Playing the numbers game
The traditional model for successful prospecting focuses on contact management i.e. farming, direct mail, telephone solicitation, open houses, personal promotion and personal contact. Making more contacts generates more prospects, creating more clients, resulting in more sale. It’s a simple and effective activity-driven sales formula. A numbers game. The hunger, energy, persistence, and resilience of the agent fuel this process.
It’s an agent-centric concept — find the prospect, make the sale, the sale is the service. Those with the most listings and the most prospective buyers wins.
In this model, generating prospects and creating new business is the priority. When the opportunity to chase new business conflicts with the needs of serving an existing client, the new business opportunity takes priority. The “already captured” client is served… later. Ironically, this system reinforces the need for many prospects and clients. Hey, it’s a numbers game!
Leslie Appleton-Young, Chief Economist for the California Association of REALTOR®, once shared in a study by UCLA and CAR that the importance of the real estate professional in the purchase or sale of the home remains unchanged and essential to both the new Internet consumer and the traditional consumer.
Just as clear is the evidence that consumers’ needs and expectations of the real estate agent are changing. Better-informed consumers know more, expect more, and demand more. And these better-informed consumers are requiring less time and have a shorter shelf life.
The big shift
Recognizing this, those real estate professionals who are shifting their activities from an emphasis on prospecting new client acquisition to an emphasis on better serving existing clients are making a remarkable discovery.
Higher conversation rates of existing clients through better service reduces the need for prospecting, and requires fewer new prospects.
Better serving and satisfying existing clients is more economically and professionally rewarding. Greater numbers of more highly satisfied clients is the best source of new prospects and requires little additional effort.
Making significant gains in converting a higher percentage of prospects into more highly satisfied clients requires more than a change in activity and a change in attitude.
Standards, processes, measurements
Standards, processes, and measurements have long been a part of the production management of real estate sales. Many resources, systems, and training programs are available to improve prospecting and increase sales production. What about these improves service quality, reliability, and consistency? Can managed service delivery also impact prospecting, customer acquisition, and client retention?
A managed service process with standards, controls, and service performance feedback is proving to attract more clients, deliver measurably better service, keep clients longer, serve them better, and generate more referrals and repeat business. This too is a numbers game, but these numbers have a consumer-centered and service metrics focus.
Ironically, the more effectively agents serve and satisfy existing clients, the less time they need to spend prospecting for new clients. It’s a reverse Catch-22!
Prospecting’s secret to success
A market-educated and more knowledgeable consumer is less interested in being sold than in being served. The more consumers are learning about the home buying/selling process, the more they want to understand, and the more they are coming to expect. Consumers want something different today. They want service that is reliable, consistent, accountable, and responsive.
Nothing has greater influence on prospective clients than an independently validated history of service satisfaction and results with past clients. Service is serious business. Delivering measurably better quality service and greater client service satisfaction depend upon systems, resources, measurements, and performance feedback. Great service requires more than good intentions!