The National Head of Sales Managers for Compass, John Bilek has managed over $5B+ in sales over the course of his 20 year career in real estate, and has been responsible for much of the growth and expansion of the Compass brand since joining the brokerage three years ago.
John recently joined us for a session of Agent Talk, where he discussed his experience mentoring Compass agents, shared his greatest advice for agents looking to grow their business on the Compass Platform, and offered his expert take on the status of the housing market over the past year.
You’ve been with Compass for about three years now. What made you decide to switch brokerages and move to Compass?
I joined Compass as a Sales Manager for the greater Philadelphia market about three years ago. At the time, we only had about 40 agents working with us, so I sort of got in on the ground floor, and it’s been great being part of the process of building something up. We’ve since expanded hugely; we now have agents in New Jersey and Delaware, where I live, and I was recently promoted to Head of Sales Management at a national level, where I’ll be supporting the 250 sales managers working throughout the entire organization. Working at Compass has been great for me. The previous brokerage I was at wasn’t able to keep up with our rapidly changing industry, and I saw that Compass was different, and was more visionary and far-sighted, which is exactly what I was looking for in a brokerage and in a brand.
What is the best way to utilize the Compass Platform?
Well, I think this is true of switching brokerages no matter where you’re moving, but particularly so with Compass: the hardest thing is making the move. That’s the biggest challenge, the biggest hurdle you’ll have to overcome. You know, moving your business to a new brokerage, moving your sphere, it’s a lot of work and can be overwhelming. But the data shows that those new Compass agents who perform the best after moving to Compass are also those who work really hard to lean in and embrace the company’s culture and platform. My biggest piece of advice to incoming Compass agents would be to lean in and give everything you’ve got to making Compass and the Compass Platform work for you and your business. Just dive in and give it your best shot!
Why does every agent need to work with a coach?
Coaching is all about accountability. It’s about having someone in your life that you’re accountable to, that can help you measure your own success. I’ve found in my own career that when I surround myself with really awesome people, that’s when I bring my A-game to the table, and I think a coach can be that person who can help you bring out your best self and do your best work.
Why is accountability vital to an agent’s success?
As agents, we’re all our own bosses. When you’re not reporting to someone higher than yourself, or someone who can hold you accountable to your goals, it’s easier for you to miss targets and let goals slip. A coach or a mentor helps you create accountability in your business. They can help you formulate a plan for your business based on hard data. They can help you articulate and formulate specific goals for your business, and then follow up with you to make sure those targets are being met. All agents should be working with a coach in order to gain accountability and maximize their own strengths.
You’re excellent at data capture and analysis. How can agents best use the market data at their fingertips in order to generate new business?
Having and using the right data can do wonders for building your confidence and perfecting your pitch. When it comes to developing your value proposition, agents should use hard data to support the claims of their pitch. For example, if you’re pitching Compass and the benefits of Compass-specific programs like Concierge, you should be able to reference the fact that in Q2 2021 the homes that used Compass Concierge sold at a 7% premium over the homes that did not. Or if you’re pitching Compass’s pre-marketing abilities, again, you have to provide metrics: the homes that have been pre-marketed for 10 to 12 days get at least a 1.2% premium over the marketplace. All of this hard data, which you can access in Compass’s market updates, not only supports the claims you make in your pitch, it also makes you look more professional, prepared, and like a better investment to the seller.
You mentioned agents pitching their commission to potential sellers as an investment rather than a fee. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Sure. I always encourage agents to pitch their commission as an investment to potential clients, versus as a fee. You really want to be able to sell yourself and your skills as an investment in you and what you bring to the table. You know, you have to couch it as, “You’re investing in me as an agent, and you’ll realize an ‘X’ amount of return on that investment based on my unique skills, my value proposition, and the data I’ve just provided you with.” Few other agents speak like that, but I’ve found it really resonates with sellers, particularly high-value clients, and sets you apart from the rest.
Aside from unique Compass metrics for things like Concierge, what other data values should agents be focusing on?
Agents should pay attention to their local supply. You need to know what your local appreciation is. You need to know the monthly supply in your market. The amount of inventory in your market. That seems to me to be a more valuable metric than just looking at ‘days on market.’ You also need to stay on top of what’s going on in the wider economy. The last year has seen a major change in the housing market. There was lower inventory going into the pandemic; the pandemic exacerbated that issue just as millions of people found themselves working from home in houses that were suddenly too small for their house-bound families. They needed to upgrade to something bigger. The economy wasn’t in great shape, leading to lower interest rates. You had the perfect storm for a huge market shift, and the data was showing all of that. Agents who were able to articulate that market shift in their pitch, using that data, were able to do big business over the last year.
That’s an incredible snapshot of the market. Can you elaborate more on why the market is acting the way it is?
I have great confidence in sharing that view of the market. I know there’s a lot of talk about a bubble. But you have to go back to the foundational elements of why this market is so strong. None of those are indicating a change in our market. Low inventory, low interest rates, strong economy, growing GDP inflation. We can talk about that. The inflation numbers came out this morning. They’re down from last month. We’ve also got two groups going into the market in droves. You’ve got 72 million millennials in the US who are buying at a fast clip, and you’ve got 10,000 who are turning 65 every day in this country. Those are the baby boomers. You’ve got these two people converging in the market, typically buying in the same price range. That’s going to give this market legs for a long time.
You’ve talked about the importance of an agent’s pitch and value proposition. How can agents perfect their pitching skills and really pinpoint their value proposition?
I think perfecting your pitch takes a lot of consistency and practice. Time-blocking is valuable here, as you can set aside time to really figure out what you want to say to clients and how you’re going to pitch yourself. The goal is to make your pitch as conversational as possible, not too rehearsed. A lot of this is accomplished by being an ‘active listener.’ You really want to ensure that your client feels heard and understood; that they feel you understand their needs and will give them a customized solution. As a general tip, you want to let the client lead the conversation at first. Let them do the talking; they should be doing about twice as much as you. Then, when you feel they’ve lowered their guard a bit and when you feel you have an understanding of their needs, you can pitch yourself and your solution.
Heading into the fall season, agents will soon be crafting their 2022 business plans. As a sales manager, what advice would you give agents when it comes to putting together a 2022 business plan?
The best business plans are those that have concrete, specific, actionable goals. Not all agents bother making business plans, but most of those that do typically only set very vague goals for themselves; you know, something like ‘getting better at working my sphere.’ Well, what does that mean? You need to set specific, actionable goals for yourself that you can measure and assess. So, rather than simply saying, “I’m going to get better at working my sphere,” agents should be saying, “I’m going to have all my clients uploaded into my CRM by January 1, with follow up actions assigned.” One is vague and unfocused, the other is measurable and specific. It’s that kind of specificity in intent and goals that will best set an agent up for success in 2022.