The CEO of coaching and training business SparkTank Media dished on how artificial intelligence will enhance lead prospecting and where agents are failing amid a murky economic landscape.

This report is available exclusively to subscribers of Inman Intel, a data and research arm of Inman offering deep insights and market intelligence on the business of residential real estate and proptech. Subscribe today.

Sparktank Media CEO Jeff Lobb, a 26-year real estate veteran, likes to say he’s fluent in three languages: English, real estate and technology. 

The New Jersey-based founder of the marketing and coaching company has been helping real estate professionals understand the latest in sales technology and marketing for nearly a decade, and he’s used his experience to develop coaching products that ensure everyone is up to speed on the latest software and technology tools. His client list includes Fortune 500 companies and startups.

He founded his speaking, coaching and training business SparkTank Media in 2014 and is booked regularly to speak at events by companies including Inman, Coldwell Banker, RE/MAX, RIS Media, EXIT Realty and others. 

Intel caught up with Lobb to discuss the current market, his coaching career and artificial intelligence. Lobb will appear at Inman Connect Las Vegas in August

The following conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Intel: The current market has been described as a “stalemate.” What’s the No. 1 thing agents should be doing right now to stay productive? 

Lobb: First and foremost, from a base they should be analyzing everything they have as far as systems. Meaning, if they never had time to get their CRM together, their website integration together, all the core stuff they need to function the most that they did not have the time to do over the past couple of years of craziness. This is the time to reanalyze and rethink everything.

We have a lot of people that are spending an hour a day putting together, making sure their campaigns are done right making sure their content is changed. Spending the time on the stuff that matters. 

More importantly though, the No. 1 thing they should be doing is tripling down on their prospecting activities. It is literally the only way you’re going to cultivate business in this market. You need to get to way more people than you ever had to in years before. We have some that do dialers that we coach, we have some that do community-based prospecting. You need to have not just one but multiple channels. 

In your experience as a coach, what’s one thing you find a lot of agents struggling with? 

The biggest thing I see them struggle with is how they schedule and shape out their day. Some are doing different things as far as not being productive but keeping busy. Some are either busy doing nonproductive things and some just don’t know what to do — so they wait, they’re waiting for something to happen. And unfortunately waiting will never win in this game. 

When you’re dealing with high-level top producers, whether it may be a team lead or a top producer that may be taking a bit of a hit, their biggest challenge right now is trying to find new avenues of growth. ‘Where else can I go that I’ve not gone before?’ I can usually tell the success of a real estate agent by looking at their calendar on a weekly basis. 

What do you look for on their calendar? 

What I’ll find is, most of the things will be stuff that is with current clients or follow-ups, stuff like that — which is very important. I’ll find very little new activity every day, as far as new prospecting. 

I’ll find — not that it’s not important — I’ll find ‘I’ve got to send out some MLS reports to this client, I’ve got to do some follow ups with this one,’ but what you’re going to find very few things of for most is ‘what am I going to do to find new business?’ 

What’s the biggest way you think artificial intelligence is going to change the real estate industry for agents? 

Its really core base is going to help agents create better content, create better lead-gen responses, create better texting campaigns, create better deliverables for lead gen like e-books or downloadables or buyer’s guides and seller’s guides where most agents aren’t good at writing them or don’t have the skill, AI will take care of that. 

I think there is going to be a hybrid in the next year or two of AI colliding with predictive. I haven’t seen a really good system yet that does this; but when you see predictive analytics combined with AI, I think it’s going to get really interesting, because now I’m getting predictive data and I have automated responses that sound human-like that can do a lot of the work to almost get to the appointment phase without a person. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s evolving. 

How important is it for agents to familiarize themselves with AI tools right now? 

I think it’s an absolute necessity to familiarize yourself with it. To get absorbed with it? Probably not so much, because you don’t need to be an AI expert. You need to use AI to be a better real estate expert.  

Email Ben Verde

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