In the following interview, Eric Pearson, CEO and founder of Pearson Smith Realty in Ashburn, Va., discusses agent development, online leads, retention, and more.
Region Served: Northern Virginia and the area outside Washington, D.C.
Years in Real Estate: Since 2011
Number of Offices: 6
Number of Agents: 877
Can you explain the solution you've crafted that provides online leads for new agents but then has other levels so it won’t be outgrown once they achieve success?
We have 13 packages in total, the first of which is geared toward getting new agents up and running quickly. As part of this package, agents receive 30 leads per month, all of which come from syndicated websites, portals such as realtor.com® and pay-per-click ads through Facebook.
In addition to the leads, agents are also paired up with a broker and two managers for coaching/mentoring purposes. As if that weren’t enough, we pay for everything so that we’re providing them with an all-inclusive package to help them ramp up their business, as our ultimate goal is to help new agents grow.
At the end of their first year, we sit down with each agent to determine whether they’re ready to move onto a different package. Agents can opt to choose another package when their own personal business is as strong as the business they’re generating from the leads we’re providing. Once agents have grown their business to the point at which they can go at it on their own, there are a variety of packages that’ll provide a better fit.
How do you get new agents engaged?
The system is set up so that when a new agent comes onboard, they get all of their leads on one specific day that’s designated for them to come into the office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for training, mentorship and guidance. This is followed up with coaching sessions where our agents are drilled in and focused on a different training activity (scripting, conversions, etc.) each week.
How invested are you in providing company-paid leads?
We’re generating close to 4,000 leads a month that go into this program, and realtor.com accounts for 25-30 percent of those leads. I’ve been working with realtor.com ever since I got started in 2011, and the quality of the leads we receive from them is higher than the leads generated from other sources. That being said, realtor.com is a big drive in terms of the lead program we’ve created and our ability to provide quality leads to our agents.
What is the impact of your lead program on helping agents increase production?
As anyone in the industry will tell you, the only con to being in the real estate business is the time it takes to ramp up. While it typically takes the better part of six months to a year to truly get the ball rolling, the 13 packages I created hit on every category, whether you’re a brand-new agent, or a veteran with many years of experience under your belt. More often than not, agents get into real estate with a specific mindset and encounter frustration as they begin the tough task of generating leads. At Pearson Smith Realty, our goal is to solve this challenge and get agents talking to people, scripting and generating leads from day one.
Are you tracking well on converting and closing?
We’re doing everything we can to help make sure our agents stay consistent—while automating everything—and the results speak for themselves. In fact, we’ve had 50-60 agents who weren’t doing a lot of business at their prior brokerage (or were brand-new), and after going through our program, they’re now ranked among the top agents in the industry.
How does this compete in the recruiting marketplace?
We add anywhere from 25-50 agents a month, and while we don’t do much outbound recruiting at this point, when someone calls in, I can show them five or six packages that are better and more comprehensive than what they’re getting from their current brokerage—and while we’re still new in a sense, we have the ability to change and move course if something isn’t working.
One thing that’s remained constant is the fact that we’ve been an agent-focused brokerage from day one—and we truly believe in the value the agent brings to the table. If we take care of the agent, they will take care of the client, so it’s a win/win.
As a business partner, how is realtor.com performing in terms of driving value and profitability?
I couldn’t be happier with realtor.com. As for those real estate professionals that don’t believe in online leads, you’re either not working them appropriately, or you’re not giving them enough time. Realtor.com is extremely profitable for us. Not only do they provide quality leads, but they’re also the only lead program that’s guaranteed. While realtor.com is our best lead source, in the end, it all comes down to the lead turn time. In working with realtor.com, we’re consistently getting agents hot leads, and they love and appreciate that.
What’s your long-term or ultimate goal?
Our long-term goal is constantly evolving. While I thought about taking the brand national, the truth is, we want to be the biggest and baddest in this area. There’s so much volume in terms of marketshare, so we’re focused on growing within our marketplace while maintaining the mom-and-pop feel that we have. We’re excited about growing within this vicinity and then seeing what happens from there.
For more information, please visit hub.realtor.com/team.