I speak with a lot of real estate agents during my strategy sessions and I have noticed a pattern. Well, I have noticed a few patterns and it concerns me. After talking with these agents, I have found that a lot of these agents are not aware of the software on the market that can make their lives MUCH easier.
As a marketer, it is my job to educate the marketplace with what is available. It is my duty to show you how you can use it to your advantage to work more efficiently. It is also my job to educate you on how to use these pieces of software together to grow your real estate business.
I then saw the need to educate the marketplace, on a broader scale. Remember, I use software to use my time more efficiently, too. So, I recently hosted a webinar teaching agents how to automate their lead generation to increase their leads, listings and bottom line profits.
It’s the same reason I use this blog, I can teach a lot more to the marketplace by leveraging my time, as oppose to one-to-one. In this blog post, I am going to share with you the 5 common issues I see with agents and offer solutions to each of these problems. Again, this is from what I have observed over the last several months. You most likely can relate to some (all) of these issues.
Below is a slide from my webinar, I highlight 6 issues, but for this post, I am going to combine numbers 5 & 6.
1. Not a Consistent Follow Up Strategy
Did you know some agents use Microsoft Excel to keep track of their leads?
Did you know some use paper & pencil to keep track of their leads?
I was in a meeting last week with 3 agents and a loan officer. I asked what the number one problem they were facing and they told me…
They said a lot of leads “fall through the cracks”.
This is something I hear a lot when doing these strategy calls with agents around the country. It actaully amazes me that this is where a lot of agents struggle. Some I speak with are pretty good at generating leads, but if the person doesn’t buy that week, they rarely follow up with them. Usually, because they forget.
Again, this should not be a problem in 2014.
Not with all the software out there that can help you manage your leads. There are literately hundreds of CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) on the market. So many are built for the real estate industry.
How to Choose a CRM
I probably used 4 or 5 CRMs until I decided on one that suits my needs. I finally took the time to spend a weekend and learn the one I am currently using — Contactually. They offer a free 30-day trial, as do most of them. I think it’s around $20/mo for their cheapest plan and goes up from there.
Contractually has a lot of templates on the backend geared towards real estate agents. These are great as they give you ideas of what to say, in different situations and when to reach out.
Some of the examples include;
- Asking for a referral
- Asking for a testimonial
- Cold email via referral
- Cold email using a mutual friend
- Conference follow up
- Contract signature needed
They probably have 25-30 different messages that you can use to follow up with prospects/clients. These are all templates you can customize to your liking. You can also add in your own email follow up messages, saving you a ton of time as you can just click on a drop-down menu and click on the specific email template you want to send. No need to change the name or anything like that, it does it automatically for you.
You can see in the image below some of the follow up template messages I have;
You can read some of their case studies here.
Another popular one in the real estate market is Follow Up Boss. This one is a bit more expensive, but is a very impressive piece of software. It is geared towards the real estate industry and their tagline says it all…
Never Lose Another Real Estate Lead
Solution: Invest in a CRM. Do some research and talk with other agents on what they use, what they like/dislike, and why they chose the one they are using. Like I said, most have free trials, so there is no money out of your pocket until you find one that works for you.
This is common with most small business owners, not just real estate agents.
For real estate agents — this is extremely important. Competition is fierce and you must differentiate yourself in the marketplace. This should be done BEFORE you ever market yourself. You should be able to clearly communicate why you are the only choice in your market to buy/sell a home when talking with your prospects.
This needs to be on all your marketing material — business cards, website, social media channels, radio advertisements, newspapers ads, TV, billboards — basically everywhere your name is, your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) should be.
How to Test Your Market
When speaking with agents and stressing the importance of this, I often tell them to go to YellowPages.com.
I will use Las Vegas in this example to show the importance of this;
As you can see, per Yellow Pages, there are 2,379 real estate agents in Las Vegas (BTW — I have heard there are 8,000+ agents here in town)
So, if I am looking for a real estate agent in Las Vegas, I have a huge pool of agents to choose from. 90% of home buyers are searching online during their home buying process, so people are using the web before contacting an agent.
How are you different from your competition?
What do you offer that no other agent does?
Why should I do business with you?
Is this clearly communicated online and off?
Solution: I have linked to a few blog posts that will help you with this exercise. This is extremely important. Read these, find others and craft a compelling USP.
3. Still Cold Calling
I know, people say it’s a numbers game or you have to smile & dial or the more “Nos” you hear means you’re that much closer to a “Yes” blah, blah, blah.
Again, it’s 2014 and there is zero reason you should be cold calling for business. It is absolutely horrible for positioning as you come off as desperate, at best. It’s also one of the least effective ways for lead generation. There are plenty of resources teaching how to attract leads to you and with some of the tools I am sharing in this blog post, a lot of it can be automated.
Work smarter, not harder.
I knew of an agent that spent 3 hours per day “hitting the phones” with such minimal results. Three hours a day is 15 hours per week = 60 hours per month!
60 hours per month cold calling.
He is no longer in the business as he accepted a job.
He was burned out. I wonder why.
Solution: Start a blog. A blog is the best way to generate business, but it does take time and a lot of work. Each blog post can generate leads for years to come. It also works 24/7/365. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are 104 topics you can blog about.
If you want fast results, you’ll have to invest in paid traffic (Facebook and/or Google Adwords). This can bring you results in a matter of days. Don’t believe me? Check out this case study on how we generated 11 motivated buyer leads in 4 days.
4. No Clear Marketing Strategy in Place/No Systems in Place
I know in my slide above I have No Systems in Place as #5, but these are very closely related and will include them together for this post.
One of the first questions I ask when talking with agents is — what are you currently doing to generate business?
You might be surprised at the answer…
A lot of agents are relying (some soley on this) on referrals. This is not a good way to do business and probably the reason a lot are scheduling strategy sessions with me :).
You have zero control over the outcome when relying on other people to give you referrals. This is obviously not a marketing strategy and is like building the foundation of your business on sand. It is very unpredictable and a scary way to do business.
Why You Must Track Your Marketing
Another question I like to ask is — What is working?
Some look at me as if I have two heads.
And some say, “Huh?”
A lot of agents have no clue where their current clients are coming from. They are trying a little bit of everything (cold calling, networking, calling their sphere, direct mail, etc.), but not sure what is working.
The scary part?
They don’t know what is NOT working and continue doing something that is not producing results. Eek!
This is called “spray & pray” marketing. Spray your marketing (everywhere) and pray something works. This is a very scary way to do business. Again, you do not have much control over this. You want to know what is working, so that you can continue doing that — or better yet, do more of that.
You also want to know what isn’t working, so that you can stop doing that — or tweak it until it does produce results for you.
Remember — you can’t improve what you do not measure.
I used to pay about $27/lead from Facebook when I started. After a lot of testing, pulling out my hair and a few sleepless nights — I now pay around $3.50/lead consistently, so I slashed my lead cost by 87%.
It was because I tracked everything and constantly optimized my campaigns. Some things worked and some did not, but I tracked it, so I knew what was working and what was not working. You need to do the same with your marketing.
Solution: Implement a system and measure everything. One of the (many) benefits of digital marketing is everything can be tracked. Often times, right down to the dollar — even to the penny. This is extremely important as you can scale what is working to bring you more results. By optimizing your marketing, you’ll bring in more results, for less money/effort/time.
Example: For the month of August, for every $1 I invested in Facebook, it generated me $3.33 in return. Not bad, huh? I only ran ads 7 days for the month and generated 18 leads. Also, 95% of this was all automated.
6. Wearing Too Many Hats
This is another problem for a lot of small business owners, not just real estate agents. Real estate agents have a ton of their plate and most try and do it all. A lot
spend waste a ton of time on manual prospecting when they could be using marketing automation to simplify their lead generation.
I often ask agents how many hours they spend generating leads each day and I would say the average is 2-3 hours per day. It doesn’t have to be this way though. You can use the Internet to your advantage to get more time back to spend selling more homes, meeting with clients or spending more time at your leisure.
There is a great book that I have heard excellent things about, although I have not had the time to read it. It is on my “to read” list, along with about 35 others. It is called The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. Michael Gerber, the author, stresses the importance of working ON your business and not IN your business.
There are also a lot of other “low dollar activities” that agents do that could be delegated to others. You should focus on the “high dollar activities”.
Solution: Implement a marketing system to save you time every day, so that you can focus on the revenue producing activities. You can spend more time on converting those leads into clients as that is a “high dollar activity”. Generating the leads can be automated and it should be.
These are the 5 issues I continue to see that are holding agents back from becoming a top producer in their marketplace. I included solutions for each issue and a lot of it deals with marketing automation. I am a big fan of working smarter and using the technology around us to our benefit. With all the marketing systems I have in place, I bet it would take 2 – 3 full time employees to manage it.
Obviously, lead generation is a very important part of an agent’s success, but there is no reason to generate leads like it is 1985.