“Call us back in about six months’ time…”
How often have you appraised Mr & Ms Vendor’s property and they’ve told you they’re not quite ready to list just yet … you have every intention of keeping in touch (after all you had such great rapport) … life gets in the way … and then you see a signboard on their front lawn…?
You took them at their word – that you were the one because they just:
- Wanted to do some minor redecorating before they listed
- Wanted to list when the garden was looking its best…
- They’re waiting for Jupiter to align with Mars…
Whatever their reason for not listing at the time of your appraisal meeting, the end result means you didn’t walk away with a signed exclusive contract in your hands when you left the appointment.
They say something along the lines of :
call us back in six months or so,we’ll be ready then and we’re definitely going to list with you.
And then they go and list with someone else!
Sales Pipeline Nurturing
Sales Pipeline Nurturing is essential in any business. In real estate it means keeping your prospective vendors warm.
When you think about how hard you’ve had to work to get your foot in the door to appraise their property in the first place why would you want to undo all of that hard work by not ‘loving’ them for as long as it takes because they’re not working to your timetable…?
Failing to nurture and look after your prospects – your Already-Appraised-Property-Owners – results in you having to work much harder in your business than you need to.
This means that instead of spending time with your family and loved ones, doing what lights you up on the inside, you’re out hustling, chasing your tail, almost desperate for listings.
How to work smarter in your business by managing your sales pipelines
To start with you need to have a sales pipeline so you can measure the right numbers.
What do you measure?
I’ve talked before about where having a real estate business can feel like you’re constantly working in a boom or bust world….
Some months you’re on a high. You’ve got listings and buyers. Everything is ticking along nicely, thank you very much.
And then about three months’ later it’s hard work. You’ve got no listings and you’ve got no idea where your next listing is coming from. Running your business feels like hard work.
You’re either in a feast or famine, deluge or drought.
Running a real estate business doesn’t need to be like this!
Keep track of your pipeline
As I mentioned in a previous article, it’s what you measure that’s important.
The numbers I measure with my clients all focus around their activity. In other words what they’ve done the previous week.
In relation to smoothing out the peaks and troughs in their business I’m especially interested (okay, sometimes they tell me I nag, lol) about their 7, 30, 60 and 90 day pipeline activities.
“I’m not ready to list just yet”
Most of the vendors in each of the 30, 60 and 90 day categories were those who weren’t quite ready to list back when you first appraised their property.
Some of them may have started out in the 180+ day pipeline (“give us a call in 6 months or so”).
If you’re my client then these prospects will gradually make their way towards showing up on your radar at 90 days.
Have a system for keeping in touch
I’m a great believer in empowering people through education.
I’ve been espousing this type of marketing long before it was trendy to call it content marketing.
I’ve also banged on about relationship marketing long before CRM (client relationship management) tools became de regueur.
The reason for this is because both of these tactics still work in today’s high tech digital & social media worlds.
It doesn’t matter what system you use in your business for keeping in touch so long as you have a system that works.
Usually the most simple of systems can be the most effective.
As well as a system you need to have tactics.
The tactics my clients use include old-fashioned telephone calls combined with newsletters and value-add educational reports.
Where Mr & Ms Vendor are in the pipeline (on the distant horizon or getting close to list) determines the cycle of personal contact used. In other words, the tactic.
Keeping in touch is critical
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than driving around your farm area and seeing an exclusive agency signboard on a property you’ve been meaning to call but never getting around to …
And it’s even more heartbreaking when the signboard is on the front lawn of people who promised you were the one!
How to grow your business by 28%
According to Hubspot, businesses that master three specific pipeline management practices experience 28% higher revenue growth than those businesses that don’t.
Hubspot is an inbound marketing company
Three business-growing sales pipeline practices
#1 – Clearly define your sales process
Hubspot reported that businesses with a formal sales process had 18% higher revenue than those with an informal process.
- had clearly defined stages
- had clearly defined milestones
- were in alignment with the customer’s buying process
#2 – Spend at least 3 hours per month on pipeline management for 11% higher revenue
Hubspot further reported that businesses that spend at least three hours per month managing each rep’s sales pipeline realised 11% higher revenue than those that spent less time.
What’s critical to note here is that the three hours/month management is to be spent on coaching not inspection.
In other words, rather than look at the possible size of the deal, when it’s going to happen and the probability of it happening, it’s more worthwhile to focus on the:
- health of the pipeline
- best practices; and
- next steps
Pipeline Management Training
Businesses that had pipeline management training for sales managers saw revenue grow 9% higher than those that didn’t.
The type of training is important.
Sales Managers must be able to help their teams answer the How Do I…? questions. For example:
- How do I determine the ideal pipeline size [for reps]?
- How do I coach rather than inspect?
- How do I structure meetings?
Pipeline strategies in your real estate business
As I said earlier, it doesn’t matter which system you use so long as you use it:
- a paper-based diary
- a sophisticated digital CRM programme
I’ll leave the discussion for whether to use a paper-based system vs digital system for another time. Instead, what I want to focus on here are the tactics you can use for each pipeline stage.
From here you’ll be able to see different ways you can incorporate this into your own business.
Imagine this scenario:
You’ve appraised Mr & Ms Vendor’s property.
They love you (of course!) but tell you they’re not ready to list “just yet”.
Their daughter is getting married in four months’ time and they want to get that out of the way first.
They’re pleased they invited you in because it gives them an idea of what’s happening in the market and what their house might be worth when it comes time to sell.
If you were my client here’s what I would be expecting you to do. (By the way, you would be coached through every step of this process).
make notes about your personal-to-them conversations
As soon as you’re able (back at your desk, sitting around the corner in your car) make copious notes about the conversations you’ve just had with Mr & Ms Vendor.
Record personal-to-them discussions (eg, their daughter’s wedding – what’s her name? when is it? where is it? what concerns do they have? why are they considering selling?)
write a thank you note
Later that day or the very next day (at the absolute latest) send them a hand-written card saying thank you for their time.
Remember to refer to the personal-to-them conversations you had (eg, daughter’s wedding).
Include your educational, value-add information (report, book, newsletter).
Let them know you look forward to keeping in touch with them.
Add them to your pipeline
In this case, Mr & Ms Vendor are added to your 180+ day pipeline.
Your 180+ day pipeline is your biggest bucket of prospects.
At the same time as adding them to you 180+ bucket, you’ll make a diary note 90 days hence to move them from your long-distance horizon (180+ pipeline) to your 90 day pipeline.
This is a formal process. These are steps in your sales strategy you must do.
Add them to your database
Because they are in your pipeline means you need to ensure they’re also in your “Nurture” database.
Being nurtured means they will receive something from you that is non-sales-based (but still showcases your expertise) at least every month.
This will be sent to them via the mail and delivered to their postal address or via email.
By the way, unless you’re using an email client service (eg Mailchimp) you’ll have no way of knowing whether your emails are being opened or not. Also, purely FYI – because so very little is actually physically posted these days, there is a novelty factor of receiving something in the mail that has a bit of a ‘wow’ factor as well.
Yes – it costs more to post a letter (at least $1.00) but this has to be seen as a marketing investment. The ROI (return on investment) when you get the listing and sell their property, will far outweigh a few dollars in stamps, envelopes and printing.
At 90 days
Remember way back when you first appraised Mr & Mrs Vendors’ property you made a diary note 90 days out….?
That day has arrived!
At 90 days (when you turn your diary page and see your diary note) signals it’s time for you to up the ante in your nurturing activities.
At 90 days you call Mr & Ms Vendor. Remember to make reference to that personal-to-them conversation you had back when you first met them (their daughter’s wedding).
They will be impressed you remembered such a personal thing about a conversation that took place sooo long ago!
At 60 days
At the 60 day mark you up the ante (nicely) a little bit more.
The frequency for keeping in touch moves from 2-3 weeks to every 10 days or so.
You will know you’re at 60 days because you will be keeping track of where Mr & Ms Vendor are in your pipeline.
At 30 days
By this time you’re starting to get a feel for where they’re at.
Are they going to be true to their original word and list after their daughter’s wedding? Or has something else come up?
You may need to move them back into your 60 or 90 day pipeline. It doesn’t matter where they are in your pipeline so long as you’re keeping in touch with them and that they are in your pipeline.
At 7 days
This is where the rubber really starts hitting the metal!
In an ideal world you will have wowed them so much with your consistency and reliability (because you’ve kept in touch) you will have no competition when it comes to getting their signatures on your exclusive agency agreement.
Measuring your numbers
Now that you’ve got a procedure for nurturing prospects it’s important to measure the numbers.
If your business is like my clients’ businesses, those prospects in your 180+ pipeline will eventually become your listings provided you nurture.
When you know how many prospects you have in your 90 day pipeline you are more accurately able to predict future listings.
If, right now, you have zero prospects in your 90 day pipeline you’re going to be finding it tough in about 3 months’ time.
If your 90 day pipeline is currently sitting at zero the chances are high that in three months’ time you’ll be in another of those troughs, those droughts, we talked about earlier.
Start implementing the tactics outlined above:
- Make notes of the personal-to-them conversations you have with each prospect.
- Send a thank you note with reference to the personal-to-them conversation. Include value-add information that showcases your expertise (not sales literature!).
- Start your 180 / 90 / 60 / 30 / 7 day pipeline activities.