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Got a minute? If you're a busy manager, that's about all you have. That's why Carla Cross, management coach, speaker, and author, has created this blog just for you, with ready-to-use tips to master management through people.

Archive for new agents’ advice

little girl with phoneReal estate trend: Lead generation is STILL King!

Dearborn Education Company just published my 5th (!) edition of Up and Running in 30 Days. It has lots of updates, including updates on 10 trends that I think newer agents should recognize—and know the pros and cons. Here’s an excerpt from my new edition of the book.

Trend Three: Lead Generation is Still King

In their excellent book, Game Plan: How Real Estate Professionals Can Thrive in an Uncertain Future, authors Steve Murray and Ian Morris also name this trend as one of the top ten for the next five years. In my view, lead generation is always king (I can’t see how it wouldn’t continue to be a number one trend and priority). But, Murray and Morris’s point is that real estate professionals who want to be successful can’t depend on leads just coming their way. Instead, they must actively go after them. That means creating systems, disciplines, priorities, and goals for capturing, working with, and keeping leads—forever. Here’s what they say:

…contact management, lead cultivation, and customer relationship management systems can and will play a huge role in determining which agents and companies are most successful.

A recent study by Active Rain (a popular real estate blog and tech information center), showed that agents who spent more money on contact relationship management (CRM) made significantly more money. It just makes sense. Agents who capture their leads via a database and then keep in touch with them via contact management software assure they keep their names in front of their potential clients, and are able to management and help many more clients.

Agents who try to organize their clients via pieces of scrap paper and remember to call them once in awhile are woefully inadequate when it comes to staying in meaningful contact with their potential clients. Which agent would you prefer working with, as a client? An agent who regularly contacted you and kept you abreast of the market, or one who either never called you or contacted you irregularly?    In that Inman Select survey I mentioned earlier {in the book}, How to Fix New Agent Onboarding, 47% of respondents stated lead generation is critical in initial training. And, they observed most new agents struggled with lead generation.  That’s why this Up and Running start-up plan is so important to follow to the letter!

Here’s what Kyle Kovats, that great ’30 under 30’ nominee, {one of my top agent contributors to the book} said: “Get out there and just do it.  Try different forms of prospecting and see what works. An ounce of action is more powerful than a ton of planning.”

Positives: For those of you who intend to be successful in sales, this trend should be a comfort. That means, if you invest in yourself, your work ethic, and your systems, you will be ahead of the pack. In Up and Running in 30 Days, I’ve laid out a plan of action for those of you who do intend this success. I’m not being facetious here. Some agents are surprised that, in fact, one must lead generate to be successful in this business.

Watch out for: Companies and/or managers who tell you that leads will simply come to you—or that they will provide them to you . That would include all those reactive (you sit and wait for the lead) lead-generating strategies:

  • The traditional ones, such as open houses and floor time or relocation leads
  • The technologically driven leads, such as software and programs that capture leads for you (they don’t just sell themselves; you must have an effective capture, engagement, and follow-up program)

Isn’t There an Easier Way?

Unfortunately, interviewers use the “we will take care of you and give you leads” strategy to convince new agents to work with them. Then, after the agent is with that office, the agent learns there is no free lunch. Do I mean that you shouldn’t accept various types of leads from others? No. (Just know that you will be paying for that lead).  But, consider this. If that lead source goes away, what are you left with? You are a first-day agent all over again! The Up and Running program will protect you from that, helping you build your own business so you always rely on yourself, not someone else.

Note: It’s very, very important that you capture your leads in a database, or better yet, in a CRM (Client Relationship Management) program from your first week in the business. Why? Because you can’t remember who those people are, and you certainly can’t remember how and when to stay in touch with them! I’ve provided a list of various databases and CRM programs in Section 14: References and Resources. I’m not endorsing any one of them. I’m just providing you several to research and to choose. See your manager for recommendations.

When I asked those agent and team leader contributors what technology is important to incorporate, here’s what they said:

“CRM and lead management tools”—Diane Honeycutt

“A really good and easy-to-use CRM”—Cerise Paton

“A good CRM”—Chris Cross

So, don’t be like the majority of new agents (and even seasoned agents!): Start using a database, or better yet, a CRM your first week in the business.

* Big Idea: To build a strong long-term business, order takers need not apply. To be successful, you must create relationship continuance, no matter your lead-generating sources.

Managers: Do you have a robust, precise lead generating program to start your new agents to success fast?

Up and Running_5e largerClick here to see the updates in my fifth edition of Up and Running in 30 Days.

 

shaking hands over computerDearborn Education Company just released my 5th edition (!) of Up and Running in 30 Days. This book is literally the new agent’s business start-up plan. In addition, I’ve provided lots of training and advice to assure new agents know what to do and how to do it.

One of the updates in this edition is the technology new agents really need—and what they don’t need, so they don’t waste their previous dollars!

What My Technology Experts Told Me

Use technology to support your dynamic business. The easiest way to organize the names of prospects and clients is on a computer. If you’re not in the technology world now—jump in. You’ll need technology to do the following (these are not my priorities, just a list):

Technology Recommendations from Up and Running

Use technology to support your dynamic business. The easiest way to organize the names of prospects and clients is on a computer. If you’re not in the technology world now—jump in. You’ll need technology to do the following (these are not my priorities, just a list):

  1. Work from wherever you are with a laptop so you can find properties, do market analysis, and create presentations anywhere, anytime
  2. Organize your prospects, clients, and affiliates (such as mortgage lenders) in a database (if you’re not extremely computer literate, start with Microsoft Outlook, which almost everyone already has on their computers)
  3. Organize your follow-up programs for specific target markets via  client relationship management (CRM)
  4. Capture and follow up on your Internet leads with Internet lead follow-­up technology designed for that purpose
  5. Measure your progress to your goals with specific software
  6. Keep in contact with your customers via cell phone and pager (you will find it truly amazing how few agents return phone calls)
  7. Carry your contacts (database), schedule, and so on with you on a personal digital assistant
  8. Create a personal Web site and/or blog that promotes you and/or provides your prospects and clients access to information they value, such as updates on their property, marketing, or transaction progress
  9. Take pictures with a digital camera and add them to your Web site or your flyers
  10. Invest in a video flip camera so you can promote yourself and your listings via video
  11. Budget for your expenses, track expenses, and create, implement, and analyze your profit and loss statements with financial software (such as QuickBooks, Quicken, or Mint)

Note: See the References and Resources section in UP and Running in 30 Days  for resources for these valuable tools. And, the reference section offers dozens of references for other software, training, etc.

Get Advice Before You Invest

These references include only a few of the technologies agents use in business. Before you buy anything, interview three technology-savvy, high-producing agents in your office and identify the technologies they consider important. Don’t expect your real estate company to provide them, although seasoned agents within your organization may be willing to provide direction on the best use of technology. Also, see your manager for advice on the most up-to-date technology you need to perform.

Caveat: Don’t run around buying every marketing program and tech tool from vendors. As Gary Richter, one of the newer, successful agents quoted in my book, advises: “There are many different programs and systems that vendors will try to sell to you as a new agent. Many overlap in capabilities. Pick one that works for you and stick with it.”

Up and Running_5e largerTake a look at what’s new in Up and Running in 30 Days:  updates in 5th edition. This invaluable book is only $32.95 plus shipping, and has been used by thousands of new agents to launch successful careers. Order here.

Up and Running_5e largerI just received my copy of my 5th edition of Up and Running in 30 Days, the new agent’s business start-up plan. Dearborn Education, a division of Kaplan, Inc., has published this book since its first edition. I’ve put lots of updates in this 2017 edition, including advice from successful newer agents. Rather than my trying to convince you of these principles myself, here’s what they’ve said:

On Training

Here’s a quote from Kyle Kovats, who was recently chosen as one of the finalists for the “30 under 30” honors from the National Association of Realtors.  These select nominations are agents chosen because they are under 30 and very successful in the business.

Kyle advises: “Find a broker who has a comprehensive training program. Ask if you can speak with agents who have gone through it to get the agents’ perspective on whether it was helpful.”

{Note: Up and Running in 30 Days has tips for you new agents in choosing the right training program—a training program that actually assures you launch a great career).

The Importance of Coaches and Mentors

There’s a lot more to success than just attending even a great training program. Read this from Merrilee Prochaska, “I wish I had understood the importance of a mentor/coach before I began.”

{Up and Running in 30 Days discusses the trend toward coaches, and provides guidance in choosing the right coach for you.}

On What They Wish They’d Done Differently

It’s not all a smooth ride! Here are some comments from Cerise Paton, on what she wishes she would have done differently: “Followed up more and more consistently; understood the time and discipline and numbers needed for lead generation and lead conversion; recognizing the time it took to build trust; going on more appointments, failing more often, and getting better, practicing presentations with friends”.

Gary Richter’s comment on what he would do differently could apply to most new agents: “Contact all of my sphere and ask for business.” Gary admits he was reticent to ask them all for business.

On Prioritizing Your Activities and Lead Generation Sources

Don’t take my word for it that clearly prioritizing your activities as business-producing or business-supporting is key to success. Hear it from Gary Richter, who used Up and Running in 30 Days to start his career. He says his priorities are big reasons he’s succeeding now: “I am cognizant of my daily activities and recognized them as either business producing or business supporting. I spend the majority of my time on business-producing activities.”

And, Diane Honeycutt states, “Take the advice in this plan and be sure you’re not a ‘secret agent’! Develop a work plan and stick to it”.

Here’s what Kyle Kovats, that great ’30 under 30’ nominee, said: “Get out there and just do it.  Try different forms of prospecting and see what works. An ounce of action is more powerful than a ton of planning.”

Gary Richter advises: “Get off your computer and go out into the areas. Focus on business-producing activities.”

More great advice from Kyle Kovats: “Be relentless. Follow up with handwritten letters rather than the generic form letters/cards most agents send people. Be unique.”

On the Importance of Client Relationship Management Technology

When I asked those agent and team leader contributors what technology is important to incorporate, here’s what they said:

“CRM and lead management tools”—Diane Honeycutt

“A really good and easy-to-use CRM”—Cerise Paton

“A good CRM”—Chris Cross

So, don’t be like the majority of new agents (and even seasoned agents who put off capturing all those leads in a database and then, even better a CRM!) Start using a database, or better yet, a CRM your first week in the business.

On Spending Money for Leads

Here’s some advice from one of those Top 30 Under 30 finalists, James Pierce: “Don’t pay a dime to sites like Zillow, etc.”

From Cerise Paton: “You will get a lot of calls to sell you leads, google placement, banner ads, shopping carts, you name it. Don’t do it. It either has no value, or you’re not ready for it, or you can’t afford it”

Tip for managers: As you read these comments, ask yourself, “How is my training, coaching, and business start-up plan keeping my new agents on track?” What needs to be changed or refined so I get better results?”

How about YOU?

Are you following these principles? How many have you rejected or violated in your first few months in the business? Why? Success isn’t always easy, but it always has patterns and leaves clues! Don’t try and re-invent the wheel. Follow a proven plan with assured results and you will be wildly successful!

Take a look at what’s new in Up and Running in 30 Days:  updates in 5th edition.

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