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Avoid Making Mistakes When Hiring Sales Associates .

Updated on May 19, 2017

The Challenge

Owners and Managers have forever tussled with the question of how to add people to their sales staff that have what it takes to be successful in the business. I have been in the real estate business almost forty years and here is what I have observed.

There is no fool-proof formula, but there are some real keys to selecting people who have the capacity to be successful.

If you have the responsibility for recruiting, interviewing and making hiring decisions then you may find this article will help you do a better job.

Potential Performance Pro.file

Easy to Administer.  No need to send away for scoring.
Easy to Administer. No need to send away for scoring. | Source


Early in my career I worked for a real estate company that used a testing instrument to make all of their hiring decisions. This was done, based on the evaluation that was provided by a person scoring the test from afar. That was my first exposure to such a process, which I thought was expensive, certainly time consuming and seemed to take the managers interface with the prospective agent almost totally out of the equation. It did however raise my interest and suggested that there must be some measurable elements of behavior that can be indicators of success.

Early in 1980, while I was working for a large real estate franchise organization I commissioned a well known behavioral science guy to construct an assessment tool that could be used by real estate managers in the interview and selection process. What he determined was that, of the many behavioral characteristics that can be measured, there were six or seven of them that made a difference when comparing successful sales people with those that were less productive. The end result was we created a tool called the Potential Performance Pro.file that Brokers and Managers can use to help them gain some insight into how the person they are interviewing will perform.

More on that in a minute.

How do you make Decisions?

Is a test or behavior evaluation necessary? No, I don’t think it is, but it sure does minimize the risk of making the wrong hiring decision. There is no doubt that experience, or the ability to judge how an individual will react to certain situations, is by far the best way to insure that you pick winners, but that is not always possible. One manager, who I think had it figured out pretty well, used an interview technique that got real close to meeting that challenge.

Once he had determined that the person he was interviewing was able to do the job he took this very upfront approach. He explained to the candidate that one of the ways real estate people get listings to sell is to approach people who are trying to sell their house by themselves. Affectionately know in the business as F.S.B.O. (For Sale By Owners), he briefly explained how the prospecting strategy for working F.S.B.O.’s worked and then produced a script that was used in their training program. He explained and demonstrated how the call was made. When he had completed his explanation he asked the candidate if they thought they could do that job.

If the candidate balked or showed signs of resistance the interview pretty much came to a halt. If the candidate said yes, then here is the next step this manager took. He handed the script to the individual, asked them to sit down in his chair, while he dialed the number of a F.S.B.O. that had an ad running in the paper. He put them “on the spot” and made the judgment. If they were willing to try he knew he had someone worth his time and effort.

Define Expectations

The first step in avoiding mistakes in the selection process is to make sure you are clear about what is expected. To the degree you are able to describe what the job requires and what the person you are interviewing needs to do the less chance there will be for failure.

One manager said it this way; “I know what it takes to list and sell real estate and if they are willing to do what I tell them to do, they will make money”. For me, that is the first step in the process; make sure you can define what a person needs to do, activity wise, in order to get listings and make sales. Before you make the offer to hire them make sure you review what they need to do and get a commitment from them that they will do the work.

Here is a suggestion.

Select one of the prospecting strategies that you know about and have worked with in the past. For sake of discussion, let's use working the F.S.B.O. as an example. Explain something about how and why people sometimes decide to try and sell their house by themselves and provide a brief description of what it takes to locate and contact these home owners. My experience is that "working" a F.S.B.O. prospect required multiple contacts, therefore making calls, knocking on doors and following up with "owners" was a system that required daily attention. If you provide training and expect agents to learn scripts that you know will work, now is the time to review what you expect them to do and ask them if they are willing to do it.

The key, once you have defined what it takes to work the prospecting strategy is to ask the candidate if they are willing to do the work ad then ask them, if they don't, what would they expect you to do. By taking time to clearly define your role and letting them tell you how to best react, for not doing what is expected, will make your job a whole lot easier.

More often than not, what you will find is that people will tell you exactly what they need and expect in terms of being managed and "held to task" and if they balk or hesitate at this point in the selection process you have a pretty good idea of what you will face in the future.

Qualify the "Can Do's"

Another key to hiring people who can succeed is to make sure they can do what you expect and require them to do, in your company and as part of your sales organization.

Actually, this is probably one of the first steps you need to take somewhere in the interview process. Think about what is required to operate in your business and create a list of those things that are “absolutes”. Normally, a person needs a car to sell real estate. Do they have one? If they don’t or can’t get one then they probably can’t do the job.

Unless you provide some financial support or are willing to work on a draw basis, make sure the person you are talking with about a position in your company can meet their obligations until they are producing sold listings and making sales. Think about the schedule for sales meetings, training sessions and time required to work with buyers and sellers. All of these need to be considered and qualified. If they “can do” what you know is required then you have someone worth talking with further about a position in your office.

Bottom Line

Hiring people who do not have the capacity to produce can be costly. Using an assessment tool like the Pro-File can help but making sure you clearly outline the “Can Do” qualifiers and define what you know it will take, in terms of what new people need to do to succeed, is critical to adding successful people to your staff. Managing against those expectations and holding people accountable to meet them is the key to having them succeed so to avoid making hiring mistakes, take the time during the interview and selection process to do the job right!

Seven Step Process

If you want some additional direction please go to our web site and request a copy of our Seven Steps to Conduct an Interview. It's free. We can forward to your e-mail address. No obligation.

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© 2015 Doug Stranahan


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