The Competitive Edge -
Winning With Technology In Real Estate®

The Age Of Apprehension
The march toward the promise and potential of modern technology is everywhere. If you've been to a trade show or convention; read anything in print, listened to the radio, turned on your TV or even been to the mall, you know that absolutely everyone is either using or selling technology. It can all be a bit overwhelming, even to those of us on the leading edge.

The vast changes in our business, and all business, creates a level of uncertainty and apprehension. It also presents us with a number of questions that we never really had to answer before: What does all of this new technology mean to the typical real estate salesperson? Does the average agent in the field really need to follow this trend? Isn't this a people business, after all? How much technology is enough?

The Potential For Increased Sales
Can technology really deliver increased sales production? Absolutely! In fact, NAR's own research division has discovered that "high users" of technology earn $47,200 more than "average" users; and an astounding $74,200 more than "low" technology users. Of agents producing 3 million or 30 transaction per year: 94% are computerized, 49% use the Internet, and 63% either have a homepage, or plan to within the next six months.

Not only can technology produce tangible sales results, for thousands of agents, it already has. The real question now is how to make the most of technology, while avoiding the time and money consuming detours that are lurking around every keyboard; what I call the "technology trap."

As you consider integrating more and more technology into your daily business activities, you should constantly be asking yourself: Will this specific course of action increase my production?

If the answer is no, then "just don't do it!" Do not buy a single piece of hardware or software, or even invest the time to learn any new task that will not directly contribute to your bottom line.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? Unfortunately, in the real world, the answer is not always clear. So, let's go back to the basics, in order to help us move to the future more efficiently.

The Sales Principle
Success in sales has always been about maximizing "A" time (the time spent face-to-face with people who can buy or sell). This was true twenty years ago, and will continue to be true for a very long time to come.

Unfortunately, follow-up service and all of the related busy work reduces the amount of "A" time available. Thus, as your business increases, so does the time required to manage your business. This leaves less and less time left over for prospecting and actual face-to-face meetings!

The result is productivity "peaks and valleys " that so many agents continue to cycle through. And, this is where the real value of technology presents itself to anyone in the business of sales.

Directed Sales Focus
In order to gain "The Competitive Edge©" Your focus must be on creating more "A" time, and on using "A" time more successfully! Thus, any technology that you embrace must fulfill one of the following criteria. It must substantially:

  1. Help plan your time and organize your goals;
  2. Allow you to provide follow-up service more efficiently;
  3. Increase the quality and quantity of your prospecting;
  4. Improve your closing ratio during face-to-face contacts.
If you lose this focus, your productivity and income will not increase. And, in fact it may even decrease as you expend time and money inefficiently!

Would Your Production Increase If You:

  • Never forgot to call prospects "next spring?"
  • Had every address, phone number, and "to do" list at your fingertips?
  • Always remembered to send birthday and anniversary cards?
  • Could schedule appointments 6 months in advance without ever "double booking" your time?
  • Mailed all your sellers "personalized" letters with a copy of their latest property advertisement?
  • Emailed interest rate changes weekly to every buyer you were working with?
  • Could e-mail MLS search results complete with color photos to relocation buyers?
  • Always sent "Just Listed" postcards to the closest 200 neighbors?
  • Mailed 1,000 promotional pieces to your "sphere" or "farm" every month?
  • Faxed new listings to every "human resource" department in town?
  • Automatically "personalized" every fax, letter & e-mail you sent?
  • Printed full color highlight sheets (with photo) at the seller's kitchen table?
  • Had a listing presentation that was full color and well organized? Or, better yet used multimedia and was presented with your notebook computer?
The fact is each of these activities, (and many others) can be done right now, with just a few clicks of the mouse; and they do result in increased production. I know, I've got my agents doing them!

Avoiding The "Technology Trap"
On the other hand, I've learned that just because something can be done with today's technology, doesn't mean it should be done - at least not by someone making a living in sales. While there may be plenty of money available for investing in new technology, we are all equally limited by a finite amount of time; and must invest it very carefully.

You Don't Have To Embrace Technology!
You can still maintain that this is a "people" business, and avoid the challenges that technology poses. But what if your competition does aggressively integrate technology as a way to gain "The Competitive Edge©" in your marketplace? Ask yourself:

  • Will a loyal customer wait a few days, for information your competition can give them now?

  • Will your farm or "sphere of influence" prospects list with the agent who contacts them once or twice a year, or the one who is asking for their business via mail, e-mail or fax every single month?

  • Could a top producing agent sell two or three more homes a year with "The Competitive Edge©?"

  • Where are those top producer's extra deals going to come from? Remember, "One man's loss, is another man's gain!"

Once you consider these questions carefully, you must realize that if you don't embrace the change that is occurring all around us, that there is going to be a price to pay.If you're still not sure about this, then let me ask you a question:
What would your customers and clients think of you today, if you had no fax, no voice mail (or even an answering machine), no pager or cellular phone and could not supply computerized MLS searches?

All of these technologies met with resistance when they were "new;" and none of them were an absolute business necessary just ten years ago!

Looking back, it's easy to see that many of the changes that are receiving resistance from real estate agents today, will be expected by the majority of consumers very, very soon!

It's Not Too Late - yet!
All is not lost for those in our industry who have yet to embrace technology. However, if they don't act soon, it will be very difficult to catch up to agents who started the journey to the future even one year ago.

Recognize, that throughout the country, each marketplace is moving toward technology at a different pace. It is not necessary to be the first in your area to adapt to these changes, but it is imperative that you not be the last!

Whatever you do, don't be intimidated and let that keep you from starting! Remember, you can't do it all. You don't need to do it all. But, you must do something if you want to gain "The Competitive Edge©" in your marketplace.

The content of this article is based on my seminar:
The Competitive Edge
Stephen M. Canale
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Preparing Professionals for Competition in Tomorrow's Marketplace
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