In his new book, The Real Steps to a Real Estate Sales Career, Milton Rendell identifies six essential steps to being a successful agent. Here he focuses on the vital area of prospecting, which follows after step 1 – goals, and step 2 – planning. As he explains, goals create your why, focus and planning create the when, how and what, but prospecting is the doing.
It takes commitment, persistence and consistency to do well in prospecting. When an agent first starts there isn’t much else to do but look for business. Well, maybe for some there’s plenty of time to have a coffee and hope something happens, as they have not worked well on the first two steps I mentioned – but that’s a discussion for another day.
Some believe that by watching others something will happen; this will enlighten you, but not make you money. You have a choice in life and in business: to be a spectator or be in the game to win. You need to be in the game of prospecting to be better than the next guy.
The truth is that you have to make something happen as soon as possible. Later in your career you still have to have a system or systems constantly generating opportunities into your pipeline all the time. In the early part of your career you have to experiment to see what methods you can do best yourself, what you can hand on to others and what works in the demographic of your farm area to get your maximum return for effort.
You need to work hard and long early on to experience as much as possible as best you can, so you can learn how to implement effective systems in the long term. You also need to review your actions constantly, with the support of a strong mentor, to ensure you are current to market conditions.
DON’T DROP THE BALL
Many of us start strongly with prospecting, or hunting, as I tell people I coach. Every day you need to hunt, because what you have today may not be enough for tomorrow. Ego can stop experienced agents from doing what is needed to be done; sometimes they fool themselves by saying, ‘I don’t need to do this any more; I’ve been around long enough and people know who I am’, and the list goes on. The truth is, people do forget who you are and what you have done for them unless you stay in touch and let them know you still care.
You constantly need to be building your referral base; it is a matter of survival. Yes, we don’t like to pester people, but at the end of the day we are salespeople: we are meant to pester. You can automate some activities but you will still need to keep the human touch as part of the equation. Proactive activity will always outdo passive; that is, emails, letters and billboards. They create awareness, but the human side is very much part of decision-making.
MORE THAN JUST A DATABASE
Some of us kid ourselves that we have a database, but don’t be foolish enough to believe a few old phone numbers and email addresses is a database. It needs to be current and working for you every day, and you need to feed it like a hungry beast to keep it healthy and useful for your future as well as today.
It’s funny; I have heard reps say, ‘How did you get that listing? They were in my database.’ My answer is, ‘Who cares? It’s obvious they didn’t have you in theirs!’ Past sales and listings don’t mean anything unless you have built a relationship with those clients where they think you are the only guy to help them. This takes time and energy, so that is where consistency comes in, using your personal marketing and database.
Imagine you walked past someone you sold a property for five years ago and didn’t acknowledge them. It won’t matter how many emails they receive or billboards they see; they view you as rude because you ignored them. A smile is all that was needed to get tomorrow’s business.
When someone buys or sells they don’t sign an exclusive agreement to have you as their agent for the rest of their life. That right is earned through respect and time. That is why we have to be persistent, consistent and committed to keeping in touch.
Your database needs to be something that is automated, but also organised into bite-size chunks for you to work through. You might contact, say, 20 people a day but maybe in different categories daily to keep the task interesting for you and make a balance for the business you are aiming to create. You may work on buyer follow-ups on Monday, past appraisals Tuesday, past sales Wednesday and so forth, but look at hunting regularly. Have targets that are not negotiable for yourself.
I also believe you have to have a healthy mix of cold, warm and reconnecting prospecting so you are adding to your database, maintaining your database and increasing the understanding of your database on who you have in there. There certainly is a clinical part to prospecting when it comes to your database, in that you do need to classify it into categories – because your database will have sections with different needs and levels of attention.
TAP INTO YOUR PASSION
One of the important elements to prospecting is that you have to enjoy it. After all, we are in the people business and that in itself presents plenty of challenges. We do meet some interesting people at times, but that is the fun part and, to be honest, why I still enjoy real estate today. Every day presents me with new opportunities at times from places and people I didn’t expect.
So, you have to be adaptable; whether you’re at an open, at a party or someone comes into the office, your prospecting hat is always on. Opportunity is everywhere; you only have to look around and be committed, turn it into a bit of fun when you can and enjoy it.
Not all business is good business, but you need to get the volumes to be able to work out the good from the bad. Don’t accept others’ low standards and commit to being better at prospecting; it’s your future you’re playing around with. Enjoy the hunt of finding new business as there are so many interesting people out there to meet – and yes, plenty of others as well, but that makes you appreciate the good people more.
Successful people find opportunities more often because they look for them more often. It’s as simple as that. They find a way and do it consistently, persist when others don’t and commit to being better all the time.
Prospecting is the engine to your vehicle of success. Happy hunting!