We Heard it Direct, But Did We Listen?

On Monday I attended the Southern California Hear It Direct conference. I’ve had a couple days to digest the experience and talk with some of my good friends and colleagues that were in attendance. To be fair, I still am trying to isolate my own big takeaways from the day, but I will say that I was surprised by some of the early conversations I had immediately following the event.

I heard things like, “I wasn’t that surprised by what I heard.  It’s disappointing, but confirmation that we’re doing things right.” Or, “I’m just thankful that I don’t run my business like that.”  Or, “I kind of expected that, but it really doesn’t apply to me.”

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.

Some wonderful gentleman said this in the Gen Y mastermind I attended at the end of the day. It’s simply not enough to say, “I already knew that.”  Of course we know that a tomato is a fruit. Of course we know that the consumer perception of our industry is poor. Of course, we know that we would hear many of the things we heard, but it makes me wonder if  hearing it is enough. I wondered how many really listened. There is wisdom to be gained from really listening. In truth, isn’t that why we attended?

My grandfather was a Congregational minister and I remember his sermons often challenged his congregation. He was tremendously well respected, but sometimes he found that the congregation would become uncomfortable. Sometimes, he even found some resistance to them, but he asked questions that asked for more than passive participation.

I think Hear It Direct is similar in that way. It’s unlikely that an agent that doesn’t value their consumer’s experience would attend an event like Hear It Direct. But, to attend and say thankfully that what we’ve heard, doesn’t apply to our practice is a wasted opportunity.  I can attend and hear the consumer’s voice. But, this isn’t a passive process. I must really listen. It demands of me some self reflection if I am really going to assert that my practice is focussed on the consumer experience.

‘There’s Nothing On the Market’ Ah Ha

My experience as a coach has me sensitive to some of the things I heard. I talk to so many agents about their practice. I work with good, caring agents that are looking to grow and improve their practice. But, I recently have found something unsettling and it was confirmed by the voices of the Buyer Panelist. So many agents around the country are having an ongoing challenges finding homes for their buyers. The inventory is just not there. The buyers on the panel all echoed the challenges:  low inventory, multiple offers, frustration that their market expectations weren’t inline with market realities, and financing that made their offers less than ideal in competitive environments. So… no surprise. We know this.  We are all talking about it.  But, what is the takeaway?

My God, if I have a buyer that has lost in a multiple offer situation in a townhome complex they love, what do I do? Sadly, too often we look at the MLS, throw up our hands and say, “Well, there’s just nothing on the market.” But, when you really listen to these buyers, listen to their frustration and confusion, I have to go beyond, “that doesn’t apply to my practice” and begin to look at the ways I can really provide an experience that does more than satisfy. The agent that really takes their responsibility to find a home for their ready,  willing, and able buyer, would immediately door knock every door in that townhome complex to give them an opportunity to buy in a less competitive environment. It’s beyond Lead Gen. It’s service. And, if I care about that consumer as I say I do, it’s my job.  (My coaching clients reading this will recognize a theme here).

Maybe the agent reading this is thinking, “oh yeah, I always do that.” Perfect. But, I’m fairly certain there are other moments in the HID day that can offer similar moment of new awareness, new opportunities.

‘They Have the Information’ Ah Ha

We know they have access to information and listings. Again, this is not a surprise. The Gen Y panel really drove this point home. The auto drip of listings aren’t enough, and for some on that panel, they found it annoying. I can’t help but listen to that and wonder about the ways the we really provide value. I’ve certainly been someone that automatically sends listings. I think many of my clients like it. But, that’s something I think. But, do they? And, if I remove the access to the information and the access to doors as my value, what is it?

I know from the discussions in the afternoon, that many of us have a tough time articulating that value, and certainly showcasing it to the consumer. I don’t think there was a buyer the entire day that had had the benefit of a Buyer Consultation, and I don’t think that is a symptom of a small sampling. I think that is a real reflection of the industry. Even if you are one of the stellar agents doing Buyer Consultations, one can’t help but listen to these panelists and wonder if we are effectively addressing all of these types of things. Are their words, their voices, their thought processes coming up in my dialogue, or let’s be honest, is it about me, my practice, my service, my knowledge?

I Wanna Talk About Me

There is a country song by Toby Keith that has been running in my head since yesterday. I can’t help but picture these consumers singing the chorus to the audience. The panelists were so forthcoming, and appeared to lack any reticence to share their experience. I hope I hear them. I hope I really listen.

I wanna talk about me
Wanna talk about I
Wanna talk about number one
Oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see
I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally
I wanna talk about meeeeee
I wanna talk about me




  1. Linsey, thanks for the feedback on the event. I had hoped to be there but business commitments kept me from taking so much time out of my day to travel of OC. I’m not sure what the benefit of having those concerned enough to want to hear customer feedback (if you are a practicing real estate agent that should be an ongoing dialog with your Clients) to improve business practices. I have found it takes a great deal of time to build trust and rapport with a Client and start educating them on the marketplace (which constantly changes). More often than not the golden rule applies, return phone calls, put the Client’s interests above everyone else including yourself, be honest, educate, protect, and be a good person. Of course you also need to be competent in your profession, understand the market, and focus on making a difference, one Client at a time. It’s too bad that something like this could not be manditory for those agents that really need the “sermon”.


  1. [...] been some reactions already out there on the Interwebz from Realtor.com (the Presenting Sponsor), Linsey Planeta, and Lori Ballen. I wanted to post my thoughts from the event, but I just couldn’t find the [...]

Speak Your Mind