REAL Trending Episode 50: A Double-Play Combo for Real Estate: Relationships and Technology


REAL Trending Episode 50

A Double-Play Combo for Real Estate: Relationships and Technology

Also: Systems and Operationalizing

From REAL Trends, the trusted source for real estate industry news, this is REAL Trending, episode 50. We’re breaking down the trends of the week and showing how they impact brokers and agents. I’m Steve Murray, president of REAL Trends. Today we’re discussing Ferry to Kendall to Staver operationalizing everything we do, and where tech and relationships intersect. What does it all mean?

A Double-Play Combo

Back at the turn of the century, there was a famous double-play combination with the Chicago Cubs. It was Tinker to Evers to Chance. It went something like, “Tinker to Evers to Chance, these are the saddest of possible words. Tinker to Evers to Chance, turning a giant hit into a double.” What’s that got to do with Tom Ferry, Larry Kendall, and Mike Staver? Just this.

Whenever you have the opportunity to hear any one of these gentlemen and realize that the combination of all three routinely reach with training and education over 150,000 agents, managers a year. They bear listening to. What do we hear from them and what have we heard from them for years upon years upon years? Lessons that resonate even today. It is about relationships. It is about staying in touch with friends and family and past customers. It is about a system of doing it. It is about having your mind in the game all the time. I could go on and on and belabor the point.

Certainly three of the more knowledgeable men in the industry, a combination of something over 60 years in this industry, and they’re still as bright and articulate and absolutely insistent that for agents or teams or brokers, building relationships, focusing on those relationships, adding value to those relationships, being useful are the most critical components of a successful real estate career. “It doesn’t matter,” they said, “whether you’re a manager recruiting or a coach training or a leader developing people. The secret of this business is not technology. It’s not that technology isn’t needed and required and useful, but technology will not replace the need for interpersonal communication and empathy.”

Geoff Colvin said in his book, Humans Are Underrated, just a few years ago, “You could talk about machines replacing all kinds of jobs. For instance, even attorneys and a lot of the work they do in research and drafting documents can be automated, but one thing all experts absolutely insist on is jobs and responsibilities and leadership that require empathy cannot be replaced by machines.” So when I think about the old Chicago Cubs’ double play duo, Tinkers to Evers to Chance, shortstop to second to first, I think about Tom Ferry and Larry Kendall and Mike Staver, and the passion where they talk about the tools and the techniques. Interpersonal tools that make a difference.

So, here’s my question for those listening. Are you focused on your people? We’ve been saying since our white paper, people still matter in 2006, when we, through metrics, determined the 16 best performing brokers in the country, and interviewed 169 of their agents. What did they tell us over and over again? It’s communication and it’s a vision and it’s discipline and it’s accountability and it’s empowerment, and most importantly building a sense of community. Well, ladies and gentlemen, you cannot build relationships with people in those areas with an iPad or an iPhone. Sorry. Facebook does not replace person-to-person communication.


Systems and Operationalizing

On our second topic called systems, and as my friend Dan Forsman says, “Operationalizing, you know everybody talks about all these systems and technology, and I’m a believer in it.” At REAL Trends, we use tons of technology and data to run our business. There’s no way small groups of people can get done what they get done without using great technology and data analytics. Make no mistake. I’m not talking about that. But here’s some big, big questions about the future. I get everyone should … There are going to be some great tech platforms built with incredible data analytics, artificial intelligence, great consumer tools. Incredible stuff. But there are a few things that people are missing.

The first is how many agents will truly turn over their data about their buyers and sellers to their broker, not to mention the franchisor, because historically in most cases, that simply hasn’t happened. In fact, there is absolute resistance to the thought that agents would turn over to their brokers all of their customer data in a common CRM, much less have it turned over to a national company.

Particularly when you consider that people feel like their data got ripped off when they gave it to Zillow to promote their listings on Zillow and “They turned around and sold it back to us.” They did no such thing. They did what they said they would do. They put it in front of a far larger audience than agents could have done on their own, and they charged a fee. That fee was advertising dollars. Now it’s becoming referral fees. You pay for customer development and customer acquisition one way or the other.

Let’s go back to the key point of systems and operationalizing. This is going to take a huge effort by brokerage companies and national franchise companies to encourage agents and or consumers to turn over their data to these national platform operators. I mean, we know Keller-Williams is already out to a very, very good start according to Josh Team. Some 56,000 agents have already loaded over 22 million customer profiles into the Keller platform.

That’s pretty impressive, but that’s only one-third of their agents. Others will have to work hard. This brings up the word implementation, and it brings back a bigger question for every brokerage and agent listening to this podcast. How many tools, how many systems do you have that you never truly implemented and made a permanent part of what you do, how you perform, how you work, and how you deliver.

If you have 5, 8, 10 different marketing tools, have you examined how much you’re spending on them and how little you may be using some of them? Isn’t it time to give that a look-see? That doesn’t matter whether you’re an agent, a team, or a brokerage company. Have you dug in and looked at your general ledger and looked at your marketing and tech tools? Heck, even look at the phone lines. How much are you spending on tools that you’re not even using? Have you really looked? You’ve got to review your operations and systematize the tools that do work, that you are prepared to implement fully and fully support, and get rid of the rest. It’s a lesson for all of us.


Relationships and Technology

Lastly, where tech and relationships intersect. Well, we’ve covered some of this. But let’s all know this. Innovation is not done. You think that Zillow and are the end-all, well one must imagine what Google and Facebook are feeling right now. You know, those two dominant guys who get about two-thirds of all the digital ad revenue. Have you read recently, do you know who’s starting to eat their lunch? None other than Amazon.

Amazon tells their advertisers, hey yeah we know how many clicks people clicked on an ad, but we can actually tell you what they bought. Ah, there’s a challenge for Google and Facebook. So, we talk about in our industry where tech and relationships intersect. Do you really think that the iBuyers and Redfin and the existing brands with their tech platforms are the end of innovation? Wait until you see what’s coming before the end of this year that we are aware of. One or two more great innovations that will be launched and announced. It’s going to astound people. No less and no more than Zillow and or the iBuyers or Redfin did in the past years.

But here’s the key thing to leave you with a thought for today. We all use technology. We all use data. Every one of us needs to have systems and invest in them that enables us to make better decisions based on the intersection of data and technology in our businesses. We know most brokers don’t have the wherewithal to hire data scientists, but ladies and gentlemen, our friends who are large brokers and medium-sized brokers and small brokers and large teams and small teams and highly productive individuals or not, you are going to be challenged to try to determine how to use the data you do have access to to be smarter about the consumers you’re serving and the services you deliver.

The sooner you figure out the time that you need to allocate to looking at these things, the better it will be. But again, I repeat, the lessons of the last 5, 10, 20, 30 years, empathy and relationship with customers and with each other trumps everything.


Learn more about industry trends, marketing and technology strategies, as well as listen to past REAL Trending episodes on our website, This has been Steve Murray. Until next time.