Today’s post is the fifth in my series, “The Investors’ Realtor.” In previous posts, we have discussed thinking like an investor in order to find and gain investor clients, as well as looking for current hot spots (not necessarily in your own backyard) and going to where the investor actually wants to buy. In the third edition I explained how to start and run a local real estate club in order to gain exposure for yourself, market your services, find prospects, and network with others in your local market place. My last post detailed how to find and generate quality, qualified leads for yourself using principles that apply to all business professionals, not just Realtors.
Building off the tips shared in last week’s edition for creating leads, I would like to discuss following up on the leads that you generate. Great marketing and great lead generation are useless if you do not follow up on your leads promptly and effectively.
Following up with your Real Estate Leads
The first step I perform is to log all of my leads into an Excel spreadsheet. If set up correctly, this spreadsheet can then later be exported to an email blasting service like Constant Contact or sent using a program like Microsoft Outlook (which is what I use) to send bulk emails to these potential clients. While Outlook allows you to blast up to 50 emails at one time, newsletter sites where you pay a monthly fee for their services allow much larger email blasts from your qualified list.
In my “new leads” spreadsheet I create the following fields: Name, Phone, Email, Source of Lead, Date, Notes, and three columns to record each of the three times that I try to make contact with a new lead. I run a separate tab at the bottom of the spread sheet for each category of investment that I specialize in. For example, the first tab may have investors looking for owner occupied homes; the second could be those looking for high rise condos; while the third might be investors looking for single family homes under $120,000. This way, when I am selling more than one product, I can easily reference which product a potential lead might be interested in, and have them neatly categorized in separate spreadsheets.
Organizing and Scheduling
I have found that because of my hectic schedule during the day, it is better for me to set aside time first thing every morning to do follow up emails on potential leads. I highly recommend this strategy. Leads for new business are your most important asset and it is easy to let them slip through your fingers once your day starts moving. I take detailed notes on a yellow pad of paper during all my phone conversations and meetings throughout the day. At the end of each day, I scan all the notes and keep them in a file on my desktop in case I need to reference them. I then transfer all my leads from the day into my spreadsheet so that I am ready to do follow up first thing the next morning.
Setting up my Emails
Since I am usually focusing on two or three projects at any one time, I find it easy and efficient to set up a standard email to use for each new lead that comes in. I create the text for the email in a Word document, save it, and then cut and paste it into the body of the email. I then attach whatever files I am going to send with the text, and email it to myself. From there, I save the email and can then easily pull it up again, forward it, change the names involved and resend the whole package to the next contact without having to recreate it. This saves me a great deal of time and I find that I can usually get back to the 10-15 leads per day that I currently average, in about 15 minutes each morning. In my master spreadsheet I make a note of what I sent and what day I sent it. I generally will attempt three contacts with each new prospect; if they do not get back to me after the third attempt, I do not try a fourth time.
I have found that follow up phone calls placed after I send the first email package generate a much better response rate than simply sending emails alone, so I always try to call if the lead has left a phone number. Of course, I don’t always have access to a phone number so sometimes I am forced to just email. I generally check the “high importance” or “priority” option in Outlook before I send the email. This gives the email a better chance of being seen, even if it ends up in the spam folder.
It is also extremely important to write a good subject line when you are contacting people for the first time. If you can grab their attention, jog their memory as to how you know them, or explain a connection to them, it greatly increases your chances that the initial contact email will actually be opened and read.
The Follow up Email
A basic follow up email from me usually includes: a short paragraph of introduction, a .pdf of one of my recent articles, an executive summary .pdf showcasing the project they are interested in, a proforma, and some sample properties that are currently available. This is just enough to show what I can offer and what I am all about… not too much information that will cause them to trash it before they look at it. I have found that a nice colorful set of .pdf’s presents my projects in a professional, eye-catching manner and greatly enhances the chances that they will contact me or be open to having me contact them. I utilize a professional marketing firm to design my newsletter and email blasts and have found that it is money well spent.
Another great advantage to keeping all of your prospects’ information neatly secured in your spreadsheet, is that you can use it to follow up monthly or bi-monthly with email blasts containing updates on projects that they are interested in, copies of your newsletter, etc. This strategy allows you to stay in front of your potential clients at least once or twice a month. Most people do not buy off of the first contact. Regular educational and informative emails are a great way to build your credibility and stay in touch.
Until next time: My name is Glenn Plantone.