As a real estate agent, it is important to utilize technology and cutting-edge software when it comes to marketing a property or business development. It is an exciting time for agents as technology now allows us to market a property to thousands or even millions of people in the click of a button, utilize algorithms to directly target specific prospects and deploy software that automates our processes.
That said, it is important not to underestimate the power of traditional techniques. Plus, technology can be integrated with door knocking and cold calling in a way that makes these “old school” methods more targeted and effective.
The Case For ‘Old School’ Door Knocking And Cold Calling
I always tell my teammates and mentees, “You can delete an email in a second. You cannot delete a door knock or cold call.” Nowadays, email blasts are not particularly effective. Spam filters are sophisticated and people are inundated with hundreds of emails a day, most of which they ignore. Most importantly, none of these approaches allow for a human-to-human interaction.
The importance of human interaction (particularly, face-to-face) should not be underestimated. I have seen the effectiveness of this strategy firsthand in building trust and connection, and research supports this claim. For example, Forbes Insights conducted a study during the last recession (published in 2009) to investigate whether virtual meetings were as effective as in-person meetings. Although this study was conducted within the context of business operations and not sales, the results are extremely relevant. Findings showed that face-to-face contact was strongly preferred as it builds stronger and more meaningful business relationships, promotes more complex strategic thinking and is perceived as more persuasive. And we all know that nonverbal cues like eye contact, a strong handshake and so on are incredibly important to conveying confidence. Finally, simply being on the prospect’s doorstep shows a level of commitment.
Four Tips For Successful Outreach
The idea of door knocking or cold calling can be intimidating to some people. And that is understandable, especially since we live in a world where we are so accustomed to operating behind a computer. I’ve found these strategies to be highly effective at engaging potential customers and clients:
1. Show up with something of value. Before you go door knocking or cold calling, prepare something of value to offer the prospect. For example, bring a flyer that shares recent sales or rental comparables, market trends or some valuable piece of market knowledge (preferably about a neighbor). Showing up with useful information puts you in the position of offering something, not taking something. Plus, having a deep understanding of the market and trends will help the prospect trust and want to work with you.
2. Use data-backed prospecting. Do not prospect haphazardly — it will not be an effective use of your time. Data-backed prospecting means that you focus on likely sellers based on the characteristics you feel are important. Some examples would be unkempt exterior or poor curb appeal, back taxes or liens, ownership hasn’t renovated recently, the same owner for many years … you get the idea. Be creative.
3. Make it an everyday occurrence, rain or shine. Let’s face it: Prospecting is hard and certainly not for everyone. It is especially challenging if you live in an extreme climate. I’m located in South Florida where it is brutally hot most of the year. Likewise, agents up north want to avoid the outdoors in cold weather. But you need to push yourself to do it. Imagine the first impression a prospect will have when they see you hustling in the snow or 95-degree heat. One strategy that makes door knocking more tolerable is to go with a teammate. This may sound silly, but while one person drives and keeps the car (and the AC or heat) running, the other can jump out to door knock — it saves a lot of time and energy. Going in with two people is even better, because many of us find it harder to say no to two people than to say no to one.
4. Get past the gatekeeper. One of the biggest challenges to prospecting is getting in front of the right person. There is often a “gatekeeper,” such as a receptionist or employee, whose job it is to protect their boss’s time. It takes strong social skills and practice to be able to learn how to persuade the gatekeeper to let you in. That said, here are a few tips:
• Be nice and smile. It seems self-explanatory, but in our busy world, unfortunately, it is not. When you spot the gatekeepers, greet them with a smile and say hello. Take the time to connect with the gatekeepers, and they are more likely to connect you with the prospect. Look for something you have in common and strike up a conversation.
• Use the prospect’s first name. Using the first name conveys to the gatekeeper that you know and have a relationship/connection with the prospect. For example, “I’m here to meet with John.” This is where using data-backed door knocking comes in handy as owner/operator information is often available online. And keep your eyes and ears open: You may hear someone use the name as you are walking in, or notice something telling in the parking lot. If you see a Porsche 911 Turbo parked outside with a sign that says, “Reserved for John Smith,” chances are you should ask to speak with John.
• Convey that you are supposed to be there. Walk in with confidence and say, “I’m here to meet with John.” If you receive pushback, kindly explain that you have something to discuss with John urgently.
On a regular basis, close the laptop, get the air conditioning or heat pumping in the car and start knocking on doors. Chances are, you will see your business explode.