Let’s be honest. Calling strangers can be very off-putting and that is why not many people enjoy doing so. It’s hard to form an organic and lively conversation with a person who you know nothing about. Not only do you not know their personality, interests, or their stage in life, you also don’t know what mood you are going to catch them in, how they are going to react to what you have to say, or the style they like to converse in.
No wonder that some agents never call leads before they’ve had other forms of interactions with them. That means that they are leaving a big opportunity on the table.
The good news is there are techniques, that once mastered, will make calling strangers easy and effective and, in return, tremendously help your bottom line.
So how can one have that perfect conversation with a lead on the phone? Here are the steps that we’ve designed after talking to a number of our successful agents, analyzing and summarizing their phone techniques.
Here is the 6 steps process to follow:
1. Call them ASAP (Speed to Lead Technique)
According to Leads360 research, leads called within 1 min is 391% more likely to be reached. Staggering, isn’t it? But it makes sense. When you receive a request from a Facebook lead, it means people just saw your ad and were interested enough to request the information. This also means they are on their computer or smart phone and are not busy with anything else. The sooner you can call them, the higher the chances that you will reach them in the right mood. Even waiting 3 minutes, brings your chances down to 98%, while calling an hour later only leaves you with a 36% chance of getting in touch.
As Julia Hurley, a top producing agent with Keller Williams Realty, Knoxville TN, says: When a new Facebook lead comes in, “You call them now, right now, right now”.
2. Gather Ammunition
When you call, you want to come through as someone who is knowledgeable and has done his or her homework.
This is when Social Profile information that you get with StreetText becomes really valuable. Scan through it to understand who your lead is as a person, what their interests are, what the like to do and so on. Look for things you have in common. This will be a huge help in building a new relationship, developing trust, and creating rapport.
Also, make sure to pull up an address or a listing on your computer or phone. Having it in front of your eyes will allow you to ask specific questions as the conversation goes along.
As you are talking, add a compliment or two, something like “Looks like you have a beautiful home” or “Oh, wow, really nice choices on the property, good job!” A small touch like this helps establish that you are a nice and caring person and will bring the other side a little bit closer to you.
3. Create a Strong Custom Opening
With the surplus of junk calls, we all get it’s understandable that people can be a bit defensive when they pick up the phone and do not recognize the number.
When you call, you want to have a strong custom opening that can help you to disarm your lead. Within the first few seconds, you can immediately show that you are a competent professional who knows what they are talking about and that you came prepared. Take a look at this opening line:
“Hi, my name is Jonathan and I am calling from Keller Williams. How are you?”
Now compare it to something like this:
“Hi, Susie, my name is Jonathan and I’m with Keller Williams. I was calling to follow up about the property valuation for 435 Main Street. Looks like you said you’ve done some renovations recently, live a beautiful area, and are planning on selling within 6 months. How are you today?
The first line is what most agents would use when calling their leads. They rush to introduce themselves but don’t mention anything about the other person or the reason why they are calling. Often what the other person is left thinking is: “That’s great, but what is this all about?”.
The second opening is a lot more powerful. It tells the other person who they are, that you’ve got some information about them and that it is going to be an informative call. Inserting hyper-personalized data points helps you disarm the lead right at the very beginning. It’s virtually impossible to say no to someone who’s done their homework and it flatters you out of the gate.
You cannot see it, but at this point, they are probably nodding their head (“Oh yea, I did to that!”or “ Yes, I did request that!”) or at least they are thinking “I’m not sure where they got this from but that sounds familiar”.
Here is another example to use:
“Hi, Susie, my name is Jonathan and I work with Royal LePage. I was calling about the request you made to be alerted to new homes before they hit the market, I see you received our first list and were interested in homes between $300,000 and $500,000. How are you today?”
To use this technique, jot down two to four talking points or insights that prove you did your homework, such as:
My name is ____________ and I’m with _____________.
I was calling about ___________ and I noticed _________, __________, and _________. How are you today?
4. Start a Human Conversation
Now that you introduced yourself, told them what you are calling about and that you have a value in front of yourself, it’s time to start a more personable conversation. How do you do that?
Use Acknowledge Respond Pivot technique (ARP)
You can start by saying something like: Tell me a primary reason why you inquired about XYZ? Or why did you look up a property on Facebook?
They might say that they were just looking around, don’t have interest in selling, or just wanted to know more about listings in their area.
And this is key. What they are telling you in these words is “I don’t want to be SOLD. I want to learn MORE before I’m ready to sell”. As sales professionals, we are taught how to sell. The best approach when you are working with a client is looking at it through their eyes. You don’t what them to see you as a threat, you want them to see you as an ally.
And this is exactly the time to use ARP technique (Acknowledge Respond Pivot). This technique allows you to align yourself on their side, as a person who is not trying to sell something, but a person who really gets them, hears what they are saying and are here to help.
This is how it works:
- The first thing you want to do is to Acknowledge them. If they say “I was just on Facebook, looking around, I’m not interested in selling”, repeat exactly what they said, verbatim. “So you were just on Facebook, looking around and are not interested in selling, no problem!”
- And than Respond: “So, I’ve got your address pull up right here and it will not take more than five minutes and I’ll have your property value to you.”
- And than Pivot by redirecting the conversation in a way you want to go. “How long have you owned the home?” Pivot gets a conversation back to being human and back to working together versus against them. This way you’ve affirmed them, you’ve heard them, you’ve given them a response, and now you are pivoting into a direction you want to have the conversation going
5. Dig Deeper
Now that you’ve got them to this place, you want to start Digging Deeper – this will give you the ammunition that you’ll need later on the call.
You’ll want to start asking questions like:
- What’s the number one reason that you are moving right now?
- How many homes have you sold before?
- Have you ever worked with a real estate agent before?
- What was one thing that your real estate agent did that bothered you the most?
- What’s the ideal time frame for selling your home?
Make sure you are taking notes of what they are saying. These answers will help paint a picture of who they are and how serious they are. You are also letting them know that you are really trying to understand their needs.
As you are moving through the conversation, building a rapport, probably laughing as you are telling some good stories, you want to take their responses and start repeating it to them at the end.
“So you want your property evaluation because your neighbor sold their home?” and they’ll say “Yes!”, or “So your family is growing and you’ll need an extra bedroom at some point. right?”, “Yes!”. “You like to entertain and you’ll need a bigger patio?” “Exactly!”
What you are doing is that you are telling your future client that you’ve heard them and you are going to help them meet your needs and that is very important.
6. Give a clear reason to meet
The last step is you want to do it to give a CLEAR and OBVIOUS reason to meet. You need to let them know that it’s in their best interest to meet you in person. Maybe you’ve given them a CMA, but it’s only approximate. You have to see the renovations or conditions of their house. You really need to walk through the property to get an accurate idea of what it is. That way they know there is a clear obvious reason for you to have that appointment.
It’s the same way for buyers. You can tell them that it sounds like they have a clear idea of what they are looking for. You actually have couple homes that meet those criteria right now, why don’t we schedule a time where they can come and take a look. The worst thing it will give them an idea of what’s in the market in their price range.
No matter what the reason might be, present it in a way that speaks to them and shows the obvious advantage of meeting in person.
Using and mastering these techniques will help you reach and win opportunities that you might have been leaving on the table before.
Another amazing part of these techniques is once you get good at them, they can be done by anybody on your team, not just by you. You can practice and role play with your assistant or other members of your team to help them get confident and comfortable. You can customize the script the way you need.
When your team member makes that call, the ultimate goal should not come through as you are trying to sell something but as somebody who is professional and sincerely wants to help. They should mention that they are calling on your behalf and at the end of the conversation book an appointment for you.
When you achieve that, the payback is huge. Now, you’ve taken it from a job that you had to do a job that anybody on your team could do. That means you can focus your time and energy on what you are doing best – meeting your clients face to face and growing your business.
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Elysse Bujold has a background in digital marketing. Having started her career at Disney Interactive Studios, where she grew on a project team advancing initiatives for the company, today she has been driving marketing strategies and initiatives to help grow businesses.