Well lets start off by saying that there is absolutely no point prospecting if you forget to follow-up with an interested person. I know at one time or other we are all guilty of the “forgotten follow-up”. It happens innocently enough. You meet a person at an open house. They are interested in looking at a house a couple of streets over so you jot down their name and number and promise to follow up. They tell you that they are out-of-town for a few days and ask you to touch base the following weekend. The note gets scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere and is forgotten. The next weekend passes but you’re tired and don’t feel like calling today. The next day, your cat has kittens so you promise yourself that you will call the next day. The next day comes and goes. Eventually you sit down and call the guy and the call goes something like this;
Ring ring… Hi this is Mark, we met at my open house a few weeks ago. I know you were interested in that house a few blocks over and I just wanted to touch base to see if you want to see it. Oh, I see, you called the agent directly? Oh, well, I knew you were away and ummm, and then my cat had kittens and ummmm…. Oh, you bought it? Wow, ok. Well, um, hopefully we can stay in touch. Click.
What’s that sound? That’s the sound of my stomach going thud! But there is an even more disturbing potential ending. That involves you forgetting to call altogether OR postponing it to the point where you are now too embarrassed to call. It never fails however…you will bump into that person later and there will be a very awkward moment to contend with. You see, our job is to always be prospecting. There are some interesting statistics out there on how many calls you have to make with a potential prospect before they become a solid client. I have heard that number is as high as eight calls to convert a perfect stranger you met at an open house into a buyer (or seller). I’m not sure I am terribly surprised.
Contact with your sphere, whether it is past ,current of future clients, should be a priority in your life. Luckily there are a number of tools available today to make this task easier. Have you heard the term CRM? It stands for Customer Relationship Management. A fancy buzzword for staying in touch. There are a number of different companies that offer versions perfectly suited for the real estate industry. Top Producer and iXact are just two and there are a bunch more. If you are so inclined you may just decide to plug names into your phone’s daytimer or use your Outlook. Like everything, it takes time to make the action of adding names to your database a habit.
My top agent would be lost without her CRM system. Every morning it alerts her to call 5 past clients. These are simply catch up calls to say hi and stay in the client’s head or maybe it’s to wish them a Happy Birthday. Then it’s on to new business and touching base with new clients. There is no question that a CRM system is an invaluable tool of our trade and to get better, you have to use it. As a runner, I firmly believe in my heart rate monitor. It keeps me going. I know when to speed up and when to slow down. Ultimately it keeps me training at a constant level and I can monitor my performance more accurately.
That’s it for this week.
We are officially through the first quarter of the year and this seems like as good a time as any to ask the simple question… how’s it going so far? Have you registered anything in the win column yet? How is your prospecting doing? Are you keeping up? I think it is fair to say that prospecting is one of the easiest things to do but also one of the hardest things to do EVERYDAY. You have probably figured that out already.I talk about the “routine of prospecting” a lot because when you are starting out, it is just like treading water. Stop doing it and you go straight to the bottom.
As you know, I like running. It is part of my weekly fitness regiment and I try to get out as often as I can. Some runs are better than others but the point is that no matter what the quality of the run, I know that I am improving my overall fitness level. On those days that I’m not dialed in, my goal is just to burn calories and if I’m feeling great I work on speed. While agents should always be building relationships with new clients it is clear that some prospecting is better than others. Years ago, my marketing and on-line presence was getting me tons of buyers and I was frustrated with how few listings I was getting. I was spending a lot of time showing properties in a time when where wasn’t much to show. Then I switched up my marketing efforts to find more sellers. I perfected my pitch right around the time when it turned to a buyers market. The lesson then is do a little bit of everything.
The question I want to ask today is; are you prospecting for buyers AND sellers? While the Toronto Real Estate Market continues to frustrate agents with its lack of listings appropriate to our ever-expanding first time buyer clients it seems clear that our efforts should be shifting to prospecting for sellers but does that mean we should forgo prospecting for buyers? I don’t think so.
So, lets take a collective deep breath and focus on the task at hand. Keep prospecting for buyers and sellers. Remember, I’m just a click away if you need to strategize on getting more business.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Canadian Real Estate Association’s Annual General Meeting in Ottawa as a voting delegate and representative of the Toronto Real Estate Board. Say what you will about organized real estate conventions, the truth is that everyone there is interested in the health and longevity of our industry and while you may not always agree with them, they are NOT there for the free food. I am constantly amazed at the passion and committment to our industry, their enthusiasm in new directions and technologies and their support of charities like Realtor’s Care.
Last year, CREA, under the direction of their board, decided to take an indepth look at all aspects of how organized real estate operates in Canada. The Futures Implementation Team identified four strategic focus areas that they wanted to concentrate on: development of a state-of the-art technology platform, providing information and tools to Realtors and to consumers; increased emphasis and enhancement of professional development to increase our value to consumers; looking at restructuring organized real estate, particularly the governance, to expedite decision-making, and ultimately reduce costs and duplication; and finally to acquire consumer insight so organized real estate can understand changing consumer needs and improve our relationship with consumers. While all very good stuff, this is a tremendous amount of work which eventually lead to the proposal of 23 initiatives. Well, that is the history of FIT in a nutshell.
Back in October I headed to Winnipeg for a CREA Special Assembly to get a first hand look at some of these proposals. One of which was a “Rate Your Realtor” idea. This has been a relatively divisive topic among boards and in Ottawa there was, again, a lengthy debate about it. Some argued that the optics of a rating system for Realtors, regulated by Realtors would not be viewed in a positive light by the public. Others said that a private system could corrupt an agent’s rating easily and that a CREA owned system could monitor the ratings more vigilantly. The proponents of the idea looked to the successes of an internally owned rating system at the Houston Board, while others looked at some existing rating sites that had lots of outdated information. In the end the proposal was defeated, but somehow I think we will hear about this idea again.
The idea of ratings got me thinking however. I wonder if a private site could ever become the penultimate resource on the performance and success of agents let alone develop a profitable model for such a system. At the end of the day, good agents, who have been in the business for a while, are successful because they have stellar reputations and can safely rely on the referrals of past clients. They did a good job and were attentive to the needs of their clients. But agents who are just starting out may not have built their referral network yet. So what can they do? Simple, put a testimonial section in your website or include a brief video on your front page. It is not a lot of work for the benefit provided. There have been a number of studies that show a testimonial has much more leverage with decision makers than an advertising message.
So the take away here is that testimonials, whether written or by video, should be a key component of your marketing and prospecting plan. It has a lot of value so make it front and centre. We carry around, in our phones, the technology to record quick videos at a moment’s notice, so next time you do a good job for someone ask them if they will record a little testimonial for you.