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By John Voket

RISMEDIA, Dec. 29, 2007-Just as everyone is in the process of setting goals for the New Year, it’s important for brokers to start with the basics-their agents. Whether it’s training or retention, brokers can use the New Year to implement new systems to help make a new consumer experience, beginning with their agents.

Mike Miller is passionate about helping brokers. The Talking House Listings & Leads System founder is especially passionate when he sees the current trend of wasting valuable human and financial resources-millions in potential profit the real estate industry is losing every year by turning over too many new agents.

He believes the answer lies in getting new agents over the hump-their first few months-primarily by developing more new leads they can sell. This level of support can go far toward boosting brokers’ bottom lines and new agents’ confidence, reinvigorating bank accounts depleted by many unplanned “start-up” expenses as they are establishing a career, suggested Miller, during a session at RISMedia’s Leadership Conference, “Getting New Agents to Get New Listings.”

In addition to Miller, the panel included Richard Schiffer, a first-year Realtor with Weichert Realtors, Steven Rovithis, with Century 21 Hometown Associates, Anne Sperling, CEO of TourFactory and Joseph Rand, managing partner and general counsel for Prudential Rand.

Schiffer said he takes issue when brokers describe the process of working through new agent prospects with the term “turnover rate.”

“We’re talking an 80 percent failure rate nationally,” Schiffer said. “Brokers need to see that statistic as a crisis-think of it as having 80 percent of listings expire. If you had 80 percent of your listings expire you wouldn’t be in business very long, would you?”

He suggested the problem of new agent failure could be solved if brokers adopt a new way of dealing with new agents.

“When it comes to selling homes, you are providing the best service to consumers by determining the way they want to be served-do the same with agents,” Schiffer suggested.

He advised helping agents differentiate themselves. “It’s not hand-holding. Apply advice, your expertise, agents may have gotten in-house training but very few get application or implementation guidance.

“There needs to be a quantum shift in the types of training, new technologies, get them successful in weeks not months,” Schiffer said.

Rovithis polled the audience of mostly experienced brokers on how many provide new agents listing presentations. About one-third of the crowd raised their hands.

“Most people are visual – provide (new agents with) a listing book,” Rovithis advised. He said when talking to leads, a presentation book gives an impression that the agent has support.

“Chat up support staff, feature team members; show (leads) you’re supporting them round the clock; show them the range of print advertising; show them as many industry stats as possible; show graphs and trends that are season specific, even break them down by month,” Rovithis said. “Use stats to appeal to various buyers and sellers based on market specific data. Add testimonials, especially in early transactions, and tailor testimonials to strength of the deal.”

At Prudential Rand, Rand is extensively involved in agent training and developing new agent training programs.

“I teach all the old stuff that I know works – the biggest challenge is getting new agents to do is this stuff,” Rand said.

Rand suggested trying to teach agents to have a purpose in their call – more than the mercenary reason of ‘do you want to sell your house?'”

Rand teaches agents to make a courtesy calls to the entire block of neighbors reminding them of a local open house.

“The agents all report back they’ve had a good experience-you’re performing a service,” Rand said. “It’s the same with all other types of calls-find a purpose to help overcome the discomfort. Don’t spend a lot of money before learning and doing the basics to build 100 or more in your sphere of influence.”

Sperling naturally supported new agents using Internet leads, along with sending experienced agents with new hires on presentation calls.

“These agents need three things,” she said. “A new agent needs confidence; needs a great broker-a broker who empowers agents’ success; and needs an Internet marketing system.”

Sperling said new agents among her clients are getting a jumpstart by providing a Live Web portfolio. “Bring some ‘infotainment’ into the deal. A live portfolio gives a new agent the confidence to go out and get listing.”

Sperling implored brokers to practice “authentic marketing” on company Web sites.

“A customer knows you have the power to give information. If they are not ready to call, withholding information to hook them in creates resentment,” Sperling said. “Today, relationships with your company emotionally bonds with you by making it easily accessible and easy to use.”