Let’s talk about soft skills. About leaning away from old-school closing and prospecting techniques that feel pushy and inauthentic. About your ability to be a “salesperson” without feeling like you’re too aggressive or “salesy.”
In today’s world, no one wants to be “sold” and, frankly, most agents don’t want to “sell.” It’s uncomfortable and awkward and mostly ineffective. What does work? Serving, not selling.
Soft skills are often defined as a set of interpersonal and intrapersonal proficiencies that help sales professionals communicate with others in a more relatable way. Gentle prospecting skills in real estate are often outlined as activities that are more passive in nature. This appeals to many agents because the idea of more active or assertive prospecting, such as making cold calls, can feel scary or intimidating.
Picking up the phone or knocking on a door is definitely out of a comfort zone for many. While I do believe that both are significantly important to building a business, developing a client base,and generating income, there are certainly prospecting methods that can help you build a brand and promote yourself in your market. Here are five skills to help you in your prospecting journey.
Direct mail marketing
I’m a huge fan of direct mail marketing — more than I have ever been. I was recently on a podcast as a panelist, and the topic of mailings came up. I polled the more than 250 agents in attendance to see how many have actually received consistent mail marketing from another agent in their market. Not a one-off Just Listed postcard, but consistent marketing from one agent.
Immediately the response was a slew of zeroes and a few ones and twos. What does that tell us? It says that there is an opportunity to help people know your name, face and what you do for a living right there in their mailbox. It’s even more effective now since many agents are still putting all their marketing efforts into email and social media marketing.
In fact, according to the Postary, a postcard marketing and direct mail platform, “The average response rate of direct mail is around 2.7 percent to 4.4 percent, while the email has around 0.6 percent, which is comparatively very low.”
The key here is consistency. No matter how many you send to, one-and-done mailings will not drive your business forward. Pick a campaign and stick to it every month to help you become a brand name in the minds of the consumers in your market.
If you and your team are not doing open houses in this market, you are missing lead-generating, business-boosting opportunities. Neighborhood open houses are a great way to showcase your resources to neighbors who might be considering selling in the near future.
Offer a free Neighborhood Market Report (CMA) as a means for them to know what their home is worth in the current market and provide some quality collateral. This is also a great way to weed out the “nosy neighbors” who would otherwise attend a public open house just for a peek inside.
Public open houses are a great source of buyer leads for you as well. Offer resources via email or a site download such as a Buyer’s Guide to Real Estate.
Create a list of other homes coming on the market so that you have a good reason for them to give you their contact information and for you to follow up. Host your open houses at times that differ from your competitors (earlier or later or both) so that your open house stands out from the rest.
Facebook community pages
We love this effective (and free) form of digital farming. Many neighborhoods or communities today have a community Facebook group to keep neighbors up to date on what’s happening in the area, serve as a message board, and keep people connected. These groups are the perfect opportunity for you to showcase your service – without selling.
Your goal should be to spend at least 10 minutes a day in that group doing what you can to serve the community. If someone needs a recommendation for a vet, doctor or restaurant, jump in. If there is a community event — take part. A good rule of thumb is that every six times you help, you can post something real estate-related.
I would suggest making this an item of value rather than just posting listings or sales such as market trends, days on the market, tips for curb appeal or an offer for a free market analysis. The idea is that you become a resource in these groups, and people begin to recognize your name and what you do for a living and that you are there to serve.
School business partnerships
While school is out for the summer, you can bet that the PTAs and PTSAs are already lining up their fundraisers and action plans for the fall. Partner with these groups for your local schools (especially elementary) for a win-win for everyone. These organizations need all the help they can get — and as a business professional, your skills will benefit the kids and the staff.
If possible, see if the schools in your area have homework folders or daily student activity planners that get sent home in the fall and see if you can sponsor these items. What a great opportunity to put your brand in front of something parents have to look at every day. Don’t wait until fall, as they are more than likely being printed over the summer.
Home buying and selling workshops or even webinars are a great way to create a new audience in your area. With interest rates on the rise and markets shifting, people are understandably curious and even anxious about what that means for their buying and selling power. Advertise your event via social media, neighborhood pages, and neighborhood newsletters.
I love inviting other experts to share their knowledge as well. Consider bringing in a mortgage professional, title specialist, staging expert and real estate attorney to create a panel of professionals that everyone can learn from. I know agents who are hosting these quarterly with great success.
These are fun, interesting ways to brand yourself or your team without feeling like you are aggressively prospecting. Once you begin to establish your brand, you may feel more comfortable picking up the phone and connecting, as these activities will help “warm” those calls because people already feel like they know and trust you.
Darryl Davis is a speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate, as well as the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars. He currently hosts weekly free webinars to help agents navigate market change and design careers worth smiling about. Learn more at his website or connect with him on Facebook or YouTube.