In this installment, we’ll move on to the third thing you need to become a mega-producer in today’s real estate climate — the tools, strategies, and the discipline to manage all those low-cost leads for the time required to actually complete transactions with a large number of them.
I must confess that it’s very frustrating to see agents possess the very tools they need for their success and yet fail to take that last step — the step to making it all come together. I once was a struggling agent and nearly quit the business until I developed the lead capture gateway that quite literally turned my business around forever, so I’m very passionate about having the ability to generate as much business as you want or need to make your professional dreams come true.
And as the founder and CEO of a technology company that licenses state-of-the-art lead capture technology to agents all over the world, I am amazed at how many agents begin with the best intentions and then lack the follow-through to actually use that technology to make money. When I analyze why agents having the ultimate technology, then fail to succeed, I realize it comes down to just a few things: tools, strategy, and discipline.
Tools. Obviously, I believe that the primary tool you need is a lead capture gateway — whether ours or another. But having hundreds of leads every month won’t help you if you can’t stay organized. For that reason, I believe that contact management software is absolutely critical to high volume real estate. Here is why: In the previous blog articles of this series, I’ve described how because of the real estate buying cycle, today’s successful agent is going upstream and capture customers early in their search — as much as 6-8 weeks earlier than using traditional marketing. And during that time, to be effective, you must touch that customer twice a week.
Do the math on that: Eight weeks times twice a week (8X2=16) times 100 customers per month (100X2) or 200 customers. That adds up pretty quickly (16X200=3200) contacts or attempted contacts. How good is your memory? Can you keep up with every conversation, email, attempted conversation, search criteria, and bit of information in that quantity? Oh, and I forgot to mention the little details for the actual search, appointments, escrow activities, and so on. No wonder we are always dropping balls!!
That’s why you must use contact management software. It’s the only way to keep up with that much information effectively. In old-school real estate, you only worked with customers for a couple of weeks and never more that 2-3 at once. It was much easier to handle that with a “seat-of-the-pants” organizational system. There is no way to do that today — it’s just not possible, even for the best agents. Ok, so what should you use?
There are plenty of options out there for the agent wanting to get organized by using contact management software: Top Producer, Agent Office, Market Leader, Outlook, Sales Force, Act, Goldmine, and my personal favorite, Pipeline. Prices range from $100 per month on down. But, good contact management software doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. We developed Pipeline (our Pipeline integrated client management software because we wanted it to be simple, and we give it away for free with our LCM.
Another concern is ease of use. Now I’m a bit of a geek, but I have to say, if it takes me longer to learn and use a new software than I could spend using paper and pen, I think that software is a failure. That’s why we developed Pipeline to have a 5-minute learning curve. Again, it doesn’t matter which contact manager you use: just that you use one. You must be able to keep up with the thousands of little pieces of information in a simple and practical way if you are going to be successful today in real estate.
Strategies. The strategies I teach are pretty simple (probably because I am a simple-minded guy!) but very effective. Here they are: First, you must identify whether your customer is in phase one or phase two of the buying cycle. If you are using exclusively Internet leads as our agents are, you should assume they are in phase one. When you get a sign call or a referral, you are dealing with a phase two lead.
Next, phase one leads are not ready to talk to a salesman, so don’t be one. Approach them as you would a customer service call. Don’t be pushy. Don’t try to set an appointment. Don’t try to get them to come to your office. Don’t try to meet them at a property. Don’t try to get them to start looking at houses. And most importantly, DON’T WORRY. They will move to phase two soon enough. Your goal in phase one is simply to make them like you. Be their friend. Serve them. How easy is that?
Here’s how easy it is. You should be in touch with your phase one customers twice a week. I recommend once by phone, and once by email. Don’t spam them to death! Phone calls are much more personal. Again, your goal is simply to make them like you. Don’t forget that the odds are in your favor. They’ll work with the first agent they meet three out of four times, so just be first and make sure to become their friend. Duh!
Finally, understand that phase two customers are ready to look at houses. They realize that we hold the keys to the lockboxes, and so they are now ready to work with us. When communicating with phase two customers, it is best to be direct. Don’t be afraid to suggest looking at houses. And more important, stay in touch with them daily. Phase two is the last two weeks while they are actually searching for that dream home. Hopefully by now you are their friend. But don’t stay hands-off during phase two or they will work with the first aggressive agent they meet after they move into the search phase. Often it will be a sign call to the listing agent of a home they like.
So determine which phase your customer is in, and then use the appropriate follow-up action plan: phase one customers, hands off, customer service approach, twice a week. Phase two customers, be direct in your contact, and do it daily. Now how simple is that?! I promise you that if you use these simple strategies, you’ll be very successful and you’ll make lots of money. Better yet, is that you’ll be very relaxed and enjoy yourself in the process. This really is a cool business! The buyer wants to buy, the seller wants to sell, the lender wants to lend, the closing attorney wants to close — just stay out of the way, keep it simple, and get paid!
Discipline. We all hate the “D” word, but the truth is that discipline is 90% mindset. Make up your mind that you are going to do the things you need to do to be successful, and just do them. There are a few reasons that most agents fail in the area of discipline. Either they have no specific work plan so they never know how they are doing; they haven’t put the tools in place to make the job as easy as possible; or they have a strategy that’s just too complicated to execute consistently.
Most agents don’t lack the discipline they need. They just get discouraged because they’ve made it too hard for themselves. But what if you could make it simple? What if you could know exactly what you needed to do every single day in order to accomplish your goals? I believe you can. Assemble the few simple tools you need. It should be very inexpensive, if not free. Don’t be fooled into “investing” tons of money on tools and technology. Then put together a simple strategy, like the one I just outlined. Finally, in the words of Nike, just do it!