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No matter how great your product, without leads you’ll go broke.
Nikola Tesla invented the radio, the X-Ray and AC electricity — three of the most important inventions in history, yet died penniless. After inventing the AC motor and failing to get his company Tesla Electric Light Company off the ground, he had no choice but to take a job digging ditches for $2 a day.
More leads solve all problems. With that said, I’ve come up with a long list of ways to generate more real estate leads than you can handle.
1. Wake up early
Wake up earlier than anyone else is willing to so you can plan your day and get organized. If most agents sleep eight hours each night and you sleep six, that extra two hours adds up to 730 hours or 30 days of additional productivity each year. You can give yourself an entire month head start on the competition.
2. Call clients
Speak with (don’t leave a message for) 60 clients, referral sources or prospects over the phone each week. Create time blocks each morning to make these calls so they don’t get shuffled to the side when something more important comes along.
3. Set meetings with potential clients
Meet 15 clients, referral sources or prospects face-to-face every week. Schedule set days each week for these meetings to stay organized.
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4. Stack your lunch and coffee meetings at the same restaurant
Instead of meeting three different people at three different restaurants on three different days, meet all three of them on the same day, at the same restaurant, one after another.
Strategically schedule these meetings so each party will benefit from an introduction. As each meeting ends, introduce the departing party to your new guest.
For example, if you’re meeting a client at 11 a.m., a financial planner at noon, and a CPA at 1 p.m., as your first appointment ends, introduce your client to the financial planner. As your noon meeting ends, introduce the financial planner to the CPA. All parties will benefit from the introductions.
Over time, the wait staff and hostess will learn your name and give you the best tables. This combined with the introductions will intrigue your guests, and give them the sense that you are plugged into the community.
5. Channel accounts
Find out who dominates your professional markets (Google it or ask friends and past clients), then call these individuals to meet face-to-face. Tell them from time to time you have clients that need a good attorney, banker, insurance agent, etc., and you want to make sure they are in good hands.
Work your database to refer business to them. Schedule a specific time each week to call your channel accounts, and either refer them new business or check on existing referrals.
Most salespeople know the value of a referral, and they’ll go out of their way to return the favor. You’ll have sales contracts coming out of your ears before you know it.
6. Talk to divorce attorneys
We all know a few people who are divorced. Ask them to rank the attorneys they used on a scale of one to 10. Set a meeting with any attorney ranked eight or higher.
7. Introduce your life insurance agent
Life insurance agents talk to a lot of people each week. Not only are they are privy to their clients’ current financial situation, but the good ones also know their clients’ long-term personal and financial plans — like when they plan to buy or sell a house.
After each closing, it’s a good idea to have your life insurance agent meet with your client post-closing to review coverage. A family that just took out a larger mortgage might need to heightened policies for protection from the unexpected.
8. Work with personal bankers
Many homebuyers go to their bank before seeking out an agent to make sure they can get a loan. Not everyone has a relationship with a mortgage lender, so these people will visit their local branch and talk to their banker. Bankers will typically refer unrepresented buyers to their lender.
If you are not a part of the team with the banker and mortgage lender, you remove your ability to control the client experience. We all know that no matter how good a job you do finding the perfect house, if you have a bad lender, it will sour the transaction for everyone.
What can you do for the banker? Make an effort to introduce buyers to your banker post-closing, and tell them how wonderful he or she is. Unless your buyers are moving within the same ZIP code, they are not likely to have a local banking contact and will need one anyway.
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9. Discover the best financial planners or wealth managers in your market
If your client sells his or her house and walks away with a large sum of cash, he or she will need guidance on what to do with that money. Make sure they end up in good hands!
A new analysis from the Government Accountability Office found one-third to two-thirds of workers are at risk of falling short of their retirement savings targets.
You don’t want your clients ending up on the wrong end of that statistic. Find out who the best financial planners in your market are, and get to know them.
Solid relationships with successful financial planners will pay massive dividends for you in the long run. Remember, their clients trust them with their life savings, so they will usually trust the financial planner’s recommendation on a real estate agent.
10. Find a good commercial lender
Commercial lenders enjoy a similar level of trust with their clients as financial advisers, and can send you a ton of business. Your self-employed buyers and sellers will always want access to capital, so it’s a win-win to make these introductions.
After you find a good commercial lender, it can be helpful to open a bank account with the bank for your real estate practice as a gesture of goodwill.
11. Host regular happy hours and invite referral sources and past clients
Partner with your channel accounts, and give everyone their first two drinks free. Host a happy hour next month with your financial planner, and invite people from your database who you can introduce.
Have your financial planner do the same. The result will be a mix of people who have done business with you mingling with new prospects, which is a wonderful thing for everyone.
12. Throw a housewarming party 30 days after your buyers close on their new house
Throw a housewarming party, and tell the owners you will invite their new neighbors and cater food and drinks. All they have to do is show up to the party. Partner with your attorney and lender to split the cost.
It’ll cost you $100 max; it’s fun, and the three of you will go home with at least one or two new leads every time.
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13. Write handwritten thank-you notes to referral sources and current clients every time you get a referral
Use unbranded stationary, and write the note immediately after receiving the referral. Don’t make a phone call until the letter is written, stamped and in the mailbox.
Do this every time you get a referral from someone — not just the first time. The recipient won’t think it’s weird to receive five thank-you cards for five separate referrals — he or she will feel valued and probably copy you.
Everyone knows that this is a good practice, but 99 percent of salespeople don’t do it. Some make a phone call to say thanks; others don’t even expound that much effort. Do yourself a favor and join the 1 percent. Your bank account will thank you.
Appreciation that is not expressed is often interpreted as the exact opposite of appreciation. Ever do something nice for someone and the person didn’t even acknowledge your effort? Same thing.
The most common obstacle is not having stamps, stationary, etc., on hand. So go ahead and hop in the car and get your supplies, so you can keep them with you at all times.
14. Create a home finder website, and pay for Google leads
Companies such as Commissions Inc. and Kunversion help with this, and provide a customer relationship management (CRM) platform for lead follow-up.
Expect a three to six month period before you close your first deal; however, you should begin to consistently close business each month after that. Ask your lender if he or she will split the cost.
15. Advertise through Zillow, and partner with a lender to share the cost
You can get a lot of business through Zillow if you’re willing to call your leads within five minutes of receipt. However, if you are going to wait a day or even an hour to call your leads, Zillow is not for you.
I recently had lunch with a top producing Realtor who closed 50 transactions this year without any support staff. Zillow is his primary lead generation source. He told me Zillow is so important to his business that he would sell his car before he gave up his ZIP code.
If you plan to advertise through Zillow, ask past clients to rate their experience. If you show up on Zillow alongside another Realtor, and you have three reviews compared to their 60, who do you think the buyer is going to call?
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16. Create your own website in addition to the one your broker gives you
Most people you meet with will Google you when they get home. Having a well-put-together website will help legitimize your business in the eyes of your prospects.
17. Develop a niche and own it
People gravitate toward specialists. Or even better — write a blog about your niche and backlink to your business website. A constant stream of new content will keep your site at the top of the search engine results page.
18. Hire a coach — it will change your life
Many people who are already extremely successful (Kobe Bryant, Hugh Jackman and Leonardo DiCaprio to name a few) employ outside coaches to stay at the top of their respective trades. If they need a coach, don’t we need one, too?
19. Wear name badge out in public
Talk to people you don’t know while waiting in line at the grocery store. They will see from your name tag that you’re an agent, and often the conversation will naturally gravitate toward real estate and present opportunities.
20. Use a “coming soon” sign before officially listing a property
This generates buzz and gets the word out without adding to your days-on-market number. It’s always nice to say you sold a house without it even hitting the market.
21. Host and attend open houses
There are a lot of unrepresented buyers walking around at open houses. Go meet them!
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Regardless of your strategy for 2016, the key to success is sticking with your plan long enough for your new behaviors to become habits. Habits take minimal effort to maintain, yet over time produce powerful results. It takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.
So pick your plan, stay with it for 66 days, and generate more leads than you can handle. Otherwise you might end up like Nikola Tesla.
Tony Davis is a senior loan officer in Atlanta, Georgia. He specializes in providing purchase and refinance mortgages to homebuyers and existing homeowners, and serves as a consultant for real estate agents.
Email Tony Davis.
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