Managing/Mentoring Business Brokerage Agents (Part 1 of 2)

Managing/Mentoring Business Brokerage Agents (Part 1 of 2)

I think I’ve tried it all, folks.
Since entering business brokerage in 1982, and hiring/training/supervising agents for most of those years, in offices nationwide, I’ve come to understand the true meaning of the old saying…”managing sales people is like herding cats”….In other words, it isn’t easy.
But, hiring and managing agents is a way for a brokerage owner to “Xerox” yourself, and theoretically generate more income than a one man agency can generate, so, like many other agency owners in our industry, I’ve usually been engaged in building multi-agent brokerages, with 5 to 25 agents per office.
THE “LEAVE THEM ALONE” THEORY:
I’ve hired agents, trained them, then hoped that, somehow, on their own, with minimum management involvement, they would figure out all the answers needed, by themselves, and magically turn into productive listing and selling agents.
I’ve worked especially hard at the interview process, so that I only hire “newbies” that have strong sales backgrounds, and who preferably have impressive resumes, believing that those high quality people are most likely to survive and thrive, with minimum supervision. This “leave them alone” theory, in my experience, rarely works, and is counter productive, “wishful” thinking.
THE “SALES MANGER THEORY”:
I’ve hired other agents, trained them, then turned them over to a competent sales manager, who is then required to spend lots of time with each new agent, making seller calls with them “in the field”, and sitting in on buyer interviews, and this theory/practice works the best, most often.
Of course, this theory depends on our being able to hire/train a competent sales manager. In many cases, I’ve had to temporarily fill that role myself, and that has worked great, most of the time. Having someone skilled at all the nuances of business brokerage, who has been involved in hundreds (or, even better, thousands) of seller and buyer interviews, and who has arranged lots of acquisitions loans, and who has won debates with large numbers of lawyers/accountants/landlords, and who gladly spends lots of time “in the trenches” with the each new agent, almost always accelerates the development of the new agent toward the day when they no longer need the management involvement as much. Providing strong involvement by management almost always causes the “closing ratio’s” of the new agents to develop fast, effectively and impressively.
I’ve found most of the sales managers among the existing agent force, and usually have been able to “promote from within”, as long as I was willing to spend lots of time with that management “rookie”, too.
The best sales mangers, by the way, have not always been the “best” listing or selling agents. The most successful managers have been the candidates that showed the most intelligence, the most sophisticated “people skills”, and the most reliable work ethic.
THE “SECRET” TO MAKING THE THEORY WORK:
I’ve also learned that new agents not only need consistent help early in their careers, regardless of their pre-brokerage experiences, or intelligence, or salesmanship, to “max out” on their potential, in the shortest period of time, they need help long term. The manager needs to go on at least 10 different in-person seller interviews with each new agent, with the manager doing most of the talking, and sit in on at least 10 different buyer interviews with each new agent, with the manager doing most of the explaining to the buyer. Only then are most of the questions asked and answered, “in the presence of the new agent”, that an agent will commonly encounter.
And, management needs to be “on call” for new agents, to help them anytime they encounter an objection they don’t know how to overcome, for as long as the agent needs that kind of mentoring.
And, management also needs to accompany each new agent on at least 10 presentations to banks, on 10 different offers, with management making the presentation to arrange the loan for the agent’s buyer, before a new agent will be exposed to enough banker interviews to have a “full book” of Q&A’s needed with lenders.
Each new agent will probably need deep management mentoring for a full year before they have received enough exposure to be able to go “on their own” with minimum future management involvement.
PRACTICES ALLOWED WITH INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS:
Some agency owners are minimally involved in managing their agents for the wrong reasons. The truth is that owners/managers are allowed to establish enforce-able policies, and take strong leadership roles with independent contractor agents, whenever the owner is imposing rules regarding fiduciary (the handling of “other people’s money”), ethical or contractual issues. And, since so much of what business brokerages do involve those 3 allowable “controls” by ownership/management, nothing in this advisory is “off limits” for an agency owner to demand, cooperation-wise, of agents. Certainly, management providing training in how to properly handle the fiduciary/ethical/contractual details of the agency’s practices, including management being deeply involved in the agent’s meetings with prospects and clients, is not only ok, in a sane world, it would be required.
Tomorrow’s posting will continue this article with “What Doesn’t Work” and “Why Do Agents Need So Much Help?”
 
 
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