April is Teams Month here at Inman. Adding nuance on top of our weekly Teams Beat email newsletter, we’ll serve up top insights from the best team leaders across the country as we dig deeper into what it takes to build a team, scale it, and even leave one.

Agent teams have been hit particularly hard as the real estate industry reels from the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) settlement of the commission lawsuits, new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that require “written consent” or an existing relationship for agents to call potential sellers about listing their home, and the Federal Reserve’s latest decision not to lower interest rates.

Verl Workman, co-founder of Workman Success Systems, knows the exact steps agent teams and top-producing agents need to take to turn this chaos into success. 

Workman Success Systems has over 100 coaches whose focus is developing and building high-performance teams. Along with his co-founder and daughter, Brianne Ika, he is uniquely positioned to see what successful agent teams are doing to generate leads and, ultimately, close transactions in today’s market. 

Overcoming the fear

Top-producing teams and agents who currently rely on buying leads and cold calling will be hit hard in July 2024 when new FCC regulations go into effect. 

“The new rules close a loophole through which unscrupulous robocallers and robotexters inundate consumers with unwanted and illegal robocalls and robotexts. The new rules make it unequivocally clear that comparison shopping websites and lead generators must obtain consumer consent to receive robocalls and robotexts one seller at a time – rather than have a single consent apply to multiple telemarketers at once.”The FCC

“Many teams have been built on their ability to acquire and buy leads,” Workman said. “Online leads that are being given out have the lowest conversion rates. So, when Zillow, Boomtown, Follow Up Boss, or whatever system they’re using for their high-volume lead conversion turns those leads off, this will force the cost of leads to go up.”

Workman said some teams have 80-90 percent of their online leads coming from Zillow Flex, which charges a 15-40 percent referral fee if the transaction closes. The conversion rate among his clients on Zillow Flex leads is 7-8 percent. The agents who use Flex are hoping that they’re building a repeat and referral pipeline over the years.

“If Zillow were to shut them off tomorrow, they’d be out of business,” Workman said, which is why he says, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. 

4 pillars to protect your team and your business

One of the most important steps that any agent or team can take in today’s market is to immediately implement Workman’s “four pillar” approach. 

Workman urges his company’s clients to establish four pillars of lead generation. Each pillar should account for no more than 25 percent of your business. Zillow Flex, BoomTown, Facebook and social media are all one pillar. Each agent needs to select their own pillars.

Top 50

This strategy works by making a list of the top 50 people you know who would be most likely to give you one referral a year. The next step is to schedule a personal touch, which is a face-to-face meeting or conversation, for every member of your top 50 each month. 

“At the end of one year, if that top 50 list doesn’t give you at least one referral,” Workman said, “then you have to replace them with someone new, even if it’s your mother.” 

At that face-to-face meeting, your goal is to provide something valuable to the other person that will increase your credibility as a real estate expert in your area. 

“A pop-by with a jar of jam doesn’t cut it,” Workman said. 

What’s working for agent teams today

Workman outlined several other strategies that are working for agent teams and top producers in today’s market.  

Daily 

Have a daily huddle with your team. Practice scripts for 30 minutes a day, prospect one to three hours per day, and you’ll make money.

Be a specialist

You must sound and say things differently. The consumer today is trained to work with specialists. The “generalist Realtor” is a foreign concept to the consumer, so you must specialize. 

‘The class action advantage’ 

Workman’s approach to addressing the class action lawsuits begins by positioning yourself as an expert in dealing with this litigation as an advantage, not a threat. 

“There were some agents who didn’t show their value to the seller. The consumer class action lawsuits were the result,” Workman said. “Let me show you want we do, where our value is and why it makes sense.” 

Always serve and provide value

No matter how you prospect, provide something of value. For example, if you’re contacting your top 50 and that person loves riding, contact them with something that connects you through their interest in horses but also ask for a referral

To illustrate this point, if they know someone needs to move but is reluctant to give up their low interest rate mortgage, you could help that person by telling them about a 2-1 interest rate buy down that reduces their mortgage payments during the first two years. 

Consumers don’t want cold calling, but traditional marketing still works

For many years the 2023 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows that 81 percent sellers hire the first agent that they see face-to-face when they decide to list. Consequently, prioritize lead generation activities, such as door-knocking or open houses, that put you in front of potential sellers and buyers. 

Stop selling and become an ‘options’ dealer

People move because of life events — not because an agent talked them into it. 

I’ve told agents to stop selling or trying to talk someone into buying a house, Workman said. “Our job is to become an options dealer. Give them options that allow them to decide which option is best for them — sell or do nothing.”  

What’s coming in the year ahead

Here’s Workman’s take on what’s ahead of agent teams.

  • New models are going to rise to accommodate the changes due to the commission squeeze on the buyer side of the transaction. 
  • The number of individual agents not associated with a team will decrease as teams have to do more deals to make the same amount.
  • The only way to accommodate these changes is by leveraging tools and technology with humans. 
  • Brands that have not been team-friendly need to start planning how to alter their business models to make their brokerages more team-friendly. 

Workman’s final takeaway

“I think a lot of innovation takes place when there’s disruption. When there’s disruption, new business models arise, and I’m excited about that,” Workman said. “What we’re doing is we’re paying attention. We’re inventing and creating and are hopefully part of the solution, not the problem.” 

Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,500 published articles. Learn about her new and experienced agent sales training programs at BrokerageUP.com plus her latest initiative to help women build wealth and secure their financial independence at RealEstateWealthForWomen.com 

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