So, you are reluctant to cold-call because of the no-call lists. How about trying this instead?

So, you are reluctant to cold-call because of the no-call lists. How about trying this instead? Mail out a postcard explaining how people can get their names on the list. And then make one of those ways a visit to your Web site, which has a link to the Do Not Call registry.

Last month, we brought up the topic of prospecting in a no-call world, covering some in-person, relationship-based prospecting methods. This month, we’re expanding on the subject via interviews with agents.

Promote the Do Not Call list

Judy Markowitz of RE/MAX Millennium in Flushing, N.Y., turned the whole problem on its head by using her marketing systems to help people get on the no-call list. Markowitz created a postcard showing her team in front of their signature Volkswagen Bug. The front copy reads, “The Energized Realtor sells a lot of homes, but we won’t BUG you!” On the back, the copy explains the Do Not Call registry and how to sign up. The card also runs on her Web site with a hot-link to the national registry. (To see the concept, visit www.energizedrealtor.com and click the top button about registering for the list.) Markowitz mailed the card to 32,000 people in November 2003, resulting in four listings that brought in $120,000 in commissions. 

“Another card we’re doing soon,” Markowitz said, “is a shot of me with the copy, ‘If ya wanna do business with Judy, you’ll have to call her–she’s NOT on the Do Not Call list!'”

Careful, thoughtful cold-calling still works

Markowitz said these methods warm up the public, but she hasn’t let the Do Not Call lists deter her team. “We still make lots of calls. Considerable effort is made to check and cross off the Do Not Call people from our lists when we prospect.” The team offers helpful information to the people they do call, such as recent sales statistics, Just Sold homes in the neighborhood, or an invitation to join in a community event they are sponsoring, such as an ice-cream social or a blood drive. Personally, Markowitz said she contacts 35 to 60 people a day, many of whom are past clients or referrals. To make the call count, she added, “Always ask for the business.”

Prospect at the mall

Markowitz also believes in face-to-face prospecting. Every other month, her team goes out to a shopping center to introduce themselves to passers-by. “We shake hands and give value items imprinted with our logo. It has gained us recognition, and it is a wonderful lead generator.”

Work referrals

The Do Not Call registry has not affected some agents, as it was never a big part of their process. They stress referrals and traditional listing marketing to generate new business.

Says Stephanie Evelo of RE/MAX Advanced Teams, “We don’t make any cold calls. The way we prospect is through mailing campaigns and referrals from past clients and other agents. Referrals are our most effective way to obtain new business…and the least expensive one too!” 

Agrees Debbie Yost of Yost Homes, “I have always found the best prospecting calls are to past clients and customers. Beyond that, the best marketing is to have well-priced, well-staged listings that generate buyer calls from signs. Also we get contacts from the Internet as a result of the client finding a home we have marketed that interests them.”

Seminars and open houses

Stacy Hatch is a newer agent with Keller Williams Realty in Highlands Ranch, Colo. She has been there a little more than a year and is already getting referrals from her first clients due to her good service. After an initial dry spell she attributed to wasting time on unmotivated clients, she closed five deals in five months and has six more lined up to close in the next 60 days. The no-call lists have not affected her, because she has so many other prospecting methods, as follows: 

  • Placing print ads to entice buyers to call for information, such as a free report.

  • Using 800 numbers to hear recordings that describe properties. These numbers capture the caller’s name and phone number and in turn create a purpose to return their call.

  • Joining leads groups, Chamber of Commerce, fundraisers, organizations. 

  • Holding open houses, which are not only for selling that specific property but also a way to meet buyers.

  • Hosting home-buying seminars for renters, jointly sponsored by a Realtor and a mortgage or title company. The seminars are usually held at local schools or banks or a real estate office. Postcards are sent out to apartment buildings and non-owner-occupied single-family homes. (These lists are available through title companies.) The seminar offers information about loan options and the benefits of owning versus renting. Once the renter has attended the seminar, the agent keeps in touch with monthly postcards highlighting properties that fit their profile and other information. 

Of these methods, Hatch said her most successful was joining the Highlands Ranch Chamber of Commerce and being active on several committees, which allowed her to build relationships that lead to both leads and referrals.

The consensus from these agents is that traditional methods for prospecting, such as open houses, seminars, referrals, and advertising listings, are more important than ever. But there’s always room for creativity! Try one new way of prospecting this month, but give it time to work. Stick with your new method for several months, and see what happens!

Howard Brinton is a real estate sales motivational speaker and the founder and CEO of Star Power Systems, a sales training organization that offers tapes, books, videos, conferences and a club that distributes selling techniques from the nation’s top producers.

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