Help-U-Sell and Performance Improvement

The International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) San Diego Chapter has asked me to speak to their members next month on how we’re using Coaching to drive the new Help-U-Sell University, Pro-Coach U.  It’s a very prestigious group full of big names from the fields of Instructional Design, Educational Technology, Performance Improvement and Organizational Development.  What we’re doing is a little cutting edge and there is lots of interest in how our point-of-view might make similar programs in other industries more effective.

What is that point-of-view, you ask?  Well, it’s simply this:  When we train adults in a business setting what we’re usually trying to accomplish is a change in behavior.  We want them to act differently then they normally have in the past.  It’s applicable to all kinds of training, but think for a moment about sales skills.  If you’re like most people, you came to real estate sales thinking you couldn’t sell anything  to anybody.  You went through a learning period where you discovered that you actually DID have sales skills and you worked to polish them.  You began to behave differently than you did before you jumped into the selling pool.  If you’ve ever trained to be a manager of salespeople, you studied and practiced until you became adept at asking the right questions at the right time (rather than impressing your team by telling them everything you know).  These are new behaviors that you learn by first recognizing their importance and effectiveness, then by seeing someone else do it correctly, then by practicing in a safe environment and getting feedback from a knowledgeable Coach.  That’s what we do in Pro-Coach U.

Most sales and management training occurs in a classroom in a compressed period of time with usually just a head nod toward role playing or any kind of meaningful practice.  Even worse are the purely online programs that merely dump the information out of the screen an onto your desk where it rarely gets put into action and is quickly forgotten. With Pro-Coach U, we use the Internet to deliver information.  That’s where the book learning takes place.  It comes in the form of brief video Lessons where the hard core information we are working with is presented in a compelling fashion.  The new Information is then explored in a series of real world Exercises and Activities, supervised by the Coach.  As the participant practices, the Coach provides feedback.  The Coach watches and listens and decides when the new Broker is ready for the next infusion of Information.

Here’s a little secret about training adults:  it’s a selling situation.  The job is to convince people that what you want them to do is going to make them happier, more productive, richer, better looking, healthier, and wiser than they currently are.  If you can accomplish that, the actual learning and behavior change is easy.   It’s awfully hard to do that kind of benefits selling over the phone or over the Internet or even in a classroom.  It usually takes the trusted guidance of someone who’s been there, done that and understands the benefits from a personal standpoint:  a Coach.  And that’s why Pro-Coach U is, from beginning to end, a Coaching driven experience.

Jeanne Strayer and I started working on Coaching back in 1987 when we developed a Coaching driven in-office training program for Century21, the Sales Performance System(SPS).  It was a magnificent program that came with almost three hours of video – used to role model the new behaviors – comprehensive Participant and Coaching Guides.  The Agent went away, did their work and exercises, then came back to see the Coach, who only had to turn to the appropriate page in the guide to know what to ask, what to inspect, and what came next.  The big surprise came to me in 2003 when, new to Help-U-Sell, I came across Science to Sales:  Don Taylor’s way of training high performing Buyers Agents.  It was created several years before SPS and followed the same basic coaching methodology.  I maintain to this day that Science to Sales is the best agent development training program I’ve ever seen – even better than SPS, which was left in the dust as Century 21 was sold and sold again.

Jeanne and I went on to weave Coaching into most every project we touched after Century 21 and even brought it to bear in the last iteration of Help-U-Sell (the pre-2006 version).  Now, in the new Millennium, technology has finally caught up with us and we’re creating Pro-Coach U as a blended learning solution, involving video, the internet, audio, print and Coaching to produce solid Help-U-Sell Citizens.  It makes perfect sense to us . . . but the rest of the world sees it as cutting edge.  That’s ok:  we Help-U-Sell folks always like being first anyway.

What’s Happening . . .

Cool factor 8:  You can get internet on an airplane these days so I’m able to catch up on a few things as I travel across country to Sarasota.  It’s about time!  Wonder when they’ll break down and let us use cell phones?

THE BIG TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT is coming.  It’s March 3 and 4 in Las Vegas and at the moment, it looks like it will be at the new Springhill Suites.  That location is sorta firm but not set in concrete yet.  The hotel is across the street from the Las Vegas Hilton, near the Convention Center and is offering a room rate of $109.  The Sahara and Riviera are walking distance and offer better rates.  There is no charge to attend beyond transportation and hotel.  The meeting will start mid-day on Wednesday and continue until 5pm or so on Thursday.  While there will be updates and news and even a little training, the real focus of the meeting will be technology:  maximizing the effectiveness of the new Corporate and Broker websites, the Help-U-Sell.mobi site, using Social Media, Zillow, Trulia and other online tools to build your online presence and so on.  I anticipate 100 brokers will attend and am looking forward to this meeting as a kind of Help-U-Sell family reunion.  I hope you’ll get it on your calendar TODAY and start shopping airfare. 

There will be a smaller version of the meeting March 1 and 2 in Sarasota at the Help-U-Sell home office if that makes more sense to you.  The meeting will be the same but the opportunity to rub shoulders with a large group of your peers will not be there.  I’m expecting 6 – 10 attendees.  There is a nice LaQuinta a couple of miles away for about $80 a night and a Comfort Inn at about $60. 

Folks, I can’t say it strongly enough:  GET TO VEGAS for this meeting . . . Sarasota if that works better, but GET THERE.  We have a lot of work to do to get maximum benefit of the great new tools Robbie is bringing to us and this is where we’ll begin the process. 

Speaking of Robbie Stevens, I understand that yesterday’s Tech Tuesday Teleconference was a home run as he demonstrated the mapping capabilities of the new websites.  How exciting that Help-U-Sell has it’s own Google Maps app. and that all you have to do to see the listings in an area is to type the location and press enter. 

Maurine is cranking up the first ever Help-U-Sell Online University next Thursday.  It will run every Thursday for a couple of months (we’re not sure how many because this is the first time we’ve done it) and will leave attendees with a solid grasp of the Help-U-Sell system and, more important, how it works in today’s real estate market.  If you need a refresher, if you need to get re-energized or if you’ve forgotten what you learned in your old University, I urge you to sign up and attend. 

Tami Patzer, in addition to doing  just about everything, is starting to upload the Operations Manual to the Download Library.  You’ll be able to view it and pull it down by chapter.  There’s already a new Identity chapter and the plan is to update the rest of it, chapter by chapter, until it clearly reflects who we are today.  Tami’s also in charge of spearheading ou PR campaign and has already snared an interview with RIS Media for John.  I’m looking forward to new, positive press about us and what we’re doing. 

I’ll be working with Lori Warnelo over the coming weeks to develop a new job for her and a new function for us at home office.  Lori is going to be the first Help-U-Sell customer relations rep.  Her job will be to contact each office about once a month,  learn what’s new, get a production update, share information about coming events and new tools, and provide a conduit for transmitting requests for help and good ideas to the appropriate people.  We’re seeing this job as a part of the Coaching Program, being the first layer of contact in that system.  Honestly, I think it will be more than one person can handle, so I expect we’ll have someone else working with Lori soon.  Lori has a great history with Help-U-Sell and an understanding of who we are and what we’re doing, so I want the job to develop with her first. 

While we are not marketing franchises at this time — our focus remains on our existing offices — but requests for information come in regularly and receive a response.  We’ve also had a number of former franchisees who have asked about coming back.  Our plan is to be very careful and judicious about who becomes a member of the family, but to begin to develop a process for dealing with the leads that come in.  We’re considering a once or twice a month webinar to present the Help-U-Sell franchise offering to those who express an interest along with an introductory phone call and information packet. 

The Coaching Program continues to grow with Jack Bailey and Ron McCoy both bringing great value to the brokers they talk with once a week.  To get involved all you have to do is make the request.  You’ll be assigned a coach and will probably have several one-on-one meetings to get in the groove of the program after which you’ll join a small Coaching Group.  Feedback from the groups has been excellent.  Members seem to get as much out of brainstorming with each other as they do from interaction with their coach and positive change happens.