Did you know that technology is one of the top 10 qualities and skills buyers and sellers expect from their real estate agents? But, conversely, we know that many agents still find some aspects of technology challenging.
According to the most recent research from the National Association of Realtors, 38% of all agents never use Customer Relationship Management software, 32% never use Transaction Management software, and 40% never use video.
Ironically, most top-producing agents use those technology tools to stay successful. Fortunately, the impact of COVID has accelerated the adoption of technology by more real estate agents than ever before. As a result, these numbers should continue to show improvement.
We also know that many agents may lack the confidence to pick the right software for them and their business.
Below are four key questions you should ask when trying to select the best technology:
- What problem or pain point will this technology help me solve?
Perhaps the biggest mistake that agents make when buying technology is looking for the bling instead of the bones. Another analogy: you want to buy the steak, not the sizzle they try to sell you.
The next shiny object for real estate agents is often full of cool features. It looks and sounds fantastic. But the better way to buy is to look at the benefits the technology will provide you, not the list of features.
It would be best to determine what goal you are trying to accomplish with the technology you consider. For example, the technology you buy needs to solve a pain point, fix a problem or provide you with a personal and/or business benefit that you can measure.
- What is the actual cost?
The cost is not just the purchase price. Your time has value – and, therefore, a price. If you discover the software you buy has a steep learning curve to use effectively for the benefit it provides, the cost will be higher than an alternative that takes less time to learn. Some software solutions offer training – videos, webinars, blog posts – and that’s great – especially for those of us who are not tech natives and who spend most of our day working with people rather than with technology. But if you struggle with finding time to work on lower priorities, are you going to find the time to learn how to use a new program that requires a lot of training for something that does not truly provide a significant benefit?
You should expect the software you buy today to be more intuitive than ever. And some technology may require more time than others for you to learn. However, it shouldn’t be a steep learning curve. You shouldn’t have to buy a “For Dummies” guide or invest hours and hours trying to figure it out.
- How hard will it be to become part of your workflow?
Take a look at your smartphone. Count the number of apps. Are you scrolling through screen after screen of used or rarely used apps? If you are like most people, this probably rings true. Research says the average person has 40 apps on their phone, and nearly 90% of their time is split using half that number.
Technology competes for our time just like anything else. And unfortunately, it can contribute to lost productivity (think Wordle) and distract us (how many times have you checked email in the last hour?).
When you buy technology, you want to make sure it will fit nicely into your workflow. It needs to become something you regularly use unless you purchase it to solve an infrequent but essential problem.
For example, you purchase expense tracking software to monitor your driving expenses. Yet, you soon realize that you are not taking the time to enter the data after each trip because usually, you are with clients. It would be great if the app syncs with your GPS and enters that data automatically. But what you bought does not fit well into your workflow.
- What happens if something goes wrong?
We’ve all been there: you use new technology, and it crashes. Or you can’t get back to the place you started. Or a document disappeared. Who are you going to call?
You may find there is no one to call at the software provider, as most only offer online tech support. It’s also the kind of support that takes time. You fill out a form, hit send, and wait.
When shopping for software, it’s best to research their reputation for providing tech support. While something may not go wrong, what if it does?
Fortunately for the 725,000 Realtors nationwide who have access to Tech Helpline – the top-ranked tech support service for the real estate industry – they can get help. You can call Tech Helpline or reach out to a tech analyst by online chat or email. And connecting with the tech support is now easier with the new mobile app available on Google Play and the App Store – or search “Tech Helpline.”
And while Tech Helpline may not be able to solve every software problem, they are a remarkable resource that helps agents fix tech problems every day.
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Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.