Imagine going one day without using your cell phone. If you are a real estate investor, you know that your phone is the lifeline of your business. If you are not already on your phone throughout the day, you are likely using it to search for information. Your phone may be the most important tool you have when trying to attract sellers to work with you. Any marketing campaign or networking strategy you have will be funneled back to either your website or your phone. How you react to the incoming leads will ultimately determine the success of your campaigns. You need to be proactive and take care of any potential lead, as any one could land you significant profits.
The most important thing you can do when you get an incoming call is to answer the phone. This may sound obvious enough, but many investors fail to do so. They will wait for a voice-mail to see if the lead seems worthwhile or the seller seems interested. In many cases, the seller will not leave a voice-mail. The longer you wait to return their call, the less likely they will answer when you get around to calling them. The goal for any marketing is to get the phone to ring. Unless you are at a meeting or taking another call, there is no reason not to answer your phone every time it rings.
When receiving a call, it is important that you don’t get caught up in marketing your services. While you do want to answer any questions they may have, the key is to extract information from them. In fact, your objective should be to gain as much information from the seller as possible. You want to strike a balance between having a regular conversation and getting answers. You can have a script prepared to guide you through the first couple of calls, but many times a script will sound forced and you may come off as just trying to push the seller towards signing a contract. You should certainly have a list of questions you need answered, but you should let the seller dictate which way the conversation is headed. Building a rapport and getting the seller to feel comfortable with you is an important aspect of them wanting to work with you. If you generally have their best interests in mind, it will greatly reduce the chances of them walking away from the deal a week before the closing.
The initial phone conversation is the best time to get information from the seller. In most cases, the seller will either be in a foreclosure, short sale or have some other event that is pushing them to sell. They are receiving phone calls from their lender and receiving letters from investors every day. Whatever it was about your letter that attracted them to call may be your best, and only, chance to get them talking. There is an instinct to keep talking and constantly push the conversation forward, but the most important thing you can do is listen. Listen to why they are in this situation, what they want out of the transaction and when they intend to sell. Many investors will get off the phone with a new potential seller and not have any idea of what their goals are. They show up at their house and realize that the seller really has no intention to sell and they wasted their time. Even worse, they can be months into the transaction only to have the seller remind them that they want to be in their house until the end of the school year or after a holiday. Don’t talk just because you feel like you have to. Ask questions and, more importantly, listen to what the seller has to say.
The phone call should be a bridge to get you to meet at the property and with the seller. After the conversation, you should both have a good idea of whether or not you are a fit for each other. Regardless of their situation or how much you may be able to help, they may not be interested in selling at this time. It is important to keep an active database of everyone you have talked to and when you have spoken with them. In spite of what you may think watching reality TV, many deals are cultivated over time and do not happen from the initial phone call. You will need to follow up multiple times before the seller is willing to meet with you to discuss signing a contract. If you get frustrated or stop calling at the first sign of rejection, you will leave many potential deals on the table.
Every time your phone rings, it represents a potential deal just waiting to happen. There is not much that separates one investor from the next. However, when dealing with incoming phone leads, it is usually the little things that make an investor successful. Answering the phone, listening to the seller and following up after the initial call will all give you an advantage over your competition. It is not enough to simply get the seller to talk to you or even to meet you at their house. Your goal is to convert any leads into actual deals. Building a relationship and deciphering through the information they give you will give you a decided advantage. Your phone can be fun for playing games and discovering new applications, but it is also the main tool you have in getting new deals.