I wrote a blog post in October 2009 called, Are Real Estate Agents Obsolete? I ruffled feathers, I’m probably going to do the same in this post : ) My point at the time was, times are changing and they (in general) are not! I consult many agents on the topic of how their business is perfect for Social Media Networks, they are a service oriented business, a relationship business, perfect! So what’s the problem?
The tools aren’t the problem, the Internet isn’t the problem, people are not the problem, so what is it? It’s the way Real Estate Agents think. I’m generalizing so don’t get your listings in a knot.
I’m not trying to embarrass any one individual here, I’m speaking in general terms, don’t you realize what you have on your hands? The Internet is only 15 or 16 years old, what you did before the Internet came along worked great, offline, but those tactics don’t translate to digital very well do they?
Today, you can do open houses LIVE with a digital camera connected to the Internet, what a great way to find out if a home shows well. There are very few people willing to buy a home without actually going on site, so what are you worried about? The Internet has one real strong purpose for Real Estate Agents, and for the most part, they don’t know what that is.
Look, much of what Real Estate Agents do is now hyper-sensitive here online, why? People don’t want to be bombarded with sales pitches, and they don’t have to either. The “service” agents provide is just that, a service, you are not a classified ad. So why do you act like one?
Think about that for a moment, Social Media Networks are not more places to do outbound marketing or yelling. Well, you could use them that way, but you’ll fail miserably. There I said it. Social Networks are opposite to Radio, TV, and Newspapers (outbound), they are inbound. You need to be drawing attention through building relationships, being helpful, not constantly selling your stuff.
Imagine having a Rolodex the size of the Internet, you do! Who would need one that big right? Well, everybody knows someone, and that someone might be moving to your area, but you would never know if you don’t build relationships first. Go figure, Twitter as a Rolodex. This is the new CRM (Customer Relations Management), build relationships, build a huge network online, just like you would offline except you’re not selling. You are, building friendships first, then data mining, and through these relationships you will find business otherwise not found. Notice the order of things.
Be social, be mobile, and be the kind of person I and all of us would want to do business with, we want to know you, we want to know if you can help us when the time comes, but we will never know if you only cram your listings down our throats. This constant yelling and broadcasting is the disconnect with those you would consider clients in social networks, that way of thinking shows me that you only care about sales. I bet that statement makes you mad if you an agent, if so, then do something about it. Perception is everything, and once it starts, BAM! you are now stereo-typed.
A good friend Ron Karr wrote an interesting book on sales, I recommend it, it’s called, “Lead, Sell, or get out of the way” By Ron Karr, he can teach you a few traditional things, but most of all, he talks about how you think. Here’s my review. And that’s what I’m talking about here, the old methods got you to where you are today, and some of those methods may still work for now, but most likely won’t on Social Networks.
Scott Stratten coined the phrase in his book UN-Marketing, ” Stop Marketing. Start Engaging.”, these words should be your new mantra, they speak to the heart of every selling profession. My review of his book.
So build your Rolodex here online through building relationships first, where else can you save so much time & money, and reach so many in so little amount of time. Amazing isn’t it, most people don’t care what you know until they know you care. Gary Vaynerchuk is about to release a new book called, “ The Thank You Economy“, people want to know you care, and saying thank you goes along way to fulfilling that need.
The Future of Business in terms of Real Estate Agents, it will be entirely up to them. The business as a whole needs to pay attention, learn how to be social and mobile, both are critical to they’re success. More importantly, they need to unlearn a great deal of what they think they know about sales, specifically online.
I think in the next 5 – 10 years, Real Estate Agents will become fewer, because the current red tape and gate keepers will eventually be removed. It could happen sooner, you can by-pass agents already, but thats not the real issue. The mechanism of control is, and it will be harder to control the consumers of the future, so something has to give. For many agents, they don’t have the luxury of time, they must make sales to put food on the table. It’s that kind of pressure that makes you make mistakes, in social networks, the tolerance level for selling all the time, posting your listings, is much lower.
So, relationship first, don’t sell, provide information of value, teach me something, and tell me what you can do for me when I need someone just like you. Be an educator, be someone who cares about people, all people, because they are potential clients. Get to know me before you ever try to sell me something, that’s the mode of operation in social networks. And that takes time, but imagine the huge Rolodex you will have because you cared.
Forgive me if you are one of the very few actually paying attention to what’s going on, I am however talking to those who are not. I know brokers and real estate systems try teach you, but they too are stuck in old methods, it’s time to look around, the world is changing and it’s going to whether you do or not.
There is so much more that can be said, I am scratching the surface on this topic, I would love to here your thoughts.