3 tested ways to make sure your technology choices don’t disappoint

Insights from Keller Williams Realty's Cary Sylvester

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Take a deep real estate technology dive, Aug 7, 2017

With seemingly endless technology options available to us in both in our personal and professional lives, it can be difficult to make an informed, pragmatic decision about what we actually need versus what we think we want.

There’s a lot of noise, and finding the technology solutions that will deliver the most ROI for your business can be challenging.

Too many real estate agents and brokers make technology purchases they ultimately regret. They find out their colleagues are using a certain technology and decide it’s right for them, without looking at the big picture.

When you’re being inundated with product pitches, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But, impulse buying can waste a lot of time and money, and hurt your business in the long run.

You wouldn’t buy a car without visiting several dealerships, talking to a salesperson, going for a test drive and doing your own research online. And just like in our personal lives, brokers and agents need to ask the right questions before pulling out a credit card.

Why are we buying this? Do we really need this new technology? Have we looked at all the options? What are all the factors involved? Are we being objective? Do we like the company we’re choosing?

At Keller Williams, with more than 100,000 agents, we don’t take companywide technology decisions lightly. We follow three steps when it comes to evaluating a potential purchase that have saved us in the past. In the instances when we’ve deviated from these steps, it’s come back to haunt us. This is how we do it.

1. Avoid the shiny object syndrome

There’s an old school way of thinking: If you’re offered a job, but weren’t searching for it, you shouldn’t take it without exploring your other options. It’s exciting and flattering, but don’t just take it because it’s been offered to you. After all, you weren’t looking before, so if you’re willing to jump ship, you owe it to yourself to make sure you’re reviewing all of your options.

The same goes for buying technology. You’re walking through a trade show and a skilled salesperson gets your attention with a new gadget. Before you know it you’re buying it, even though five minutes ago you didn’t need it for your business.

As vice president of technology, innovation and communication at Keller Williams, I get pitched a lot. There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but here’s the criteria I generally go with. Whenever I’m pitched a product, I ask myself a series of questions:

  • Who is the audience? Who will benefit from this technology? If the answer isn’t obvious, it’s probably not worth a purchase.
  • What problem is this technology trying to solve? Every new technology should be fixing a problem or making a process better. If it’s not, I don’t need it.
  • What do I have that already handles this problem and how does it compare to this new product? If my current solution is just as good, there’s no point in investing in something new.

2. Stay frosty

As Michael Corleone famously said in “The Godfather,” “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

Thankfully, we’re not dealing with crooked cops and the mafia (I hope!), but the idea still holds true in real estate. Let’s say you’ve followed step No. 1 and asked all of the right questions, and you actually do have a technology need. The next step is to evaluate your options objectively.