How do you build a training program that truly works? Hire the right people first.

REAL Trends’ Steve Murray has a knack for taking high-level concepts and breaking them into simple, easy-to-understand language that drives the overall strategy and operations for some of the largest real estate companies in the world. If you were to ask him, what makes a successful real estate brokerage today, he would say you need three things. You must be strong at recruiting top talent, sound with your strategic decision-making and the best at developing your people.

Training and development. Professional development. Performance improvement—whatever you want to call it. This is an area where consumers expect perfection, brokerages do what they can to support it, and brokerages rarely, if ever, measure the impact the training function has on key performance indicators. This is one of many reasons for why real estate training has turned into the Wild, Wild, West and hopeful with a little attention, love, and guidance; we can corral the industry into a better place than we left it. Let’s talk about these issues around training so that you can invest wisely into tooling your team to outperform the competition.


  1. Everyone is an Educator. There are some teenagers with webcams who are making more revenue on social media than some real estate companies. All you need is an inspiring message, a computer with a webcam, and access to Facebook Live to be in business. But, the quality and the context of a real business application is diluted. We need real facts and empirical evidence from those who are in a position to make a real difference. A great book that shines the spotlight on this phenomenon is The Death of Expertise, by Tom Collins.
  2. Most Brokerage Training is Linear, not Geometric. Training is typically a straight-line, compartmentalized deliverable that focuses on fundamental knowledge transfer. Susie takes the class. Susie remembers. Susie applies that knowledge. However, we need to look at training more strategically so that it impacts each area of the company using the same resources.

For example, a training class can be repurposed into a recruiting event, a private live-stream video to agents can be recorded for future playback on the company Intranet or posted to Facebook Live. The video can be transcribed and repurposed into a blog or policy manual. Implementing a geometric approach would hit more key performance indicators than one-off training ever could. The challenge is never the technology. It’s getting buy-in and collaboration at the top so that marketing, IT and education play nice.

  1. Lack of Business Metrics and Communicating the Value. When the Tennessee Real Education Foundation retained me to rethink learning performance for the state, the No. 1 priority was to turn it into a data-driven change management solution that would measure the impact instructors have in 10 different skill categories and 100 data points. It’s no coincidence that category No. 1 is communicating the value of education. Too often education gets slighted because educator’s measure how people feel when they leave instead of what they implemented; only a handful of educators know how to measure the economic impact, the intangible value or peripheral benefits; and what’s rarely discussed is the risk and cost of doing nothing.
  2. Educational Conferences Disguised as Sales Pitches. I used to think it was a great honor, and that you needed skill to be a paid speaker at a real estate conference. Now, the waters have darkened to embrace a newer model where speakers either pay to speak at a conference, pay kickbacks to meeting planners from shared revenue, or the company will sponsor the entire event and bring in their speakers. These conferences don’t pay professionals and rely on local talent to volunteer their time and expertise in exchange for an ego boost. You can spot these conferences since many of them are free to attend.
  3. No Uniform Credentialing for Educators. Is a CRS better than an ABR or is an ePRO better than a GRI? Anyone outside the real estate industry wouldn’t have a clue until you told them. In my quest for the best training for trainers, I’ve found the National Speakers Association (the business of training), the Association for Talent Development (the art and science of training), and Real Estate Educators Association to be at the top. Surprisingly, only a small minority of real estate educators belong, and the annual fees are low. Among their designations, fewer than 15 people with real estate experience hold the Certified Speaking Professional, 55 hold the Distinguished Real Estate Instructor, and no one has earned the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance by the Association for Talent Development. I guess there are around 2,000 instructors who teach real estate education and fewer than 4 percent take their professional development seriously enough to be the best in their market.
  4. Lack of Business Ethics in Real Estate Education. If you’re a voracious reader like me, then you’ve probably read the story of when Jim Carrey started out in Hollywood and wrote himself a check for a $1 million in order to visualize himself depositing that check when he became successful. Guess what? That story started in the Success Principles by Jack Canfield and has appeared in three different real estate books since then with no attribution to the original author. R&D doesn’t stand for rip off and duplicate. It stands for research and development. You collect your own research, develop your own stories, and develop them so they can authentically inspire people to take action. Take it from Oscar Wilde who says, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Unfortunately, the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics does not cover real estate education, and it’s not enforced at the Real Estate Educators Association either.


Real estate brokerages don’t need more training. Ok, if you are talking about high-level knowledge sharing and collaboration and call that training, then fine. Training is always my last recommendation to any real estate brokerage, because if you have the wrong people using the wrong systems with outdated policies and procedures, then training on that broken environment will always be a waste of money. The same goes for technology. You don’t need more technology. You need the right people and culture first. There seems to be a massive perception gap of what the leaders in this industry say about their training vs. the impact training has on their organization.

Author Bio: Doug Devitre is a technology marketing, productivity and sales performance coach. He was named the University of Missouri-Columbia Business School Entrepreneur of the Year, National Association of Realtors® Business Specialties Hall of Fame Educator and is a Certified Speaking Professional of the National Speakers Association. He is also the author of Screen to Screen Selling: How to Increase Sales, Productivity, and the Customer Experience with the Latest Technology, publish by McGraw Hill October 2015. Learn more at http://treef.dougdevitre.com