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SWhether you’re a top athlete, a Fortune 500 company, or working through a personal matter, everyone can use the honesty and clarity of an outside expert to gain understanding. This is especially true in the unpredictable, constantly changing real estate business, which is why so many agents have turned to coaches and trainers to help them improve their skills and increase business. And, while internal company training is critical, outside coaches often provide agents with something invaluable: a fresh perspective and more stringent accountability.

“We believe agents need mindset, motivation and methodology in order to succeed. That’s why every one of our clients sets goals—not only for business and income, but for the other vital areas of their life,” says Brian Buffini, chairman and founder of leading coaching firm Buffini & Company in Carlsbad, Calif. “The real estate business is hard. It can be an emotional rollercoaster and people need not just the grounding of a mindset, but the pick-me-up of motivation.”

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of the Northwest’s John L. Scott Real Estate, which is comprised of 2,700 agents in 110 offices, says his company does extensive internal training.

“We walk in with the expectation that new agents will be productive immediately. They work with mentors daily, helping them move forward,” says Scott. “Our approach is focused on a positive mindset, skill mastery and personal engagement activities, i.e., connecting with clients.”

Scott also encourages employees to pursue outside training and coaching programs as well, such as the Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation, in addition to real estate coaching businesses like Buffini & Company, David Knox, Tom Ferry and Ninja Selling.

Tom Ferry, a leading real estate coach and CEO of Tom Ferry – Your Coach in Irvine, Calif., says the reason real estate agents need outside coaching boils down to five words: “ideas, inspiration, implementation, income and accountability.”

“A coach holds you accountable to get it done, to stay inspired, to see ideas from a different perspective, and most importantly, to hold you accountable to implement. Accountability is the game-changer,” says Ferry. “Ideas create inspiration and agents need progressive, game-changing marketing, scripting and converting ideas. Ideas get you inspired to implement.”

Dave Liniger, founder and chairman of RE/MAX, was one of the first to get behind the outside coaching movement. “Our industry has a long tradition of excellent coaches, and there are some great ones out there right now,” says Liniger. “It’s always a mistake for agents, even very successful ones, to believe there’s nothing more for them to learn. Professional development should never stop. A skilled coach can help them stay focused, keep them on track and show them how to elevate their game. And when agents get better, everyone benefits—they themselves, their peers, their brokers and, most importantly, their buyers and sellers.”

Terri Murphy, a speaker/consultant based in Memphis, Tenn., says that while no one can work beyond their skill set, a coach is the conduit to getting beyond an individual’s perception of their scope of capability.

“We are all a repository of our core values and beliefs, which have been ‘validated’ by previous experience,” says Murphy. “An effective coach will help their clients become aware of these limiting beliefs and support them in working beyond their limitations, which is critical to reaching new dimensions in personal and professional development.”

Verl Workman, founder and coach of Workman Success Systems in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, says success is not magical or mysterious; it’s about doing the basic fundamentals that everyone knows they should do, but don’t.

“What a coach does is add a level of accountability to the things all agents should be doing,” Workman explains. “Too many agents go in and pretend they’re busy, but they don’t do anything. There are three things an agent should do: prospect; show properties or list; and negotiate contracts. Our philosophy is to do a deep business analysis and look to see where they are leaving money on the table. They need to focus on these areas.”

According to Mike Schlott, president of the Randall Family of Companies®, comprised of 500 agents in 27 offices in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, training is focused on the key areas of “transaction management, time management skills, working intelligently, and finding ways to develop business. If the agents do those things, they have a pretty good chance of success.”

Bill Plattos, executive vice president of Southern California’s First Team Real Estate agrees. “Once you have the basics, you need to know how to farm. Farming and sphere of influence are what most of our most successful agents have mastered,” explains Plattos, adding that follow up is critical. “It’s not enough just putting information out there, but also asking: Did you try it? How’d it work?”

Darryl Davis, founder of Darryl Davis Seminars in Wading River, N.J., likes to teach agents more than just the real estate business, coaching them on their commitments and goals in life.

“We look at the big picture. If inspired by one’s own vision, they will choose to do what they need to do as opposed to being forced and told what to do,” he says. “It’s about helping people stay committed and skill building.”

The Outsider Advantage
While most real estate firms offer in-house training to some degree, many brokers and agents feel that outside coaches can accomplish more by ensuring that agents actually consume the training with commitment.

“Coaching is a stronger connection to enabling the agent to deploy the strategies and systems more efficiently than simply offering training information,” Murphy says.

While many in-house programs cover the basics of good sales training, they often can’t be individualized to a specific real-time issue, or to the learning style of agents who differ on a multitude of levels, such as age, demographics and preferred educational mediums.

“When you research the training engagement strategies of different highly successful companies, you note that when the coaching is very individualized and one-on-one, the outcomes are measureable,” Murphy says. “In addition, when the coaching is secured from outside sources, the accountability factors appear more stringent and the agent is answering to an entity not within their workspace, causing them to stay more committed to the process.”