Prospecting for Higher Returns

If you’re not familiar with the sales funnel – also called a marketing funnel or pipeline – it’s a popular way to organize, track and improve marketing activities. At first glance, it appears that the real selling and closing gets done toward the bottom, but your business will experience far more long-term success when you learn to fill the top of the funnel. Key questions:

  • How many prospects do you have at each stage of the funnel?
  • How many prospects need to be in the funnel to reach your financial goals?
  • What activities are required to move prospects through the funnel?
  • Why work the top of the funnel? Because most of your competitors don’t. It’s easier to focus further down, where core real estate transaction skills come into play. But if you step outside your comfort zone and master the top of the funnel, you will do better at the bottom – and at the bottom line. What you are really doing at the top of the funnel is creating opportunities to sell at the lower levels.

    Ignoring prospects until they are ready to buy or sell can be a costly practice. No real estate professional wants his or her earnings to be dependent on changing market conditions.

    Mastering top-of-the-funnel activities means that you get better at developing qualified leads. In time, you begin to ask better questions, evaluate prospects better and move more quickly toward the sale. You will also be able to key in on high-return prospects and activities and not waste time on filling your funnel with low-return “suspects.”

    Lots of real estate pros get tripped up in these top layers and prefer to focus further down the funnel. After all, prospecting takes time and resources and it’s disappointing when leads don’t work out.

    But if you don’t take the time to prospect and farm, you miss out on ownership potential. You will be dependent on someone else – brokers, referrals, third-party vendors – for your leads.

    Getting there faster One way to streamline these early stage activities is to develop a prospect rating system that enables you to quickly sort your leads. Using the funnel also helps to order and prioritize your tasks. Lots of people talk about getting qualified or unqualified leads, but without a systematic approach, you will never know how many can really be converted into new business, repeat business and referrals. A few criteria you can use to qualify are:

  • Motivation – What’s prompting the buy or sell transaction? Does the prospect walk the walk? Expressing interest in buying or selling and taking steps are two different things.
  • Budget – Can the prospect afford to buy a house or pay for your services? Are buying or selling expectations realistic?
  • Timing – Is there a timeline, such as a relocation or retirement date in the picture? Ask questions to assess motivation to buy or sell.
  • Match – Ideally, any potential buyer or seller is your client. In reality, your client base is best built with your specialties…neighborhood expert, waterfront, luxury buyers, condo specialist, etc. Your real estate experience is one thing clients recognize – and the closer it matches their needs, the more willing they are to pay for your expertise.
  • Positioning – Why do people choose a real estate professional? They are looking for local and industry knowledge, ethical conduct and responsiveness. Position yourself as the solution and you will likely get the sale.This can be called personal branding, or creating a strong value proposition – the important thing is that you and your materials clearly outline the results prospects can expect from choosing your services.

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