I was asked to deliver an employee benefit presentation to the staff of Goettl Air Conditioning and Plumbing. The topic was how to identify the right real estate agent who will provide significantly better results when buying or selling a home.

If the right agent is used, the employees could generate significantly more income. In several cases, the difference is up to 25% of the sales price. The collective financial benefit during their lifetime could be a substantial employee benefit.

The process to identify the best real estate agent could also identify the best vendor or supplier any business might need.

First, identify your primary goal and list the skills needed to achieve that goal. Then, design questions that would be difficult to answer, unless you possess those skills.

For example, a home seller wants to sell their home for the highest price. Most transactions require an appraisal, and the appraiser’s opinion of value is really important. A good question to ask the real estate agent is “How can you influence the appraiser’s opinion of value in a positive direction, so I can sell my home for top dollar?”

The home seller also wants to reduce their closing costs, most of which are the agent’s commissions. A good question to ask a prospective listing agent is “Describe your marketing plan to a target and attract a buyer without a real estate agent. If you are successful, will that reduce my closing costs?”

Finally, consider the fact that most home buyers are frustrated. It seems there are multiple offers on almost every property, no matter how fast they act. A good question to ask your agent would be “How can you get my offer accepted in a multiple-offer situation, when my offer is not the highest one?”

In summary, ask the right questions and listen to the responses. When you hear the right response, you will know it. You will be impressed with the answer and it will make sense to you.

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.