By Nico Hohman
The fourth quarter of 2016 just started, and in my world that means getting ready for a great 2017.
To do that, there is one business activity that I need to practice more than any other: prospecting.
Last year, I wrote a piece titled 8 Ways to Improve Your Daily Prospecting, and it was a smash hit, collecting the highest number of views on the YPN Lounge for 2015. That tells me I’m not alone in believing that daily prospecting is the most important tool for growing your real estate business.
To help you with your goals for the coming year—and to revisit some favorites from last year—here is my list of seven ways you can improve your prospecting in 2017.
1. Leveling Out Leads
The most important information you have as a real estate professional is your database of previous, current, and future clients. Without this list, you will have no leads, and without leads, you can’t expect to close any deals. Over time, you will need to update people’s information in your database. Whether it’s a new phone number, a new job, a new email address, get married, or have a child, all of these bits of information are important to know about your sphere, so be sure to stay on top of these changes. At least once a year, you should level out your lead list —or, as I call it, you should LOL your database. Reach out to your prospects and clients to get any updated or new contact information on them, their jobs, and their families. But don’t just reach out to say hello and get their information; offer something, like an invitation to lunch or a heads up about a cool community event to engage with them.
2. Calendar Checking
As I mentioned last year, most sales professionals rely as heavily on their calendars as their database, if not more so. Why not tap into that treasure trove of information? Most agents get stuck on how they’re going to prospect tomorrow, next week, and next month. To hone your prospecting skills, look back in your calendar a day, a week, or a month in the past and use your past appointments as jumping off points for future conversations. Did you have coffee with a new connection two weeks ago? Email them to say you had a great time, and offer some more details or thoughts about a conversation you had. Did you have a closing in the three months? Call your client to see how he or she is settling into their new home.
3. Thank You Thursdays
In a recent New York Times piece, writer Susanne Craig stresses the importance of checking your snail mail. Why is that? Because the most important bits of news come through the mail, not email. In some of my own research, I’ve found that about one-third of all my emails will be opened. You can almost double that open rate if the email is to someone who knows you. But, if you send a hand-written letter through the mail, you can bet the open rate on that will be at or near 100 percent.
I call Thursday afternoons my “Thank You Thursdays.” I spend the afternoon writing at least 10 hand-written thank you letters to people in my network. It could be to a client who just closed on a deal. It could be to a vendor that got a job done for my client. Or, it could be to someone who shared a useful piece of information. Whatever the case may be, a hand-written letter is a must-do for prospecting.
4. Community Participation
I follow the “Learn. Work. Give.” model when it comes to my efforts in bettering my community. In this model, I am called to give my time, talents, and treasures to those who need it more than I do. To give of my time, I first learn about the opportunities in my community where I can make a difference. I tour the local community resource center for homeless people, I learn about the after-school youth programs at my local public library, and many more. To give your talents and your treasures wisely, you have to learn what’s going on in your community.
Once you decide on the best way to get involved, you then need to get to work for that organization. Be it Little League, Girl Scouts, Parent-Teacher Association, or coastal clean-up organization, you need to put in some people-hours to have the greatest impact on that group.
Finally, you need to give of your treasures. Yes, it’s great to know about community causes and to volunteer for them. But to have the most impact, you need to donate your money to those causes, too.
After you complete the Learn. Work. Give. model, you will start to see a difference not only in your community but also in your business. People will begin to recognize who you are and what you stand for, and that builds trust and loyalty.
5. Social Media Exclusion
In 2016, I made a relatively bold move to par down my social media usage. That doesn’t mean I got rid of my social media profiles completely. I’m still a millennial, after all. But I did delete the Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest apps from my phone.
Social media exclusion simply means better defining your online messaging on fewer, more targeted channels. Unless you have a staff or third party vendor to manage all of your social media pages, it’s best to stick to two or three and make the most out of those platforms. That way you can spend more time posting and engaging with key people instead of simply having a profile on the platform.
Think of social media like a real life party. No one wants to hang out with the person in the middle of the room screaming about government and religion, and no one wants to hang out with the loner in the corner who isn’t doing anything either. The best party guest is the one who brings a bottle of wine, thanks the host, and gets along with the other party guests. Treat social media like that party and you’ll start to see a difference.
Podcasting is one of the fast growing ways for business professionals to share their message with the world. For the cost of a microphone and sound editing software—which, for some people, comes free with their smart phone or laptop—anyone can become a podcast producer.
As more and more people take public transportation to work or cut the cords to the cable company, more alternative media sources will be needed to fill the content voids. What better way to provide free content to your past, present, and future clients than with your very own podcast?
7. Business Resource Guide
Sure, almost everyone has an idea of what real estate agents do, but it’s still important to explain to people in your sphere how you can be a key resource when it comes to various aspects of their personal and business life. Does their house need a new A/C or HVAC system? As an agent, you can send your clients a list of trusted HVAC contractors. Are there cool, upcoming farmers’ markets happening in your town? Mail a flyer with the dates, time, and locations of these events to your sphere-of-influence. Don’t just sell a house, but offer a full suite of lifestyle hacks and tips. Make it part of your prospecting plan to become that trusted guide.
The next time you are sitting in front of your computer and you find yourself scratching your head wondering what it is you should be doing next, try one of these great prospecting tips and you’ll be sure to see the deals come rolling through the door in 2017.