10 Must-Haves for a Successful Real Estate Agent - dummies

10 Must-Haves for a Successful Real Estate Agent

By Dirk Zeller

To be a successful real estate agent, you need to be focused, determined, and organized. You also need a few items to keep you on the path to success. Keep the following things in your agent arsenal and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals.

Good contact management system

As a salesperson, you have to be able to keep in touch with prospects and clients easily and effectively. You must be able to put your hands on names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses in an instant.

You can track people and prospects the old-fashioned way, on spreadsheets or your phone contacts, but you’ll soon outgrow that method. Get a customer relationship management (CRM) software package. Many, such as Sage ACT, GoldMine, and Salesforce, are specifically designed for salespeople. These programs automate your client database, sales, and more.

Another option is to buy something that is specific to the real estate industry. The programs that are specific to real estate agents hold many advantages over general sales programs. They’re usually programmed with letters and correspondence an agent can use. They also have pre-created lead follow-up and client follow-up plans already built in. Most have plans to apply when marketing a property. They also have plans you can launch after you’ve secured a buyer for a listing.

Online lead-generation software

Buyer and seller prospects are searching for homes online before they contact a real estate agent. According to NAR, last year over 33 percent of buyers found the agent online that they used to help them buy a home. If you’re not working to generate leads online you are losing a third of potential buyer prospects.

Buyers want to be able to search properties, gather information about properties, areas, and school districts, and even compare and save properties for future reference. Your ability to “push” properties out that match their predetermined criteria is also essential.

Many MLS systems offer a basic version of data exchange for the agent to provide the consumer. There are more advanced systems, like Real Geeks, Commission Inc., Real Estate Webmasters, Kunversion, and Agent Jet. These systems will aid you in capturing and communicating directly with buyer and seller prospects.

Enhanced CMA software

Listings are becoming more competitive than ever. The value of a listing to an agent’s business has grown exponentially in the last five years. This is due to the lower listing inventory in most markets, the buyer shift to online research, and third-party websites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com commanding so many eyeballs. Your listing presentation has to be better packaged, especially in your analysis of their property and its value.

The basic CMA software that is provided inside most MLS software is lacking. Using software like Cloud CMA or Touch CMA will give you the edge when discussing the marketplace and value of their home. In addition, if you use Cloud CMA, they have a “What is my home worth?” campaign built right into the software. This allows you to use your email lists, Facebook ads, and pay-per-click campaigns to attract seller leads through a “What is my home worth?” campaign.

BombBomb

BombBomb is a video email program that enables you to create video emails from your web camera, smartphone, or video camera. You can quickly make a video within the software application or upload an existing video into the program.

The program delivers your video right to the inbox of the prospect, client, or past client. It’s not a link they have to click but an actual compressed video with a big still image of your smiling face greeting them.

BombBomb is ideal for breaking the ice with a prospect you haven’t reached via phone or who hasn’t returned your calls. It’s perfect to create that ongoing relationship with your past clients and sphere of influence. You can create individual customer video emails or create a drip campaign that automates the relationship you’re trying to build. A drip campaign is a pre-created series of emails that go out to prospects via an autoresponder feature at specific intervals.

The company also has a product called Playbook, in which all emails, videos, and sequences are designed for you. You don’t have to figure out what to say or write. All you have to do is record, upload, and send — it takes mere minutes.

Tablet computer

To keep up in the real estate market, you need to be technologically driven. One essential tool is a tablet computer, such as an iPad.

A tablet is critical because of the mobile environment in which real estate agents work. The sleek design and portability of the tablet is perfect for the real estate industry.

You must have a tablet with both wi-fi and 4G capabilities. Being able to show clients real-time property listings, including videos and pictures, can make a big impact. Use a tablet for open houses, listing presentations, and buyer consultations, whether at your office, at a client’s home, or at the local coffee shop.

Showing such information to prospective clients who walk into your open houses expands their options, enhances their knowledge base, and creates an opportunity for them to linger at the open house longer — and get to know you better.

Tablet computers also create opportunities for a paperless process, which is an attractive option in the real estate industry.

DocuSign or Dotloop software

The ability to serve your clients and prospects faster and more efficiently without paper is a key service. These types of software save you time in not having to transport documents and instead putting documents immediately into the hands of your clients digitally. DocuSign was one of the first software packages to be universally accepted on purchase agreements. It allows your clients and prospects to sign documents electronically with a few clicks. They can approve agreements and contingency-removal documents and in some areas even close a transaction.

Dotloop offers a full suite of paperless storage options for your key documents.

Facebook business page

Facebook has become an effective tool for service-based businesses, such as real estate agents. The balance between your personal Facebook page and a business Facebook page is delicate. Both need to be used to communicate with your sphere of influence. Agents can make the mistake of posting too many listings and other business topics on their personal pages. The sooner you can establish a business presence on Facebook, the more muted you can be on your personal page.

The goal is to establish yourself as an expert and a portal of key real estate information for your area. You can highlight market trends, share national and local real estate articles, and even promote real estate best buys and opportunities.

Personal website

With more than 91 percent of buyers using the Internet to search for properties, your website is an essential tool for generating leads and promoting your sellers’ homes.

You don’t need the fanciest, most expensive website you can find. A lot of companies make solid template-based websites. These sites are extremely economical, considering the low initial investment and monthly hosting fees. Many of these companies build cost-effective sites and earn most of their income when they charge monthly fees for hosting your site.

You want to work with a company that builds template sites as well as custom sites. Most new agents start on a budget, so you may start with a template site and then as your business grows move to a custom site. You also want a company that has the ability to place you higher in search-engine rankings. This is how you’ll generate traffic and leads.

There are numerous WordPress-like website-building companies that specialize in the real estate industry. As a newer agent with a more modest budget, you might take a look at Placester or WebsiteBox as options for your site.

A phone headset

A headset makes it much easier for you to prospect effectively. It enables you to stand while you’re making phone calls and keeps your hands free. That way, you can engage your whole body in your communication or type notes directly into your contact manager while talking. A headset improves your posture, position, energy, and enthusiasm. It’s the only way to do it.

Sales scripts

Knowing clearly what to say in every situation really separates the high earners from the low earners in real estate sales. Find scripts that have worked for others. Invest several hours each week practicing those scripts to perfection, preferably with a role-playing partner. A word of caution: Practice does not make perfect, as the old saying goes. Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect. To achieve perfect delivery, be sure to have the right attitude, an expectation of success, appropriate pauses, and enough repetition to master each script.