Powerful Technology Tools

This is the fourth article in my series on powerful listing presentations, where we’ll be covering pricing, communication, technology, marketing, and home presentation & photography.

This week I want to discuss powerful technology tools and the importance of these tools in your listing presentation.

Regardless of whether technology is important to you in your personal life, you must step up to the technology plate when it comes to your business. In today’s world, providing the widest possible array of online marketing tools is critically important to your success as a listing agent.

Here’s why: Sellers are hiring you to expose their home to the largest potential group of buyers available. Online marketing is a very important part of this process. Gone are the days when can you simply rely on flyers, yard signs, newspaper and magazine ads, the MLS, and other agents.  I’m not saying to stop using these traditional methods, just trying to make sure that you’re integrating technology into the mix.

Yes, there are buyers who likely only look for houses through print media, or only with their agent. And there are also buyers who rarely look at houses online, and would rather spend their weekends attending open houses. However, many buyers today are completely plugged into online real estate search sites, as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. It’s part of your job as an agent to understand the value of technology, embrace it as part of your overall business plan, and apply it to get results.

And your listing presentation is the perfect place to show that you “get” technology. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2010 Profile of Buyers & Sellers, more than 90% of sellers today expect enhanced online marketing. The message is clear — online marketing is extremely important to sellers!

While there are lots of technology tools to choose from, and even more opportunities for online marketing, the way you present your technology plan to sellers is immensely important to meeting their needs and expectations. If you can show your expertise in this area, you’ll immediately increase the likelihood of walking out with a signed listing agreement.

So just how do you articulate your value to today’s tech-savvy seller? You create visual tools!  Remember those? They are the ‘props’ I’ve been talking about in my recent Zebra Reports. Use your props to show sellers how you will expertly market their home online.

Below is my list of the technology “musts” for today’s successful agent.

1. You must have a custom website: It would be hard today to find a real estate company without its own website. Since the late 1990’s, real estate companies around the world have built websites that: 1) help buyers search for homes, 2) help sellers market their homes, and 3) act as a marketing tool for the company itself. Some are amazing … and some leave a lot to be desired. Regardless of how robust your company’s site is, you need your own custom website.

Often an agent will say, “My company offers nicely done template websites at very low cost. That’s good enough for me.” I disagree! Imagine this: you work in a market where you and many of your company colleagues are competing for the same listings. Each of you shows up at your listing presentations with the same basic template, and very, very similar online tools. OK, so maybe there are a few changes – your personal photos are obviously different, and maybe a couple of you have changed a background photo on the site — but it really is the same website.  Who stands out to the seller? Nobody. Remember that statistic above? Sellers are telling you that they want more – they want to know that you have stepped up your technology game to a whole new level. They are looking for technology that meets their expectations, and exposes their home to the largest number of potential buyers.

They also want your website to showcase their home – not simply advertise their home as one of the many listings you may have. Just as you want to stand out from the agent crowd, your sellers want to know that their home stands out from all the other listings on the market.

There are hundreds of features available, such as simple map searches, common-feature searches, school-proximity searches, and pre-mapped neighborhood searches. You don’t need them all, but you must have enough custom tools on your website to ‘wow’ your sellers with your ability to reach and engage buyers.

A custom website allows you to do all of that.

Take a look at John Hurlbut’s website, below.  John was in my EVOLVE coaching group last year, and is part of this year’s ENCORE group. We developed John’s website for him in 2010.  A tech-savvy agent, John knew that a website was a key component in building his business. John’s website utilizes an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) service to pull in listings from the MLS and display them front and center on the website. Visitors have the ability to perform as simple or complex a search as they desire, can save search queries and favorite listings, make notes on listings, receive updates, plug numbers into a mortgage calculator, and so on. In addition, a custom website allows you to include other helpful pages, such as details on your client services, an area resource section full of information for anyone who might be new to the area, and a blog.

While you’re building your custom website, consider including a private client area as well. This is a username and password-protected area where your sellers have access to a wide variety of information about their individual listing.  The private client area is the perfect spot for feedback reports, showing reports, local and neighborhood market data updates, your marketing calendar, and – once there is an offer – your pending-to-closing calendar. While this doesn’t replace having person-to-person discussions with your sellers, it provides them with another layer of service that few agents provide.

2. You must engage in social media: Gone are the days when posting your listing to a website is good enough. Long-gone are the days when every evening an anxious buyer sits down at his computer and weeds through all of the new listings. Today’s buyer is instantly plugged into the latest information on new listings. Even though real estate is still about building relationships, and those relationships need to be personal and face-to-face, sites like Facebook and Twitter have fast become the communication tool many people use on a daily basis.

If you’re not engaged in the conversation – and talking about your listings and real estate – other agents will be filling in the gap. And their listings are being put in front of thousands of potential buyers every single day. Your sellers deserve the kind of global marketing that social networking sites offer.

3. You must syndicate your listings: It’s not enough to have a website and use social media to market your listings. There’s one more step you must take – and it’s listing syndication!  What is listing syndication?  It’s a way to is a way to promote your listing in a national – or perhaps – global way.  When you “syndicate” a listing, you post that listing on a large number of websites … and in turn, those sites share their website content (a part of which is your listing) with other websites.  Syndicate strategically, and you’ll be able to promote your listings to hundreds of thousands of potential buyers searching online for real estate.

Listing syndication is a terrific tool, but you need to do a little research before syndicating. Take care to only post to sites that accurately represent your listings, and which provide a way for you to quickly and easily update pricing information or additional photos.

Look for websites that offer you the widest amount of buyer-friendly tools, including the ability to add multiple and virtual tours. Determine who their online partners are (who they syndicate to), and the depth of the exposure your sellers will receive. Create a visual ‘prop’ that indicates not only where you post your seller’s home, but where those posts are syndicated and the number of visitors that each site has every day. There is value in numbers – and your sellers will instantly understand how that value impacts their goal to get their home sold.

If you want to syndicate, but you’re not sure where to start, look no further than your real estate company. Find out where they post your listings. Then look at regional and national sites. There even companies that will syndicate your listings for you. You simply post your listing information once, and they do all the work for you.

Many of the agents I work with tell me the sites below are ones that they regularly use to take advantage of listing syndication. You should do your homework, however, to find websites that offer you the most benefit.

The technology board below is a terrific example of a listing syndication ‘prop’ that one of our clients uses during his listings presentation. This allows him a visually compelling way to explain what listing syndication is, and the considerable benefit it brings to his sellers.

I know this focus on technology may sound a bit daunting at first blush.  It will take you some time to do your homework, determine the best ways for you to market your listings online, and learn how to articulate that value to your sellers.  But I promise you it will be well worth it in the long run. Listing competition is tough these days, and if you want to successfully build your business (and increase your income!)  you absolutely must use technology to your advantage. If you do, your listing presentation will have yet another layer of expertise that will dramatically set you apart from the competition. And that means sellers will look no further than you when hiring their listing agent.

The fifth topic in our six-part “Powerful Listing Presentations” is marketing … and we’ll be unveiling that next week.  Be sure to watch for our next Zebra Report!

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