real estate prospecting letters by markhardigan

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									                                       7300 Metro Boulevard, Suite 120
                                        Minneapolis, Minnesota 55439

                                    Phone: (800) 822-4221 Fax: (800) 822-2716
                           E-mail: info@davidknox.com Web Site: www.davidknox.com




                       Real Touch Prospecting in a Virtual World
FSBOs Don’t try to list on the first attempt. Your first contact is just to say hello and introduce
yourself. Just say: “I see that you’re selling your home. How’s it going for you?”

         What’s the world coming to? Doesn’t it seem that most businesses today actually are looking
for ways to avoid talking to customers? The airlines are a classic example. Want to make an airline
reservation by telephone? Good luck! Just to accomplish this means spending several minutes going
through an elaborate push-button menu. Then you are on hold for who-knows-how long. Really, the
airlines would rather you go online, make your own reservation, get an e-ticket and print out your own
itinerary and receipt.

          I don’t think companies intend to avoid customers. I think they want to use technology to its
fullest extent to serve customers better and in the most cost-efficient way. But they have been overrun
by technology.

        Some real estate agents are doing the same thing, especially when it comes to prospecting.
They are searching for a technique, tool, software or system that will eliminate the task of prospecting,
when in fact it will only eliminate prospects. It’s time to get back in touch with some real,
fundamental principles about the reality of prospecting.

Principle #1: Be There!

         Prospecting isn’t a part of the real estate business; it IS the real estate business. It would be
logical to assume that to have a good month, you have to be a really GOOD agent. However, a bad
month usually isn’t the result of low rapport, marginal trust, lack of benefits or missed closing
questions. Low productivity is the result of low prospecting.

        Have you ever purchased a product from a salesperson who wasn’t GOOD? Yes. Why?
Because he or she was THERE. Being good gives you the right to be in the real estate business; being

Real Estate Business Sept/Oct 2001
there is how you get paid for it. This is true of actors, doctors, lawyers, politicians and every other
business.

        To be there is to be where prospects are. They’re in open houses, asking friends for referrals,
reading ads, on the web or looking at mailers. So you must stay in touch with your past clients, hold
open houses, visit For Sale by Owners, call expireds, work neighborhood farms, be present on the
web, make personal visits, call often and advertise.

Principle #2: Build Relationships Instead of Barriers.

         This is still a people business, so the ultimate goal of prospecting is to secure a face-to-face
meeting. Too many agents use the wrong contact methods at the wrong time and the misuse of
technology has hurt the business as much as the proper use of it has helped. Technology has built a
barrier between the agent and the client. Are you properly handling your technology?

         Telephones. It’s unfortunate that when a prospect finally does respond to advertising and
promotion, the agent isn’t there. You say, “It’s the nature of the business.” I ask, “How are you
holding onto the business when you aren’t there?” Are the prospects greeted with a complicated
automated attendant or voice mail maze? Do callers have to suffer being put on hold, getting
disconnected or being trapped in voice mail jail? When they finally reach a real person do they ask in
disbelief: “Is this a real person?”

          If this sounds familiar, make a change. We have got to start talking to customers again. Let’s
at least secure the easy ones — the ones who call us. If you’re not available, have a receptionist offer
options: Would you like me to page her, take a message, put you through to voice mail or provide her
e-mail address?

         Business cards. Does it make any sense to put someone else’s photo on your business card? It
looks like some of you have! I’ve seen thousands of photos that bear absolutely no likeness to the
agent. Get a current photo … today. I like simple, professional photos that reveal a bit of the agent’s
personality without being too cute.

         Also, don’t list a half-dozen telephone numbers. When I see cards with a long list of numbers,
my first question is: “How will I ever find this person?” Consolidate your numbers to ONE that can be
directed to wherever you are. Handwrite a personal number on the back when appropriate. Finally,
make sure anyone can read the type on your card. Graphic designers love tiny 9-point type. Resist!
Use type that is easy to read.

          Mailings. We all have been swept up in .com mania, but now I think we are regaining some
common sense. A website should not replace mailings to your sphere of influence. If you have cut
back on mailings in a misguided attempt to save money, start them up again. The purpose of regular
mailings to your farm area — just a postcard will do — is to keep your name in front of potential
clients. Remember, they have to go hunting for your website. Don’t make it hard for prospects to find
you.

          Most successful agents mail postcards every month to their farm, come rain or shine. Agents
that don’t do regular mailings fail to do them because they misunderstand the purpose. They think
right after they do a mailing the telephone should be ringing off the hook. It doesn’t work that way.
More likely, neighbors will be discussing listing a home and the agent’s name will come up as being
familiar to them. Or, a potential client approaches an agent at a business or community event. He feels
comfortable doing so because he has seen the agent’s picture 20 times in the last year. That’s how
mailings work. They help build a reputation. If you get a call, it’s a bonus.

Real Estate Business Sept/Oct 2001
           E-mail. The saying “When your only tool is a hammer, the world becomes a nail.” applies to
many e-mail users. Once they learn to use it, it’s all they use. If you’re going to use e-mail (and you
should), use it right … and at the right times. Sometimes a personal call or even a fax would be more
appropriate. E-mail is great for communicating across time zones, getting printed materials and photos
transmitted, confirming details accurately, replacing some regular mail and transferring computer
files. It is not good when you need a personal touch, an urgent response or with prospects who have
limited access to it.

         When you write e-mails, use your basic letter writing skills. Have a clear subject line that
summarizes your message. Get to the point and use proper grammar and spelling. Instead of one huge
block of text, break it into small paragraphs to make it easier to read. Create a signature that includes
all of your contact information. Not everyone wants to respond back by e-mail. They might want to
call, mail or fax.

         One of the best e-mail features is the ability to attach documents and photos. Use Adobe
Acrobat to convert documents into PDF (Portable Document Format) files. That way, recipients can
see or print it exactly like your original. Some agents e-mail a PDF of their marketing plan.

          Fax. Transmitting a short document by fax is quick and easy whereas an e-mail requires
starting the computer, opening e-mail software, logging onto the server, attaching the document and
sending. Don’t overlook the convenience of fax.

         When creating documents, anticipate that they will be faxed, perhaps from one party to
another, several times. Use at least 14-point type to have them legible all along the way. Make sure the
contact information on your company letterhead is legible, particularly if you refer to it (as in, “Please
contact me at the number below.”).

         Personal notes. Sometimes the best means of communication is a handwritten note. Use a
fountain pen on cotton paper, hand-address it and affix a postage stamp. What a luxurious personal
touch this is in these times! Your personal note will stand out in the sea of e-mails, faxes, bulk
mailings and other impersonal communications.

Principle #3: Avoid the Quicksand of the Trivial.

          Does this happen to you? You approach the office with the full intention of making
prospecting calls. As you drive up, the cell phone rings and a client needs a feature sheet faxed. Then
in the office lobby someone begins a conversation about how his most recent transaction is going and
asks your opinion on how to handle it. In your message box there are six telephone slips that need
attention. On the way to your desk, you stop and chat with a colleague. At your desk, you go through
the mail and set it on top of yesterday’s pile. While you return your first call, you log on to get your e-
mail. You delete the junk, then in between telephone calls, you start responding to the other e-mails.
While you search your database for the people to call, you see a couple of details that need attention
and make some calls. Now you are digging through files for papers to address the problems from the
calls. Pretty soon you are completely buried in the tyranny of the mundane and it’s time for lunch.
Another morning is blown.

        Next time do this: Leave a list of key prospects on top of a clean desk at the end of the day.
When you get to the office the next morning, go straight to the desk and make your calls. After you’ve
done that, turn on your computer, get your messages, respond to e-mails and return phone calls.

        Having the discipline to prospect is more important than your technique. Bob Bohlen, CRS, a
top agent and broker from Brighton, Mich., showed me how he disciplines himself. He has a grid of
numbers from one to 100. Every time he initiates a contact he puts a line through a number. If contact
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is made he puts an X and if an appointment results then he circles the number. His goal is to make a
mark on a predetermined number each day. This simple system also reminds us that prospecting is a
numbers game — if you make enough calls, you will get an appointment.

          You can use the same type of system to follow up. The first contact to a prospect isn’t the
most important one, it’s the one after that, and after that. If you’ve gone to the effort to make a first
call, stay the course and keep following up.

Principle #4: Generate More Referrals.

          According to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, 67 percent of listings are
the result of friends, relatives or past clients — all sources that can be mined from one method: a
referral system. The people in your database must hear from you on a regular basis through a
thoughtful mix of mail, telephone, e-mail and personal contact. Even if none of them ever lists a house
with you, they will refer you to someone who will.

         You also have other sources for referrals: a group of “A” people, acquaintances and business
associates you know fairly well and “bird dogs.” Bird dogs are people in the neighborhood who
always seem to know who’s moving and are willing to tell you about them. These people are worthy
of personal contact, lunches and thank-you gifts. Even if you’re new to real estate, you’re not new to
life and have a sphere of influence that you can tap.

        You must have all these names organized into a contact management software program so
you can automate your prospecting activity. Set next-call dates to automatically remind you when to
follow up. Have letter templates that can mail-merge letters. You can start with prepared letters, such
as Dave Beson’s Letterwriter (800.242.3031), then tailor them to fit.

        Once your prospecting works and you have a prospect on the phone, you’re back to your
questioning skills, selling skills and scripts.

        When asking for referrals, there are two mistakes agents make. The first is asking, Do you
know of anyone who is moving? It’s a closed question and few will know of anyone moving right
now. A better way to ask is, In your opinion, who of your (friends, associates, etc.) will be the next to
move? You have a better chance of at least getting a name to contact. Another technique is to ask, The
market is very active and I’d like to expose others to it. Who do you think I should be calling?

        The second mistake is to say, If you hear of anyone, please call me. It’s not their
responsibility to call you. You must ask for names, then take the initiative to make the calls yourself.
Get names, then you follow up. An exception to this is the leveraged referral, when you have your
source person make the call to the prospect. After this introduction you can follow up.

         When you do get the name of someone to contact, ask them, Would you mind if I contacted
them to introduce myself? and May I tell them you suggested that I call? Make a commitment today to
contact your referral base regularly. Follow up your phone calls or personal visits with a handwritten
note.

Principle #5: Show Up.

         When you go to the dentist, you want to see your dentist … personally. You’ll accept a
certain amount of interaction with support staff but ultimately you want personal contact with the
professional. So in your business, remember that it is YOU that your prospects want to hear from.
Don’t use secretaries, assistants and support agents to separate yourself from your clients. Use them to
manage the transactions and paperwork.
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         When you’re out and around, make a point of popping in and saying hello to your key clients.
Visit local businesses that have provided you leads. Drop off whatever small gifts you use in your
prospecting such as note pads, calendars, mugs, etc.

         Pay special attention to your past clients. Arrange lunches and dinner with them. Plan parties
or events for them. Buy a block of tickets to a movie or sporting event and invite them to your
Customer Appreciation Day.

Principle #6: Take the BO out of FSBO.

          For Sale by Owners (FSBOs) are such an excellent source of business. You don’t have to
search through hundreds of homeowners to see who’s moving. They’re putting out signs and spending
their own money on advertising to announce, Hey, right here, we’re moving now! How great is that?
However, the unspoken message that keeps agents away is, … but we don’t want to list with you.
Well, about 80 percent of them will list with someone and it might as well be you. FSBOs are easy to
list if you treat it as a game and just relax. Here are some basic rules.

  * Visit FSBOs in person first, not via mail or telephone. Few other agents will do this, so already
you have a competitive edge. They see a nice smiling face and will at least give you a couple of
minutes of their time. Mail does nothing and telephone calls just annoy them. After they’ve met you,
then mail or telephone calls have more meaning to them.

  * Don’t try to list on the first attempt. Your first contact is just to say hello and introduce yourself.
Just say, I see that you’re selling your home. How’s it going for you?

  * Don’t discourage the owner. Any negative comments about their ability to market their home will
only hurt the rapport you’re trying to build. Instead, be a resource for them if they have questions.

  * Don’t try to sell them your services … yet. Wait till later when you actually get a listing
presentation. Then it will be time to present your marketing plan.

   * Follow up. This is the key. Keep going back again every four to seven days. No selling, no
discouraging; instead, just wait them out. If the home hasn’t sold in about four weeks, then it probably
won’t. But it will take them an additional two weeks to figure that out, so you must be there in that
window between week four and six.

   * Ask them questions about their marketing. They will have to ponder their lack of progress and
move closer to considering a real estate agent. • How are you attempting to attract buyers? • How
many prospects have you had? • Were they financially and emotionally ready to buy? • Have you
received any written contracts? • Have you located another home? • If your buyers have a home to
sell, do you want them to list with an agent or try to sell it themselves?

   * Present your marketing plan. At some point they will become discouraged at their lack of sale and
be ready to hear what you have to offer. Invite yourself into the home and proceed with your standard
listing presentation. Be sure to contrast the differences between what an owner can do and how much
more you can do.

Principle #7: Get Excited About Expireds.

         Expired listings are another great source of business. The key to working them is volume and
telephone. Because many of them either relist or leave the market, it is a better use of your time to do
a telephone campaign. Use the following short script:
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         My name is ________ with _________ and I see that your listing expired. Have you relisted?
    (If “yes,” then the call is over. If “no,” then proceed.) Is your home still for sale?
         There are only three reasons why your home didn’t sell. If I could visit with you for a few
    minutes, I’d be able to determine which one it is. May I see your home today at __ o’clock?
         When you arrive at their home, you will tour the home and ask questions to determine why the
    listing expired: price, condition or marketing. The best first question to ask the seller is, Why do
    you think it didn’t sell? Follow that up by asking, Why are you moving?
         First, determine how effective the previous marketing was. The hierarchy of marketing
    follows these approximate steps: MLS, signs, feature sheets, advertising, direct marketing, open
    houses, showings, offers and sale. They didn’t achieve the last step — a sale — so find out how
    far the previous agent got. You will probably discover that marketing was not the problem. If they
    received an offer, then you know marketing wasn’t the problem. Ask the seller, What more do you
    expect from your agent?
         Now take a tour of the home to examine the condition. If condition is the problem, address it.
    If not, only one reason remains: price.
         In most cases, overpricing prevented a sale. Ask the seller, Do you think your home was
    priced right? You could be very lucky: They may be ready to concede that the price was the issue!
    Do a new CMA and convince them to price exactly at or a little below market value. If you can’t
    get it priced right, then don’t take the listing.

Principle #8: Be Selective.

         When your prospecting efforts pay off, you’ll have the luxury of being selective. You don’t
have to work with everyone, just the motivated prospects. There are three key questions that will
quickly reveal the most motivated people:

         1. How soon would you like to buy (or sell)?
         2. How long have you been looking (or thinking of selling)?
         3. If you found a home that met your needs, what would you do? Or If we agree upon a
           marketing plan, are you ready to list?

         If you get the right answers to these questions, then proceed to secure them as clients. If they
are not ready to move, then be ready to let go. Keep them in your follow-up system but spend time
only with people who are ready to move now.

         Remember, you’re already good, but now you’ve got to be there!




Real Estate Business Sept/Oct 2001

								
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