with following-up or handling a specific type of sales conversation, for example FSBO or expired leads, and coach them with tailored advice, scripts and sales training.

"I get the data I need in my reports so that I know where I need to help."

"How many dials, conversations, contacts, appointments. We also track the average talk time so we can see if the talk times are too short. And if we need to, we can listen to some of the calls to see where things are going sideways,” explains California-based Sergio Gonzalez of SG Associates.

Clear and specific feedback driven by data has been a crucial part of his journey to scaling his team to $50 Million in a premium real estate market.

6. Offer public recognition

Public recognition is a great way to boost team morale. 

All you have to do is make sure that every agent’s contribution is visible to the rest of the team and boom — you’ve instantly increased motivation at the team level.

If your real estate lead management system doesn’t already include a built-in leaderboard, start by creating a visible chart or white board to keep a public tally of team success and any corresponding rewards.

For example, when agents at the Orlando-based Funk Collection team do simple things like make a gratitude call, secure stellar online reviews, or lend a hand to other team members, they’re rewarded with points.

The winner of the team’s last point-based contest won a one-week cruise for two — not a bad cherry-on-top for doing the things you should already be doing to help hit your commission goals!

If your CRM does already include a leaderboard, cast it to the web or meeting room TV so everyone's hard work gets recognized and celebrated.

“We’re a very innovative team but at the same time, we like to use new tools to do old school stuff that works like letting people know when to get on the phone, when to write a handwritten card, send a birthday card, etc. — these are really important but they’ve kind of gotten lost in our industry,” explains broker associate Jeff Funk.

The way this team sees it, relationships are the number one thing that will keep them relevant far into the future — and that’s just as important among team members as it is with clients.

7. Strike the right balance in your performance tracking

You’ve heard it before — you need to measure what matters.

The ability to analyze team performance and make data-driven decisions to grow your real estate business is what separates the best from the rest in this (and arguably every) industry. 

But even more important is how you use that data to motivate and engage your team members. 

Today there is a growing trend among business leaders to focus on collaborative forward-looking performance reviews, as opposed to outdated backward-looking coaching. And drab, hard to follow Excel reports probably won’t help you do that.

Suneet Argawal is the broker behind the #1 ranked real estate team in California by the Wall Street Journal.

Set the right expectations, then following up with the right performance tracking system.

“If you're mandating stuff for your agents, your energy's going to be spent chasing people around. Don’t mandate it and instead have clear expectations. That way, those expectations are either executed or they’re not,” he explains. 

But Suneet doesn’t stop there.

Once the right expectations are in place, he takes a largely hands-off approach to performance tracking by relying on a well-integrated real estate tech stack.

For example, Suneet integrates tools like CallAction and Callingly straight into Follow Up Boss to streamline tracking for both inbound calls and outbound lead follow-up. With all call activity flowing in and out of one central system, he can easily track agent activity and use that data to coach his team as needed.

8. Use the right technology

We already mentioned that Justin Havre, leader of the #1 RE/MAX team in Canada has pretty much seen it all when it comes to team management, but running his business from sixteen different CRMs was definitely another one of his early growth mistakes.

"Agents would be on multiple websites and there would be some battling internally because when a lead would register on one website, chances are they would register on another one of our websites as well and then they would land with another agent on the team and that would create a little bit of animosity and conflict," Justin remembers.

The right tools can help you make sure the right leads automatically go directly from your real estate website straight to the right agents, while letting you instantly reassign leads based on agent performance. 

But the right system also helps agents avoid motivation-draining analysis paralysis by automatically answering key questions like:

  • Who do I call next?
  • Where can I improve?
  • How can I help this person in a unique way?
“Having the right technology helps reduce internal battles between agents.”

When your agents can clearly see exactly what they need to do to get and keep momentum in their business, it suddenly becomes much easier for them to stay motivated.

9. Keep your systems chaos-free (even as you scale)

How does Carrie Courtney, Team Leader at Florida and Texas-based Changing Latitudes stay on top of a high-achieving brokerage spanning two states and three-plus locations?

It’s all about helping her agents maintain their focus with streamlined systems that scale with — and never against — the business.

Like many other fast-growing multi-location real estate businesses, Changing Latitudes’ leads come from a variety of sources, including:

  • HomeLight
  • Zillow Flex
  • FastExpert
  • AgentFire via their website

By bringing all of those prospects into one system, she can create focused custom lead routing and automation workflows to keep agents motivated and actively engaging with prospects, no matter which of the team’s lead sources they came from.

Streamlined systems are great for agent motivation and for team leaders because they deliver huge bottom line results.

“There was a time when we were getting so many leads coming in, but we can’t expect a new agent that just got their license to be working a hundred leads a month… It’s just throwing money out the window and we needed to fix it."

In yet another example of aligning the right expectations with the right systems, leaders like Carrie are able to protect their team’s motivation and increase results to the tune of almost $44M in sales while tripling the size of the team.

10. Give your agents systems they can grow on

As a real estate agent, there are only so many things you can do in one day. Leaders who succeed in getting the most out of their team, know how to protect their agents’ motivation by keeping them focused on the high-impact tasks that matter.

They leverage real estate automation to help agents save time and energy for high-value activities that require their personal attention and consistent passion — and the result is increased growth for everyone.

If you’re looking for a user-friendly platform that helps motivate agents to stay ahead of the game, try Follow Up Boss. Our free trial includes all the features and workflows you need to keep your agents dialed in.

With 100% human customer support, we’re here to help you keep your team on track with hands-on support for the systems, tasks and workflows that matter most.

Get our new guideline for free


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