Is it a dinosaur or cutting edge marketing strategy?
For the civilians who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me explain. In many communities (at least in San Diego), when a new listing is taken by an agent, one of the first things that happens is that the agent will schedule the home to be on a Broker Caravan, usually on a weekday where the home is open for 2-3 hours for previewing by agents who happen to work that community.
Not unlike pastoral nomads on camels, wandering the desert in search of the next oasis, each week agents visit the new listings to get a better understanding of the property and determine whether they have a buyer who may be interested. It also serves to increase their market knowledge even if they don’t have a client for that particular home. The broker caravan is a time honored tradition that is , in fact, very valuable. My first one was in 1979 (when I was 12 years old).
But what typically precedes the broker caravan is the subject of this diatribe – The Pitch Session! This is a gathering of a few of the nomads/agents prior to the Caravan where new listings are pitched to, well, very few agents. The Pitch Session is mostly populated by hunters and gatherers: Vendors of all stripes including escrow and title rep’s, mortgage brokers, home inspectors, termite inspectors, etc. The hunters are anxiously working the crowd trying to establish relationships with the agents in hopes of new business. There are also sales managers there who may schmooz or try to gain the favor of agents with potential and recruit them away from their current office. The Pitch Session is social, but it’s also business. Unfortunately, almost none of the business is about selling the homes that are actually pitched. But the free bagels and coffee and juice are nice, all provided by the Hunters.
In the old days, the Pitch Session was extremely valuable as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) consisted of a thickly bound book, published once a month. Agents had no way of knowing about new listings each week until the next monthly MLS book came out, that is, until the weekly Pitch Session was born.
Today, of course, we are computerized and tech’ed out to the max. Buyers from all over the country, indeed the world, have the ability to know about new listings within days, if not hours. Professional agents, those who are actually searching regularly for their buyers may obtain new listing information almost simultaneously with it officially hitting the MLS and the market.
And, for the past decade, Scripps Ranch has not had a formal Pitch Session. New listings have been placed onto the Broker Open House schedule using (brace yourself) a computer! About a year ago, the Pitch Session was revived by (brace yourself again) a title company, and this was done under the auspices of the need to return to social networking in a more challenging market. More challenging for the agents or for the service providers? You make the call.
Kris and I are firmly of the belief that the Pitch Session is, in fact, a dinosaur. We rarely attend. So we were surprised to hear boatloads about it from the handful of other agents actually attended and who visited our newly listed homes on broker caravan (they visited even though we didn’t pitch it). “Didn’t see you at the pitch session this morning. I guess you’re really not interested in selling this home.” Excuse me!! I just don’t really want to be subjected to the misery of being feasted upon by hungry vendors while I try to have a bagel and a cup of coffee at 8:45 am. We have paid our dues, established a strong agent network and, bottom line, have the track record built up over years of success. I’m not trying to sound like an elitist, but I think the Pitch Session is pretty much a worthless waste of time and does nothing, zero, nada to enhance our ability to sell a home. I think it’s time to feed the Pitch Session to the dinosaurs and get some transactions done.
But I welcome your comments.