Why technology needs a personal touch

Technology continues to break down customer-agent barriers, but it takes a clever combination of the old and the new to really reach your audience, writes Vasili Hadzellis

When it comes to the rapidly changing world of technology, real estate companies have no choice but to connect and embrace. While real estate will forever be a people business more often than not the introduction will have occurred online.
We are living today in a highly mobile world, where people want and expect information instantly.
The critical tool for real estate agents is their client relationship management system (CRM).
It allows you to manage your contacts, extract information about them and connect, track marketing campaigns and inquiry, follow prospecting trails, manage buyers and sellers, landlords and tenants, match people to property, collect and analyse information and so on.
It’s like a marketing, research and administration department all rolled into one clever tool that can let even the smallest player think and behave like the smartest.
It’s one reason for the proliferation of boutique agencies, but conversely, it’s also one reason why many long-standing operators have relinquished their independence to join franchise groups.
The cost and complexity of catching up with technology is so daunting that the loss of their name above the door is a small price to pay to stay in the game.
Real estate agents have a much more diverse role to play as advisers when it comes to their clients’ property needs.
To fulfill that function, the agent needs evidence backed information to support their opinion on the price of a property, solid analysis of data and trends, the knowledge to advise a client when to sell, hold or buy and, of course, marketing strategies that maximise the exposure and price of the property and deliver a measurable return on investment. And it’s the CRM system that can let them do all that.
Granted, the major portals are continually updating their product to refine search terms and they are opening up new opportunities to elevate the profile of listings.
The effectiveness of the medium and the collateral can be tracked, analysed and compared in a way that cannot be applied to print.
But it would be premature to write off print just yet.
While online might claim to generate 60 to 70 per cent of all real estate enquiry, let’s not forget that there’s often a print campaign that triggers the online search. And, let’s face it, in the increasingly crowded online listing environment, it’s hard to have the same impact as a full-page or double-page print ad or a sign board.

We all know print is under threat from the internet, but print too is using technology to stage a fight back. The advent of QR codes in print ads and on signboards has slowly but surely begun to have an impact.
And if online listings continue to become lost in the crowd, agents will look for other more effective ways to reach their market and maximise the return. Which brings us back to CRM systems, some of which can now be used to create a property-specific website.
Throw in some video and some interactive floor plans, and all of a sudden you start to provide a value-add, unique experience for your client. But therein lies the trap for anybody who thinks technology gives them an out from the traditional form of transacting real estate. I’ve seen plenty of people make that mistake, letting emails and mass mail-outs do the talking only to lose out on a listing to the agent who picked up the phone, attended the ‘opens’ and made themselves visible and accessible.
If somebody is going to sell their house through you or trust you to manage their investment property, they want to know who they are dealing with.
It’s no accident that the most successful agents are the ones who embrace technology but view it as a valuable tool.
The logic is obvious really. Once everybody has access to the same technology and information, it’s a level playing field. And the only point of difference is you.

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