I often get asked by agents, “what’s the most common business development problem you see?”
Out of all the potential issues, not having enough leads is by far the one I see the most frequently amongst real estate professionals. And it’s also the most debilitating one.
When I’m having discussions with agents, almost half of them say something along the lines of “if I can just get in front of the right clients, I can almost always sell.”
Now occasionally they’re wrong. They’re overestimating their selling skills.
But very often they’re right.
You see, “selling” is not that far removed from what agents do on a day-to-day basis. It involves talking to clients about their wants and needs, understanding the market, and proposing solutions.
Some agents have big psychological hangs up about selling. It’s beneath them. It doesn’t fit with their self-image. But often, when push comes to shove, they’re not that bad at it.
And if you’ve worked in the industry for any length of time, you’ll inevitably have been involved in a number of client meetings. You’ll have built up experience in it, even if you don’t like it.
Lead generation is a different kettle of fish though.
It involves activities like presentations and “pitches”. Asking for referrals. Writing sales letters or articles. Stuff that’s very different from the day-to-day “solution generation” that may feel more comfortable.
But lead generation can make even the star sales person feel uncomfortable.
I know I did initially. Even though I’d learnt how to be pretty darn good at selling when working in corporate, when I went solo, lead generation was new to me. I had to go through a painful learning curve very fast.
The first area most people struggle with is knowing which marketing approaches will work to generate high quality leads in their specific situation.
But even after they’ve got this figured out, many agents then fall into a huge trap.
They just don’t fill their pipelines with enough leads.
Because they don’t (yet) enjoy lead generation activities, they do what they feel is just enough to get them the business they need. Then they stop and focus on delivery.
But, of course, they overestimate their chances of landing each client in their pipeline. So when they don’t all come off, they’re left feeding off scraps.
My advice is to always “overfill” your pipeline. Generate at least twice as many leads as you think you need.
Because having an overfull pipeline generates some wonderful side-effects:
- You can cherry-pick. With an abundance of opportunities you can choose the best ones to work with. The best clients, the most interesting opportunities, or the most lucrative.
- You can establish the right relationships with clients from the start. When you’re not desperate for business, when you can “take it or leave it,” then you immediately elevate your status and can work with clients as a trusted provider right from the get-go. Conversely, if you really need to win a deal you can very easily drift into a subservient relationship that damages your ability to advise and guide your client.
- You can be highly ethical. You can turn down work you’re not perfectly suited for if you don’t need to win it to pay the bills.
- You can negotiate from strength. You don’t have to make unfair concessions just because you really need the work.
- You can relax. You’ll be surprised how much better this makes you at selling.
Of course, building an overfull pipeline isn’t easy…
But it absolutely is possible if you use the right approaches and keep going beyond the point where you think you have “just enough”.
Because, believe me, “just enough” is not enough.