Inman’s recent special report, “How to deliver technology agents need,” highlights one of the most common challenges faced by the real estate industry: Agents are not taking advantage of the technology that brokers offer to them. It is somewhat understandable. As consumers of technology, if we don’t see a quick and easy return, then we don’t want it.
From my perspective as a technology producer, if we don’t have customers, then we can’t solicit feedback to improve or create a better product. When a broker decides to spend money to invest in tools — some of them rather pricey — and the agents don’t use them, then everyone loses. The broker loses the time and monetary investment, and the agents lose potential business, which, in turn, costs the brokerage even more.
So why aren’t agents using the tools provided? Roughly 3 in 10 of those surveyed said their business was doing fine without these tools. I feel certain many businesses do “fine,” but my question is, how much better could they be?
Finding the value
How is value defined in this industry? From reading the article, value in a real estate technology platform is defined as excellent training, ease of use, systems integration and support. How can we find the value here? The survey suggests agents are least likely to use a customer relationship manager (CRM) and lead generation tool out of all the available options, and most agents said lead generation was not useful in their business.
This viewpoint seems to be shared by many, but I’m not sure I understand the reasoning. There are products available that, in real time, will relay contact information for prospects interested in buying (or selling) property in your area. This valuable information is then imported directly into your client database. Lead generation is a wonderful tool to have with a CRM platform!
As a broker, how does one determine lead distribution? With a healthy CRM platform, brokers know exactly who the high producers are. The prospect won’t be sent to Susie when it usually takes her four hours to respond. And one wouldn’t give the lead to Bobby if his track record shows excellent initial contact but he also never follows up. A broker would, however, want to send a lead to Jonathan, because not only does he respond to every lead in under 15 minutes, but he also uses his platform to make notes on the initial conversation as well as schedule the follow-up. A hot lead is worth the money — but only if a broker has the right agent to close that deal.
It’s true that typically only a small percentage of these leads will close immediately, but the benefit of a great platform is that those leads stay in your “safety net” — so even if the buyer isn’t quite ready today, he or she will be on an agent’s radar when the time comes. Likewise, since the agent has been using the CRM to send drip email campaigns automatically to the prospect, the agent stays on the prospect’s radar, too. The platform is mutually beneficial.
And then, when that 3-month-old prospect logs back in and starts “liking” and “sharing” properties, an agent who uses a robust CRM gets a notification that the potential buyer is back on the house hunt. This gives the agent a golden opportunity to contact the prospect and drive that sale home.
Making your real estate platform work for you
What can you do as an agent to make the most of your system? There are so many ways to stay on top of your prospects and get you closer to that closing table:
- Log in and look at your prospects’ activity on at least a daily basis. Prospects might tell you that they like a certain area or price range, and then you’ll later discover that the prospect is looking at a home priced higher than and located an hour away from what’s in their search area.
- Find out what they are searching for and when, so you can think of them the moment your platform sends you a seller lead fitting their “perfect” home requirements.
- Be sure to stay updated on your prospect’s buying time frame; send drip emails and set reminders on your calendar so you know when they are getting close to making a decision.
- Know for sure when those preapprovals go through so you can better prioritize your time with prospects who are ready to buy sooner rather than later.
- Check to see which homes the lead is sharing via email or social media. If your system tells you a prospect sent that fancy corner lot to her spouse an hour ago, you know to give her a call immediately and offer a showing.
- Make certain your lead generation vendor is verifying email addresses before sending them your way. Don’t let email@example.com cost you time and money.
In order to leverage all of this invaluable information, you must be using your platform every day, all the time. The transition doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes effort to learn the system and understand all the great features it offers. But once you embrace it, it will become a supercharged administrative assistant. Invest the time and effort into that technology platform; your business and livelihood will thank you!
Candi Looney is a marketing research analyst for Quantum Leads.