If someone could wave a magic wand and make the tedious task of finding leads a simple and easy task, you'd go for it, wouldn't you? If you're like most real estate agents, your answer would most likely be a resounding yes.
Why? Perhaps the high turnover of new agents and the rate they quit right after starting says a lot. Some experts note that 50% of new real estate agents give up within a year of starting, citing frustration despite all their efforts as one of the reasons for quitting. You may not necessarily want to quit. But the thought of wanting to make things easier as far as finding leads are concerned must have certainly crossed your mind.
You are also probably wondering how did those successful agents manage to be where they are and earn what they do in spite the difficulty of doing business in general nowadays. Maybe they've got great communication skills. They probably are one of those “born” salesmen that can sell anything. Or perhaps they're just plain lucky.
Those may or may not be true, but one thing is for certain: Successful agents succeed because they've built and maintain an extensive network that ensures him/her that business will come in no matter what.
Seems easy? Yes and no. It is easy in that the act of networking is simply making a connection to a person who can lead you to several others. Also, you have to be the kind of person everyone wants to refer to his or her friends and acquaintances and THAT part takes work.
But once you establish that kind of network, you will find that the leads are reliable and are very likely to keep doing business with you. They may even throw more business your way. They will also be the most cost-effective leads because all it takes to generate a lead is only as much as you would spend on a personal phone call or well-written email/letter.
Getting started That said, how do you start building a network that will work for you and give you leads you need? For one thing, it does NOT begin with printing out fancy business cards. It begins by working hard on building on a credible reputation for yourself and/or your agency. Be the kind of person that walks the talk. Think about it, would you rather work with a shady dealer or with someone who is genuine about everything he/she says and does?
People pick up not only the words you say but also more importantly, the way you say things. If they feel that you are simply after making profits out of their transaction, you've most likely lost the deal before you could negotiate it. Compare this with someone who shows a real concern for helping find the best deal possible and you'll see why this kind of agent lasts longer than the hard-sell kind.
Listen more Probing for usable information and leads is an art. An agent like you must be able to develop the skill in fishing out information from every conversation you take part in. Getting the information requires discipline on your part to listen more and talk less. That's NOT to say you keep your words to a minimum, but rather, give your contact more opportunities to talk and listen to what they have to say.
If you need to speak, it is more to encourage the person to share rather than you interjecting a word to dominate the conversation.
Now, onto your business card… Of course letting people know how they can reach you is an important part of doing business in real estate (or with any business for that matter). But it is more important for you to be asking for that information. After you build an initial rapport, politely ask for his/her contact information.
Don't even think of handing out your card when it's not asked for. At least, ask permission if you could give them your card just in case they need to inquire about anything regarding real estate. Thrusting out your card to a person who's not asking for it is pretty much like saying, “Call me.” In dating, we find that pretty presumptuous. The idea doesn't change when it comes to business.
Now that you've built a genuine and likeable persona and now that you have the information you need and the contacts to pursue the information with, you need to work on mining this information for leads.
Follow up with friendly correspondences. It helps to refer to your last conversation to open up your letters/calls. It is here where the benefits of listening come in. Your contact realizes you took the effort to remember what they said, and that speaks a lot about you.
Another plus in guiding the conversation towards something related to your business is that there is a logical take-off point for you to introduce your services and what you can do to help the person with their real estate concerns.
A genuine character and attitude, coupled with strategic probing and follow-up will get your network working for you and may give you leads that are as good as closed. It takes a lot of work, but the process is far more pleasurable than a cold call. You are connecting with someone who wants to connect back to you and may be willing to introduce you to their own network simply because they like you and the way you do business.