You may have heard of the real estate sales funnel - a term used to describe the process of initiating relationships with lots and lots of people who eventually filter down to a smaller proportion of bona fide home-selling clients. But a real estate sales pipeline is about more than just the funnel. The pipeline refers to the whole view of your sales process from start to finish, and paying sufficient attention to all parts of it is the key to real estate success.
1. PROMOTING YOURSELF
The first step for a new real estate agent - or one who wants to refresh or reinvigorate their career - is to identify your unique selling point (USP) and workshop your personal brand. [LINK] Once you’ve nailed down your persona and key messaging, you’ll want to try and make as many people aware of you as possible. Awareness is the first essential step to prospecting and kicks off your pipeline activity.
Here are some tips to grow awareness:
📣 Put your name on everything: there’s a reason for all those ubiquitous real estate agent branded notepads, pens, calendars and magnets - they work. Put your name on more than just your business card - consider items people will use all the time. You can’t say enough for the power of this constant rebranding reminder. And be sure to include your phone number and another best contact method so people can reach you quickly and easily.
📣 Get involved in the community: reach out to media sources and offer your expertise, chat to business owners, shop counter workers, fellow sports players or gym goers… get in the habit of connecting everywhere you go. You don’t need to come on too strong - just start with a smile- you might be amazed how many people will return it! Be genuinely interested in other people and casual conversation can progress quite naturally.
📣 Make an impression: people remember those who are genuine and who listen carefully to them. This helps them feel noticed, and it makes us all feel good. Great communication [link] is as much about listening as it is about telling others what you know.
📣 Get online: in today’s increasingly online world your presence and engagement via your own website or social media channels are fast becoming as important as your face-to-face connections. Take the time to hone these skills - there are plenty of training resources available either on or offline - and get familiar with the online environment. Younger buyers in particular are quite used to going a fair way through the purchase process without meeting face to face, and it’s becoming more common for people to purchase real estate sight unseen. Make sure you’re exploiting all appropriate online opportunities, like MyPitchList which gives you a simple way to pitch for listings with a minimum of effort.
2. BUILDING ENGAGEMENT
Ok, so you’ve spread awareness far and wide. Now you need to engage your audience, and you’ll need to establish a system to track your interactions, meetings and client contacts. Make sure you look to the future, because as your business grows, making connections will come more naturally. In time, enquiries could come thick and fast, with people knocking on your door as often as you’re knocking on theirs. This is where good management of your pipeline becomes vital.
Once you have your audience, you need to grab their interest. Consider:
📣 Be a storyteller: share stories of successful sales and purchases (with your vendor’s permission of course), or other stories people can connect with. These may involve your brand persona, or any of your special interests. Are you a Mama Bear real estate agent who lives for her family when she’s not slaying it in the auction room? Share stories about your family’s activities, your kids’ achievements or funny anecdotes about family life. These will resonate with the people who follow you.
📣 Think visually: use images and video to capture interest. The Facebook algorithm rates video - especially Live video - highly, and will show your posts more frequently to more of your audience if you post your own videos or images. Instagram also loves visual images, short and quirky videos. Again, consider your brand identity and share content that’s resonant with your persona. Are you a rural agent living on your own lifestyle block? Share photos of the highs and lows of the amateur rural lifestyle, or quick videos of you learning new skills on the farm.
📣 Don’t think it’s not important: if you want to achieve really rich rewards in real estate and make your long-term dreams come true, it’s not enough any more to just be a name and a job title. Marketing yourself as a complete package and providing all sorts of content for people to engage with and be entertained by is essential to nurturing a feeling of connection with you, even for people you’ve never met before.
📣 Be informative: people actively selling houses are inordinately interested in the housing market, but their interest tends to wane if they’re not currently involved in the process. Think about how you can inform them, in addition to any interesting facts or movements about the real estate industry. Home improvement tips, gardening or local community information may all resonate with your audience and give people extra value in their ongoing relationship with you. Share your content on social media or send regular print or email newsletters.
Once the potential contacts are loaded into your pipeline and you’re generating interest, the next step is reaching out. You might get in touch with your potential clients in a number of ways, depending on the contact information you have for them:
📣 Phone calls
📣 Messenger, Instagram, What’s App or LinkedIn messages or similar
When you’re starting out in real estate, it’s a smart idea to be humble and honest. Reach out to your existing network and let them know about your new career. Is anybody looking to move, sell or buy property? Maybe you can help. Does anyone know someone looking to move, sell or buy? Referral is a huge part of building a healthy pipeline and establishing a successful real estate business.
3. MANAGING THE PROCESS
Get used to the fact that people are going to fall out of your pipeline, prospects will go cold and relationships will end fruitlessly more often than they result in a closed deal. But don’t rip up your licence and hang up your suit just yet. People and deals that fall out of the pipeline may just as easily fall back into it. Not only that, those same people are rich sources of other potential contacts and deals. It’s all about looking at the long game, and recognising there’s no crystal ball in the real estate industry. A stale contact may turn into the sale of the year as easily as a hot prospect goes icy. A healthy pipeline comes down to great management, maintaining perspective, and always keeping your goals in sight.
Here are some elements of the sales process to bear in mind from the outset:
📣 Operate with integrity: prospects and contacts will appreciate it when you’re sincere, honest and open. Whether a relationship ends in a real estate pay cheque or not, you should aim to leave a good impression. Mutual respect is the first step to positive relationships, and respect starts with genuine interest in other people, and a plain desire to enrich them through your interactions. If that leads to real estate riches too, all the better. People recommend others who have made a good impression on them, and this is a strong part of building a successful real estate business.
📣 Establish a great system: essential for capturing details, recording interactions, following up and checking back in. You might start with a paper system and/or some of the readily-available free online tools available through email or office management programs. Your agency may have something purpose-built for you to use, or you may look at a specialised CRM (customer relationship management) system. Use whatever feels most natural to you, but be prepared to be agile, because what worked yesterday may be obsolete tomorrow.
📣 Rate your audience: it’s essential that you score your contacts and prospects throughout the sales pipeline process, so you can tailor your marketing efforts accordingly. Rating doesn’t necessarily mean 1 = cold and 10 = fiery hot; rather you may choose a rating system which works to categorise your contacts in your own mind. Here’s a suggested 7-step scale:
N - new (wait 6 months before re-classifying)
NDC - no direct contact
WC - have communicated in writing
FF - have communicated face to face
C - current listing
HV - happy vendor (previous client)
NSA - no sale achieved post listing
You can see that rating in this way determines the direction of your marketing strategy. Looking for testimonials from people you’ve never had contact with doesn’t make sense, nor does making a case for listing with you to those who have already done so.
Follow up, follow up, follow up. Following up on enquiries, meetings and expressions of interest is the #1, simple, cost-effective way to boost your pipeline. Staying connected to people - even when you only hear crickets in response - is essential in the real estate game. Reaching out, following up and staying present in your marketing channels is what can separate a top real estate agent from a struggling one. Set the groundwork right from the start in your real estate career, and the heights you could reach are dazzling.