When you think about prospecting, is cold calling the first thing that comes to mind?
It is for many brokers, and it’s easy to see why — if you want to find new prospects, you first need to call them, right?
It’s hard to argue with that, and while cold calling does play a role in every prospecting strategy, it shouldn't be your entire strategy. Instead, the best prospecting strategies are rethinking the use of cold calling, transforming it from an end in itself to just one part of a larger approach to securing new business.
From building your market presence to using technology to segment and systematize your efforts, use these three prospecting strategies to move beyond cold calling and make more meaningful relationships in your market.
The traditional approach to cold calling is all about volume. The logic goes that more is better, so 200 calls a week is better than 100, but worse than 500. That may be true if every call is a shot in the dark, but what are the chances of actually connecting with the right person at the right time?
It happens, but it doesn't happen often.
So instead of playing a tedious, time-consuming numbers game, try the top-of-mind approach outlined by Blaine Strickland in his book Thrive: Ten Prescriptions for Exceptional Performance as a Commercial Real Estate Agent. The key idea is that instead of trying to reach the perfect person at the perfect time, you should aim to become the first real estate advisor prospects think of when they decide to look for trusted counsel.
To put this approach into action, begin by identifying about 125 of your best prospects. These are the people who are likely to interact with you and will need a broker at least once every five years. Try to make a high-quality connection with at least two of these people every day, and work towards connecting with each person at least once a quarter.
Don’t focus on making a hard sell; simply build the relationship, make a connection and provide value each time you talk. After a year of this you’ll have made several strong connections with key prospects in your market, and when they eventually need professional counsel, don't be surprised if you’re the first person they call.
2. Build your presence
It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
You’ve probably heard that saying before, and the next time you’re about to dial some cold calls, take a moment to ask yourself the question: How many key players in my market know me?
If you’re a junior broker, the answer is probably few to none. There’s nothing wrong with that, everybody has to start somewhere, but you don’t want that to be the answer forever. Use the presence approach outlined by the Massimo Group to change that and elevate your name in the market.
Building your presence is all about getting out there and making the right connections. There are many ways to grow your network, but if you’re a junior broker, start by finding the right mentor. Not only will a strong mentor share experience and strategies — their network will open doors for you and create opportunities to build your presence.
Once you’ve started building your presence, you’ll notice that cold calls are turning into warm calls. While you should always try to learn something about your prospect and know how you can provide value, the conversation changes when your prospect knows about you.
This strategy’s end game? Transform your presence until you’re seen as a source of information and expertise in your market. At that point, the prospects will come to you.
To make your prospecting efforts as efficient as possible, segment prospects into actionable lists.
How effectively you segment prospects has a lot to do with the quality of your databases and technology — you could create lists with nothing more than an Excel spreadsheet and a post-it note (we don't recommend that), or you could leverage your databases through a commercial real estate-specific CRM to segment lists according to real-time data.
Either way, you want to segment prospects into the key groups that will fuel your success. That means different things for different brokers, but if you’re looking for ideas, start by breaking prospects into these groups: previous clients, top owners and market principals. You should always keep in touch with past clients, many will prove to be consistent sources of business, and you definitely want to be building relationships with the key players in your market.
Segmenting prospects boosts your efficiency and helps you build your market presence. If you’re using software that tracks your prospecting efforts and prompts you with follow up dates, you can also effectively segment prospects to stay on track of the top-of-mind strategy.
Cold calling isn’t going away. Picking up the phone and reaching out to someone new is a fundamental part of what it means to be a broker, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
But thanks to technology and some clever strategies, prospecting is evolving into more than just a numbers game. Sure, volume is still a key part of it; but whether it’s winning the top-of-mind game or building a presence in the market, brokers who move beyond the traditional prospecting mentality will outperform the rest.