Interview with Peter Byers
How important is prospecting in your realtor business?
Lead generation is the most important thing in any sales orientated business. It’s what keeps the engine running. So, obviously it needs to be scheduled and you need to be proactive at it every day.
How much time would you have to spend on it?
Over 15 years it has fluctuated. I got the best results when I did 20 to 30 hours a week of prospecting; that’s contacting one person after another and setting up appointments.
Prospecting is a combination of cold calling into the market area and following-up with existing leads and contacts. So, you’re You need to be talking to new people every day as well as nurturing people along the way. You’ve got to keep them both going regularly. So, when I say 20 or 30 hours, it’s a combination of the two of them, but regularly-scheduled meeting people face-to-face.
Prospecting is close to 50% of the work of a realtor.
What is the best way to do cold calling and nurturing?
I found that I’m more successful personally in door knocking than cold calling on the phone. I actually prefer going door to door over a phone calling, but I don’t like to go outside when it’s freezing cold. So, I would go door to door and if I met somebody, I would schedule to drop by again. Because I’ve already had an initial contact, I can now call them and say, “Hey, I’m going to be in the neighbourhood. Can I maybe stop in and see where you’re at in your process?” A lot of times, once you’ve made an initial contact face-to-face, the phone seems to suffice until they’re ready to make a move. But, you have to nurture the leads that you have and follow-up.
In terms of following up, if somebody says they’re ready in six months, you need to be talking to them in three months. So, whatever timeline they give you, you need to cut that in half just to cut space “Are you still thinking about a move in the next three months or has anything changed?” If we just wait until the time that they said that they’re ready, you find that life throws curves all the time.
Most realtors don’t cold call, most realtors don’t door knock, but those that do are more successful than those that don’t. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Initial face-to-face contacts are superior because it establishes a stronger relationship?
Yes, and then you have to ask a person how they like to have further communication. Some people want to talk to you on the phone, some people want to meet with you face to face, and some people just want to text back and forth. Typically, the younger a person is they almost exclusively text. If you call them they don’t even answer their phone but if you text them they instantly respond. So, most people under 30 don’t like to talk on the phone; they’re text only.
Do you have specific targets for your lead generation?
When you’re focused on prospecting the math is one out of ten are going to be thinking about making a move. So, if you talk to 50 people in a week, 5 qualify. Some people with high I personality type [type that is open to others and confident in their social ability, see DISCUSS] can even talk to a hundred people in 20 hours. I’m not so driven by numbers; I tend to care more and engage in longer conversations with more social interactions. My phone calls generally take twice as long but almost everybody I talk to that qualifies is willing to meet with me and then I bring half of those people under contract.
The goal is not the number of people that you talk to; the goal is the amount of time allocated. So, for example, if you’re prospecting the best time to call; most people are going to be either like 9:00 to 11:00 or 7:00 to 8:30 in the evening. Don’t call Friday nights, people don’t like to be called on Friday nights and call on Saturday may be between 11:00 and 1:00 o’clock. I find that when you’re making one phone call after another about two hours is my threshold of ‘grace’ let’s call it. It’s emotionally draining. You really have to be in the right mind set. That is important in any type of sales. You have to care about the person that you’re talking to and come across in a positive manner.
I find that in any kind of prospecting I do much better if I have some sort of accountability. The type of accountability has to tailored to your personality though.
What do you feel are the keys for success in prospecting?
Establishing rapport is critical. We are drawn to people that are like us. So you need to tailor your approach to the type of person. For instance if you start talking to type D [personality type focused on achievement and success], you can almost tell right away and just get right to the point. Because they don’t want to have a social chat. They just want to have the information and what you have to offer. If you are talking to a C [personality type looking for compliance and avoiding conflict] on the other hand, they want the data and analyze it.
You have to put in the time. Put it in your schedule and do it consistently.
You have to respect your prospects. If they tell you they’re not going to move in two or three years, the next phone call is not going to be six months later asking “You’re thinking about a move?” You’ve got to actually respond in accordance. So, you have to nurture it in accordance with what they would want.
Over time, did you change your approach to prospecting?
I think that the more accountability I had, the better I got. Life just happens.
What would be your advice to new realtors in terms of prospecting?
They’ve got to use a system, they’ve got to schedule a time to prospect, and they’ve got to execute it. They should talk to other people, who are successful at it and find somebody that can mentor them and help them.
You can’t do sales of any volume if you don’t have a system: You’ve got to schedule the people that you talk to; you have to keep notes to what it is that you talk to them about and when you need to follow up with them next. You schedule when you’re going to call when you have an appointment, and things that you have to do.