I love the smell of commission checks in the morning. It smells like…victory.
On Tuesday, at long last, I closed my very transaction which I can directly attribute to my cold calling efforts. I’ve closed other deals this year, but they were either sphere-of-influence deals or distressed sales. This closing was a direct result of phone prospecting.
I know that there are some out there who don’t believe anything unless they see proof, so here’s a picture of the check…
So now I just need to keep things going and build up some momentum so that I can collect one of these per week. (That just so happens to be the 2015 goal by the way)
I know that a lot of people read this blog who have just begun their own cold calling journey or else are sitting on the side of the pool waiting to jump in. A big question I had in my mind going into this endeavor was how long it would take to get paid.
After all, that’s a big concern and a major reason why people work with buyers and with overpriced expireds or with FSBO sellers who don’t value what they as agents bring to the table. Getting leads early in the process through cold calling means you are going to get a greater share of people who are more realistic about pricing their home right, are not going to try to slit your through where your wages are concerned, and are not already working with another agent.
This is a double-edged sword though. Catching people EARLY in their process of making a move also means that it’s going to be along time from when you first start taking action to find these leads and subsequently putting them in your follow up pipeline to the time when you get the first check. It’s this delay which causes people to choose other, less desirable area of focus which typically are known for having a faster turn around time. Such shot-sighted choices is what ultimately enslaves them to continually chasing sub-par sources of business to keep themselves afloat. So let me shed some light on this subject from my own experience. If you’re a complete newb to cold calling, then I’m guessing that your own path might mirror the process found below:
Cutting My Teeth
I signed up with Mojo during the last week of June of this year. It took me a week to get used to the interface and another two weeks to put together a rudimentary plan on how to use the whole system to effectively prospect for seller leads.
So I really started cold calling in earnest around July 15th.
At the time I had no plans on how I would follow up with my leads, how I would classify them, what I would say at the door, or anything like that. My thought was that it would be best to get started and adjust later vs putting off starting until I “felt I had everything perfect”. Some approach any new venture as if they were launching the first manned space exploration to Mars – every detail has to be in line or they fear that the entire thing might blow up right in their face in a dramatic ball of flame. In truth, prospecting is like riding a bike. Get the bike started and make adjustments once you’ve got some momentum going. Getting started is the most important part.
It was August 16th when I first made contact with my Longwood seller who would eventually hire me for the job of getting her home sold. I had already been calling for a month and had a handful of good contacts. I even had scheduled up one listing appointment with one of her neighbors about 5 houses away, but when I arrived, I found that the old guy has booked another agent at the exact same time as he had asked me to come by for a visit. That other agent ended up getting the listing, overpricing it, and eventually having it expire.
When I first spoke with the Nice Lady, she said she wanted to put the house on the market in the next 30 days. Now, having done this for a bit I know that when a cold call prospect says they’re ready to put the house on the market immediately, it probably means that they are going to be ready in a few months. People just have no idea how much is really involved in getting a home ready for sale. They look at what has to be done and think that they can make it happen in about 2 weeks. In reality, that amount of work takes 2 months. So you have to give them time.
Like I said before, when I first started calling in July, I had no follow up system in place. I decided that I wanted to do face-to-face follow up in person because a mentor of mine told me that you’re not a real person to a seller prospect until they meet you.
In 2013 I bought a course on door knocking and Bill Nasby, the course creator said that after he met people through is door knocking prospecting efforts, he ALWAYS followed up face-to-face. Not through the mail, not through email…in person. He said that he would simply print up any real estate pendings or solds or new listings in the area around any particular seller prospect’s house and bring it over, hand the info to them, make nice, and let them know that he was there to help them get the house sold whenever they were ready. That sounded pretty simple, so it was the path that I decided to go with.
It wasn’t as simple as it sounded.
That’s a story for a different post, but let’s just say that it took me from August 15th to September 15th to flush out a proper, systematic face-to-face follow up system that I could use to effectively keep in touch with dozens and dozens of potential sellers.
My Longwood seller was one of the first prospects I began following up with properly. As advocated by Bill Nasby, I simply would bring over MLS printouts with hand-written notes detailing my observations of the market, articles with tips-n-tricks for selling, and (eventually) a Cloud CMA.
It’s important to note that I never call and schedule appointments when I stop by. I just drop in unannounced. It’s not realistic to think that you could one day have 600 leads in your pipeline and you’d only bother to go see them when you can get a mini-appointment set up and approved over the phone. That’s just not going to happen. It’s a pipe dream. The only way to do face-to-face follow up is by showing up on your schedule. There’s no guarantee that they’ll be there, but they ARE there often enough that it works quite effectively.
Getting The Listing
It was on one of these unscheduled drop-ins during the first week of October that I got the listing appointment set up. I knocked on the door and when she opened it she recognized me and her face lit up and she said, “I’m SOOO glad you stopped by. I’ve been meaning to call you! I’m just about ready to list the house, can you come in and give me your thoughts on it?”
Of course I said yes and she gave me the grand tour. I then asked when she wanted to get started to which she replied that she wanted showings to begin on Sunday October 29th. I set an appointment to come back out the next week and get the paperwork done.
So I got the listing contract signed, got the pictures taken, and had it in the MLS on time. We got an offer the first weekend. It was a very nice house in a great area. We had some small issues during the inspection but nothing a small concession on price couldn’t iron out.
Just over 30 days later we closed.
Things to Think About
Here are some things that I learned from this that I think you’ll want to pay attention to if you’re thinking about diving into this:
1) It Takes Time – I connected with this seller one month after beginning my cold calling campaign. It took just under 4 months from the time I fist started calling in earnest after figuring out the Mojo platform to the time that I got my first listing signed up. It took nearly 5 months to get from first call to first commission check. That’s not a short amount of time. Lesson?
You need to either have an additional income stream or you need to be doing something else to close a few real estate deals here and there while working on this FULL TIME in order to get your pipeline up filled and allow time for the leads to mature. Whatever way you go it means essentially working two jobs. One to pay the bills and one you don’t get paid for but which you need to have faith it will produce fantastic long-term results on which you can build a life-long career.
2) Sellers Are Wrong About Timing – whatever time frame a sells gives you in regards to when they believe they’ll be ready to sell…just add 3 months to it. The 30 days sellers will be ready in 3 to 4 months. The 6 month sellers will be ready in 9 months. That’s just how it works. Life happens and it takes people longer to get the home sold.
I’ve got a good relationship with some sellers who I met back in September where the Mr has already moved out-of-state for a new job and the Mrs is going to join him when the house sells. You’d think that would put some hussle in their step. Nope. It was pushed back again and again and now they’re thinking “in the spring”. It’s just how things go.
3) This Isn’t a One-Man Job – I’ve mentioned this a few times before. Prepping follow up material right now is easily 10 to 12 hours per week worth of work. This doesn’t seem like much, but it is. Especially if you’re trying to put together a buyer deal or two or three while growing your pipeline. This will become a full-time job before 12 months is out so putting together a plan for hiring someone to handle this work needs to be of utmost importance before it becomes overwhelming and stuff starts falling through the cracks.
The advantage gained with contacting people early on via cold calling is that you can FIND prospects who don’t fight on price and commission. This is the true “low hanging fruit” of real estate as compared to expired listings which are typically left unsold at the end of the original listing period because the sellers are unrealistic or unwilling to mark to market. The first contact advantage that you get with cold call prospecting is tempered by a typically long follow up cycle that any cold calling agent must embrace if they are going to see their efforts on the phone ever translate into cashable checks.