Prospectors - On the Endangered Species List
Over the past five years I have taught thousands of Real Estate Agents and in every class I teach, I ask Real Estate agents how they prospect. Do you know that over 95% of all Real Estate agents tell me that the types of prospecting they do are primarily restricted to past clients, family and friends, sphere of influence and contacts?
Over the past five years I have taught thousands of Real Estate Agents and in every class I teach, I ask Real Estate agents how they prospect. Do you know that over 95% of all Real Estate agents tell me that the types of prospecting they do are primarily restricted to past clients, family and friends, sphere of influence and contacts? There are also a rising number of Internet buyers, open house buyers and ad/sign call clients who are becoming an agent's source of bread and butter business. Surprisingly enough, the source of business for agents that is decreasing is the expired listing, the "or Sale by Owner" and the geographical farm. I believe the reason for this is quite simple; in order to build a relationship with an expired listing, a "For Sale by Owner" and a geographical farm owner you need to stay in for the long haul. This type of prospecting is an incredibly lucrative source of business. However, most agents do not have a system set up to remain in contact with one of these prospects over the course of time that it will take before they are ready to buy and sell.
Contact Communication and Follow Through
The number one complaint of most expired listings is that their last Agent did not keep in good communication with them. So it is safe to say that communication must be the number one area you need to focus on with an expired listing. The type of communication is critical because most expired listings DO NOT want you calling and harassing them for their listing. What the expired listings do want from you is good real estate information that will help them to see that their home was overpriced and that perhaps there is hope for them to get their home sold now. The expired listing also wants to know that you will be in contact with them over an extended period of time and keep them up to date on the marketing efforts on their home.
The "For Sale by Owner" Goldmine
The "For Sale by Owner" prospect also appreciates contact, but does not want you hounding them for their listing. Remember, they believe that they are going to sell it themselves. Over 80% of "For Sale by Owners" eventually list their home with a Real Estate Agent within 60 - 90 days of first trying to sell their home on their own. Most "For Sale by Owners" do not want a lot of advice from you because they believe they are already qualified to sell their own home. What they do want from you, however, is information that they cannot get themselves because they are not a member of the local MLS. This gives you, as a Real Estate Agent, an incredible edge. Simply provide them with current information, on a weekly basis, as to what has just been listed for sale or even better what has just sold. Make sure that you present this material with "no strings attached" and chances are you will be in the right place at the right time, when the "For Sale by Owner" decides that they want to enlist the help of a Real Estate Agent.
Farming for Gold
Geographical farming is a long-term prospecting venture. This takes long term dedication and the ability to build a relationship over time. The geographical farm client has never met you, never talked to you and does not know you at all. This means that you are going to have to do some very consistent marketing in order to get your name not only noticed, but remembered and even more importantly top of mind. How do you do this? It is imperative that you not only send them regular pieces of mail but that you also contact them to give them updates on houses that have just sold. There isn't a homeowner that I know of that isn't interested in finding out the sale price of homes in their neighborhood. A quick telephone call, even to their answering machine just to say, "Hi, this is Mary calling. I just wanted to let you know your neighbor's house sold for $___________. I just thought you might be interested in this information. Please don't feel that you need to return this call, this is just an information call." Don't forget, one of the most important things that sellers want from you is written information on the solds in their neighborhood. So, remember, update them regularly when there has been a recent sale in their neighborhood.
Consistency Pays Big Dividends
The most important thing that you can do when prospecting is to do it on a regular basis, to not get discouraged when you don't have "instant" success and to understand that it is a numbers game. If you are in contact with expired listings, "For Sale by Owners" and a geographical farm on a regular systematized basis, you WILL have results. Make sure that you contact them by mail at least 8 times over an 8-week period and by phone at least twice in an 8-week period. For a geographical farm, in order to have a stranger get to know you and even more importantly, to want to get to do business with you, you have to become a very familiar face in their household. This means if you are strictly using a mail campaign, the frequency should be, no less, than 36 pieces of mail in a 12-month period. These pieces should be valuable information that the client wants to see. For example, a quarterly report, showing all the activity in the neighborhood, is a favorite of most geographical farm potential clients. The second thing they like to see are interesting articles about what is going on in the real estate market, locally, regionally and nationally. Another favorite, for geographical farm owners, is information related to home ownership, home selling and investing in real estate.
Most importantly, give your clients what they want and the way that they want it. Today's client has asked us for more information than ever before and if they want to do business with you, you must wait for their invitation. Today's educated buyer does not want a pushy, over aggressive salesperson. What these clients do want from you is communication on a regular basis, in a non-invasive manner. Always remember to give the client what they want, when they want it and in the format that they want.