We’re in the agent enablement business, not the agent replacement business. Agents are not going away.

Peter Maglathlin

Sierra Interactive CEO

It’s one of our favorite quotes from a recent BAM interview with Peter Maglathlin, the CEO of Sierra Interactive.  During the conversation with Byron Lazine, Maglathlin discussed CRMs, AI, the future of real estate agents, and the consumer experience. 

We’re sharing just a few of the highlights here to get you started, but tune in to enjoy the full conversation

Making the agent experience better through AI

A major focal point of the interview was how Sierra Interactive is invested in and continually working on improving the agent experience. Because ultimately that is the best way to ensure consumers get the help they need when buying or selling a home.  

Of course, a topic on everyone’s minds right now is AI—and Maglathlin spoke about how Sierra Interactive plans to integrate new technologies into its offerings. A new product, Sierra AI, aims to make things easier for agents, so they, in turn, can make things easier for their clients. 

The future of the CRM is not more robust and more features; it’s actually streamlined and smarter. And that’s where AI comes in…How do we layer in intelligence to actually streamline the feature set and make it more agent-friendly?

Peter Maglathlin

Sierra Interactive CEO

Interested in learning more about Sierra Interactive and its new AI product? Explore its offerings here

AI and the consumer experience

Lazine asked Maglathlin whether he saw anything AI-related in his field that would make the consumer experience better—or whether the focus was more on empowering real estate professionals. 

Maglathlin agreed with the latter. Ultimately helping agents do better at creating the ultimate consumer experience, using the tools available to them, is and should be the primary focus. AI can only do so much for the consumer; an agent empowered by AI technology can get more done in service of their buyers and sellers than any AI technology could do on its own.

In Maglathlin’s view, the purpose of integrating AI to help streamline the CRM is not to replace real estate agents but to enable them to do more of what their clients need from them better and in less time. 

We at Sierra (are) in the agent enablement business. And I think AI is going to be one of the biggest agent enablers that’s come around in the last 20 years for the folks who take it seriously and actually learn it… 

I don’t see it really impacting the consumer experience that much, but the way it does impact the consumer experience is it makes my agent better.

Peter Maglathlin

Sierra Interactive CEO

What’s bigger than branding for most agents?

Lazine and Maglathlin talked about agent branding through websites and specifically how Sierra Interactive helps agents build an online presence that not only attracts new leads but also enables them to nurture the leads they already have. 

For most agents, that branding is not nearly as important as structuring your data, your pages and your knowledge in a way that captures what we call the longtail of leads…which is folks Googling things that are related to buying or selling a house but aren’t saying I’m looking to sell my house at 123 Main Street.

Peter Maglathlin

Sierra Interactive CEO

Attracting those longtail leads is critical not only for growing your database but also—and especially—for showing those leads you understand where they are and what they need from you, as well as how committed you are to delivering value before, during, and after helping them buy or sell a home. 

There’s been a reorientation around seller leads and listings and what needs to happen in order to generate more of them. And this all comes back to database farming. A lot of our customers have 10-15-20-25,000 leads that have been ignored. And agents haven’t been haven’t been coached around or comped around farming the database. In order to effectively do that, you need to enrich the data, but then you need to create workflows and calls to action that create hand raisers… 

Because what you don’t want your agent to do—it’s unfair to them and it’s not good for your business—is to just call down a list of 50 randomly selected leads. How do you create a priority stack of those leads based on data that then gives them a likelihood to succeed that’s higher than what you currently have in place today?

Peter Maglathlin

Sierra Interactive CEO

How agents can protect themselves from CRM hacks

So, what can agents do to protect themselves from a CRM hack? Because, as Lazine and Maglathlin both agree, downloading your data every day is not the answer. And neither is going back to the pen and paper method of collecting and storing data on your leads. 

No system is impenetrable, but there’s a lot you can do to make yourself nearly impenetrable, right? And I think one of the beauties of us being now more professionalized and part of the Alpine software group is a software private equity firm like that takes security insanely seriously, because they have LP investor money that they’ve invested in Sierra, and any sort of data breach or elongated downtime like that meaningfully harms the investment.” 

What agents should not do is download their data every week…If you don’t have faith in the security of your software then you should think about leaving. And if the questions you have aren’t answered in a way that gives you comfort then that’s a red flag…When you think about a a CRM or a lead database, that’s the lifeblood of a real estate team…

Peter Maglathlin

Sierra Interactive CEO

Enabling agents—not replacing them

Lazine asked Maglathlin for his final thoughts on the future of the real estate industry as we prepare for the changes coming from the NAR settlement

One thing I’d say is I think a lot of the media coverage of this industry over the last six months has been fundamentally unfair. I think that the real estate agent is under-appreciated and I think what these plaintiff lawyers have done and what the media has done on the backs of it has mischaracterized the value that agents provide to this economy. 

This is the single biggest financial decision or transaction in anyone’s life. And doing that alone is only going to lead to lawsuits [and] bad decisions by consumers—not because they aren’t capable but because they should have a domain expert by their side advising them.

Peter Maglathlin

Sierra Interactive CEO

Maglathlin acknowledged the panic among consumers and agents alike and talked about what Sierra Interactive is doing to help agents leverage the changes coming in August. 

So, do I think that there are some agents out there that are hobbyists and maybe don’t take this career that seriously and don’t do all that well by their customers? Yes, I think that’s true in this industry and others, but I think it’s especially true here. I think what this is going to do is professionalize the industry in a way that’s going to enable the career minded and serious folks in this industry to win…

I think the net effect will be agent count will go down, maybe barriers to entry will go up, but that’s going to be a good thing for the industry. And that’s going to leave a lot more business out there for the folks who really know what they’re doing. And the folks who really know what they’re doing are the ones we want to be working with consumers because they’re going to give the best advice and they’re going to represent them the best.

Peter Maglathlin

Sierra Interactive CEO

Watch the full conversation for more. 

And to learn more about Sierra Interactive and what it can do for your business, click here