As COVID-19 cases have begun climbing again, and you can no longer door-knock, hold traditional open houses or attend face-to-face networking events, now is a great time to consider how to make phone prospecting a key part of your business plan.
Greg McDaniel has been in the business for over 20 years, and to date, he has made almost 500,000 cold calls. If you use the phone to prospect, his scripts, strategies and tactics are pure gold. Major caveat: Always make sure to scrub the list of names you call against the do not call list.
1. Make a plan
Before you begin prospecting by phone, you need a plan that includes who to call, what benefit you will provide to the person you are calling and a specific script or strategy for converting that call into a viable lead.
2. Provide more value than just a CMA
When agents call for-sale-by-owners (FSBOs) and owners of expired listings or cold call into a geographical farm, most offer a competitive market analysis and not much else.
You can enhance your CMA by providing the reports from NARRPR.com (free to all NAR members) and HomeDisclosure.com, which provides a wide variety of additional data about the property. These reports will generate over 25 pages about the owner’s property and will definitely make you stand out from the competition.
3. Call FSBOs
McDaniel uses RedX for his lead generation and to scrub his contacts against the do not call list. He often makes 500 to 750 calls per day using their triple line dialer. (Here is a list of the best lead generation companies).
In terms of converting FSBO leads, McDaniel has had great success explaining the landmines sellers face due to the pandemic. For example, most homeowners in California are unaware they are required to sign a special disclosure statement every time an agent shows their house. Many are also unaware of the cleaning and other showing protocols currently in place.
To use this approach in your business, investigate the guidelines for your state, and share them with any FSBOs you call.
4. Prospect for-rent-by-owners (FRBOs)
McDaniel’s top tip is to call FRBOs. These people are often investors who own multiple properties. Most are interested in expanding their portfolio, which means they’re constantly on the hunt for the next property to purchase. Others may want to sell and trade up or invest in a different area.
When you connect with a FRBO, ask about their current property. Follow up by asking where they would like to be five to 10 years in terms of their property portfolio. If they express an interest in growing that portfolio, dig deeper to see what types of properties they would like to purchase.
5. Use scripts that work
What will you say to the person you’re calling? Always introduce yourself, give your company name, and say why you are calling. Here are McDaniel’s five best scripts:
1. The direct approach
This script gets straight to the point — is the person you’re calling considering transacting right now? Here’s what McDaniel says.
“My name is Greg McDaniel with ABC real estate. Because I know you’re busy, I just want to call and quickly ask: Are you considering selling your home this year or buying an investment property?”
2. The indirect approach: Have some fun
A classic script cold callers have used for decades asks, “Who do you know who is thinking about buying or selling a house now?” Here’s McDaniel’s twist on that script. After bantering with them for a few moments, he asks:
“Which one of your neighbors should I call to see if they would want to move — you know, which one would you like to see leave?”
This gets them laughing. At that point, offer the report with the NARRPR and HomeDisclosure.com data. This gives you a reason to stay in contact with them and ultimately become their agent when they’re ready to transact.
3. Go for ‘no’ coupled with ‘FORD’
The third approach McDaniel uses is doing a “pattern interrupt.” In this case, you’re actually seeking a “no” answer. To do this, ask the person a question they have never been asked before. The one McDaniel recommends is:
“You know what Sally, I bet you’re not thinking about selling your home this year.”
No matter how they respond, you reply:
“That’s exactly why I’m calling today.”
The next step is to use “FORD” or “FROG” to continue the conversation and get to know them better. These stand for: family, occupation, recreation and dreams/goals.
McDaniel says this is the most powerful approach he has ever used to build rapport. Questions to ask include inquiring about their interests outside of work, local recreational spots they may enjoy or their long-term dreams about where they would like to be in five or 10 years.
Be sure to ask questions that begin with “how” or “what.” These are known as “open-ended questions” and will give you the most information.
Sooner or later in the conversation, real estate will come up. The most common question you will hear is, “Well, how’s the market?” Again, offer the enhanced CMA that includes the NARRPR and HomeDisclosure.com reports.
4. Let neighbors know when a house goes ‘pending’ on the MLS
The public can see when a house is listed or when it has sold, but they don’t have access to the pending sales. Here’s what to say:
“I’m just calling to let you know the house at 123 Main Street has just gone under contract. I was wondering if you might like to find out how much your house is worth?”
Send them your enhanced CMA, or if possible, preview the property to have a better idea of what it’s worth.
5. Invite them to a virtual open house exclusively for neighbors
This is a twist on traditional open house where you invite neighbors to attend a private open house with refreshments that runs from 12-1 p.m. before you open the property to the public from 2-4 p.m.
The first step is to use your phone to create a video where you walk around the outside of the property and then in each room. Second, call neighbors who are not on the do not call list, and say the following:
“With everyone social distancing these days, traditional open houses are no longer possible. I’m not sure who you may know who might be thinking about moving into the area, but I wanted to personally provide you with the opportunity to view my live walk-through of the property on Sunday at 1 p.m. At that time, I can answer any questions you may have. If you do know someone who may be interested in viewing the property, you can send them the link to the video as well.”
This approach helps you to:
- Grow your database.
- Show potential clients you respect their health.
- Minimize your seller’s exposure to people physically viewing their home.
- Create the visibility and exposure you need to sell the home.
McDaniel’s final piece of advice is to realize that in most cases, you won’t convert a person from a single call. While that does happen occasionally, what you’re really doing is building a relationship so that when they are ready to transact, they will call you.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateC