Smarter with data

Gathering data is the easy part but so often we don’t even get that part right.

Topic – Making technology work for you

Mentor – James Bell

  • Collection should be non-negotiable
  • Data is where the value grows
  • Surface vs substance


Kevin:   Hi and welcome once again to James Bell. James, thanks for joining us. Nice to be here in New York. It is getting a bit cooler, but-

James:   It is. It is. Leaving Australia in a heatwave and coming to a-

Kevin:   Somewhat of a contract, although we did have about 12 hours on the plane to sort of get used to … adjust.

James:   It’s pretty cold.

Kevin:   I want to talk to you about data, collection of data, big thing here of course as it has been for quite some time and reflecting back on some of our conversations from earlier in the week as well. You know, how we’re using data, what are you seeing, how important is it and what’s happening?

James:   I think you know, the first thing, Kevin, is the actual collection of it. It’s a non negotiable now in our industry and for so long we’ve … You know, data is key, at the end of the day. You know, you’ve got a company like Uber who has the biggest valuation in the world and yet they’re, losing billions and billions every year, but the reason they are so valuable is because they hold data, and as a real estate agent, the biggest thing we can have is data on property owners in our area, and we’re not actually going out and seeking that information at the moment. So one of the big discussion points here at Inman has been collecting that data, making sure you know, who your property owners are in the area. If someone comes to an open home, it’s not enough now, just to take a name, a phone number and say to them, look, if we get a similar property we’ll be in contact with you. You know, it’s about categorising your data within your CRMs correctly and making sure that you get as many property owners into your system as you possibly can.

Because that then is what allows you to build relationships. And we spoke about relationships at the start of the week and how fostering those is allowing you to protect your fees, you know, in some cases go up against no competition at the appraisal.

So making sure you get all that data correctly is a big tick to stop the process.

Kevin:   Just looking around at the exhibitors here, and I don’t know the exact stats, but I would guess that something like almost 70 percent of the exhibitors here have got something to do with CRM or lead generation. They’re the two big drivers of this conference that I go back once again showing my age, maybe a decade or so when you’d come to a conference like this and everything would be about training, upskilling, training programmes. You don’t see any of them here. You know, I think there’s also an opportunity for us. So what’s happening in the area? Are we getting too focused on CRMs and lead generation? Is it becoming too easy for us and we’re forgetting the other skills ?

James:   Look, I think, I look at it this way, Kevin. We’ve become … Sometimes in our industry, it’s more surface rather than substance and I think the surface agents will just take data for the sake of it and not do anything with it. You know, those that are doing well are grabbing market share in this climate that we’re in, in our industry at the moment are actually looking at the substance of that individual that they’ve made contact with. You know, where do they live? What’s their address? What are their needs? Do they have investment properties and they’re putting that all into the system? And it’s based on that, that they’re able to, I suppose, develop a relationship that’s specific to that person. And you’re right. That does take skill set to go that little bit deeper, whereas I think you’re right. Over the last five to 10 years, there’s been that adage of look, put them into your database and they’re looked after. And they’re not. You know, they broad sword approach in terms of the way we’re marketing to them.

Whereas I think those are, as I said, build that little bit more substance into their reasons for collecting data are the ones that are getting much better results.

Kevin:   I tend to think looking at the two markets in Australia and America, and this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to really look at this market. I’ve heard a lot about it. I’ve interviewed agents and so on, so I had an arm’s length view on that. I’m now here and I’m hearing what they’re going through. Conditions here are much greater. There’s still the divide between the agent, the buyer’s agent, the seller’s agent, three percent commission on either side, lots of conditions. That’s why the MLS or multi listing system works so well here. That is being eroded because you’ve got things like the iBuyer, which is something that we have spoken about in this show and we featured it in these shows from Inman. That’s causing a lot of unrest and disruption in the American market.

It’s interesting that one of the other models is where there are agents. I interviewed an agent who is working with this model. Sorry to dominate this conversation.

James:   No, go for it.

Kevin:   But he was telling me that they’ve got this new model where they actually work with the buyer and the seller and they can actually do it for less commission. I thought, hang on. That’s the Australian system. That’s what we do in Australia. So I do think there’s going to be a huge erosion of commission in America.

James:   In America.

Kevin:   In the future. Consumers are going to say I don’t want to pay six percent.

James:   Yeah. Well I got that sense yesterday.

Kevin:   Yeah. Well, so how will the model here work when they’ve got to work on about two percent commission or two or three percent, if you’re lucky in Australia. What sort of agents going to happen?

What will happen in the American market?

James:   Or maybe they need to come over to Australia and do a few conferences.

Kevin:   I think a lot of them are thinking.

James:   Yeah.

Kevin:   Maybe they should.

James:   Yeah, look, it is a different system and I suppose it’s potentially two different skillsets combined into one.

Kevin:   Absolutely.

James:   You know, those … Yeah, and I see in Australia, and you’ve seen it in your years as well. There’s agents that are brilliant at listing. Yeah, maybe not so great with Byword, but they build a team around them. That might be a move here, where they might have to look at more of a team model and how they maybe build what I call an EBU, effective business unit.

Kevin:   Yeah. Well certainly the agent I spoke to and I mentioned the fact that he is building a team. He’s got a team of three.

James:   Got you.

Kevin:   Yeah, he’s doing it.

James:   Yeah.

Kevin:   You’re exactly right. And the other thing I think too, they’re going to find and we’ve developed a seven part series on auctions. I think the auction concept, the auction method allows you to effectively work both sides.

James:   Correct.

Kevin:   And do it in a confined timeframe. So I think that the auction concept that America is going to become a lot more popular is what we’re seeing now. I think it’s going to become a lot more popular.

James:   Yeah.

Kevin:   It’s interesting to watch things-

James:   From an auctioneer’s point of view, that’s great to see.

Kevin:   Yeah, of course it is. Because you might become an auctioneer here.

James:   In America, yeah.

Kevin:   Good on you, buddy. We’ll leave it there for today.

James:   Wonderful.

Kevin:   Thank you, James, look forward to catching up with you again. James Bell is my guest and we are talking to you from Inman connect in New York.

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