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Has the Digitization of the Sales Process Forgotten the Telephone?

Be a trusted partner. That is the mantra de jour for commercial real estate sales. So much speculation has been proffered about whether or not the broker will remain a vital part of the industry (guilty!). Come to find out, no matter how much automation is built into the sales process, the broker will probably always have a role to play as advisor. Most organizations only move a couple of times a decade. Therefore, they are seldom current on important decision-making factors like the state of the market, current industry standards, and possible term options. The smart ones know what they don’t know. So, they choose to turn to an expert. The broker.

Being a trusted partner means creating rapport. Clients want to know what kind of person they are putting their trust, and more importantly their money, in. The more personal the communication, the better. In person is best, but is not cost and time effective. The humble phone has been helping salesmen make deep personal connections, develop rapport and close deals for decades.

Many agents, especially the younger ones, seem to have substituted text and email with phone conversations (guilty!). Text based communication is infinitely scalable, just add a new recipient to the list. But, unless you have an exceptionally unique voice as a writer (guilty!), it doesn’t have the same effect as a verbal exchange. Customers are more likely to buy someone the connect with and they like and it is very hard to achieve this type of personal connection via text on a screen. Voice or in person meetings win every time

There is another factor that disadvantageously prioritizes text and email over calls. Sales tools, or CRMs as we are all now calling them, only track our texts and emails. Even Salesforce, the tech juggernaut that has now taken over the business world as well as the San Francisco skyline, requires calls to be dialed and logged manually. In the world of automation, manual data entry feels as antiquated as using a calling card or defragging a hard drive (remember those days?).

“See those little black boxes? They are called telephones. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about these telephones. They’re not gonna dial themselves! Okay? Without you, they’re just worthless hunk of plastic. Like a loaded M16 without a trained Marine to pull the trigger.”
~Jordan Belfort

That is why this inauspicious blog post by Digsy AI stirred my interest. I got ahold of Digsy’s CEO Andrew Bermudez and asked him about this new feature.

“Our data Digsy AI analytics engine was showing that brokers that used phone calls to prospect were getting around twice as many listing and tenant rep pitch appointments than ones that don’t,” he said. It became evident to the Digsy team that the phone calls needed to be logged along side other forms of communication in a client’s file. Finding a practical way to do so, and that brokers would adopt took more time than they expected.

“This was something we wanted to do for a while, but it took a while to get it right, it’s all about adoption. Without adoption we get no data. Without data we can’t create automated sales workflows that truly help close more deals.” Andrew admitted. You see, a call forwarding service is no problem. You can call into a service, they can log who you call and then call for you. The problem is that the receiver’s caller ID will show up with the number of the forwarding service. This poses an especially big problem for those in real estate. Brokers tend to be a little more guarded and skeptical of out-of-area calls.

Digsy AI solves this by getting your permission beforehand to use your number as identification so the recipient of the call sees you as the caller, not some 3rd party service. This makes it so the recipient is more likely to answer — since the call is coming from you. They have added a one-click button to their website and app that allow the user to “call” the client, which routes the call to their server and then out. With this you’re able to auto-dial prospects and clients from your cell phone or desk phone and get the other person to answer your call. By using this feature, they estimate that they have already saved their subscribers over 1,000 hours of input time.

There is no substitution to hearing someone’s voice. It’s all about creating a personal bond than merely exchanging impersonal and lifeless emails or texts. Creating a bond is more important now than ever. While technology hasn’t eliminated the broker, it has allowed good brokers to get more done, leaving less deals for the lowest performers. It is time we started making phone calls as automated as emails and as casual as texts. Then using the data to discover what works best to book more listing and tenant rep pitch meetings so you can close more deals. Having systems like Digsy AI automate this stuff and give you insights on what efforts work best is a great first step.

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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