Regional Host for Coffee, Collaboration, and Enablement in Spain, Alex Krøger, completed his inaugural episode with Carla Arena de la Cruz and Constanza Maya Lax.

They wowed me with a smart approach that balances the human touch with data-driven power to drive scalable enablement that doesn’t lose the human touch.

They discussed

1️⃣ Remote onboarding

2️⃣ Business expansion during a global pandemic.

3️⃣How human connection and authenticity matters and is game changing

4️⃣Why spending time with people is vital if you want to go for sustainable company growth

Remain curious and keep listening.

Audio Transcript

Alex Krøger
Thank you, john. Okay, so really nice to meet you face to face gala consonant sound. Hello. And yet, first of all, thanks a lot for your time. And I really appreciate it. I know you both are really busy. So thanks a lot. So, first of all, could you tell us a little bit about what you are doing? And you both work for England? fourcade. And yeah, explain a little bit of what you’re doing and how you’re living in this sales enablement world. Please,

Carla Arena de la Cruz
thank you, Alex. Thank you for the invitation. Thank you, john, that you are behind cameras. Alex, this is an amazing opportunity for us to share our experience in in England Volkers. I’m Carla for everyone in the audience, the onboarding manager for England for Barcelona, about myself I have, I have been in the company for the last five years. And Fun fact is that I was previously the CRM specialist. And now I am the onboarding manager. If we see my career during my, my journey, Angela Volkers is a really mixed environment because Angular four can look for qualities and not only the background, and I was good in trainings i was i was good in communication, because I’m a journalist. And I was always involved with cells. And they said, okay, Carla, this is the moment we want to create the onboarding division in Spain, specifically in Barcelona. And I was in charge of that. So I’m really proud of that.

Alex Krøger
Perfect. So you’re mainly onboarding sales people I understand. Exactly. Okay. Perfect. constanza.

Constanza Maya Lax
Well, hi, everyone, thank you for this opportunity. Happy to be here. To be with a lot of you. Were my case, my name is Kim sometime head of operations. And I’ve gone through quite a lot of things to in this company in the sense that I started as a as an agent, as a consultant, I was selling and listing properties myself. And as I came from below, from the law world, I mean, the legal and well PhD, then they thought they could use me to something else, not only sell houses, and I was always were trying to help the team in the sense that every time they had to sign any documents, they came to me. So they decided in the end to make me a team leader. And I started as a team leader, or several years. Afterwards, we had quite a success with the team, because it used to be an old franchisee that we turned into own operations. And as we were quite successful, in that sense, they decided that I should become part of the franchise and worked on trying to develop franchisors. So I came into this part of the company that had nothing to do with the previous one. And we had worked quite a few years, we’ve been working with franchisees. So now we’re trying to want to join both worlds. And to make them closer, as this will call pretense today, are different ideas. And now I’m head of operations because we’re trying to improve all of the standards, and also how people work in our company. So they can hire obtain or gain the best and their position, their best way to do things. Okay,

Alex Krøger
perfect. Great. So, as you know, we have left 2020, behind us, lovely year. And we had to do onboarding in our companies, I guess, and at least in my case, and how did you deal with onboarding new people and also refreshing knowledge with more senior people in your company during 2020, and especially during lockdown, because onboarding people face to face is one thing, but onboarding people to a company remotely or online? I think that’s a completely new challenge. So how did you do that?

Carla Arena de la Cruz
Well, that was a huge challenge. Not that small one because we had all our failures face to face. And first, we have to digitalize everything and make that training more fun and interactive. This is was our first first goal. Our Fun fact was that at the beginning, we thought you to Alex that it was going to be only two weeks. And during the lockdown, we said okay, it’s two weeks of trainings online, we’re going to create content for everyone. We wanted to make a safe place to be all together we have in Barcelona more than 408 Didn’t seem Madrid the same, and Valencia almost 200. So, explain for US market center was about 1000 agents, we start a collaboration together. And then we decided to do a one webinar per day. And it was okay 10 days, easygoing, we’re going to do it, this is found 16 weeks, you might do that. That was amazing. We created more than 50 webinars. And we had collaboration from aliens, amazing collaboration, because every afternoon, imagine that you, Alex were one of our agents. And every afternoon, four o’clock, you had a date with us, we are going to share best practices, we’re going to make a webinar about about sales. And then we started beautiful division when one agent that it was an instructor of yoga did a session for us. And another agent that was on attrition as did our session about how you can change your your relationship with the eating and everything. It was like a beautiful space where everyone could be sharing daily, not only sells things, motivational, I’m doing this to feel better because I don’t have the space to work at home. Think about Barcelona, a flat in Barcelona is how much a small flat usually, you have homeschooling kids running around. And it was an hour, two hours to be comfortable and to be with your colleagues and have fun. So it was more than on not only an onboarding, it was like a motivational space. And our the onboarding, we created, like really interactive session. But I use humor for everything I like I love to, to make easy and fun and anecdotic every part of the onboarding. So we created like a small system, short sessions, 90 minutes of minutes, at least. And we created interactive session right now we feel doing online sessions. At the moment, we are keeping everyone safe and doing every training online. And we are every week creating creating content. In fact, Costanza was last Friday, and he won a new session that we designed recently.

Alex Krøger
So you would say that today’s more informal way of doing it really helped you to ease the onboarding. Without any doubt,

Carla Arena de la Cruz
we have to make content for people. And not only because we needed to, for example, if I’m going to talk about you, our golden visa was like, Tom, let’s make consulting that we can talk and make an environment that’s fun for everyone and easy to talk and you can remember in the future because training someone about the technical issue, if you don’t have insights is going to be impossible.

Alex Krøger
And did you did you do some sort of gamification or anything like that or

Carla Arena de la Cruz
with either? Absolutely, we use a lot of gamification usually when I did the training face to face I love chocolate. So I said okay, let’s do like a hook for example. We started something that question Is everyone okay, sugar for you. started, we take care of details, give you an insight about how we do the onboarding. We put music at the beginning we put music in a waiting session we put it the environment to make you feel that you want to be there. So this is our IBM a recording in in onboarding is to connect people to make them connected to the strategies connected to the ideas to the to everything and to the people. First, we have to connect is to make not only numbers and sales, and remember, I’m missing out I was the CRM, especially so number are my passion is my passion. But I really believe that people before is going to be in front of numbers. Always.

Alex Krøger
Okay. So people and collaboration you would say that’s really key. Okay. Perfect. Okay, nice. So you said you have like 400 agents in Madrid? and Barcelona, right? Yes. And constants are so in growth. That’s something. Yeah. Really important to you both, I guess. But in your case, specifically on Santa. I know your business has been growing during the last time and you plan to continue growing it. Can you give us a couple of key insights about what made your business grow and what is really helping your business to grow? Yes, of course.

Constanza Maya Lax
The thing is that 2020 was really challenging. We thought it was not the year to grow, because well, everything was well Yeah, everything was uncertain. And the wind seemed to come from the bank, not from the front, in the ends where we said, okay, these are our challenges or opportunity in that sense. But we didn’t have also the budget we usually have for those things. So we have to do more with less, it was quite difficult. But it was surprising how it came that the people and the brand respond in that sense, because in the end, it turned to be right the country, and we were more successful than many other years, even if it was more difficult. And why well, expansion in the case of the US, as you’re all there, and you want to join our network, you’re more than welcome. But we are more than 5000 agents nowadays. And we’ve grown 38%, only in the us this year. And in the case of Spain, and Spaniards law teams, it’s quite difficult for us and not to be face to face not to be physically together, we’re used to that we solve many things having a coke, or maybe some wine after work in

Alex Krøger
prefer the wine.

Constanza Maya Lax
Whereas it’s very important to feel and to have the feeling how the other one responds to us or how he’s taking things. So we usually do things together, it was challenging, and we thought that it was really difficult to find, for example, franchise partners. And in the end, what it was quite surprising was that our already franchise partners decided to, to increase or to buy more areas, because most of them had already bought during difficult years in in, in the 2010. Or in 2012, that it was quite difficult here. And they saw how we gave support how they were treated, and how the how the numbers, we say GCI its gross commission income for us how it grow. So in the end, they really believe in the brand. And in the case of the agent world, Karla knows better than I. But for us, it was quite a difficult year for real estate companies in general. And we have a position in the market as being a big company, which is good in this size. because well, you know that when there’s bad weather, big ships can stand that bit better. So in that sense, we are trusting landeck comm price, which is bad in other things. But for the moment, it was quite, quite good. So we know that a scholar said we are more than 400 agents in Barcelona. This is company owned operations at the same in Madrid, company owned, we have been 200 in Valencia, more or less also company owned and 100. in Lisbon. We started some years ago, but not many only two, it’s our second year. And then we have the franchise network that we are more than than 600 people. This is not comparable to the US because everything takes a greater scale that well for us. There’s no no other company in in Europe with so many, many agents. So well we I must say that we were lacking certain in a certain way, because we got the numbers even if it was quite challenging.

Alex Krøger
Okay. And if you had a I’m going to ask you a difficult question. If you had to give to any sales enabler out there one advice to around how to grow your business or how to contribute to the business expansion? What kind of advice would that be?

Constanza Maya Lax
Do you mean by expanding in territory expanding in numbers in growth in in growth in number of customers? It

Alex Krøger
could be any type of growth? Yeah.

Constanza Maya Lax
Well, yeah,

Alex Krøger
well, this I know, I know. It’s a it’s a difficult question. I know. I know. Sorry.

Constanza Maya Lax
No, it’s very easy, because in this sense, that us people, you’re very commercial, you’re really good with also relationships and start establishing member good members, and they sort of campaigns that you perform outstandingly better than we do. So, for us, it’s our clients. And the thing we’ve been investing more nowadays is customer service. So and get to know our clients and make sure they are satisfied. Because you never know where they would take you sometimes you think that maybe someone’s asking for a forum to rent or to lead a property that it’s not very expensive, but maybe they have contexts that they are going to bring you good, good lead. So in the end, you never know this is more sort of American style, but what I like very much more than European. So you’re Are all you’re always open to, to hear from someone and in our cases, okay, keep up the hard work. It’s about time. And Cara knows better than I, our agents, they were 16 weeks close to home, and they could do nothing at all. So we decided to put them to call all the clients or to know all the criteria or their needs, and also to ask for their families, their situation, and how was going everything? And it was a great moment for that. I don’t know the answer you were looking for. But I try not

Alex Krøger
to ask I what I get out from the from the from the answer is that if you’re a sales enabler, and you’re trying to help sales people to basically sell more and grow their business, you should be sometimes looking outside of your sales experience framework and look into your customer experience framework or like them more. So look into the customers as well, but focus only and exclusively on salespeople only, right?

Constanza Maya Lax
Sadly, no, in the end, and Carla knows it better than I we always discuss this because we have very good trainers. They help us in this sense. And they always tell our our agents, you’re more occupied with your what people think about you, instead of knowing what they need and what they they want to know. So just change the focus. And this in the end will bring you sales.

Alex Krøger
actually connecting with what you just said that knowing and understanding what people need and want. Carla, during our offline conversation, you mentioned that you have a program going on where you’re trying to really personalize activation and recognition. Could you could you tell us a little bit about how you how you do that, I mean, personalizing solutions and yeah, the motivational framework for your people.

Carla Arena de la Cruz
First, we have to take in consideration that for England, we have two type of customers. The first one is are aliens. So my focus, my first focus is in agents. And when I have amazing performance for one of our agents or several agents, we try to make the wheel feel that way. For example, if Costanza was an agent, and she was doing an amazing job, and I was trying to recognize her job, I tried to ask everyone around her what stands up value the most. And then with that information, we create a tailor made recommendation for her. I’ll give you a specific example. If Costanza like it, because it’s not the case, but like to be on social media and to have an expression outside and it’s really extroverted. I will try to make an interview with marketing and allow her to have any space to show her work and to recognize publicly how she is doing. If was another case, she doesn’t like to be outside that she doesn’t like to to be on the media and everything, it will be okay. If she likes to have her family time, her space, less keep that and make you’re comfortable taking consideration that every alien in Spain is freelance is like a small franchise it under the ground. So for us is b2b level. And we’re trying to work really close to motivate individually, everyone, it’s really hard because we’re talking more than 1000 agents. So we are constantly brainstorming and talking about it today I had a one on one with one team leader. And we were talking about one specific engine. And he said we have to do something is an amazing job listing last year that it was Whoa, really 2020 difficult to lease a property. So we were trying to find what we can do for her. So this is the question what you can do for one person and what you can do. For me as a company is not I’m going to create a recommendation. And if you have, I don’t know 10 listing you’re going to want when this is the other size. If you are doing this, what can I do for you?

Alex Krøger
would you would you give us like a tips around how to scale that kind of approach because as you as you just said, doing it in a bulk or when you have let’s say 100 salespeople and you recognize them by okay if you achieve this milestone, I will give you this or if you achieve that other thing I will give you that. But as you said if you then go into each individual case and you study each individual case, and you really adapt the solution framework to them, scaling that that’s that’s

Carla Arena de la Cruz
one way that this works. Having people in the field. So you need people in the field in this case is me in Madrid, we have our colleague and in Malaysia, another that has to be in the field, I cannot be in my office, ivory tower taking decision, I have to go farming going to the agents listen their needs, and constantly talking with them and with the team leaders to see an approach in that 360 degrees, not only one side of the story. So when I have an insight, I have to try it. And usually my Connect personally Costanza, you have a half an amazing story that I want to share a Ghost Dance has helped me here. And I talked to that earlier, I talked to my MD, my director in Barcelona. And we try all together to create something. Of course, we have recommendation, a standard recommendation like senior consultant, or top performance and everything. But this is like a small group, we need to go with the people behind the wheel that is working everyday.

Alex Krøger
And right now, some of you, you’re still working from home, I guess, how do you continue working on this when people are working remotely? Because as I said, you need to be with the guys, you need to sit there you need to be close to them. Okay?

Carla Arena de la Cruz
It’s not, it’s not a conference call. It’s not something massive. It’s only Hey, how are you? How’s your day? What do you need? What can I do for you right now? Is it possible for me to help you anything? Well, maybe I need a motivational session. And we have an academy mengumpulkan amazing. Division in Hamburg, in our headquarters, that is created also content. So we have different places where we can go and ask for for recognition is not only like you’re going to have a pain, or you’re going to have a cup you need. And later, I had a beautiful Christmas letter for one and director that said, Carla, thank you for this year, you were an amazing support. And I was so excited to receive it with a hand

Alex Krøger
on written oh my goodness, yeah,

Carla Arena de la Cruz
that’s special. Yeah, he’s the small details is not money behind is not only that you have to create a bigger structure is to be like listening, what people need some value. And if you have a huge scale, you have to find people in the smaller scale, to give you that information and to share it.

Alex Krøger
Can you create like nodes on your connects? You create, like a network of people?

Constanza Maya Lax
Exactly. Yeah, we are trying to reduce the number of agents per team leader. Because we think it’s very important that they have daily meetings, they have daily calls. And but in our case in Spain, it we’ve gone through different paces. But the thing is that during the phases that we can be together, at least in small groups, three to whatever five minutes maximum. The thing is that team leaders and in our case, also I’m in the office since the first day, we could get out home because I have special permission. But our idea is to be here because they if we are not here, how do we expect them to be in the streets? So this is first thing. And the second is that team leaders are trying to get this meetings even if it’s a three by three or four by four whatever with their agents, because as we said here it’s really difficult for us not to keep in touch but literally in touch not

Carla Arena de la Cruz
easy no hugging. Do you know

Alex Krøger
so really, really building this human connection is a key success factor for you. Yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah.

Constanza Maya Lax
Thing parties, the internet. I mean, doing this. Well, in Christmas, we, we send all of our agents champagne bottle, and we won’t we did a connection with all our agents through this pain, just to to have the chance to celebrate that the year was ending.

Alex Krøger
Finally. Okay, perfect. So great learnings. I really, really liked this last point. Really, really interesting. Is there anything else you would like to share with us anything, tips advices. Anything?

Carla Arena de la Cruz
I think that the only advice we can give anyone in the sales enablement is to listen to people to listen to the words, they the expression, the way they value. If I’m talking about the varsa, or my family really take care of we had in the past, a strategist tailor made because we listen to people and this is the only way that you can make a huge structure with human quality and this approach.

Alex Krøger
And you said you’re a really well you really like numbers. Do you use numbers when you listen to people? I mean, do you structure that input somehow and the use Yeah,

Carla Arena de la Cruz
yes. In fact, Costanza is working right now with our data analysis in huge data that show you KPIs to show you the performance and add in, from my point of view, information about, okay, if this agent is not coming to the meetings, he’s not only maybe it’s not motivated. And usually, you haven’t even said, okay, we were talking, and he has a family issue, and he needs support from these on that. And we created a strategy like we’re trying is really difficult. And this is not easy, you have to work with that huge team that is onboard in this kind of actions. But we are trying really, really close to to, to be able to be there for an agent, because the lifecycle of an any sales agent is ups and down. And we have to be in the downs and the ups.

Constanza Maya Lax
You know, yeah, in this sense, we are really on to numbers, but in the way that they are useful for our agents, we do not use them what we use them for in a sort of gamification to make them meet their expectations. But we also use them in the way they can treat them to have better results. For example, we encourage them to have excuse exclusive Mondays, because we know we close them, on average 55 days before, for example, or because we know that you need to lease for properties without an exclusivity in this case of Spain or in the US. But to get one side. And in the case of non exclusivity, for example, you need more. So we encourage them with numbers, but not with the KPIs just we liked diversifying, and sort of doing well, gamification, it’s in the end, just to make it more easy for them on more

Carla Arena de la Cruz
under making a business plan. Costanza burger at the end, you’re trying to create an AI strategy. If you want to have these years you need to live live this kind of property, do this and that. This is information is facts. This is the data that we have. But we saw last year amazing cases of agents that did amazing performance in no expensive area because they were fun, motivated and always there. So taking consideration that people need to have fun working. Perfect wine and chocolate that john was. Thanks.

Alex Krøger
Right. I’m taking that wine and chocolates. And yeah, again, I wanted to thank you both for your time. And where can people find you LinkedIn, Twitter, where could people connect with you?

Carla Arena de la Cruz
For me, LinkedIn is the first social media for us. Because so

Alex Krøger
yeah, the same. Okay, perfect. So LinkedIn, let’s go to LinkedIn. Yeah. Wonderful. So perfect. Once again, Big thanks for your time and talk to you really soon.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you both.

Alex Krøger
Thank you. Bye bye bye.

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