There are endless debates to be had about how to structure teams, when to hire employees, and what types of roles should be filled. In spite of all of these disagreements, there is one rule that every company can agree on: each of your team members should bring unique value to the business.
Despite their promise during your interview process, every new employee that joins is essentially a blank slate. They don’t understand how you do things, they don’t have the context of what’s happened in the past, and they’re more likely than not to screw something up in their first few weeks.
As anyone who has ever worked for a larger company knows, the most common solution for this problem are traditional training methods. However, for real estate teams, this isn’t the answer to get people up to speed as quickly as possible.
Traditionally, when employees are brought onboard they are given a tour of the office, a stack of paperwork to read through, and possibly a few hours to shadow someone doing the same job as them. Then they’re told to get selling or get out. It should be needless to say – though unfortunately it is not – that this is not the best way to get people to do great work. There are two big problems with this type of system.
Let’s say that around the time that you began to hire new people, you also began to write down the things every employee would need to know. Not just the basics like which passwords are for what accounts, but also the details of your sales process, why you do things a certain way, who the key people are at your company, and possibly even what responsibilities certain roles have. In the beginning, this is a decent way to share information, but it breaks down over time.
This highlights one of the major problems with traditional training techniques. It relies on stale information that requires a big investment to keep fresh. Yes, when you wrote the introduction paperwork it had everything people needed to know. Now, six months have passed and your team is on to new challenges and projects that aren’t reflected in the documentation. You can stick with this traditional method and invest time in updating these pages every time someone new joins, or you can try something new. The choice is up to you.
No two people on your team work the same. People prioritize their work differently: one group works better in the morning and one group works better in the evening, for example. There are differences in work styles that you need to be aware of. Yes, there may be similarities, but ultimately they break down. As a result, you need to tailor your training techniques for new employees to reflect how people work on an individual level, not on a generic level.
It’s because of over-generalization that traditional training techniques are especially destructive in the context of a real estate team. In an industry that is so dynamic and so built on the personal inclinations of individuals, using generalized training processes tends to kill the very value that people are hired to bring to the table. If you’re trying to set people up for success by treating them like a cog in a machine, it’s only a matter of time until one of those cogs slips out of alignment and causes cascading issues across your organization.
Every day, as you go through the process of surfacing high quality leads and closing deals, you’re probably spending a fair amount of time tinkering with your sales process. Small adjustments to each step, minor changes to every decision, all culminating in a process that is the cumulative knowledge of every sale (or missed sale) that you’ve ever gone through. Despite the sheer tonnage of effort that you’ve put into the process, many people on the outside – even new hires – are going to need some convincing before they commit themselves to following it.
Due to this initial resistance, demonstrating the power of your customized sales process on their very first day in the office can make all the difference. If you pick a sale that went perfectly from start to finish where you followed your process without deviation, new team members understand that the success of the sale was a result of the process. This doesn’t send the message that your process is flawless, but it does send the message that the process is geared towards results.
Aside from your sales process and team values, one of the most principal responsibilities you have as a team leader is to share your past experiences with new team members. Your experiences have defined who you are and shaped how you became successful, which is why they provide such a competitive advantage for your team.
However, even with such a tremendous asset at your disposal, it can prove challenging to impart this wisdom. After all, you can’t just expect new teammates to absorb your experiences simply by listening to you talk about them. Your next best bet is to show them the specific deals that provided you with the experiences that got you to where you are today. By focusing on a small number of deals that demonstrably shaped your thinking or approach to problems, you can walk new team members through the same process you undertook. This type of approach doesn’t work every time, but it works far more often than rote recitation.
One of the more frustrating aspects of selling anything is that even if you follow your finely-tuned process to a ‘T’, there are still sales that you can’t close. Maybe you called the person on the wrong day and formed a poor impression, or perhaps you’re trying to sell to someone that has a contract with their brother-in-law’s company. Whatever the issue, the reality is that things happen and that successful salespeople eventually learn to move past the ‘no’s’ and on to greener pastures.
Despite how essential this lesson is in the development of a salesperson, it can be surprisingly difficult to teach. If you think back to the time when you were a young whippersnapper trying to be the best in your field, each lost sale seemed like a personal affront – this type of thinking isn’t changed by a simple pat on the back. Fortunately, you can instruct new team members by pointing them to deals that didn’t close. By stressing the reality that some deals just never close you can help less experienced people focus their energies on the deals that will close, boosting overall productivity.
Teaching people how to do business in a way that reflects their individual strengths while staying true to how your team already does business is one of the most intriguing challenges a growing company faces. You can think of it as a hurdle to overcome, or you can think of it as an opportunity. By using real-world examples to help your team develop their thinking and selling style while also helping them learn from real failures, you have the option to build a stronger and more efficient team. If only for that reason alone, you should use past sales to train new team members.