Techniques for Effective Warm Calling

Warm calls are the best way to stand out amongst the competition in a property market that is becoming increasingly digital. Here are some techniques for effective warm calling that help you dominate the digital landscape

They say that every business is a tech business these days. As technology becomes more widespread, the line between tech companies and non-tech companies gets blurrier.

This means that the technologies which gave disruptors an edge stops becoming such a massive advantage when competitors catch up.

It’s the same in any industry, even real estate. As the majority of agents move toward being tech enabled, the advantage that early adopters enjoyed offers less of an advantage.

Get Ahead by Building Personal Relationships

Just like in the good old days, building personal relationships is still the best way to get ahead for any agent, and getting a contact on the phone is still massively important.

What you don’t want to do, however, is cold call. Cold calls frustrate contacts and add to your stress levels. Instead, you should be using data to find and call warm leads.

Ingredients for a Good warm Call

Because warms calls require a degree of knowledge, you need to have a bit more preparation.  

It’s good to draw on your prior dealings with a contact. Maybe you sold their property in the past? Maybe you only met them once at an OFI. Whatever the case, refer to your last point of contact to break the ice.

The problem here is you could have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of contacts in your CRM. You can’t remember everything!

This is the part where you utilise data from your email campaigns, web leads, CRM, OFI, and any other data you may have gathered.

What you’re trying to find is who are your most interactive contacts. Once you have those you want to gather:

  • A name (obviously)
  • Residential address
  • What properties they interact with

When you know these three things, the only thing left to figure out is how they all fit together.

How to Make a Good First Impression

Studies have shown that people form an opinion of another person within the first two seconds of a conversation, so a good first impression is everything.

When you call someone, it’s a good idea to address them by name to establish trust. When you use contact’s name, you trigger an emotional response making that don’t experience when they hear other words.

You can also use your own name to create a connection. Mention your brand and office, and reference the last time you had contact. This gives the contact context, confirming that you aren’t just a another telemarketer.

“Hi , this is Adam from Newtown Real Estate, I met you at that inspection on Main St last summer. How are you going?”

Without a prior relationship you can still get your foot in the door by being polite and human. If a contact is enthusiastic when they answer, be enthusiastic. If they are professional, play into that. Personality can’t be automated, so it’s a great way to get an advantage over the competition.

Show What You Know

You have established a conversation. The next step is to cross reference your data.

Do you have a property address? Are you 100 percent sure that this is their current address?

Unless you have spoken to this contact very recently, you can’t be too sure. Ask your contact if they’re still at the same address.

After you’ve done this check, you can start talking to a contact about your listings.

The properties you discuss will depend on your contact’s individual behaviour (this is where your research from before comes in). You want to open by talking about the property they’ve clicked on most; their ‘favourite property’.

If their favourite property is a sold property, then a person is likely to be self-appraising. This means you should talk about the great price you got for your vendor.

“Have you heard about the house on Property Street? We sold it for $20,000 above valuation.”

Talking about a property in this way assures the contact that you could get a great price for them as well.

On the other hand, if the contact has been clicking on a for-sale property, mention that property and confirm that they’re in the market.

“I’ve been getting a lot of interest in 4B Broad Street from potential investors. I just thought I’d call and let you know about this great opportunity.”

Ask the Right Kind of Questions

Perhaps one of the most important things to do when you’re calling people is to ask open ended questions. Open questions invite people to start talking, which is how you really catch leads and win sales.

Consider the different kinds of answers you get when you ask someone:

“Are you looking to sell?”

Compared to:

“What kind of properties have caught your eye lately.”

The first question only requires a yes or no answer.

The second question, on the other hand, forces a person to think about the kind of properties they’ve been engaging with, then gets them talking about them.

What if a Call Doesn’t Convert

If you don’t get the response you want from a contact, don’t be disheartened. It’s almost impossible that every single call you make will end in a listing. That isn’t the only reason you follow up on leads.

When you follow up on leads, you can make a sale, or you can get an appraisal, find a listing, garner interest.

Your contact might not be looking right now, but they might be looking soon, or they might have a friend who is looking.

Turn your contacts into connections. This is how you stay front of mind.

The road to success for any agent is paved with good connections.

Building Your Professional Network through Strategic Content

There’s no shortage of articles out there telling you how easy and important it is to build your real estate network through social media.

Thousands of agents across the globe have wholeheartedly embraced the internet to actively build relationships with buyers and sellers in the local community, but how much time are they dedicating to creating content which engages professionals who can help build and promote their business?

Attracting contacts with industry clout is a solid strategy for getting ahead. You’ll not only build your profile but also gain numerous insights that will catapult your personal and business development.

What’s the most effortless way to ignite these connections?

Well-considered, strategic content.

Build the framework with LinkedIn

Plenty of agents use LinkedIn to attract new clients and socialise with like-minded colleagues. There’s nothing wrong with this but it’s a mere fragment of what LinkedIn can do for your professional network.

LinkedIn gives you access to some of the most influential players in real estate. Go after them. Send connection requests to influencers, keynote speakers, group executives, power agents, anyone you can learn from or who can help advance your business.

Don’t add or accept just anyone. Keeping contacts relevant will ensure you don’t dilute the value of your network. As a general rule, if they don’t have a profile picture or play a valuable role within your industry, cull them.

Study, mimic then …

Now that you’re building a more strategic network, you need to make yourself visible within it. This is where content comes into play. To capture the attention of key industry figures you need to engage them in a value exchange.


What do they get from having you in their network?

Study the type of content they’re sharing and interacting with. What publications are they following? What articles are they into? Start by sharing similar content that will pique their interest and encourage a comment, like or share. If what you’re posting has value, you’ll naturally position yourself as a thought-leader which will attract new, quality followers and prepare you for step three…

Innovate

In-between the thousands of phone calls, miles and meetings that you plough through each week, there’s surely a few insights into the industry that roll around in your head. Have you ever thought that these could be of value to someone else?

You don’t have to be a great writer or spend countless hours plugging away with editing software to create content that pops. In fact, it’s often raw material that conveys the most authenticity. You just have to ensure that you’re not making content for the sake of content. It doesn’t matter how slick the result is, the only importance is whether it adds value to a professional audience.

If words are your thing, write a short article series that speaks on changes in the industry. Prefer a more ad-lib style? Make use of your smartphone and create a video series interviewing other movers and shakers in your network.

The possibilities of what you can create are endless but you have to put time into research.  What will perform well? Plan your content in advance and craft a distribution strategy that will get you noticed by the right people, at the right time.

What’s next?

Growing your professional network requires a multi-pronged strategy and takes time. Content plays a big role in promoting yourself with meaning and personality but smart agents know that they have to get out and rub shoulders with the best-in-class to truly secure the relationships that will help them get ahead.

Real life will always trump online.

 

 

Pro-Tip for ActivePipe users

Once you’re in the cadence of producing content, why not use ActivePipe to send it out to your professional network? Firstly, ask your new connections if it’s ok to reach out to them via email. Set up a new ‘audience’ purely for these contacts and add them in. Then, simply drag-and-drop articles and media to create a high quality newsletter that will impress and engage the most important people in real estate.

It’s that simple!

How Thought-leaders Maintain Relationships to Improve Long-term Portfolio Strength

On average, any property will be bought and sold every ten years. ActivePipe SmartFeeds helps agents become thought-leaders to stay front-of-mind until contacts are re-active in the market. Find out how it works and how we’re making it better!

Imagine you’ve just sold someone a house.

We know that a property will exchange hands every ten years on average, but your customers might sell more frequently. This makes it difficult to know exactly when contact interest in the market will peak.

One solution is thought-leadership, which many agents use to engage active and inactive contacts.

That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to show you how you can save time building your thought-leadership platform, and make customers for life.

How to Stay Front of Mind, Long Term

A property owner never stops caring about their property, so you can always guarantee they will have a level of interest in the market.

Most people aren’t real estate experts (as you know, all too well) and can often feel intimidated or inundated without access to reliable information channels.

For this reason, people look to thought-leaders.

Thought-leaders can remain front of mind with contacts even when those contacts aren’t actively looking at property.

It comes down to a value exchange.

Make it easy for people to get the information they want, so they don’t have to look for it. People who aren’t interested in your weekly listings can be engaged with broader updates and information that is relevant to real estate.

Content Ideas for New Thought-leaders

Becoming a thought-leader isn’t as simple as it looks. The most successful thought-leaders in any industry can sometimes spend years trying to develop a following.

The first thing you need is an idea. New technology is great for sharing, but old technology (pen and paper) is sometimes best for coming up with ideas.

In the brainstorming process, think about your target audience (property owners), and what they need or want to know.

For agents, good topics to cover are:

  • Local community news and events
  • General commentary on the property market
  • Trends in interior design and renovation

These are just some basic ideas to get you started. Use these to inspire your own creativity. In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to start your own blog.

If blogging isn’t for you, there are heaps of websites online with sharable content that you can tap into.  Even if you aren’t necessarily creating all your own content, people will still come to you as a source of information if you’re sharing the best content from around the web.

Again, developing a following takes time. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if you don’t immediately see the results you dream of.

Now that you’ve got the content, only one question remains:

How do you share it?

The Easiest Way to Reach Your Audience

SmartFeeds is the digital tool that makes thought-leadership easy.

Email marketing has high engagement in all industries, so it makes sense to use a tool that taps into email and is the reason we’ve developed the ActivePipe SmartFeeds feature.

When you use SmartFeeds in an email, the ActivePipe Feed Engine:

  1. Goes to a website of your choice, such as a blog
  2. Fetches information about that content
  3. Automatically loads that information into an email

From there, it’s easy to send emails to your database that help to improve contact engagement with your emails.

Follow these steps and you become the obvious first point of contact for any client when they re-enter the market, whether that’s in 2 years time, or twenty.

Be the thought-leader that people follow.

 

ActivePipe Year in Review, 2018

It’s gotten to that time where you look at the calendar, realise that it’s only five days until Christmas, and wonder where the year has gone.

2018 has been an amazing year, strength to strength, and we wouldn’t be here without our users.

Thanks for making 2018 a top year.

This one’s for you!

 

In Reflection

It feels like yesterday, not last year, that I was writing the 2017 ActivePipe Year in Review.

This year we’ve launched in the US, built our global support team in Cebu and expanded into the finance industry. That’s on top of all the new features and improvements to the platform.

When roughly 50 per cent of startups fail in the first five years, it makes me proud and excited that we are still growing rapidly into our fifth year, with many new prospects on the horizon.

This comes down to much more than a great product.

I’ve spoken before about the importance of promoting a positive work environment to inspire your team, and I wasn’t blowing smoke. I meant it when I said that leaders need to inspire a sense of purpose in their staff if they want to maintain a culture of success as a business grows.

Our team has tripled in size this year, which has introduced a lot of new members to our ActivePipe family. Rapid expansion comes with its own set of challenges, but the new members of the team have brought different experiences from different backgrounds in different industries.

This diversity of perspective is something that makes us challenge each other and makes ActivePipe such an exciting and interesting place to work.

I can’t wait to show you what we’re bringing you in 2019.

How Was Your Year?

Many of you have absolutely crushed 2018. The ActivePipe Dashboard gives us insight into the workflow of our users and has shown us a lot of people with really impressive results.

This has helped us find a tonne of agents who are doing spectacular things with the platform, and has lead to some great conversations.

Among others, it alerted us to the Ray White Sandringham team, who won 17 appraisal request in their first 24 hours with an ActivePipe account!

Well done to all of those teams who have managed to save money on their path to more listings and more sales.

Not all of you will have had the greatest year. We all have our year that we think of as a ‘bad year’, but it’s important not to focus on the negatives. Instead, recalibrate and prepare for opportunities to come.

A wise man once said:

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

Get excited for the opportunities that are waiting just over the horizon and get ready to make next year a success story.

Make 2019 yours.

We’re right here with you.

 

Your Say

We’re collecting the greatest stories from real estate in 2018 to create a follow-up article! This is a great opportunity for you to share your experiences from the year with the rest of the industry.

This could be something you’ve learned, the things you’ve overcome or stories about your contact relationships. This could even be a funny story from an OFI or your office.

Get in touch, because we want to hear from you!


GET IN TOUCH

Personal vs Personalised: Why the Difference Matters for Agents

The word “personalised” gets thrown around a lot these days. Saying that something is personalised isn’t just a fancy way to say personal. It has its own meaning. Read on to find out what those meanings are and why the difference between what’s personal and the personalised is relevant to agents.

What’s the Difference, Technically?

As an agent, you’ve probably used a “personal touch” and “personalisation” in your customer journeys, even if you haven’t realised it.

“Personal” is a describing word. It means that something is private or unique to a particular person.

“Personalised” is a doing word. It’s all about action and means that something has been made for a particular person.

These may just be words, but the ideas behind them carry weight.

What matters is how you understand the relationship between these two ideas and how you can use that understanding to improve your customer relationships.

Why Agents Should Care

As an agent, for example, you might sometimes add a personal touch. This could mean giving out pens with your name on it, or property profiles with your face on it. Some of the big-figure agents even take it as far as rolling out champagne for an open house!

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to add a personal touch. A personal touch just means doing something to make people recognise and remember the agent they’re dealing with.

This tactic is as old as the real estate game itself.

Making something personalised, on the other hand, is more new-school.

To personalise something is to make it unique to the customer.

More and more businesses are starting to do this. It’s easier than ever to order a t-shirt with a personal message or photo on it. Facebook creates personal videos about peoples’ online friendships and lets their users share them on their wall.

Technology has dawned a revolution in personalisation.

These companies are only making one product, but they change them so that each item is completely unique to the customer.

This takes the guesswork out of marketing and product creation.

In the past, companies had to try and create one product or marketing campaign that worked for the majority of their target market. The genius of modern personalisation is that it lets the customer create the product that’s perfect for themselves!

For the Last Time: How Does this Help Agents!?

To be fair, personalisation isn’t completely new to real estate.

Think of the classic: the agent Christmas card campaign, where an agent handwrites personal messages to everyone in their database. Some of the top agents even do this for all their contacts’ birthdays as well.

At least, it used to be just the top agents.

These days any agent can easily personalise in two steps.

First, you need to know about your contacts to be able to cater to their unique personalities. The obvious details to find out are name, phone, address. On top of that, go the extra mile.

What are your contact’s interests? Do you know what food they like? Do they have a pet?

This level of detail might seem like overkill, but people are doing it. It’s how you get ahead. Knowing these things about a person helps you build stronger relationships with your database.

Getting this information can be easy, if you’re a good listener. You’ll be surprised what kinds of information people reveal about themselves in casual conversations.

To keep track of all your contacts’ details, add an extra column in your database. The great thing about digital contact lists is that you can add heaps of custom fields without your data getting completely out of control.

Once you’ve got an idea about who your contacts are as people, the second step is easy.

There are heaps of digital platforms that let you integrate with you database and send personalised messages to your contacts.

Google Calendar is great example. Just plug your contacts’ birthdays into your calendar and send people a text when you get a notification. If you’re really clever, you can even use a third party app to send the texts for you automatically.

Technology has improved personalisation so that, like Facebook, any agent can deliver digital messaging that is unique to individuals.

What is the difference in something that is personal versus personalisation?

Something that is personalised (made for a particular person) lets you have a personal conversation (unique to an individual).

The ideas don’t compete with each other, rather the personal and personalisation compliment each other.

Things that are personal and personalised aren’t the same thing, but when your sales pitch contains both, it helps you have the better conversations that make customers for life.

 

To learn more about how ActivePipe can help you automate personalised comms, speak to one of our automation experts.


HAVE A CHAT

Buxton: Hyper Relationships through Boutique Singularity

In my journey to understand the inner workings of Australasia’s best real estate brands, I’ve been captivated by the concept of utilising technology to curate personalisation en masse. Successfully integrating automated systems into an industry that relies so heavily on interpersonal interaction isn’t easy and many brands have suffered through the teething process of trying to perfect the balance between efficiency and providing a service that maintains real estate’s integral personal touch.

One brand that has seamlessly mastered this domain is Buxton. Through smart database setups that allow each agent to build hyper relationships with their clients, Buxton is changing the way we think about email automation and its often misconceived perception as a vessel for impersonal spam.

I sat down with Buxton CEO, Nathan Jones and Operations Manager, Fiona White to find out how this boutique brand has positioned itself as one of Victoria’s most personal real estate groups.

At ActivePipe, we are driven to personalise the email communication experience for real estate customers whilst giving agents the ease of intuitive automation. You have taken it to the next level at Buxton. Can you tell me about how you’re achieving this?

Nathan: We’ve set up our database so that every contact in the system is only ever hearing from one agent. The difference between our database and other brands is they have all these siloed databases whilst we just have one. This means that no matter whether a contact has gone to different agent’s OFIs or bought property off someone else, they are still the client of that original agent.

We just wanted to make sure that we never had a scenario where two Buxton agents were sending eDMs to the one person with the same properties or even different types of properties. Relationship singularity is extremely important to us.

We’re trying to build the hyper relationship between the agent and the client through these eDMs and ultimately that came down to us making sure that we weren’t competing with ourselves.

How did ActivePipe help you achieve this?

Nathan: In terms of building out the customer journey, we had been running with a couple of ideas for a few years but the system we were using was a bit like a dumbwaiter. There was no feedback and no intuitive AI behind it to tell us to send out another communication after someone had engaged. It was just, ‘On Thursdays this email goes out’ or ‘On Fridays this email goes out’. We still had that one-on-one contact but there was nothing smart about it. So the ultimate leap for us was taking it to the next level with ActivePipe.

So in terms of your nurture program, imagine that I’m a dormant lead and haven’t spoken to someone from Buxton for a significant period of time. How do you trigger off a journey?

Fiona:  We send out ActivePipe’s Data Discovery Surveys once a quarter. That’s just if they haven’t interacted with any correspondence from us. They’ll also receive monthly ‘Sold’ reports for their desired area. So, regardless of whether you’re interacting or not, you’ll always get an email from us once a month and then quarterly with the Data Discovery Survey.

This leads perfectly into my next question which is around clean data. The Data Discovery Surveys are so effective at keeping a well-maintained database, which Buxton agents are great at. What are some of the benefits you are leveraging through this information?

Fiona: It’s so easy to forecast behaviour when you use the dashboard properly. You can see people’s home address, where they’ve been searching and you can see that they’ve been self-appraising among other things. You’ve got that next level of data rather than just, ‘Oh, I’ve got their address’ or ‘I know where they live’. Our agents are able to have a personalised conversation with their contacts.

Nathan: The piece of data that I’ve always found missing on real estate databases which I find slightly comical is a property address. We’re in the business of building relationships and transacting on properties, so it would be handy to know where people lived. If you know where someone lives, what you can do is pretty limitless in terms of the information that you serve them. Without it, you’re fighting with one arm tied behind your back. That is the importance of clean data, of quality data. If you don’t have it, you’re going to struggle.

I want to know more about how you’re helping create better experiences for your customers. How receptive are they being to the automated comms being sent to them? Are they receptive it or are you getting pushback?

Nathan: We’re not having pushback at all. People want customised marketing. They don’t want generic, impersonal communication coming through. If people shop at Country Road, it asks them to put in their size, height, shape and all of a sudden they start sending comms featuring appropriate clothes. It’s the same thing. People don’t have to time to sift through hundreds of messages to find the two that make sense. They just want the two that make sense. That’s the beauty of what I call the pre-framing process with ActivePipe.

I’m particularly interested around branding and how you maintain brand integrity. How can an agent maintain their individuality without jeopardising the Buxton brand?

Nathan: So for us, it’s all about freedom within boundaries. We create the boundaries of the email templates, and some are tighter than others. With ActivePipe we’ve been able to lock down as much as we feel we need to in terms of branding and logos. In terms of content, we create an absolute truckload of it on a daily basis that we encourage people to use. We don’t limit or cap how much or how little agents use but at least they don’t have to go out there and try and create it themselves. We have a range of blog posts, social posts, local business interviews, photography and trends. Anything you can think of, our social and media team create. Then it’s up to the agents to drag-and-drop what they want.

There’s so much to talk about in terms of technology and training your agents around this technology that we will talk about in our next catch up. Is there anything more you’d like to finish off with today in regards to personalisation and the methods you’re implementing to ensure it?

Nathan: Just that in all honesty the number of non-direct inquiries to our website has been significantly reduced post-ActivePipe, even though our traffic volume has drastically increased, thanks to clicks from the properties and content in our ActivePipe emails. The communication is so targeted that without knowing it, our agents are building a one-on-one relationship with clients and when these clients are clicking on emails they’re just going straight to the agent.

We deliver both automated and customised content, so irrespective of individual agent time constraints, we know at a minimum that we control a certain level of communication with our clients and contacts. Every single email comes from the individual; i.e. John Smith at Buxton, not an impersonal ‘no reply’ at Buxton. It’s as simple as that.

 

Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for part two of my interview with Nathan and Fiona.

If you’d like to speak to someone from ActivePipe about how you can personalise your communications and increase website traffic, get in touch here.

 

Like What You See?

Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for more expert insights from real estate’s top brands, executives and agents.

How Real Estate can Learn from Sport to Improve Customer Experience

How learning from sport can help the real estate industry find simple solutions to make a customer’s path to purchase effortless.

Introducing tablets to collect prospect data at OFIs was a crazy innovation.

We take them for granted now, but if you’ve been in the game for a while, you were probably pretty impressed the first time you used a tablet to collect prospect details.

And this is just the beginning.

Agents can look to the world of sport to see how the future of technology will improve customer experiences to make the life of your customers effortless and improve your sales.

Get Rid of Typing with NFC Chips

Some agents report that a tablet at an OFI can double the number of leads they go home with.

Those leads are often better quality. An added bonus is that contact details are added directly to your CRM, so you waste less time typing out all your contact details manually or trying to translate messy handwriting!`

By taking handwritten contact details out of the equation, you save yourself and your contacts a lot of time. Considering this, the next step is to remove typing details altogether.

Look at how Nike harnessed the potential of wearable technology with their NikeConnect jerseys.

The jerseys are the future of sports apparel, containing the NFC chips that allow some smartphones to tap and pay. This kind of jersey can do things like verify the authenticity of merch, or even replace half-time SMS competitions.

Instead of copying down a number into their phone, then texting that number to try and win a competition, sports fans in the future will be able to just tap their phone to their jersey to enter a comp.

In real estate, smarter apps that use NFC technology could make it so that neither you, nor your OFI attendees need to spend time manually entering details into a tablet. You will be able to capture contact data in the blink of an eye.

This will make it easy to follow up and nurture leads.

Use Beacons to Catch Leads and Map Customer Behaviour

The NFL in the US is a big fan of beacon technology and has been using beacons to pinpoint fans in a stadium. The beacons allow stadiums to improve the customer experience and provide patrons with personalised deals and even make it possible to share which bathroom has the shortest line.

This targeting feature makes beacons one of the most exciting technologies for real estate agents and is already starting to change the way agents capture and nurture prospects.

The benefits are twofold.

An agent can attach a beacon to the front of any house on the market. That beacon transmits a signal to people who pass through the area, giving them info about upcoming OFIs. Think of this like a for-sale sign that ends up right in a prospect’s pocket!

The second benefit happens when people come to the OFI.

Beacons are increasingly accurate. When a beacon connects with a prospective buyer’s phone, they can pinpoint its exact location. This means that in the future, agents will be able to get a map of everywhere a prospective buyer has been during an OFI.

This will give every agent a bird’s eye view of their OFI. You will capture key insights into what aspects of a property you should feature in your listing ads.

This technology is already here and starting to take real estate by storm.

Create Videos Customised to Individual Contacts

When our friends at Visual Domain teamed up with the Melbourne Victory football team, they were given the task of creating personalised videos that address the experiences of Victory’s high-value members. Creating thousands of personalised videos might sound like an impossible task, so it’s a good thing this is Visual Domain’s specialty.

A company like Visual Domain can capitalise on your CRM and use that data. A video that’s made this way can contain a contact’s name as well as cater to a viewer’s personal experience and serve them only video clips that are relevant to them.

In this Melbourne Victory membership campaign, the Visual Domain team used data on which game members attended. When the member receives their video, they only see clips with highlights from the games they saw.

Using this kind of marketing harnesses powerful emotional memories for an effective call to action.

At the moment, this kind of video is taking off, as more and more brands are starting to see the value in highly personalised content. In real estate we see videos that contain the specific houses that contacts have shown interest in, allowing brands to effortlessly address specific contact needs.

Finding Inspiration for the Future

Sometimes, it helps us to look to other industries to see where technology will be heading next.

By looking at other industries, we can start to see how our own industry will change and get excited about the improved customer experience of the future. (more…)

Why Quality Relationships are More Valuable than Contact Quantity

The lessons real estate taught me about how prospecting for “rich info” builds quality relationships and leads to real results!

 

At the age of 18, I was a fresh faced young agent who was trying to make a name for myself. I had stepped into a world filled with people who were sometimes twice my age and mostly a million times more experienced than me.

In those days, I spent a lot of time prospecting, and prospecting meant going from door to door, trying to build my database. By the time I was 20, after two years in the game, I had 70 contacts in my list.

I know what you’re thinking: Only 70 contacts?

Even though some would consider that number low, there is one thing my database had which made it a highly valuable asset.

It all has something to do with what we call rich info.

How to Prospect for Quality Relationships

I was lucky to have a mentor who valued quality relationships over contact quantity, and who drilled that message into me.

In our office, you weren’t allowed to put a contact into your database unless:

  • You had an address for that contact
  • That contact was the homeowner
  • That person had agreed to be on the office mailing list

Furthermore, you couldn’t claim a contact if anyone else in the office already had that contact in their database.

This might seem a bit extreme (it certainly seemed extreme to me at the time) but these restrictions were in place for a very good reason and ended up teaching me a very important lesson about the value of good relationships.

What is “Rich Info”?

Rich info is a small piece of information that tells you a big story.

Before I could understand why my boss was so particular about keeping data clean, he got me to start thinking about why I wanted contacts in the first place.

Contacts are called contacts for a reason (it’s because you stay in contact with them).

While it might look good on paper to have a large database, large databases are cumbersome and difficult to manage. If a database gets messy and out of control, it’s a very big job getting it back in to shape.

How do you avoid this problem?

Don’t add a contact to your list unless you have rich info!

A name and a phone number only tells you how to get in touch with someone and what to call them. One piece of data, no story.

On the other hand, a contact’s address lets you find out how long someone’s been in a place, how large their family is and gives you a rough idea of their budget. This is all information you can find out before you have a full conversation.

Your mailing list becomes pure gold if, in addition to having a lot of data on each contact, all of your contacts have agreed to be on your mailing list. When you are upfront about inviting people to join your mailing list you give an impression of trustworthiness.

This leads to quality relationships.

Then How do I Get the Data?

There’s a lot of merit to farming your area the old-fashioned way and it will always be super important for agents to be in the field and among the community.

In addition, proptech is giving modern agents more tools to automate the farming process. This doesn’t mean list buying, it’s more about value exchange.

Most people are chasing suburb specific news and listings. Instead of just using an email to ask for someone’s details, use marketing automation tools to offer specific information suited to your contacts’ needs.

More and more people are starting to use tools which let you do this, which is why we are starting to see a sharp decline in outdated practices like list buying.

Seems like a Lot of Effort?

It is.

But the bonus is, when you put in the leg work, your customers will be loyal to you.

Part of the reason I had such a tough time as a young agent was that the more experienced agents in the office had lifelong relationships with so many people from the neighbourhood.

It is hard to build those quality relationships at first, but the flipside is that, once you do, it’s very hard for anyone to come between you and your high-value contacts.

Nurture Your Database

My old boss taught me that it’s important to get over the excitement of having a large database, and to realise that it’s much better to have quality relationships with the contacts who know you.

Getting started was hard at first but building a solid database meant that I built momentum. Eventually I was making one to three appraisal requests per week.

It’s this philosophy that spills over into all areas of my life.

Quality not quantity.

It’s the relationships for life that count.

Let Your Personality Shine Through Content

If you’ve chosen a career in real estate, it’s safe to say you’ve got a bit of pep to you.

Whether you’ve been gifted with an innately strong personality, or it’s a learned bravado that makes you pick up that phone for the umpteenth time, as an agent, you can’t afford to not let your flag fly and take the lead in a conversation.

So why are so many agents producing such bland content? In 2018, all the tools are so nicely laid out for the taking. Social media is free (and really easy), images, videos and .gifs can be easily assimilated across a range of platforms and best of all, you’ve got that winning personality and just the right splash of salesmanship, ripe for the picking.

If done right, content marketing is your best friend. It attracts contacts to your website, educates them and then convinces them that you’re the agent for the job. It reminds previous clients that you’ve got your finger on the pulse and keeps you front-of-mind when it comes time to get back on the market. It gives your brand (YOU) a sense of authority and a leg up on the competition.

Too good to be true?

Research tells us that content generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. These are some pretty serious stats. But it doesn’t mean you can just throw up any old thing and hope for the best.

Your content is a reflection of you and the experience people have with you. So make it easy for yourself and let you do the talking with these 5 tips that’ll turn you into a content marketing genius with a personality that shines.

1. Write How You Talk

This is a really simple way to get started. Writing copy that will go out for the world to read can be daunting, so many agents fall into the trap of overthinking what they write or trying to emulate others out of fear of getting it ‘wrong’. This only leads to dull, dull, dull.

Get started by getting started. Write down your copy exactly how it sounds in your head and go from there. You can always go back and do a tidy up when you’re done. This will establish your own unique ‘voice’ which you won’t struggle to replicate in the future.

2. Talk in Stories

Having a slow news week? Don’t stress, it happens to everyone! One of the best things about online content is there are no set rules and including anecdotes from your everyday life is totally acceptable and a great way to give your contacts a glimpse into your life (a two-for-one deal because you’re also building a relationship they can trust).

The trick here is to weave a business message into your stories. Did your favourite footy team make the grand final? Why not talk about how the competitiveness in your friendly tipping comp got you thinking about competitiveness in the real estate market.

Did your daughter just start at a new school? Write a Facebook post about how funny she was getting ready for the big day and wish all the families out there a great start to the new school year.

Stories allow you to connect to your community and seep into their subconscious. Marketing gold.

3. Know Your Audience (and don’t be afraid to show it)

Unless you’re specifically talking to a corporate crowd or other agents, no one cares if you know all the big fancy real estate terms.

Rather than setting out to impress with your shop talk, picture your audience sitting in your backyard enjoying a Sunday BBQ. How would you talk to them about real estate in this scenario?

Write it down.

4. Use the Tools

Writing not your thing? That’s cool! Thank the tech gods above that in 2018 you don’t have to be a poet laureate to let your inner self out into the world. Facebook Live and Instagram stories are fast becoming a staple for savvy agents with marketing know-how. Not only can you showcase your personality without having to write down a word but you’re engaging in a practice which Forbes magazine says is now ‘essential’ for growing your brand.

Give your followers a live tour of one of your properties, or host a Q&A session that answers questions they send in.

Still too much for you? Share videos and articles that you like on your different channels! Chances are, if you like something, someone else will too.

5. Have Fun

Don’t take it all so seriously. Have a laugh (at yourself if need be) and put yourself out there. There’s nothing more engaging or authentic than someone who’s having a go and being themselves.

That’s the key takeaway everyone. There’s a million different ways you can go about sharing your content but as corny as it sounds, there’s only one you.

So, let yourself shine!

 

 

Mastering the Skill of Client Expectations

When you are vying for a new client’s business and you are aware that there are several other agents whispering in their ear, it’s hard not to make big statements about what you can achieve to get them over the line and secure their listing.

In a competitive market, it’s human nature to assert your superiority with sweeping sales statements that you know may be a little far-fetched.  Unfortunately, this is why there is a low level of trust towards real estate agents and why many clients walk away from a transaction feeling misguided.

After speaking to thousands of agents and clients around the world, we’ve learnt that honesty is the best policy and those who promote complete transparency are those who triumph. Being honest with your prospective clients and managing their expectations will not only cement a positive relationship with them, but they will be the first to recommend you to their network.

Being known as the agent in town everyone trusts, will always work to your benefit, so here are some tricks for managing client expectations. Your business will thank you for it!

Be transparent about what you can deliver

No-one knows the market better than you do. Your finger is constantly on the pulse so you know exactly how a suburb is performing and what the demand is like. If you know a potential listing’s value falls between $550,000 and $600,000, tell the sellers that. Don’t say you are going to get them $600,000 + and hope for the best, because it will come back on you at the end. The vendor will think that you haven’t put in the hard yards, which will lead to a poor review. Being honest about timelines is just as important. As the market slows down, remind sellers that their property might be sitting on the market for longer than expected because there is less demand out there. The key learning here is under promise, over deliver.

Establish outcomes

Every real estate agent operates in a slightly different way. This means that vendors can come to you with service and deliverable expectations that deviate from what you provide. For example, they may expect you to answer the phone at every hour of the day whether it’s 10am or 10pm. Perhaps they’ve seen those ads for agents who work for a set free rather than commission and are questioning why you don’t do the same. To avoid complications, the best thing you can do is establish your outcomes from the get go. This can include a timeline, advertising budget and commission rate.

Write it down

Once you establish your outcomes, write them down, have your client look over them and once you are both happy, get the contract signed off. Having physical proof of the terms and conditions keeps you both accountable and is a great reference if either of you think you are going off track. If things go wrong, as they inevitably do sometimes, you know you have something to fall back on. Be specific. The clearer you are, the better.

Overcommunicate

One of the biggest problems in the real estate industry is a perceived lack of communication. We understand that agents are busy, but at the end of the day, they are managing the sale of their client’s largest financial investment. This is a big step for many vendors, who are often emotionally invested because they’ve spent years under that roof and may have even raised a family there.

Some of the little details in the selling process that you wouldn’t think much about mean a lot to them, so keep your clients in the loop as much as possible. No-one who’s in the process of selling their home is going to be bothered by an additional email or phone update. They’ll more than appreciate your thorough service, proactivity and enthusiasm.

Stay in touch

Just because the sale is complete, doesn’t mean you should stop communicating. In five years time, your vendor might sell again and when they do, you want to be the first person that comes to mind. Staying in touch doesn’t have to be laborious as systems such as ActivePipe exist. These automate your customer touch points, so that emails are being sent out on your behalf with minimal effort. If your contacts are seeing your face over these years, you’ll be the first person they call when they come to market.

Remember…

If you’re honest from the get-go, establish the conditions of sale and communicate with your contacts throughout their entire journey, they’ll be happy with the outcome no matter what. Doing these things show that you’ve tried your best.

Don’t underestimate the value of managing your clients expectations. For their happiness and yours.

Half Your Buyers Are Also Sellers

Each week, most agents across Australasia, the UK and US come into contact with twenty or more buyers – even in a quiet market. 

Our stats show that across these markets, 36% of those buyers are also sellers who are researching the market and agents operating in their neighbourhood. This means that on average, agents are quietly ignoring the fact that they’re running into 5-7 prospective sellers each week. It’s no wonder that so many agents struggle to keep new listings coming in consistently!

When it comes to great service, buyers in the residential market are getting the short end of the stick and it’s this area of service that’s giving most agents a bad name.

The moment a prospective seller is identified in the marketplace agents are crawling all over them trying to get pen to paper. On the other hand, would-be buyers calls are ignored, their emails go unanswered and in general, if they are followed up it’s done so in a less than perfect manner.

A couple looking to sell and relocate to a larger home recall their experience:

“When we called an office asking about a house that had come to market, we were told that the agent would call us back. We waited two days and called again… still no luck. It was really frustrating”.

The couple had a house to sell in the same area and the sale would be necessary for them to bridge the gap financially.

“We spent the whole time chasing agents and trying to inspect properties that we were interested in purchasing. We felt like we were ignored or had to scream out for attention”.

Eventually they made an offer on a property and decided not to sell through the same agency they were buying through.

“By the time we were ready to put our house on the market, we were so frustrated by the experience that we chose someone completely different to sell through. They’d actually returned our calls. We didn’t want the future buyer of our house to struggle the same way we did, just to get a hold of the agent selling”.

Sound like a common scenario? It absolutely does because it happens every day.

Six star client relations and service are a must for growing your income and market share and it starts from the first impression. If you are feeling too stretched to return a call and email enquiry, it’s time to take a good look at automation to leverage your service output. Given that almost 50% of your future business will come knocking on your door,  you can’t afford to overlook the basics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Design Tips To Boost Email Engagement

When it comes to design, the old saying stands true. Less is more.

I’ve been a designer for close to 15 years now, and whilst the technology has changed, the basic principles are still the same.

At the core of everything I do, is a desire to improve a user’s experience (UX) and minimise visual clutter so the call-to-action is clear and audiences know exactly what their next step is.

We all know what a bad email looks like. It’s busy, content heavy and lacks cohesion, so it probably ends up in your trash folder before you get to the bottom. This can undermine your credibility and damage your reputation so here are some tips to save you from making rookie design mistakes.

What is UX?

UX refers to the emotions and attitudes a user feels when they are on your website or interacting with your email communications.

The words you choose, the colour scheme you implement and the images you upload all contribute to an overall vibe that subconsciously affects the person behind the screen’s impression of you and your company.

Why is this so important?

An understanding of UX can greatly improve the interaction between you and your clients, as a harmonious and visually pleasing layout makes them more likely to take you seriously and click through to your listings. We all know that the more clicks your property gets, the more likely it is to sell faster and for a higher price, so it’s worth making sure each property stands out and isn’t lost amongst the digital mess.

How do I improve my UX?

Keep your designs clear, clean and simple. Cull irrelevant information and only display what your contacts need to see. Give them just enough to pique their interest and they will be on the phone to you in no time. This gives you a chance to cement the relationship rather than just being another agent in their inbox. People lose interest quickly, so put the most critical and engaging information up top and always keep in mind that visual hierarchy is important.

How do I put this into practice?

  • Space is everything. In the world of email design, this means plenty of white space, minimal imagery and an overall reduction of content.

  • Try and stick to three colours or less and a maximum of two fonts. This isn’t a school project so stay off the Comic Sans and reign in the urge to distract your audience with flashing icons and over-the-top graphics.

  • Make sure your copy is succinct. The less words you use the better, as people tend to read emails on their phone whilst in transit. They scan communications looking for key words, so reel them in with a teaser and provide a link for more in-depth information.

  • In saying that, try to use some descriptive headings as they break up your content, making it easier to navigate and digest.

  • If all else fails, beautiful, high quality images are always a winner so jump on one of the many free image providers to be found on the internet  and find something eye-catching that visually represents your key message. As always, avoid overdoing it. Remember our mantra… Less is more.

  • Keep your call-to-action clear. Ask yourself what you want your contacts to do after reading your email. If you know ‘why’ you’re doing it, creating a CTA should be simple.

The Verdict?

Simplicity is a key principal of good design and the reason why some companies thrive whilst others fail. Get inside your user’s mind and try to imagine what experience you would like to have if you received this email yourself.  Would you want to be inundated with superfluous information? Or would you like clean lines, minimal copy and space for property listings to shine?

Go ahead; remove, organise and hide what isn’t needed. If you keep it simple, you’ll be on your way to being a top-notch email designer, no matter what your skill-set.

Unsubscribes Aren’t Always Bad News

“Awesome, I just got an unsubscribe!” said no one ever.

You spend years building up a database of contacts and weeks crafting a series of emails you think they will love. You activate the campaign and are wrapped with all the positive feedback you receive from your clients.

Then you check the reporting and realise someone unsubscribed. They no longer want to hear from you and that can feel like a real punch in the gut.

Instead of getting all worked up about it, I challenge you to see it as a natural part of the marketing process.

When ActivePipe starts communicating with your database after years of radio silence, it’s common to experience a few unsubscribes. This simply means that your contact has no current interest in the property market so don’t take it personally.

Here’s what to do when an unsub has you feeling down in the dumps:

Revisit Your Dash

Go back to your ActivePipe dashboard and remind yourself of how many people are interacting with your emails. They’re highly engaged with your content and are volunteering vital information about their property intentions. Who cares about a couple of unsubscribes when thousands of people are enjoying your content.

Call Your Unsubscribers

Call the people who unsubscribed and ask them for their feedback on the campaign. This conversation is a great opportunity to find out where they are positioned in their property journey so you can update their status in your database.

“Hi Madeleine, it’s Joe from so and so real estate, how are you?

I noticed you unsubscribed from my email list so I thought it would be a good time to catch up and see what you’ve been up to since we last spoke at 123 Random Street.”

Adopt a Quality over Quantity Mindset

Real estate agents often compare the size of their database, assuming the higher the number of contacts they have, the more leads they can generate. This is not true and having an interactive database is far more important than having a loaded one. Communicate with those who genuinely want to hear from you and deprioritise the rest.

Clean Your Database

Unsubscribes are a great way to clean up your database without doing any extra work. Having unengaged contacts can seriously affect your deliverability so see their unsubscribe as an opportunity to improve your customer data and reach those who want to hear from you.

Don’t Be Disheartened

Remember that most people have an interest in the property market, even if they are not ready to transact. Don’t let a few people stop you from keeping in contact with those who want to know about property trends in their area. It might be a year or two down the track but guess who they are going to call when they come to market? You!

At the end of the day, every sales person experiences the heartache of an unsubscribe from time to time. Be more productive by communicating to the people that want to hear from you and start cementing the foundations of a genuine relationship.

An unsub is a blessing in disguise.

Divorce – A Love Story For Real Estate Agents

Today we are going to tell you a story. It starts out like all good fairytales do with a young girl named Gabby and a young boy named Gav who meet in highschool and fall madly in love.

After a few years and a lot of hard work they finally scrape together enough money for a deposit and approach Agent Ash from the office around the corner and ask him to help purchase their first home. Within a week they find the perfect place and even though it could do with some renovations and it’s not in the most desirable suburb, it’s a house to call their own and they couldn’t be happier.

You can guess what happens next. Gabby comes home one day with some exciting news. There’s a bun in the oven and the little one-bedder she and Gav bought five years ago doesn’t have enough space for the the little rascal to run around. It’s time to upsize!

Luckily, Gabby and Gav know exactly who to call. They’re still receiving regular local sold communications from Agent Ash so they’ve got his details and are ready to go. They find the perfect three bedroom house in a family friendly suburb and Agent Ash helps them put their current apartment on the market. It sells for a great price, they move into their new home and the entire selling process has been a dream.

A few years go by and the honeymoon period is well and truly over. Gav can’t keep away from the horses and Gabby has had enough. She takes baby Nick and files for divorce. Neither want to keep the marital home so they ring Agent Ash and ask him to list their property once again.

Agent Ash sees an opportunity. He knows that they’ll both be looking for a new place to live and he realises that in a few short years he’s already done three transactions through Gabby and Gav, with two more pending.

It doesn’t take long for Gabby to meet a handsome new beau named Craig. She wants a fresh start so she uses the profits from the sale of her previous home to buy them a beautiful two-story house in the suburbs. Who suggested this house as the perfect place to raise little Nick? Agent Ashley of course. He sent it to her through his weekly listings email and she fell in love with it instantly.

Poor old Gav isn’t having such a great time. He’s heartbroken and in need of a seachange so he picks himself up and moves into a tiny bungalow down by the beach. Agent Ash was a shoulder to lean on and helped Gav organise the move.

So far, that’s five wins for Agent Ash and it’s not over yet.

Gambling Gav has a new lease on life, he gives up the horses and starts sailing lessons. Soon enough he has a great idea and starts his own charter business for tourists in the area. What a success! Within a few years the money is really rolling in and he’s outgrown his little bungalow. Now that he has plenty of cash in the bank, he gives Agent Ash a call and has him on the hunt for a multi-million dollar home with a tennis court and enough room for a pony. Agent Ash can’t believe his luck!

We’ve nearly come to the end of our story. After selling the bungalow, Gav’s business continues to thrive and he decides to invest the profits into a couple of properties that eventually turn into an extensive portfolio worth millions of dollars.

Who would have thought that when Agent Ash helped Gabby and Gav buy that run down apartment when they were just a couple of loved-up teenagers, it would lead to thousands of dollars in commissions and a lifetime of referrals.

In real estate, an agent should always keep the long-game in play. As divorce rates continue to climb it’s important for agents to understand that these life milestones offer an opportunity to service two individuals throughout their life journeys.

You don’t know where keeping in touch can take you, it might just mean you earn yourself a customer for life (or two).

To read more about customer lifecycles and why First Home Buyers are an investment for life click here.

Prioritising Authenticity In Your Business

In a world driven by fake news, social media and an unrelenting 24-hour internet cycle, it’s not surprising that consumers have pushed back and demanded something more authentic from business.

The age-old saying, “the customer is always right”, has led marketing teams around the world to search for a more personable story that resonates with heart.

Some get it right. Dove is a great example of a corporation that’s replaced “corporate” with “human” and made millions of dollars telling women that they’re beautiful, no matter what their perceived flaws are.

Adversely, we see those who get it really, really wrong. You might have heard about the recent Pepsi debacle where millionaire reality star Kendall Jenner fronted a tone-deaf campaign that tried to connect Pepsi with the longstanding racial equality movement. The ad was subsequently pulled and Pepsi had to apologise for their distaste.  

So how can those in real estate cultivate their authenticity and let their personality shine through in a way that isn’t cringe-worthy or tired?

Identify your core values

The key is to work out your ‘why’. Research shows that ‘why’ driven communications are the strongest and longest lasting. Your ‘why’ comes from working out your purpose and why you’re driven to do what you do everyday. If you need some inspiration, check out our blog on why it’s so important to build your brand story.

Engage with your customers

Once you’ve determined your core values, it’s time to find a fresh way to communicate with your customers. In real estate this means not being afraid to show your flaws! Why not use the Facebook live stream feature as a means of publicising your latest OFI success. Leave the bloopers in! Have a laugh at yourself! Consumers really appreciate this and will feel like they can connect with you on an authentic level.

Show the moments that happen behind the scenes. Maybe it’s a co-worker’s birthday, so you get a cake and get the office to sing “Happy Birthday!” Don’t miss out on this opportunity to show your softer side and let your local community into your little family.

Drop the jargon

Quit throwing around complex real estate terms that the everyday person won’t understand. This will only alienate potential customers because they will feel intimidated and are therefore less likely to ask for your help. Instead, make an effort to explain things clearly and simplify the often daunting process for them. Using inclusive language is ideal for social media as it helps people feel like they’re part of your family. For example, “Thank you to our friends in Smithville. We love being part of your community”.

Explaining the problem you set out to solve

Every business exists to solve a problem. In real estate, you are working hard to help people find the right home at the right price. To discover the core of your business’ authenticity, you need to very clearly define the problem you set out to solve and outline how you do it. Are you a high-end brand dealing with luxury properties or do you specialise in helping families on a tight budget find a nook to call their own. Case studies are a great way to demonstrate your success without tooting your own horn.

Get Excited

Show your passion for real estate in everything you do. Whether that’s having a warm smile when you welcome someone into an open home, getting involved at the local footy club or sharing real estate tips and tricks with your followers, if you believe in what you do, people will want to work with you!

How Content Marketing Will Help you Generate and Nurture Leads

Content marketing is the new marketing.

Getting on your soapbox and boasting about your past sales isn’t going to win hearts so it’s time for real estate agents to take a new approach to their online marketing. They should focus on creating content that provides value rather than always focussing on a hard sell.

Imagine if you were a first home buyer reading an article about the mortgage process or an investor who stumbled across a Facebook post about the hottest new rental suburbs to look out for in 2018. Don’t you think you’d be intrigued and want to know who the expert behind the wisdom is? Each of these pieces of content will be tied to your name, face and a strong call-to-action that will position you as the perfect person to buy or sell their home.

The proof is in the pudding.

According to industry experts, content marketing generates three times as many leads as other outbound forms of marketing and has a conversion rate that is six times as high.

Here are five benefits you will gain if you put some time aside to write content each week (we’ve even thrown in a couple of tips to get you started).

Content Creates Awareness

There are hundreds of real estate agents working your farm area and potential customers don’t have the time to contact each of them individually. They rely on a quick Google search to see who is out there selling properties and getting involved in the community. The easiest way to get in front of the masses is to have a strong digital presence. This doesn’t mean a thumbnail sized photo of your face at the bottom of your office’s website, it means having as many online marketing initiatives as you can. Facebook ads, EDMs and blogs are a great place to start. People in the market will come across your digital collateral in their search for an agent and will be impressed by your local knowledge and proactiveness. You are showing them you can market yourself, which gives them confidence in your ability to market their property.

Content Builds Trust

Sharing insights from the property market will prove that you care about your customers and genuinely want them to succeed. This abolishes the stigma of self serving agents who are only interested in their commission cheques. By giving tips on preparing a house for impressive OFIs or how to beat your reserve on auction day, you are positioning yourself as a go-to-guy for all property related information. You will become a trusted advisor and friend, building long-term relationships that will lead to sales down the track.

Content Encourages Engagement

One of the best things about social media is the way interlinking networks increase your reach. If a person is interested in an ‘event’ you create on Facebook or likes one of the blog posts you share, their list of friends will see the interaction. This will get you in front of hundreds of potential leads, which can be exponential. A ripple effect is created where friends of friends are encouraged to engage and these are people who would have never come across you if you were still relying on letterbox drops and cold calls.

Improved SEO

Once you start playing with different content strategies and find something that works well, you’ll start noticing that your search engine rank improves. This means if someone Googles “Brisbane Investment Properties” they’ll be directed to a blog you wrote about “Queensland’s Hottest Suburbs For Rental Returns”. Add a great supporting image and strong CTA and chances are you’ll have a voicemail or email in your inbox in minutes. Your content has effectively done your marketing for you.

Improved prospect quality

You’ll be amazed by how easily you can see who is interacting with your social posts and what they are looking for. If one of your contacts tags a friend in a blog you’ve written about the best suburbs for first home buyers, it’s safe to assume that they are on the hunt for their first home. What a perfect touch point for you to reach out and send an inbox message offering your services. Not only will your prospects be of a higher quality, you’ll know exactly what to say to get the conversation going.

In conclusion…

Content marketing is a cheap and effective way to generate and nurture leads while positioning yourself as a thought leader that your community trusts.

It’s all about putting yourself in the mind of your customer and thinking about what will be relevant, engaging and valuable in their property journey.  

Don’t be scared to have a little fun with it. Let your personality shine through and don’t forget to choose engaging images that grabs attention.

It’s easier than you think.

Understanding Milestones to Create Customers for Life

It’s a total cliche to start a conversation with “we all know life is unpredictable” but some sayings are overused for a reason.

Life really knows how to throw a spanner in the works when you least expect it. One minute you’ve got your life perfectly mapped out, the next your hubby has been made redundant and you don’t know if you can cover your mortgage repayments on one income. Or maybe after months of trying, your girlfriend finally falls pregnant and you realise you need to move out of that one-bedder in the city to something more roomy in the suburbs.

None of us know what is around the corner. You’re an agent, not a clairvoyant so how can you predict when a client’s situation is going change and it’s time for them to make a move. The truth is you can’t, but one thing you can do is recognise the key turning points in life that change a person’s property needs.

If you have this, you will always be able to turn a conversation into a listing opportunity and a listing opportunity into a long term and prosperous relationship with your contact.

Here are some major milestones to look out for and why:

Having a Baby

A new bundle of joy means a new bundle of space is required in the household. For many young parents it signifies moving from the first home they’ve bought together or perhaps looking to buy in the suburbs after years in an inner-city apartment. For you as an agent, this means upsize, upsize, upsize!

Divorce

When a couple splits, there are two common scenarios that take place. One of them chooses to stay in the marital home whilst the other looks for something smaller or they decide to cut their losses, sell the property and start new lives, in new pads. As cold as it sounds, divorce offers a great opportunity for agents to capitalise on a two-for-one deal.

Retirement

After working for the man for the better part of forty years, it’s no wonder that those on the cusp of retirement are dreaming about selling the family home and setting up somewhere to enjoy their golden years. Perhaps it’s a wealthy investor wanting to sell off her property portfolio to take a river cruise through Europe, or maybe it’s a grey nomad ready to trade it all in for a motorbike and a unit on the beach. Either way, retirees are the ultimate downsizers.

Bereavement

This can be the most difficult chapter in a person’s life cycle and needs to be treated with utmost sensitivity. Needless to say, this isn’t the time to get dollar signs in your eyes and swing into bull-in-a-china-shop commission mode but it does pay to know the general property habits of those going through loss. That way, you’ll know what they’re looking for and how to service them better. If it’s the loss of a spouse, chances are your client is looking to downsize or relocate closer to family. If it’s a parent or close relative, they may have come into an inheritance and are looking to invest in property for themselves or their kids. You can use your expertise as an agent to guide them in the right direction.

Graduates

Whether it’s TAFE, uni, circus school or a tradie apprenticeship, there’s nothing more exciting in a young person’s life then finishing their studies and finally being able to make enough cashola to start putting away their pennies and planning for the future. Welcome, first home buyers! Don’t overlook fresh-faced young graduates, if you nurture them through their first-home purchase you’ll create a customer for life!

Remember…

Being front-of-mind when your contacts go through different stages of their life journey is paramount to your business. It’s all about building relationships that inspire trust. Do this and your clients will want to share their personal moments with you. ActivePipe can help you nurture relationships by sending out intuitive communications that encourage meaningful conversations.

Stop seeing contacts as a listing opportunity and start seeing them as a customer for life.

Four Buyer Personas Every Agent Needs To Know

The whole point of marketing is to get the right message in front of the right person, at the right time. This concept is the same across all industries regardless of whether you are selling a product, a property or your services as a real estate agent.

How do you know who the right person is and more importantly, how do you know what to say to that person once you find them?

Since the caveman days, marketing professionals have known a simple trick. A way to clearly define who they are talking to, so they know exactly what to say when the time comes to sell.

It’s called a buyer persona.

What are buyer personas?

Buyer personas are fictional characters you create to represent key customer groups in your target market. We all like to think of ourselves as individuals but like it or not, we fall into clear categories based on our likes, lifestyles and demographics. This fundamentally shapes what we are looking for when we buy a property. As a real estate agent it’s in your best interest to know exactly what these groups want so you can put the right message in front of them at the right time.

For example there’s Successful Suzie who drives a Range Rover, wears Louis Vuitton and is looking for her second investment property with her husband, Super Successful Steve. Her needs will be very different to Family Man Freddie who is expecting his third child and needs to move from the inner-city to a big block in the suburbs with plenty of storage space and a garage.  

Why is developing buyer personas so important?

Creating vendor personas will give you an insider perspective of your client’s motivations. You’ll know exactly what they need, resulting in better relationships and listing results.

Having an easy-to-go-to reference list of personas will make your marketing easier because you’ll have a ‘cheat sheet’ that you can easily access and refer to. Developing buyer personas will allow you to:

  • Have meaningful conversations with your customers
  • Know what each persona is looking for so you can service them more effectively
  • Learn people’s pain points, beliefs and aspirations so you can address their concerns
  • Simplify your sales process by eliminating guesswork and getting straight to the point

Where do I start?

The biggest mistake you can make is trying to come up with a huge list of personas and getting yourself confused. Begin with four key market segments; first home buyers, upsizers, downsizers and investors.

Remember Successful Suzie? She is your classic investor so she’ll be looking for a hot rental suburb which guarantees great returns. Her friend Family Man Freddie is the typical upsizer looking for a sensible purchase close to schools, parks and shops.

Can you see how these buyers need to be approached differently?

The other two personas to kick off with are Retired Robbie as your downsizer and Newlywed Natalie as your first home buyer. Retired Robbie is looking for a sea change so he can spend time fishing with the grandkids and get back to nature after 40 years in the suburbs. Newlywed Natalie has a comfortable job in accounting and a bun in the oven so is finally ready to take the plunge and enter the property market. She’ll need a little more guidance.

Understanding the psyche of each of your personas will help you nurture them through each stage of the property buying journey. You’ll be able to put the right properties in front of the right people and with these insights you’ll know exactly how to sell it to them. Don’t overlook this crucial component of your marketing plan. It’s the key to your success!

ActivePipe uses behavioural analytics to identify upsizers, downsizer, investors and first home buyers so you can easily match your buyer persona to these buying intentions.

To have a chat to someone from the ActivePipe team about how you can make the best out of your real estate marketing, click this link.

‘Why’ It’s So Important To Build Your Brand Story

Imagine if your favourite brands were people.

What would they look like and what would they have to say?

Would they drink beers at the local pub or spend Friday nights swilling fancy Burgundy at a fine-dining restaurant?

Companies can be so caught up developing features for their product that they often forget to tell the story of who they are. But humanity was built around storytelling and it’s in our nature to look beyond facts and figures and find an emotional hook.

Some companies get it right and that’s reflected in their tribe of loyal supporters and healthy market share. Others do not and whilst they may find some business success, they’ll never be remembered as inspiring or an innovative powerhouse in their industry.

If you are happy to plod along making mediocre sales and average commissions that’s fine, but if you are looking to take your business to the next level and be an agent others look up to, you’re going to have to find your “why”.

Why are you in real estate?

Is it simply to make money or do you have a passion for helping people move into their dream home? Are you a competitive person who loves the thrill of the chase or did you just fall into real estate by chance?

No matter how you got to where you are right now, you can and should make it into a compelling story. One that resonates and comes from the heart. That might sound like an overused cliche but in real estate, trust is everything and the only way to build trust is through authenticity.

How to build an authentic story

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Start your narrative by thinking about where you came from as this will shape the rest of your brand’s personality. If you used to play club footy and fancy yourself a bit of an athlete, it’s probably your competitive spirit that defines you and your business style.

If you’re a mum with a handful of kids, chances are you know a lot about backyards, storage space and local schools. This is a great asset for young families and you’ll be much better suited to helping them than the ambitious footy player we spoke about earlier.

Combine your back-story and your unique selling proposition to define your why.

What happens after you discover your why?

Let’s look at our athlete as an example. We already know that he has a competitive personality and likes to hustle.

This means his ‘why’ is the desire to get the best possible price for his vendors.

He should communicate this by marketing himself as a bulldog who doesn’t let go until he gets what he wants – the perfect price.

Consistency is key so this message should permeate through every piece of marketing he produces and every touch point he has with his clients.

Conclusion:

Get your brand story out however you can.

These days good agents are thought leaders as well as salesman, so create a blog or start a Facebook page.

It’s a completely free tool to get your brand story out there and show your contacts that you are a real person with a real story to tell.

Remember that you are your brand and great brands inspire hope. They sell ideas, not services so whether you’re a one man show or a team of 10, get everyone next to a white board and start brainstorming a concise and creative brand story that forms your why.

You won’t look back.

Making An Impact With Personalisation

After ten years in senior marketing roles at some of Australia and New Zealand’s largest companies, I have recently joined the team at ActivePipe as Chief Marketing Officer.

Moving from NAB, a corporate environment which employs thousands of people to a comparatively small tech company has been a real eye-opener.

After years of strict procedure, I can now exercise the creative freedom and strategic direction I used to enjoy when I worked at agencies and as a freelance marketer.

Coming into the position, my understanding was that ActivePipe was a marketing automation platform that worked as a digital rolodex, sending emails on a real estate agent’s behalf.

I’ve since discovered that it does a whole lot more than that.

From a marketing perspective, ActivePipe nurtures contacts, fosters relationships and generates qualified leads which result in more sales for the agent.

How does it do this?

With personalisation.

What is personalisation?

Simply put, personalisation is a marketing strategy that uses digital insight to learn about a contact and deliver individualised content. This provides a more fulfilling experience for the customer, building a relationship that will make them more likely to do business with you.

The more you know about your contact, the easier it is to connect with them on an emotional level.

In my experience, personalisation’s data-driven approach means that you can take a piece of information and turn it into valuable content delivered to a specific customer, right when they need it.

This humanises your business, creating an impression of authenticity and a simultaneous sense of community and individuality.

That’s some pretty powerful stuff and can make a massive difference to your bottomline.

How does ActivePipe Implement Personalisation?

The last couple of weeks have got me thinking about how ActivePipe puts the basic theories of personalisation into action.

  • It uses a survey to engage with contacts and prompt them to divulge their intentions, using the data to target them with real estate content that interests them.
  • It is interactive, meaning that emails are triggered by a recipient’s behaviour. Once that recipient is engaged, they will receive useful reminders of upcoming events such as an OFI or auction.
  • It sends agents detailed reports that tell them who is active and interested in the properties they have for sale. This means they can waste less time cold calling and spend more time speaking to people who want to hear from them.

In a nutshell, ActivePipe allows agents to better connect with leads and foster personal relationships with their contacts at scale.

That’s just a start.

The team is always looking at new ways to expand ActivePipe’s capabilities.

They have a lot of creative and innovative ideas in the works which will tailor an even more personalised experience for you.

I’m excited to get behind them and start my ActivePipe journey.

Data Is Power! Why Every Lead is Important

Have you ever kicked yourself trying to remember the name of a contact you met at your son’s soccer game?

You know the one; she was practically begging you for an appraisal but you forgot to put her number in the database and now she’s selling her multi-million dollar home with Jack, the smug agent from the office around the corner.

You could have sold that place for more than Jack did but that one little slip-up has cost you thousands of dollars in commissions.

We all know we should be putting contacts into our CRM but how many of us are making a conscious effort to add every potential lead.

There are probably a tonne of people that have slipped through the cracks; people sitting on your phone, in your emails or on a piece of paper at the bottom of your drawer. These are a massive waste of opportunity.

The reality is that your data is your most valuable asset but it will only work for you if you are diligent.

Not convinced?

Here’s your ROI:

Organisation:

You may have a real estate career spanning twenty years. The amount of people you’ve spoken to in that time is insane. There is no way to keep thousands of people front of mind and ready to contact when the time comes to buy or sell. How would you even know they were ready?

Adding contacts to your CRM will ensure they are all in the one place and categorised with relevant tags. These will help you group and target them effectively.

A little extra effort now will save you hundreds of man hours in the future.

Context Marketing:

Having a database filled with your contact’s personal details makes it easy to market to them in the context of the relationship you have.

Whether you met them at an open house a couple of months ago or they’re an old friend from the town you grew up in, every contact has potential.

Keeping track of those relationships is vital. Let’s say you want to run a re-engagement campaign for your high-end clients. If you don’t have them categorised in your CRM, reaching out would be a nightmare and you might miss some important contacts. If they’re well organised, it’s just a matter of ticking a few boxes and hitting ‘send’.

Better Relationships:

Treat each entry as an opportunity for a lifelong friend and referral source.

Feeding those contacts into your CRM will allow software programs such as ActivePipe to automatically nurture those relationships with timely, relevant and valuable information at each stage of the property lifecycle.

Just as you enjoy meeting your mates for coffee, each email works as a digital catch up, giving your contacts the opportunity to reach out and engage with you.

Profile Building:

Because you’ve added contacts to your CRM and they are hearing from you regularly, you are inadvertently building up a profile in their minds. They know who you are but more importantly, you know who they are.

Analytics from your communication will identify certain characteristics and real estate interests that you can use to get a better picture of what they are looking for. One of the number one principles of marketing is the importance of knowing your target audience so let technology get to know your contacts for you.

Sales Generation:

At the end of the day, this is what you’re here for. Why would you bother going to all this effort if it didn’t result in dollars for your bottom line?

Rather than giving you sweeping statements let’s hit you with some facts:

In the month of December an agent from Ray White Tugun added 101 contacts to his database. In doing so, he discovered that 21 of them were looking to up or downsize, ten of those contacts even requested an appraisal.

When you consider that the average commission earns you $12,000 and there’s an appraisal-to-sale conversion rate of approximately 20%, it means that our agent secured a possible $24,000 in commissions he wouldn’t have if he failed to update his database.

Hardly numbers to scoff at.

Remember:

Quality CRM management results in more leads and better sales.

The next time you get a portal enquiry, host an OFI or put effort into marketing, grab those leads and feed them straight into your CRM.

Data is power. Treat every lead with respect.

 

Why You Should Be Focussing On Relationships Instead Of Leads In 2018

It’s the third week of January and business is finally starting to pick up.

Agents are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready for a big year with mind-blowing results.

Their resolutions will focus on how many listings they can win and how quickly they can ramp up their commissions but how many will centre on the quality of their relationships and the amount of referrals they receive?

In 2018 we want to lead a revolution; we want to stop real estate agents dumping their prospects into a sales funnel and encourage them to connect.

A good agent knows that building a strong, personal relationship with their contact will lead to a long-term client and exponential referral source.

Going that extra mile really does pay off.

Here are a couple of strategies to turn a portal enquiry into a lifelong advocate:

Over-communicate:

The biggest complaint heard from real estate clients is that communication is lacking or non-existent from their agent. Regular communication is not only best practice; it’s imperative.  

You are managing a person’s greatest financial asset and it is your responsibility to keep them informed about the development of their sales campaign.

Regular feedback and reports are a must!

Deliver Relevant Information:

There is no use over-saturating your contact with information they don’t need or understand.

Put yourself in their shoes; think about what they value and leave the jargon at the office.

Rather than sending group emails or texts which largely go ignored, keep communication personalised. Get on the phone or organise a face-to-face meeting; tailor your communication to the client’s individual needs and they will always feel like they are your priority.

Become a Trusted Advisor and Confidante:

Dishonesty leads to short-lived relationships. Buyers and sellers should be able to trust you and your knowledge of the area because people know when they are being manipulated. Even telling a ‘little white lie’ can damage your reputation, and without integrity you will never be able to cultivate the fulfilling business relationships you need to succeed.

Know Your Area:

It may sound obvious but there’s more to knowing the neighbourhood then being able to name the local footy team. 91% of Australians look to move within 40 kilometres of their current address which means you must impress clients with clear guidance on how to position their property in the local market. Having in-depth knowledge of schools, demographics and infrastructure as well as upcoming developments is essential. Prospective buyers will have done their research and so should you.

Be Reliable:

If you say you will do something, do it. If you say you will be somewhere, be there.

Ultimately Always Think Long Term:

Agents often view customer service as a burden that takes precious time away from making sales. This is a big mistake. The truth is, customer service provides an opportunity to generate quality relationships and referrals. If you are memorable and go that extra mile to treat your client well, they’ll have no reason to look elsewhere for the services you provide.

So why should you focus on relationships instead of leads in 2018?

Because if you get the relationships right, leads will follow.

 

5 Fool Proof Techniques for Nurturing Your Contacts Online

As a result of technology, service standards have increased and consumers have become both lazy and impatient.

You go onto Youtube and videos are suggested, you say you’re interested in an event and Facebook reminds you that it’s coming up.  You don’t have to actively search for content, it conveniently appears based on your online behaviour and interests.    

This trend means real estate agents have to lift their game. They have to immerse themselves in the market and provide insight their contacts can’t live without.

Sure, that sounds great in theory but how can an agent implement it in real life? They have deals to negotiate, inspections to host and vendors to help, which leaves them low on the time and patience needed to deliver valuable information to their contacts.

It’s tough but it’s not a luxury they can discount, those that do are missing on a whole market of potential buyers and sellers.

Here are our top tips for nurturing contacts online.

Get in Early

When someone volunteers their name and email address, acknowledge it. They didn’t spend time filling in their details for no reason. Welcome them and tell them a little bit about yourself and what they should expect from your communications.

“Dear Lucy,

We are so excited to have you on board!

We believe in empowering our customers with the information they need to make the right decision when it comes to buying or selling real estate. To do this we will be sending you our latest listings, OFI reminders and property market updates.

We look forward to getting to know you and helping you achieve your real estate goals.

Kind regards,

Ash”

Make it routine

Get some consistency happening. If you promised to keep them up to date with your latest listings, send them every Tuesday at 5pm. They’ll get into the habit of browsing through your property stock before watching Masterchef and they’ll notice the information is missing if you don’t send it. Being a reliable resource is imperative to building lifelong relationships.

Keep them updated

Things in real estate are in a constant state of flux. Contacts depend on you to keep them updated on things happening in the market, particularly those in their immediate vicinity. Provide this. If a house is for sale around the corner let them know when they can inspect it, tell them when the auction is and notify them when it sells. People are curious creatures, delivering that information feeds their interest and establishes you as an industry leader.

Ask

Make an effort to get to know your contacts and their property interests by asking questions. Learn how many bedrooms they want, what their current address is and if they are interested in an appraisal of their home. That’s proactive and gives you all the data you need to get to the point quicker; to close more deals.

Tailor it

Use the data you’ve received to provide relevant and timely content that is valuable to the individual user. If they say they’re looking for a four bedroom home, don’t suggest a two-bedroom apartment, it will make you seem thoughtless. We’re all looking for a personalised service, create a communication plan that facilitates it.

Make Sure It Happens Automatically

In reality no real estate agent has time to do all of the aforementioned things  without a system that implements it automatically. Invest in software that ensures your contacts are nurtured even if you are busy doing other things

Your digital marketing strategy shouldn’t just be about generating leads, it should be about maintaining relationships that go far beyond a single sale or listing. It should be about ongoing value that cements you into their memory rather than providing one- off assistance they forget.

 

Why Every Agent Needs to Play the Long Game

Let me tell you about the last listing presentation I ever conducted. I walked into a cafe in Westfield at 7am on a Tuesday morning, shook hands with The Smiths, pulled up a chair and popped a listing agreement on the table. It was open, filled out and complete with commission and marketing costs.

An auction agreement with 3% commission and $2700 in marketing was paid up front with credit card details. No conversation or negotiation on fees took place.

The contract was signed, sealed and delivered; the agreement was made.

15 minutes later, I went to the office and wrote it up on the board. This was the third listing I had secured in the last 7 days, all signed up without any fee dropping or arguments over VPA.

A number of things contributed to these wins but what it really came down was a strong pipeline.

In real estate, the definition of “pipeline” is simple; it’s the people who aren’t quite ready to sell yet, but that will be in the next 3-12 months; it’s the listings you expect to receive in the next year.

For this audience, your priority is

BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP

. You have to become an agent this vendor trusts.

Let’s take this back to Mr and Mrs Smith and why they didn’t bother negotiating fees.

You see, I met Mrs Smith at an open house way back in February. She introduced herself at the front door as I took down her details and offered to let her know how the sale progressed.

I asked her if she was on the verge of buying or selling. She said “selling, well kind of, we’re still a long way off. I’m just here for a sticky beak”.

Most agents I know would have left it there, they wouldn’t bother with Mrs Smith when more immediate prospects needed their attention.

My mind doesn’t work that way. The conversation wasn’t hot but it was warm and there was no way I was going to let an opportunity like that slip through my fingers.

Sure the listing wasn’t immediate, I’d have to wait a few months, but it would come and so would the commission.

I called Mrs Smith later that day to thank her for visiting the OFI. I got her feedback and asked her to objectively value the property. She was frank, she didn’t have a clue what is was worth but she sure was dying to find out.

I made a point to email her regarding the auction’s outcome and while I was at it, I added her to my CRM and began sending her regular communication including weekly listings, OFI reminders and market updates. If anything popped up for sale or sold in the market, I would ring and let her know.

If I’ve learnt anything throughout my career, it’s that homeowners have an entrenched desire for knowledge regarding real estate movement in their immediate vicinity. Australians in particular are almost vouyeristic when it comes to knowing what their neighbouring houses sell for.

Delivering it to Mrs Smith’s inbox with my name, face and office clearly stamped builds credibility. It means there is no competition when the time comes to list a home because unlike other agents in the area, I’ve spent months getting to know her. I’ve earned her trust.

This ladies and gentlemen, is why the Smiths did not dispute marketing costs or commissions when pen was put to paper – in their eyes, I was the only agent fit to do the job.

Do yourself a favour and give those pipeline prospects some attention.


KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Don’t concentrate all your effort on Immediate Sales. Pipeline is important too.
  • Pipeline is all about building trust and credibility. This takes months, perhaps even years to do. 
  • A strong Pipeline doesn’t just mean more stock, it means better stock, higher commissions and more vendor paid contributions to marketing.
  • ActivePipe automates these touchpoints for you, keeping you front of mind when time comes to list.

 

Can you Believe Agents Are Forgetting This One Thing At Open Houses?

Who remembers buying their first home?

It’s pretty scary stuff, right?

I’m twenty-one years old and just attended my first open house.

Until I started working at ActivePipe my interest in real estate was nil. Reading case studies, talking to industry experts and observing market trends made me realise the sooner I invested in property the better.

Like any rookie I headed straight to the portals to look at houses I’d be able to rent to tenants.

I had it all planned out; I’d buy a place, sit on it for a few years and sell the thing for twice what I bought it for.

That’s how it should work.

So I read up on “negative gearing”, “capital gains” and “equity”. I looked into up and coming suburbs and median rent prices and did every repayment calculation under the sun. I went to the bank, provided payslips, signed papers and got a $750,000 home loan approved.

I made this clear when I attended the open house – I was after an investment property in Melton and my finances were approved.

The agent asked for my name and my mobile number but thirteen days passed and I didn’t hear from him.

What a waste!

I went home and thought hard about where he went wrong and remembered that he never took down my email address. I probably never entered his database.

Had he subscribed to ActivePipe, I would have received an email thanking me for attending his open house at 11 Diggers Road Melton South. I would have completed a survey divulging my intention to invest and due to my interaction with his emails, I would have appeared on his dashboard reminding him to give me a call.

Half of the hard work would have been done for him.

The conversation would continue with weekly listing updates, open for inspection reminders and price change alerts and I would have learnt to trust him.

I didn’t have a “go-to guy” for real estate yet. He could have been it. He could have been the person I bought my first house from, the one I paid to manage my tenants and the man I came to, to sell my real estate portfolio in twenty or so years time.

Don’t forget to ask for email addresses at your next OFI, to add them into your CRM and to update those contacts with what’s happening in the market.

As a first home buyer and budding investor, I implore you to.