In December the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) asked for submissions on proposed changes to the rules governing Australia’s Do Not Call Register. With 9 million numbers on the DNC register (1 million added in the past 12 months), it’s increasingly clear that the community is becoming less and less receptive to telemarketing. Some of the changes being discussed by ACMA have the potential to take an already frosty reception for telemarketers into sub-zero territory.Email marketing, portals and print advertising all have their place in a real estate agent’s prospecting arsenal. Phone-based prospecting, however, is arguably the crown jewel. Agents need to understand and prepare for the impact of any potential change to the DNC register rules.What does the ACMA discussion paper actually say?ACMA’s paper calls for discussion about the duration of a registration (how long a number stays on the register after it’s added). Three alternatives are suggested:
- Decrease the duration of registration from 8 to 3 years
- Change to indefinite registrations (registrations that never expire)
- Radically alter the existing system by deeming all Australians to have registered, and requiring them to “opt in” to receive telemarketing calls.
The third scenario has the most potential to create fundamental change for agents. We can’t imagine that many consumers are going to go out of their way to register to receive telemarketing calls.With over 100,000 breach complaints since the DNC Register came into effect from 2006, the marketplace is not going to tolerate breaches.What can you do to prepare for the possibility ACMA changes the rules?In order to reach out to a prospect via telephone in ACMA’s brave new world, the basic rule any agent would need to understand is that you would need a prospect’s consent before you picked up the phone to call them. You can still call people who are on the DNC list of you have their express or inferred consent:
- Express consent: when a person has very clearly told you that they are happy to receive your calls. This can be hard to get, especially when most people are not big fans of marketing calls This might be from a tick box on a paper or electronic form;
- Inferred consent: where a business has reason to believe that a person is willing to receive a call. You need to consider a person’s conduct and the existing relationship as to whether consent should be inferred. It’s quite a tricky topic and you can read more about it here. Knowing these regulations can keep you and your agency out of hot water.
Data capture at Open Homes, through website forms, networking, etc. is already important, but in a market where cold calling is much harder and consent is required, it’s only going to get even more critical. For agents that aren’t doing this, something will have to change and change quickly or the impact could be catastrophic. Imagine no listings, no prospects, no buyers!Rex to the Rescue!Your CRM system will be hugely important in a permission-based marketing environment. Building rapport, fostering relationships with your vendors and buyers and managing an effective workflow will all be part of a successful agency as the incentives increase to manage your data better increase.Rex becomes indispensable because it can be a focal point for data management and interaction through API integration, Enquiry Log submissions and simple data entry. Tablet usability will be a key function at inspections to collect information on the fly, while the portal enquiry capture via Rex’s enquiry log will be key to creating connections with potential buyers that enquire via your own website or on real estate portals like realestate.com.au and domain.com.au.By integrating data capture via all these channels, Rex allows you to create a clear record of your business relationship with potential clients and prove express or inferred consent for compliance with any new DNC rules. As well as tracking your history of interaction, Rex will help improve your relationships with prospects through best-practice follow-up tracks, reminders, embedded client social profiles, automated updates, e-newsletters... you get the picture.The final wordIf all else fails and the DNC rules do change, no agent should forget that there is no “Do Not Knock” register.