Open Courses

Open Courses

Here at our newly opened training centre in Eaton Socon, we are holding some more of our most popular open courses. The courses will be run by Julian O'Dell and Peter Chapman.
The Course details are as follows.
"Making More Money From Lettings" Friday 20th April 10am to 1pm
"Leading Your Sales Team To Success" Tuesday 24th April 10am to 1pm
"Winning Quality Instructions In A Tougher Market" Wednesday 9th May
10am to 1pm

Courses cost £95.00 plus vat per delegate.

Bookings can be made via our website, emailing us at or by calling the office on 01480 405583.

Winning Instructions

With anecdotal and statistical data coming daily at me from every angle reinforcing the presupposition that quality available sales and rental stock is hard to come by, it was interesting to spend a consultancy day recently with a successful independent agent whose listings were up by 29% year on year.


We had spent a considerable amount of time in 2011 bolstering their instruction operation and improving all the key stages. Unsurprisingly, one of the most significant areas of work had been focused on the performance of the valuers at the appointments they attended. Training and coaching was provided on a number of crucial techniques including rapport building, communication skills and closing techniques. However, the improved skill area that has had the biggest impact on their success was raising the standard of their use of the benefit cycle.


Clients make decisions based on their judgement of three key areas – the 3 Ps as some salespeople think of them – Person, Proposition, Price. In other words, in the context of a valuation appointment, their judgement will be based on the valuer, the service proposition and the commission quoted.


Weaker valuers who are unable to differentiate on the first two areas will be forced to quote a low commission as their only differentiator. This is obviously a dangerous game in the context of a diminishing market.


There is a raft of ways in which a valuer can stand out behaviourally. Many of these ideas can be implemented before the day of the appointment – pre-valuation email and phone call start to build trust and difference in the client’s mind, as does hand delivery of a pre-appointment pack of information.


The second vital element is to convince the client that your services will be the most likely to get them the result they are looking for, whether it be the best possible price, the quickest possible sale, the avoidance of hassle and inconvenience or perhaps all three!


This will mean having a detailed grasp on your range of services, and those of your competitors, in particular the “USPs” (Unique Selling Points) that your Company offers. People buy differences, and this is of particular relevance for estate agents as the starting point for most potential clients is that agents are all the same – thus understandably leading them to make a choice on the basis of valuation and fee alone.


There is a raft of behavioural differences that a valuer can display to stand out from the crowd and these are covered in detail on all our instructions training programmes. These techniques ensure that the client buys into you as an individual.


It is also important to remember that these potential clients will have an unspoken question in their mind – “W.I.I.F.M.?” – “What’s in it for me?” in other words, why should they consider your estate agency firm over and above all the other options.


To enable you to convince a client that he/she should sell through you, you must ensure you understand the difference between two key concepts – “Features” and “Benefits”.


A “Feature” is a fact about what you are selling (i.e. having a network of offices, advertising, website coverage, prominent office location, feedback etc etc)


A “Benefit” is what that feature will mean to the customer (i.e. how that feature will help them get the result they require – a quick sale, the best price, a quality buyer etc )


Too many sales presentations are feature led – typically leaving a potential client failing to see what those features will really mean to them.


The technique to remember is that whenever you discuss a feature of your service, you must go on to explain unambiguously the benefit of that feature.


People buy “Benefits” they do not buy “Features”! Your presentation is given maximum impact when those benefits are USPs and can only be received by a client who instructs your firm.


For example – “We are the only agent who is open all day on a Sunday (feature). That means that with so many potential buyers working full-time in the week, and using Saturday to get all the chores done, we register and sell to applicants on their one free day while our competitors are closed. This leads to more viewings and a dramatically increased opportunity to sell faster and at a higher price (benefit).”


For more information on a range of higher level sales and communication techniques for valuers included in our training/consultancy services, email, call 01480 405583 or follow us on Twitter @agencytrainer

Building a team to succeed...

With the European Football Championships shortly upon us, there will be a vast range of views from experts and non-experts alike regarding the best England starting eleven to take on the challenge of bringing a major trophy back to these shores for the first time in forty six years. Selecting the right team to triumph in a football tournament is a challenge and the same can be said of putting together a team to win in the business arena. 

The England Football Team manager is well paid to achieve exceptional teamwork. Estate agency managers may not earn quite so well, but their responsibility is much the same.


A team can been defined as “a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable”. 


Managers who wish get the best possible level of sustained performance from their teams must first recognise that this is unlikely to be achieved overnight. It is widely accepted that teams go through various evolutionary stages before reaching peak performance.


Firstly, the “forming” stage is when the team initially comes together and everyone is very polite and reserved. There is an initial lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities. Conflict can exist beneath the surface but remains unspoken in these early days. Discussion is limited since no one wishes to be seen as foolish.


Then, typically, “storming” occurs: alliances form and difficulties arise through differences of opinion and “muscle-flexing”. The team is ineffective and results are unsatisfactory. This is a stage which sees conflict and problems arise. Oneupmanship and point-scoring at the expense of colleagues is typical.


Slowly, as confidence and trust begin to grow, the team enters the “norming” stage in which working processes, team and individual objectives are agreed and understanding of all members’ roles is clarified. Co-operation and the valuing of each other’s opinions and contributions begin to be seen. The effectiveness of the team begins to increase. Discussions and contributions are more open and honest.


Eventually, the team enters the “performing” stage where they are firing on all cylinders. There is recognition and allowance of each other’s weaknesses and identification of how to employ the individual team members’ strengths to achieve optimum results. There is a high degree of flexibility, compromise and support. As a “performing” team, they become far more effective than the sum of their individual efforts.


Many estate agency managers are team-orientated leaders who recognise the importance of maintaining team spirit and blending individuals with the appropriate mix of strengths and skills. However, on occasions, this team ethos can go too far, whereby a blurring of relationships between manager and team members can lead to a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere without defined leadership. This situation is particularly prevalent where a manager has been promoted from within the team. These environments often fail to deliver results because there is more focus on fun than on the tasks that need to be fulfilled to drive out results.


An effective manager will be one who identifies the above principles and works hard to accelerate his or her team through the four team development stages to reach “perform” as quickly and smoothly as possible.


The following managerial functions will assist in achieving this goal:


  1. Planning – Define clear team and individual objectives, targets and behavioural standards. Identify specific roles and responsibilities for all individuals. Ensure that all team members are clear on all these factors (for both themselves and their colleagues) through effective communication in team briefings supported by unambiguous (preferably written) guidelines
  2. Monitoring – Pay particular attention to early activity and results. Reinforce any of the principles covered in the “planning” stage which appear to have been misinterpreted or ignored. Seek ongoing feedback from team members on how they feel their own and the team’s performance are progressing. Spot and record examples of good and poor teamwork. Encourage and support the team and individuals, recognise and reconcile disagreements. Create opportunities for the team to meet away from the workplace to build relationships and team spirit.
  3. Checking – After a predetermined period of time, review all team-related results, particularly considering the four stages of team development. Revisit the planning stage to assess success or failure of objectives – revise any elements within the initial planning stage as necessary.

The life of an estate agency manager is a challenging one – however, with an effective team, the rewards can be fantastic. Let’s hope whoever is in charge of England gets his team to “perform” in Poland and Ukraine!

Coaching for success...

Coaching for Success

An estate agency manager called me recently to book a young valuer onto a course, explaining that he was concerned that the valuer in question was failing to achieve an acceptable conversion rate from appointments to instructions, which the manager felt in part might be due to him rushing his valuations. Often, his employee was back from appointments within 20 minutes of leaving the office, and the manager couldn’t understand how he could carry them out so quickly.

Whilst I am always delighted to welcome delegates onto our training courses and to play a part in their development, it struck me that this scenario involved a coaching need rather than a training need, and it was apparent from the rest of the conversation with this manager that coaching was not an integral part of his working life. However, on my travels around the country delivering training and consultancy work, there seems a strong link between the time invested by a manager in coaching the individuals within the team and the success that the team enjoy.

Coaching needs careful planning in terms of content and allocation of time to ensure it happens. Poor prioritisation often means that in reality, even where a manager has good intentions, coaching falls by the wayside as other “more important” events take over. There is an old adage in management which is as true today as it has ever been…”Watch the pitch, not the scoreboard”. Too many managers focus on figures without establishing the skills and techniques – or lack thereof – that are responsible for whatever results are being achieved. In other words, a manager should not berate a valuer for their figures if they haven’t accompanied him/her on a selection of appointments. Yet this is often the reality. Think how farcical it would be for a football manager to sit at home and watch their team’s scoreline coming in on Teletext and then attempting to decide on where things may be going wrong!

Proactive managers recognise that the host of benefits that result from spending time developing individuals make the investment of time well worthwhile. Those benefits include improved motivation and staff retention, enhancing skills and knowledge to increase productivity, enabling staff to multi-task to facilitate manning during periods of holidays and sickness and easier delegation for the managers themselves.

Effective coaching involves following five key stages, each of which are outlined below.

Spot Opportunity

A manager must be aware of the coaching needs of their employees by ongoing monitoring of their successes and failures in their work. Watching, listening and recording examples where duties are conducted by employees in a manner which suggests room for improvement are critical elements of the manager’s role. In the example above, the manager would have been wise to accompany his failing valuer on a few appointments to identify areas of weakness in their approach…at the very least this would answer the question as to why the valuations were so swift!

Diligence in spotting the opportunity means the subsequent coaching will deal with real issues that need addressing.


The coaching itself needs to be tailored to the individual and a number of issues must be considered. These include the knowledge and current skill level of the employee, previous coaching provided and the effectiveness thereof, the most suitable method of the coaching itself and the likely attitude of the member of staff to receiving coaching. The latter is particularly important as the provision of coaching, if handled inappropriately, can demotivate as there is an inherent challenge to the recipient’s ability.


The coach must explain the goal of the coaching and the benefits that the recipient will enjoy, as well as the change of working behaviour and habits that the employee needs to adopt. Demonstration by the coach to clarify exactly what is expected is critical…a “tell” session is unlikely to succeed. In the previous case above, the manager should consider taking the valuer to several valuations to watch the manager in action to identify the standards required. A full review should then be conducted as to how the employee needs to modify their approach to close the gap between their current performance and the manager’s expectations. The manager must then accompany the valuer on a number of appointments to monitor and review progress accordingly. Staffing levels will potentially make this suggested coaching programme tricky, but the time invested will lead to improvement in performance and income thus making it time very well spent.


As the coachee learns new working habits (alongside unlearning existing ones), there can be a difficult transition and a tendency to fall back to the old ways, due to a discomfort in doing things differently. The manager must continue to monitor behaviour and be quick to praise success and encourage the employee to embrace his/her behavioural changes. Coaching is not a one-off session, but an ongoing responsibility. Changing habits is not easy…just ask people who have tried to quit smoking!


After an agreed period of time, results must be reviewed and the effectiveness of the coaching assessed. If the change in behaviour has been achieved then it is time to move on…if there is still evidence of unsatisfactory results then it is up to the manager to revisit stage one of the coaching process and spot the appropriate opportunity.

Spot Opportunity, Tailor, Explain, Encourage, Review…the manager who follows those five stages of effective coaching will STEER their staff to success.

To find out more about our management training for sales and lettings agency managers/directors, please visit

Julian O’Dell

TM training & development