I like to think of myself as a smart shopper. And when it comes to my business, I love to spend money when it makes sense. There is really no better place for a real estate professional to find the tools and systems to run their business than in the vendor hall of an international real estate conference. I love finding a smart, new solution to get behind…and thats what I was looking for when I wandered around the vendor room at Inman Connect in San Francisco last August.
I came up short. Maybe I’m jaded, because after all – I do have a geek streak that runs deep. I know a little more about what’s out there than the average real estate bear…but walking around the hall – I noticed a few common issues. Not all the folks in there were salespeople. Some of the folks manning the booth were programmers and some were designers and some were bootstrapping it, and they couldn’t articulate their pitch in under a minute. I just couldn’t figure out what some of the stuff did. And because they don’t necessarily have brokerage or sales agent experience – they just don’t know what we do. Which brings up the second, more serious issue.
A lot of the vendors had theoretical solutions to problems I just don’t have. For example, I can’t think of a reason to pay for a video call solution where a buyer could click a button on my website – and from anywhere – could call me. Aimed at foreign buyers – they would expect a “Happy Agent” to answer or give live video tour of prospective properties at 3am. Two problems – Facetime is free. And before you say “Droid”, Google Hangouts and Facebook phone calls are also free. Skype is still a thing. And then there’s the fact that a majority of the time, people are sleeping in their houses at 3am…..most folks aren’t too keen on the middle of the night showings. Sending a pre-recorded video tour is a much better idea, as far as i’m concerned.
In business, you’ve got to meet your clients where they are. And that means, you have to know where they’re coming from. So many of the solutions that come at us in the real estate industry are built by super accomplished, super smart folks who excel in their fields – but they just don’t know much about ours. They don’t have a clue what we really do, what we really need to make our clients happy, to be more effective or to get more deals done.
The products and solutions that really take off always seem to have a few things in common. They folks behind the tool spend their time building relationships in the industry and they value those relationships more than the idea. They ask for feedback from their users, during all the different stages of the product’s lifecycle. They listen and they adapt. And, they solve an ACTUAL problem that exists in our business.
So the moral of the story is while you may have a great idea for a sparkly new thing it needs to solve a actual existing problem. That’s when you really have something worth talking about.
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