Real estate prospecting doesn’t look anything like sitting and waiting for the phone to ring. Instead, agents who want to become top producers reach for the phone or knock on doors. They initiate contact with potential clients. Real estate prospecting is, after all, the act of generating new real estate clients through active outreach and outbound communication.
After decades of experience in real estate prospecting, lead generation, and coaching agents, I’ve got a list of expert prospecting tools and tips that will help you generate more business. And every one of these 13 strategies includes what you can do to get started today!
1. Get Some Face Time With Real Estate Prospects
Let’s start by establishing your overall goal for prospecting. Yes, you want listings and closings, but prospecting is also about establishing the first step in your relationship with a lead. It’s rare to finish up a cold call with a listing in your pocket. It’s much more common that you set a date for an in-person meeting.
My first broker, who’d been in the business for decades, used to say that he would prospect in hopes of a handshake. He’d offer to take a stranger to coffee, drop by to see an FSBO listing—anything to get in front of a buyer or seller and establish a connection.
Humans crave connection on a deep level and the trust that comes with it. A solid relationship with a client increases your chances of closing a deal, and that all starts with a handshake.
Get started today: Set up office hours at a local coffee shop. Every time you speak to a cold-outreach prospect, mention that you’re going to be at a coffee shop on a certain morning, and they should drop by for a cup of coffee (on you) to talk real estate (or fly fishing, or animal rescue, or whatever is going to start building that relationship). Creating a non-confrontational way to offer a face-to-face experience is an excellent way to build relationships.
2. Learn the Art (& Science) of Real Estate Prospecting Letters
A critical tool in a real estate professional’s toolkit is the prospecting letter—especially handwritten ones. Simple, efficient, and inexpensive, a prospecting letter serves several purposes:
Make sure your prospecting letters are personalized, professional, and authentic. Your goal is to demonstrate your value and prompt prospects to reach out, so include a motivational call to action.
Get started today: Write a prospecting letter to 10 neighboring homeowners about the last home you sold. Share exactly what you did to get the job done and how you’re ready to help the recipients sell their home. If you want a head start, download our free packet of real estate prospecting letter templates below:
Too busy to write them all out by hand? Consider Addressable, an innovative new company that mimics handwritten letters with its proprietary technology.
3. Base Your Real Estate Prospecting on Data
Realtors who use data to guide their decision-making processes are going to come out ahead in real estate prospecting. Track what you’re doing, what’s working, your rates of response—and especially who you’re targeting—so you’re not spinning your wheels.
You can also use data developed through predictive analytics. Say you want to send prospecting letters but don’t want to waste money on postage for those who aren’t interested. Predictive analytics companies such as SmartZip use thousands of data points to narrow down the prospects in your community who are most likely to buy or sell.
Is SmartZip the Future of Real Estate Prospecting?
Get started today: Audit your customer relationship management tool (CRM) and make sure you’re tracking all of your prospecting efforts. Put systems in place to understand whether those letters are getting responses.
4. Remember, You’re Providing Value to Your Community
I often hear new agents say they don’t want to bother anyone with cold calls or door knocking. Yet the reality is, you’re providing value to your community.
When you reach out to potential buyers and sellers, letting them know about your services and expertise, you’re also making them aware of their real estate options. Remember, you’re the professional. You’ve received specialized training to help your clients make the best real estate decisions possible.
Have confidence in your contribution to the community and be the expert who helps clients navigate buying and selling.
Get started today: Creating a neighborhood website is a great way to provide immediate value to the community you’re serving. Community websites offer valuable information for the members of your target neighborhoods, and let you spotlight local leaders and publish conversation starters. Options for community website providers abound, but our favorite is Parkbench.
How Parkbench Drives Community Connection & Generates Leads
5. Make Your Weekly Goals About Effort
Prospecting is hard work, and it’s easy to feel like you’re spinning your wheels if you don’t set benchmarks. Make your weekly prospecting goals about the work you’re doing (the number of calls you make, the number of texts you send, the number of doors you knock on). Center your quarterly goals around the amount of business you close.
This high-level thinking will keep you motivated and focused on big-picture targets—and not the minor setbacks.
Get started today: Prospecting should be a part of your overall lead generation strategy. Consider where you need to apply your efforts and resources so that you stay focused on reaching your long-term goals. Use our lead generation plan template to create your own blueprint.
6. Improve Your Cold Calling Efficiency
Cold calling is not for everyone. In fact, it can be pretty challenging, especially if you hate to hear “no.” But, agents cold call because it works. Research shows that if you’re consistent and put in the time, you will generate leads.
If you’re a cold caller, you need the best tools available. I like REDX and Vulcan7. Both provide leads—expired listings, FSBOs, targeted neighborhoods, and preforeclosures—for you in an organized CRM. Their power dialers, which can make you four times more efficient, keep the phone calls ringing—all you need to do is polish your scripts. REDX gets a slight advantage because it’s been around so long, but either could seriously increase your cold calling return on investment.
7. Try Circle Prospecting
Circle prospecting is all about reaching out to the 30 (or so) homeowners who live close to your latest listing or recent closing. Let them know there is real estate activity happening in the area and an opportunity for them to get in on the action.
I use a one-two punch strategy for circle prospecting:
- The moment a listing goes live (or a sale closes), send a postcard or letter alerting your community to the activity.
- Follow up with a phone call (or, if you’re feeling bold, a door knock) the day after to start the conversation.
Get started today: Look through your listings (or recent sales), pick a neighborhood to focus on, and send out 30 cards (ideally handwritten). Make sure you’re recording all of this activity in your CRM so you can track your results and add any interested prospects to text or email drip campaigns.
8. Create a Lead-generating Website
Real estate prospecting is easier if people are already familiar with who you are and what you do. If you haven’t already, create a professional website that provides visitors with information about selling a home in your community. Additionally, offer visitors an opportunity to search for properties currently listed for sale and a way to contact you with questions.
The very best site providers include lead generation services, which means they capture information from people perusing your site so that you can reach out to them. Website lead gen works because you’ll have easier conversations and higher conversion rates when you speak to your prospects directly.
Get started today: There are a lot—and I mean a lot—of great website builders out there. I prefer the ones that specialize in real estate, like Sierra Interactive. Sierra Interactive offers award-winning websites that generate high-quality leads. They manage your leads with automated action plans and nurture your pipeline while you focus on what you do best: closing deals.
As I noted up top, prospecting isn’t really about cold calling and mass mailers. It’s about starting (and cultivating) relationships with people you think will be buyers or sellers. I’m sure you often hear how important it is to not just market yourself on social media, but to engage. So what does that actually mean in practice?
Post regularly to your social media platform of choice (I recommend you pick two networks to really focus on), but also comment on and like the posts of your followers and those you’re following. Use hashtags to connect with new buyers and sellers. Be part of a larger conversation in your community.
107 Top Real Estate Hashtags: Instagram, Twitter & More
In addition, use social media to connect to people who share your interests. My favorite example is a friend of mine who’s a history nerd and agent. He actively posts and comments on our community history pages so buyers and sellers see him as an authority on the area. He’s so well-known and respected that he has a huge advantage when he’s prospecting for leads.
Get started today: Use your social media accounts to connect to others who have similar interests and parlay those online interactions into real-life ones. Not sure where to start? Consider Coffee & Contracts, the social media marketing experts who can help you build an impactful and effective brand.
10. Dedicate 90 Minutes Each Day to Prospecting
Your real estate prospecting efforts will only be successful if they are consistent. Prospecting is a lot of work, so thinking that you’re going to get it done in a couple of minutes a day just isn’t realistic.
Successful real estate agents set aside 90 minutes every day for prospecting. If you can commit to a regular schedule, you’ll be amazed at the results that seven and a half hours of prospecting each week will yield.
Get started today: Head to your calendar and block off 90 minutes of protected time to prospect each day. I suggest making it the first thing you do every morning since you’re more likely to be using your CRM in the morning anyway.
11. Call Expired Listings. Every. Single. Day.
Expired listings represent a golden opportunity for real estate agents. After all, these owners have raised their hand and said, “I want to sell my home!” For one reason or another, their home hasn’t sold yet. But chances are, they still want a buyer.
Before you get an owner of an expired listing on the phone, prepare background information on their property. How much was it listed for? Was it priced right? Was it marketed correctly? Has it been listed more than once in recent years? Be ready to overcome objections and move quickly.
According to Vulcan7, almost 40% of expired listing homeowners relist with a different agent, which means you have an excellent chance of being their new agent and closing a deal. But also, you’re not the only agent who is prospecting these leads, so the sooner you get on the phone and start making connections, the better.
Get started today: Head to your MLS and set up an alert for any property that changes to “expired” status. Or use one of my favorite lead generation companies, Offrs, which provides expired listing leads without the need to set up an annual contract.
12. Call FSBO Sellers. Every. Single. Day.
Just like expired listing sellers, FSBOs are fantastic prospects because they have already publicly announced that they want to sell their home.
However, your strategy will be different from expired listings because FSBOs believe they don’t need a real estate agent (or at least they claim to). Either that, or they don’t want to pay a commission.
Often, all it takes to win these listings is a savvy pitch and persistent follow-up. Call attention to the fact that homes sold by a Realtor tend to sell for 32% more than FSBO homes. That percentage could more than make up for any concerns about commission.
Get started today: Get comfortable with our best FSBO scripts and put together a generic FSBO deck that you can tailor to individual homeowners. Be sure to set up a new listing alert for FSBO homes on Zillow, since more than 90% of FSBO homes are listed there.
13. Don’t Fear the Word ‘No’
According to a famous study by Baylor University on real estate cold calling, it takes an average of 209 calls to set an appointment or get a referral. For those of you with a fear of rejection, the takeaway here is that you’re going to have to endure 208 gut-wrenching “no’s” before you finally get a “yes.”
For those of you who have already gotten over your fear of “no,” this statement is music to your ears. It means that for every “no” you get, you are quantifiably closer to a “yes.” It means that if you can make 627 calls in a week (which is totally doable in your 90 minutes each day), you’re going to get three appointments.
Get started today: Practice with our cold calling scripts. Practice, practice, and practice some more until it’s rote. Practice with family and friends, but also practice with fellow agents who can throw objections at you. If your scripts flow naturally, you’re not going to be bothered by a “no;” you’ll just be on to the next potential prospect.
Bringing It All Together
Real estate prospecting can be tough, but it works. If you put in the time, remain consistent, track your progress, engage with your community, and have some helpful scripts handy, you’ll be successful. On those hard days, remember that each “no” is just getting you closer to the “yes.” And above all, never forget that you’re providing a service to your community through your expertise and professionalism.
Have additional questions or tips for your fellow agents? Leave us a comment below!