Andy Reid: why you need to become a farmer, not a hunter

Whether you are cold calling, door knocking, using AI or the latest algorithm-busting social media ads to generate opportunities, you still need to know how to convert those leads into business.

I don’t think we pay anywhere near enough attention to lead conversion as we need to.

It’s that part of the process that is still very script-reliant, and the churn rate of these opportunities is worryingly high.

The problem is, there is still an insistence on ‘hunting’ down our opportunities.

Of course there is a point at which we need to ask the questions in order to get the deal across the line, and we need to be ready for that, but ruthless aggression at potential customers is hideously naive when we consider the level of awareness the public and our customers have these days.

Short-term economics Vs long-term sustainability

If you are in the industry for a good time, as opposed to a long time, then go for your life hunting as much as you can.

Accept that the numbers game is the play for you, make ignorance your friend, and make damn sure that you’re the first one in and the last one out of the office.

Bear in mind though, that if you insist on staying in ‘hunt’ mode, your potential targets have got access to all of the information that you do these days.

So, it’s like hunting a deer that has drone security, infra-red goggles on and a working crystal ball to see you coming – good luck!

Sure, you’ll get a chance lead one in every 100 or so (numbers may improve if you’ve got a solid AI-supported lead generation plan), but even then, you will have very little chance of securing a listing simply by saying, ‘Do you want to sell?’.

The reality in today’s age is this – if you want this to be a long-term career, with a flow of consistent rewards from sustainably consistent efforts, then you need to stop being a hunter and start being a farmer.

Farmers are the smartest people in the country when it comes to anticipating future business and providing the right set of circumstances to provide the highest yield possible from their efforts.

You can learn a lot from farmers and the way in which they grow their products when you look at your pipeline, and take some key principles that will absolutely improve your efficiency, with respect to lead conversion.

To make this possible, let’s look at your business creation in three parts – planting seeds, nurturing crops and harvesting the fruit.

Planting seeds

Right now, many of you act as though you can look at a seed and hope that it will feed you sufficiently.

Now, I’m sure that’s the formula for some dieting fad, but it ain’t going to cut it in your business!

The mistake is you’re not working in line with the decision-making cycle your customers have.

You know that any decision to sell a property comes after about three to five months of deliberation within a household (extenuating circumstances aside).

Farmers always work ahead of time.

They not only need to know which seeds to plant, but where they need to plant them and the conditions Mother Nature is likely to deliver in the season ahead.

If you want to eat in the future, then you need to become way more attune to the type of information (or the seeds) you plant in your potential market and pay attention, not to what is happening now, but what is likely coming in the next three to six months.

This approach is way more likely to help you start a journey with potential customers, because you’ll be meeting them at the same part of their decision-making cycle, which will be way more likely to bear fruit with your customer base.

Nurturing the crops

Once the seeds are planted, farmers have got a job on their hands to provide the right environment for growth!

In this phase, the volume of patience they exude is mental, because the quality and quantity of their output will be determined by how consistently they can keep their environment right.

    They have a military-like precision with their actions, and a timing that comes from years of discipline in making sure they handle their crops with the utmost care.

    The right nutrients, the correct temperatures, all of that stuff is what allows their seeds to bear fruit.

    You have all the tools under the sun to make sure you have the best chances to make the most of your pipeline.

    You have all of the prompts and information to provide the right nutrients, but you often lack the discipline to get things done.

    Sounds obvious, right?

    But here’s the difference between farmers and agents.

    Farmers have a physical representation of their efforts, and the significance of their success at this stage determines whether they eat or not.

    The connection between their actions now and their outcomes later cannot be masked by fluke outcomes or delusion.

    Nor can they hide from a time in which they took their eye off the ball because they were going ‘so well’ with a particular crop.

    Any success farmers have now can very quickly come undone if they don’t keep planning seeds for future seasons and maintain the actions required to bear fruit down the track.

    Real estate agents sometimes get lucky when a past client appears out of nowhere or a random sale pops up, but a lot of the time you don’t nurture your pipeline with the same discipline as farmers because you don’t have the physical link between success…or starvation!

    Success now, does not mean success later, and taking your eye off your crops, for any amount of time, is not a great idea.

    Harvesting the fruit

    Timing is everything!

    If you pick fruit too early, the quality isn’t there.

    If you pick it too late the quantity will drop.

    Like farmers, you need to know when the right time to ‘harvest’ your clients will be.

    The critical advantage that farmers have is that they can see when their fruit is ready to go, but you can certainly measure progress in your own way.

    The improvement you need to make is being more specific with clients in your pipeline.

    Saying that you’ll ‘touch base next month’ is like a farmer leaving the crops for a week to ‘do their thing’.

    You need to set specific dates for check-ins, and set expectations of not just the progress you’ll provide, but also what you expect to see and hear from your client.

    Setting accountability on both sides of the coin is imperative if you’re to grow the relationship and the level of momentum you have with your clients.

    Lack of clarity will cost you success and forward momentum, potentially causing you or your client to rush decisions.

    This can not only damage your relationship with your client but lead to another agent winning the day.

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    Andy Reid

    Andy Reid is an award-winning auctioneer, host of the ‘High Performance Humans’ podcast, real estate coach and speaker.