5 steps to a prospecting plan

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Information about 5 steps to a prospecting plan
Economy & Finance

Published on August 23, 2014

Author: NikitasKouimanis

Source: slideshare.net

Description

This eBook will teach you 5 steps to prospecting better.

By Nikitas Kouimanis Maverick Funding Corp.

2 What’s Your Favorite Part  Sharing the excitement of first time buyer when they find their home.  Helping expectant parents sell their too small house or condo and find the perfect place for their growing family.  Easing the mind of retirees or aging baby boomers that want to downsize their homes and lifestyles.  Finding solutions for people that thought they’d never be able to buy a home.  Targeting an urban area that offers busy singles or young couples a home that meets their criteria for work and recreation. There are lots or rewarding and exciting parts of a job as real estate agent. Now, if we asked the opposite – what’s your least favorite part of your job – we’ll probably get one simple answer: Prospecting for new business. Prospecting is down-right scary to some people. The idea is frightening – putting a plan together for contacting virtual strangers and trying to sell them on your services. Actually, prospecting doesn’t have to be a scary proposition at all. Good prospecting is an extension of you – it’s not a sales job, but an opportunity to share your passion and interest with others, and as a result, help them sell their homes and/or buy a home. Why Prospecting Hasn’t Worked Before Fear or discomfort of prospecting has stopped many agents in their tracks. Either they don’t attempt to prospect for clients, or they make brief attempts at prospecting only to become frustrated with efforts that don’t immediately produce. They don’t see a return on their prospecting dollar so they quit working it. Prospecting correctly is becoming a lost art. The single most common reasons that prospecting hasn’t worked is because the agent hasn’t taken the time to develop a prospecting plan. Without a plan, the agent is just running in place – not getting anywhere. That’s where this plan is different – we’ll walk you through five steps to put a plan in place. Once you have your plan ready, you can start prospecting – painlessly. So, if you’re ready to build your business, turn to the next page where we’ll begin developing a plan.

3 Step 1 – The Analysis and Planning Phase Developing Your Unique Selling Position An important part of marketing any business is evaluating what you offer and how it’s different from your competition. Let’s face it – real estate is an incredibly competitive industry. There are some expert agents out there, there are some inexperienced agents that need to get a few sales under their belt, and there are some people that don’t want to expend the time and energy needed to develop a quality business. Unfortunately, to the potential client, these real estate agents all look the same. You need to figure out how to make it easy for the customer to discern what that difference is – that difference is your Unique Selling Position (USP). Your USP is vital, because it can be used to develop a niche market – a focus for your prospecting efforts. So, what is your USP – what is it that sets you apart from your competition? Maybe you already know what your USP is, or maybe you need a little help jump-starting the process. The following questions will help you define your USP. How old are you? If you are in your twenties or early thirties, you are positioned to understand the first time buyer market. You probably have lots of friends that are getting married. What’s the next step after marriage – buying a home? If you are in your thirties and forties, you understand the segment of the market that’s looking to “move up” from their starter home to something a little larger. If you are in your fifties, sixties or older, you understand the segment of the market that’s downsizing from the family home into smaller homes or condos, or even interested in investment properties. What’s your experience? If you’ve just started working as an agent, you have an advantage of not being jaded by the business – you have enthusiasm and excitement on your side. You aren’t bound by old habits – you accept input and constantly try to improve your skills. If you’ve worked as a realtor for years, you know the ins and outs of the business. You can eye a sale and find possible problems. You know how to market a property to get the most attention. What is your background? A background in sales and marketing gives you a unique advantage when it comes to marketing properties. You have an understanding of how to attract buyers, how to read clients to better understand their needs, answer questions and look for buying cues. A background in finance or banking gives you a unique understanding of the mortgage process. You can foresee potential problems with loans closing. A background in construction or contract work gives you unique insight into whether a property is planned and built well. You can look for potential problem areas. How long have you lived in your intended sales area? Are you a native of the intended sales area? Then you probably have a unique perspective of how the area has grown and changed. You know what neighborhoods are good, how the school systems have changed, which neighborhoods have been revitalized, which are being expanded at record rates, where problem traffic areas are, etc. Did you relocate to the area from somewhere else? Then you know what it’s like to relocate – how you find the best neighborhoods, schools, stores, medical services, etc. What makes you stand out in the community? Are you part of one of the top selling brokerage firms?

4 Do you have a web-site that gets more hits per month than any other? Are you actively involved in any community groups or charities? These are important considerations when defining your USP, and as you can imagine, they tie in quite well with creating a niche market. What is Your Niche Market? One of the biggest mistakes in prospecting is attempting to cast too large of a net. Of course, you want to contact as many prospective clients as possible, but when you make your prospecting efforts universal to appeal to a broad base of clients, you lose that ability to communicate your USP. That’s why niche marketing becomes so effective. It allows you to narrow your marketing efforts to a single defined group, to get their attention by demonstrating how you can stand out from the rest of the competition. Some of the niche markets to pursue are: Geographic area – Choosing a specific geographic area is a great way to focus on prospecting efforts, but you need more than just merely working a neighborhood. What is it that ties the area to your USP? How can you make that a value-added focus to your prospecting materials? Have you lived there and been a part of the community, or hav you recently moved and spent a lot of time investigating, etc? If you are going to target a geographic area, find out everything you can about the neighborhood. Know where the parks are, the schools ranking, and the best places to shop. If you truly are a specialist in this area, you need to prove it. Personal interests – Are you extremely involved in some activity that may have established a presence or name credibility? For instance, if you belong to a private golf course or country club, you know other members. A logical niche would be pursuing listings in the area around the club. Charitable endeavors – If you are involved in a charity, or even a church, you already have some level of name recognition among other participants. You can use this group as a base to build your efforts, especially if your business will in some way help the charity to grow. For instance, you can offer a service to church visitors to tour the area, or you can dedicate a percentage of your sales commission back to the charity. Many people are more than willing to work with someone who shares the interests and generosity of spirit. How Can You Target Your Niche? Once you’ve identified your niche, what are some methods of reaching that niche and presenting your USP? When you prospect a neighborhood or group, there are three primary ways of prospecting:  Telephone calls  Knocking on doors  Mailings Even though these methods of prospecting are fairly standard, your approach to them, and your targeting of a specific group, is what makes the difference between a scattered effort and a highly focused prospecting plan. For instance, many apartment complexes have a community center. How about contacting the apartment complex to see if you could host a first- time buyer seminar? A hands-on question and answer period is far more likely to capture the interest of a prospective buyer than merely a mailing. Spend some time making notes about your USP and how it could possibly translate into a niche market.

5 USP NOTES 1. Define your Unique Selling Position. What makes you stand out from the competition? 2. How can you use your USP to create a niche market? 3. What are three specific methods you can use to reach this niche? 4. How many hours will you commit to prospecting each week? Step 2 Your Mind Set Perhaps the single most consistent factor affecting your ability to prospect effectively is your attitude. As mentioned earlier, many people approach prospecting with fear or frustration. Who wants to do something they hate? It’s inevitable that you will eventually stop doing that which makes you uncomfortable or unhappy. But is prospecting all that terrible? Prospecting Isn’t Selling Many people approach prospecting as if it makes them hard pressure sales people. In reality, prospecting is just the beginning of the sales cycle – the beginning of a relationship. Prospecting isn’t trying to sell, but merely the first step in the relationship, especially in real estate where the sales cycle is lengthy and requires a great deal of hands- on work. Your attitude is crucial to your success in prospecting. If you are positive and upbeat, you are far more likely to connect with people.

6 Prospecting Is On-Going To have a successful real estate career, your prospect efforts won’t just be a one-time event. You will need to devote time each week to prospecting, even if it is just sending out mailings. Of course you’ll try to get potential prospects from referrals, but you’ll still continually need to prospect to bring in a steady stream of clientele. Prospect Wherever You Are Even though you’ve identified a niche market, you should have your antenna up for prospecting. It should be a natural part of your life: when you meet people introduce yourself and discuss your real estate business. Even if people you meet aren’t inclined to buy or sell a home chances are they know someone who is. You should always ask new acquaintances if they know someone that wants to buy or sell a home. What’s the worst that can happen? They may say “no” and you move on. Big deal. Make prospecting part of your daily routine -- when you are shopping, banking, traveling, running errands, stopping for coffee, etc. Always have business cards available to hand-out, get the names and numbers of the people you talk with to follow up later. Prospecting Doesn’t Always Follow Your Plans No matter how carefully you plan, how intensely you research your niche market, there’s always a chance you may not get the results you’d hoped. What most people do is get frustrated. They give themselves all kinds of messages like “I can’t prospect, I’m no good at this.” A plan is just that – a plan. It doesn’t mean that you won’t occasionally need to step back and review it, analyze the results, and then make some adjustments. That’s the beauty of the plan; it can change and be revised at any point. If you plan to have a successful career in real estate, you’ll need to build your prospecting skills because you won’t always be targeting the same neighborhood, and the same niche. You’ll make changes as necessary and keep working. You will definitely get frustrated if you keep trying to do something that doesn’t work – but the answer isn’t that you need to give up the effort, instead you need to revise the approach. Step 3 Getting Started You’ve made a good start by identifying what you have to offer clients and finding your niche market. Where do go from here? There are a number of steps you need to develop as you begin prospecting. Develop a Budget Before you begin, how will you connect with your niche market?  Are you sending out a mailing?  Are you buying leads?  Do you have a personal brochure for prospects?  Are you advertising in the local newspaper?  Do you plan to send a follow-up gift to prospects? Almost all marketing efforts have some kind of cost associated. Once you have a plan, you can determine how much money you need to carry out your plan. When you first start out, money may be tight. You best approach is to start knocking on doors – theoretically, all it should cost you is gas money and shoe leather; but in reality, you want to leave something with prospects reinforcing your USP. There are a number of options for easily putting together a brochure – it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are a number of Internet print companies that offer templates for real estate agent brochures. You can simply go to these sites, input your personal information, and then print. The company will ship the printed, color brochures to you – usually within the space of a few days. If you are planning on sending a gift or leaving behind some kind of novelty item (pens, refrigerator magnets, calendars, notepads, etc.) you can usually get these same items through the Internet print companies, or you may be able to find a local supplier. Usually, you

7 can get these items in a huge range of prices, starting at mere pennies and going up to hundreds of dollars. Select an item that reflects your target market -- new, first time buyers might be looking for a household budget kit, a calculator, shopping lists, etc. Ask other Realtors what they’ve used that works or if they have resources for printing and purchasing that are reasonable in price. You may also be able to order together to get a break on pricing. Networking Your initial efforts focus on two things – building a database of potential clients and active clients. It’s easy to overlook the most obvious source of referrals – your family, friends and acquaintances. Before you even begin prospecting to total strangers, take some time to let everyone know that you are in business and you want to help people sell or buy their home. Don’t assume this group of people couldn’t possibly contribute to your business. They may know someone interested in buying or selling, and chances are they won’t think about it on their own, but your gentle nudging will help them bring it into focus. Just ask the simple question – “Do you know anyone who wants to sell or buy a home?” Start by asking:  Relatives  Friends  Members of church  Member of other activities – like PTA, sports teams, golf buddies  Neighbors  Former school mates  Trades people  Former coworkers  Acquaintances you meet at dinner parties  Professionals you associate with (doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers)  Former clients Even if people in this circle don’t currently know someone, just your reminder that you’re looking for business will help if they do meet someone in the near future. Finding Complementary Businesses Another way to build your database is to work with other businesses that support your service. Mortgage, title & escrow, inspectors, interior decorators, home improvement are a short list of in industries you can network. The contacts you develop with these sources go into your database. Some may choose to work with you right away and others at a later time. Planning Your Presentation Before you get started with your prospecting, take time to work out your presentation. This may mean developing a script to follow. You don’t want to seem stiff and unnatural, but you also don’t want to appear unprepared. Developing a script helps you think of all the points you want to discuss with the prospect, and possible response to questions. Once you have your presentation rehearsed, you can deviate from it in a more natural way. You won’t seem scripted, just well prepared. Getting Out of the Office Sometimes the biggest obstacle is just doing it. It’s easy to procrastinate prospecting. The best approach is work a plan – either you are going to devote Monday and Tuesday to prospecting, or you’ll plan to work certain hours of the day for prospecting – whatever works with you and your clients schedule, but as we said it must be an ongoing activity. Calling people on the phone to prospect used to be an option. The advent of the “Do Not Call” list has made that approach difficult. Here are two ways you can approach prospecting: 1. Mailings, with follow-ups; or 2. Face to Face conversations Mailings can be an effective tool for introducing your USP, at least when used appropriately. About 99 percent of mailings end up in the garbage and is why you have to make your marketed mailings stand out to the customer. Many marketing experts recommend including a small gift or item – something a little bit bulkier than the average envelope. Of course, the premise is that people are less likely to throw away something when it has a gift in it.

8 Perhaps the most underrated method of prospecting is doorbell ringing, but it’s certainly a method destined to bring about results. If you’ve targeted a specific neighborhood, start walking through the neighborhood and approaching people in conversation. You’ll be amazed at the number of people that are either thinking about selling, or perhaps know someone interested in buying in the neighborhood. This is especially true for neighborhoods that are “hot”; sometimes the homes sell before they are ever listed. You can’t count on walk-in business, you need to get out there and aggressively market how you can help these clients. For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Another prospecting tool is the For Sale By Owner properties. The great thing about these properties is that you know the owners want to sell. And chances are -- their homes are not getting the kind of exposure or interest that they would want. Many agents start prospecting by driving through their target neighborhoods and looking for FSBO signs, writing down the phone numbers, and contacting the owners. It can quickly become a great tool in your prospecting efforts. Take In Orphans Do you ever kick yourself when you see a prospect listing with another agent? Chances are, you’d let that prospect slip through the cracks – when they wanted to buy or sell, they turned to someone else. While you can’t get the prospect back, you can find additional prospects that other agents let drop. That doesn’t in anyway mean we suggest that you pirate clients from other agents – but you can certainly follow up with the prospects that are being worked. Some of the leads you can follow-up on are: Leads from agents that are no longer with your brokerage – your broker owns the leads and the files, but you don’t need to let those leads molder. Ask your manager for permission to work these files – even contact them with an introductory letter for you – then follow up. Retiring, quitting or moving agents – ask these agents if you can work any of their open prospects, they may want a referral fee on any business that closes, but it’s better than just letting the prospect drop. The next step is to take the information you’ve been gathering and put it to use. Step 4 Organization Let’s say you start to get a great listing of names. Maybe you have twenty or thirty names – now what do you do? You first need to organize your database. You’ll find some great contact manager software to help you maintain your listing. Many are geared specifically for real estate professionals. You want a contact manager that gives you a mechanism for tracking the number of times you’ve contacted the prospect, their response, mailings sent, etc. Following Up with Prospects Few people are going to make a decision about listing or buying a home with a particular agent on the first contact. You will need to contact your prospects repeatedly. When you drop the ball, that prospect will find someone else to help them. If you aren’t able to continually call prospects, settle for the next best thing – mailings. You should be sending material to your prospects on a regular basis, at the very least on a monthly basis. Don’t send out the same materials each time. Mix things up – send out postcards detailing other listings in the neighborhood, announcing sales, monthly newsletters, holiday cards, calendars, recipes – think creatively, but make sure your name is in front of the prospect on a regular basis. Prospecting from Prospects An essential step is to increase your sphere of influence. As you talk with prospects, ask them if they know of anyone that might be interested in buying or selling.

9 [Insert Your Picture Here] Click insert > Picture > From File > Select Graphic When to Quit Prospecting Once you get a steady flow of clients, should you drop the people from your database that you haven’t had success? Should you just stop prospecting entirely when you get too busy? Absolutely not – your business will inevitably hit peaks and valleys. It’s a lot harder to start up from a complete stand still then it is to step up what was a slow pace. Even if you are busy, commit to working your prospects, even if on a smaller scale, or devoting less time to it. Step 5 Revisions Let’s say you’ve been working your niche area for some time (at least several months) and don’t feel like anything is going to happen. Rather than stopping your prospecting efforts, it may be time to revise your approach. First, take a look at your materials – do you clearly show the difference between you and every other agent? Are you doing a good job with routinely contacting prospects? Have you had any feedback from prospects about changes you need to make? Next, evaluate your niche market. Is this a potentially strong market? Is it the market you want to work long- term? Are there circumstances that have brought about a change in the market – for instance, rising interest rates may be affecting new buyers, if your niche is first time buyers, you may need to re-evaluate, or certainly revise your marketing efforts. Do you need to revise your advertising process? Maybe you need to invest more money, maybe you need to pursue other advertising venues. Advertising and name recognition is an important part of real estate. While you will certainly rely on referrals, you need to establish a presence in the market. Web Site Do you have a web site? It’s a powerful tool and it’s certainly one of the most beneficial prospecting tools. Unlike most prospecting efforts, your web site allows customers to contact you. However, your website has to be effective. Not only does it need to show new listings, but it has to relay a strong impression about you and your skills, and of course, clearly states your USP. You also need to make it attractive for the client to contact you – what are you offering them that could be intriguing? If there isn’t anything on the site that compels them to contact you, they won’t. Prospecting is an on-going effort that can result in a solid client base, referrals and repeat business. It’s not something to avoid, but something to be embraced. How can you creatively talk with clients (either verbally or through the mail)? How can you help these people? Before long, with a little prospecting, you’ll be doing the very parts of the job that you love, and you’ll have conquered your fears as well. About Nikitas Kouimanis Nikitas Kouimanis service focuses on providing clients with a stress-free lending experience and helping real estate agents build loyal clients. If you are searching for ways to increase your referrals and improve client loyalty, contact him to learn how his strategies can help make a difference. Maverick Funding Office: 646.801.2228 Mobile: 516.206.0000 Email: nkouimanis@maverickfunding.com Website: www.mylendernikitas.com

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