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You don’t need to visualize you’re a buffalo, make a thousand cold calls or get up at 4 a.m. to jump in an ice bath while slamming an energy drink to be successful with prospecting.
Chasing that white rabbit without a map or a plan can leave you frantic and frazzled. If the past few months have taught me anything, I think Gen Z and burned-out millienials have it right. A viral TikTok trend shows that these workers are embracing the “soft life,” which prioritizes rest and being at ease, not hustle culture.
Prospecting for new clients is personal, and if aggressive hustle tactics are not your jam, you may want to try gentle or plush prospecting. Plush prospecting doesn’t involve harassing consumers to work with you. It focuses on curating your audience and building long-term relationships. With plush protecting, you are using smart research to communicate, connect and find ready clients to work with. It’s basically prospecting for introverts.
I’ve been there and done that with hustle culture. It did not serve me well. Now the “grind” seems more like a toxic ex who drags you down, instead of a partner willing to help see you through. Here’s how I’m shifting my focus to connect with consumers and boost my pipeline for the spring.
You need to calm down. You’re being too loud
I have learned that when I’m upset or things seem extra chaotic, it takes a ton of self-discipline to find some quiet space to work things out. To get into a good head space for plush prospecting, finding some calm and focused energy to bring to the conversations and messages you are trying to cultivate are important.
Many gurus are pushing to double down, push through and go the extra mile right now. That’s all good advice for some, but not for all, especially if no gas is left in the tank.
I have also learned that customers and clients respond better to communication efforts if I have calm and positive energy.
Build a routine that focuses on ramping you up and activities that ground you. In my personal business plan, the key to successful prospecting is that I show up at the top of my game, and that is definitely impacted if I’m exhausted or burned out.
Go on a walk, write, spend time with a pet, read and get some extra sleep. Make building peace into your presence an essential part of your business. Taking a few steps back to listen to your body and get your life in order will give you the headspace to problem-solve and troubleshoot.
Prospects can pick up your vibes if you are upset, defensive and escalated. Frantically trying to dig up a business because you have bills to pay is not a good look.
It’s your responsibility to have your budget, pipeline and personal financial security in order. Those things are not your customer’s problems.
Consumers are burdened enough with their own personal problems, and your urgency to close business does not constitute an emergency on their part.
Real estate consumers are in a challenging position (life event changes, financial changes or relocating). They want to talk to a calm professional who is willing to take the time and extra effort to help them reach their goals.
- Focus on finding calm
- Avoid the noise and disruption
- Get selfish about whether to offer your time
Read the room
Consumers are over it. Don’t copy and paste a manifesto of everything you do to earn a commission on Facebook. While it might be cheap therapy for you, it’s doubtful that consumers will read all of it, understand it and (let’s be honest) care.
A few areas that I try to pay attention to are inflation, cost of living, how much a “starter home” costs to buy, rental stats and debt trends. Staying on top of this information helps me have more meaningful conversations with my clients. It also helps me identify key points that I want to share with, perhaps, a boomer who is sitting pretty or a millennial who is burdened with student debt.
Each conversation you have with a prospect when plush prospecting is not about a hard sell. It’s about education and trying to build a personal connection.
You want to be someone they trust to bring their problems to, not someone who is just trying to push a sale and make them feel fear or that they are not intelligent enough to make their own choices if they don’t work with you.
No fear tactics, no slick sales scripts. Consumers want real conversations with valuable information to help empower them to make good decisions for themselves.
Finding folks to work with
OK, so we are calm and well-versed on what is going on with consumers and have left our ego at the door. Now, how do we start building pathways to our pipeline?
Smart analytics, research
When I’m plush prospecting, I research and find the person I will connect with. I will not blindly call 1,000 people and try to convince them to work with me. I’m also going to check and not call databases to make sure I’m not harassing someone who does not want solicitation.
Tools like Remine, RPR and Every Door Direct Mail are fantastic for finding consumers you want to reach. This research takes time, and I suggest narrowing down your audience to specific areas that you are interested in connecting with.
- Renters who can be nurtured into buyers
- Boomers who need to downsize
- Debt-burdened millennials who need larger homes
- Gen Zers who needs advice on how to even get into a rental
- Folks who need to relocate
- Pet parents who want a yard
- Folks who are relocating to the area for work
- Folks looking for services for their loved ones or friends
Make content consumers want to see and engage with
I’m focusing on building content that educates or solves a problem for my audience. Content like:
- Budget or fiscal tips
- Market conditions
- Realistic market expectations
- Myth busting
- Local non-profits doing good work
- Small businesses to support
- Pets (always good interactive content)
- Community issues
- Success stories
- Lessons learned
- Day in the life
All of this is a great way to build rapport. Social media users are a great source of referrals for your pipeline, and this is a no-brainer.
Pro tip: Where agents get stuck is when they create content for themselves and not their audience.
Video messages and handwritten notes
I use a simple tool like sales mail to connect with prospects and handwritten notes for follow-up. I pay close attention to what is happening with prospects. If they mention a pet has recently passed away, you can be sure that I’m getting a card in the mail as soon as I get off the phone.
Handwritten notes almost always trigger a text, phone call or email from the customer to thank me for thinking of them. It’s the little details that count.
In my video messages, I make sure that I am calm, collected and most of all, happy to share some high-value information for them to review.
They can watch the message whenever it’s convenient for them, and rewatch it if they need a reminder. I have had great results with this, even with folks who have never met me. The best part is that I know when they are interacting with it, and I can get a read on whether my message was effective or not.
I’m intentionally trying to find other professionals who are talking to my prospects. I’m seeing if I can help them, and if they can help me.
Most of the time, when I stop and think about common problems we are trying to solve for prospects, I can find someone to help me connect with consumers enthusiastically. Think of it as BNI without the fees. Meet with folks who are top performers in their craft.
I have minimal time. So if I’m going to set these meetings, I will again research and vet these networking prospects before reaching out. There is nothing random or by chance when you are plush prospecting; you are intentionally trying to create the best-case scenario for you to create business opportunities.
Pro tip: Come prepared to offer value. Bring something to Starbucks besides offering to buy them coffee. Make your meeting worthwhile.
Building funnels the soft way
The best part about plush prospecting is you are committing to becoming an expert on lead capture and research. Plush prospecting is all about embracing digital tools to help you connect with consumers, not harass them, and connect with people who want to talk with you.
If you want to capture leads on your own without paying Zillow or other lead gen places, you need to master some basic SEO skills. Training to do this will be worth its weight in gold for now and in the future.
These skills will serve you well and offer huge ROI if you are willing to spend time learning how to do them. Lead capture can be done affordably, but your biggest buy will be your personal time to train on it. Google has so many great options to help you.
The No. 1 rule when working to build a digital presence so that folks can find you is that in three clicks or fewer, they can figure out how to call you and that you are an expert in what you do. You do this with an uncomplicated website, a Google Business Profile and quality reviews.
Don’t buy a single lead if your digital presence isn’t set up correctly to begin with. Too many agents neglect to build a simple functioning digital presence, and the result is that it’s difficult for consumers to connect with them to begin with. There are no cheap shortcuts to lead generation. Your foundation needs to be solid first.
You either have to learn to find and capture leads or pay to have someone to do it for you. The best experts in plush prospecting know that this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to protecting the interests of your pipeline and business.
Pro tip: Even if your intentions are not to do your own lead generation, you need to invest some time in understanding how it works so you do not get scammed. Don’t buy any service from anyone unless you understand how it functions, and take the training on it to get the best experience.
Trust your gut, and be ready to change
Put yourself in spaces for customers to know you, trust you and come to you for the information they seek. Be very careful with your messaging to consumers right now.
If you are arguing too hard for your commissions, it may come off as either desperate or entitled, and that is not what any of you want.
Stay focused on your good work. Remember that it takes at least 90 days to fill a pipeline, and plan accordingly.
Consider low inventory, which will impact your volume for the coming months. This is a marathon right now. You must slow your pace; don’t light your past efforts on fire. Plan ahead. Lastly, don’t feel bad if you need to secure an additional income stream right now.
Part-time agents can still be successful. Don’t let anyone limit your beliefs in yourself, especially someone who is not living your life or paying your bills.
You do not need to be the loudest person in the room to be successful. There is something to be said for someone who can quietly grow their business and cut through the noise, and consumers appreciate it.
Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Instagram.