Have you read any industry news lately? There are the predictable pieces on housing prices and “hot” suburbs to watch out for. Then there’s the chest thumping articles about legislation, such as reaction to Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing. However the posts that grab my interest the most are about us: what makes an agent successful? In particular, that technology is a mere “fad” and that good old fashioned sales skills are all you need to be successful.
At some levels, I agree. You need the basics in any sales job. However, this fear of technology is a real inhibitor in our industry and for me it’s crazy that agents would think like that. So many of the technology tools available not only help us do our jobs, they make us better at it. We can harness data to better inform our clients of market trends. New marketing tools such as 3D broaden our vendor’s reach; targeting more potential buyers while helping us better qualify leads. New mobile apps make it easier for buyers to interact with us than ever before. That’s without even looking at internal tools that help us do our day-to-day in house jobs more efficiently.
Here’s why I think you need to change your thinking on technology.
Buyers and vendors are always online
According to recent research, 86% of people search for property online in Australia. You should know this (its not new). The reality is that our vendors and buyers are always online: they all use technology daily in all aspects of life. Harnessing ways of reaching our clients is the easiest way to take advantage of technology. Think about marketing tools that live online, such as virtual 3D scans. Having a 24/7 online open house is better for the vendor, the buyer, and ultimately you as an agent. Having better qualified leads can only help in the sales process, not harm it.
The only thing to fear is fear itself
I read an interesting quote from John McGrath recently: “We think that the dinosaur agent that’s not embracing technology has really got only a couple of years to exist in this industry”. I couldn’t agree more. The average age of an agent is around 53; they didn’t grow up using today’s technology. For the most part, I think they’re scared of technology and there’s numerous articles that point this out. This fear may be driven by the thought that technology may replace them, when in fact it’s mainly an enabler. As our client base rapidly slews towards the 35 and under age group (aka “Millennial’s”), if you’re not reaching out to them through technology you’re probably missing them all together.
Avoid the talent gap
The Millennial generation I’ve written about before aren’t stuck in the past. They grew up with technology and see it as the norm, and more importantly, a major decision factor in where they work. While there’s plenty of skill sets they can learn in the art of selling, they simply see technology as going hand in hand with their career. As the average age of a real estate principal is in the early-fifties this can be a real problem. Focus on being forward thinking agency, one that embraces the right technology solutions to better enable your workforce and assist your clients, and you’re more likely to attract the cream of the crop when it comes to new emerging talent.
Markets move fast
Think we can’t be disrupted by technology; think again. There’s a great article from the Harvard Business Review that captures this perfectly. The main point: disruption now happens almost instantaneously. Consumers don’t wait for you to respond, they’ll move fast to a new way of interacting with property. The challenge is to stay relevant: technology enables us to offer more value than ever before to the sales process. Simply being good at “sales and advice” won’t cut it anymore.
And so do your competitors
Competitors won’t look to simply better your service, they’ll look to knock you out altogether. And they’ll often come from outside our industry. Technology companies will look to make it easier to cut the agent out. New entrants to the market will look to use technology to offer services to our clients in a new way, using new billing models. How ready are we for something radical to shift our industry? In my opinion: not very.
In my view real estate agents in Australia are way behind the curve when it comes to technology and a big market shift may just be around the corner. The choice is ours: can we as industry remain relevant? I will be, will you?