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As real estate professionals continue to grapple with the “new normal,” it is more important than ever that brokers and agents understand where our industry is today as well as where it’s headed. This was the theme at RISMedia’s Achieve! Conference, a day-and-a-half-long event that took place last month and brought together leading industry experts and covered several important topics that are critical to achieving success as we head toward the future. John Featherston, president & CEO of RISMedia and Todd Hetherington, CEO, Century 21 New Millennium co-moderated Part 2 of the conference’s two-part Opening Session, and were joined by numerous industry leaders who took an in-depth look at where the industry stands today in addition to providing insight into the opportunities that are available in today’s market.

Adapting to the New Normal

Hetherington set the stage for an insightful dialogue by posing the question, “So what?” As the industry continues to become inundated with new technology, Hetherington stressed the importance of asking yourself what the latest and greatest innovation means to you and your company. “We can talk about technology, innovation and the new normal, but in the end, it all boils down to ‘what does it mean to me?’” says Hetherington. “We all have tools and systems that we want our agents to use, however 90% of the tools we offer aren’t being used.”

While this statistic is alarming, especially since brokers invest so much time, money and effort into providing their agents with everything they need to be successful, it points to the fact that something needs to change. One way to facilitate change in your business and gain a competitive edge is to look beyond the niche markets that are prevalent in your area and where all of your competitors are focusing their energy. “A key way to differentiate yourself from a large part of the market is to focus on the highly motivated investors that nobody is fighting for right now,” says Greg Rand, CEO, OwnAmerica. “As hard as the recession has hit our country, it’s going to produce numerous investment opportunities, and it’s up to you to take advantage of these opportunities.”

A Shifting Mindset

In order to make the most of today’s opportunities and find success in the current marketplace, real estate professionals must be willing to think outside the box and take risks they might not have thought about before the downturn. Having spent the past 20 years teaching agents what to say, how to say it and when to say it, the downturn in the industry caused Darryl Davis, owner, Darryl Davis Seminars to realize that brokers and agents need to shift their focus and change their mindset in order to find success. “The only way to get agents to use the tools you are offering is to change their mindset,” says Davis. “Agents need to focus on thinking outside the box and understand that they may have to sacrifice who they are in order to become who they need to be.”

Not only do agents need to rethink and challenge their current mindset in order to remain successful in today’s ever-changing market, they also need to put together a well thought-out plan in order to reach their goals. “Many of today’s agents are lacking motivation and they have no idea where they are going,” says Brian Wildermuth, President & Co-founder, SharperAgent. “They gravitate toward activities such as going on Facebook and sending emails and postcards, but there is no purpose at the end of it.” By having a plan in place, agents will know exactly what they need to do to reach their goals, putting motivation back into their daily routine. “In order to be successful with any of the technology that is being offered today, agents and brokers need to have a plan in place, and they need to stick with it.”

Know Your Consumer

“The last few years have brought us through some of the most unchartered territory that we have ever been through,” adds Marc Siden, Co-founder, CEO, Onboard Informatics. In an industry where so many things have changed, Siden stressed the importance of embracing the landscape and understanding what you are up against. While technology has leveled the playing field, real estate professionals need to focus on embracing the consumer and what they are looking for and how they are thinking. “Today’s consumer wants information and they want to feel empowered when they call you,” says Siden. “If you don’t understand what the consumer is looking for, they are going to look elsewhere for the information they need.”

As society continues to become increasingly mobile, it is crucial that real estate professionals take the time to invest in the tools and technology that will keep them competitive—no matter the market. “There are 300+ million mobile devices in our country today,” says John Lim, CEO, Mobile Card Cast, “and one minute on a mobile device is like 10 minutes on a computer.” In today’s society where real estate professionals and consumers alike are constantly on-the-go, “cell phones are increasingly being pointed to as the most important tool agents have and you are going to be left behind if you aren’t leading with mobile,” says Featherston. “As real estate professionals, we have to be willing to challenge our geeks and ask them questions so that we remain competitive and don’t get left behind,” concludes Lim.