Bringing together a team of market leaders
BY MICHAEL FORZATTI
With footy season just underway and talk of the relative strengths of teams in the 2016, we caught up with Michael Forzatti to talk about what it takes to bring together and manage a team of market leaders. Given that it’s been the vision of One Residential to have market leaders in each of the areas in which it operates, and given the serious inroads it has made towards achieving this goal, we thought there would be broader lessons to be gleaned for any team: professional, sporting and not-for-profit.
If there’s a nutshell of your vision for the sales team at One Residential, what is it?
My ideal team is a group of men and women who dominate their chosen markets. Plain and simple.
Success will always breed success in a real estate office. If you have an office where confidence is high, where expectations are high, where results are expected, then not only do results follow, but a failure to achieve those standards can be encouraged as well. It’s not success or nothing, but others are carried along when it doesn’t go their way by the enthusiasm for what can happen next.
Conversely, when others struggle, when the culture turns gloomy and desperate, when salespeople blame the market for their consistent non-performance, that rubs off just as powerfully - but in a negative way. In that sort of culture, even the successful ones feel sheepish declaring their results.
We try and encourage an upbeat attitude to the market in our office and for our people to leave their bad baggage about the market in the car knowing that your attitude will have an effect on everyone else on the team.
As you seek out these potential sales leaders, are the characteristics and qualities that are common to them?
We’re striving for brilliance, but brilliant comes in different shapes and sizes when it comes to real estate sales. Obviously, the measurement is objective, but the way that those results are achieved varies greatly from one salesperson to another.
I think if you were to take a snapshot of the Top 20 agents in Western Australia, you’d find that no two are the same. There’s different styles, different personalities, and different presentation techniques, yet oddly enough, they’re all producing outstanding results.
I see no difference with our team. Market leadership and outstanding sales success is the goal but the pathway to the destination is going to be different for each person.
What’s consistent among them and what changes from salesperson to salesperson?
I think something that’s consistent across all the successful salespeople is the dogged determination to grind away regardless of market conditions. To see a tougher market as a challenge to succeed on the back of knuckling down and simply get to work.
How do you go about leading a team like that? We’re guessing it’s not ‘one size fits all’?
You’re right. More than that, there’s not one approach for all market conditions either. Different market conditions call for different types of leadership, training and encouragement.
The passion, work ethic, sales experience and skill changes from person to person, so the coaching style needs to be different as well. Each specialises in a particular suburb and what may be successful in one area does not necessarily transfer to another. The approach has to be one for one. General principles and practices won’t change, but the specific ways they express themselves will change markedly.
Some people will thrive in a thriving market, yet sink when it flattens out. Some of this is because, in a thriving market, the sales almost come to you. You still require the skills to list, negotiate and sell properties, but the grunt work isn’t quite so ‘grunty’. For the more laconic, this works just fine. For that same personality, though, there’s new rules when the market begins to plateau. Proactivity and flat out blood, sweat and tears is required - and sometimes it’s all for nothing. If you’re not up for the hard yards, this can be awfully deflating.
In these sort of market conditions, the conversations change. It’s about encouragement and the development of specific skills to realise results in this sort of market.
For others, there is both the energy and understanding to react to different market conditions as well as resilience to not be worn down by that hard work. That sort of character that will also thrive in great market conditions so we’re clearly going make that the trajectory of our training and vision for the team.
How important is ‘team’ in an environment that is quite autonomous? How do you build that and how does it look?
This mightn’t quite answer your question but one of the things about a diversity of personalities who are all delivering top results is that it’s far harder for others to attribute greatness to a particular kind of personality. You can point at one person and say ‘it’s ok for them, they’re doing well because they’re 'X’, but it gets far harder to be that dismissive when someone with a totally different personality also realises sales success.
The importance of teamwork in a sales environment such as this may be different to a business that’s highly co-dependent, but it’s important all the same.
Different personalities and approaches will offer different forms of encouragement to those who are succeeding or struggling on a team and that this builds the team in a robust way.
The strength of your administration team is also huge here - they’re the glue that holds the whole operation together. We’ve got a brilliant blend of youth, experience, innovation and knowledge onboard which makes this ‘invisible factor of success’ incredibly potent.
In a team environment like this, what causes people to come, stay and go?
I think it would be hard to argue against the reality that ego, success and financial rewards play a significant part of joining any commercial team. They’re certainly not the only reasons, though. You can have each of them in a toxic work environment and no-one will be having much fun! But it’s an imprecise science. Ego will drag people towards realising goals they have for themselves, but lethargy can be a compelling opposing force as well!
I’d like to think that we’ve proven at One, in most cases, that we can take a strong performer and see them reach higher heights. We’ve also seen rookies find their straps as well.
The prevailing culture in a team will call people forward, but it’s more invitational than demanding. You can’t make someone do something but you can encourage it, and then it's back to the individual.
What’s next for the team?
It’s a continual process and journey of growing self-belief in our team. We're nurturing a group that has a seriously high work ethic; one that our clients look at and say ‘he/she is the one to sell my home because not only do they know the market, they’re incredibly hard working and they’ll make a result through sheer hard work’.
Thanks for the insights, Michael.