Work / Life Balance in Sales.

by David Stewart (other articles by David Stewart)

I have been in sales my whole life and I have lots of shiny plaques in a box in the garage that suggests I have been pretty good at it. There is one thing that has become evident to me over time. The traditional boss believes that a salesperson should be slugging away for up to, and sometimes even exceeding 80 hours per week to be super successful. This involves the employee showing up to work at 8:30am and not clocking out until 6:30 or later. It is also expected that for many industries, including real estate, that the sales person will work 6 – 7 days a week. The assumption is that if this salesperson puts this level of attendance into their job that they are motivated and more likely to generate high sales figures. This assumption is fundamentally false and here’s why.

Sales, as a profession, involves long periods of low activity punctuated by really, really intense periods of exceptionally high activity. The reality is that for many of us working in sales these periods of high activity occur during the hours that are most convenient to the consumer that is after traditional working hours or on the weekends. So what happens between 9 – 5? Not a lot for many. Sure there are phone calls to make; letter box drops to organise and product (houses for agents) to see, but large tracts of the day are made up of simply looking busy for the sake of appeasing the boss. This creates a situation for many property agents of filling their days with fluff, you know Facebook, coffee and general gossip around the office. When an agent should be at home at the end of the traditional day enjoying family life they are invariably summoned to sign up a listing or complete a contract of sale, often stretching the work day late into the night.

Is it any wonder we see so much burnout and dissatisfaction among agents? Is it any wonder that the rate of divorce amongst agents is one of the highest of any industry? All of this happens for no other reason but to conform to a boss’s idea of working hard, a boss that generally entered the industry 20 or 30 years ago and has maintained a very rigid idea of what it takes to make it in real estate. I propose a re-imagining of the real estate sales force. I propose that using the latest in technology we can not only give agents more time to enjoy their lives but we can also make those agents more productive.

What if agent was free to sign into a sales meeting using Google Hangout? What if the agent completed all their phone calls at a time when the consumer is less likely to be under pressure in their own working day and what if an agent was free to make the after-hours appointments without the added burden of just having spent the last 8 or 9 hours wasting everyone’s time in the office?

An open office environment with collaborative spaces utilising the latest in technology can provide this now. This is not something we have to wait for. It’s just something that needs to be acted on. Since I sold my business I have made sales from home and when I’m not busy I have picked up the kids, gone sky diving, spent time with friends and family and gone out to lunch, like a lot!

When I need to be on, I’m there to make the sales and I never shirk that time. I spent all of last Christmas Eve putting a sale together because the work was there and it needed to happen that day for both the Buyer and the Vendor. I make my calls first thing in the morning before people get bogged down in work or later in the evening when they are relaxed and have the time to talk. I update my database from home and I have come to realise that work can be something so much more than a grind.

There are obviously appointments that need to happen during the normal working day such as open for inspections, meeting photographers, copywriters and all the other related people involved in a property transaction but this can be managed from home and rarely takes up an entire day. It’s time to be smart with our workforce because people are going to start demanding it and it’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive.

The wonderful thing about sales is that it provides freedom. This freedom can be available to all salespeople, they just need the environment that will allow it. The world has changed, the way we work should change also.

15th February, 2014

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