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The race for brokerage-built technology has gone beyond the warm-up stage. It’s already sent flames into the air, left rubber on the pavement and has the grandstands rapt, pulling at the each other’s sleeves.
Except these fans are much more than spectators. They’ve got a lot riding on the results.
Amidst the smokey bombast confusing the crowd, it can be easy to miss who’s in the lead. But one brand in particular might just be setting the pace, and it’s not who most consider the favorite.
Coldwell Banker’s CBx Seller Leads is free lead service offered to brokers of the blue-clad brand, reviewed in this column about a year ago. Lead distribution and oversight is handled through an administrative back-end, and the ZIP-code based data algorithm is constantly being adjusted to ensure lead quality.
“CBx seller leads has become so useful now to all of our affiliates, and our 74 percent adoption rate since we launched is somewhat unheard of in the technology space,” said Zoe Horneck, CB’s VP of product marketing and communications.
Horneck said the company isn’t able to distill the specific per-office user numbers within that 74 percent, as it’s up to each broker to determine how the leads get assigned.
Not every agent may be eligible to receive a CBx lead. Also, seller leads aren’t as valuable to agents who focus on buyers or who can’t as easily land an eager prospect. Lastly, there’s no guarantee that another brand’s agent isn’t already in the door. Data mining is not Coldwell Banker’s idea.
Horneck believes that the quality of their leads, derived from undisclosed sources, can help alleviate inventory issues that tend to be holding back some markets. That claim presumes a seller wouldn’t have entered the market unless contacted by a Coldwell Banker agent.
While there aren’t numbers to verify that impact, CB does state that its software has been able to improve its listing predictability by 50 percent since launching last year. Pretty impressive.
“I think that’s attributed to the product working, and all of our affiliates love to share their successes, so that’s helped it skyrocket since launch,” she said.
As with all data mining efforts, the more active its users, the more that can be learned about data quality.
When asked about how CB is measuring success, Horneck pointed to a 3x uptick in conversion rates when benchmarked against the industry’s standard 1-2 percent.
“A signed contract, converting to a listing,” she said when asked what they considered a conversion.
Naturally, if you’re an agent, an eyebrow just raised. CB is also using its platform’s success to catch the eye of flirtatious top producers.
“We’re really good at recruiting,” Horneck said through a snicker. “I think a lot of it has to do with our offerings as a brand, including the CBx tech suite.”
Horneck shared a recent story of a new agent closing 60 sides as a result of her use of the CBx suite.
Similar to Compass and Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker’s CBx Tech Suite is an in-house software package.
In conjunction with Seller Leads, there is listing presentation tool Listing Experience, and predictive market analysis tool Buyer Locator, which helps link potential buyers to listings. There’s also a social ad engine, and Reaology’s brand new AgentX.
The real estate industry is on an unquestionable technological tear, developing, coding and acquiring digital assets almost faster than a buyer changes their price range.
“We’ve always been really in tune with our network and our agents,” Horneck said. “But you can’t just build technology and hope people will use it. That’s silly.”
Upon joining CB, Horneck created a formal “Voice of Customer” program to dig into what consumers wanted and what agents needed.
“The program was created so that we could vet our ideas through feedback we received from our network,” she said.
Relative to what competitors are putting out there, Horneck admits to always paying attention to it, but not reacting to it. It’s what CB’s agents need that matter.
“We want to focus on their needs,” she said.
Horneck travels often to have one-on-one conversations with network members, and she’s heard that some companies are investing less in Zillow leads, for example, thanks to Seller Leads.
“Everyone is used to buyer leads, these are very different leads. And they are investing less because of what Coldwell Banker has to offer,” Horneck said. “This is a real game-changer.”
Jargon-aside, the industry’s oldest franchised brand isn’t about to let up on the gas. The plan isn’t to compete, the plan is to win.
Hang on to your hats.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe