Why simple things are the hardest

We constantly look for a ‘silver bullet’ – the short cut but the bad news is that is does not exist.

Topic – Making technology work for you

Mentor – James Bell

  • Tech and relationships
  • Take it – use – mould it
  • Just make the call and make no decisions


Kevin:   Hi, and welcome to the show. My guest this week is James Bell, and James is with me here in the studio at Inman Connect in New York. Good day James, good to have you on the show.

James:   How are you Kevin?

Kevin:   Yeah, nice to be in New York too isn’t it?

James:   It’s nice, yeah, very nice. A bit cool today.

Kevin:   A bit cool, I see a bit of ice out on the streets [crosstalk] so be careful.

James:   Yeah, it turned over night didn’t it?

Kevin:   They say it’s going to snow later today so that’ll be something-

James:   Well, go get the camera’s out.

Kevin:   Good mate, well we’re midway through the conference as we record this segment and you’ll be with us all week to talk about your major five takeaways. What’s the first thing you’d like to talk about James?

James:   I think for me, day one of the conference was really quite focused around the relationships as agents that we build with our consumers, clients, as we move through and the change that has been from probably a broad sword approach that we might have adopted in real estate over recent times, to becoming a little bit more hyperlocal, and building and fostering those relationships. Interestingly enough, one of the things that came up was the pressure on fees. In Australia, the pressure on commissions and the importance of building that relationship in order to protect the fees.

Kevin:   Yeah, we’ve been talking about relationship marketing for a couple of years now, the move from transition to relationship. How do you feel seeing what you’ve seen here, where is technology driving us, I want to talk about technology separate later in the week, but lets relate that to relationship now. Do you see there’s a lot more happening in that area to help us do that?

James:   Almost certainly, technology in real estate seems to be going ahead in leaps and bounds at the moment. Certainly there are some fantastic products that I’ve seen over the past couple of days and obviously we’ll talk about that later, but there are some great tools that allow you to be hyperlocal and really engage with your community rather than the adage of spamming our marketplace, it allows you to concentrate on those that you know you can foster relationships, but also provide them information that’s relevant to them. I think sometimes when we do these broad sword approach, we can hit a certain percentage of VSRM or database, but the majority we miss. We’re hitting them with information that just isn’t relevant to them at the time and I suppose rather than being helpful, we’re probably being a bit more annoying.

Kevin:   Yeah, it seems to me as if we’ve come full cycle and just let me explain what I mean by that because I think that at one stage we had a great ability to be local because we didn’t have the ability to become broad. But if you didn’t have the internet, so we had to really rely on local marketing, like letterbox dropping and so on. Then came along the internet, Facebook, Twitter, gave us the opportunity to become almost global and then we found that, hang on, we can’t really service a good relationships on a global basis, we need to become more local. It’s almost come full cycle, the technologies got to take us away from being international to becoming more local.

James:   Correct, and I think one of my roles is a national manager of a licencing company at the moment and we see the change in the market place for us as well, where the broad sword approach is working, when I’m finding that we also have to be hyperlocal where we now visit offices and build the relationship rather than spreading our message across our large network.

Kevin:   Okay, so what are the challenges for agents now in moving to becoming more hyperlocal, what are some of the tools that are available for them?

James:   Look, I think tools, it is actually quite simple. I was working with an office the other day Kevin, and they had three out of their four options, sell on the Saturday and I just said to the team guys, “how many appraisals in those suburbs have you done recently?” I think was somewhere around the 30 or 40, and I said “how many of those 30 or 40 did you give a call to on the Saturday afternoon?” And the answer unfortunately was zero. It is an opportunity to be hyperlocal and build and foster a relationship. As we know in Australia, at the moment there’s a little bit of negative press about our market. This is a modern opportunity to send a really great message, build a relationship, and inspire people to act and make a decision with your brand because you’ve been successful. So there’s one, two, or three simple.

Kevin:   Do it yourself.

James:   Yeah, do it yourself.

Kevin:   You see, I think sometimes we tend to look for the magic dust or we come to a conference like this, not downgraded in conference because it’s fantastic to keep you ahead of the game. But, there is no magic dust. I’ve been doing this show for four years? I can go back and play some material we did 12 years ago, and it’s the same, it relates today.

James:   Exactly right. Look, we do expect magic bullets sometimes and if you have a great success on the phones for a week, the people are trying to consider, “what was it you said? How did you say it?” I think we sometimes forget it’s just a basis that we picked up the phone, and we had a conversation and not so worry too much about the detail, about what words you hit at certain stages. I think sometimes scripting can come across a bit robotic in a way, and it doesn’t foster the relationship. Where as I think someone just picking up the phone and having a conversation, you’d be amazed in the results that you can get from that.

Kevin:   Yeah, you’ve picked up on a point there I want to just focus on for a moment, oh goodness. Scripts and dollars, I think they’re fantastic by the way. I’m not downgrading them at all.

James:   Not at all.

Kevin:   However, I think you need to personalise them. Just because I can say something one way doesn’t mean to say that you can’t, you need to make it in the James Bell style, so I think you’ve gotta the material, but use it for yourself. And I think there’s another point there too, and that is about things like CRN, they’re so robust, so big, but we tend to use only a small portion of it, and then after a while we say, well that’s not working, where’s the next thing? Instead of getting something and staying focused on using it.

James:   Yeah, focus, sometimes the simple things are the hardest, but it’s the simple things done well and repetitive is what delivers results in our industry. There’s no secret, as human beings, we’ve all got two arms, two legs, and a voice. There’s not a lot that separates us as humans. As I said, those are the successful verse that are maybe struggling a little bit at the moment. What I’m seeing out there in the marketplace, and you and I spoke about this the other day, they’re not making decisions. They’re actually just making the call. It is tough when you try and predict and outcome of something, when you actually don’t have 90% of the information to predict it. I think the good ones at the moment that have seen the results growing market share, they’re making no assumptions. They’re just doing.

Kevin:   Good point, good point, and we’ll leave it on that note. James, look forward to catching up with you again. We’re coming to you from Inman Connect in New york, James Bill is my guest in the show.

James:   Fantastic Kevin.

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