By Neil Sharma
With no shortage of duties for salespeople to juggle, frittering time on the profession’s finer details is something neither sales rep nor brokerage can afford.
With the installation of a new intranet that marries all programs and software relevant to sales reps, Sutton has found a way to minimize time spent on prosaic duties. Its agents have responded positively to the November implementation, and the company says it is a useful recruiting tool.
Jon Chung, national director of marketing for Sutton Group, whose team designed the program called Sutton Homebase Dashboard, says given how many tools brokerage employees need to access, streamlining them into one coherent system made sense.
“We noticed Realtors need to access more tools than ever, but from different sources and it’s frustrating to remember different sites, logins and passwords,” says Chung. “It saves them time when they can access them all from just one place.”
Sutton agents can use the Print and Design Centre to customize their own marketing material, like postcards and personalized labels, and they can easily construct presentations – which upload to cloud software – that can be accessed via mobile devices.
Another easy-to-use tool is Sutton University, a Netflix-inspired training module through which agents can progress as quickly or as incrementally as they choose, continuing from where they left off whenever they log back in.
“With a lot of real estate training sites, people give up on them because they don’t want to spend 45 minutes on the site,” says Chung, adding that typical training sites use PDFs, whereas Sutton uses pictures and videos. “As with Netflix, you can watch five minutes of a training video (on Sutton University). We benchmarked Netflix and applied it as best we could. It’s a more efficient and enjoyable way to learn about how to be a Realtor, broker or office manager.
“It has a really awesome search bar where you can search any keyword or relevant information, so you can easily find anything you’re looking for. We made our training centre brokerage-flexible, meaning if you’re a brokerage somewhere in Ontario, you can make it tailored specifically to your office. Brokers can also track progress to see which agents are using the courses and to see who’s doing what.”
Additionally, referrals aren’t being lost in a fray of disjointed websites; they enter the dashboard and, thanks to smart technology, find their way to suitable agents, no matter where they’re located. That means a referral from Toronto can easily find its way to an agent in Regina with a higher chance of conversion.
“A positive side effect is, in the past, a lot of leads weren’t being accepted or used or dealt with because you’d have to log in to different websites or emails, but now you can go through the dashboard,” says Chung.
Laura Marks, managing broker for Sutton Group – Heritage Realty in Markham, Ont., says Sutton Homebase Dashboard has improved lead generation in ways that far exceed what anybody expected.
“Lead generation is unbelievable,” she says. “We’re getting hits on a regular basis, and it’s much more successful than any other lead system we’ve had in the past because they’re more qualified leads.”
Along with the intranet, Sutton.com has been updated with smart technology as well and now agents and brokers can track potential clients’ viewing habits.
“You know what the public client had been looking at, so you’ve got a little bit of information there when you contact them,” says Marks. “At least you know what they’re looking at and what their interest is. Turning that into a bona fide lead is so much greater than opening the conversation with no previous information. It gives you more depth and you sound more capable.”
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the new system is the ability to recruit. Mariko Baerg, a relatively new sales rep, credits the dashboard with her decision to join Sutton Group West Coast in Coquitlam, B.C.
“One hundred per cent it helped recruit me,” says Baerg. “At that point in time I was already doing research and knew how much time and money I’d have to invest, and when I saw it was all resolved (in the dashboard) that’s all I needed. One thing I like is it’s very organized and straight forward, and I have all the resources in one place.”
Baerg says the simplicity of the dashboard permits her to be conscientious with time by prospecting potential clients instead of passively prospecting with haphazard marketing ploys.
“I think a lot of us come from sales backgrounds, not marketing, design or communications – things that focus on look and appeal and how consumers take things in – so I believe this saves a lot of time,” she says. “As a salesperson, I want to be out there prospecting, knocking on doors and being where I need to be. I can outsource the passive prospecting to the Sutton Brand and Resource Centre.”
Though a neophyte, Baerg believes a tide of change is about to wash over the industry, as younger, tech-savvy sales agents take over from the old guard.
“I think as we see a lot more agents in their 20s, 30s, even 40s, (similar programs) will be recognized as a huge way to elevate business,” says Baerg. “It’s about wanting to learn and all the information is there.”
As a managing broker, Marks extols the dashboard’s oversight capabilities, but she is especially cognizant of the necessity to remain competitive among other sales reps and, most importantly, the public.
“You don’t want to be sending off leads to somebody who isn’t going to do anything – your reputation will go down the tube,” she says. “We can coach the agent. We can take time to explain the value of this to our salespeople so that they realize they’re getting better-qualified leads through this system. It’s good for the public, it’s good for the brokerage and it’s good for the agents.”