Every agent has reluctance to prospect, and everyone has their own set of reasons why they don't like this critical part of the business. Most people fear rejection or take the rejection personally, or they don't know what to say. Some even feel that making these calls is beneath them or makes them appear "slimy". Here are some other top reasons for the reluctance of prospecting:
- Don't want to be considered a pesky telemarketer,
- Have a hard time picking up the phone or starting the conversation,
- Don't know what to say, or don't have a sales pitch,
- Don't want to interrupt anyone,
- Don't know who to call,
- Feel it's a waste of time because no one ever answers the phone, and
- Fear of failure.
Prospecting is a mindset. If you tell yourself that this part of the job is going to be horrible, then it will be horrible, but if you change the way you view prospecting in positive way, it won't be as difficult.
Prospecting should be viewed as a way of "getting the gold", which would be your opportunity to get a lead, client, listing or a sale. Instead, agents tend to look at prospecting in a completely opposite and negative way. Prospecting won't be so hard and frustrating if you can follow these simple and basic tips on how to prospect effectively:
- § Know your values: First things first: it's critical to remind yourself why you are doing what you're doing. Remember what your driving force is, whether it's spending more time with your family, a vacation, or even the mortgage payment.
- § Start slow: Don't force yourself to make a hundred calls a day. Set aside a certain amount of time that will be dedicated to prospecting, or determine how many calls you want to make daily.
- § Make it a daily appointment: Set a scheduled time every day for making these calls as if it were an appointment you can't miss. Scheduling calls in the morning is a good way to get it out of the way.
- § Have a purpose: Most people talk too long on calls because they don't have a purpose or a motivation for the call. Know the purpose of the call before you make the call.
- § Know your audience: It's important to know who you are calling and how you will present your sales pitch. You wouldn't use the same phrases for an "expired listing" client as you would for a "for sale by owner" client.
- § Have a script: If you don't have a script you will talk forever. Following a script helps you to state your purpose effectively, but once you're off the script you may find yourself in never-never land. A good script (50 words or less) will help you to stay on track and say what you need to say to create a long term relationship.
- § Make a written script your own: There are many prospecting scripts available, but you want to make your script your own. Practice your written script until it becomes your own, trying to use your own verbiage or dialogue.
- § Memorize a script: Once you have made the script your own, memorize it so it doesn't sound canned, but don't forget to answer any questions that the client may have during the process.
- § Smile: When you speak, smile! This sets the tone for your call and people can tell by your voice if you are smiling.
- § Speak slowly and clearly: Make sure to pronounce your words fully and correctly. If you speak too fast, the message may get lost.
- § Be assertive: Too many times, real estate agents are frowned upon because they come off like used car salesmen who are aggressive and pushy. There are effective ways to make a sale that don't involve being arrogant and overzealous. Being assertive means saying or doing something in a polite and considerate manner.
- § State your purpose: People want you to be straight and to the point. Begin your conversation with, "The reason I'm calling is..." This will allow you the opportunity to have a more direct conversation; otherwise you may come across as misleading.
- § Pay attention: Be aware of your own tone and set the right atmosphere for your call by understanding where the prospective client is coming from. Some agents have even suggested "matching the client's tone," even if they are mad. You will then appear empathic to their resistance.
- § Listen carefully: Now pay attention to the first words spoken from the prospective client. Do they sound irritated, or are they chewing food? This will be a good indicator if you are calling at an inappropriate time. If they are busy, ask them when would be a good time to call back, and then make sure to do so.
- § Know how to answer questions: If you have a call that is going well, it's likely that the client will have some questions to ask. Prepare yourself with a list of potential questions that could be asked, along with your answers.
- § Don't initiate major business: Try not to go into details about your marketing plan, commission, etc. Those details are better left for your face-to-face presentation.
- § Avoid confrontation: Don't take the bait if a prospective client is angry with real estate agents in general. Avoid any conversations that will place you in an unwanted battle.
- § Tape your calls: Tape yourself and listen to your pitch. Be aware of what you're saying and how you're saying it. This is a highly effective tool in seeing where you may have missed opportunities or gotten off track. By listening to your tapes, you may also realize that you ignored questions.
- § Make the appointment: Ask open-ended questions that will lead you in the direction of getting an appointment.
Who Should You Call?
There isn't one business in the world that hasn't been successful without making sales calls, and as great as the internet may be, you can't wait for things to happen off of those types of leads.
Prospecting doesn't have to equate to cold calling. Good places to start if you think you have no one to call are: past clients, friends, expired or withdrawn listings, just listed, for sale by owners, just sold, or rentals.
One agent has a monthly phone blitz where her entire staff makes prospecting calls. She makes it a festive day with prizes for those who set up an appointment. The staff doesn't mind making the calls because they know everyone else is doing it, too.
Overcoming the Fear
If after all this you are still feeling reluctant, try to visualize your success. See it, think it, and believe it. Always set result and activity goals, and don't forget to reward yourself. Remember to concentrate on the client and to be prepared for any obstacles. And lastly, realize that prospecting leads to money in the bank. One agent hates to prospect and instead she claims, "I don't prospect, I'm just on the phone all day."