We’re Not Confused – Your Coach is Probably a Trainer!

Recently Brad Iman asked Laurie Weston Davis and I to participate in one of the “Provoke” panels at Inman Connect San Francisco. The Panel entitled “Why Coaches are Unnecessary” featured Laurie and I taking the position that Brokers, not coaches should be responsible for the success of the agents affiliated with their firms, and our two “opponents” were Samantha DeBianchi, and Becky Barrick , who are respectively a Broker Owner who is starting a coaching business and a real estate agent who uses coaches.

The panel was a lot of fun, though too short, and I would have left the conversation to the video in the link above if it weren’t for a persistent claim that Laurie and I were somehow confused about what Coaching was. We’re not.

On Businessdictionary.com,coaching is defined as :”Extending traditional training methods to include focus on (1) an individual’s needs and accomplishments, (2) close observation, and (3) impartial and non-judgmental feedback on performance.”

Dictionary.com says the definition of coach as a verb is “to give instruction or advice to in the capacity of a coach; instruct:”

Merriamwebster.com provides us this:

Full Definition of coach
intransitive verb
1: to go in a coach
2: to instruct, direct, or prompt as a coach
transitive verb
1: to train intensively (as by instruction and demonstration)
2: to act as coach of

So can we all agree that Laurie and I were not unclear when we discussed coaching as training?

The term coach in our industry represents, for the most part, professionals who want to acquire real estate agents as customers for their training programs. Just today, for example, I received a solicitation from a nationally known real estate coach for an event being held in my marketplace. The solicitation says, ”

With one of our master trainers you’re going to learn the latest strategies and techniques to take your business to the next level!

This event will sell out – registration is limited first 200 sign ups.

87% of agents fail within the first 5-years … our goal is not only to make sure you are not one of them but to make you thrive in real estate!

(The emphasis on all the preceding definitions in mine BTW)

With all due respect to the individuals who claim that Laurie and I were confused about what coaches do, I think that’s a pretty clear explanation of this well-known individual’s definition of their job. A job that they have been very successful at. So this is where I suggest that if a real estate coach looks like a trainer, walks like a trainer, and gets paid like a trainer, IT’S A TRAINER!

The concept is reinforced by that company that promotes their in-house trainers by calling them coaches. The job description from their website says that the job of those individuals are to ” Identify and assist in servicing their training, consulting and production needs.  In this full time position, the Productivity Coach / Trainer is responsible for delivering training to KWCP agents and ensuring that all instructor-led training solutions delivered to agents are delivered with high levels of quality and efficiency and meet the needs and expectations of the agents”

This job, regardless of how you view their ability to do their job actually coincides with the position that Laurie and I took – that it is the job of the broker or brokerage to provide a training infrastructure to assist their agents to grow and become proficient in the real estate business. Even though Becky, who works for one of those franchises, said that her broker’s job was to review her paperwork and assure compliance (my words, not hers, though I believe I am paraphrasing properly) that’s risk management and though important is not the only job of a good brokerage firm.

Training is so important to the job of a managing broker that it is included in job descriptions from ads looking for managing brokers – here are a couple of excerpts –

  • This person will be responsible for recruiting and training top talent, maximizing the productivity and efficiency of our current agents by utilizing our in-house systems
  • Proactively participate in continuing education and assist in the ongoing education of all Agents

To be truly crystal clear, outside of the box Brad wanted us to discuss this in, when you have learned how to do your job really well, and you are listing and selling property at the top of your form, leading your company, or at least in the top 5% of the firm’s agents, and you want to find someone to help you do more than you believe you can? Then maybe an outside coach can help you find what is blocking you from doing more – but if you’re not in that top 5%, then what you should be doing is getting good at your craft by doing what your broker suggests you need to do to generate business and become proficient – and be coached by the one person in the world who has tied themselves to your career and provided you the place to learn and the opportunity to succeed.

Bottom line? It is my belief (and Laurie’s as well I believe) that a well-operated brokerage will provide a training infrastructure for their new and experienced agents. We believe that brokerages must commit to the growth and career development of the people associated with their firm, and that abdicating that responsibility is almost an assurance that the quality of service in the company will suffer.

To those who say that their brokers didn’t provide support or training, I suggest that you find a brokerage that does – this business is too complicated, and your careers are too important to leave professional development to chance.


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