5 Pieces of Wisdom Real Estate Must Learn from Uber
Every two years the Property Council of Australia and EY publishes a study on women in real estate. These studies take the pulse on women’s status in real estate and are an opportunity for women’s voices to be heard.
Is there an Uber of real estate coming to disrupt the entire industry?
The answer is yes, but disruption in real estate is going to start at the grassroots level with agents who embrace change.
Uber disrupts because they listen to customers, adopt the right technology and adapt with genius long-term strategies. Read on to find out how you can disrupt like Uber for long-term success in real estate.
How to Create Seamless Customer Experiences with Technology
The cab companies had a massive efficiency problem and Uber knew they could disrupt their industry with technology.
By focusing on software, Uber saved on overheads to gain an advantage over cab companies which had to pay for vehicle repairs, employee benefits and wages, and call centre staff.
Agents can use technology to disrupt in the same way.
Think about it like this: you can spend 15 minutes setting up a personalised email to go out to your database of 500 contacts. The leads you generate from that email give you an idea of who is in the market right now and lets you know who to speak to.
Best of all, it saves you hours cold calling. If you had to spend 5 minutes cold call everyone in your database, contacting the 500 contacts would take over 40 hours.
That’s a full week!
Technology allows you to work smarter, not harder. The tricky part is knowing what the right technology for real estate is.
Why you Need to Embrace the Right Technology
The trick to being disruptive is choosing the right technology for your customer base and business case.
For Uber, this meant the smartphone because the technology is popular, it lets people connect to the internet and people always have them on hand. Unlike cabs, an Uber customer never has to hold the line, like they might if they called a cab company at a busy time.
Uber used the right technology to make it easier for people to become customers.
The right technology for agents is tablets and email.
Email, for example, allows agents to show properties to large groups of people. Everyone has email, so you are casting a wide net that will catch more customers.
Tablets are easier than laptops for a busy agent to use on the go. They are also perfect for gathering data at open homes because they are easy to pass around to multiple prospective buyers
How to Listen to Your Customers
One of the things that made it so easy for Uber to steal business was that people hated taxis. Consumer frustration is a powerful force for disruption and brand loyalty is a powerful thing.
The internet provides the best agents with a powerful opportunity to disrupt agents who are being slack on customer service.
AI makes it possible to automate communications and stay front of mind with buyers and vendors. Online services like ratemyagent.com.au make it possible to develop a good reputation and find new contacts outside your database.
You might be wondering how you can stay ahead of other disruptors who use this technology. Uber has a lesson for expert disruptors here too.
How to Adapt and be Original
Uber isn’t a taxi company any more. They deliver food. You can rent an Uber bicycle. In 2020 Uber will deliver UberAIR, which will offer short flights.
When Uber launched they were the rideshare company, which gave them a head start over everyone who came after them. When other competitors like Lyft, DiDi and Ola came along, they didn’t just stand still. They diversified.
There are a lot of agents in the world, so it’s crucial for you to stand out to your contacts. After all, only one agent can sell a person’s house so you need to make sure it’s you.
Originality in real estate used to be video blogs, or gifts at an OFI.
What’s original in 2019? Well, if we told you that it wouldn’t be original anymore (you’ll have to come up with the idea yourself!).
When you come up with your million-dollar idea for marketing your properties remember that you can’t depend on a gimmick.
What’s Important about Thinking Long-term
Uber is trying to build self-driving cars. Why? Because they don’t want someone else to invent it first and disrupt them like they disrupted the taxi companies.
To think about long-term technological prospects is to prepare for and guarantee long-term success.
If the taxi companies had invested more resources into an app before Uber, they might not have lost so much business to them. As it stands, they failed to understand what their customers wanted and had a lack of imagination about what kind of disruption technology could bring.
Like the Uber of real estate, the best agent in the future is the agent who listens to their customers and adapts to disruption by implementing the right technology.
Want to Disrupt Like Uber?
Make sure you’re a disruptive agent. Get in touch to embrace the best email marketing tech and make sure you remain the ahead of the competition.
Face it, You’re Piling Leads into a Leaking Sales Funnel and That’s Not Okay
Everyone knows how important it is to get leads, but all of the hard work and investment involved can be for nothing if you’ve got a leak in your sales funnel.
To fix this problem we need to understand what exactly your sales funnel is, how to spot a leak and then we can learn how to plug up that leak so that you can rescue leads and help them on their path to close.
Define Your Funnel
The most basic funnel breaks the customer journey into three segments:
- Awareness: all the people who know about you
- Consideration: the people who are thinking of using you as their realtor
- Conversion: the people who buy or list with you
At this stage, it’s important to understand that not all your leads will make it to the conversion stage.
What you want to identify are the lost leads you can prevent. These are the leaks.
Find the leak
You can’t plug a hole if you don’t know where the leak is coming from.
If you find you’re spending money on marketing but people aren’t calling to make inquiries, it means your leaking at the awareness stage. If a lot of people you know are signing with other realtors, that means you have a leak in the conversion stage
Identify the leak, then you can fix it.
Clean your Database
At the minimum, you should have a name and email address for every contact. You may have had a great conversation before, but without a way to get in touch with them, they will be stuck in the awareness stage. Remember, if you can’t get in contact, that person is not a contact.
Thankfully, you can use software to go through your database and eliminate contacts with incorrect, absent or out-of-date information.
Use Smart Marketing
The shift from outdoor and print advertising to email and social gives realtors wider and more targeted reach and also gives them better insight into which ads are working.
Email marketing is particularly effective because it is cheap, everyone has an email address, and smart software lets agents see exactly who is engaging with their emails. By using AI driven analytics, this new breed of software lets realtors identify people at the consideration stage and act before any of their competition. The key to effective marketing is hitting the right person with the right messaging at the right time.
Make the Right Calls
Cold calling is going out of fashion, and for good reason.
The problem is, cold-calls target people at the awareness stage of the funnel, long before they’re ready to convert. If you call people too early, you risk annoying them and putting them off.
Instead, you could look at technology like email marketing, search and social to generate leads nurture your contacts to the conversion stage, where you can use your metrics to make warm calls.
This article was originally written for and published in RISMedia.
What Women Want (from Real Estate)
Every two years the Property Council of Australia and EY publishes a study on women in real estate. These studies take the pulse on women’s status in real estate and are an opportunity for women’s voices to be heard.
As part of our Women in Real Estate Week we wanted to get the latest research on where women stand in the industry. We found the Grow the Talent Pool, 2018 report, which surveyed thousands of agents, men and women, from across Australia, about their perceptions of how real estate is changing.
The report showed that diversity in real estate is constantly improving. More women are now being attracted to the industry because of flexible working hours that accommodate carers. It also found that more men have an increased understanding of the issues women face in the workforce.
This is largely thanks to the hungry women of real estate who know what they want and are acting as a disruptive force to get it.
This article looks at four of the learnings from the Grow the Talent Pool, 2018 report that show what comes next for women in real estate.
Women on the Rise
The good news is that more women are being attracted to real estate from other professional backgrounds.
The numbers show that more women are coming to real estate because it offers working hours that suit their needs. This is good news for the industry because it means that real estate is stealing talent from other industries which aren’t as accommodating.
The improvement is partly thanks to attitude shifts from leaders who recognise the importance of flexibility for parents, as well as new technology that is disrupting the traditional working weeks by making agents’ schedules more flexible.
Attitudes to Inappropriate Behaviour
Unfortunately, a number of people who responded to the survey reported that inappropriate behaviour was sometimes an issue in real estate.
Men and women in real estate both experienced inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, such as sexist jokes or offensive comments, and role stereotyping, though women experienced this at higher rates to men.
However, the report also notes that things are improving.
“There is clear evidence that attitudes to everyday sexism are changing as awareness grows,” the report noted. It went on to say that the majority of the respondents to the survey left additional comments regarding everyday sexism, “indicating their keen interest in this issue.”
Talking About Money
The report found that women were very interested in discussions of salary, and showed that both men and women in real estate are thinking about issues relating to salary.
The report notes that improvements are very positive but says that there is still room for improvement.
As Andrea Brown, Partner at Knight Frank puts it, “I have had all the usual battles that females unfortunately still expect – salary being number one. But if you do not ask, you don’t get.”
Women in Leadership
The report indicated that 79 per cent of women in real estate desire career progress, which includes moving into leadership positions.
The report also showed that out of all women who are leaders, most of them were reaching leadership positions at younger ages.
This may partly be because women are less often promoted into the most senior levels, and because women spend less time in the industry (a result of women’s experience from other industries and decisions to have children).
These findings could indicate that starting a family is a barrier to women’s attainment of higher leadership positions. As the report notes, “The next challenge is to expand the support for women returning to the workforce after having children.”
“We lose a lot of women after they go on parental leave,” according to one of the respondents. “This is something I have noticed over the years, which is why it took me a long time to make the decision to start a family.”
However, the higher proportion of young female leaders may mean that the positive changes that real estate has made are starting to be felt. Things are continuing to improve and, as women in real estate make their voices heard, we might see many of these young women in real estate’s most powerful positions in the future.
What the Future Holds
The face of real estate is changing in more ways than one.
ActivePipe can automate your email marketing to give you an advantage over the competition. If you’d like to discover how we can help you get ahead, get in touch. Let ActivePipe turn you into a leader.
How Agents Can Overcome Work-Related Stress
Every two years the Property Council of Australia and EY publishes a study on women in real estate. These studies take the pulse on women’s status in real estate and are an opportunity for women’s voices to be heard.
Stress can be a normal and healthy part of life, but it’s not good to remain stressed for long periods of time. This is known as chronic stress and it can lead to serious problems.
Occupational stress (or, work-related stress) is a common type of chronic stress that, if left unaddressed, can cause serious health issues.
How Serious is Stress?
A 2015 study from Harvard and Stanford showed that chronic stress can be as bad for your health as second-hand smoke.
People who suffer from chronic stress can experience:
- Weight gain
- Sleep problems
- Poor memory and concentration
- Anxiety and depression
- Heart disease
Stress can even lead to death. In Japan, heart attacks and strokes that result from stress cause a number of deaths each year. This “overwork death” is common enough that they have even come up with a special word (karoshi) to describe it!
Why Work is a Major Cause of Stress
One quarter of people say that work is their main reason for stress. This is not surprising, considering we spend over a third of our waking lives working.
Work-related stress generally occurs when an agent feels like they have low control and have to meet high demands.
This means that techniques for overcoming work-related stress should empower you to feel more in control and condition you to withstand the high demands of real estate.
Sleep More To Manage Stress
Experts say that, “people are getting less sleep than they need due to longer work hours”
You might feel like you are getting ahead by sacrificing sleep to work, but a lack of sleep actually affects your ability to concentrate and deal with stress.
If you take time to rest, the hours you work will be more effective and you will accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.
There is no ‘perfect’ amount of sleep, but for most people seven to nine hours is recommended.
The conundrum is, if you’re already stressed, work-related stress might actually cause insomnia. If your sleep is suffering from work-related stress, then try these other methods to help get your stress levels under control.
Meditate Like a Wall Street Stock Broker
Meditation isn’t exclusively for tree-hugging hippies anymore.
In his 2018 book, author Robert Wright looked at many businesses, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, who are using meditation to manage the stress of highly demanding jobs.
Don’t have time to meditate?
According to Wright, you don’t need a lot of time to meditate. Even just ten minutes of mindfulness per day can go a long way to help you feel less stressed.
Exercise, but Not Too Much
It’s recommended that you do two-and-a-half to five hours of exercise per week.
Do not over exercise as this can increase the amount of cortisol in your blood. Cortisol is ‘the stress hormone’, so be wary of overdoing it.
Instead, undertake exercise that you enjoy and makes you feel good to get your stress under control.
Communicate with Your Coworkers
So far we’ve talked about ways you can prepare yourself to meet the high demands of real estate work. It’s also important, however, to address feelings of low control.
This is where it’s important to try and improve your work environment, as having a more positive environment can help reduce work-related stress for you and your colleagues. There are things you can’t change about your work environment, such as market disruptions, but if you create a more supportive network, you and the team around you will find that you are able to cope with stressors more easily.
Communication is key.
There are a lot of different strategies you can implement in your workplace to eradicate work-related stress.
Some of the things that experts recommend are:
- Clearly defined and understood roles and responsibilities
- Make sure workloads aren’t overly demanding
- Social interaction between workers
Remember, establishing a good work environmentisn’t the sole responsibility of your office principal. Your principal has a business to run, they could be suffering from work stressed as well!
By taking the initiative you will show that you’re a team player who cares about you work, your colleagues and the business. This reflects well on you, and helps you overcome work-related stress, so that you can focus and succeed.
Cold Calls Got You Stressed?
Everyone hates making cold calls. They’re a massive contributor to workplace stress for agents.
Thankfully, you can uncover buyers and sellers from your database without having to ever make a cold call again …
Get in touch so we can show you how you can eliminate cold calling from your business.
Techniques for Effective Warm Calling
Warm calls are the best way to stand out amongst the competition in a property market that is becoming increasingly digital. Here are some techniques for effective warm calling that help you dominate the digital landscape
They say that every business is a tech business these days. As technology becomes more widespread, the line between tech companies and non-tech companies gets blurrier.
This means that the technologies which gave disruptors an edge stops becoming such a massive advantage when competitors catch up.
It’s the same in any industry, even real estate. As the majority of agents move toward being tech enabled, the advantage that early adopters enjoyed offers less of an advantage.
Get Ahead by Building Personal Relationships
Just like in the good old days, building personal relationships is still the best way to get ahead for any agent, and getting a contact on the phone is still massively important.
What you don’t want to do, however, is cold call. Cold calls frustrate contacts and add to your stress levels. Instead, you should be using data to find and call warm leads.
Ingredients for a Good warm Call
Because warms calls require a degree of knowledge, you need to have a bit more preparation.
It’s good to draw on your prior dealings with a contact. Maybe you sold their property in the past? Maybe you only met them once at an OFI. Whatever the case, refer to your last point of contact to break the ice.
The problem here is you could have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of contacts in your CRM. You can’t remember everything!
This is the part where you utilise data from your email campaigns, web leads, CRM, OFI, and any other data you may have gathered.
What you’re trying to find is who are your most interactive contacts. Once you have those you want to gather:
- A name (obviously)
- Residential address
- What properties they interact with
When you know these three things, the only thing left to figure out is how they all fit together.
How to Make a Good First Impression
Studies have shown that people form an opinion of another person within the first two seconds of a conversation, so a good first impression is everything.
When you call someone, it’s a good idea to address them by name to establish trust. When you use contact’s name, you trigger an emotional response making that don’t experience when they hear other words.
You can also use your own name to create a connection. Mention your brand and office, and reference the last time you had contact. This gives the contact context, confirming that you aren’t just a another telemarketer.
“Hi , this is Adam from Newtown Real Estate, I met you at that inspection on Main St last summer. How are you going?”
Without a prior relationship you can still get your foot in the door by being polite and human. If a contact is enthusiastic when they answer, be enthusiastic. If they are professional, play into that. Personality can’t be automated, so it’s a great way to get an advantage over the competition.
Show What You Know
You have established a conversation. The next step is to cross reference your data.
Do you have a property address? Are you 100 percent sure that this is their current address?
Unless you have spoken to this contact very recently, you can’t be too sure. Ask your contact if they’re still at the same address.
After you’ve done this check, you can start talking to a contact about your listings.
The properties you discuss will depend on your contact’s individual behaviour (this is where your research from before comes in). You want to open by talking about the property they’ve clicked on most; their ‘favourite property’.
If their favourite property is a sold property, then a person is likely to be self-appraising. This means you should talk about the great price you got for your vendor.
“Have you heard about the house on Property Street? We sold it for $20,000 above valuation.”
Talking about a property in this way assures the contact that you could get a great price for them as well.
On the other hand, if the contact has been clicking on a for-sale property, mention that property and confirm that they’re in the market.
“I’ve been getting a lot of interest in 4B Broad Street from potential investors. I just thought I’d call and let you know about this great opportunity.”
Ask the Right Kind of Questions
Perhaps one of the most important things to do when you’re calling people is to ask open ended questions. Open questions invite people to start talking, which is how you really catch leads and win sales.
Consider the different kinds of answers you get when you ask someone:
“Are you looking to sell?”
“What kind of properties have caught your eye lately.”
The first question only requires a yes or no answer.
The second question, on the other hand, forces a person to think about the kind of properties they’ve been engaging with, then gets them talking about them.
What if a Call Doesn’t Convert
If you don’t get the response you want from a contact, don’t be disheartened. It’s almost impossible that every single call you make will end in a listing. That isn’t the only reason you follow up on leads.
When you follow up on leads, you can make a sale, or you can get an appraisal, find a listing, garner interest.
Your contact might not be looking right now, but they might be looking soon, or they might have a friend who is looking.
Turn your contacts into connections. This is how you stay front of mind.
The road to success for any agent is paved with good connections.
Agility in the Workplace: How to Adapt to Technology So That You Can Get Ahead
As the business of real estate moves ever forward, there’s an inevitable push towards automating processes and incorporating more technology into the roles and expectations of agents.
Change can be scary, and for established employees, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is an understandable gripe. The work day is already packed to the rafters, so finding the time to learn an unfamiliar system is a non-priority task that ends up at the bottom of the to-do list.
Over the years, I’ve seen many employees shine through the uncertainty of the ‘new’ and leverage themselves as invaluable upskillers, reaping the benefits of their increased productivity. I’ve also witnessed many succumb to the short-term anxiety of unfamiliarity and fail to capitalise on the opportunities within the challenge.
You can guess which group strode ahead, time and time again.
Real estate will always rely on exceptional human interactions, but the ability to react quickly to the changing tech landscape is imperative for survival.
Here are my tips on how to stay tech agile so that you can get ahead in real estate and make yourself indispensable to your employer.
Change is inevitable, so don’t bother dragging your feet in the mud, you’ll only appear stagnant. Even if you’re a full-blown skeptic, fake it til you make it. Have a positive attitude and step up as the early-adopter who helps others in the office get excited too. It won’t go unnoticed.
Use It as a Selling Tool
Savvy ActivePipe agents showcase the platform in their listing presentations to demonstrate how easy it is to find premium buyers for the client’s property. This is often enough to get them over the line and secure their business.
You can use this strategy for any new technology. Think about what the client gets out of it. Can you work that into your pitch and turn it into a selling tool? It might be the push you need to get around the product yourself.
Don’t Let Initial Failures Bog You Down
Just log in. The first time you poke around a new system, it’s normal to feel like a bit of a failure because you don’t completely understand what you’re doing. Don’t let this stop you. The more you log in and try, the more familiar it will become.
Compare it to the first time you started working in sales. I’m sure we can all look back and cringe on mistakes we made in the early days of our career, but if we had let that failure consume us, we wouldn’t have learnt how to do things differently. To do things better.
We don’t have much control over the new technology that enters our lives, or the direction that a company takes when implementing it across the business.
What we do have control over is our attitude when we are faced with new opportunities. The best agents I know have one incredible trait in common. Their ability to adapt and make the best of the situation in front of them allows them to thrive, no matter what. They are always looking for the next challenge.
Technology like ActivePipe is there to make your life easier. It only takes a little effort to give it a go and ensure that you’ll stay relevant within the industry for years to come.
Building Your Professional Network through Strategic Content
There’s no shortage of articles out there telling you how easy and important it is to build your real estate network through social media.
Thousands of agents across the globe have wholeheartedly embraced the internet to actively build relationships with buyers and sellers in the local community, but how much time are they dedicating to creating content which engages professionals who can help build and promote their business?
Attracting contacts with industry clout is a solid strategy for getting ahead. You’ll not only build your profile but also gain numerous insights that will catapult your personal and business development.
What’s the most effortless way to ignite these connections?
Well-considered, strategic content.
Build the framework with LinkedIn
Plenty of agents use LinkedIn to attract new clients and socialise with like-minded colleagues. There’s nothing wrong with this but it’s a mere fragment of what LinkedIn can do for your professional network.
LinkedIn gives you access to some of the most influential players in real estate. Go after them. Send connection requests to influencers, keynote speakers, group executives, power agents, anyone you can learn from or who can help advance your business.
Don’t add or accept just anyone. Keeping contacts relevant will ensure you don’t dilute the value of your network. As a general rule, if they don’t have a profile picture or play a valuable role within your industry, cull them.
Study, mimic then …
Now that you’re building a more strategic network, you need to make yourself visible within it. This is where content comes into play. To capture the attention of key industry figures you need to engage them in a value exchange.
What do they get from having you in their network?
Study the type of content they’re sharing and interacting with. What publications are they following? What articles are they into? Start by sharing similar content that will pique their interest and encourage a comment, like or share. If what you’re posting has value, you’ll naturally position yourself as a thought-leader which will attract new, quality followers and prepare you for step three…
In-between the thousands of phone calls, miles and meetings that you plough through each week, there’s surely a few insights into the industry that roll around in your head. Have you ever thought that these could be of value to someone else?
You don’t have to be a great writer or spend countless hours plugging away with editing software to create content that pops. In fact, it’s often raw material that conveys the most authenticity. You just have to ensure that you’re not making content for the sake of content. It doesn’t matter how slick the result is, the only importance is whether it adds value to a professional audience.
If words are your thing, write a short article series that speaks on changes in the industry. Prefer a more ad-lib style? Make use of your smartphone and create a video series interviewing other movers and shakers in your network.
The possibilities of what you can create are endless but you have to put time into research. What will perform well? Plan your content in advance and craft a distribution strategy that will get you noticed by the right people, at the right time.
Growing your professional network requires a multi-pronged strategy and takes time. Content plays a big role in promoting yourself with meaning and personality but smart agents know that they have to get out and rub shoulders with the best-in-class to truly secure the relationships that will help them get ahead.
Real life will always trump online.
Pro-Tip for ActivePipe users
Once you’re in the cadence of producing content, why not use ActivePipe to send it out to your professional network? Firstly, ask your new connections if it’s ok to reach out to them via email. Set up a new ‘audience’ purely for these contacts and add them in. Then, simply drag-and-drop articles and media to create a high quality newsletter that will impress and engage the most important people in real estate.
It’s that simple!
The Case for the Coach: Should You Consider a Real Estate Mentor?
Even if you’re a workaholic power agent with natural selling abilities and a multi-million dollar portfolio, you’re just as susceptible to flatlining business as the newbie trying to make a name for themselves in an overcrowded market.
Sometimes, we can all do with a little help. Whether that be motivation, guidance in crafting business objectives or even just an accountability measure; having a highly experienced mentor watching your back can be a saving grace for agents in need of a hard refresh.
Unless you’re one of the lucky few with a ready-made Coach Carter, happy to help through the pure goodness of their heart, hiring a mentor can be a costly and confonting exercise.
So, is it the right option for you?
Here’s what you should consider before taking the plunge.
Do you have clearly outlined goals and objectives in place?
One of the main purposes of taking on a coach is to help you set and achieve SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) goals. If you have trouble knowing where to start or haven’t had much luck seeing them through in the past, then having a mentor to bounce around ideas with might be just the thing you need.
Before you splash out on professional help, try sitting down with a favourite colleague and mind mapping your goals together. Make a pledge to keep each other accountable and touch base every few months to check that you’re on track. Brutal honesty is key here.
Is your usual support network busy with their own needs?
With life growing busier by the day, it’s natural to feel bad asking for help when we’re in need. We don’t want to bother others with our problems or take up any of their precious time. This is where hiring a coach can be really beneficial. You are paying for their expertise, so there’s no need to feel guilty for using it. Just like a therapist is cathartic to those going through personal hardships, a coach will listen to your innermost professional concerns and build tangible solutions to them.
Be Honest: Are You Prepared to Put in the Hard Yards?
A good coach is going to push you out of your comfort zone. Are you ready for that? The usual excuses, “I’m too busy,” “I’m too tired,” and “It’s been a bad week” aren’t going to cut it and really, the only person you’ll be letting down is yourself, as you watch the hard earned dollars you forked out for their personally designed kick-in-the-butt fly out the window. If you’re not ready to make this sort of commitment, don’t bother.
Hiring a coach might just be the thing you need to get you out of a slump, over a sales hurdle or to the next level in your career, but it’s not for everyone.
If you can find the support you need within your network and your business is cruising by with no hiccups, great! You go, you!
If, on the other hand, you’re feeling overwhelmed or lacking clear direction; there’s no shame in getting help from someone who’s been there, done that and whose sole business objective is to see you get ahead.
ActivePipe supports you by sending emails that deliver qualified leads – and more of them. Click here to organise a chat.
How Every Agent Can Squeeze the Most Out of the Christmas Period
Love it or hate it, there’s no escaping the mad rush of Christmas each year. One minute it’s October and you’re waist deep in the property selling frenzy, the next you’re at the supermarket wondering why on earth Deck the Halls is playing on the radio and everything’s covered in tinsel.
It’s easy to write the holidays off as “sales slump season” but smart agents know to use this time wisely. Yuletide is the perfect opportunity to get all those life admin jobs you haven’t had time for during the busy months sorted and prepare yourself to step into the new year with your best foot forward.
Not sure where to start? Here’s the ActivePipe list of naughty and nice ways to squeeze the most out of this Christmas season.
Prepare your content for the year ahead
When the year is in full swing, your calendar’s overflowing with appointments and your phone feels like it’s been duct-taped to the side of your face, finding time to create or even curate content can feel like the last priority on your to-do list.
In this day and age you’d be a fool to leave content out of your overall marketing mix, so why not make the most of the downtime by planning out your social calendar for the year ahead? Snap any great photos of properties or happy sellers lately? Get them off your phone and onto your social media pages. Why not share some of your valuable expertise with the world and write some blogs? Don’t fancy yourself a creative? Look up some inspirational quotes or images that you can share.
The beauty of Facebook is that you can set-and-forget content so that your campaigns are scheduled and you have plenty of great stuff going out as the year ticks along, minus the headache!
Send Out an Xmas Email from ActivePipe
Let your contacts know you’re thinking of them with a fun holiday email. Take a photo of your office wearing Santa hats or include a group shot from your end of year party. Your contacts will love seeing your personality shine through and will be more likely to open your emails in the future.
At ActivePipe, we decided to make a Year in Review video, in which we showcase some of our big achievements of 2018. You could do the same with some of your more impressive listings and any events or awards you’ve been involved in over the year.
Get active in the community
As corny as it sounds, Christmas is about giving back. Show how involved you are by getting out and involved in your community. Fundraisers, Christmas concerts, school fetes, they’re all great ways to get out there, make new connections and even find fresh content for your social channels.
Clean up your database
This is another one of those “I don’t have time” jobs that can make a world of difference to your business if you bite the bullet and get it done. Make sure all your contacts are assigned, duplicates are deleted and all the names you’ve got saved in your phone are entered into your database. ActivePipe works best when you’ve got squeaky clean data to work with, so it’ll be worth your while. Who knows what hidden listings are waiting to be discovered?
Take a Break
Working in real estate is stressful, there’s no two ways about it. The energy that it takes to be “on” for your boss, your clients and your income is relentless and taxing, so whilst you might feel frustrated that the market slows down for Christmas, really it’s a blessing in disguise. Take the chance to recharge and nurture your mental and physical wellbeing, so that you can go into the new year fresh-faced and excited to kick some goals.
Have a happy and safe holiday period everyone, I look forward to seeing the amazing results you achieve with ActivePipe in 2019.
Want to have the right programs in place in time for the new year? Get in touch with the ActivePipe team here.
ActivePipe Year in Review, 2018
It’s gotten to that time where you look at the calendar, realise that it’s only five days until Christmas, and wonder where the year has gone.
2018 has been an amazing year, strength to strength, and we wouldn’t be here without our users.
Thanks for making 2018 a top year.
This one’s for you!
It feels like yesterday, not last year, that I was writing the 2017 ActivePipe Year in Review.
This year we’ve launched in the US, built our global support team in Cebu and expanded into the finance industry. That’s on top of all the new features and improvements to the platform.
When roughly 50 per cent of startups fail in the first five years, it makes me proud and excited that we are still growing rapidly into our fifth year, with many new prospects on the horizon.
This comes down to much more than a great product.
I’ve spoken before about the importance of promoting a positive work environment to inspire your team, and I wasn’t blowing smoke. I meant it when I said that leaders need to inspire a sense of purpose in their staff if they want to maintain a culture of success as a business grows.
Our team has tripled in size this year, which has introduced a lot of new members to our ActivePipe family. Rapid expansion comes with its own set of challenges, but the new members of the team have brought different experiences from different backgrounds in different industries.
This diversity of perspective is something that makes us challenge each other and makes ActivePipe such an exciting and interesting place to work.
I can’t wait to show you what we’re bringing you in 2019.
How Was Your Year?
Many of you have absolutely crushed 2018. The ActivePipe Dashboard gives us insight into the workflow of our users and has shown us a lot of people with really impressive results.
This has helped us find a tonne of agents who are doing spectacular things with the platform, and has lead to some great conversations.
Among others, it alerted us to the Ray White Sandringham team, who won 17 appraisal request in their first 24 hours with an ActivePipe account!
Well done to all of those teams who have managed to save money on their path to more listings and more sales.
Not all of you will have had the greatest year. We all have our year that we think of as a ‘bad year’, but it’s important not to focus on the negatives. Instead, recalibrate and prepare for opportunities to come.
A wise man once said:
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
Get excited for the opportunities that are waiting just over the horizon and get ready to make next year a success story.
Make 2019 yours.
We’re right here with you.
We’re collecting the greatest stories from real estate in 2018 to create a follow-up article! This is a great opportunity for you to share your experiences from the year with the rest of the industry.
This could be something you’ve learned, the things you’ve overcome or stories about your contact relationships. This could even be a funny story from an OFI or your office.
Get in touch, because we want to hear from you!
It’s Time for … ActivePipe Arithmetics!
I could harp on all day about the benefits of ActivePipe and everything it does to help agents, offices and brands to reach their full potential. There’s just so much to say, but as the saying goes; talk is cheap. Why use superfluous words to tell you how incredible this platform is when I can use numbers, which speak so well for themselves?
So without further ado, channel your inner maths master, dust off your abacus and protract your protractor… It’s time for ActivePipe Arithmetics!
Sixteen Million Website Visitors
ActivePipe has driven an astonishing 16,371,173 visitors to websites this year. Let that sink in for a second. That’s the population of Cambodia, summoned to head online and actively view and interact with our agents’ listings. That’s more than 16 million hits directly attributed to the square power of ActivePipe.
Twelve Thousand Appraisal Requests
In 2018, our agents landed 12,308 appraisal requests (and counting)!
If we’re conservative and estimate that 50% of those requests turned into listings and use the average Australian house price ($809,201) as our measure, we’re looking at a whopping $4,979,822,954 worth of sales facilitated by ActivePipe. It’s enough to make your calculator crack.
Twenty-Nine Thousand New Customers for Life
Agents using ActivePipe have been alerted to 29,129 first home buyers. That’s a small city’s worth of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed new customers, ready to begin their real estate journey with you. Just by logging onto the platform and reaching out to these new kids on the block, you’re soliciting their undivided attention and setting yourself up for future earnings.
Equal to the Power of…
Whilst it’s fun to take a step back and look at the big picture numbers that ActivePipe has achieved for our agents, what we really care about are the results that you can achieve. With our help, you can quantify your business, work smarter not harder and bring home the Pi(e) once your stock sells at market.
If only all arithmetics was that easy.
Seventeen Appraisal Requests in 24 Hours: The Story of Ray White Sandringham
Implementing new technology in an office, group or brand level is never an easy feat for the poor tech officer in charge of facilitating its rollout. Once they’ve convinced those up top that the product will return a solid ROI, they then face the mammoth task of persuading a bunch of notoriously time-poor agents to not only spend precious hours learning the system but to maintain momentum once the initial push has subsided.
Sammie Johnson, the Systems & Technology Trainer for City Realty in New Zealand, is all too aware of the difficulties.
“Being in the Tech Team, we sometimes find it hard to push technology that I know will improve their business. You have to pitch it to them in dollar format, and generally most won’t get onboard…until they see someone else making money or progress from it.”
After seeing the results ActivePipe was generating for other Ray White agents, Sammie insisted that her group of offices sign up too. Expecting inevitable pushback, she couldn’t believe what happened next.
When her Sandringham office tentatively switched on the platform one Wednesday afternoon, something magical occurred. By the next day, they’d secured a whopping 17 appraisal requests and excitement was in the air as the team realised that this was just the beginning.
“It’s just a huge game changer for us. These are crazy numbers! Plus, it’s really simple and user friendly,” says Sammie.
No one in the office was more excited than Susan Woods-Markwick. In the first 30 minutes of ActivePipe she’d landed 7 appraisal requests. The multi award-winning agent is already known as a powerhouse in Auckland but now she had access to a system that was only going to skyrocket her business further.
“It’s exciting and liberating! Keep it coming!” she says.
Susan’s principal, Phil Horrobin, knew that it was going to change the way he ran and trained the staff in his office.
“It’s going to be a significant part of our business, you know. I mean data is so readily available now that we see agents growing their databases like it’s a kind of obsession. Actually being able to manage and communicate with them though is a whole other level. So, now with ActivePipe you could have an agent with a database of 10,000 people but they’ll actually be speaking to the right people, at the right time, as opposed to sitting down and making ten cold calls from that 10,000. So it’s going to be a big change for us”.
Do you remember Sammie’s initial concern about getting agents onboard with the platform? Well, after seeing the results in Sandringham, the other offices under her technological gaze couldn’t be more eager to follow suit.
“It’s a big step forward and a big game changer for our growth. It’s great, we’re very happy about it. We love ActivePipe!”
So, success all round for Sammie Johnson and the team at Ray White Sandringham.
Personal vs Personalised: Why the Difference Matters for Agents
The word “personalised” gets thrown around a lot these days. Saying that something is personalised isn’t just a fancy way to say personal. It has its own meaning. Read on to find out what those meanings are and why the difference between what’s personal and the personalised is relevant to agents.
What’s the Difference, Technically?
As an agent, you’ve probably used a “personal touch” and “personalisation” in your customer journeys, even if you haven’t realised it.
“Personal” is a describing word. It means that something is private or unique to a particular person.
“Personalised” is a doing word. It’s all about action and means that something has been made for a particular person.
These may just be words, but the ideas behind them carry weight.
What matters is how you understand the relationship between these two ideas and how you can use that understanding to improve your customer relationships.
Why Agents Should Care
As an agent, for example, you might sometimes add a personal touch. This could mean giving out pens with your name on it, or property profiles with your face on it. Some of the big-figure agents even take it as far as rolling out champagne for an open house!
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to add a personal touch. A personal touch just means doing something to make people recognise and remember the agent they’re dealing with.
This tactic is as old as the real estate game itself.
Making something personalised, on the other hand, is more new-school.
To personalise something is to make it unique to the customer.
More and more businesses are starting to do this. It’s easier than ever to order a t-shirt with a personal message or photo on it. Facebook creates personal videos about peoples’ online friendships and lets their users share them on their wall.
Technology has dawned a revolution in personalisation.
These companies are only making one product, but they change them so that each item is completely unique to the customer.
This takes the guesswork out of marketing and product creation.
In the past, companies had to try and create one product or marketing campaign that worked for the majority of their target market. The genius of modern personalisation is that it lets the customer create the product that’s perfect for themselves!
For the Last Time: How Does this Help Agents!?
To be fair, personalisation isn’t completely new to real estate.
Think of the classic: the agent Christmas card campaign, where an agent handwrites personal messages to everyone in their database. Some of the top agents even do this for all their contacts’ birthdays as well.
At least, it used to be just the top agents.
These days any agent can easily personalise in two steps.
First, you need to know about your contacts to be able to cater to their unique personalities. The obvious details to find out are name, phone, address. On top of that, go the extra mile.
What are your contact’s interests? Do you know what food they like? Do they have a pet?
This level of detail might seem like overkill, but people are doing it. It’s how you get ahead. Knowing these things about a person helps you build stronger relationships with your database.
Getting this information can be easy, if you’re a good listener. You’ll be surprised what kinds of information people reveal about themselves in casual conversations.
To keep track of all your contacts’ details, add an extra column in your database. The great thing about digital contact lists is that you can add heaps of custom fields without your data getting completely out of control.
Once you’ve got an idea about who your contacts are as people, the second step is easy.
There are heaps of digital platforms that let you integrate with you database and send personalised messages to your contacts.
Google Calendar is great example. Just plug your contacts’ birthdays into your calendar and send people a text when you get a notification. If you’re really clever, you can even use a third party app to send the texts for you automatically.
Technology has improved personalisation so that, like Facebook, any agent can deliver digital messaging that is unique to individuals.
What is the difference in something that is personal versus personalisation?
Something that is personalised (made for a particular person) lets you have a personal conversation (unique to an individual).
The ideas don’t compete with each other, rather the personal and personalisation compliment each other.
Things that are personal and personalised aren’t the same thing, but when your sales pitch contains both, it helps you have the better conversations that make customers for life.
To learn more about how ActivePipe can help you automate personalised comms, speak to one of our automation experts.
In Conversation with David Young Choi
ActivePipe’s catapulting global expansion of the last twelve months has allowed me to make some exceptional appointments to our executive team. The quality of these highly sought-after professionals is enviable, as is the wealth of experience and understanding of the sector that they bring with them.
When I first met David Young Choi three years ago, we quickly entered into a friendship driven by a mutual respect for what the other was ‘about.’ At the time, he was Chief Commercial Officer at Homepass, a proptech company moving in the same space as the recently launched ActivePipe; our paths were always destined to cross. I was instantly drawn to his astute intelligence and passion for the role and I was pleased to watch his career continue to shine as he moved into the position of Director of Corporate & Enterprise at Domain.
When ActivePipe reached the point of needing a CCO of our own, in my eyes, David was the only man for the job. He’s dived head first into the role and is already feeling like such a member of the ActivePipe family that it’s hard to believe he’s only officially been on board for a few, (admittedly, action-packed) weeks.
I’ve finally found some time to sit down and decompress with him. Here’s what he has to say about his ActivePipe appointment, insights into the company so far and the overall climate that’s defining proptech in 2018.
Dave, you’ve known me and ActivePipe for years now. What is it that got you excited to come on board and take this role?
DC: I was sold the first time that I saw ActivePipe. It was so intuitive and simple, that I was immediately drawn to its potential. ActivePipe addresses every major pain-point that brands and agents face. This runs deeper than just personalised communications and discovery technology. You’re talking about a platform that holistically revolutionises how an agent identifies and converts pipeline opportunities and then builds a lifelong relationship with them. From a corporate perspective, the power to create an automated email drip-campaign that seamlessly integrates properties which can be sent out on behalf of all their agents in minutes, is invaluable. How could I not be excited about this?
It’s the numbers that get me going. It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles you build into a product if you’re not getting results for the clients, what’s the point?
DC: Well, from what I’ve seen, the proof is well and truly in the pudding. From the ground up we’re now looking at servicing nearly 40,000 agents with the biggest brands across four countries, including the US. What are we at now? Over 16,000 appraisal requests for our clients. So yes, it’s both the numbers and the technology that has me excited.
Thinking about how these numbers will grow as we continue to push into the US gets me excited.
Of course! Our international expansion and opportunity were major drawcards for me joining the team. At the end of the day, the fundamental problems we solve are universal, no matter whether you’re in Australasia, the UK or US. ActivePipe’s value proposition spans all geographies.
Based on your experience dealing with agents from across these geographies, what are they saying about the introduction of automation for their business?
Well, corporations are always blown away by the ability to maintain brand integrity across the network without losing the personal touch that individually crafted communications provide. This is huge for them. Agents talk about how easy it makes it for them to stay in contact with the thousands of agents in their database and facilitate relevant conversations.
Yeah, I completely agree. I love how it’s not only positively enhancing the experience of the agent but also adding value and creating a pleasurable overall journey for their customers.
DC: Well, that’s what it’s all about. The reason ActivePipe agents are seeing such great results is that their contacts aren’t feeling like the recipients of spam or monotonous cold-calls. With each and every touchpoint being tailored to their needs, trust and rapport are consistently being built. When it does come time for an agent to pick up the phone and make contact, they are more productive and can actually add value.
You’ve already been throwing some big ideas around with me. Where do you see this company heading in the next few years and how are you going to help get us there?
DC: The customer is the centre of our universe, so everything we do moving forward must focus on customer centricity. This is already a dynamic business but we must always remain diligent and on the front foot of the needs, pain-points and solving our customers business problems. All I can say right now is, watch this space because big things are coming.
So, talk to me about how you see our role in the industry now that you’ve seen us from the inside and out.
DC: This is an easy one! The role of ActivePipe is to help real estate agents and brands get the absolute most out of their business. It’s like squeezing every last drop out of a lemon. ActivePipe takes the archaic lead generation and customer nurturing methods which real estate has relied on for so long and turns it on its head. Its role is to completely change the game.
Thanks, mate, as always it’s all about company culture for me, so no matter how you want to shake things up, you know where I draw the line.
That’s a great point to bring up actually. To return to your question about what excites me about ActivePipe, I’d have to say that its reputation as an organisation with extremely high staff satisfaction and retention rates was a huge drawcard for me. It’s been inspiring to hear you speak on the driving force company culture plays in the pursuit of innovation. I couldn’t be happier to be part of the team as it moves towards the next phase of its’ global expansion.
How Many Emails are Too Many Emails?
I love training new ActivePipe users.
I get a real kick out of how excited they get as we work through the platform together. It’s like skipping straight to the tearjerker at the end of the movie, when the lead character realises that after all these years and all these hardships, their life is about to make a drastic change for the better.
It might sound extreme, but in my experience, that’s the power of this platform.
As I’ve finessed my skills as a trainer, I’ve found that the number of questions I’m asked during a session is diminishing. There is one regular though that consistently rears its head and is deserving of some explanation.
How Many Emails are Too Many Emails?
I hear this all the time.
No one wants to be a ‘spray and pray’ marketer and BSOs are rightfully wary of the term ‘automation’. They know that how often you send affects engagement rates and as a result, how many listings you land.
So how many are too many? How many are not enough? Should an agent put on the brakes or step on the throttle?
At the end of the day, there is no ‘magic email number.’ You’re better off focusing on a few simple rules which will guarantee that your emails are well-received and bursting with value.
Here’s what I recommend.
Content, Content, Content
Before you send anything out, you need to ask yourself, “What value will my audience gain from receiving this message?”
Many email automation providers simply send the same email to everyone on a list. Naturally, this means that for many receivers, the emails are going to be ‘low-value’ and you’ll notice open and click-through rates drop whilst unsubscribes soar.
This is where intuitive software like ActivePipe can help. Because the content of your emails tailors to the requirements of each individual in your database, you know that they’re only receiving information relative to their needs. Voila! High-value information equals high-value engagement.
An Out of Control Database
The cleaner your database, the better your emails will perform. It’s as simple as that. Database maintenance may feel like the last priority on your to-do list but the truth is, an agent is only as good as their contacts. If your list is clean and you’re only sending properties to interested parties, 9 times out of 10, they’ll be salivating for your next move.
The presentation of your email is paramount. If it’s poorly arranged, the images aren’t crisp or your fonts are dated and tasteless you’re in big trouble. If an email is unpleasant to look at, it doesn’t matter how great your listings are, you’re going to look unprofessional and ultimately end up in the dreaded trash can.
Are your emails not producing many inquiries? Make sure that your CTAs are in check. By making it as simple as possible to get in touch, you’ll encourage anyone who’s sitting on the fence to get in contact with you regardless. Capitalise on people’s laziness.
So That’s the Secret!
At the end of the day, it all comes down to value. If your emails contain relevant information, are easy to read and include a clear call-to-action, the number of emails you send out isn’t that important. With a little trial and error, you’ll naturally find your own ‘magic email number’ and there’s no better number for you than that.
If you’d like to speak to someone about how you can create and automate emails bursting with value, get in touch with Ebany and the team here.
Like What You See?
Maintaining Culture Across Geographies
Earlier this year we were honoured to receive three nods from the Australian Business Awards for being leaders in the fields of technology, innovation and marketing. These accolades are always worth a celebration but this year they’ve really got me thinking about the true meaning of success and the role that company culture has played in ours. If you’ve been following us for a while you might even remember that I wrote a blog about it.
Since then, ActivePipe has continued its crazy growth spurt and we now have a small army representing us in cities across the US, UK, AUS, NZ and The Philippines. Whilst extremely exciting, I’m also ultra aware of the importance and potential hardships involved in maintaining our strong, inclusive culture across these geographies. As with anything in business, it all comes down to planning with a little bit of gut instinct thrown in for good measure, and so far we’ve been doing well at keeping the family vibes flowing across the globe.
I want to share with you what I’ve learnt this year about maintaining culture across geographies.
Have the Right Tech in Place
To maintain good communication and a sense of community amongst your team members, it’s essential that you have the right tools in place to facilitate a seamless flow of conversation. For us, Google Hangouts is an everyday occurrence and it’s not unusual to see our Melbourne HQ filled with the faces of comrades from far off lands shining down at us through TVs linked up to conference cams. Google Docs and cloud technology allow for easy sharing and editing of work and whether they like it or not, in-house messaging service Slack means that no matter where you’re located, an instant message is only a few keystrokes away.
Monthly general meetings are important to me. It’s a great way to bring everyone together to share news and company goals and even have a laugh together in an informal environment. Just because we can’t magically apparate the entire team together doesn’t mean that anyone needs to miss out on the fun. Turn your meetings into a virtual gathering with the same video conferencing software I mentioned above.
Get to Know Your Geos
Each region you penetrate will have unique characteristics, customs, laws and language nuances that if ignored could spell the end of you and your business prospects in that market. You need to do your research and engage the brand ambassadors and team leaders in each geography to educate you on these cultural distinctions. Making a point of recognising their holidays and other important dates will lead to an even more inclusive employee experience.
Communication is Key
You’ve heard it a thousand times before but it can’t be stressed enough – good communication is the heartbeat of a business and the key to balancing the needs of your staff with the needs of your accounts department. Check in with people as much as you can. Showing an interest in how they’re going, even if they’re not physically in the room shows your team they are valuable and that you are experiencing this journey together.
It Comes from the Top
You and your leadership group need to be the type of people that inspire a sense of purpose. This runs deeper than just being involved in the everyday running of the business. This comes from the place inside you that is driven by a noble purpose and a desire to do something more than just ‘make money’. Work out what your ‘why’ is and it will direct you in maintaining consistency in your global expansion. If you know why you’re really doing this, your passion will trickle down to everyone in the business – no matter where they’re located.
Let Them Grow
Your employees are just as interested in your global domination as you are. Give them the chance to feel that they are growing with you by encouraging development initiatives that the leadership teams are accountable for. Up-skilling opportunities don’t just improve staff morale, they improve the productivity of your business.
Luck Has Nothing To Do with It
Whilst I feel incredibly lucky to have the team I do, luck really has nothing to do with it. It takes a hell of a lot of hard work and numerous sleepless nights to keep the cogs of an international business well oiled and turning smoothly.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where your people are located or what ethnicity they belong to or system they associate with, they have families and lives and needs outside of your organisation. Just as you do – so never fail to take care of your wellbeing too.
Trust in your staff, invest in your culture and you’ll be amazed at the magic that blossoms across geographies.
How Real Estate can Learn from Sport to Improve Customer Experience
How learning from sport can help the real estate industry find simple solutions to make a customer’s path to purchase effortless.
Introducing tablets to collect prospect data at OFIs was a crazy innovation.
We take them for granted now, but if you’ve been in the game for a while, you were probably pretty impressed the first time you used a tablet to collect prospect details.
And this is just the beginning.
Agents can look to the world of sport to see how the future of technology will improve customer experiences to make the life of your customers effortless and improve your sales.
Get Rid of Typing with NFC Chips
Some agents report that a tablet at an OFI can double the number of leads they go home with.
Those leads are often better quality. An added bonus is that contact details are added directly to your CRM, so you waste less time typing out all your contact details manually or trying to translate messy handwriting!`
By taking handwritten contact details out of the equation, you save yourself and your contacts a lot of time. Considering this, the next step is to remove typing details altogether.
Look at how Nike harnessed the potential of wearable technology with their NikeConnect jerseys.
The jerseys are the future of sports apparel, containing the NFC chips that allow some smartphones to tap and pay. This kind of jersey can do things like verify the authenticity of merch, or even replace half-time SMS competitions.
Instead of copying down a number into their phone, then texting that number to try and win a competition, sports fans in the future will be able to just tap their phone to their jersey to enter a comp.
In real estate, smarter apps that use NFC technology could make it so that neither you, nor your OFI attendees need to spend time manually entering details into a tablet. You will be able to capture contact data in the blink of an eye.
This will make it easy to follow up and nurture leads.
Use Beacons to Catch Leads and Map Customer Behaviour
The NFL in the US is a big fan of beacon technology and has been using beacons to pinpoint fans in a stadium. The beacons allow stadiums to improve the customer experience and provide patrons with personalised deals and even make it possible to share which bathroom has the shortest line.
This targeting feature makes beacons one of the most exciting technologies for real estate agents and is already starting to change the way agents capture and nurture prospects.
The benefits are twofold.
An agent can attach a beacon to the front of any house on the market. That beacon transmits a signal to people who pass through the area, giving them info about upcoming OFIs. Think of this like a for-sale sign that ends up right in a prospect’s pocket!
The second benefit happens when people come to the OFI.
Beacons are increasingly accurate. When a beacon connects with a prospective buyer’s phone, they can pinpoint its exact location. This means that in the future, agents will be able to get a map of everywhere a prospective buyer has been during an OFI.
This will give every agent a bird’s eye view of their OFI. You will capture key insights into what aspects of a property you should feature in your listing ads.
This technology is already here and starting to take real estate by storm.
Create Videos Customised to Individual Contacts
When our friends at Visual Domain teamed up with the Melbourne Victory football team, they were given the task of creating personalised videos that address the experiences of Victory’s high-value members. Creating thousands of personalised videos might sound like an impossible task, so it’s a good thing this is Visual Domain’s specialty.
A company like Visual Domain can capitalise on your CRM and use that data. A video that’s made this way can contain a contact’s name as well as cater to a viewer’s personal experience and serve them only video clips that are relevant to them.
In this Melbourne Victory membership campaign, the Visual Domain team used data on which game members attended. When the member receives their video, they only see clips with highlights from the games they saw.
Using this kind of marketing harnesses powerful emotional memories for an effective call to action.
At the moment, this kind of video is taking off, as more and more brands are starting to see the value in highly personalised content. In real estate we see videos that contain the specific houses that contacts have shown interest in, allowing brands to effortlessly address specific contact needs.
Finding Inspiration for the Future
Sometimes, it helps us to look to other industries to see where technology will be heading next.
By looking at other industries, we can start to see how our own industry will change and get excited about the improved customer experience of the future. (more…)
Why Every Agent Needs to Leverage PR
As ActivePipe’s Public Relations Coordinator I have the pleasure of speaking with a cross-section of agents from across our global network each week. I love learning what makes an agent tick and through these countless discussions have cultivated some pretty incredible insights into the universal pain points and aspirations of real estate professionals across the board.
Every agent I speak to knows the importance of leveraging their profile but where they can sometimes come unstuck is in knowing which methods are worth investing their precious time into. Being time-poor can lead to a lack of creativity, resulting in lacklustre exposure and a dreary publicity program.
Sometimes it’s best to leave these things in the hands of a professional, which is why I’ve enlisted the help of Diane Falzon, the PR extraordinaire behind FalzonPR, who’s a mentor and expert in helping agents position themselves as leaders in their field.
Here’s why she believes traditional public relations should not be ignored by the modern agent.
Why Every Agent Needs to Leverage PR
As the news cycles change in the blink of an eye, storytelling and creating digestible pieces of information to readers, viewers and listeners has become the necessary fuel for all.
You may say that the onslaught of social media has diminished the need and value for traditional public relations and media exposure.
The truth is that public relations continues to play an intrinsic role in working with clients to craft and disseminate news and angles for journalists to consider and pursue.
For the real estate space, and in particular, agents, leveraging from PR can be a valuable tool in not only maintaining a presence with your relevant demographic but also celebrating and showcasing your street cred in the industry.
Creating a connection to your clients and potential clients through the media will help personalise your business and connect-ability with your intended audience. You are more than the person who creates listings online. You are more than the bricks and mortar you are trying to sell. As an agent, you are a wealth of industry knowledge and through an effective PR campaign, you can outshine and outdo your competition.
Let Your Success Do the Talking
Through effective and strategic PR initiatives, you can showcase your successes and milestones, as well as provide advice to your customers. As a learned voice in this space, you can tap into information hungry clients and share your expertise. It is through your tenacity and intriguing storytelling that customers will want to know more about the PR savvy agent in their local area. Some possible PR ideas for you to pursue may include creating a narrative around, “Tips on how to present your property for sale”, “When is the right time sell”, “How do I choose the ideal real estate agent” or “Top five mistakes when selling your home.”
There is no room for humble in the real estate game. Create a space and narrative where you can be heard or read about so that you shine amongst your competition. Whether it is your local print, radio or online, shine a spotlight on what you want to share with your customers. Believe me, they want to hear from you, not just when you want them to sign on the dotted line.
Call in the Experts
If DIY PR is not your thing, don’t despair. Hiring a PR professional to help you is also a great option. Look out for a PR consultant who can get ensconced in your world and can articulate what you want to share to the media. Their job is to showcase you, your business and your story in a way that will enhance your brand, expertise and sales success story.
There is a saying that “all publicity is good publicity.” Call me old fashioned and conservative, I tend to shy away from negative publicity and prefer to create sound and robust stories which generate positive outcomes. A story about an agent found guilty of underquoting does not sound like the sort of publicity you would be after. Be selective in what you disseminate so journalists know that quality content is heading their way.
It is the business which boasts its uniqueness that will be seen the most. Think about it. There is a suite of restaurants in Australia – but it is the ones that showcase their unique cuisine or chef to the media are the ones that get the good word of mouth going. Be that shining star in your suburb.
Be involved in your community, show your altruistic side within that community and then share it with the media. Being a part of your community does wonders in enhancing your authenticity. Also, don’t be shy in celebrating your real estate wins. From achieving a record sale price in a plateau market or winning an industry accolade, share your story far and wide.
Go on, switch that PR light bulb on, NOW!
0430 596 699
Reece Prewett: Recruitment, Retention and the Power of the Database
Reece Prewett is the proud business owner and principal of Ray White Papakura, New Zealand. A master of the corporate world, Reece’s career has seen him in senior executive positions spanning four continents and nearly twenty exceptional years. His ability to drive global teams through significant growth and transformation makes his insights into the benefits of ActivePipe incredibly valuable.
We were lucky to catch up with Reece to chat about the improvements he’s seen in his business and in his agents since joining the ActivePipe family.
AP: Hi Reece, thank you for taking the time to chat today. Even though your office is pretty new to ActivePipe you’re already seeing some fantastic results. Can you tell me a little bit about how are you using the platform and how you are finding it so far?
RP: We’ve had the immediate benefits of appraisal requests and loan market requests coming through, which is fantastic! But the real juice is coming from those who mine the data in the ‘Hot Leads’ category. It’s the people who are clicking on properties multiple times, revealing their intentions about buying and selling and putting their details in through the website. We are loving that.
AP: Do you find that the information that is coming through is allowing your agents to have better conversations with these leads?
RP: It’s giving direction. You may have 1000 people in your database but when it comes to 10am Monday morning, who are you going to call? You want to start your day by making ten calls and what ActivePipe does is make those ten ‘hot calls’ as opposed to ten ‘hit-or-miss’ calls.
You’re making the right calls, at the right time, to the right people.
AP: How does AP help you train and manage the agents in your office?
RP: We have 25 agents in our office and ActivePipe helps us to work out which of those need some support. In my experience, agents can be highly effective at their jobs but not run a good database. The truth is, they could make twice as much money and have twice as much leisure time if they utilise the platform to maximise their database. They might even get their weekends back for themselves.
I’ll give you an example.
Our Number Two salesperson has 500 people in his database but it’s not well constructed. ActivePipe has allowed us to see that this is a problem and we’re now able to use it as an opportunity for him to improve his business. The guy’s already getting really good numbers so we wouldn’t necessarily have noticed his mismanaged database but he could be doing so much more and in half the time!
AP: How do your agents feel about using this new platform?
RP: I’m now using ActivePipe as my recruitment tool! This is because agents want leadership, support and something to help them deal with being so time poor. A lot of agents are time poor, so if you told them you’d organised a PA for them, they’d literally grab you with five arms, give you a hug and say, “Where do I start”?
That’s not a particularly cost-effective thing to do. With ActivePipe, I’m effectively giving them half a PA for free and it does all that work for them in the background.
For example, I’ve just recruited one prospect who was sold by the platform. At first he was going to wait until next year to join us but he ended up saying, ‘‘Yep – I’m done”, and he literally joined us the next week.
AP: Let’s talk about the technology side of things. Has there been any resistance to learning the new system?
RP: Absolutely. People just don’t like change, right? People who say that they like change are bullshitting you.
I think the young, smart agents coming through know that they don’t need to be tech-savvy but they do need to be using technology wisely and properly. The good thing about ActivePipe is that you don’t need to be an IT savvy individual, you literally just have to walk up to it, turn it on and make the phone calls.
Once you’re in and swimming around it’s like ‘Wow’.
AP: So you obviously think that technology is important for the future of the industry but do you think it is, specifically for your business?
RP: I think it’s important for every business. I think other small to mid-sized businesses out there won’t embrace it and that’s good for me because I know those people will drop off over time.
You don’t have to be that far ahead of your competition. It’s just like running away from a cheetah – you just need to be that little bit faster. So whilst ActivePipe is a great recruitment tool, it’s just as much a retention tool. Once they’re in and setting up their stuff each week and checking their database it’s almost like they can’t leave. How could they?
AP: So it becomes a very sticky product?
RP: Yeah, but in a good way, right! If you can have steak at home why would you leave and have hamburgers next door.
AP: You’ve had some really good appraisal request numbers coming through your account. Has that helped in terms of numbers of listings?
RP: Has it improved our business? Yes, absolutely. For example, since we’ve started my Top Agent has received two listings through the platform which equates to $30-40,000 NZD that’s coming in the front door. It’s probably paid for ten years worth of ActivePipe!
AP: So, it’s actually giving you as a business owner the chance to not only help your agents but to improve your business as well?
RP: It’s a total win-win. With ActivePipe, you’ve got recruitment, you’ve got retention and then you’ve got the ability to squeeze the juice out of a lemon. You’re presented with another money spinner by being able to generate leads that are not being managed and because they’ve been presented the way ActivePipe does, it’s very easy for the company to pick that up.
AP: Thanks Reece. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
RP: I’d just like to say that we were a bit timid about turning it on but you’ve just got to jump in the cold water and have a swim. ActivePipe has made a real impact and it’s a really positive one. I can’t think of any downside.
The Social Channels Every Agent Needs to Leverage (and how)
The idea of an agent using social media to boost their profile is hardly groundbreaking.
I don’t need to tell you that it’s an essential element of modern business. That said, for a time-poor agent, working out which social networks to invest time and energy into can be an overwhelming experience.
To help navigate this wild west, I’ve enlisted the help of an expert. Talia Wachtel is the VP of Marketing at Tiger Pistol – a Facebook Marketing Partner specialising in helping brands generate meaningful local results via social.
We had so much to talk about that I’ll be releasing our interview in an exclusive, three-part series that will cover everything you need to know about building a superstar online persona.
To get started we’re getting back to basics as Talia tells me the channels every agent should be using and how on earth they can use them well.
Thanks for taking the time Talia! I want to start by asking you about Instagram. There’s so much hype around using this platform for business but many agents, especially the older generation, aren’t sure how to get started.
Selling real estate is a visual affair. We’ve all seen vendors happily spend thousands of dollars getting the perfect portfolio of images together, so it’s no surprise that Instagram is increasingly being touted as the perfect social media platform for agents.
The key to success is a clean, professional aesthetic that represents you as an agent. Every photo you post should be beautiful, clean, clear and natural. It may surprise you to know that overworked photos with heavy filters aren’t necessarily the key to success!
Posting short videos is another great way to add a personal touch and showcase a property’s best features. Don’t be afraid to be the star of the show! Videos that feature an agent talking about what’s happening in the market do well and will position you as a thought leader.
One of the most successful strategies that we are implementing for our clients is advertising through Instagram Stories. It’s no surprise that we’re seeing success with this – Stories are growing 15x faster than feeds. Even Facebook exec Chris Cox says “the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year”. Similar to advertising on Instagram Feed, prospective vendors can click on your story and land on your website without having to remember your name or look you up.
This leads into my question about Facebook. This has been the powerhouse platform for a while now and you’d be hard-pressed to find an agent who’s not using it to some extent. What advice do you have for those wanting to take it to the next level?
If you haven’t made yourself a Facebook Business Page yet, hop to it. It’s imperative to separate your private and business lives online, but more importantly, you need a Business Page in order to leverage Facebook’s robust advertising capabilities.
There are three key elements in driving success on Facebook: Posts, Ads and replying to your community. Posting regularly will keep your Page relevant. If you’re strapped for ideas on what to post, there’s not harm in getting inspiration from other agents you follow. Share local market updates, lifestyle articles, neighbourhood events that you find online, and of course, leverage your listings. While you may not be trying to do the hard sell, your listings can provide unique content and are a great way to get your Page Fans to click through to your website.
To really get the most out of Facebook, you need to be running ads. And I’m not talking about simply Boosting Posts. I’m talking about leveraging the plethora of Facebook ads that are purpose-built to drive meaningful business outcomes. Run a Lead Ad to generate leads directly on Facebook, or drive traffic and conversion on your website with a Conversion Ad. If you’re looking to be seen by as many people as possible in your local area, Reach Ads are perfect for you. Don’t shy away from using some of the more refined targeting options as well, such as uploading your client database for retargeting purposes, or creating a Lookalike Audience to ensure you’re being seen by people who are most like your existing clients. Add the Facebook Pixel to your website, and retarget people who have visited your listings online with specially targeted messages.
Lastly, with all the engagement you’ll be getting on your posts and ads, you’ll need to make sure that you’re checking any comments or messages sent via Messenger. It’s important to get back to leads in a timely manner, and Facebook makes it easy for you to do that.
I’ve been working on growing my LinkedIn profile and it’s been great for connecting with other marketers and players in the real estate space. How can it work for agents trying to connect with prospects?
Whilst Facebook is a bit more casual, LinkedIn should really be treated like your public CV. This is where you can really establish yourself as an expert in the space, and network with real estate’s biggest players.
Make sure you fill in the ‘bio’ section with plenty of information to let prospects and other agents know who you are and what you’re about. Add in your accomplishments and finish it off with a jazzy photo that will capture attention amongst the noise.
Now it’s time to optimise. You should update your profile with a proper URL that lets Google pull you up when someone searches your name. Begin to build your network by adding connections through your current email database.
Play around with LinkedIn’s “Advanced Search” feature. Here, you can type in specific keywords and locations to find the perfect connections to build your dream network.
I’ve noticed lately that a number of agents are using Twitter to advertise properties. What are your thoughts on this?
Twitter is all about the hashtag, so have a look around and see what other agents are using to get ideas. Staying up-to-date with the most popular hashtags in your farm area will help people find your posts.
Tweeting is like attending a networking event. It’s not necessarily about making rushed deals but putting in the groundwork for later business. Start by sharing a photo of a great listing in your local area and use strategic hashtags to get it in front of the right people.
If someone replies to your content, you must engage with them. These are your clients in the making, so treat every one of your followers like they are a prospect talking to you at an OFI.
Any final advice Talia?
No matter what social media strategy you decide to go with, you need to actively concentrate on growing your network. Real Estate truly is all about connections – so make sure to put some time aside each week to send friend requests to former and current clients, other agents and leaders in your community. The referrals you can generate from a solid network are exponential.
Want to reach out to the experts? Hit up Talia and the Tiger Pistol team here.
And don’t forget to keep an eye out for Part Two in the coming weeks! (more…)
How to Turn Your Online Leads into Contacts, Quickly!
We all know the first place a buyer goes to check out real estate is the internet. On many levels, this is a win-win situation for you and your prospects, as you both enjoy the ease and affordability of showcasing listings online.
The downside to our tech-led world and the source of many an agent’s frustrations is the curse of the dreaded ‘missed lead’. You know the one. A prospective buyer or seller has browsed your website, clicked on a few of your properties and if you’re in luck they might have even sent you a quick email. No phone number and certainly no essay on their intentions to purchase or sell. You’ve been busy the last few days but finally, you’ve got a spare moment and are ready to reach out out with a return email but ‘Bam!’, they’ve disappeared faster than a toupee in a hurricane. No reply, no first date.
There’s nothing you can do to eradicate lost leads forever but there are steps you can take to minimise churn and turn your online leads into customers for life.
The secret? Think quick.
86% of potential buyers use online as their main tool to search for property. If you can reach out to them on the same day they visit your website, you’re in good stead to capture their attention and garner a response. If you can get in quick with an email, over 30% of those inquirers will get back to you on the same day. Considering the real estate industry has an average email open rate of 27% these are damn good numbers.
I Don’t Have Time For That, Do I?
Well, it’s time to get organised. Yeah, the stats sound impressive but how can a time-poor agent honestly spare the man hours to contact every single online lead immediately? It doesn’t sound like a realistic expectation. The hard truth is that speed to lead is a huge indicator of whether a successful conversion will take place, so you have no choice but to put the time aside every day to follow them up. Make it your new rule. I’d recommend making it a ‘first thing in the morning’ habit as most people scroll real estate sites at night. This way you’ll give yourself the best chance of being the first agent in their ear.
Make Tech Your Mate
Implementing smart technology like intelligent CRMs or software like ActivePipe will take the hard work out of nurturing your online leads. Once you’ve captured a lead in your database, you can start sending out content tailored to their preferences. Not only does this give buyers and sellers the personal touch they crave but you’re far more likely to stop them in their search for an agent (or dream property). ActivePipe kicks things off by sending any new contact in your database a ‘Welcome’ email. Too easy!
Stopping the Search
Your primary goal in all this is to stop your leads in their search for… well, you! You want leads to stop in their tracks, send you an inquiry and bang down your door, insisting that you’re the one for the job! You don’t want them window shopping then disappearing into thin air. Attract, capture – convert.
Sounds good, how do I do that?
Keep driving traffic back to your website. Consumers today are looking for a personalised online experience – which means you need to consider their trigger behaviours. Look at what properties they have interacted with, how often they are visiting your site and where they’re located. If you can send them content that matches these behaviours, they’re going to keep coming back for more. You’ll have them in the bag.
Summary: The 3 Step Plan
To improve the ROI on your lead generation strategy and start turning those online inquiries into customers for life, you just need to follow these 3 simple steps.
- Make Online Lead Nurturing Your New Morning Ritual
- Be Proactive in Getting into Contact
- Use ActivePipe to Send Tailored Emails That Send Traffic to Your Website
Get in quick and the conversation will be flowing in no time.
The Art of Staying Front of Mind
Staying front of mind is one of the most important issues an agent must address in their quest to grow market share and nurture leads. It’s also one of the most difficult things to keep on top of.
There is a lot of white noise coming from other agents in the marketplace and prospective sellers often have to go through letterboxes full of rubbish before they’ll see any of your material. This is where being relevant comes into play. If you’re delivering value; the right information, to the right people, at the right time, they’re going to be more inclined to choose you to list their property.
LBDs, cold calls, door knocks – they are all useful for the average agent but unless your value proposition is relevant and cuts through the clutter, you risk getting lost.
Relevance is the currency of 2020.
To help you win the battle of delivering personable and meaningful communications, I’ve put together some simple tips on how to rise above the clutter and be the agent they can’t wait to call.
Get the Conversation Flowing
If a contact is thinking about buying or selling, knowing what is happening in the market will always be relevant. Never shy away from sharing news on forthcoming auctions and recent record sales, they are fail safe topics that never go out of fashion. Bonus points if you’re the first agent in your farm area to deliver that information – well done, you’ve just made yourself the ‘go to guy’ for market insights!
Once you’ve identified which of your contacts are sellers, it’s over to you to nurture them with the right content as they move towards putting their house on the market.
A great way to find out the intentions of your prospective clients is to survey them when they first make an enquiry. This is easier said than done, so leveraging the right technology to help you will go a long way in helping you serve your clients’ needs (more on this later).
Time to Streamline
Now you know what your clients’ intentions are, the challenge is in delivering them the right messages. The upsizers and downsizers will likely want to know everything they can about preparing to sell and getting the best price. The investors will be impressed by tips on sustainable and low effort investment information and of course, first home buyers will need to know absolutely everything.
How Do I Manage All These Messages?
How can an agent stay relevant in each one of their relationships and transaction opportunities when at the end of the day, they’re only human and can’t be everything, to everyone, at all times?
I’ve come up with a simple trick.
It’s the art of the ‘two main personas’ and it’s the easiest way to address the needs of your contacts and keep you front of mind.
Persona One: The Friendly Professional
The first persona is that of the personable and approachable professional that is always on hand to help.
Social media is your greatest asset here. It’s the perfect tool for positioning your fun and friendly personality. Use it to organise an event such as a get-together where people from the community can join you in an informal setting and ask you all their questions on the market. This is a great way to build rapport and get to know people without pressure.
Persona Two: The Market Analyst
The second persona is that of the market analyst. Someone who is dependable and knows the facts and figures that will guide the selling experience. It’s someone who can address the seller’s needs specifically and who can provide intuitive market intelligence.
This is where ActivePipe can really play a role in remaining front of mind. Because it’s monitoring your clients real-time intentions it will activate the right emails, at the right time, to give them the right information to make a decision. All of this can be done automatically on your behalf, building your brand image as the professional your clients need to know.
At the end of the day, staying front of mind is a ‘forever battle’ for agents but it doesn’t have to be the thorn in your side. So long that you always focus on being relevant and you keep the art of the ‘two main personas’ in mind, you’ll always have something important to say, to the people who want to hear it. (more…)
Why Quality Relationships are More Valuable than Contact Quantity
The lessons real estate taught me about how prospecting for “rich info” builds quality relationships and leads to real results!
At the age of 18, I was a fresh faced young agent who was trying to make a name for myself. I had stepped into a world filled with people who were sometimes twice my age and mostly a million times more experienced than me.
In those days, I spent a lot of time prospecting, and prospecting meant going from door to door, trying to build my database. By the time I was 20, after two years in the game, I had 70 contacts in my list.
I know what you’re thinking: Only 70 contacts?
Even though some would consider that number low, there is one thing my database had which made it a highly valuable asset.
It all has something to do with what we call rich info.
How to Prospect for Quality Relationships
I was lucky to have a mentor who valued quality relationships over contact quantity, and who drilled that message into me.
In our office, you weren’t allowed to put a contact into your database unless:
- You had an address for that contact
- That contact was the homeowner
- That person had agreed to be on the office mailing list
Furthermore, you couldn’t claim a contact if anyone else in the office already had that contact in their database.
This might seem a bit extreme (it certainly seemed extreme to me at the time) but these restrictions were in place for a very good reason and ended up teaching me a very important lesson about the value of good relationships.
What is “Rich Info”?
Rich info is a small piece of information that tells you a big story.
Before I could understand why my boss was so particular about keeping data clean, he got me to start thinking about why I wanted contacts in the first place.
Contacts are called contacts for a reason (it’s because you stay in contact with them).
While it might look good on paper to have a large database, large databases are cumbersome and difficult to manage. If a database gets messy and out of control, it’s a very big job getting it back in to shape.
How do you avoid this problem?
Don’t add a contact to your list unless you have rich info!
A name and a phone number only tells you how to get in touch with someone and what to call them. One piece of data, no story.
On the other hand, a contact’s address lets you find out how long someone’s been in a place, how large their family is and gives you a rough idea of their budget. This is all information you can find out before you have a full conversation.
Your mailing list becomes pure gold if, in addition to having a lot of data on each contact, all of your contacts have agreed to be on your mailing list. When you are upfront about inviting people to join your mailing list you give an impression of trustworthiness.
This leads to quality relationships.
Then How do I Get the Data?
There’s a lot of merit to farming your area the old-fashioned way and it will always be super important for agents to be in the field and among the community.
In addition, proptech is giving modern agents more tools to automate the farming process. This doesn’t mean list buying, it’s more about value exchange.
Most people are chasing suburb specific news and listings. Instead of just using an email to ask for someone’s details, use marketing automation tools to offer specific information suited to your contacts’ needs.
More and more people are starting to use tools which let you do this, which is why we are starting to see a sharp decline in outdated practices like list buying.
Seems like a Lot of Effort?
But the bonus is, when you put in the leg work, your customers will be loyal to you.
Part of the reason I had such a tough time as a young agent was that the more experienced agents in the office had lifelong relationships with so many people from the neighbourhood.
It is hard to build those quality relationships at first, but the flipside is that, once you do, it’s very hard for anyone to come between you and your high-value contacts.
Nurture Your Database
My old boss taught me that it’s important to get over the excitement of having a large database, and to realise that it’s much better to have quality relationships with the contacts who know you.
Getting started was hard at first but building a solid database meant that I built momentum. Eventually I was making one to three appraisal requests per week.
It’s this philosophy that spills over into all areas of my life.
Quality not quantity.
It’s the relationships for life that count.
Ray White: Customer Centricity through Innovation
As a marketer, I’m fascinated by how brands seek utopia; a technology led, customer-centric approach with a frictionless experience that leaves a customer saying quite simply, ‘Wow’. In my pursuit of knowledge, I decided to start close to home, with Ray White, one of our biggest clients and a brand that is synonymous with the property and real estate industry throughout Australasia.
An industry leader and a force to be reckoned with, the Ray White group includes footprints across Australasia, Asia and the Middle East and is supported by an incredible 13,000 employees. I was lucky enough to sit down with two of Ray White’s leaders; Mark McLeod – CEO of Growth and Jason Alford – National Technology Manager, to discuss how being at the forefront and embracing technology is enabling Ray White to create seamless customer experiences. It was an eye opening and thought provoking conversation, to say the least.
Guys, thank you both for taking the time. There’s so much to talk about, I’d like to jump right in and start the conversation by looking at the current trends you are seeing in technology and across the industry.
MM: I guess the biggest thing we are seeing is the use of AI and machine learning (ML), which allows us to offer customers a much deeper and richer experience than what we were seeing in the past, as well as customer identification earlier in the process. This is what’s going to enable us to get ahead of our customers’ expectations.
Technology, for us, is designed to do one thing, and that’s to put more of our Ray White people in touch with more prospects, at the right time. It’s AI and ML that are going to allow us to do that in a way that’s going to enhance the customer experience.
Mark, you often speak of the 80/20 split. 20 being the percentage of elite agents who make up the ecosystem. How does technology enhance those elite agents and help them to achieve peak performance?
MM: We’ve been on this journey for well over ten years now.
Many of our people are using this technology today without even realising that they’re using technology. It’s just a part of their life. Even the way we’ve integrated ActivePipe is ‘business as usual’ for many of our offices. They’re not thinking about how it turned up and they’re not thinking about it as this ‘wonderful technology’. It’s like our mobile phones. Nobody thinks about their mobile phones as great technology, they’re just here now.
For example, when we first got ActivePipe, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing but now we talk about it like it’s an auction or a sole agent. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite agent or not, it’s just part of our DNA now.
That’s an interesting point. I believe the smartest technology should always be working in the background for you and incorporating itself into your life in a seamless, almost unnoticeable way.
JA: We just keep slowly infiltrating technology into our agents’ lives and they just keep on integrating it without any push back.
That’s allowed us to get better analytics, which allows us to make better decisions, which allows us to get better optics on the path we want to take. That’s because the data now shows us patterns, which allows us to keep going on the journey.
One of the strategic benefits of partnering with ActivePipe is the Profiles and the Intent features, along with the data that your system is capturing. It’s moving our agents’ behaviour towards what we call the ‘full service offering’.
Ray White is one of the only franchisors which offers loan market and financial services, a concierge offering a full suite of services, as well as our Home Now service, which offers utility connections. ActivePipe has allowed us to have richer conversations that allow us to offer our full suite of services.
Changing direction, how do you train your agents for success and those richer conversations?
MM: A number of years ago we created a training program called Accelerate, which was the first program to fully integrate the art of selling real estate with our full technology suite. The moment that an agent actually enters our world, they are greeted with, “Here’s the art of how you list and sell a home,” as well as, “Here’s how you list and sell a home under the umbrella of our technology suite.”
It’s fully integrated from the moment they enter our network.
JA: We also have 12 digital Business Development Executives (BDE), whose full time job is to go into our network and fully integrate our tech offerings into the daily lives and processes of our offices. They monitor the use of our technology suite, office by office, so that we can get a lens on any given stage of implementation and see which offices are falling behind, and with what tech application. Then the BDEs can be deployed to go out and support them.
Integrating new technologies within a business is always a challenge, particularly when there’s an upheaval of change. How receptive are your principals and what lessons have you learned?
MM: How long is a piece of string? Of course, there’s a wide range of responses but contextually I think that our network is very encouraged by our advancements and the direction of our company. Many of them feel very comfortable that there is a dedicated team and resources to steer our way through the technology future.
We’ve made some mistakes, which is part of it. We learned from these, but they trust us to work with them to focus a lot more on the future. By and large, that’s worked fairly well. We are going to be faced with some enormous challenges in the next period of time, but our belief is that what we are creating is tech-enhanced agents. We believe that an agent should always be at the centre of a transaction and we believe that agents who use technology more will be at the centre of technology more often.
How do you keep Ray White on the cusp of the next big thing?
MM: For the last four years we’ve been taking a dedicated team over to America for Inman. While we’re there, we make time to catch up with various parties that we identify with, such as analysis companies and AI and ML types. We benchmark core application platforms and keep a running product matrix of CRM providers. We also have a strong research team that makes sure that when we are making these bets and investing capital in that technology, that it’s not without risk management and understanding.
From a customer centric viewpoint, what’s in your pipeline?
MM: We’re working towards fully frictionless workflows for our sales people and compressing transactions to make it easy for someone to list their home with Ray White, and to make it easy for someone to choose Ray White.
JA: This will allow us to provide a better customer experience. We are a very big believer that it is all about our vendor and creating competition. We believe we can create competition by leveraging the scale, size and reach of our group. You’ll see that the amount of buyer inquiries that we receive on a monthly, daily and quarterly basis is second to none across the Australian real-estate landscape.
Are we leveraging that to its full potential? No, we’re not. Is that the journey that we’re on? Yes, it is. It comes down to ROI. Am I going to spend $200 a month on a bit of software if it is bringing me leads, listings or revenue, or saving me time, productivity or efficiency? Yes I am.
Final one, what role do you see ActivePipe playing?
MM: I think ActivePipe will play a significant role for us. It’s really opened much our networks’ eyes to the fact that targeted, customer centric comms get engagement. I think showing our network that they can provide a service for a customer, earlier in their real estate journey has been a really good thing.
As a group our whole focus is on connection. There’s the digital connection that ActivePipe plays a role in, but it’s how we use that digital connection to create a physical connection. We believe our core product is trust and we believe that trust is built from relationships. We have a saying in our company, “Make a list of all the people you have a relationship with that you’ve never spoken to.”
The answer to that question is that you don’t. So we use those tools to open up that relationship channel through to our core product.
Let Your Personality Shine Through Content
If you’ve chosen a career in real estate, it’s safe to say you’ve got a bit of pep to you.
Whether you’ve been gifted with an innately strong personality, or it’s a learned bravado that makes you pick up that phone for the umpteenth time, as an agent, you can’t afford to not let your flag fly and take the lead in a conversation.
So why are so many agents producing such bland content? In 2018, all the tools are so nicely laid out for the taking. Social media is free (and really easy), images, videos and .gifs can be easily assimilated across a range of platforms and best of all, you’ve got that winning personality and just the right splash of salesmanship, ripe for the picking.
If done right, content marketing is your best friend. It attracts contacts to your website, educates them and then convinces them that you’re the agent for the job. It reminds previous clients that you’ve got your finger on the pulse and keeps you front-of-mind when it comes time to get back on the market. It gives your brand (YOU) a sense of authority and a leg up on the competition.
Too good to be true?
Research tells us that content generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. These are some pretty serious stats. But it doesn’t mean you can just throw up any old thing and hope for the best.
Your content is a reflection of you and the experience people have with you. So make it easy for yourself and let you do the talking with these 5 tips that’ll turn you into a content marketing genius with a personality that shines.
1. Write How You Talk
This is a really simple way to get started. Writing copy that will go out for the world to read can be daunting, so many agents fall into the trap of overthinking what they write or trying to emulate others out of fear of getting it ‘wrong’. This only leads to dull, dull, dull.
Get started by getting started. Write down your copy exactly how it sounds in your head and go from there. You can always go back and do a tidy up when you’re done. This will establish your own unique ‘voice’ which you won’t struggle to replicate in the future.
2. Talk in Stories
Having a slow news week? Don’t stress, it happens to everyone! One of the best things about online content is there are no set rules and including anecdotes from your everyday life is totally acceptable and a great way to give your contacts a glimpse into your life (a two-for-one deal because you’re also building a relationship they can trust).
The trick here is to weave a business message into your stories. Did your favourite footy team make the grand final? Why not talk about how the competitiveness in your friendly tipping comp got you thinking about competitiveness in the real estate market.
Did your daughter just start at a new school? Write a Facebook post about how funny she was getting ready for the big day and wish all the families out there a great start to the new school year.
Stories allow you to connect to your community and seep into their subconscious. Marketing gold.
3. Know Your Audience (and don’t be afraid to show it)
Unless you’re specifically talking to a corporate crowd or other agents, no one cares if you know all the big fancy real estate terms.
Rather than setting out to impress with your shop talk, picture your audience sitting in your backyard enjoying a Sunday BBQ. How would you talk to them about real estate in this scenario?
Write it down.
4. Use the Tools
Writing not your thing? That’s cool! Thank the tech gods above that in 2018 you don’t have to be a poet laureate to let your inner self out into the world. Facebook Live and Instagram stories are fast becoming a staple for savvy agents with marketing know-how. Not only can you showcase your personality without having to write down a word but you’re engaging in a practice which Forbes magazine says is now ‘essential’ for growing your brand.
Give your followers a live tour of one of your properties, or host a Q&A session that answers questions they send in.
Still too much for you? Share videos and articles that you like on your different channels! Chances are, if you like something, someone else will too.
5. Have Fun
Don’t take it all so seriously. Have a laugh (at yourself if need be) and put yourself out there. There’s nothing more engaging or authentic than someone who’s having a go and being themselves.
That’s the key takeaway everyone. There’s a million different ways you can go about sharing your content but as corny as it sounds, there’s only one you.
So, let yourself shine!