The real estate industry in the US is a 35 trillion dollar asset class, which generates over 1 trillion dollars in annual revenue. This has led to a proliferation in the growth of technology firms targeting agents, brokers, and customers. A recent Forbes article suggests that many of these firms are leveraging the availability of large data-sets to provide insights and analytics to agencies.
Most brokers have a vague idea that artificial intelligence will disrupt the industry, but are not sure how to move with the times. SaaS salesmen keep telling them that the days are numbered for agents competing solely via the ‘old school’ methods. In addition, quite a few of their peers seem to have adopted the latest CRM, efficient lead generation systems and have access to data-driven insights which are advertised to send competitors scurrying.
In a session from Uplift 2019, conducted by Auctm, Jeff Moore, owner of Blue Sky Home Group and Justin Stewart, owner of Stewart and Jane Group, discussed their approach to implementing new technologies.
Spoilt for choice
“I feel like agents are under immense pressure to start using technology. For my own business, I decided that I will understand my goals first, before running after the latest technology in town. The key is to implement technology aligned to my plan and not the other way round.” says Jeff.
Justin adds, “I get a sense that this boom has resulted in too much technology too soon. Most of us are not sure of what we need, and we end up trying new things just because everyone else is. I firmly believe that we need a better discovery process.”
This is why it is crucial for real estate agencies to take back ownership of the discovery process. Tech-literate team leaders are streamlining the buying process by making internal checklists which includes a price range, ease of integration with current systems, value addition, cost of training agents/end-users and return on investment.
When I meet a SaaS sales representative, I always ask them who the client is. In our line of work, it could be a manager, agent or the home-buyer. Also, the software should work seamlessly with my current system, otherwise, the installation won’t be worth the hassle. Essentially, what I am trying to say is that SaaS product managers should run through the client experience before designing products.
On the issue of due diligence, while evaluating products, Justin adds, “I tend to focus on ease of use. Companies can make products as feature-rich as they want but it won’t make a difference if I’m not able to navigate seamlessly. Even If I am tech-savvy, my team members don’t need to be. SaaS products these days are very flashy and try to offer everything under the sun, whereas most of us would prefer simple, intuitive, and utilitarian products, which can be used by amateurs.”
Getting off the mark
For large agent teams, the learning curve for the adoption of a new system can be quite significant. Managers may need to stream multiple presentations, circulate lengthy manuals, resolve queries, and be mentally prepared for rookie mistakes that team members will inevitably make.
“In real life, the training programmes for new software can go on for much longer than expected. On top of this sometimes agents get used to a particular system and then there is a new version or feature addition, causing confusion.“ says Justin.
A recent survey conducted by Auctm revealed that only 40 % of brokers consulted with agents before making additions to the technology stack. This causes adoption challenges, leading to agents not utilizing the technology to its full potential.
In tech we trust
“I implemented technology because I wanted to make life easy for my agents. They can use our internal dashboard to view new appointments, closing alerts, updated listing status, and more. The best part is that it sends automated video congratulations to customers when they reach a particular stage. Besides, the lead claim process has become very simple.” says Jeff.
On average, most small to midsize teams spend anywhere between $ 1000-2000 per month on their technology stack. Commonly used applications include productivity tools, project management, lead nurturing, business insights, chatbots, and multiple listing service.
On the way forward for his team, Justin adds, “In 2020, we will use tools that will help us make a higher impact with lesser manual effort. Products with clean and minimalistic designs will lead the way.”
While there can be no substitute for a firm handshake with a potential client after a successful open house, agents won’t mind automating the repetitive grunt work it takes to get there.