Real-world salespeople are usually not the silver-tongued persuaders or back-slapping bullies you’ll see on TV sitcoms. In truth, the sales profession is an excellent example of the rule that success comes from “1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration”: the most successful salespeople are the ones who get in front of the most qualified prospects, which takes high levels of consistent effort and organization.
As a new real estate agent, for example, your first concern is learning how to get real estate leads. Over time, you’ll learn that the quality of your leads is variable, and that better-quality leads generate better results. Today we’ll look at how a highly successful New York City broker leverages Spokeo’s tools to refine and empower his prospecting and lead generation.
Real Estate Prospecting
“We have to prospect for leads, right?” the agent explains. “Here in New York, it’s very difficult, it’s highly competitive, so we always try to find the best approach to prospect into the city.” A few avenues he’s had success with include the following:
In NYC — like everywhere else — cold calling is a fundamental skill, but looking for leads in a secure building filled with condos is different from door-knocking in a suburban neighborhood. Knowing something about the residents before you call can provide a crucial competitive difference, because — as the realtor says — “You have a better ratio of converting them into an actual sales listing. So a lot of people try to do that, and there are a lot of systems out there that try to provide this information.”
Another option is monitoring existing listings that haven’t sold, waiting for the seller’s contract with the listing agent to expire. “If within that time frame they can’t sell it, then any other agent could go ahead and try to get that business. These are low-hanging fruit,” says the agent.
“Probate is another way real estate agents try to prospect for business,” he continues. When the owner of a property passes away, often the house must be sold in order for its value to be divided between the heirs. Finding the person responsible for selling the house as part of the estate’s probate process opens the door to getting that listing, but he cautions that “It’s a bit harder to get this information.”
“Typically, the way you’re supposed to do it is to go down to the courthouse and try to pick up that probate data. But there are companies out there doing this for you, and selling it to you for an outrageous amount of money. They give it to you every month, or every two weeks, and they tell you who is the main person of that probate.”
Buying Lists of Prospects
That brings us to the next option: purchased lists of leads. These vary widely in quality, from the frequently updated (but costly) lists of probate leads to generic but lower-cost lists, such as “name of last known owner of this property.”
Purchasing leads can be risky. In addition, that variability can be discouraging for realtors working from the list. “A lot of people are feeding us data,” the realtor says, “so we need to verify and check the data we are receiving to try and filter it out. Everyone expects 100 percent [accurate] data, but it’s hit or miss sometimes.”
There is no way to really validate the accuracy of the data. Therefore, the verification process starts simply, with testing and record-keeping. Before picking up the phone or sending an email, the realtor uses Spokeo to find out more about the person in order to enrich their correspondence, and ultimately, improve his contact/conversion rate.
He turns to Spokeo to help maximize the return on his investment in lead generation:
“We just test them out by calling, and then figure out which [data sources] are the best, and which ones are not. We get pickup ratios; ‘people pick up with this data [source] and didn’t with this data [source].’”
Validating Data and Filling in the Blanks
One of the most basic ways the agent uses Spokeo is simply to evaluate the quality of a purchased list. “Sometimes the data’s pretty similar, and sometimes it’s maybe off by a little bit,” he says. “Search engine websites such as Spokeo help us say, ‘Okay, we’re on the right track, this is the data.’”
It’s also a source he returns to repeatedly when he and his team are cold calling. “Property address, name, and number, I use Spokeo for those three main things,” he says.
It makes perfect sense to do that kind of research, and arm yourself with the property owner’s basic data, before you reach out. In any given neighborhood or building there are only so many potential sales to be made, and burning up a possible listing through lack of preparation is costly. Consumers are bombarded with carefully crafted sales messages every day, and generic approaches (“Dear Occupant: I recently drove past your home at 123 Subdivision Heights, and would love to list it for you…”) simply won’t get the job done.
Spokeo’s Untapped Potential
The agent recognizes that he’s only just begun to tap Spokeo’s potential uses in real estate marketing, such as gathering intelligence on potential prospects.
“To be honest with you, I don’t use all the attributes that Spokeo has,” he confesses. “I see that you guys provide so much other data, like, ‘This person is probably 80 years old,’ stuff like that. I’ve always thought, ‘If you’re over 70 and have lived there for over 30 years, you’re more likely to want to sell.’ I’m sure if I actually sat down [with it], I could come up with a pretty cool system.” (Spoiler: We’ve recently written about using Spokeo’s search tools exactly that way.)
There’s Always Room to Innovate
Real estate is a pretty well-established industry, and Googling “how to get real estate leads” will bring you hundreds of thousands of pages to look at. Unfortunately for any aspiring realtor, everybody else can see those same pages (or buy lists of leads from the same sources). You’ll need some sort of edge to differentiate yourself from the competition, and Spokeo can provide that edge.
We’re always excited to learn how our users take advantage of our services, and real agents and brokers are no exception. Do you use our tools to stay safe when meeting potential clients? To protect yourself and your clients against possible fraud or identity theft? To find the perfect neighborhood for your clients? If so, let us know. We’d love to hear from you.