Direct Mail: Call center vs Voicemail vs Answering Call Yourself

14 Replies

Setting up to launch a direct mail campaign ASAP and i am contemplating three ways to handle the incoming leads:

  1. Answer every call myself
  2. Set up and pay for a call center
  3. Let each call go to voicemail and call back later

Answer every call myself

This is not ideal for me bc i work an 8-5 so i cant just step away every time the phone rings just to get rejected 90%+ of the time by tire kickers.  i can see where this could yield a higher conversion rate, but it just isn't feasible.

Set up and pay for a call center

This seems very appealing bc they receive calls and pre-screen leads with a script and send me just the filtered leads with the pertinent info i can use to analyze the property.  Yes its a paid service, but would allow me to focus on work without running out every so often to answer a call.

Let each call go to voicemail and call back later

This seems like the best approach, its free and i can deal with leads on my time.  BUT i still need to filter through and qualify leads and determine true motivation.  My hope is that making them leave a voice mail will help filter out most tire kickers bc i would think a truly motivated person wouldn't mine leaving a message.  Plan is to use google voice so i get a transcript and notification when this happens.

Does anyone used or swear by any of these methods?  I'm not trying to overthink this process, but i want to do it "right" from the beginning and not waste money.

i appreciate any input!

Thank you!

@Miles Stanley

**Disclosure. I own an answering service** 

First question that I have... How much mail are you sending? 

Answer calls yourself: If you can commit to actually picking up the phone. Even when you're out to dinner, late at night, early on Sat, etc. Great! This gives you awesome rapport with the sellers. 

Word of caution: Have you ever heard the term telephone tough guy? If someone is pissed off about your marketing... And they get the cause of their pissedoffness on the phone... They're going to tell you just how they feel about your (insert favorite sentence enhancer) marketing tactics. (Even though chances are you're doing nothing wrong.)

Set up and pay for a Call Center: This is personally my preference if you have folks with a REI specific background. When you have someone who doesn't know how REI works try to pretend to be your assistant it can get awkward and cluncky. You want to make sure that you're not slamming sellers through a 50 point questionnaire. You'll hear the typical "you mailed me you should know" response.

My experience: I make more off of REI than owning an answering service will ever pay me. I personally haven't had to take a call in years. I'm buying houses every month and I can run my business from anywhere in the world. I've literally spent time in Italy, Spain, France, Portland, Nashville, Saint Louis, and others while running my business just this year.

Let calls go to VM:

We're actually going to be releasing a formal case study. But we're currently calling We Buy Houses companies all over the country who have spent the time to set up a website and do SEO. You know what we're finding? Right at 3% of them actually pick up the phone. If you want to dominate your competition actually pick up when folks call you. If I'm a motivated seller who needs to sell and you don't answer... What do you think I'm gonna do? Call the next guy!

@Ryan Dossey

i was shooting for 750-1000 letters a month for 6-8 months for this campaign

Thanks for the input!

@Ryan Dossey makes a good point about letting calls go to answering machine. I answer all my incoming leads myself when I can. I let one go to answering machine about a month ago, called back 15 min later and guy said he called the next guy and he was just gonna go with him and didn’t even want to hear my offer. I work as a paramedic/firefighter so I have a little more time than you to answer phones calls, most likely. Answering yourself when just starting out in this business is best I think. You gain experience with every person you talk to and can then teach this to whoever you might hire to answer the phone for you using your script and whatever has been working for you when you talk to each lead yourself. If you can only do answering machine now then it is what it is but call back as fast as possible.

Honestly @Miles Stanley you should probably be fine handling that yourself. I'd use something like Callrail so you can record all your calls and listen back to them later. You'll realize this call went south when I said ________. Or wow _________ worked really well. As you start to ramp up and miss calls I'd outsource. Unless... You have a job where you literally can't pick up the phone when it rings. 

One of the guys I work with tried to take his own calls on around 1200 pieces. They ended up swamped and he missed out on a deal because of it. 

When I was working full time (not in REI) My boss had a side hustle and was super impressed with what I did. So he allowed me to take breaks whenever I needed for REI related calls. It was great. But... Very quickly it became clear that I was making more money in REI than they could pay me.

I always tell folks to stick with their W2 till it's costing them money. 

If you're gonna let them go to an answering machine... Don't be the tool bag who makes them sit through a 2.5 minute long monologue of you talking yourself up before they can leave a message. 

A simple sorry I've missed your call. Leave a message and I'll get with you ASAP will do. (If you're marketing as an individual)

If you're marketing as a business you'd be better off with a "Thanks for calling ABC Home buyers you've reached us when we're on the other line or with a client. Leave a message with your name property and contact info. We'll be in touch shortly!"

@Miles Stanley , not sure if it helps but family can help.  My wife has generously offered to pick up the phone when I'm unable to.  I also have a full-time job with weird hours, though. 

@Jeff Foulds

@Ryan Dossey

@Mike Flora

Thanks for the advice.  i may just try taking the calls to start and see what happens.  Voicemail with ASAP call return will be plan B if I'm tied up at the moment.  Call center when ramped up as Ryan put it.

Great stuff!

@Miles Stanley Happy to help. Once you have some calls rolling in if you need help with handling objections, controlling the conversation, or building rapport... Just drop me a PM!

@Miles Stanley

I think you should try answering at first because there are 2 critical skills you need to develop to be successful at picking up properties from you marketing campaigns

1) Listening for clues on DMF (distress motivation flexibility)

2) Building rapport

3) Knowing how to answer the seller's questions - when you get good you will actually know what questions are coming and steer the conversation in that direction.

Once you've at least gotten a good handle on that, then you should go call @Ryan Dossey when you want to scale up. You'll at least have data on how well you do and can compare it to how well Ryan does. Since he's a professional, you should get a decent % of leads being higher potential.

I'm setting up a call center in the last few weeks. from my experience- if your people people don't have background in RE it will be a challenge to "automized" the process until they get the grip of things

@Yiftach Ilyov Like pulling teeth! If you're using a generic service I'd recommend giving them idiot proof instructions. They're not really going to be great at vetting motivation, distress, condition, and pushing for asking price. My recommendation would be to at a minimum capitalize on the fact that you won't miss calls. You want to give them a very if this... then this... Flow. 

Providing them with a visual flow chart may not be a bad idea. I'd have them act as your "personal assistant" and gather enough info for you to call back and sound educated. 

@Ray Lai Thanks! It's definitely worth all of the time we've put into it. I'm sure it's like your guys' mail though. It's a great networking tool and way to bring value to folks. I make way more money on actual REI. (and personally use the service we provide.)

@Miles Stanley

I do a combination. I answer most calls, even when I'm at work. If I am busy I set Google Voice on do not disturb. After 8 pm I also put it on do not disturb and don't turn it off until 8 am.

I have a short voicemail that says my business name and asks for a name and call back number.

I call everyone back within 24 hours.

@Anthony Gayden

And how does your system work for you?  Have you found that the truly motivated people will tend to leave messages or do you get a lot of looky-loos still?


Originally posted by @Miles Stanley :

@Anthony Gayden

And how does your system work for you?  Have you found that the truly motivated people will tend to leave messages or do you get a lot of looky-loos still?


 I haven't noticed any hesitation to leave a message. I haven't received many hang ups, and almost everyone who has called while I was busy left a message.

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