Why online training fails – and how to change that

by REP10 Mar 2015
According to popular opinion, real estate school and continuing education programs, while important, are wanting.

Agents finishing their schooling and entering the business often don’t know where to start or how to go about growing their businesses, while seasoned sales reps looking to further their knowledge often don’t get what they want from online courses.

“OREA [Ontario’s education provider] teaches you the moves but that doesn’t help you because you still need to dance,” says Mark McLean, a broker in Toronto.

McLean, like many of his colleagues, says OREA teaches would-be agents how to avoid being sued, but doesn’t do much beyond that, leaving it up to brokers and head offices to further the education of their agents.

“The online training that agents are taking, some of it is brought down by the Calgary Real Estate Board or the Alberta Real Estate Association, and most of that training is just getting back to our industry,” George Bamber, a broker in Calgary, tells REP. “It’s not teaching us how to sell real estate, it’s teaching other things – behaviour or ethics.

“Online training is all good, but implementing it is not easy for people.”

Applying the content of the program, however, is often the most difficult for agents to get right.

“When an agent sits in front of his computer or goes through a textbook or watches a video, it’s easy to become distracted or not finish the course,” says Todd Shyiak, the vice president of franchise sales and development for CENTURY 21 Canada, “or to not do what’s necessary to take the material and to digest it in such a way that it makes sense and they can use the skills they’ve learned.”

Indeed, the application portion of the continuing education or training program is the most important part – but it’s often the most difficult to get right.

“No two real estate deals are the same,” McLean says. “You need to be able to think on your feet and think fast.”

Those quick-thinking skills tend to come more naturally the longer agents work in the businesses, but developing those skills early into one’s career – or even after setbacks, like a difficult market – is challenging.

“What it boils down to, a lot of times, is confidence,” Shyiak says. “When an agent is confident they have the training and the knowledge they need to do what’s necessary to get a home sold – great marketing training and negotiation training on behalf of a buyer – their confidence soars, and with that comes their ability to connect with a wider group of people and earn more referrals.”

For its part, CENTURY 21 Canada has developed an online program that addresses these problems. Each week, for six weeks, a new trainer covers a topic that the agent then applies directly to their daily work. All-star industry experts, including Matthew Ferrera, Richard Robbins, Chris Leader, Kevin Stanley, Debbie Cooke and Eryn Richardson, will provide tasks addressing everything from social media and listing presentations, to lead generation, prospecting and pulling clients from FSBOs.

“When you’re on a live webinar with world-renowned trainers, like with this PEP Master Class program, there’s a new engagement; you’re engaged with your audience in a way,” Shyiak says, pointing to the real-life examples the program incorporates. “They can be more excited in incorporating what they’re learning in their daily prospecting and marketing regimes, and watching the results happen.”

Interactive online programs, like the PEP Master Class, are one way brokers and managers can help their agents do better business through continuing education. After all, as McLean says, “Bad education is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.”
For details, visit C21PEPTalk.ca.

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