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With an ever changing marketplace, successful real estate agents know they need to adapt swiftly, or risk getting left behind. In the following interview, RISMedia’s Barbara Pronin interviews Jim Long and Ken Raymond of Coldwell Banker Prime Properties about keeping up with the market, differentiating their company from the competition, and evolving their technology.

Jim Long
Ken Raymond
Coldwell Banker Prime Properties

Barbara Pronin: How would you characterize the company’s position in your marketplace?
Jim Long: Based on sales volume, we’re No. 1 in Syracuse and No. 2 in Albany. Our company is the No. 1 Coldwell Banker affiliate in New York State and we have a higher average sale price than our competitors as well as having the highest per-person productivity.

BP: How have you evolved and grown over the years to adapt to changes in the marketplace?
Ken Raymond: It’s been a gradual process, but we’ve always believed that our role as leaders is to provide our sales associates with whatever they need to thrive in their careers—because that ensures they are able to give their customers the best information and support.

BP: How would you define your competitive differentiation?
JL: I think there’s no question we are a technological leader and we are proud of our ability to recruit and train quality sales associates. But our most basic operating strategy is to anticipate change and prepare for tomorrow’s environment. We do a lot of analysis, research and training to ensure that our sales associates are prepared and ahead of the curve. We are a full-service company, offering complete residential and relocation services. We have a lot of people coming into the region and we offer the best in comprehensive relocation services.

BP: How do your sales associates meet these consumer needs?
KR: We make certain our sales associates have the most up-to-date market statistics with which to help counsel their clients, whether they are first-time or move-up buyers or sellers. Our sales associates have the tools, the training and the overall support—and the best information on current and projected market conditions—to help people make sound decisions in any market environment.

BP: How do you keep the sales force equipped to succeed?
JL: Our training director, Mark Phoenix, makes certain that all our new and experienced sales associates are exposed to a variety of formal and informal educational opportunities from concentrated classes to weekly webinars, and from daily video messages to regional conference calls. We’ve added many new delivery mechanisms over the years, but the message is always the same: provide informed counsel and personal service on the most professional level.

BP: How do you retain your top-producing people?
KR: We listen to what their needs are and do everything we can to fulfill them. Our market position helps us attract good sales associates and we supply them with the state-of-the-art tools and systems they need in order to succeed. We never lose sight of the fact that our success as a company comes from the great job our sales associates are doing out in the field every single day.

BP: How has your technology evolved to meet agent and consumer demand?
JL: Our Web platform offers fully customized agent websites with features like embedded video delivery and a built-in blogging platform. Our back-end agent portal integrates everything from traffic reporting to agent website design in one place, and as agents use more and more technology to do their jobs, we’ve integrated and expanded our toolkit to make it increasingly efficient.

BP: How have you evolved your marketing and promotional strategy to better connect with today’s consumer?
JL: With more than 90 percent of today’s homebuyers and sellers beginning their search on the Web, we had to be certain our company was out in front of the competition. It’s important for consumers to receive information in a timely and pertinent fashion, so part of our strategy was to redirect resources from print to online venues, and to respond quickly to the changing environment with a top-of-the-line website and follow-up system.

BP: In your opinion, what do today’s sales associates need to focus on to succeed?
JL: While the business has changed dramatically since we first opened, the basic strategy for success is still the same. Get on the phone. Talk to people. Look for new business every day. Follow up effectively on every lead and, without exception, provide excellent customer service. Make the most of technology and tools, but never forget that staying in touch is key.

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