Friday Flash: Vending with joy

Tom Ferry is a superstar.

I have seen the magic he works. And while we are not much alike – if I am a dry martini, Tom is a Red Bull Piña Colada – I stand in awe of his success and the success he has helped thousands of agents achieve.

This week, Tom’s company announced a partnership with Contactually, the CRM company. While I hesitate to state that Contactually is the best CRM in real estate (I do not think such a thing does, or even could, exist) I will say that I think it’s a great piece of software I’d put up against any application outside our industry.

The deal is that Tom will now offer a customized version of Contactually to his agent clients as part of a larger software bundle he’s calling The Hub.

OK cool. A smart partnership between two great organizations. Congrats all the way around.

But this got me thinking more broadly. Bear with me as I swerve off course a bit.

Darkness and light

Last month, Gary Keller, another man who has helped thousands of agents succeed, stood on stage at Inman Connect and laid claim to the moral high ground in something he framed as a life-and-death struggle between agents and technology companies. It was dark and serious — a drawing of lines.

But will Gary, and Keller Williams, create better software than Contactually? Will they deliver more value to agents into an uncertain future than Tom Ferry will? Is their event with thousands of agents more worthy than Tom’s event with thousands of agents? Do they care more about agents than Tom Ferry does?  

These questions are debatable, at the very least.

Let me therefore ask a more important question:

If we strip away the self-serving rhetoric, righteous indignation, the negativity, the grievances and the industry politics – if we really look at this clinically – what makes Gary Keller any less of a “vendor” than Tom Ferry or anyone else that sells things to agents?

Less than most people think, I submit.

The difference, the instructive contrast between these two accomplished people, lies in tone, disposition and mindset. Gary, armed with developers, a marker and a whiteboard, is in a cold war with “tech companies”. Tom, zipping around a room filled with 7,000 agents like Mick Jagger circa 1975, just flows through, around and over the industry bullshit.

Both people are really important in the lives of lots of agents and own businesses dependent upon agents.

If you think that’s a knock on Gary Keller or Keller Williams, I haven’t made my point clearly enough; there are two ways for this industry to proceed: along a path of fear, defensiveness and barricades or a path of positivity, practicality and partnership.

I guess I’ve figured out which one I think we’re better off on.

Enjoy the weekend.