Stop being so #$%& cheap already!

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insight-edge-2My love-hate relationship with real estate technology will go on forever. I have been in this space now for over 15 years and still there is always something that inspires me and fills me with energy. Conversely I also find myself saying Uncle. It usually stems from our industry’s inability to change when we swear that we are going to. "All industries are cheap Marc," my buddy says as I complain how cost-focused people can be. Now, don't get me wrong – I too am a business owner and think we all learned something valuable during the Great Recession. As we climb out of this mess, we need to ensure that our investments will pay off and there is a clear a path as possible to ROI. However, I find myself in too many conversations with brands that want to create a game-changing experience but won’t do what it takes to get there:

Ms. Large Regional Broker:  “Marc, we want to create an exceptional customer experience full of useful tools and information that will engage the user and keep them coming back.”

My angst here comes from the fact that a company will spend untold dollars on leads (and I’m not knocking that) but will hiss at me when I propose a data platform that can help create an exceptional customer experience, helping them do more transactions in the process.

Ah the Glenngarry’s of the world! There’s nothing more valuable on this earth to a salesperson than a great lead. It’s the hottest lead money can buy, a direct path to making a sale. I’d argue that we’re willing to pay any premium from this simply because we can draw a direct path to ROI.

Hopefully by now you see I’m trying to point out that no, of course the industry is not cheap – we are however guilty of sometimes being too price sensitive to see the long-term value of investing in a rich customer experience.

As a business owner of a self-funded company, I get it. I too have faced these challenges and I’m going to help you to break this habit. We have already established that you are willing to pay a premium for a hot lead; however a dollar is too much to pay for something that doesn't present its value upfront. In case of a lead, you know what it costs and you can track how many you buy and how many deals you close, creating ROI and a tangible value. It might be harder to calculate the ROI of offering a cross-platform and intuitive experience for your potential customers.

A data platform can cost tens of thousands of dollars to license. Add in the development cost of building onto your current platform and it becomes a huge undertaking. How could you agree to something like this if you don't understand the true value its delivers? So the questions you ask me make sense. “Marc, are you crazy?” and comments like- “That's very high compared to what we expected or another quote we received.”

If I told you that investing $10,000 per month would help increase your business by 15-30%, would you sign on the dotted line today? Duh. But here is the catch – I need 15% of your time as well. I also need months for this to start working and showing results. I need for you to understand and receive the full value of this platform, and that can only happen if you invest the time to understand its full value and potential. I’m speaking the truth here and I'm sure it’s why cost and so called time budgets have prevented you from investing.

Onboard is filled with passionate data, GIS, and implementation experts that can get you through these issues. Here is another conversation I’ve had a countless times:

Ms. Large Regional Broker: “Marc, I hate AVMs. They are too expensive and invariably they are wrong.”  Meanwhile, NAR research tells us that one of the top questions that consumers ask is about a home’s actual value. Most of them look for this information online before even reaching out to an agent.

I’ll come back to this one.

In addition to that exceptional customer experience, almost every broker I speak to says that their agents need to be local experts. They say when a consumer reaches out to them, they must be able to provide insight and answer the crucial questions that they have. In terms of AVMs and home values, I do agree that the data is expensive. I also agree that it can be wrong. But what if the mere fact of having this data on your platform (with disclaimers and confidence scores, mind you) increased the number of inquiries to your agents? What if it were to double the amount of potential customers your agents speak to? Call or email me if you want me to explain how to achieve this – but for the purpose of this blog post, let’s assume I'm 100% correct.

Do you still hate AVMs? Are they still expensive? Let’s continue.

Let’s say that by using the AVM, we can double your search engine traffic. Couldn't that sharply increase the number of leads that you generate? I'm a sales guy by nature and I know that the slightest improvements in sales percentages can mean huge upside in revenue. I know you agree. What if I told you that AVM could funnel more leads to your agents who are the actual experts in the area who can offer their guidance with the AVM estimate as a starting point?

By now I'm thinking your ice cold feelings for AVM are starting to thaw. When you start to see the actual value, your defense juices dry up and your ‘let’s kick some ass and do some more business’ juices start flowing.

I used AVM as an example since I know how controversial they can be. Most data sets provide layers of value that cannot always be seen on the surface. Having the deep expertise to help you understand is something we have earned over the past 12+ years but without that, I can truly understand some of the rejections I’ve received. I also fully understand why a less expensive option is more seductive than paying a so-called premium. What if I told you that you could find similar data for cheaper, but it comes with none of the years of expertise that I just pointed out? In other words, you would have to figure that out for yourself. If you pay half of the fee and then do no more business, have you actually saved money?

Let’s take advantage of our market coming back like a tidal wave, giving your customers what they are asking for and returning more value than you actually expected.

Thanks for listening.