While many real estate agents will go through contortions to avoid prospecting, some sort of prospecting must be done before a sale can be made. Top real estate agents know that prospecting is their ticket to prosperity and happiness, and they embrace it. Many other agents will "dabble" at prospecting, without working the system hard. They'll often keep looking for a 'magic' system of prospecting.
I have seen all the systems on the market today that are sold as 'magic formulas;' that claim to make prospecting easy, automatic, and virtually instant. The truth is most of those formulas are good systems for prospecting. But they're not magic, and one is not intrinsically better than another... and none are "instant." All will take effort and consistency.
What's the best prospecting system? It's the one you want to work hard to implement. A good prospecting method is one that you are comfortable doing, that fits your personality so you are more inclined to be successful.
Active Real Estate Prospecting Methods
The best forms of prospecting for fast results are active. The following is a list of the most common active prospecting methods.
- Some real estate agents have the personality for knocking on cold doors for a few hours each day. They like the repetition. They enjoy walking and getting the exercise. They like having a set script and getting into a rhythm. After the first day, they quickly get over any discomfort with talking to people at the front door. They find that most people don't mind someone working hard, knocking on the door. If you're someone who has a strong aversion to people knocking on your door, you might want to consider that thousands of Realtors have built hugely successful businesses doing this. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean others feel the same way. It's an easy and very inexpensive prospecting approach. The key to making it work is both consistency and knowing the right kinds of words to use to convert a lead into an appointment on the spot (which is true of any of these active prospecting methods).
- Some (few) people enjoy cold calling. They like the repetition, consistency, and ease. But the public doesn't enjoy telemarketers, so the rejection rate is high. If you're someone who interprets a hang up as a personal attack, you probably won't want to do this. On the other hand, it's one of the fastest ways to grow your business and I know many successful agents who built their business to the high six figures doing cold calling. You can learn to work within the regulations of the Do Not Call List. And because telemarketing is challenging, you probably won't have much competition and you may find people more receptive these days because they're not inundated by calls.
- Some people enjoy dropping by FSBO's or calling expireds. They like the odds (since the owner has already "raised their hand") and have steeled themselves for the challenge. These owners can vent their frustrations about something else on you, making it seem "scary" at first to talk with them. However, there are very well-described techniques for handling this and for knowing exactly the right words to say. In some areas, there are enough FSBO/Expireds to make a full-time prospecting program. In other areas, this may be a once-a-week program.
- Some agents like threading their way through Web 2.0 and social media marketing. They like it, but they also understand that it's not just a hobby. They have a strategy and know how to work the strategy using websites, lead generation companies, blogging, social media, ezine articles, etc. This is a pseudo-active form of prospecting because it combines elements of advertising (drop your bait and see who bites) with networking. The challenge is to know exactly what works in the "real estate social media world" and what doesn't, because it is easy to lose yourself in it.
- Other real estate agents live and breathe for the opportunity to network. They are social creatures who can find business by talking to people in the grocery checkout line. A networking system ensures they have a deliberate strategy for building the right kinds of relationships, making themselves known in a community, etc. If you're an introvert, you may not be attracted to this method of prospecting. On the other hand, I know some introverts who do well at it because they have a purpose for making conversation and have learned the right words to say to motivate someone to want to do business with them. Many people enjoy building 100% referral-based businesses and work techniques and strategies that go well beyond what we normally think of as networking.
- Some people enjoy farming because they like being part of a community. They enjoy the benefits of door knocking, sponsoring neighborhood events, and blogging about the 'hood. If you don't like your neighbors, you don't have to farm your own neighborhood. Some agents use neighborhood websites with coupons and free classifieds for garage sales, FSBOs, etc. Farming is the one method that includes elements of all other methods, so if you like variety, this is the method for you.
- Still others, like me, have tremendous success with running workshops -- first time buyer, seller, investor, etc. Workshops are natural and fun for me, and so I enjoy prospecting...and I do believe that an agent should enjoy their real estate prospecting, otherwise they won't do it. I've developed my own system filling workshops and delivering content in a way that makes people eager to work with me. This is a nice approach for many agents who are a bit shy, but still like to be on stage.
- Open houses are still a great way to prospect, if done well. Some agents hold open houses five days a week. They have a process for working the buyers that come through, and they work the community where they're holding the open houses, often becoming listing agents in time. If open houses are a lynchpin in your prospecting plan, then you'll want to know the exact words to use to motivate prospects to want to work with you, and you'll want to get good at asking for appointments, not just phone numbers. Some agents feel that open houses are a waste of time because they don't get enough active prospects coming through in their area. If that's true for you, then maybe you should spend your weekends on a different approach.
Less active prospecting (or passive prospecting) includes direct response marketing, advertising, online lead generation companies, just listed/sold cards, dropping flyers, etc. Some of these techniques work very well. And some of them are a complete waste of time. Before you decide to launch a passive marketing campaign, talk to your coach and discuss the costs vs. outcomes.
The One Real Estate Prospecting System that Every Agent Needs
Every agent should follow up with their past clients religiously and automatically. Ongoing database farming is perhaps the only way for most agents to even out the ups and downs of this industry. Eventually, after building your business for several years, this past client base will be your ticket to the lifestyle you've always dreamed of.
Database farming is also your best chance for "easy, automatic, and virtually instant" business. If you need business right now, then reconnect to every past client and person in your circle of influence and ask them for a referral. Using some clever referral techniques and words, chances are very good that you will unearth at least one new transaction.
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