How to grow a remote sales team
Connecting supply and demand in the real estate industry where buyers and sellers are in different locations takes a huge commitment to human capital. It also requires strong technology platforms to manage widespread teams across geographies and time zones.
To answer this, founder and CEO Dan Johnson has integrated software systems to gain visibility over the sales team’s activity wherever they are located.
“We have transparency over their emails and access to all of their call recordings,” he says. “This lets us feed them leads that our lead-generation business creates, and effectively manage their performance even though they’re working remotely.”
The company’s home-based, commission-only sales team is marketing investment property, lifestyle real estate, second homes, commercial property, and prestige property. But thanks to technology, they rarely if ever need to meet with the head office team.
Once a team member is up to speed, they fly the nest and operate in their own right.
Dan Johnson, Earth Immo
Maintaining a human touch
The human factor has to be a crucial element though. The company has a programme of incremental sales and product training. Fresh recruits work with a team leader who coaches them, helping them come up to speed with products and processes, says Johnson. E-learning figures highly in this process.
“Once a team member is up to speed, they fly the nest and operate in their own right,” he says. This is core to the company’s progression plan and scalable model, helping to fuel consistent growth.
Implementing training standards
At the London head office, they systemise the company approach to due diligence, project preparation and organisational collateral. “We can then train someone in a different market to maintain the same approach,” Johnson says. The standards-based approach across the business can be repeated to maintain corporate consistency in all of the company’s markets.
“We’re trying to create a scaled, systemised business that can repeat over and over again,” he explains. But still feeling the impact of the global financial crisis, he’s conscious that he needs to rebuild his confidence to tap the growth-capital market.
Raising capital with confidence
When the 2008/9 global financial crisis unfolded, Johnson came within a “hair’s breadth of losing everything”. The company lost 80% of its advertisers, the staff was cut from 30 to 10, and it was “a real scramble to keep operating”.
The banks became very risk-averse and the real estate industry suffered an acute credit crunch. “This lack of funding eroded my confidence in going out and speaking to financial institutions about what help might be out there,” he explains. “Although we recovered, we’ve done so under our own steam.”
Johnson says the company will likely seek more funding over the next 12 months to finance expansion into “markets that will be more cash-intensive for us to penetrate”. His growth ambition is focused on delivering a strategy to break into the deep-pocketed Chinese and Middle Eastern real estate markets where appetite for real estate remains very strong.