Feb 022017

Real estate agents prospect for listings by cold calling because compared to other methods the costs are low and the results measurable and consistent. By phoning homeowners in a neighborhood 3 or 4 times a year and only selecting the most motivated sellers to work with agents put in less work hours, less miles on the car, and make more money while working with motivated people who are happy to work with them.

There is an excellent discussion about cold calling ongoing since 2009 at the AgentsOnline Realtors Forums and reading through the thread may be the best prospecting, lead management, follow up, and closing education available for free anywhere. The thread covers a lot more than just cold calling and it is certainly worth your while to read through it whether you are a new agent or have decades of experience.

To give you a bit of an idea about the art of cold calling I have distilled some of the basic information shared in the thread.

Agents who make cold calling their primary source of listings call for at least a couple of hours every day and have refined their technique so they talk to a hundred or more potential sellers in those few hours. Only people who are not registered on the Do Not Call List are contacted. For many, calling for a couple of hours a day 5 days a week results in 50 to 60 deals a year!

When new to prospecting by phone it is easier to learn in a market area where the turnover is good and the home prices are below average because there is less competition from other agents.

The goal of cold calling is to find a prospective seller who is motivated to move in the next six months. Although it would be nice to have that call result in an immediate appointment to sign a listing agreement that seldom happens. The listing happens later during the followup phase.

Agents look for strong motivation and nice easygoing people who value their professionalism and carry on a nice productive conversation. This is the type of lead that results in business.

Agents stand up when they call. They speak confidently with a cheerful energetic tone just as they would in a face to face meeting. If they reach voice mail they hang up and do not leave a message. If someone answers the phone they say something like…

“Hi Mr or Mrs so an so? This is ______ with _______ real estate and I have some serious buyers for your area….do you have any plans to sell your home in the next 6 to 12 months?” Then shut up. If they say “no” thank them and hang up. That was easy, wasn’t it?

Saying you have buyers should be a true statement as every active salesperson always has 5-10 buyer leads they are working with. You will not know if the house is suitable for then until you see the inside.

It is very rare that someone will say “no” or “not interested” and then list within the next several months.If they are thinking about selling they WILL engage in conversation.

The next step would be to ask a few qualifying questions to help determine their motivation such as “when do you plan to list your home for sale?” and “when do you plan to interview agents for the job of selling your home?” and “when do you want to have your home sold by?”

If you determine that a prospective seller is motivated they are flagged for followup which can include a pre-listing package, emails, phone calls, notepads, market updates, voice mail messages etc. The majority of leads need to be followed up with 7 to 15 times. 99% of your business will come from great persistent and creative follow up.

If you are looking for ways to increase your business without breaking the bank maybe it is time to begin prospecting for potential sellers using the telephone!

Jan 302017

The goal of every Realtor should be to have a large database of people who know you personally as an agent and will give you their own business and refer business to you. These people are usually referred to as your Sphere Of Influence or SOI for short and include past clients and people you have showed homes to or did property evaluations for.

Until you have been in the business long enough to generate a large SOI you need to find your own buyers and sellers by prospecting.

Early in their careers agents typically work with buyers that they meet passively by doing open houses for other agents, advertising, or from website leads. Their next step is actively prospecting by talking about real estate with people they know already or people they don’t know. Most agents soon conclude that it is far more profitable and easier to work with sellers than buyers. The top agents in any market area usually get 70 to 80% of their income from listings.

Websites and the internet are a great source of buyer leads but a poor source of seller leads. To get listings agents need to actively prospect for people who are planning on selling their homes. To do this many spend huge amounts on advertising and repeatedly targeting specific market areas with flyers and admail. For this to work many repetitions are required over a period of time and after risking massive amounts of cash the results are often inconsistent.

If you don’t have the deep pockets to see such a strategy through don’t fret! One of the oldest and lowest cost methods of prospecting for sellers is still one of the best methods and done right provides the most consistent income. I am talking about cold calling!

Many agents do call the owners of expired listings and find they are competing against many other agents and the sellers are unrealistic and difficult to deal with. That gets tiresome real fast. The same is true for calling FSBOs. Compared to calling Expireds and FSBOs real honest to goodness cold calling can be a breeze. You can end up working with nicer people who are actually motivated to sell.

Agents who make cold calling their primary source of listings will work the phones for at least a couple of hours every day and have refined their technique so they are talking to a hundred or more potential sellers in those few hours. They qualify those prospects ruthlessly and only consider one or two each day a bonafide lead that will move within the next few months. For many, calling for a couple of hours a day 5 days a week results in 50 to 60 deals a year!

Luckily, they are happy to share their methods, dialogues, and all the nuances in the Cold Calling Forum at the AgentsOnline Realtor Forums. Check it out!

I will delve a bit deeper into this real estate prospecting technique in my next article.

Jan 202017

As many of you know I have been touting the virtues of a website for generating a portion of a Realtor’s sales since the 1990’s. I have always said that ideally that portion should be 20 to 30% but over the years many have been determined to make their website their primary source of leads. Good search engine placement went a long way in making this possible up until a couple of years ago.

You may want to refresh your memory on the changes in the Realtor marketing landscape and recommendations on how to improve your search positions by building your brand.

That brings us to the current debate which began with the article Honest Question: Role of the Website in Real Estate Practice. Note that in the comments below the article those who are saying their website is their primary source of leads due to their search positions are Brokerages and not individual Realtors. This is exactly what I identified a couple of years ago in the articles linked to above.

“For Realtors’ websites it is pretty hard/impossible to compete with the big brands if you are in a mid-sized to larger market area. If you are a Broker in a small market area and your personal site and company site are one and the same then Google often recognizes you as a Brand and you can place well.

I have seen agents in some mid-sized market areas place well by making it look like their website is the actual company/office site (when the office itself is of sufficient size and does not have its own effective presence). Locals who search for the office in Google end up at the agent’s site and this just reinforces the agent is the company brand in the eyes of Google.”

Individual Realtors need to realize that spending big money on a custom website will not necessarily increase their chances of competing with the Listing aggregators and Brokerages large and small.