The undeniable truth is that, in a white-hot real estate market, homebuyers come to you, their salesperson; but, in today’s challenging market, you must go to the homebuyer. That’s why it’s important to understand the new rules of the marketplace.
One of them is that potential homebuyers are exercising their option to shop multiple communities and to make more return visits, usually after they have viewed all the competitive offerings that are available.
This is the time to resurrect an often overlooked and misunderstood form of communication known as the telephone. If you are a veteran salesperson, follow-up using the telephone could be a forgotten skill. Let’s face it. Making follow-up phone calls to prospects and initiating continuing appointments have slipped by the wayside.
If you are new to the business, no doubt you are being told by your management team to go make calls. This leaves you scratching your head, thinking this makes perfect sense, but you’ve not received any training in how to do it.
In addition to forgotten skills by veterans and lack of education for those who are new to the business, e-mail is also circumventing the necessity to make phone calls. E-mail and text messaging are indeed streamlined and efficient methods of communication. They also insert a mental block into the minds of those texting and e-mailing regarding the simple benefits of phone-time compared to face-time. In reality, e-mail has become the great "copout" to making calls because many salespeople mistakenly believe that today’s homebuyers prefer e-mail correspondence over an actual phone conversation. It is, after all, less intrusive and more convenient.
I’m not here to tell or sell you otherwise. As an educator, I’ve learned to accept the adage, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." All I’m going to do is share some proven strategies that will provide you with the skill-sets you need to capitalize on this self-marketing strategy of making personal phone calls.
However, if you are reading this and are one of those self-actualized salespeople who wants to continue resisting the money-making opportunities the phone offers, then stop reading. But if you belong to the corps of the opportunist-elite, read on and celebrate the fact that there are numerous salespeople who don’t believe in the power of the phone or don’t want to use it to actively reach prospects. I say to celebrate because that leaves a much bigger pool of homebuyers for you to troll.
Phenomenal Phone Basics
Although telephone-call marketing isn’t rocket science, here are some ground rules that should give you liftoff.
Get your attitude ready. The first step to all successful endeavors is to establish a positive, enthusiastic mindset. Even though no one can actually see you when you are on the phone, it is vital to project self-confidence and cheerfulness. Make every effort to demonstrate the same attitude as if you were delivering an "in person" sales presentation.
Put a smile in your voice. Your voice is the only tool you will have to project your attitude. Put a serious smile in your voice and you will convey a friendly image. When selling from afar and not in person, your voice has to replace your physical appearance. Research shows that your vocal tone and delivery can count for up to 84 percent of the believability you have when people cannot see you.
Establish goals and objectives. Having a positive attitude in using the phone is a great start, but attaining success over the phone also depends on having clearly defined goals and objectives. The typical mindset for a novice is to merely make calls. This is certainly your objective in picking up the telephone; however, the actual goal is to secure an appointment with a potential new-home buyer. Let me elaborate: Though it seems logical that the main objective is to make calls, most salespeople lose sight of the fact that it may take a substantial number of calls before they actually secure one appointment.
At the end of the day, the number of phone calls you make will be inconsequential if you have not scheduled an appointment with your prospects for a return visit to your neighborhood. So, what you need to do is establish your end-goal at the very beginning. Determine how many appointments you actually want to book and go from there. The objective is to call and to continue calling — day after day — until you’ve scheduled that number of appointments.
Organize your telephone system. I once knew a real estate salesperson who was proud of the fact that he kept all his appointments, phone numbers and other pertinent information in his head instead of writing it down. While it was impressive, it was not very logical. Our minds can become cluttered just as our desks do. Scientists say that’s one reason we have difficultly remembering people’s faces, names and events as we age. We have so many life experiences in there to sift through before we can lock onto the one we want. That’s what gradually happened with the salesman I mentioned. He did retain all this information, but it would take him forever to pull it to the forefront of his mind. His clients became impatient and he would leave them with the false impression that he was forgetful.
So, even if you have an extraordinary memory, you still need some sort of system to record your conversations and the information you gather from prospects. If multiple calls with the same prospect are required to secure an appointment, you will need to accurately record what your prospect said each time you speak with him or her. This allows you to recall your previous conversations and to gently refresh your prospect’s memory, if necessary.
If you are using a computer system, the recording and retrieval of past conversations is easy and foolproof. If you do not use a computerized system, you will need to implement a manual system that will help you keep organized.
Have a good reason to call: An obvious objection made by salespeople today is they feel as if they may be bothering the prospect when they call. In some ways, that assumption could be true. You don’t want to be the telephone equivalent of junk mail. So, you should always have a good, compelling reason to telephone a prospect. Then you can be much more courageous and the prospect will actually welcome your call.
What are some reasons to initiate a call with a potential homebuyer? Here are a few:
You regret they had to cut the last meeting with you short, so you want to set some time aside to give them another opportunity to visit with you on site.
You have calculated how much home they can afford to buy at today’s interest rate and they might be surprised. You can also give them updated interest rate quotes for other homes they might be interested in buying.
You have someone else interested in their one-of-a-kind home.
You have compiled a checklist showing the extra value your builder is offering.
You simply wanted to call and tell them about some updates you’ve added to your Web site (or the builder’s site) and to let them know of some newspaper or magazine ads your builder is running of other homes that they might be interested in seeing.
You have some urgent information to share.
You were talking to their Realtor and thought of them.
Your community is offering some special incentives for a limited time.
You have bridge loan information. They may not have to wait to sell their existing home before acquiring a brand new home.
As you know, many times prospects will use their voice-mail as a screening tool rather than actually picking up the phone. With this in mind, be prepared with a 20 to 30 second commercial that covers why you’re calling.
The typical message left today is something like this: "Hi Louise, this is Ann from Shady Acres. I was just calling to see if you are still interested in buying that house we looked at. If you are, give me a call so we can talk about it."
Remember, the objective is the call, but the goal is the appointment. A message leaving the call-back in the prospect’s court is a fruitless attempt.
Know what you are going to say before you say it in the event that you are going to wind up in voice-mail jail. Advertisers pay enormous money for a 30-second spot and craft their message carefully, realizing in 30 seconds an offering can be made and a call to action initiated. If advertisers on Super Bowl XLII can spend $3 million for one 30-second commercial, you can certainly spend a little free time thinking up your own short, attention-getting spot.
Try something to the effect of: "Good evening, Ms. Smith. This is _______ from Shady Acres. The reason I’m calling is _____. Obviously, you are not in at this time, so please don’t worry about returning this call. I’ll continue to call until I reach you. I look forward to setting some time aside with you to discuss the home-ownership opportunities at Shady Acres. If you want to reach me before I call again, my number is _______________."
Then persist in calling and continue to convey that you will call until you reach them.
It’s important that you understand that you should never leave the follow-up call in your prospects’ court. If you do not hear from them, they can count on your calling back until one of two outcomes is reached — either they secure the appointment with you or they emphatically express that they are no longer interested in home-ownership opportunities in your neighborhood. Both ways have benefits. If they don’t commit to buying, you have closure and aren’t left in limbo. The prospects can trust you to pursue them to the point of decision, which, believe it or not, can be a relief to them as well as to you. It’s one more thing they can take off their plates. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that, if they don’t buy a home from you, it wasn’t because you didn’t give it your best effort. And, if they do buy a home from you, you didn’t let them slip through your fingers and into the hands of another salesperson.
A Word About Wireless
While these suggestions are intended for land-line telephones, the same rules apply to wireless technology. However, there is a different etiquette involved when you call people on their cell phones.
To begin with, don’t call their mobile numbers unless you have their permission. While you’re not telemarketing, you still should know that it is currently illegal for a telemarketer to make a telemarketing call to a cell phone number.
If you do call their cell phones and must leave a message, make it brief, bold and clear. You don’t want to waste their minutes; however, you should also make it obvious that you will be calling back unless they contact you with a different telephone number where you can reach them.
A Final Thought
Most of the strategies presented here are common sense; but, as the saying goes, "What’s common sense is not always commonplace." So, I encourage you to take these simple philosophies to heart. Embrace the phone as a means of effective communication, as a way to secure appointments and as a device that can make your sales soar.