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How To Help New Agents Fail Upward

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Help your new agents by encouraging them to let missteps become stepping stones. They’ll win in the short term and develop what they need to have long and successful careers, says coach Darryl Davis. 

Teams are growing, changing and evolving rapidly, as new agent ranks swell, prices rise and uncertainty is ever-present. May is Teams Month here at Inman. Come along with us as we delve into teams today. Follow along with our weekly email newsletter Teams Beat to stay in the loop all year, sent every Thursday, sign up now.

I fully believe that this is an extraordinary industry for anyone willing to put in the work, the time and the commitment. There’s no ceiling, really, except for the ones we create.

That’s not to say this business is easy. It’s not hard labor, but it certainly can be hard work, especially for those just starting. There are market insights to learn, skills to practice, databases to fill and prospecting to do. 

One thing that even the best leaders sometimes forget to do as they drop pearls of wisdom, serious skill training and a plethora of marketing tools in the hands of new agents is to teach them to fail. More often. Upward. Faster. With gusto even. But also with grace and kindness because failure is an incredible and indelible teacher. 

Think of it like when you’re watching a toddler learn a new skill. Like walking or talking or navigating a fork. Everyone around that toddler is encouraging, right? There’s no shame or blame for falling down, mispronouncing a word or dropping some scrambled eggs. There’s just cheering, clapping and encouragement for every step in the learning process. New agents need that kind of cheerleading as well.

Learning how to make calls? Present in a listing conversation? Price a property? They can’t really learn those things until they are doing them. In theory, they can, yes. But to see results takes doing, practicing, being in the arena, and, of course, failing along the way. 

When we help our team members and encourage them to allow those missteps to become stepping stones to more confident and congruent skills, they not only win in the short term but also develop what they need to have long and successful careers. 

Here are 5 ways to help your new agents fail upward, faster and with more resilience 

Get them on the phone and in the field as quickly as possible

Prospecting is scary for most agents, but especially for new agents. That means letting them get their feet wet and be in the business while working on their business. Although many new agents will want to do anything but pick up a phone or knock on a door for fear of rejection, the only way to get good at it is by doing it. 

Cultivate a positive perspective

One powerful thing that we teach agents to do as they work to overcome the fear of prospecting is to have them shift their perspective or goal from a win-lose to a win-win. If the goal when making a cold call is to “get an appointment,” then there is a good chance, especially in the beginning, that agents will encounter a lot of “no” conversations.

That’s a win-lose in their mind. I didn’t get the appointment, so I lost. Teach them instead to make their goal about building rapport with another human being and coming from a place of service. Everything about the conversation then shifts from a position of “taking” (an appointment, listing, contract) to “giving” (advice, coaching, skills) — which is a win/win every way you look at it. 

Partner them with experience

It is fantastic to have a mentor or experienced agent on standby to assist with calls and on initial appointments to observe and step in when needed. The intent is to give them a safety net (for them and your company) while still allowing them to get their feet wet and learn by doing. 

Fuel them with feedback

If possible, create opportunities to partner up new agents for role-playing experiences. This is a great way to practice new dialogues, handle objections and create rapport.

After each agent takes a turn, provide constructive feedback on how they can improve. This allows them to “fail” (and win) in a safe setting, which will help them be more confident when they are face-to-face or on the phone with real prospects and clients. 

Support them with systems

One of the fastest ways to fail in this industry is for agents to try to do everything themselves. Managing time, databases and prospecting takes both skill and systems to be effective.

  • What systems can you help support your agents with that will allow them to focus more on the people and sales skills they need rather than the paperwork and data management aspects of the job?
  • Can you offer a CRM? Marketing materials? A support team?

Anything you can do to help agents build a strong foundation right from the start will not only help you help them be more successful faster, but it will also help you keep those agents and recruit more just like them. 

Most importantly, make sure that your new agents know that your organization is supportive, inclusive and caring. That way, they’ll know it’s a safe space to make mistakes and learn through learning curves.

If they know that your door is open and that you are there for it all, not just the wins but also the fails, you can help them build a strong and viable business for themselves and their families. 

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