As seen on AustinTexasRealtors.com...
Another Team Pitch
Real estate is competitive, no doubts about it. And save a few coaches and best practice thought leaders, most in the middle of the grind hold their processes, leads, numbers and even experiences close to chest. But there's another place to get peer feedback and solid support for the growth of your business. It's in the title, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that we're talking about the folks around you in your office.
We've put together a lot of articles around this topic lately, mostly because there is a synergy that happens when two agents hustle for the same goal, but also because industry survivability is bound to go up if you have a peer giving you high-fives and/or shoulder to lean on. Heck, we even discussed using personality profiles to build out a solid team. Okay, suggesting teaming up is easy to talk about. The hard part... is convincing the other guys and gals that this isn't a secret plot ala Game of Thrones to take your lands, goods and people. So here are some tips on how to approach teaming up in this, our competitive industry.
Things to Keep in Mind
- It's not a marriage. Try a project partnership before you commit. Do you specialize in condos while Bill specializes in rental investments? Why not market together for a short-run campaign: "Bill and Sue... seasonal condo specialists!" Split marketing expenses, double agent-power and roll out faster. Do a 6 month or even a 3-month campaign and see how it and/or your partnership does. Maybe after a few of these, you'll find your match.
- It rarely hurts to ask, but it often hurts not to ask. Okay, hard fact (but you know we're saying it because we care about you and your business)... you're not in the office to make friends (necessarily), you're there to build/grow your business. Forget social dynamics for a minute and remember that this industry has a high churn rate. If you're having trouble scheduling or closing listing appointments, then it's time to pair up - you can't afford more of the same. We thrive by working together and even the best of hunters have hard winters. Cooperation and trade are the way we all survive. That leads to the next consideration...
- Everybody needs something. It's easy to get stuck in the mindset that everyone's feeling your pain. But really, they're feeling their own pains. You might be stopped up on buyer leads and they on seller leads. They might be mired in client meetings or contracts whereas both are your "thing" in life. As with most TV dramas, everything might just go a lot smoother if everyone communicated their needs - "I have this, I need that... what do you have and need?" So as you take up the leadership role in teaming up... know that even the most stubborn of agents needs something and you might just be what they need... you just have to bring it to the table. Consider this... your office and peers may be the one resource you haven't fully leveraged.
- Start in your class. First, before you trot on over to the heavy-hitters, movers and shakers, consider starting in your class. 'You only get one chance to make a solid first impression' and it's going to be a sad day when you've burned through all your growth opportunities because you were reaching too high, too far and too fast. Using smaller projects as jumping off points, find other agents that you have similar numbers with (you know who they are) and pair up based on their skill set. If you find yourself leading the charge on paired projects, then it might be time to up your game!
So these points above are more of a rah, rah pep talk. In short, you shouldn't be shy about asking for help. Afterall, you're giving it back too. Take in some of the talking points below, but go into these project and team proposal meetings with your chin up and shoulders back. It's a partnership, not a job. They may have lower numbers or higher numbers, but you're already leading the conversation by starting it.
Getting Them to the Table
In a bit, we'll go into ways you can approach your peers, but first, let's take a look at getting them to the table in the first place. The reason for this order is that we'd like for you to experience that first impression. To really see which one works for you (sitting in their shoes). Be sure to do your homework. Get some intel on what it is that your potential project/teammate needs and wants.
- "Hey Bill, I've got a new market in mind and I wanted to run it by you. There might be some synergy here. Are you free today or tomorrow for 15?" - This approach is light, requiring no immediate response or action. There's no real timeframe and no commitment necessary on their part. This could be a plus or a minus depending on your own timelines.
- "Sue, I heard that you're the townhome expert... I've been getting a lot of townhome inquiries and referrals in that arena and wanted to see if we could try working them together? Are you interested?" - This one is straight-to-the-point but also strokes their ego a bit. You're coming to the table, showing respect for their brand/skill set but also for their time.
- "Jack, I'm headed out to see another lakefront property at XYZ... that's the third this week - I think a trend is forming. We should talk at some point, seeing as you live in the neighborhood there." - This approach provides "evidence" of success and an opportunity for them to join in. It's a little more alpha, but if it's true... you should feel confident in putting it out there with a dangle.
- "Anna, I am swamped over here with referral leads - and they're legit, but I just can't seem to flip them. You've obviously got the close down, so let me ask you... are you up for teaming up on some of these?" - This one is both humble and honest. You might scare off most because it cries work, but it may be the best way to judge someone's commitment... 'friend in need' and all.
- "Sam, what do you think about that new construction going up at XYZ? Might be something there..." - This approach is more leading than the others. Obviously, the construction isn't the focus - they are. Any interest they have in sharing their thoughts with you will tell you if it's safe to press on and nearly any positive response can open the door to talk of teaming up.
Notice how (for the most part) no mention was made about your problems? It was loose, about things they know and have an opinion on. It simultaneously provided an easy out if they feel uncomfortable sharing anything while still providing an opportunity to jump on board (a hook) in case they're hungry.
Why it is in Everyone's Best Interest
You know why you want to partner up, but you may still find another reason or two here. Remember that this is about them (you're selling them on something that will benefit them), but if you find a mutually-beneficial reason, all the better. It's easier to sell an idea that everyone knows will positively affect the other members/parties in the venture. Win-win-win always sounds better than "Well, what's in it for you?" Be forward... lead with the opportunity, why it might be good for them and why it would be great for you too. Don't hide it.
- Teams can take on more leads and territories than the sum of their members.
- Teams can produce more free time, more money or both over independent operations with the same amount of effort.
- Teams can reduce weaknesses and increase strengths exponentially within all members.
- Teams can result in a better career/life experience for agents
- Teams can result in a far superior client experience.
- Teams can provide brand expansion opportunities.
- Teams can penetrate and/or dominate a competitive niche that might not otherwise be approachable.
- Teams can produce opportunities to grow each member's skill sets.
- Teams can form and dissolve nimbly based on overnight, mutual opportunities.
- Teams can operate on trust and results and don't necessarily require contracts.
- Teams can operate without a team lead or other bureaucracies if desired.
What You Need
A reason, the will to do it and to just do it. Many of the top national performers operate in teams. If you're down in pelts, then you don't have much to lose in banding together to form a hunting party. Just be very, very clear from the start. Document everything and send your bulleted understanding to them via email. Ask them in the email if these bullets look in order with their understanding of the partnership and get their reply back as an email.
While this isn't a contract (or even close to one at all), it will provide a framework that you can look back on when that inevitable opportunity comes up for one or the both of you, tempting either of you to do something that may not be in the interests of your understanding. It doesn't hurt to spell out a mutual disbanding clause like "So Bill, if this doesn't create XYZ leads by September 15th (coming in to your email address with the subject line of XYZ), let's agree that we'll close this project up and explore other options with this market independently... sound good?
You're friends... keep it friendly. We mentioned earlier that social dynamics shouldn't drive your fear of not exploring opportunities to grow your business, but that is almost entirely boxed in when dealing with the fear of action. This is a relationships business and nothing will kill opportunities like bad blood on financial partnerships. The sad fact is that most business partnerships end in some sort of miscommunication. It's human nature to blame others over ourselves, but we encourage you to not even begin to go there. This is where "light projects before big partnerships" comes into play. Give it a try, but keep it fun.
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