Day #43 of 100 Days of Prospecting
So today I finally wrapped up calling through all of Royal Oak. Obviously I didn’t SPEAK with every person who had a phone in Royal Oak but I did finish my first pass through all the raw lists I built for Royal Oak. I feel extremely relieved.
That was a bad spat there.
After making more than 6,000 dials and 825 contacts, I got a grand total of ZERO leads in Royal Oak. Even now it seems a bit unbelievable to me.
Again today I had two people tell me that I was the “fifth” Realtor to call them and ask they were thinking of selling their house. Now because I wanted some background on what the heck was going on I ASKED them when they had gotten these other calls. After all, when someone says “Your the fifth agent to call me” that could mean I was the fifth agent to call over the course of the previous year….and that could eventfully be just me making all five of those calls myself.
So I asked and one lady said that she’d gotten those five calls in the previous week but the other one said that I was the fifth caller of the DAY.
Cold calling is not popular. More people are doing it under the guise of “circle prospecting” but it’s still not popular like calling expireds or FSBOs. So who were these people calling? I put my feelers out and I think that a fellow agent probably hit the nail on the head.
There is a Keller Williams office in Royal Oak. And throughout the year Keller Williams does a prospecting intensive known as BOLD. It’s almost a sure bet that BOLD has been rolling at the same time that I happened to decide to call in Royal Oak.
Switched Cities, Different Results, and List Rest
So I polished off the last of the Royal Oak lists and then started calling in a different town. Troy. First day calling there. BOOM. Got a lead.
Here’s what you need to get from this….
Your Lists Need to Rest
If I decided to call through my Royal Oak raw lists a second time TODAY…I would not speak with any of the same people I’ve spoken with over the course of the last week. Because I use Prime Lists. Anyone left in the RAW lists will be people who didn’t answer the first time I called.
But that doesn’t mean OTHER agent have not called them.
People don’t know the difference between one agent and another when they get a cold call from one of us. We’re all the same agent to them. So if you call last week and I call this week they say to me “Didn’t you just call me last week?”
The individual people need to be allowed to “rest” for about 90 days between cold calls. If 10 agents are doing hard core cold calling in the same area though, there are going to be problems.
If a bunch of agents are all calling in a dedicated fashion in the same area, then two things will happen:
The first is that all of the available leads will be quickly rooted out of the area. So it will feel like slim pickins when you DO call that area. Because the leads have already been picked over.
The second thing though (and this is far worse) is that the people will become hardened. If you’re getting a call from an agent every 90 days asking if you’re selling your house…well then enough time has passed, your situation might have changed, and you say yes. If you get a call from “some agent” every single week asking if you’re thinking of selling…all of a sudden you start hardening up. Once hardened you are highly likely to start saying “No” to ALL the agents when they call. So I call just every 90 days but the results I get are the same as if I had called the same people every week.
The result of this situation is that instead of one lead for every 100 contacts you might end up with 1 every 200 or every 300 contacts. I do not mind working the phone but I will admit that if I had to make 300 contacts in order to get a lead, I would immediately switch the method in which I source my leads. That just too much work for too little juice. Your time could definitely be better spend elsewhere.
Time Will Tell
I have to call through Troy, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Bloomfield, Beverly Hills, and Clawson before my entire new brokerage area is done getting a first pass through the raw lists and will have the opportunity to get back to Royal Oak. My guess is that when I do things will be better. KW doesn’t hold Bold every month and I think I’ll call their office and see if they have Bold going on so I don’t call if they do. It just makes sense to call a different area is 15 agents are all calling the same list for 3 weeks in a row.
Day #32 of 100 Days of Prospecting
I think I’ve figured out what’s going on. Take a look at these two images below:
The spreadsheet above represents calling early in the day. Before 9am. During the golden hours. Pickup rate is always higher in the golden hours and today it checked in at 19.4% for Prime Lists, 15.6% for raw, and 17.2% combined. This still isn’t great since I’ve called Prime lists in the early morning and seen contact rates over FORTY percent. If you’ve been following along then you know that 30% contact rates for the entire DAY are not unheard of. So less than 20% contact rate during the best hour of the morning isn’t anything to write home to mom about. Don’t worry though. It gets worse….
So at 9:00am the contact rate stood at 17.2% but then, as we see above, it collapsed down to 9.8%. Less than 10%. Terrible.
Notice as well that the RAW lists being called on Dialer #2 saw HIGHER contact rates (10.0%) than Dialer #1.
What’s Going On?
Here is what I think is happening.
1) No Phone Dodging – when I first started calling Prime Lists at the beginning of this month, they were chock full of people I’d not spoken with for six months or more. They were not trying to dodge my phone call in any way. So keep that in the back of your mind.
2) The Hangup Effect – when I get someone on the phone I say, “Hi, this is Brian Kurtz with RE/MAX real estate…” and then I pause. This gives them time to process that they are speaking with a real estate agent about a real estate related matter. When they cough out a confused “Yeah?” I move on to the rest of the script. BUT…if they hang up right then and there at the pause, then I still count them as a contact. After all…it can be assumed they knew that I was an agent and that they knew they were going to be talking about real estate and they said, “No I”m not interested in real estate stuff today at all” very clearly by….hanging up the phone. So they count as a contact. And they get added to the Prime lists to be called months later.
Now when I stared calling this month in earnest there were about 1,600 people in the Canton Prime list all by itself. Now there are a bit over 700. I’ve called through that list top-to-bottom five times now total. I rotate my caller IDs so that they don’t show up to any particular person for at least 10 days.
So why the low pickup rate?
Well, the 700 people left in the Canton Prime Lists have a very concentrated of non-responsive people. Maybe I first spoke with them on a weekend. A weekend call got them moved over to the Prime List side of the house. But they will NEVER answer again unless it happens to be a weekend, they happen to be home when I call, and are in the same frame of mind to answer that they were when we spoke the first time. If any of those are off – no pickup. So there’s probably plenty of those people.
But there’s also the hangup people mentioned before. Maybe they’re not “hanging up” on people anymore. Maybe they’ve moved past that and are just not picking up at all. That could be the case.
When calling early in the morning I’m contacting the few “highly responsive people” left in those Prime Lists that I just have not contacted this month. The bulk of the 700 people that are left are going to be bad responders and I can pretty much expect to see more of the same until the calendar turns over and we move February’s Prime List people that are stuck in a holding pattern into the main Prime calling groups for each city I’m prospecting in.
This weekend though I’m going to be importing entire new cities. So I’ll be switching to calling raw lists ONLY for the foreseeable future. I might not get around to calling Prime Lists again until April. With the current performance though…I’m looking forward to making first-pass call throughs on raw lists.
Day #19 of 100 Days of Prospecting
This blog is all about being real. The real journey of a cold call prospector. And I really, REALLY felt like crap today. My wife too. She had to stay in bed until 2:30 this afternoon. I got up earlier than that but all day felt like I’d been run down by a steam roller.
Fact: if I was NOT doing this 100 Days of Prospecting thing…I wouldn’t have gotten on the phones AT ALL. I would have given myself a free pass to just skip today entirely.
While I didn’t make my front end cold calls today, I did at least make the most IMPORTANT calls. The follow up calls.
Of the 3 follow up contacts I connected with today, two said they scrapped their plans of moving and had to be recycled back into the main calling rotation. The other one said that they’d already met up with an agent who “was going to do it for 4% and so we’re going to go with him”.
Now if you take a look at the contact log to the right, you see that my first contact to them came way back in August 2014. I re-connected with them cold calling through Prime Lists last month on 12/8. These people were going out of town to England and were going to be hunting for a house there as they’d received word of a job transfer. So they WERE moving. She wouldn’t commit to an appointment until AFTER the new year though. You can see from the contact log that I’ve been pretty consistent in reaching out to her since the calendar turned over but somehow she flew back, called a cut-rate agent, and signed up all at the same time.
The Hard Truth
It’s easy to take things like this personal. It’s also easy to evaluate each and every single situate and spend time and brainpower trying to figure out what you could have done to get the appointment. Maybe I could should have pushed harder for the appointment. Maybe I should have closed for a “meet-n-greet” mini appointment before they left for vacation. Maybe I should have sent them more/higher quality information. Maybe I should have….
All that type of stuff represents broken thinking.
Remember, we’re talking high volume leads here. You can’t do all this “extra stuff” for each and every lead and you WOULD have to do it for each and every lead if you wanted to assure yourself that when any particular lead dies on the vine that you did “everything you could” to earn that person’s business.
Here’s the bitter truth. 90% of the leads (or more) of the leads you connect with are NOT going to do business with you. That means that MOST of your leads are going to get marked off as dead. MOST of them. That’s normal.
Think about it. If you shove 70 leads per month into the pipeline…that’s 840 seller leads PER YEAR. You’re not closing half of them. You’re not closing 1/4 of them. If you close fully 10% of them then you’re closing 84 listing side transactions. And that would be FINE with me.
The Bottom Line
As long as you shove enough leads into the pipe and do your phone follow up, you’re going to end up with plenty of business down the road. Even if 90% of your leads choose another agent, change their mind about moving, or decide that they want to work with someone that discounts their fee.
Those are NOT my target prospects.
My Fearless Agent coach, Bob Leoffler, has this little saying,
“It’s not your job to make mean people nice or crazy people sane, it’s your job to find nice, sane people…and work with THEM.”
To take that to another level, I want to find nice, sane people, who are not already committed to working with a friend, who don’t want me to cut my commission, and don’t plan on interviewing multiple agents, and will be willing to sign up to list their home with me at a price that the market will bear.
That’s who I want to work with. And there’s not as many of THOSE people as there are leads that have one or more of those shortcomings. So the only solution is to go back to the mine and dig, dig, dig for the best leads. Every single lead that you pull out looks like gold at first, but the mine is primarily stocked with fool’s gold (bad leads) and you have to sift/sort/test ALL the leads to find which are fool’s gold and which are real gold.
That’s just how it work. So when 90% of your leads turn out to be fool’s gold…you don’t take it personal. You just call it what it is. Normal.
Day #16 of 100 Days of Prospecting
So I’ve been dedicated about making my calls throughout this 100-day campaign, but I have been TERRIBLE about launching people into the follow up program. You can get away with this for a short while because nearly ALL of the leads you connect with through cold calling will NOT be putting a sign in the yard for a good number of months.
That being said, you do have to get them put into the CRM and get them into the proper mail sequence/email sequence and follow up call groups. So that’s the big project for me this evening because, if you take a look below, I’ve somehow found a way to stockpile 43 leads that need to be processed.
Now what does “Launching” a lead entail? Not overly much really. Here’s the list:
- I create a record for them in Evernote and add their info into it.
- Screencap a picture of their home from either Google Maps or Bing Maps and add that to the Evernote Record.
- Add them to Realty Juggler and launch them into the right sequential mailer program.
- Add them and the picture of their house to Google Contacts so that if they call me I’ll know who I’m talking with when I answer my cell phone should they call.
- Add them to Bombbomb for future emails.
- If I promised to send them a market report, do that up in Cloud CMA and email via Bombbomb.
- Add them to my Sunday video email list in Bombbomb.
- Add to the proper future call tag group in Evernote so they don’t fall through the cracks.
It takes about 10 minutes total if they don’t need a Cloud CMA done up. If they DO need one done up, then it takes 15 minutes. So not a ton of time on any one…but 43 of them means 430 minutes of admin work.
So it’s really going to be a two day project to get these guys up and running in follow up. Truth be told, I’m wondering if mailing to these leads makes sense at all when you look at the big picture. I’m giving serious thought to NOT mailing people except for the first “Meet-n-Greet” piece. I’ll save my reasons for for another day though.
It’s freezing cold here in Michigan today. We had a winter storm come through right after it rained on us so the wold is covered in a layer of ice hidden under snow. It got down into the single digits last night too where temperature is concerned and only barely clawed it’s way up to 18 degrees for the high.
Why do I tell you this? Because you’d think that people would be hunkered down in their houses instead of running around taking care of errands. Apparently not though because, as you can see below, my contact rate was way down again. Half my calls were to Raw Lists and half to Prime Lists, so there was a mix there, but I’m still confused as to why so few people were picking up on such a stay-in-the-freakin-house kind of day.
Day #15 of 100 Days of Prospecting
One of the leads I got this week was a guy I’ve got a bit of history with. I first contacted him more than a year ago on September 19th of 2014. During that initial call he said he was not interested and so I added him to a Prime holding group to be called 6 months later.
I made my first “Prime Call” and connected through to him a second time on March 23rd 2015. That was when he told me that he was thinking of moving in the “Summer of 2016”. Now back in March of last year, the “summer of 2016” was more than 12 months away. I don’t launch people into full-blown follow up unless they’re looking to sell in 12 months or LESS…so I made the note in Mojo’s own notes area and then just added him right back into the Prime Group for August of 2015.
Of course I wasn’t CALLING in August of 2015. I was off my game at that time as I was in North Carolina doing family support while my father-in-law was losing the battle with cancer. Truth-be-told though – “family support” looked a lot more like just hanging out at my in-laws house with the kids while my wife and her mother went back and forth from the hospital. There was a phone line and computer in the house. I bummed about the way things were playing out but I wasn’t in a state of emotional breakdown and grief myself. I could have decided to cowboy up and make phone calls for 2 hours per day from down there.
But I didn’t.
I gave myself permission to slack off. And I gave myself permission to slack off the month before in July too. And the month before that in June too. September would turn out to be a nightmare also. More permission to not call. October saw my mother-in-law living with us and going through a nervous breakdown because of the loss of her husband. That’s a PERFECT excuse to not call, right?
It wasn’t until after Thanksgiving that I started calling again. And not until 2 weeks before Christmas that I could consider myself to be “consistently” calling.
In hindsight I could have been calling that entire time. The ENTIRE time.
Here’s What Happens When You’re NOT Consistent
Thank God I got back in touch with the guy mentioned above before his plans “got serious”. That’s not the story with everyone though. I contacted a lady who said that her house was on the market right now and under contract! I was calling through Prime Lists today so that means that at SOME point in time I spoke with SOMEONE in that house. So I decided to look at the history. Here’s what I found:
- 9/30/2014: Initial Contact – Not thinking of selling now – put in Prime holding group
- 3/1/2015: Moved from Holding group to Prime Calling Group
- ***Big Gap*** – because I wasn’t cold calling for most of 2015
- 11/10/2015: Prime Call – No Contact
- 12/19/2015: Prime Call – No Contact
- 1/10/2016: Prime Call – Contact – Already listed & Under Contract
The takeaway truth from all this is that sometime between my initial contact in the fall of 2014 and September 9th of 2015 (when their home went live in the MLS) something changed in their lives to motivate them to move. If I’d been calling on rotation like I SHOULD have been…then I would have been in touch with her long, LONG before that happened – and would have been able to position myself for a listing appointment.
Always. Be. Prospecting.