Back on October 15th, 2009 I wrote a bitty called, ” Are Real Estate Agents Obsolete?“. I have taken a lot of heat for it, but those who attacked couldn’t see past the anger. My point was simple, change or be ignored, the role is changing, but many have chosen to continue as they always have, That’s OK.
Another challenge, is getting Agents to learn a better way to use Social Media Networks to, well….do business better. You will find I’m not alone on this, some agents are actually doing a good job, but most I’m sorry to report, are thinking old school. I could go on and on about this, but there’s no need, I will however let marketing man share with you, his name is Scott Stratten. Please take this as an opportunity to make some subtle changes in how you the Real Estate Agent uses Social Media & QR Codes.
What do you think? has Scott nailed you, or better yet, did he give you some good ideas? Is he right, is wrong, or are we barking up the wrong tree? Be honest with yourself if you are in Real Estate, look in the mirror, are you that agent, or are you different?
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.
I’ve met with a number of Real Estate Agents and Broker’s the past few months and I’m not surprised they view Social Media as a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, I have found a few that get it, they have taken the risk and setup virtual offices and even opened accounts with FaceBook & Twitter. Some use these Social networks well and some just say they use them effectively, my research here in Canada reveals that most aren’t practicing what they preach.
I’ve made recommendations and suggested radical approaches to how an agent prospects and wastes a huge amount of time with tire kickers at open house events. They look at me with those puppy eyes and say I couldn’t do that, I don’t know how, that sounds like too much work. I think it’s harder the way they do things now, but they’re stuck! If you’re an agent or a broker that’s been in the industry longer than 10 years, you may have a tougher time making the paradigm shift. I’m not saying you can’t or don’t have the ability, but I am saying if you don’t, life is going to get very interesting when the new tech savvy up and comers produce at a high level with a very different kind of effort. How will you compete and survive?
Let me give you an example of one thing you could do and have fun doing it. I’ll look at the old school traditional agent first, then the new tech savvy agent.
Old School Agent
The old school agent would sit on the phone rounding up prospects for hours on end, then would set up 4 or 5 walk abouts and even a few open house events two weekends in a row. A lot of time and effort goes into this type of selling, hard work is important but with today’s technology why would you do this? Organizing and worrying about how may or may not show up, worse yet, having to go and pick them to ensure you do have a prospect. Getting flier’s out and setting up sign’s, the list goes on. The advertising costs can be staggering too, time spent networking, convincing people they should come and see this house and so on.
The New Tech Savvy Agent
The new tech savvy agent sits at the desk and decides which homes to work on this week, then prepares how they would sell the dream of the home on video. This agent goes out and buys a Flip MinoHD Camcorder 2nd Generation (Amazon Link) hooks up to the net, logs into their UStream.TV account, walks through the house and broadcasts it LIVE! They walk through the home and share how this home could be plus records the whole event, then puts the recorded video on UStream and his or her Blog and other locations for prospects to view at their leisure. The tech savvy agents then jump on Social Network’s that feed multiple Social networks all at once with this new home to look at via video.
This new agent let’s the prospect qualify themselves and let’s them contact him or her when they’re ready, this agent is thinking about the prospect not themselves.
As you can see the new tech savvy agent takes a different risk, invests their time giving what prospects want and then makes it ridiculously easy for them. The prospect that calls the new tech savvy agent back just qualified themselves, less work than the old school way of handling the same task. This is just one opportunity to start making the shift to Real Estate Selling with Social Media, if you don’t take baby steps now and don’t learn how to do some of these techie things. I have to wonder if Real Estate Brokers won’t become obsolete, Broker / Owners at some point will figure out they can handle inventory in a less complicated way. By the way, people complicate things not flip cams and iPhones.
Are Real Estate Agents Obsolete? Maybe not yet, and maybe not all, but more than you think.