Welcome to the world of real estate! If you do it right, you’re going to build a successful business that will change your life.
Getting started as a real estate agent can feel daunting. How do you win your first client when you have zero experience? How do you generate leads when you have no client success stories to share?
The good news: Every other agent started out right where you are, and thousands of them have succeeded in building thriving real estate businesses. There is a wealth of knowledge to be learned from them. In this blog post, I’ll share some of these lessons and provide a step-by-step guide to generating leads as a new real estate agent.
Step 1) Understand where the best leads come from.
Before we talk tactics, there’s one important thing you need to know about leads: The very best ones aren't web leads (the kind you buy through paid advertising). The best leads come from the people with whom you’ve developed meaningful relationships. Nurturing these relationships will generate repeat and referral business (which, on average, accounts for 89% of all real estate transactions).
Step 2) Start with people you already know.
Reach out to people who already know and like you, and let them know you are beginning a new career as a real estate agent. Tell family members, friends, former colleagues, your dog groomer, etc.
Keep in mind that while your family, friends, and acquaintances may trust you as a human, it's going to take some time for them to trust you as a real estate professional—it may take months, or even years. Be patient with your “pre-real estate” relationships. Don’t be pushy.
Step 3) Meet new people.
You need to expand your network, so start making it your mission to meet new people. Don’t hide behind a computer screen—log off Facebook and get out the door! Get face-to-face with people every day.
Here are just a handful of ways to do this:
- Join a Meetup group
- Join your chamber of commerce and attend events
- Talk to your neighbors
- Take your dog to the dog park
- Join a gym
- Take an art class
- Talk to strangers
Let people know you’re a real estate agent, but put most of your focus on building relationships. Go out into the world with an open heart and a genuine interest in getting to know people. Once there is plenty of trust, these new friends will be happy to provide referrals...or even work with you to buy or sell their homes.
Step 4) Add contacts to your CRM.
Every business has its tools. In the real estate business—the relationship business—your tool is a customer relationship management system (CRM). In addition to storing information about your contacts, a CRM takes those intangible concepts like “relationships” and “trust” and puts them into a quantitative format. You can see how many contacts you have, when you last contacted them, whether they’ve ever given a referral, how close they are to wanting to move, etc.
For every person you know, and every new person you meet, add their information to your CRM. (Be sure to get their permission to contact them.)
An article for REALTOR® Magazine suggests you “tell them you want to send them some information about what you're doing, and that you hope to help them one day with a move. The worst that can happen is they say no, and the best is that they give you the information that one day leads to a sale.”
Step 5) Create a strategy for strengthening your relationships and staying top of mind.
Okay, you’ve got a CRM full of contacts...now what? The next step is putting together a strategy for strengthening those relationships and staying top of mind. In addition to phone calls and the occasional face-to-face chat, you can nurture your contacts through content marketing. Share valuable content that is useful and relevant to your contacts, and that demonstrates your expertise.
Here are some examples of the type of content you might share (from REALTOR® Magazine):
- For homeowners:
- How much their home has increased in value since they first bought it
- Information on local market conditions that could affect the value of their homes
- For renters:
- Updates on new housing developments coming to their area
- Information on affordable properties
You can share content through email, social media, blog posts, postcards, and even text messages. Figure out how each of your contacts prefers to hear from you.
So, how do you ensure that all of this relationship-building and staying-top-of-mind actually gets done?
Step 6) Put everything into workflows (build your process).
Once you’ve developed your lead generation strategy, it’s time to make it a process. A process is a series of activities that are performed exactly the same over and over again. To ensure that your lead gen strategy becomes a process, you need to put everything into workflows.
Workflows (a feature of Realvolve and some other real estate CRMs) allow you to automate your process and set reminders so nothing slips through the cracks.
With workflows, you can create email templates to use in an automated drip campaign. You can set reminders for when to post to Facebook, when to make phone calls to check in with your contacts (“Hey, just calling to let you know I’m a real estate agent now!”), and so on. You can even set up a workflow to automatically delegate a task to your assistant.
Workflows allow you to stay on process. And process is crucial to getting your fledgling real estate business off the ground.
Step 7) Say "thank you."
When referrals start rolling in, the FIRST thing you should do is send a handwritten thank you note to the person who made the referral. A quick personal note will go a long way in showing your gratitude and strengthening that relationship.
Take it a step further and include a Starbucks gift card with the note. Reward the behavior you want more of.
There’s no instant solution for generating your very first real estate leads. You have to put in a lot of hard work to nurture your relationships with people. You have to grind out a process and invest time and energy in building workflows.
And even after you’ve finished your first year, the work still isn’t done (although if you’ve built your workflows, it should be a little easier). It’s a long, continuous journey, but it’s worth it. Because you will be running a successful, sustainable real estate business.
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