Are You Ready to Go Digital: Mark McLeod

It’s time that we, as an industry, learned a new skill. That skill is data mining in a digital world. Gone are the days where the traditional functions of listing and selling are the only ones an agent needs to perfect. We must learn to evolve and embrace digital behaviours or risk being left behind.

The changing expectations of consumers have created space for digital usurpers – businesses like Open Agent and Purple Bricks – to enter the market.

Digital expertise must become the norm for agents. If we act like agents of the past, those usurpers will get through the digital door and will be a step closer to beating us at our own game.

Take Open Agent, for example. It doesn’t employ a single agent. It doesn’t host a single open home, yet it claims to have done thousands of transactions last year. Our clients are going through these digital doors whether we like it or not.

When I talk about digital behaviours, it starts with our standard of database management and ends with how we treat the consumer. Are your communication plans strong and meaningful? Are you managing the entire customer experience from start to finish? Or are you solely focused on
the transaction? Agents with good communication plans who genuinely connect with property owners achieve higher commission and success rates.

At Ray White, we did some research into database management and the results showed us that a solid database could expect 10 per cent of its contacts to be listing their property at any time. However, 55 per cent of clients within an office database typically drop off due to a lack of communication. And on top of that, data that’s not regularly maintained has an attrition rate of 12 per cent per year, rendering it inaccurate, unreliable and ultimately ineffective.

Anyone who judges the quality of a lead based on having their mobile phone number needs to rethink. These days, the only people who use the phone as their primary communication method are all born around 1944. We need to embrace the technology that allows us to respond the way our client wants – not our preferred method.

Cold calling on cold topics is also a thing of the past, and we can thank social media for that. Social media reveals a lot about a person’s life. Do your homework before you meet a client and understand what’s important to them so that you can genuinely engage.

We live in a day and age where if customers don’t get what they want from a service they’ll find a digital solution, so we need to be agents of the future. Our customers are demanding it.

Our businesses must be in line with where our customers are, and that starts with recognising that you can’t build a relationship with people by spamming them every week with emails and newsletters. You need structure, digital tools and client-centric processes that will allow for data-driven decision-making.

The only way to execute any of this is to get a strong team made up of people with expertise in digital areas. If you think you can be a single agent in the future without a support team, you are delusional.

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Mark McLeod

Mark McLeod is the Ray White Group's Chief Strategy Officer for Real Estate. He works alongside agents and businesses across Australia, helping them reach their ultimate potential to achieve success.