The current industry conditions have resulted in a culling of experienced operators in the industry. Both the number of agents and the number of established salespeople have fallen and the only thing replacing them is some fresh blood totally new to the industry. Many people are commenting that the current conditions results in a culling of the dead wood or like a broom cleaning out the rubbish from the industry. That’s not entirely true as there are some very talented people leaving the frontline at the moment for a number of reasons.
Another phenomenon which has gained momentum is the increase of real estate coaches or real estate consultants trying to flog their services. Sure we have had coaches and consultants in the industry for quite awhile but these days their numbers are swelling from those walking away from traditional sales, management and ownership positions in agencies. In the past two weeks alone we have been contacted by no less than 7 “new” industry consultants offering their services.
I am not talking about a typical real estate trainer here, although it’s important to understand that many industry trainers also act as a consultant and coach and vice versa. A trainer generally has to be a good public speaker, motivator and an exceptional communicator as they have to introduces concepts and new ideas over a very short training presentation. They normally speak to a room of people, all from different offices and often know very little about the unique circumstances of each person attending so the message is often in broad strokes rather than fine detail.
A coach or consultant on the other hand deals at either an individual agency level or sometimes even with individual salespeople and over a longer period. They learn about the strengths, weaknesses and specific requirements of their clients and their work is more focussed to improving systems and procedures in the office. They focus on not just imparting their knowledge but making sure that it is implemented as they focus on the details.
The typical new consultant/coach has about 10 to 15 “amazing” years in the real estate industry and they are now willing to impart their success secrets … for a fee!
It seems most of them fall into a few prime categories and each has their own pros and cons but here is a generalisation of how I see it.
Past Principal or Business Owner
This is somebody who wanted out of owning an agency for whatever reason so they sold up but they are not ready to retire. The past principal typically is very good for strategy and planning at an agency level but they often don’t have the understanding of the mechanics involved because they always had somebody in their employ to do it in their past. Given the huge change in recent years many principals that have not sold for quite awhile also struggle with understanding life in the trenches.
This is most often a successful salesperson that for whatever reason does not want to run their own agency. Often these type of consultants/coaches are best suited working with the salesperson at the pointy end of the stick. Their experiences mean they often have a limited understanding of running a successful office but they understand what it takes for a salesperson to get results in the current marketplace.
Past Manager (Sales Manager, General Manager, Business Manager etc etc)
This is mostly somebody who helped build up a successful office or network and is normally a middle ground between the past principal and the past salesperson. Good principals and business owners hire the skills they don’t have themselves and quite often these are the guys that got the job done. They were the key person or driving force responsible for the successes at their past employer. They often have a better understanding of actually setting up systems and procedures in an office because that is what they did. Sometimes they have a real estate sales background and in fact some ex sales managers have sold up till recently. Most however still lack the understanding of the unique stresses involved in owning an agency.
This is somebody that has never worked in the real estate industry directly themselves, but has had an association. Their expertise is usually concentrated on one specific area such as internet marketing or CRM databases. When you are looking for a specific solution in their field of interest then they can offer the best bang for your buck but their return on investment outside of that will suffer.
I don’t think any one particular background has an advantage over another as each have their place. What is important is to pick the right one for the job. Selecting a past salesperson to act as a consultant to how to setup agency policies and procedures is always going to struggle and so is choosing an outside expert in internet marketing to work with your salespeople to improve their presentation skills.
Not every one of these new consultants are going to be successful but if you are looking to improve certain sections of your business there is probably no better time than to engage one. These people are trying to build their businesses and create a client base so you might be able to strike a great deal.
Many offices struggle with the whole concept of internet marketing and this is an ideal thing to involve the right consultant with. Internet marketing covers a whole range of things from email marketing, websites, search engine optimisation, blogs and online advertising. A consultant can work with you by analysing your current position and plan a strategy, plan and timeline to implement it into your office. In most cases they won’t actually do the work themselves, but will show you who or what to use and how to use it to your best advantage. Choose wisely though.
Traditional training has its place but how many training sessions have you been to and walked out with stack of ideas and gone back and implemented absolutely nothing? You felt good for a while but in the end it made no changes to your work day. Training sessions are great to identify where you need to go, but getting a consultant involved working with your business can get those ideas implemented and turned into reality. They are not cheap but when everything works right the results can be outstanding.
As technology plays an even larger part in our industry I can see the role of the consultant playing a bigger part in our industry. With an increased number of consultants and a higher need for their services in the industry now is the time for them to shine.