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The Art of Prospecting

The Art of Prospecting

By Darryl Davis
Darryl Davis Seminars


It doesn't matter whether you're a top producer or a first-month salesperson ... when your prospecting efforts dwindle, so does your income.


No matter how busy you are, you must constantly prospect in order to remain successful in real estate. However, for a lot of agents, picking up that telephone is a very difficult thing to do.

Here's the nasty little secret to prospecting - the toughest point is when you first start. It's no different than when you take on any new activity that requires a change in behavior. Overcoming your old habits requires significant commitment and effort before you can feel comfortable.

That's why I want to challenge you to make the commitment now that for the next 30 days, without fail, you will make x number of calls each day, or block out x number of days each week to totally devote to prospecting. If you do that on a regular basis for a month, I promise you that picking up that telephone and prospecting won't be such a daunting task.

You will overcome something. You'll move beyond this vague fear, or whatever it is that might be holding you back. And, believe me, once you overcome it, then it's easy. It really is a piece of cake.

Now that you've accepted my challenge, it's my turn to give you the tools you need to succeed and master the art of prospecting.

15 Powerful Ways to Find Prospects

Some of this may be a bit basic ... and some may seem real daring to a few of you. In any case, here are several highly-effective methods for locating prospects.

1. Work a high-turnover area.

Work a high turnover area ... and document the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. If you are trying to build your inventory, don't go to a neighborhood that has a low turnover. How do you find high turnover areas? Very simple. Tell MLS to printout everything that sold in the past six months and it will show you. Then, look and see who the major listing broker is in that neighborhood, and do a little research on the strengths and weaknesses of that office. This way, when you decide to break into that neighborhood and you are sitting face to face with a seller - and you know that you might be up against that broker - you will have some ammunition. Be prepared to show them that your office has strengths to replace those weaknesses. That is how you blow out the competition.

2. Call-to-action seminar.

A call-to-action seminar is basically a sellers' seminar or buyers' seminar. Here are some topics you can do for sellers. How to advertise a house. How to hold an open house. How to use today's low interest rates to get your house sold. For buyers, you might try: How to conduct a home search in half the time ... or Financing strategies in today's real estate market. There is one drawback to this approach, however: it takes time. But, there are some really good benefits.

The major benefits are that it is a way for you to market yourself and your office. But more importantly, it creates a perception in the marketplace that you are an expert in real estate, and that you are confident in your abilities because you hold frequent workshops. If you choose to do this, don't forget the power of synergy. A couple of agents from the same office can combine efforts to do a workshop. Share the money, do promotions, do mailings and as a great cold call technique, call to personally invite sellers to your seminar. (It's an especially effective technique with FSBOs ... not to call to look for appointments but rather to invite them to a free educational seminar.) There are so many things you can do with it.

3. Work orphans.
No, I am not saying that you should cold call kids without parents. This is a term I came up with. In your office, you have orphans. Here is a definition of real estate orphan. These are people that have been sold a house through your office by some agent that is no longer in your office. These are people who bought a house through you two, three, four, five years ago and are ready to sell now. Here's how a call would sound.

"Mr. and Mrs. Seller? This is Darryl from Power Realty, how are you? The reason why I am calling is I want to apologize. Why? Well, according to our records you sold a house through our office umpteen years ago and the agent you worked with is no longer with our company. The reason I am apologizing is because no one has been taking care of you from our office for quite some time. I just wanted to call and personally introduce myself and let you know that if there is anything you ever need, we are here for you. By the way, do you love the house?" "It's great." "Have you done anything to it? Oh, good. By the way, have you folks ever thought of moving?"

If you take those people and if you do what I said and stay in touch with your past clients once a month, you now "adopt" these orphans and they become part of your monthly follow-up of past clients.

4. Take the long way home.

This is a little thing, but you will be surprised at what a difference it will make. Try driving to your office on a different route. I know what you folks do. You go to your office the same way every day. You'll be amazed that just by taking a different route, you'll see things you never noticed before ... like a few FSBO signs.

5. Listen to your buyers.

I can't tell you how many listings I got because a buyer told me, "You know we just saw a house that we liked, but it wasn't our style." "Oh," I'd ask, "what did you see? It was off an ad, huh? So it was being sold privately? Tell me, where was it?" If you have a good rapport with your buyer, ask for the address and phone number. They will tell you.
Now you call up the seller. "FSBO this is Darryl Davis from Power Realty. I heard that your house was selling. I heard this from one of my buyers. They said I should maybe give you a call. Can I help you?"

6. Double team approach.

Here's an interesting technique. My pal Lynn and I team up. I call a For Sale By Owner, or I see a FSBO and they don't list with me. Now, Lynn goes over there and knocks on their door. She is also from Power Realty, so they say, "No, we already spoke to Darryl." And she says, "Oh, man, if you're talking to Darryl, you're in good hands. He's the best agent in the market." Now, I do the same for you.

You go in you can't close, so we send in the other agent. One hand washes the other. You like that?

7. The investor ad.

You put an ad in the paper and you have prospects call you. Here's what it would say: Homeowner / investor looking for three / four bedrooms in (whatever market you work). Isn't that great? I mean talk about passive prospecting. Put the ad in and let them call you. Now, somebody who is a FSBO or maybe just thinking about selling, might see your ad and call.

8. Get 15 devoted people.

Get 15 devoted people. Devoted people might be plumbers, electricians, gardeners, contractors, divorce attorneys, etc. These are devoted people because they are devoted to you and you have to be devoted to them. You have to have your own master list - people that you will always recommend like this plumber, or this electrician. You call them and say, "Here's the thing. I am very active in real estate. I want to be able to create a relationship beyond what you and I currently have. What I want to do is if anyone needs an electrician, I want to refer you ... but here is the fair trade. If you hear of anyone who is thinking about selling, you call me. Now, I plan on doing a big prospecting promotion campaign in the beginning of the year. We are going to put ads out on me with my photo and if you want to share in the promotion of it, I will give you a little title in the ad."

9. Rental owners.

This refers to owners of vacation homes; investors like that. You want to prospect these types of people because they may own several homes, collecting rent - an aggravation they might be willing to unload. I have plenty of agents throughout the country who get a good part of their listings by focusing on just that.

10. Relo companies and the Employee Relocation Counsel.

Of the 360,000 corporate moves last year, this organization was involved in 40-60,000 of them. How this works is that, let's say IBM wants to move an employee from here to there. IBM hires a relocation company that manages the move and if the seller's home does not sell within umpteen days, the relocation company buys the house so the move can happen promptly for IBM. It is then up to the relocation company to sell it; otherwise they own a home and lose money. If you build a relationship with a relo company, you can get several listings.

11. Builder accounts.

If you can hook up with a builder, you've got tons of listings. Here are three ways for you to break into a builder.

  • If they build subdivisions, ask for just a section. For instance, say they have 50 houses, ask the builder to give you a try in just a section of their lot - say, 10 houses - to market it for them.

  • Ask them for their old dogs. Old dogs are the ones they couldn't move. (Don't call them "old dogs" to the builder!) They have been trying to sell them for a while and they just haven't moved. Say, "just give me a chance and let me prove myself to you." They really have nothing to lose.

  • Offer to do an open house. There is no commitment here. Just do an open house.

    12. Do public open houses.

    This you already know, but it remains a great way to generate prospects and listings.

    13. Conduct a farming and self-promotion campaign.

    These involve work, but are well worth it.

    14. Do a mailing.

    Create a letter or postcard and send it out to your prospects. Now, when you do that, make sure you follow up. Don't just do the mailing and stop there. Mail to 50 people and a week later cold call those 50 people and ask, "Did you get my mailing?"

    15. Have a spotter for FSBOs.

    You tell a bunch of people - kids are great for this one - "if you find a FSBO for me I will give you $15.00. Just give me the name and number and I will give you $15.00." Turn the page. Tell the mailman, the garbage man, the gardener/landscaper, bottled water guy, newspaper boy. Find the bird dog, the nosey neighbor. These are your spotters. You should do this right away.

    Well, I hope you got a tremendous amount of ideas on how to be more effective with your prospecting efforts. If you improve just 10% in prospecting, you will become a stronger agent, a stronger person and you will feel more in control of your career. So accept the challenge and get to work!

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