Our mobile phones are genius devices and industrial design milestones. Why don’t we use them for what they’re intended?

  • Phone calls can accomplish much more in less time than most email threads.
  • Mobile phones are incredible pieces of technology, yet we neglect physical traits for slick operating systems and apps.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

I’m almost two years into writing Inman’s real estate technology column, and there’s one piece of technology I’ve yet to review, though it’s been mentioned in probably 75 percent of all the articles we’ve published.

And everyone reading this uses it already.

I’m talking about our mobile phones. Whether you’re an iPhone devotee or an Android user, it’s time we recognize where real estate business would be today without the marvelous example of communications ingenuity that is the modern cellular phone.

5 emails = 1 phone call

In terms of communicating with efficiency, a phone can’t be beat. However, I’m referring specifically to an actual voice call, the act of dialing a number and then talking to the person who answers.

What we seem to have forgotten about this great device is that we can strip away all the apps and games and camera features and still have a business tool with remarkable value.

It often takes me five, six emails or more to schedule a conference call to demo software for this column.

Granted, I’m also not terrifically organized when it comes to managing email; a long-standing commitment phobia makes me dread deleting a message, regardless of how inane its content.

Recently, after scheduling a couple of meetings inadvertently via phone, I came to realize it’s the quickest, most concise way to coordinate with another human.

At some point in the evolution of mobile phone technology, network carriers succumbed to phone manufacturers and subsequently, the software they provided.

I often come across people in the wilderness stunned at their lack of “bars” while eight miles into a narrow granite canyon.

I’ve never voiced this to my backpacking clients, but I feel we consumers carry a lot of the blame.

Apps quickly became a sexy new startup industry, and user trends drove phones into being something we’d rather play on than speak into. We emphasized the fun over the practical.

Great product design

I believe we’ve been collectively neglecting a groundbreaking movement in consumer-level industrial design in exchange for its mostly superficial byproducts. It’s like buying a Corvette for the tire smoke.

Mobile phones are officially more about features than reliable service. Today, functioning as a phone is secondary to what’s on the screen.

Apple has a legacy of taking chances with its product design, with varying degrees of success. In fact, the Big Orchard is taking some heat for its design choices of late.

In its current state, the iPhone is a rather uninspiring device. It serves merely to deliver the iOS operating system. (Although, we are talking about the benchmark for mobile user experience.)

Yet, should the iPhone 8 reach shelves in the form factor in which it’s rumored to launch (with an OLED screen), I’ll happily forgive the company’s recent design hiccups.

Pick up the phone 

Could real estate agents improve their standing by maybe calling prospects once or twice more a day?

I think we could all be more effective with fewer electronic messages and more of the verbal variety.

There’s no shortage of studies showing how a lack of verbal and face-to-face communications are deadening the emotional benefits of personal interaction.

I know cold-calling is still advocated for by a lot of brokers, and I know sales coaches love it, if not for any other reason than to justify overpriced scripts.

I’d wager 60 seconds of conversation can accomplish as much as three emails in a fraction of the time, especially when negotiations start to get heated.

Plus, sarcasm comes across more clearly when spoken than written — and, best of all, you’ll probably never find reason to use an emoji.

When it comes to using technology to get an ear-up in sales, consider grabbing that sleek bit of mechanically engineered awesome that is your mobile phone more often.

I know I’m going to. Welcome to 2017.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.

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