By Jeff Kennedy, Global Business Development Manager, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
The use of real estate technology has exploded exponentially over the past 10 years, and most would agree it can help you work faster, be more thorough and operate more efficiently. However, even as our industry has evolved, the customer’s desire for a human connection is as strong as ever.
With the new influx of tech, most successful agents leverage multiple products for lead generation, CRM, post-transaction marketing and more. Technology is heavily used because agents are busy, and these tools allow them to do more in less time. However, therein lies the potential problem: in an effort to be as efficient as possible, an agent could be tempted to let technology take over the critical job of building relationships, and that could be a costly mistake.
What’s the problem with leaning too heavily on technology? One word: connection. It takes interactions to build new relationships, which are usually the natural result of repeated human connection. If used incorrectly, technology can act as a barrier to truly connecting with someone.
Here’s some sage advice from a past mentor: “All things being equal, people like to do business with their friends. All things not being equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” In my experience, people will choose to do business with you because they like you, even if another product they are considering is less expensive.
How can you safeguard against losing that essential personal connection when using technology to stay in touch with your clients?
Here are some do’s and don’ts for using technology in a way that actually strengthens your relationships:
Don’t: Choose Efficient over Effective
Do: Build Relationship Capital
Have you sent computer-signed holiday cards and automated birthday emails? If so, you may be fooling yourself into believing that you are using technology to be efficient. Do you find it compelling when you get those types of communications? At what point does the value of efficiency devalue the effectiveness of the communication? Instead of sending computer-signed birthday cards, just pick up the phone and leave a Happy Birthday message, or if you really want to make them smile, try singing that birthday greeting. Which one will make a bigger impact? Which one builds relationship?
Don’t: Be Reactive with Data Requests
Do: Be Proactive and Give Data Freely
The best way to build trust is to offer value first, second and third. Rather than pushing your agenda of wanting to sell someone’s house, give something of value and expect nothing in return. Send data on market trends and other community news that you think would be pertinent or interesting to the client — even before they ask for it. Use a tool like CoreLogic’s ePropertyWatch to provide automated valuations and information on surrounding listings, sales, forecasts and trends. They may not need you right now, but by offering this type of essential data, you are cementing your position as their real estate expert.
Don’t: Send Generic Emails
Do: Be an Original
You can detect a canned email, and rest assured that your clients can too. Spend the extra time to give it your personal touch, even if it’s just a quick paragraph at the top. With that in mind, try using a program like BombBomb, which allows you to send quick videos of yourself, in lieu of a standard email. A video message allows the client to read your face, hear your words (with the intended tone) and appreciate the undoubted twinkle in your eye. A delivery like this is a differentiator and therefore will make you memorable—even with something as mundane as email. Being memorable and connected is what builds a referral network that will propel you to success.
The challenge for most real estate professionals is using technology to its fullest potential, while staying true to the one thing that computers and technology will never master: creating real connections with real people.
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® understands the value of relationships and how important connecting is. It’s one of the reasons we have members in over 55 countries worldwide. Through these connections, our network receives an incoming referral every four minutes, on average.
Real estate is often called a “people business,” and there is no question that relationships are what fuels the industry. Keeping this in mind, the key to evaluating any new technology is to ask yourself whether it helps you strengthen relationships and/or create new ones. If the answer is “yes,” it warrants your attention.