Real estate prospecting – we all know how important it is.
There are many techniques out there. Some realtors prefer a traditional approach, some work digitally, while others have an hybrid approach. But it is important to know what works best for you, your clients and your goals as a real estate business.
Realtors getting started with real estate prospecting often have a lot of questions:
- Where should I start?
- What are the most common prospecting methods?
- How should I prioritize them?
- What tools should I use?
In this article, we will try to answer these questions.
First of all, what is real estate prospecting?
Real estate prospecting consists of reaching out to the largest number of relevant potential clients. In this article, we will tackle the "selling" side, meaning: reaching out to homeowners willing to sell. The goal is to secure a contract for selling their property. These sales contracts can be sole-agency (ideal!) or multiple-agency (shared with other real estate agents) contracts.
Your capacity to gain real estate listings depends on your ability to make your services known to potential clients. With more prospective clients, you will have more meetings and, as a result, more contracts. This is true for the property sector and the same holds for all other businesses. You must be in the right place at the right time.
Being PROACTIVE is the name of the game in real estate prospecting.
Door-to-door, cold calls, direct mail,... All methods are valid for increasing your visibility, acquiring prospects, and securing more sales contracts. It is up to you to choose the right mix by experimenting with different approaches. We will detail these different approaches later on. But first, let's talk about what needs to be done upfront.
Prepare the ground before you begin prospecting for potential clients
1. Establish and maintain your local network
As you can well imagine, for real estate agents, knowledge of a certain neighbourhood, town or region is indispensable. But it is not just about buildings and spaces. Above all, it is about relationships. To stand out as a real estate agent, it is vital to establish a local network, and to make the most of it.
How to establish a network? By taking part in community events and networking events, meeting with the owners of local restaurants and shops, and so on. The key is to show that you are truly invested in your area, and that you are not there just to seek out new sales opportunities. Of course, living in the area where you work goes a long way.
How to make the most of your network? Don’t be afraid of putting yourself forward, of enquiring among your contacts. In the long term, it is highly likely that word of mouth will do its job. Business owners and locals that trust you will keep you informed of new developments and recommend you to friends or neighbours. Take care of your network - it can get you the best referrals.
2. Get to know your potential clients
PriceHubble tip: Research the socio-economic characteristics of your area. Depending on the profile of those living there (average age, families or retirees, young professionals or students, well-off or low-income), you can adapt:
- Your message: Your potential clients have different needs, objectives and expectations.
- Your marketing strategy: Successful real estate agents adapt the communication channels depending on their prospects' characteristics.
But most importantly, you will be able to offer your potential real estate clients relevant information that will showcase your added value, your expertise and your in-depth knowledge of the area. There is no better way to create a trusted relationship.
What real estate prospecting methods are available to you?
The traditional lead generation methods
Now that you have worked on your local network and you have a clear idea of who your potential clients are, it is time to take action.
As for the more traditional methods, field prospecting immediately comes to mind. That is, door knocking or letterbox marketing (leafleting). You are most likely already familiar with these methods.
So, take out your business cards and don't forget to smile! These traditional approaches are perfect to get started and introduce yourself, your brand, the services you offer. At the end of the day, if prospects do not know that you exist, it is unlikely that they will ever call upon your services. And even if nobody needs your services right away, they may get in touch later.
Once you have gathered enough information on your potential clients through various conversations on your rounds, you can move on to telephone or text message prospecting.
Why not start this earlier? Above all, you should see automated approaches as an extension of your abilities, and not a replacement.
Think of it like this: it is impossible to automate your work if you do not know what to say in the first place. It seems simple, and yet many real estate agents forget about this point. Make sure that you have a good understanding of the issues facing your potential clients first. And it will serve you well. But let’s come back to the matter in hand – our different approaches available for real estate lead generation.
Phone calls (also called "cold calling") are most suited to prospective clients you have identified online or those that you have picked up on your door-to-door.
As for text message prospecting, the figures speak volumes: with a message opening rate of more than 90% (and in a short time frame after receiving them), it is an excellent tool for finding prospective clients.
What about digital prospecting?
More recent yet very effective, digital prospecting is central to achieving your objectives.
Outreach via email (also called email prospecting) is one of the most effective techniques. If they are well targeted, email marketing campaigns can bring great results.
Quick tip: spend plenty of time on the subject and opening line of your email. Next, write concisely and suggest one action only for the reader to make – that could be to visit your website, to call you, or to make an appointment online. You can find plenty of templates online.
But digital prospecting is much more than emails, and it starts much earlier. Building a real estate marketing strategy will help you attract prospective clients in an efficient way. Blog articles, social media marketing, or even offering free online valuations are some of the cards you can use to secure contracts. Please note that you should pay extra attention to choose a very reliable valuation tool. Many valuation tools generate somewhat unreliable estimations.
Through blog articles or social media posts, you get to promote your expertise. You can share who you are and what makes you unique. But most importantly, these are resources that your prospects can find and use 24/7. Even if you are not available, a potential client can find you through searches, read your content, and even request to be contacted. This potential clients then becomes a real estate lead. This is what inbound marketing is all about.
Be transparent, always
Use transparency to your advantage. Give your future clients all the information they need to make a well-informed decision.
More (and better!) information = more trust.
But most of all, more information = quicker decision-making.
By offering your potential clients transparent insights into the market, you become a trusted party.
You should provide your potential clients with reliable information on the property market, comparable prices and rents, and details on the surrounding area and local amenities of the property that they intend to sell or let. They will be convinced that you really know what you are talking about.
These new digital tools will allow you to capture the attention of your potential clients by focusing on the information that is of real interest to them: price and property size, trends in their neighbourhood, developments among properties similar to their own, and evolutions in property prices.
Combining approaches to find what suits you best
In this article, we have covered traditional methods as well as some digital techniques, such as email or text message prospecting and even digital marketing with blog articles and social media.
These approaches can all work by themselves, but they are much more effective when they are mixed together at different stages in the process of searching for potential clients.
Digital methods are no better than traditional ones, nor does the contrary hold true. We believe that the best real estate agents take a hybrid approach that tailored to their prospects.
It is only through experimentation that you will find the right mix. Your own approach.
What's the ideal time for prospecting?
It’s simple: all the time.
As with many sectors, the real estate industry is seasonal.
The real estate market peaks between April and June, with families wanting to move during the summer holidays. The arrival of spring and the return of better weather after the winter has an influence on your prospects' mood. Both buyers and sellers want to move forward with their property-related projects. There are also a lot of annual property reviews published at that time of year in the mainstream and specialized media. You can often find reports on where to invest, whether to move to the countryside, the best places to retire to, etc.
To maximize the number of contracts secured no matter the period, it is essential to lay the foundations throughout the year. With more contacts and a larger potential client base, you will not have to carry out as much “direct” prospecting later on. After all, what you can do today, you won't have to do tomorrow.
Cultivating relationships with your potential clients
Once the initial prospecting is complete, the work is far from over. Actually, it is only the beginning.
Your new leads – whether they be those that you have met, those that you have been able to speak with over the phone, or even those that have visited your website – do not all have the same “value”.
Some are homeowners. That means, their property is ready for sale and they are searching for an agency to support them in the process. Hold on tight to those clients!
For the rest, you will need to follow-up. Sometimes, a few weeks will be enough. But more often, this will go on for several months or even several years. In these cases, you will need to put in place a follow-up system to ensure that no potential client is missed. There are a lot of tools out there to help you automate the process.
To prioritize your follow-ups and prospecting efforts, an effective approach used by sales teams is to concentrate your time and efforts on “pre-qualified” leads. These are prospects that are already on your radar. They may have visited your blog or made a valuation request on your website. Or you may have already met them or sold property for them several years ago.
Real estate prospecting – A matter of perseverance and patience
To summarize, the most efficient approach to real estate prospecting is to use both traditional and digital tools.
The right mix will allow you to understand the needs of your prospects. Once you understand them, you can tailor your offline/online marketing and prospecting strategies to their needs. But beyond that, it will help you to secure a first face-to-face meeting, which will put you on the map and give you a start towards signing the contract.