Prospecting is often the least favorite part of a real estate agent’s job. Ask any of agent what they think of cold calling, door-knocking, or even email replies to cold leads, and you’ll probably be greeted with an initial roll of the eyes.
Real estate agents who are community-minded and driven to succeed can prospect in their geographic farm to generate valuable word-of-mouth business. You can actually reduce the amount you spend on advertising and build a strong reputation on referral business. It’s all in your approach.
In this article, we’ll share with you some important tips that will change the way you think about prospecting as an agent. We’ll also provide you with specific, actionable ideas you can practice on your own to improve your prospecting.
Why Does Prospecting Suck?
The conventional idea of prospecting is largely built on stereotypes as old as the traveling salesman from the 1950’s. If you want to get past being a cliche, your prospecting first involves a certain way of thinking. Then it will become an art.
Here’s the problem: No one wants to be solicited to. You don’t either. That’s why you block pop-ups on your browser and you don’t reply to spam in your inbox. What are your prospects feeling when you introduce yourself as a real estate agent to a stranger? Relief or annoyance?
Don’t Be A Cliche: Change Your Attitude!
On first meeting you, prospective buyers and sellers expect to hear all about your success as a real estate agent, your knowledge of the local market and what homes you’ve sold in the neighbourhood…
All about me…
What if, instead of merely introducing yourself as a real estate agent, you tried to be of service?
Imagine the surprise on your prospect’s face if you offered to help?
Think of everyone you meet as a potential homeowner. If not today, someday, they or someone they know will need a roof over their head.
As an agent, your role is to facilitate the homeownership process and serve as an advocate on behalf of your clients. Your value to potential homeowners goes beyond securing a home.
- knowledge of the local market
- expertise in real estate transactions
- relationships with professionals and local business owners
- resources such as your time, website, additional staff, etc.
If you think of yourself as a service rather than as a salesperson, your prospecting will improve tremendously. You’ll realize that you have plenty to offer prospects and you’ll find smart ways to leverage what you provide in order to build relationships that drive referrals your way.
Now let’s look deeper at the nuts and bolts of successful real estate prospecting.
Prospecting Tips For Agents
Prospecting is the first step in your relationship with a potential client. Whether it’s at an open house, a conversation by phone or a random stranger you encounter while shopping; prospecting is a vetting process.
The goal of your prospecting should be to gauge the needs and level of interest from the individuals you encounter.
After doing so, you’ll know the best way to nurture the relationship. For example, a prospect with a growing family is a warmer lead than one who is unemployed and living at home.
Smart prospecting will help you uncover opportunities in your geographic farm. Someone close to retirement may be ready to sell their home in a few years. They may, however, refer you to peers considering to sell sooner.
With that in mind, here’s a list of helpful prospecting tips for agents:
#1) Use Probing Questions To Gauge Interest
Probing questions and active listening are a great way to start conversations because they demonstrate an interest in your prospect and respect for their point of view.
Smart probing questions help you determine what stage your prospect is at – hot, warm, or cold? Are they months away from buying a home or years?
Open-ended probing questions, for instance, are a simple way to measure the level of interest from your prospects:
- What do you like most about the neighbourhood?
- Which street could you see yourself living on?
- How has the neighbourhood changed since you first moved here?
- What do you think of the local housing market?
- When was the last time you looked into owning your own home?
Answers to these questions require a thoughtful response, which could yield valuable insights into your prospect. Including what they look for in a home and a community, their attitude towards home ownership, as well as their level of preparedness.
Close ended questions can be valuable, too, but should be used carefully. There are subtle ways to ask ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions that require elaboration or follow-up questions:
Some examples of effective close-ended questions include:
- How long have you lived/worked in the neighbourhood?
- Do you think your landlord is doing a good job with maintenance?
- Would you raise your children in this community?
- Does your family/relatives live close by?
Your prospects will often divulge valuable information through their replies about:
- core values
- background and beliefs
- family and career status
- future plans
Knowing these personal aspects of your prospects will help you build rapport and cultivate relationships that could eventually become professional as well.
#2) Create A Compelling Elevator Pitch.
An elevator pitch is a concise summary of your unique value proposition. It should be as short and direct as possible while inspiring interest in your offer or service.
It’s a good idea to write out an elevator pitch for yourself then read it out loud. When you write your elevator pitch, focus on making it short with an impact. If you were in an elevator with a prospect who was getting off on the next floor and you only had 10 seconds, what would you say to convince them that you are the best agent for their home search?
If you can get someone interested in you after 10 seconds- your elevator pitch is a success.
Your elevator pitch should also create curiosity about who you are, what you offer and how you can help. Answer these 3 key questions in your pitch:
Who am I?
How can I help?
What makes me unique?
“My name is Bob, and for years I’ve been a tax accountant here in X. Now, I’m taking the plunge and opening my own real estate office. If you know anyone who’s looking for a home in the neighbourhood, I’d love to help them get approved!”
In this example, you personalized your brand, revealed your background and showed your loyalty to the neighbourhood. You positioned yourself as someone who loves the local community and wants to help in a tangible way.
And you’re not being sales-y!
#3) Use a Script To Guide Your Conversation.
Some salespeople object to using a script because it tends to lack sincerity and personality.
And that’s true for the majority of cold-calling scripts. But a film with a great script isn’t made worse. And good dialogue can be so subtle that it sounds natural.
You don’t have to be Martin Scorsese but you do need a roadmap to guide your conversation. That’s what a script should be for any agent.
Your cold calling script should incorporate the following:
Anatomy of A Prospecting Script:
Introduction: Why are you reaching out to this person? It can be as simple as,
Hi, I noticed we live/work in the same neighbourhood so I just thought I’d say a formal hello! I’m Elizabeth – what’s your name?
Probing questions: After your brief introduction, ask 2 -3 really thoughtful questions about your client, and don’t forget to share information about yourself too such as hobbies, favourite local places, etc.
Have you been in the neighbourhood long?
Do you always take this same route? I haven’t seen you before…
What do your kids think of the area?
Elevator Pitch: Now you can hit the prospect with your 10-second elevator pitch. By this stage of the conversation, you’ll be able to gauge your prospect’s level of interest by their engagement. If their answers to your questions are short and curt, it’s a good sign that they are not interested in making new acquaintances. If they respond with details and ask you questions about yourself, then you’ve got a prospect who is open-minded.
Follow-Up Action: At this point, you can ask for a follow-up conversation. If your prospect responds to your elevator pitch with no interest, you can still be of service:
So, for example:
“My neighbourhood website is a great place to find or promote local business. You’re welcome to post information about your business or visit and check out the local deals.”
“I love to interview local residents and business owners on my neighbourhood blog. I think you’d be great and I’d like to do a feature interview with you about your business. What do you think?”
“I’m working on a podcast for local homeowners about important changes in the neighbourhood. I’d love to send it to you. Would that be useful for you at all?”
Notice that in each of these examples, you’re asking for the prospect’s business by being of service. By offering an item of value to your prospect for FREE, you are encouraging the rule of reciprocity; a key principle of any business relationship.
#4) Objection-Handling Is An Opportunity.
Objection-handling is just another step in the buying cycle that you have to steer your prospect through.
It is also critical to winning your prospect’s respect and earning their trust. If you can’t handle their objections, how can you negotiate a home price on their behalf?
There are 2 types of objections that are universal: a warning signal or defence mechanism. A warning signal indicates a buyer who lacks confidence in their decision-making. A defence mechanism is an objection meant to intimidate or discourage you.
Examples of Warning Signal Objections are:
I’m not sure…
I don’t really know…
I’ll have to talk to my partner…
In each case, your prospect is indicating that they don’t have all the facts to make an informed decision. They are not confident because they don’t have the full picture or lack authority and knowledge about you.
Examples of Defence Mechanism Objections include:
I can’t really afford a home right now…
I’ve given up on the market…
My finances are spread too thin right now and I’ve got no savings…
Again, you’ll notice that in each case, the prospect hasn’t said the word ‘NO”. A no is an answer, not an objection, just like ‘yes’. No’s are difficult to overcome but an objection simply means you need to cultivate the relationship a little further.
#5) Schedule A Follow-Up Action
Finally, your prospecting should always end with a follow-up action that secures their personal contact information. Whether you are sending your email newsletter, podcast, free e-book, or booking a pre-listing consultation, strive to grow your database by adding their contact information.
Of course, you’ll have no reason to follow-up unless you have something of value to offer. If your prospecting is successful, you’ll uncover 3 critical points:
- An immediate, short-term need of your prospect
- A long-term goal that might help you prospect
- Level of interest in homeownership
Knowing this information will help you to add value to future conversations and communications. You’ll also be able keep your prospect engaged with content they find useful. Over time, your consistency will earn you their trust and generate valuable word of mouth referrals.
Examples of follow-up actions:
I’ll send you a link to my free podcast. What is your email address?
I can send you my free ebook my email. What is your email address?
Let’s book a date for your interview. What’s your schedule like next week?
Don’t worry, I know a very good mortgage broker. I’d be happy to arrange a meeting. What’s your preferred method of contact?
Prospecting doesn’t have to be the odious task many agents make it out to be. It’s not the method but the approach that tends to turn prospects and agents off.
No one wants to be solicited. Find ways to be of service and cold prospects will be much more receptive. Leverage your expertise, relationships, knowledge and resources to create items of value your prospects will find useful.
You can’t serve potential homeowners if you don’t know them. Smart probing questions can reveal important details about your prospects, gauge their level of interest and help you to build rapport.
Lastly, follow up every prospecting encounter by securing their contact information. If you’re not adding value to their life, they won’t be inspired to reciprocate with their contact information.
If you follow these prospecting tips and practice them regularly, you’ll be surprised at how much and how rapidly your business will improve!