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REITM Focus: In-house tech training for agents to work smarter and deliver better service

Property agencies are preparing their agents for greater success in a fast-moving tech environment through digital skills training programmes.

To ride the disruptive digital wave, property agencies are encouraging and equipping their agents to embrace and harness technological innovations through skills training programmes.

In this issue of CEAnergy, we showcase a sampling of the tech-related learning opportunities offered to agents at ERA Realty Network and OrangeTee & Tie. We also speak with some agents, who gave their take on why being digitally-savvy has become an asset - and even a necessity - for success.

ERA Realty Network: Bringing benefits all around through technology

ERA’s Ultimate Digital Marketing Mastery programme gives agents practical insights into the digital landscape for real estate and sharpens their digital marketing strategies and tactics. (Image: ERA Realty Network)

ERA’s Ultimate Digital Marketing Mastery programme is an in-house training course that gives agents practical insights into the digital landscape for real estate and sharpens their digital marketing strategies and tactics.

ERA Group Division Director and trainer Alex Lim said that being digitally-savvy will enable agents to create richer property search experiences for their clients and increase consumers’ trust.

The programme is conducted by ERA Group Division Director Alex Lim, an avid user of technology who has incorporated tech tools in his work since he joined the industry more than 10 years ago.

Alex observed that technology is becoming deeply pervasive in people’s everyday lives and clients are now more 'experience' centric. Being digitally-savvy will enable agents to create richer property search experiences for their clients and inspire greater consumer trust. Continuous self-education is therefore key, and agents should spend more time learning and understanding evolving consumer behaviours.

He gave an example of how he had sold a condominium unit without the buyers physically viewing the unit. Their decision was made solely through videos, photos, and digital reports that Alex had provided. In another case, Alex convinced a buyer to purchase a landed home using drone photos and videos as the buyer was keen to check out the house’s immediate surroundings.

As a trainer, Alex told CEAnergy that his mission is to empower and raise the standards of digital marketing for as many agents as possible. “It is fulfilling to be able to lead the change in mindsets…to inspire new growth opportunities, and to witness fellow agents generating more leads with their new skills,” he said.

Positive bearing on business outcomes

After attending the course, Joel Wee, Associate Division Director at ERA shared that he is now able to provide extra value to his clients by marketing their properties beyond traditional platforms to other online avenues, thus increasing the properties’ exposure. In addition, he had secured multiple exclusive listings purely by demonstrating to his clients that he is digitally savvy and showing them how their properties can be marketed on social media.

Joel has also learnt how to create handover condition reports for landlords and tenants in a video format, instead of through photographs. This saves time and reduces the chances of disputes. Besides this, all of Joel’s documents are all now stored on the Cloud, which almost completely eliminates the risk of missing or lost files due to hardware failure.

ERA agents who attended the in-house training course said that through technology, they have been able to enjoy greater productivity, and provide more value to their clients.

Another ERA agent who attended the training is Senior Marketing Director Alan Kong, who has been in the industry for 12 years.

Alan had initially used mainstream property portals to generate leads, but has since picked up new tips from the mastery programme and has started using Google Ads, Facebook ads, and different online sales funnels.

“With the new tools, I can reach out to all my clients at the same time whenever there is a new project. The tools also allow my clients to make an appointment with me directly online without the worry of it clashing with my existing schedule,” said Alan.

Sophia Ng, Associate Division Director at ERA, said that attending the mastery programme has deepened her knowledge on digital marketing and tools. She is now able to plan video marketing campaigns more effectively and at higher standards. Sophia said possessing digital skills has resulted in “minimal physical work for sales and leads generation”, easier access to information for clients, and increased efficiency when communicating with clients.

Technology has offered Sophia far-reaching benefits. She met a client purely through her digital marketing efforts and provided the client with regular digital updates on the latest property launches. Sophia was eventually able to help the client purchase units across two newly-launched projects.

Technology – an indispensable tool

To Sophia, technology is here to stay and she encourages agents to embrace it and upgrade their digital skills competencies. “Technology will not only help us - but also our clients - save time and money. With technology, we can conduct our work in the most effective and efficient manner possible,” said Sophia.

Encouraging fellow agents to apply more technology in their work, Alan said, “Technology has changed how we communicate with one another. If you are using certain communication platforms, your clients are likely to be using them too. And if your clients are there, you should be marketing on those platforms!”

Joel agreed that agents must constantly update themselves on the latest technologies available. He said that even though some may find digital skills difficult to learn initially, they should find a mentor or trainer who can guide them along. “It is a lifelong skill… to equip ourselves with…Once deployed correctly, [digital skills can allow] real estate agents [to] save hours of work, which can be put to better use.”

OrangeTee & Tie: Making technology a pivotal part of agents’ work

OrangeTee & Tie’s digital training programmes equip agents with practical skills to boost their business efficiency and create outstanding customer experiences. (Image: OrangeTee & Tie)

Agents at OrangeTee & Tie (OTT) are exposed to a wide variety of bite-sized digital training programmes.

Since 2013, the agency has been organising the Essential Mobile Apps for Real Estate Sales Cycle programme. The aim of the programme is to equip agents with the latest mobile applications that they can use to assist them at different stages in a property transaction. The three-hour course covers practical tips on using both OTT apps and third-party ones, including those developed by government agencies and private entities.

Another digital skills training programme that OTT offers is the OTT Digital Ecosystem: Harness Technology for Productivity and Service Enhancement workshop, which has been available since 2014. The workshop highlights OTT’s home-grown real estate tools to help agents elevate their business efficiency and create powerful customer experiences.

Besides this, Eugene Lee, Senior Associate Group Director at OTT, has developed a three-hour Maximise Real Estate Success with Google Tools workshop that he currently conducts for OTT agents.

The objective of the workshop is to equip agents with essential competencies and skill sets on the use of complimentary Google-powered business tools to enhance their prospecting and marketing strategies. For example, Eugene explained that agents can learn to build a functional webpage using Google forms at zero-cost. This can help boost their confidence in digital marketing and kick-start their digital skills learning journey.

With digital skills knowledge, agents will be able to tap on tech solutions that can help them reach out to and share information with countless potential consumers, 24/7.

Technology as an “extra pair of hands”

Elaborating on how technology has significantly improved the way he works, Eugene recalled that he used to spend a lot of time and effort on traditional real estate prospecting. But today, with the help of tech tools, he embeds all details about a project in a webpage and shares the link with all his potential customers through just a few clicks.

“Technology works as an extra pair of hands for me to reach out to countless potential customers, 24/7… With the help of simple technology solutions, I have more time for more important business tasks and provide better value-added services to my customers,” he said.

Eugene, who has been in the industry for 23 years, added that technology has made him more organised, productive, and kept him ahead of the competition. “Through our enhanced strategies on digital platforms on top of the conventional methods of marketing, our clients are more willing to trust us for their property needs.”

Going forward, Eugene believes that predictive analytics will be a new skill that agents should acquire to increase their competitive advantage and provide better value-added services to their clients. With predictive analytics, agents will be able to assist their clients to assess their options objectively, optimise their selections, and help clients make more informed decisions based on available data and market analysis.

OTT Senior Associate Group Director and trainer Eugene Lee said that as the digital age progresses, agents will need to have the ability to learn, adapt, and keep up with the pace for continued success.

Meanwhile, he is encouraged to know that his workshop has improved OTT agents’ productivity and sales opportunities. “Often, they will share with me how their webpages have helped them to secure qualified leads and closing opportunities. All these have triggered new ideas in me to further enhance my own marketing strategies and deliverables to customers.”

On what the future holds for industry professionals, he said, “As the digital age moves at lightning speed and human behaviour changes how we work tomorrow, we all need to have the ability to learn, adapt, and keep up with the pace for continued success. Teaching and sharing will empower me to look out for constant improvement opportunities and thus deliver exceptional services to all my clients.”

Getting comfortable with using technology

Associate Group Director Johnny Tan is glad to have attended OTT’s tech training to familiarise himself with OTT’s apps that enable him to carry out a host of roles simply and efficiently, such as posting a listing seamlessly across various platforms.

He said that technology has brought about improved efficiency in the way he works, and has made information readily available at one’s fingertips. He quipped that the fillable PDF forms he uses for multiple parties frequently are not only a time-saving option, but are far more environmentally-friendly than using hardcopies.

Johnny believes that clients today are used to receiving information digitally and feel more comfortable connecting with a digitally-trained agent. He encouraged agents who may feel that technology is not necessary or difficult to apply in their daily work to “practise, practise, practise.” He is grateful for the supportive coaching culture at OTT to embrace technology, and is in turn doing his part to help agents who are less digitally savvy better appreciate its benefits.