As a real estate agent, you probably think you offer one service – selling a property.
And while this might be true, with the average homeowner living in one place for seven years, that’s a long time between drinks.
The question then is how do you bring someone into your sales funnel, from 6 years and 11 months, so that when the time comes for them to sell, the decision is already made.
Communication is Key
Firstly, you need to make a conscious decision to communicate with your prospective vendors right now. Not 3 months or 6 months from when they are looking to sell, RIGHT NOW!
So there are two parts to this idea, one being a strategic sales funnel, and the other being a communication plan. But the good news is, these things are not mutually exclusive.
Your sales funnel, in other words – the thing that moves someone from being a prospect to a customer is all about providing value. And one of the best ways to provide value is through useful content.
While you might feel letting everyone know about your latest listing or your recent sales is informative, for anyone not in a selling mindset, it is just noise.
Think about the average homeowner, going about their daily routine. They are thinking about what they’re going to do this weekend, what to have for dinner, or how to save more cash for their next family holiday.
Right now there is a large disconnect between the content being shared, and the content you have available to you. Every day, you deal with businesses, organisations, people in your community that can add value to your prospects. And carefully constructed, you can start to integrate this into a sales funnel.
So let’s look at what the basic structure of a sales funnel does. It’s called a funnel as that’s what it looks like. At the top of the funnel, what we’ll call Level 1, you have the largest quantity of prospects. These might be those that have recently moved into their property or have indicated that moving is not on the cards. We all know that circumstances change, but right now they are at the top of the funnel. You might also have buyers in this area, though a separate funnel for buyers is also worth considering.
Next, below them is Level 2, the group that have in some way interacted with you. This doesn’t mean they have indicated they have an interest in selling, but they have responded to something you’ve shared, even if it’s a simple ‘thanks’. The key differentiator here is that you have taken them to the next level of value building.
At level 3, we have those that have positively responded to something that specifically relates to selling. As an example, this might be clicking on a newsletter link to recent sales prices.
At level 4, you have the owners that have indicated there is a definite interest in selling. This could be responding to a text message offering a property appraisal.
You can probably start to see, there is a flow from one step to the next, and the idea is to create content that moves people through your funnel.
One of the mistakes people often make here is to believe that you can in some way influence someone to move through your funnel. In a lot of industries, be it e-commerce, retail, etc. this may be true. In real estate, while you have the ability to report on the condition of the market, tell people when is a good time to sell etc. the reality is that most owners choose to sell when the time suits them.
This means that your funnel is more about guiding them down and having relevant content at each stage of their sales cycle.
Let’s look at each level individually:
These individuals have not interacted with you, or shown any signs of interest in you or your business – they are just a name and number on your CRM. So the first thing we need to do is create an interaction.
The best way to do this is to be completely non-real estate with your content. Think about someone who is living in the community, what information will be of value and cause them to interact? Here are some ideas:
Promoting a local/sporting event
Key phone numbers (Doctor, MP, Hospital etc.)
Discount voucher for local business
Video on a local beauty spot/hidden treasure
Once you realise this conversation needs to have nothing to do with real estate, it makes it much easier to find content. And once you start to find the sweet spot that gets interaction, move on to the next level of the funnel.
Now that you have had some interaction with these prospects, it’s now time to personalise the content to them. Most CRMs provide a way to track clicks on emails, which allows you to see which articles/content the individual has shown interest in.
In Level 2, we want to reach out to these prospects and say ‘I noticed you showed some interest in the <restaurant review> article in my recent newsletter, would you like to receive a discount code for the next time you visit there?’
This is just an example, depending on your content and platform, but the idea is not to jump on this interaction and move straight to selling but to increase the value relationship. It’s also important to remember that you can’t move some through the funnel, but once you have received permission to add more value (by way of a discount voucher, another business review or whatever it might be), you can now ask for permission to provide SOME property specific information. I highlight SOME, as again you don’t want to decrease your value in the relationship. Intertwining your property information (and make sure it’s useful information) with the general, valuable content the prospect wants right now is an important balance.
Level 3 is a mirror of Level 2, but it’s paying attention to the individuals that begin to respond MORE to your property related content than your general content. Again you want to seek permission to increase the level of this content – ‘I noticed you responded to a survey on our quarterly market report. We also have a monthly in depth ownership report, would you like to receive this as well?’
Your prospects may bounce around between levels 2 and 3 for quite some time, but it is the most important area to focus on before they move into Level 4. If you do not spend the time with your prospects in levels 2 and 3, your actual conversion when you are in Level 4 will be significantly lower.
Now that your prospects have started to show a keen interest in property information, and are showing signs they could be ready to consider selling; it is time to begin offering your services. Again, this should be done in a permission style – you have built up a level of value and respect with your prospect now, so there is no need to start putting on the hard sell. You can simply have a letter or email that offers a detailed market analysis of their property in the current market, or perhaps a phone call and chat about their current feelings around selling. If you have done everything correctly through levels 1-3, you should now be on a very comfortable conversation level with the prospect. I recommend making a phone call, or in some way connecting verbally/visually at least once a quarter through Levels 1-3 as well, as it is much easier to create a deeper connection in person than just in print/email.
I hope this article has provoked some thoughts and ideas about how to best work with your audience, who are all at different stages of the selling cycle, and that you now have a better understanding of how a sales funnel can apply in real estate.