Real estate prospecting and closing - how to get there faster
One way to streamline these early stage activities is to develop a prospect rating system that enables you to quickly sort your leads. Even if you simply rate them A, B, or C leads, you actively work the A’s, put the B’s into some incubation process and throw out the C’s. Working only the A’s is short-sighted, but many agents feel it’s all they have time to accomplish. The risk is that you may not get a chance to develop the skills to “warm up” leads to make them better.
Lots of people talk about getting qualified or unqualified leads, but without a systematic approach, you will never know how many can really be converted into new business, repeat business and referrals. A few criteria you can use to qualify are:
Motivation – What’s prompting the buy or sell transaction? Does the prospect walk the walk? Expressing interest in buying or selling and taking steps are two different things.
Budget – If the prospect can’t afford to buy a house or pay for your services, it’s not an A lead. If buying or selling expectations are unrealistic, it may not be an A lead.
Timing - Is there a timeline, such as a relocation or retirement date in the picture? Ask questions to assess motivation to buy or sell.
Match – Ideally, any potential buyer or seller is your client. In reality, your client base is best built with your specialties…neighborhood expert, waterfront, luxury buyers, condo specialist or e-PRO. Your real estate experience is one thing clients recognize – and the closer it matches their needs, the more willing they are to pay for your expertise.
Positioning – Why do people choose a real estate professional? They are looking for local and industry knowledge, ethical conduct and responsiveness. Position yourself as the solution and you will likely get the sale.
This can be called personal branding, or creating a strong value proposition – the important thing is that you and your materials clearly outline the results prospects can expect from choosing your services. Be a visible asset
Visibility is essential because it doesn’t matter if you are the world’s greatest seller, negotiator or industry expert if no one knows about it. To highlight the importance of visibility in your community, our CEO and our President recently posed for this Real Estate Magazine cover. It was a humorous approach, but an important point. If you already have visibility in your community, you don’t spend your time explaining who you are, and you can focus on meeting prospect’s needs.
Many prospects reason that if you have high visibility in the community, you must be good at your job and treat people well.
So in many cases, visibility = credibility.
An agent’s reputation and knowledge of the local area – what we call being a neighborhood expert - are the two most important factors sellers consider in choosing an agent, according to the National Association of Realtors® 2005 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report.
Reputations are critical to word-of-mouth. People build their reputations by either providing outstanding or sub-par service. People talk about the extremes – really great or really terrible service, not average service.
Neighborhood expertise is something that’s easy to demonstrate if you have the right tools. Don’t just tell them - every weapon in your marketing arsenal – CMAs, Buyer Tours, flyers, newsletters or postcards speaks for you when you’re not around. They should show your neighborhood knowledge.
Responsiveness – The fact that most people choose the first and only real estate agent they speak with shows that fast response is essential. In terms of expectations, it seems that every time someone does research, consumers expect faster response times.
Make it personal - Imagine you have found the love of your life and you’re ready to propose marriage. The moment is too important to use a standard pitch or stock script. You try to make it as personal and meaningful as possible (Hopefully, you don’t need to handle too many objections). Likewise, you don’t want to present clients with cookie-cutter presentations, but you want to have materials ready to go. At eNeighborhoods, we have pre-designed templates so key marketing materials like flyers, CMAs and neighborhood reports can be ready in minutes. Enter a name and address, add some photos and you are ready to pitch.
Turn it around. When your competitors are focused on getting something, try giving something away. Take a digital photo of a FSBO home, create a personalized sales flyer or Neighborhood Report and drop it off personally. Introduce yourself and volunteer to answer questions. If the FSBO decides to eventually hire a seller agent – and most do – you can be at the top of the list because you provided something useful instead of just calling and asking for the listing.
Coffee is for closers…
In a memorable scene from the Movie Glengarry Glen Ross, a struggling real estate salesman played by Jack Lemmon is told, “Put down that coffee…coffee’s for closers. ” Here are some of the best closing practices to help ensure you get your share of caffeine and commissions:
Don’t close as a salesperson. One of the recurring themes at the 2006 NAR conference in New Orleans was that real estate professionals are practitioners with marketing expertise, not sales people. Doctors, attorneys, accountants have practices, and successful real estate professionals have practices too. So, position yourself to close as a resource, a trusted advisor, not a sales person – people appreciate resources and valuable advice, but they hate being sold.
Sell on value. What’s wrong with selling on price? Price is only one part of marketing…if lowering the price is all it took to sell a property, people would not need an agent! Be clear about the value you bring: Higher selling price, faster sale and the least inconvenience. Focus on the skills and experience you have that clients lack.
Create a Marketing Planner checklist that shows sellers what you can do to market their home. In the eNeighborhoods CMA, the first item on the checklist is to sign the listing papers. There’s also a checklist item to set a date for an open house. If people like the idea of an open house, they probably like the idea of listing with you! If you are not a strong closer and find it hard to bring this up, get some tools to help you with the close.
Finally, an idea for advanced closers - don’t just close clients, close referrals. At this stage, top agents think a step beyond closing a client. This is an ideal time to gain referrals from the client’s family, friends and business associates. Referrals are a simple and cost-effective way to grow your business that’s often neglected. In fact, any channel you’re using to generate leads should also be used to build your referral base.
This article is from the 2007 Real Estate Marketing Success eBook. Download your complimentary copy at http://www.eNeighborhoods.com
Charles Warnock is Marketing Director at eNeighborhoods in Boca Raton, Florida. eNeighborhoods provides powerful marketing tools for real estate professionals, including Neighborhood Reports, CMAs, Buyer Tours, NewsLetters, Maps / Aerials, and the InstaLead Marketing System.
Charles writes often on interactive marketing, marketing strategy and real estate marketing.