Sit and Complain or Stand and Reign
Remember way back in the 1900’s when technology appeared on the real estate horizon? I was a real estate greenhorn when a special temperature-controlled room was built to house the IBM 360; a five foot long, four-foot-high, three-foot-wide computer with a big reel-to-reel tape drive and lots of flashing lights. This monstrosity was installed in the offices of Muchmore Realty in Albuquerque, NM. My broker, Tom Muchmore, was a future thinker, especially since the year was 1972. A staff of four people was trained to reduce the multiple listing service (MLS) sheets and Xerox them on punch cards. All of the amassed data was punched onto 80-column, 12-row cards. These cards were then stacked into a sorter.
Agents would submit their search request, in writing, to one of the four computer operators who would then key in their search. The cards were fed into the sorter where it would go through all kinds of whirls and clicks and spit out the cards that fit the search. Wow, what a marvelous advancement.
As you can imagine, it was wrought with problems. Even though it came with two IBM engineers, it was down more often than it was up. Still, the line of agents with search criteria in hand snaked around the office. Soon favoritism led to accusations and arguments. “I told you, that won’t work in our area,” led to the idea being trashed. We went back to the old daily delivery of MLS sheets with each agent maintaining their book.
It was four years before the next advancement; Texas Instrument desktop terminal with cups to put your telephone handset in to dial up the all-to-often busy MLS.
By the time the Internet appeared and the real estate industry finally recognized its many applications, it was already moving at “Warp Speed, Captain!” But the “it won’t work in our area,” and the ever-present negative ninnies kept real estate from embracing technology until the 90’s.
Today, we still lag behind. Everyone has passed us by even the insurance business outpaced us at this move. Where did all the insurance agents go? Today, they are “Financial Advisors.” And then look at eBay, Amazon, Google, Zillow, and more, zooming out to the consumer with access to everything while we (real estate associates and brokers) held tight to our listing information refusing to awake to change.
Many are still playing the Parker Brothers’ Game, “Let’s Call An Agent,” where you pull a game piece out of a hat. You’re either a listing agent or a home buyer. If you’re a buyer, it’s your task to call the listing agent and get as much information about the advertised property as you can without giving any information on yourself. If you’re the agent, your task is to get the buyer’s name, address, telephone number, and first male-born child before divulging information on the house. NO ONE WINS.
Real estate agents have been slow to come to the realization that we’ve changed hats. Once, we wore the information hat. Now we wear the advisor hat. And that’s a good thing. Advisors are held in higher esteem than those who are in the information booth.
Once awake to the idea that we have changed hats, we uncovered even more necessary changes. We must change the way we think, act, speak, market, and live our business lives. Let’s start with ‘prospecting’ the term applied to getting business. Take it out of your vocabulary, replace it with Lead Generation. In my book, Dog Eat Dog & Vice Versa, 9 Secrets To Put The Bite Into Your Marketing, I talk about the negativism of the term ‘prospecting.’ It reflects images of flim-flam, 76 Trombones, wouldn’t you, couldn’t you, shouldn’t you, don’t’ you agree, salesmen of the past. Prospecting is money driven, like the 49ers forging the tundra in search of gold.
Lead Generation Activity is ‘solutions driven.’ It’s what advisors do they seek solutions and advise on the outcome. Advisors know that you cannot sell someone a house, you can only help them find what the want, need, desire, and can afford to buy - then facilitate the process.
Advisors know that sellers don’t contract with us to sell their house. They contract with us to get their house sold. This is done by careful examination of the property, by comparing it to the competition sold, for sale, and expired, determining the Absorption Rate and demonstrating to the sellers its effect. (For complete information on Absorption Rate, go to http://RossiSpeaks.com and click on links.) And then, to ensure that the most people, in the shortest amount of time, knowledge of this particular property’s value, features, benefits, appearance, condition, location, and availability, as well as informing and mobilizing our real estate partners in MLS to all of these facts. Bottom line, a listing agent’s job is to get the house sold in the shortest amount of time for the highest net dollar with the least inconvenience to all.
The Internet has pushed us to new limits, mainly speed of information. If the consumer wants information on houses that fit their dream, all they have to do is search, and it’s there somewhere. The good news in that is that there are many steps involved from ‘searching properties’ to ‘purchasing and closing.’ You don’t Google up property and move in. Buyers need advice and skilled, third-party negotiators to guide them through to a successful closing. And the same goes for sellers. They can’t just put their property on the Internet and, “Ta Da,” it’s sold. There are too many steps from ‘for sale’ to ‘sold.’ And, again, good news - these steps are evolving in geometric progression. It is property competing with property and buyer competing with the buyer just like back in the 1900’s. So if you’re complaining that the Internet is taking real estate agents out of the loop, “STOP IT”!
Waiting is not a choice, keeping pace is not enough. We, the real estate professional, must excel in technical knowledge and know how. The professional real estate advisor must be aware of the ever-changing consumer, where they are, how to reach them, what they want, and what doesn’t work anymore.
An easy way to be a “Techo-Standout” is to get your e-PRO certification. e-PRO is the only NAR approved, Internet Certification program and it’s completely online. It is for all technology skill levels and can be completed in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere) at night (or anytime) in your pajamas (?) with your cup of Ovaltine (okay, scotch). But the bottom line is, you’ll get more solid, applicable, real estate technology information that will catapult you into today and beyond. But wait, like the Gensu steak knives, there’s more!
You will belong to an entire community of noticeably superior associates. The Internet is not just about technology; it’s about PEOPLE. People from all over the globe bonding together in a vast information pool, sharing and caring, to create the best congress of real estate personalities I’ve ever associated with.
Go to http://RossiSpeaks.com and step up to a higher logical level of real estate.
(Rossi, Certified e-PRO Trainer, Master Neuro Linguistics Practitioner (NLP), Edutainer, Humorist, Coach, Bon Vivant, owner of ROSSI Speaks, Inc., delivers presentations, facilitation, education, coaching, and management consultant to companies, corporations, associations, builders, and sales associates. Author of Dog Eat Dog & Vice Versa: 9 Secrets To Put The Bite Into Your Marketing. RealTown, Broker Agent News, Agent Direct News and Realty Times Columnist. Certified e-PRO trainer and GRI instructor. Past NAR CRS Senior Instructor and Course Creator, National Assn. of REALTORS’ convention presenter twenty-two consecutive years and author of Dog Eat Dog & Vice Versa: 9 Secrets to Put the Bite Into Your Marketing.)