A few years ago, my Honda Civic finally kicked the bucket and it was time yet again to go new car shopping. Some dread the task, but I was excited to put my years of reading Motortrend to work. I headed into the dealership armed with facts and figures, as well as the various opinions of automotive journalists in case the conversation got serious.
A sales guy started chatting me up right away so I threw him some softball question. I was looking to connect―all he had to do was react to what I said and display some semblance of knowledge. He didn’t do either of those things. He just sort of nodded and then started talking about the car in question and various “facts” that I was able to sniff out as falsehoods immediately.
I was out of there. He was out of a sale.
I hope you haven’t done this, or I hope you’ve only done it once. Once is all it takes to learn how important it is to know your product and your customer, and to have all that information on hand when it’s time to connect. Being able to have a smart, meaningful conversation is the key to being an effective salesperson.
More than a list of names and numbers
As a broker, you know you have your work cut out for you in building a qualified prospect list. There are plenty of ways to increase the odds of getting the right people on the list with better segmentation, but there are still the individual details you need to connect with those people.
And just what are those details? Well, start by asking yourself what it takes for a stranger to connect with you. You likely think of a person who asks about your interests and your area of expertise, and who has respect for your time.
For example, we recently had a broker in our office sharing his thoughts on prospecting and relationship building. We were talking about research and preparation in particular, and he shared his experience working through a call list and then receiving a return call later in the day: there was that one time he hesitated to recall some detail about a property, and the client simply hung up the phone. Not good.
So how do you avoid that and give yourself the best chance at having a meaningful connection that increases your odds of getting a meeting?
Know your subject inside and out
It all starts with understanding the person you’re contacting (and his or her area of business). This will require a little homework, but building the habit to find and record unique insights can pay huge dividends. Take the time to research your prospects and clients and document that information in your CRM where you can put it to use when the time is right.
First, take some time to look into their portfolio and record their interest in each respective property. There are a lot of property and research tools that can help with this. With them, you should be able to get a pretty good idea on the properties they own and when they acquired them.
Let me share one of my own experiences from when I worked at LandVision (it happened frequently, actually). I was sitting in a room of semi-engaged brokers and fully engaged admins, showing them a handy owner look-up tool. I pulled up a property, talked about the ownership entity, highlighted the fact that it’s an LLC, and the crowd murmured in recognition of the LLC problem. Then I showed a list of all the properties across the country that had the same owner’s mailing address, including all the LLCs held by the parent entity (many of them being a version of the parent entity’s name and not just a single purpose LLC). The response was astonishment. Brokers started talking about all the possibilities that would come from having access to this powerful information.
Once you’ve identified properties, the next step is to exhaust your social media outlets to get an understanding of a contact’s accomplishments, associations, affiliations, personal interests, and what they ate for breakfast over the weekend (thanks Instagram). In modern society we jokingly throw around the term “Facebook stalking,” but there’s an amount of truth and utility in that term. The idea of internet “stalking” just means educating yourself with public information, thus helping all parties build quicker, deeper connections. Who wouldn’t want that?
Lastly, assuming you’re not cold calling and have some history with these prospects, you should have some notes on past activities―or conversations, meetings, actual engagements, etc. This is vital information that will let you play off past successes and continue to strengthen the relationship.
It should be easy to take action
So all this information is crucial to have in your database so you can make a connection and have a smart, meaningful conversation the next time you reach out. But one caveat: It needs to be organized in way where it’s easy to get to take action.
In other words, your system and tools for prospecting and nurturing relationships is (almost) as important as the preparation you put in before each call. You need a system that puts a prospect’s portfolio, past engagement activities, personal details, and the ability to record the new engagement all in one easy-to-read place.
Apto has a solution for this, and whether you choose to use it or some other system, it’s to your benefit to develop a process. That process should enable you to recall these important details within a matter of seconds to ensure you are well prepared for both outbound calls you plan for and the unexpected ones that come in. Your next deal depends on it.