7 ideas on getting free leads

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First step in real estate sales is getting leads. You can pay for them or can try to get them for free. Free does not mean bad quality, but to get them, you will need the skill, positive mindset and the discipline. What are the most obvious free lead sources? Let’s look at a few.

Your sphere and past clients. This is your database. People that know you, trust you and want to work with you. Agents have a lot of hangups about calling this all important lead source. They are not comfortable mixing friendship and business, they are not comfortable saying things like “this is a business call…”, they are not comfortable asking for referrals. This is the business source that works in good times or bad times, whether the economy is booming or in tatters. You can always call on your friends and ask them for business and they will give you business or referrals just for the asking. It is the same with your past clients. If you know that you provided them with the customer service at the highest level, pick the phone and call. They will be happy to hear from you. Make calling your database a part of your daily prospecting routine. It could just be one or two people you call every day. Depending on how close you are to a person or how much business they giving you every year, your follow up approach would be different. If you are getting several transactions a year from a single person, you want to call her every month and take her out for coffee, lunch or a dinner at every opportunity. If someone is not giving you several transactions every year, but gives you one every couple of years, you should still catch up with them at least every quarter. Just decide whether you do it on the phone or in person.

Door knocking is an important part of your prospecting portfolio. You might only be interested in door knocking around your listings, trying to reach out to Expireds or farming in your neighbourhood. Talking to people face to face is generally easier than talking to them on the phone. You build rapport faster and easier. You avoid the Do Not Call (DNC) list issue. There is no disconnected phone numbers. You will get to decide if you want to have this person as a client. They create an impression of you and if they see you even semi-regularly you will have a good level of connection with them. If you market is tough and you happen upon someone who is thinking about selling, they will hold all sorts of still naive beliefs and expectations of a painless process of selling their most prized possession in a stormy market. They will often take a more lighthearted approach to interviewing agents and they have not yet been bombarded with dozens of daily calls from agents looking for a listing. In contrast, Expireds will almost always interview a few agents, if they were unhappy with their previous one. They already have something to go by in their previous experience, they have already been burned and are cautious to a fault now.

Calling around Just Listed/Just Sold. This is high call volume. You need to talk to a lot of people to get leads. Consider what you are doing. You are promoting your listing in the area, getting your name out there, finding out who wants to move and when, advertising your corporate brand and setting listing appointments. These calls are laborious and boring, but they bring results.

FSBOs. Number of FSBOs is market dependant. If the market is growing, FSBOs are selling themselves and are hard to get. If the market is flat or declining, this is a great source of business. The phone numbers work. They are interested in selling. They are suffering. It is almost ideal, except it is again very competitive. Just like with the Expireds. The agent with the most skill wins more often.

Expired listings. You approach Expireds differently in the US and Canada. You can not call Expireds in Canada. Many agents who prospect regularly, risk a fine and call them despite the restriction. If you are prospecting in the area around your listings though, you can “legally fall upon" an Expired listing. In general, Expireds are a very good source of business for a skilled agent like yourself. As discussed, the competition is stiff. Also, if the market is upbeat, there is not a lot of Expireds around.

A few additional differences between FSBOs, Expireds and Just Listed/Just Solds. FSBOs often give up selling by themselves after a few weeks of trying. Imagine how many agents have called already. They have to make a decision of who to interview first, choosing from dozens of agents, and then choosing a listing agent to work for them. There is a lot of factors at play that determine who is going to win. It is a level of the sales skill, conditions of the market, rapport with the sellers, strength and number of competing agents, etc. And there will be competition. Every agent knows that “FSBOs” and “Expireds” is “easy” business. Easy, in sense that the owners are likely interested in selling. And intentionally or not, they advertise their desire to sell. A lot of agents call them. As a result, these two business sources are particularly competitive. Contrast this with working around your Just Listed/Just Sold listings. Even if they do want to sell, no one knows about it yet. Just you. You have no competition yet and it is yours for the taking, if you know how to get it.

E-blasts. If you have a database with emails, you must promote your listings and your brand to your email contacts. If you are using something like Mailchimp, you can see who clicked on what links and follow up with leads based on their interest in your content. These are your free leads. Don’t waste them by not following up. The sea of people is huge and by being selective you are decreasing it to bite-sized pieces you can swallow. It is a simple algorithm. See who is interested and go after them hard.

Social media. There is no reason not to promote your listings through your social media accounts, even if you don’t have an ambition of  becoming a social media influencer. Whether you have a ton of friends/followers or a few, it increases your exposure, strengthens your marketing strategy and costs you nothing.

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