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Cheat Sheet

Success as a Real Estate Agent For Dummies

The real estate business is a dynamic market. And, to be a successful real estate agent, it helps to have a few key skills at the ready for today’s real estate clients. Being prepared to use your time wisely, creating an online presence, converting online lookers into clients, and prospecting for business are important tools that every successful agent should possess.

Time-Saving Techniques to Keep You Selling

Real estate agents spend an undue amount of time on production-supporting activities, or PSAs. These activities include all the steps necessary to support such direct income-producing activities as prospecting, lead follow-up, taking listings, and making sales. You can’t avoid the administrative functions that support your sales and customer service efforts, but you can and should handle them in the absolutely fewest number of hours possible. Here’s how:

  • Chunk the time. Handle PSA tasks in dedicated blocks of time so they don’t eat away at your whole day. Errands, MLS searches, MLS input, home flyer creation, filing, copying, faxing, meeting home inspectors or appraisers, getting feedback from showings, and purchasing supplies are only a sampling of the necessary tasks that support your production efforts. Keep a list, block time for all that needs to be done, and tackle the tasks as a consolidated effort rather than constant interruptions to your day.

  • Work the web. Technology streamlines processes but also requires monitoring. Delegate certain days and times to go online for PSA duties. Checking websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com to make sure links and information have been uploaded properly are important parts of an agent’s work schedule. The key is to schedule these activities so you're not over-spending time to complete these activities. Work within a pre-determined timeframe to get those administrative functions done so you can concentrate on other money-making tasks.

  • * Delegate work. Is there administrative help somewhere in your sales department? Can you find someone to lend a hand? Are there internship programs that might provide some eager business students who want to learn the business from the ground up? A talk with your sales manager may help.

  • Understand where PSAs rank. Realize that PSA tasks produce little new revenue, so don’t let them take over your day or you’ll never get on to income-producing efforts. Agents can take a whole day or even a whole week of time to work on tasks that support a deal. Yes, deal, as in one! Get your support work done quickly so you can invest the bulk of your time to finding and working the next deal.

Creating Domain Names to Increase Real Estate Business

When real estate prospects are looking to buy or sell, their first stop is often the web. Your domain name is the key that drives traffic to your site. If you don't already have a domain name, follow these steps to get one — or several — as quickly as possible:

  • The first domain name you need to register is your own name, as in www.yourname.com. I recommend that you go to GoDaddy to determine whether your name is available, and then register it as your domain name. The site is an easy and cost-effective resource, currently charging only $8.95 a year for your domain name and a lineup of other complimentary services.

  • Consider registering a number of additional domain names that all lead to your website through a function called URL forwarding, which redirects multiple web address to one site. You could have 100 URLs that forward to just one site. At $10.99 per year, cost shouldn't be a deterrent.

  • In addition to your original domain name, you can create some names that describe your service area. For instance, you may want to register a domain name that features your hometown name followed by the words real estate or homes for sale, following these examples:

    • www.anywhereusarealestate.com/

    • www.anywhereusahomesforsale.com/

    Or, you can put your own name in front of your hometown name, following this example:

    • www.dirksellsbend.com/

  • You can even register domain names that feature the names of specific real estate areas or neighborhoods in your market. For example, if you specialize in a hypothetical region called Perfectville, you may register:

    • www.perfectvillehomesforsale.com/

    • www.movetoperfectville.com/

    • www.perfectvillesubdivision.com/

When you use a multiple domain name strategy, you invest in a single website that carries your primary domain name and then use a number of names to get people to your web space.

When online real estate shoppers enter the name of your hometown or the name of a special neighborhood in your hometown, chances are good that one of your domain names will appear in their search results.

Turning Online Real Estate Lookers into Real Clients

Using the web to view homes is common practice for real estate buyers. Buyers enjoy the anonymity of looking online before contacting an agent. A key for real estate agents to prospect and land new clients is to turn online lookers into solid leads and turn those leads into real clients.

Converting lookers to leads

Site visitors are known as eyeballs. The aim of your online strategy is to convert eyeballs to leads by creating and promoting a clear path they can follow from your web page to your business.

You'll never turn every online visitor to a lead, but you can increase your conversion rate dramatically by presenting an effective call to action. These calls to action can be in the form of a specific request for a free report, an offer to request additional property information, or an invitation to fill out a survey.

After you present these calls to action, track the number of lookers you convert to leads. For example, if a thousand users visit your site and 150 request a free brochure titled "How to buy property in our market for 70 cents on the dollar," your conversion rate is 15 percent. Not bad!

Converting leads to clients

After you capture a lead, you need to go into full court press to convert the name and contact information into a prospect for your business. For some reason, agents don't follow up with Internet leads as aggressively as they do with ad call or sign call leads. I consider this a mistake because in today's world you stand to generate more leads online than from any other source.

To get a feel for the way online leads accrue to build your business, look at this example:

  • If your site draws 1,000 visitors and 150 of those visitors request your free report, you'll have a 15 percent visitor-to-lead conversion ratio.

  • If you convert 5 percent of the resulting 150 leads to buyer-consultation interviews, you'll generate 7.5 interviews from the 1,000 site visitors, or a .75 percent site visitor-to-interview conversion rate.

  • Based on your online conversion rates, you'll have a base from which to work with as you adjust your marketing and conversion strategy. For instance, if you want to generate 15 instead of 7.5 interviews, you'll have to either double the number of visitors to your site or double your conversion rate. It all boils down to the numbers.

To improve your web marketing, visit other agents' sites to see how they build, use, market, promote, and track responses. Most importantly, observe how the other agents prompt calls to action. You may even register and request a few offered items to see how they follow up on leads. Most use automatic responders, which send out messages via e-mail without the touch of a human hand, so they won't even know that you, a competing agent, got their stuff.

Keys to Prospecting for Real Estate Business

Prospecting for real estate buyers requires positive expectations. It requires a positive-results mindset, in part to overcome the influences of all the other agents who don't prospect, don't value prospecting, and stand by to negatively influence your vision and expectation of success.

Merriam-Webster defines prospecting as "seeking a potential customer; seeking with a vision of success." Notice that nothing in that definition deals with waiting or hoping. Starting with the word "seeking," the definition revolves around action being taken by the salesperson. In its most basic sense, prospecting involves finding people to do business with.

Take a look at the following table to get an idea of which agent activities are considered prospecting and which aren't.

What Prospecting Is What Prospecting Isn't
Calling past clients Mailing magnets, calendars, and other trinkets
Calling people in your sphere of influence Setting up a website
Calling expired listings Joining service organizations
Calling FSBOs Wearing your name badge
Cold calling for listings and sales Placing magnetic signs on your car
Knocking on doors Sponsoring a community sports team
Hosting open houses Doing floor time
Calling absentee owners Answering e-mails
Cold calling from lists of names Pinning your business card on bulletin boards
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