There’s a lot of money to be made in real estate. But only if you have enough leads in your pipeline.
Many people rely on realtors to buy or sell their home. In fact, according to the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors, 89% of all home purchases last year were completed through a broker or realtor.
Even more impressive, 68% of buyers only interviewed a single real estate agent before signing them up to help with their search. And 90% of them would use the same realtor again for future real estate endeavors.
If you can capture new leads and convert them into clients, there’s a good chance they will become a long-term customer for your agency.
Real estate prospecting takes a great deal of creative effort and discipline. Besides standard operating procedures, like networking and door knocking, you must also get inventive when generating leads into your funnel.
Creative social media campaigns, getting involved in your community and content marketing are a few ways you can improve your real estate prospecting game for better results. We’ll discuss those in more detail later on.
But first, to get real estate leads for new agents and seasoned experts, you have to have a solid prospecting plan.
Game plan: Make prospecting part of your realtor routine
The only way a realtor can be successful at prospecting is to be methodical with it. Neglecting it can lead to an empty pipeline and an empty bottom line, which isn’t doing your business any good.
In fact, the 2018 Real Estate Marketing Strategy Survey Report by Placester found real estate agents’ biggest pain point when it came to marketing was actually following through with their strategies and ideas:
That’s why being organized and having a prospecting plan is crucial to survival. Prioritize it on your daily and weekly calendar—your commission will thank you for it.
How your prospecting calendar looks will depend on what type of prospecting you plan on doing. It’s best to build out your calendar by creating custom tasks that fit your specific needs. Here are a few prospecting tips and samples:
Step 1: Create
Create a calendar and fill it with real estate tasks related to your preferred prospecting efforts. For example, prospecting activities can include phone calls, emails, blog posts and maintaining your Facebook ad campaigns.
This way, you’ll know exactly which tasks you need to complete without getting sidetracked.
Step 2: Be consistent
Next, make sure that your prospecting effort is continuous. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re setting aside time every day, or at least every week, to prospect.
This could be allocating a block of time to it during your day, or making sure you reach a threshold of time (for example, 20 hours per month) that you’ve dedicated solely to prospecting.
During this time, just prospect. Don’t distract yourself with paper pushing or administration tasks.
Step 3: Stick to the plan
Finally, stick to your plan. Prospecting is one of the most long-term but profitable tasks you can do. A consistent and constant approach to prospecting will eventually land results in your funnel.
As it becomes part of your routine, you’ll be able to complete tasks quicker and setting time aside for prospecting will begin to feel second nature.
Now that you know how to build a prospecting schedule, let’s dive into what you can do to up your prospecting game and get more leads.
Tip 1: Network, network, network
Because friends and family are the easiest people to do business with, you must let everyone know you are a real estate agent. You never know what fruits will shake from the friends and family tree.
While this is a good place to start, it’s not a one-time event. You have to remind your close network that you’re available to help them find a new home time and time again, without being bothersome, of course.
“I am currently a top producing agent in my marketplace due to my proactive, activity-based approach towards generating listings and sales,” said Dan Mumm, a Zillow-verified top-producing agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Las Vegas.
Mumm closed more than 20 deals in his first year. He suggests calling, texting and sending messages on social media. Track your efforts with a CRM and don't stop after a single effort.
“Most people are not going to give you a referral the first time you speak to them,” Mumm said.
“It is imperative to reach out to your sphere of influence regularly, at least once a quarter, to stay on the top of their mind.”
Make this outreach part of a larger strategy that involves setting activity-based goals for your business.
Tip 2: Follow-up on every lead and be persistent
Successful realtors are relentless about following up on their leads. If you aren’t tenacious in your follow-ups, you’re leaving money on the table.
If you feel like persistently following up with leads is annoying your prospects, you may be in the wrong game. Typically, contact with a prospect rarely happens on the first attempt, and you may need to make up to six calls (over a number of weeks) to make contact with a lead.
Another reason why realtors don’t follow up on every lead is due to a lack of a streamlined system. Storing contact information, keeping communication records and following up in a timely way is crucial to generating leads.
Chris Taylor, a broker with Advantage Real Estate in Boston, says that one of his “best realtor prospecting tips is to keep meticulous notes! Keep a record of anything and everything you learn about a prospect.”
Keeping notes on prospects makes you stronger and more memorable in your follow up. For example, if they’ve mentioned a spouse, a job or a favorite sports team, keeping this information on file will give you an edge over other realtors when you make contact with the prospect again—it’ll also make it easier to find a home that suits their needs.
In a lot of cases, realtors miss out on landing a client simply because they didn’t follow up properly or in a timely manner. Remember the earlier stat about 68% of buyers only interviewing one realtor before signing up with them?
Following up with clients in a meaningful way will inevitably lead to higher conversions. Follow up properly by leading with value. Personalize them based on your prospects’ needs and be resourceful about the content you include.
Use a real estate CRM to save time
Following up with every lead can be exhausting. The key to following up with leads without tiring yourself out is to automate the process. A real estate CRM will vastly help you track your efforts.
CRM tools have a variety of nifty features to help you stay organized, like allowing you to conveniently sync your schedule into it so it can remind you to follow up and complete certain tasks.
Moreover, CRM tools can automate tasks to save you time and effort that could be spent elsewhere.
For example, if you meet prospects at a networking event, you can add them to your CRM and it can either follow-up for you, or prompt you to follow-up with a call. This ensures a level of consistent communication with new leads that will help to nurture relationships.
Once you’re back in the office, all you have to do is add these prospects to your CRM database as new leads, and set up your CRM to automatically follow up with them via email or text message.
If you prefer to connect with leads over the phone, you can set up your CRM so it sends you a notification, meaning you won’t forget to give them a call.
But the real sweet spot with CRMs is the versatility they give you with automation follow-ups. You can set up a sequence of follow-up emails after an open house, or a completely different set of emails if someone has shown interest and submitted their details for a property online. Choose the set that fits the scenario and sit back while it works its magic for you.
Constantly nurturing your leads is key. Being at the top of a prospect’s inbox is sometimes the best way to get a prospect to sign up to your agency, and a CRM platform can help you get there.
3. Nurture and appreciate past clients
We now know that finalizing a sale with a client doesn’t mean your relationship ends there. In fact, with more than 90% of clients willing to use the same realtor for future deals, your past clients can become your agency’s bread and butter.
The average homeowner in the US will sell their home and move into another, on average, every 10 years. But if we look into that statistic a little deeper, it reveals that millennials are actually selling up a lot quicker than older age groups.
That means by keeping in touch regularly after you sell a home, not only will a past client likely use you as their realtor again in the future, but will also recommend you to their own network as well.
Make sure to nurture past clients like any other lead in your funnel. Your history with them should give you a wealth of information to back-up your interactions and keep your communications in check.
You’ve likely got their birthday, favorite sports team or wedding anniversary on file. Use these valuable nuggets of information as your segway to touching base with them. Then see where they’re at with their real estate plans, and if they’re looking to move on, capitalize on the moment.
Build this task into your prospecting calendar. Make time every quarter to reach out to past clients you’ve had successful deals with.
Pro-Tip: If you use a real estate CRM, you can set up an automation funnel to take care of this task for you. Once you sell a house for a client, or help them find their dream home, you can move them into a follow-up funnel in your CRM. That way, they can be automatically sent a check-in email every quarter, or six months, to see how they’re going.
You might forget to follow up with these crucial leads, but your CRM won’t.
Tip 4: Find leads online in the right places
Every realtor uses the internet to find new leads, as there are dozens of channels where their ideal prospects can be found online. And 50% of new homebuyers find their new home on the internet.
But where exactly on the internet are these leads being found?
In the Real Estate in a Digital Age report by the National Association of Realtors, social media brings in the highest quality leads with 47% of the internet share. The MLS site brings in 32% of high-quality leads, and a realtor’s own website grabs 29% of the leads.
And, according to the report, the younger the buyer, the more likely they are to be hunting the web for their next house.
This is partly due to how digitalization has changed the way people search for things, including their next home. As social media is the top place to find quality leads on the internet, you can’t afford to be neglecting it as a tool to generate leads.
Build prospecting campaigns on Facebook
Facebook is the perfect platform for realtors because of its robust targeting capabilities.
For example, you can run an ad on Facebook and have it target for specific ages, genders and those in a certain geographical area, which is ideal for realtors as they often work in location-based niches.
Realtors have clearly caught onto the benefits of this powerful tool. According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors, 80% of realtors are now using Facebook to nurture leads and connect with their community.
But targeting for basic demographics is just the tip of the iceberg of Facebook’s campaign capabilities. You can filter people by things like annual income, if they’ve ever owned a house before and even if their behavior shows they’re likely to move home soon.
Yes, Facebook has the ability to track a user’s online activity and allows you to use this data to target them based on these specific behaviors.
To start your own Facebook ad campaigns, create a profile on Facebook Ads Manager and link in your agency’s Facebook page. Once you’ve linked your Facebook page, you can create an advertising campaign.
Your targeted audience for a property will vary hugely on the selling price, location and target market. But a general starting list for your detailed targeting could include:
- First-time homebuyer behavior
- Annual Income
- Likely to move behavior
- If they’ve interacted with Real Estate pages like Trulia or Zillow
- Home buying interest behavior (buying a house, starter home, first-time buyer, etc.)
- If the home is near a school or has a certain number of bedrooms, you might want to target families
Okay, getting savvy at Facebook targeting does require a bit of time and effort. However, by setting aside a bit of time in your prospecting calendar to learn and master Facebook ads, you’ll be able to add a powerful tool to your prospecting arsenal.
Engage millennials on Instagram
59% of millennials now use Instagram regularly. But only 11.9% of realtors are using it regularly as a lead generation platform.
Just like Facebook, you can run ads on Instagram, and as both social media platforms are owned by the same company, most Facebook ad types allow you to easily mirror your campaign on Instagram.
However, Instagram’s platform alone can be a successful lead generation tool without the need for paid advertising.
According to a recent report from Bank of America, Instagram can be a motivating tool to get millennials interested in buying a property. The report found that 21% of respondents said they want to buy a house due to FOMO, or ‘fear of missing out’, and a further 27% who, having seen pictures of homes posted on Instagram, feel if their peers can buy a home, they can too.
The secret to targeting these potential buyers for free? #hashtags.
Like the example above from Alisha Pagan, using the right real estate hashtags can boost your agency to rank higher in an Instagram search. Hashtags can improve your searchability and follower count, which will give you a wider platform to share images of happy customers and your newest listings (hint: FOMO).
Pro-tip: If your agency uses CRM software, you can use third-party integrations to keep track of interactions you have with leads through social media. Check out the Pipedrive Marketplace for integration options. If you connect with a prospect over Facebook or Instagram, you can store every conversation inside the CRM. This can help to build and nurture your relationship with the client, and personalize your conversations with them after the initial contact.
Tip 5: Get involved in content marketing
If you’re pursuing a career as a real estate agent, it helps to select a niche in the market. Whether it’s first-time homebuyers or multi-unit properties, choose something and then capitalize in your area of expertise. Do this by creating some clever how-to videos or putting together regular blog posts to share your unique knowledge and build your brand.
Content marketing tactics for new real estate agents include:
- Blog posts
- Social media memes
- How-to videos
- Behind-the-scenes tips
The type of content that works best for Fitzgerald is anything that strikes an emotional chord with his audience. For instance, his article “10 Reasons to Sell with a Realtor” performed very well on social media because real estate agents shared it. He’s also had good luck writing advice and answering new agents’ questions.
Savvy content marketing efforts are cumulative. Every piece of content you produce to build your personal real estate brand should build on all the others, but be unique to your voice and highlight the strengths that set you apart from the crowd.
Tip 6: Become a data nerd for your area
As in most industries, deep knowledge is power in real estate. Both buyers and sellers respect agents who know things they don’t and can speak intelligently to trends, new laws or long-term economic outlooks for an area.
“Get involved in your local government,” says Shelley Griffin, a Harcourts agent who’s ranked consistently among the top producing individual agents in the real estate market in Central Oregon, and ranked No. 10 out of all agents in the Harcourts USA network.
“Go to city council meetings or chamber meetings to get a good understanding of how your town works.”
Focus on a single area and spend the necessary time to learn it inside and out. Things like understanding the school systems and any issues like zoning or new building plans in that area will be hugely helpful when talking with prospective clients.
“Get your hands on as many statistics as you can and then know them,” Griffin said.
“Every time you meet someone and tell them you're a Realtor, they will ask you, ‘How's the market?’ If you know the statistics you can answer in an intelligent, knowledgeable way and they will remember that.”
In other words, if clicking around on your local county assessor’s website is your idea of a good time, you’ll do well. Maintain a methodical approach as you study, and take local decision makers out for lunch or coffee to get the real story on what’s going on in your area. It’s your job.
Tip 7: Reach out to local employers
Do you have any large companies in your area with a ton of employees? If so, these businesses could give you a pool of potential leads.
A lot of larger businesses relocate employees from interstate, and sometimes overseas. And all of these employees need somewhere to live.
Reach out to their HR departments and request a casual meeting. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, you can let the company know that you’re willing to work alongside them to make their employees transition to a new area a bit easier.
Many employees may want to rent, especially if they’re temporarily relocating, or contracting for a local company. You should use the meeting with a company’s HR department to show off your local knowledge and how your agency can assist with both rentals and home purchases.
Be prepared. Have your agency's information ready, and take a stack of marketing materials you can leave with the HR department to pass onto their new (and current) employees.
Tip 8: Focus your efforts on securing first appointments
Don’t think about all the closings you’ll soon be attending. Think about appointments, appointments, appointments.
This is the sales pipeline input over which you have control and the activity that is most likely to lead to the closings of your dreams.
“New agents need to understand their key performance indicators—this means knowing how their efforts and milestones end up producing commission,” says Patrick Sprouse, president of Autus Real Estate and Development in Washington, D.C., and Houston.
Sprouse explained that key performance indicators are the foundational structure of a real estate business plan, and include leads, first appointments, service agreements, contracts executed and sales or leases signed.
“For most agents, the key performance indicator holy grail should be first appointments,” Sprouse said.
“Most agents will win the business of 30-50% of the clients they meet with on a first appointment—so the key activities, especially early on, should be getting first appointments.”
Key activities for new agents:
- Door knocking
- Holding open houses for other agents
- Building email lists
It’s helpful to know that you're selling a service and working for specific results (first appointments), as opposed to deals in general. Methodical real estate processes and analytical tracking is required to create results.
Tip 9: Get involved in your community
Successful real estate agents have a passion for the community in which they live. It helps enormously to know the area well and take a problem-solving attitude to everything involving the real estate business, from securing a home loan to fixing a crumbling driveway.
“One thing technology will have a hard time replacing is relationships,” said Aaron Norris, a real estate investor in Chicago. “Some of the most successful agents I see in town serve on boards, volunteer their time, don't miss a single chamber meeting and are just awesomely integrated into the community.”
Because people prefer to buy from people they like and already know, one of your key sales activities as a new agent is getting to know a lot of people.
“Be actively involved with anything that you love, that gets you around others that love the same thing... church groups, book clubs, volleyball teams, school events, et cetera,” says Kyle Alfriend, a team leader at Re/Max Achievers in Dublin, Ohio.
“Make sure it is something you love doing: everyone can sense it if you are there only for the business.”
Last year, Alfriend hired two agents with no experience. One is a mother of teens, and worried about the use of drugs in the school system. She connected with the local DARE officers to start hosting parent information meetings. She coordinates the meetings and introduces the speakers.
According to Alfriend, as a result of contacts made through this activity, she sold nine homes in her first seven months.
The second hire is a recent college grad who played soccer. He’s now a volunteer soccer coach for young children, connecting to growing families. According to Alfriend, through this activity he sold four homes in his first six months.
Connecting with your community in a meaningful way to naturally grow your network of contacts and referrals is a key sales activity. It’s also a great way to get to know your neighbors on a deeper level.
Tip 10: Become a Zillow Premier Agent
This one might not be for everyone.
The 2018 Real Estate Marketing Strategy Survey found some realtors are looking to ditch portals like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com to generate leads.
But there’s no doubt if Zillow Premier Agent is used correctly, it can produce a decent ROI for realtors.
Zillow gets over 160 million visitors per month. By abandoning it, realtors are potentially leaving a good chunk of change behind. By registering as a Zillow Premier Agent, you’re given exclusivity on listings where you’re the seller’s agent. You’re also able to advertise on local listings provided by non-premier realtors.
However, this does come at a cost, and each area has its own rates that Zillow charges. Check out the rates for your chosen area here.
Tip 11: Contact FSBO listings
FSBO listings can be a lead generating gold mine.
In a way, the owners of each listing have already been validated. They’re ready to sell and their properties are on the market. The way to turn these listings into leads is to target the ones that may have been sitting on the site for a little too long.
Hit them hard. Cold call these real estate leads and demonstrate just how much money they’re losing if their property sits on the market for too long.
The 2017 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found FSBOs typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes. FSBO homes sold at a median of $190,000 in 2017, while the median selling price of all homes was significantly higher at $249,000. Agent-assisted homes sold for a median of $250,000.
Talking with a lead about differences in selling prices should at least be able to get the prospect to stay on a call with you so you can talk them through your process further. That is, until you face their biggest objection: commission.
Before the call, do some math on how much commission your agency might consider taking for their selling price. The seller may be happy to hear that it’s a small price to pay when compared against the selling price.
Pro-tip: Use software to help you screen FSBO listings. A tool like REDX can scan FSBO listings across multiple sources the day they hit the market and email them to you immediately. It’s a worthwhile hack to contact the seller before another agent has the chance to.
Tip 12: Ask for referrals
Referrals are like golden tickets in the real estate world. They cost nothing and they build a certain level of trust in your agency before a prospect has even met you.
In fact, 39% of sellers who used a real estate agent found their realtor on a recommendation from family or friends.
After you close a deal, do you always ask for a referral? You should be. When it comes to selling, whether it’s real estate or software, top performers are constantly asking for referrals. Meanwhile, the average performers aren’t. Simple.
If you’ve nailed a sale for your client by getting them the asking price they wanted and selling their property in an acceptable time frame, they’re going to give you a good referral.
The problem is, a lot of realtors just aren’t asking for one. And by failing to do so, prospects might never hear of the amazing job you did with your client and that you’re available to do the same for them.
Timing is everything. Don’t ask your client for a referral on the day they move in. Wait a couple of weeks for the dust to settle, and then ask for recommendations to their family and friends.
Better yet, send them a small gift for their move-in day. And not the cheesy wine gift basket, either. If they’re foodies, send them a recommendation to a restaurant, or if they’re sports fans maybe some tickets to a game.
Capitalize on your personal experiences with your clients to strike an emotional chord and land more business.
Tip 13: Use the tools at your disposal
Even with a great prospecting strategy in place, it’s easy to let some potential customers slip through your fingers.
Say someone mentions your business to a friend who’s looking to buy new business property, and they visit your website but don’t get in touch. Or someone on your team gets a call out of the blue but isn’t able to get all the necessary information down.
The right tools can step in to prevent you from losing prospects through the gaps in your process.
JustCall, for example, automatically tracks all your inbound and outbound calls. You can even record your calls to listen back, so you never misinterpret a caller’s intent.
Or, if you don’t have a 24/7 team, you could integrate AI webchat tool LeadBooster to ask the right questions and add hot leads straight into your sales process.
Prospecting for new buyers and sellers is a totally different ball game compared to other industries.
You need to be out there constantly hustling, getting to know your community and making it known that you’re an expert in a specific niche who can offer valuable insights that competitors fail to provide.
While newer tactics like content marketing, social media advertising and chasing FSBO listings are all killer prospecting tactics, don’t forget about the old school techniques. Networking, chasing up open house leads and asking for referrals are still all fantastic ways to fill your pipeline with new leads.
It’s a lot of groundwork, but with real estate software like CRMs becoming more popular, the good news is a lot of tasks like follow-ups can now be automated.
Automate as much of your sales process as possible, and free up your day to hustle, mix with the locals and get your name known in your area.