The system you need before you introduce new tech

Try the “5-Over-5 Method” during your next service rollout

How many times has this happened? You bring on a new technology solution, but not nearly enough of your agents use it. Well, you’re not alone.

Agent tech adoption is an all-too-familiar riddle (or headache) for most brokers and other leaders. Despite the best of intentions, the technology becomes more of a headache and drain on financial resources than the issues it was meant to solve.

There is one way to prevent that feeling of wasted money and effort on expensive, unused tech. We present the 5-Over-5 Method.

You implement this method before you roll out any new service or tool. Based on having an understanding of how humans communicate and adopt new technology, the 5-Over-5 Method is supported by two concepts:

  1. Your agents want to know the answers to five basic but vital questions right from the start. Ambiguity is absolutely not your friend here.
  2. Your agents typically fall into five adoption categories based on their attitude toward new ideas and technology. Each category requires a nuanced communication plan with different training methods.

To successfully implement anything from a new tool to an updated process, you must set expectations and take time to address concerns — before your agents ask you. When you provide the full scope of information right away, you squash doubt before it has a chance to take root in agents’ minds.

Answer these five deceptively simple questions

Don’t be fooled by these seemingly-basic questions. They’re simple, but if you skip over any of them in your communication plan, the process to drive adoption rapidly breaks down.

  1. Why did the brokerage choose this solution? Demonstrate that there’s a problem in the current method that needs to be solved.
  2. What is this solution? Clearly state the details of the new solution or service and provide an organized way for agents to access additional resources.
  3. How is this solution going to make the agent more successful? Focus on specific beneficial values like saving time, ensuring quality, or reducing effort.
  4. When will the solution be available? Be clear about your anticipated timeline and potential delays. Don’t overpromise! Choose deadlines that are attainable to maintain trust with your agents.
  5. Who will help the agent if they need it? Have a support and education plan in place. Each agent will adopt the technology differently according to the different categories outlined below, and you’ll need to accommodate each style to achieve high adoption.

Understand and identify the five types of agents

In 1962, sociologist Everett Rogers published a theory called the Diffusion of Innovations. He’s credited with creating a popular graph showing a normal distribution curve divided into five categories of technology adopters over time.

Tech Adoption Chart

  1. Innovators: tech-savvy, risk takers; won’t need much assistance after roll-out; great ambassadors
  2. Early Adopters: have a positive attitude toward change if benefits are clear; they learn and adopt best in groups
  3. Early Majority: work hard, meet goals; will require plenty of learning opportunities; adopt when they see others’ success first
  4. Late Majority: same as early majority but require additional one-on-one assistance and time to adopt
  5. Laggards: have a negative attitude of change; may never adopt; could be non-performing or using a different solution

You can apply Rogers’ research to your own population of real estate agents as you develop your own communication plan.

For example, Early Majority agents are going to comprise about 34% of your population. Since these agents are willing to work hard with tried-and-true methods but need to see proof of success before incorporating new techniques into their processes, gather testimonials from your Innovators and Early Adopters as soon as possible. Include the testimonials into all your communication pieces and every training session. Large training sessions should work well for them if the proof points are included.

Conversely, the Laggards will only make up about 16% or less of your agent population. They may not feel compelled to attend large training sessions. Large group settings may be off-putting because those agents may feel as though they are not as successful as their more adaptive counterparts.

Communicate with them much like your Late Majority agents and have one-on-one assistance available. Keep information readily accessible, but don’t be disheartened when they don’t adopt right away. Also, don’t feel pressured to expend too much energy and resources attempting to convert your last category of agents. Allow those agents to seek resources when they are ready in their own time.

With all this in mind, our team has designed a workbook with examples you can download for free. Here’s to rolling out technology solutions that work for your team.