What is the foundation for Cindy’s succes in real estate?
How important is prospecting in your real estate business and what approach do you use?
It’s very important. Eighty percent of my occupation is marketing and lead generation. Many new Realtors have no idea the commitment to marketing required. I do a large percentage of my business by referral, but I’m always on the lookout for new families to help. Every activity that I do, every day, is lead generation, in my opinion. When I take my laundry to the dry cleaner and positively interact with a person then they’re a lead. They’re a prospect. By having friendly interactions with people, they feel trust towards me and I am already generating potential business and developing prospects. Everybody knows someone that will need to buy or sell a home in the next year.
Also, if I see a house that looks vacant I will cold call and try to find the person that owns it, since there’s such a shortage of homes to buy. If I have a client who wants a specific house that isn’t on the market anymore I’ll track down the owner of the property to try and get it for my client. If they had their house on the market within the last five years and it matched what my client would want I don’t have any problem hunting them down and asking if they’d like to sell it, because a lot of times they do. People are flattered when someone wants their home. They also may know a neighbor that is contemplating selling their home.
I do phone calls and I do a lot of online marketing but I door-knock selectively. I’m very careful – since I’m a female my safety is my number 1 priority – so I door-knock around listed properties or when I’m doing open-houses.
When door-knocking do you work with a partner to make it safer for you?
I have an application called ‘Forewarn’ which allows me to look at the names/addresses for all the surrounding properties to see whether there are any sex offenders or anyone with a criminal history in the homes. Even when somebody calls me for help, I run a background check on them immediately through my app on my phone, so I can determine whether they are safe to meet with. Knowledge is power.
When it comes to prospecting do you have any specific targets such as how much time you spend on it or the number of leads you want to get out of your activities?
Well, I have certain guidelines. Most agents block time every day to lead generate. Two to two and a half hours is normal. You can’t stop this even when you get busy or a couple of months down the road you will not have active clients.
For me, the most important thing is being able to service all my clients and being very responsive to them. I know from experience how many clients I can work with at a time, while still giving them exceptional service. Once I reach my target I refer business out to other agents that I trust.
I choose to serve a larger geographical area compared to most other realtors. I enjoy serving to military families, teachers and first responders so I go where I am needed. I give a discount to those groups, and because I do they tend to follow me. I try to take care of those that take care of me. I have a Pay-it-Forward business model.
What would you say are the keys to success in prospecting?
The most important thing is that you’re able to establish a rapport with people quickly. If you’re not being your authentic self you’re wasting your time. I’ve also invested a lot of money to make myself one of the most educated realtors in the area. The groups that I give professional courtesies (discounts) to know they’re not getting an inferior realtor for a discounted price. They know that I’m going to take good care of them.
In terms of prospecting – have you changed your approach over time and what are some of the changes that you’ve implemented to improve your prospecting?
It’s really important to be able to listen and to have a good speech pattern on the phone. My weakness is I talk too fast. When the person answers the phone, you need to be listening. When I say listening, I mean listening to communicate/understand not just to respond. You need to be listening and following whatever their speech pattern is. If they’re a slow talker and you’re going really fast you’re not going to be able to establish rapport. You need to mirror and match the way they communicate.
What specific event led you to adopt this mirror and match approach?
I had an elderly client ask me to slow down. I took that to heart. If somebody’s going to offer you honest feedback, you need to be open to it, and accept it. I have become more aware of that particular issue. Matching their speech patterns disarms people. It puts them at ease and they feel like they know you.
Do you have any advice for Realtors who are just getting started, regarding prospecting?
Every single thing they do every day can be prospecting. Little thing like your keychain, your phone case, and your ringtone are conversation starters/rapport builders. If you choose the right ringtone you can make people laugh/smile, they let down their guard and start conversations with you in the elevator. The other thing that a new agent can do is sit in Starbucks, with their computer and a stack of their cards and make it obvious that they are open for a conversation. They can do that by having a sticker on their computer that says ‘I’m a real estate professional. Ask me questions.’ That’s a great way to meet people.
The other way that I prospect is through companies I partner with. I make sure that the companies I do business with understand that they need to reciprocate if I’m sending them business. I support my disabled brother and my elderly father who’s 80. Because of my obligations, I need to do business only with mortgage representatives and companies that will reciprocate. They can either do co-op advertising with me or commit to sending me two referrals a year. You are respected when you know what you want and need, and you ask for it nicely.