By Craig Proctor
RISMEDIA, July 30, 2008-One of the key opportunities in all of your businesses, good market or bad, is follow up, and sometimes the simplest solutions to ongoing problems are the simplest. Let me share a little secret with you that should enable you to magically increase the number of follow up calls you can be making during the day.
Most agents feel that they have to make follow up calls in the evening because that’s when they’ll find their prospects at home. A common feeling is that calling prospects during the day is a waste of time because, in most cases, you’ll get an answering machine. While this is true, if you’re like most agents, you hate using up your evenings to make these calls.
To get around this, ask your prospects for a daytime number where you can reach them. While not everyone will give you their work or cell number (telling you that they cannot easily take calls at work), in many cases they’re quite happy to pass this on to you.
You can collect these daytime numbers in two ways:
For those of you who have an effective website, and persuasive Internet marketing, a significant portion of your leads should now generated off the Internet. If you’re in this category, you should specifically ask for a daytime number on your forms, and If you call a prospect between 3:30 pm and 4:00 pm, while they may not be home, their kids will be home, and are quite happy to pass on their parents’ work number.
Traditionally, most agents have only two hours a day to make follow-up calls: i.e. between about 7 and 9 p.m. But there are many other pockets during the day that you will now be able to use to make call backs to the daytime numbers. Agents who implement this simple strategy calculate that it has increased their businesses by as much as 40%.
If you use a contact management system, here’s an idea of how you can organize your daytime calls. On Agent 2000, for example, there is a color-coding system set up to help prioritize calls. Typically, red means hot leads, blue means cool and black means cold. Each day when your scheduled calls for the day pop up, they’ll be in order of red, blue and black, with black being at the bottom.
Modify how you use this color-coding system. Keep red for hot leads and blue for cool leads, but now use black for prospects for whom you have a daytime number. Each day, now, when you have a pocket of time during the day that you can use for callbacks, simply scroll down and progress through the black (or daytime) numbers and make some money. Good agents can get through to about 20-25 people an hour. Even if only a quarter of these turn into business, this will make you about $20,000 for your trouble.
That’s definitely great incentive for you to spend your time doing this, and it will be made possible simply by asking this simple 4 word question during your first contact with prospects: “What’s your daytime number?”
“I’ve found that with the obtaining of daytime contact info, I have been able to increase my follow up calls significantly,” said David Thompson, a real estate agent in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. “Of course this has had a direct positive effect on my income as well as leaving most of my evenings free. I have found that most people now have cell phone numbers which they readily give out, so I am able to reach more prospects during daytime hours.”
“I added to my script to ask for cell and day numbers and more than half of the time I get them (or confirm that the number I already have is their cell phone), said Warren Flax, an agent in Philadelphia, Penn. “What a difference it makes as I am now able to budget my time for follow-up calls during the late afternoon, and then listing appointments at night. This one tip alone equates into an extra meal per week I get to spend with my family.”
“Sign and ad calls often get forwarded directly to my cell phone so I can immediately convert that prospect to an appointment. During the conversation, I simply ask “is the number you’re calling me from your home number or a cell number?” Whichever way they answer, I continue with “great, do you have a backup number just in case I get disconnected, as I am on a cell phone now?” This makes perfect sense to them, and they gladly provide me with an alternate number or two. My caller ID captures the number they are calling on, but my question verifies it is actually theirs. Occasionally a prospect is calling from a friend’s phone, and if I assume it is the prospect’s number, I may call back only to find someone on the other end who has no idea who I am.” – Andrew Krenzer, Bloomington, Minn.
Gil Szabo an agent in Penticton, British Columbia agrees that follow up is key.
“Follow-up is arguably the most important task we do and it is the first to fall by the wayside when we get super busy. Developing good habits such as scheduling time to make these calls, and sticking to that schedule, is of utmost importance. Before I became very organized, I struggled to find time to follow up with the hundreds of leads we generated each month. Although we still struggle to find enough time to follow up with them all, we pick and choose who we follow up with first, much in the same way Craig does. We follow up with the best leads first. This has enabled me to increase my business nearly ten fold in the past few years while pursuing other outside interests.
“We tend to shy away from making these calls because our mindset is all wrong. Traditional methods in the Real Estate industry have taught us to cold call or knock on doors of people who are completely uninterested in what we have to say. We must be sincere in trying to help people and remember that we are simply returning their calls: they requested information from us and we want to do a fantastic job in helping them find what they require. Then we must diagnose their situation and prescribe the best course of action. By working this way I find that virtually all of the people who I call thank me for calling them back.”
“The foundation of growing our business is as simple as taking the initiative to prioritize and master the follow-up calls and relative scripts, said Raul Pineyro and agent from Miami, Florida. “I have become very effective in converting my leads, and all it took was practice and discipline. It is challenging to develop any habit, but after an hour or two on the phone, I am able to book several solid appointments which definitely translate into increased production dollars. My lead generators are a critical resource, and as a Rainmaker, prospect follow-up calls are the foundation of my business. The more calls I am able to make, the bigger my business will grow.”
To find out more about how to get more business by improving your follow up, you can visit http://www.hypertracker.com/go/cp/a23a080730/ where you can learn about my 3-day SuperConference where I train agents on effective follow up and conversion systems.
Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/MAX Worldwide for 15 years. To receive free training from Craig with no obligation, visit: http://www.hypertracker.com/go/cp/a23b080730
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