With summer rapidly fading into memory and the fall selling season about to kick into high gear, it’s time for agents to ramp up their prospecting efforts. For most Realtors, that means repeating the same uninspiring tactics that have occasionally – and unpredictably – worked for them in the past.
Craig Proctor, North America’s leading real estate coach, says agents struggling to keep leads in the pipeline need to abandon their dated, ineffective strategies and try a new approach: the same one that transformed him into RE/MAX’s number-one agent in the world.
REP: It seems as if a lot of agents let prospecting slide during the summer and then try to get serious about it again in September. But is real estate really that seasonal a business?
Craig Proctor: In most markets, home sales predictably peak at certain times of the year and slow down at others, so during traditionally slower months – like summer – many agents rationalize that there’s little use in trying to find customers. The result: They all but abandon lead generation until the market picks up, so the notion that it’s harder to find customers at certain times of year becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In reality, there’s no reason your business has to suffer at any time of year. You have to make lead generation a priority 12 months of the year, regardless of how your market is performing. If your competitors aren’t putting forth effort during the slow times, that becomes a huge opportunity for you.
REP: Then why don’t more agents do that?
CP: For starters, most agents dread lead generation more than anything. Cold-calling, door-knocking, organizing client parties, bugging your friends and family – these traditional activities can be time-consuming, expensive and downright unpleasant. As a result, lead generation becomes something agents subconsciously avoid, choosing to keep themselves busy on the more enjoyable aspects of the business.
In my 22 years in the business, my success came in large part because of the way I approached lead generation. I took the seasonality out of my business because I had an easy system involving ads I placed throughout the year. The cornerstone of this system is what I like to call “reverse prospecting” because qualified prospects contacted me, not the other way around. My pipeline was filled on a consistent basis, which meant I always had enough good customers to work with, no matter what season it was.
REP: What does reverse prospecting generally cost an agent?
CP: It’s a strategy you can execute with very little cash through print or online classified ads. These ads are inexpensive, and the people who generally read real estate classifieds tend to be qualified buyer prospects. Here are five steps to effectively reaching and converting those buyers using my system:
1. Think of advertising in a new way.
Even though you’re placing an ad, your goal is not to sell the property – as counterintuitive as that may sound – because it’s virtually impossible to sell a house with a classified ad. When a potential buyer sees a real estate ad and calls, what happens most often is that as you begin to describe the property, they start to eliminate it as either too big or small, in the wrong area, or too expensive. If you’ve mastered the art of call conversion, you can get the buyer interested in a different listing. Therefore, when you’re writing your classified ads, you shouldn’t be thinking about how to showcase all the wonderful features of a particular home. Instead, think about how you can get the highest rate of response.
2. Make your ads compelling and non-threatening.
The most effective and least expensive way to generate leads is to offer prospects something they want and make it very easy for them to get it. No one likes to be ‘sold.’ You’ll get a much greater response if prospects don’t have to speak with a salesperson to get the information they’re after. Don’t focus your limited ad space on identifying how many bedrooms a particular listing has or whether the garage is attached. This will only eliminate great prospects who are looking for something else. Instead, describe your listings in general terms and prompt the reader to contact you by either visiting your website or listening to a recorded phone message for more information.
3. Prepare for incoming calls and web visits.
The whole point of running classified ads is to get motivated buyers to contact you. Your recorded voice message might go something like this: “Hi, this is Bob Smith from XYZ Realty. Thank you for calling to receive information on lovely detached homes with private yards on quiet streets in Newmarket. Please leave your name, price range and mailing address so we can send you a list of homes that match your criteria.” Your website landing page should have a similar message and a form where they can submit their name, price range and contact information. Those who don’t plan to buy right away should go into your drip marketing programs.
4. Fine-tune your follow-up.
When you call back prospects, you need a carefully worded script that will help you establish their timing and motivation. The best way to encourage prospects to meet with you is to make a non threatening and targeted offer that provides a meaningful benefit. For example, ask buyers: “Would you like to receive a daily list of homes that match your criteria?” If they say yes, respond: “Great, if we can get together for about 15 minutes, I can listen to exactly what you’re looking for so that we don’t miss out on the perfect home. When is a good time to get together – days or evenings?”
5. Track your results and test relentlessly.
Consistency throughout the year is your goal. Place ads every single week and run tests to see if different wording will produce better results. By tracking each approach, you can quickly determine the best messages and the best places to run them to get maximum return on your advertising.
Craig Proctor has helped create more millionaire Realtors than any other real estate trainer or coach in North America. To find out more about Proctor’s systems, call his office at 800-538-1034 or visit craigproctorfreetraining.com.