It seems everybody has a different theory – and a different timeline – as to when and to what extent the accursed Coronavirus will dissipate and we will all get back to life. But one thing everyone does seem to agree on (including specialists in the medical profession), is that the Covid-19 Era will end. When this finally happens, when the shut-downs are shut down, real estate agents predict there will be a dramatic spike in listing activity. The all-important question then presents itself:
How can agents capture all these listings?
In working with top agents for 25 years – through the 2008 crash, 9/11, and now COVID – we’ve been privy to the exact steps success-minded agents take during a crisis. We’ve gathered up and organized these touch-points into our 6-Touchpoint COVID Listings Capture System.
The guiding essence when preparing to begin the system laid out below should be to:
- Effectively market to your farm area
- Set up ways to capture leads out of the farm
- Stay in close contact with each lead, and in a variety of ways, until they are ready for a listing appointment
This does not mean attempting to traverse salesy, saturated, and often futile avenues such as Facebook Ads, or spinning wheels gathering Buyer Leads. It’s about targeting people that own homes in your farm area; aka geographic farming, ideally with a sticky and expertizing medium , collecting their information in a variety of ways (webinar, a COVID Guide, or other lead capture methods), and holding onto them tightly until they sell.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork to capture homeowner contacts out of your farm, you are ready to build, foster and expand those relationship – by putting each lead into the COVID Listings Capture System.
When does a lead enter the system?
At the point of inquiry. For example, if you are hosting a webinar, when a homeowner calls to register or signs up on a webform, the first phone call touchpoint begins.
When do they exit the system?
- When they are ready for a Listing Appointment. At this point, you have permission to enter “sales mode” – be sure to deliver a knock-out presentation. Continue to deepen the friendship throughout the sales and listing process. If they “go dark” after the appointment or decide to wait to sell, put them right back into the system, keeping the touchpoints caring and non-sales-related.
- After the Coronavirus has waned and it’s clear they are far from selling. Keep them in a nurture system similar to this, but with touchpoints spaced 3-5 weeks apart. It might take years, but at some point they are going to sell.
- They list FSBO or with another agent (ouch). If they go FSBO, consider our FSBO Conversion Plan (modified for a Pandemic of course), or if they list with another agent, keep them on your database and reach out every 3-5 weeks. Who knows, they may be a future client if their agent flubs the deal.
Buckle up, here we go!
6-Touchpoint COVID Listings Capture System
Touchpoint 1: Introductory Personal Call
Purpose: Lay the groundwork for a trusted relationship
Timing: Immediately following the inquiry
Respond personally and immediately to every form-fill, response or call from your geographic farm. Even if they are not “ready-sellers,” they are valuable prospects. The point is to develop a personal relationship with every homeowner, and to create meaningful interaction that is intimate enough to set you far apart from the competition (and to prevent dismissiveness down the road).
Address the immediate reason for the signup or form-fill (“Thank you for registering for the webinar…”) and then ask how they are doing (“…how are you and your family holding up right now?”).
Let them do the talking by frequently asking open-ended questions – and most importantly – don’t talk about yourself! Keep organized notation of their children’s names, pets, and anything else that is personally important to the homeowner.
Specifically make it a point to ask how long they’ve lived in the neighborhood. Do not ask how long they’ve lived in their home or if they are planning to sell soon; they will then likely offer up if they are close to selling or not. Open-ended questions leave it to the prospect to share what’s most important. Ask what their concerns are right now, if they’ve had a job interruption, or what it’s been like with the kids out of school. These lines of questioning help immensely in the relationship developing touchpoints that follow.
Touchpoint 2: Hand-written Card
Purpose: Reinforce that you care about prospect as an individual; make a warm impression
Timing: Send immediately after Touchpoint 1 phone call ends
After you hang up the phone, send the homeowner a personalized hand-written note; a Thank You or Thinking of You card. Don’t delay – this should be mailed right after your call ends, so that it arrives two or three days after your phone call. This way, you will still be fresh in their minds.
The message here is that you are thinking about them. This is not dissimilar to a letter for a personal friend. Mention their family members (and perhaps pets) by name. Hand-write your phone number.
- Tell them how good you are at selling homes
- Ask them to call if they want help selling
- Talk about selling homes at all
- Enclose a business card (or anything of that nature at all)
- Express your care and concern for their wellbeing
- Affirm that “this too shall pass” or share some wisdom
- Write the names of their family members or a personal detail they shared
- Hand-write your phone number
Remember, this is not a “salesy” touchpoint.
Touchpoint 3: Personal Email
Purpose: Build friendship and maintain top of mind awareness
Timing: One week after Touchpoint 1 phone call; 4-5 days after Touchpoint 2 card is received
About one week after your call (four to five days after your card was received), check in with the homeowner just to see how they are doing. Pose a personal question to them, so they respond – creating a friendship-building dialogue. That’s it. No other motive, whatsoever.
Don’t include any attachments or links – that would only clog and skew your purpose; instead just inquire: “how are you hanging in there? Are you back to work yet? How is Sally’s driveway hoop practice going?” At no point should you ask the tempting question, “are you going to sell your home?” They will offer important information freely, if they like you and trust you.
Less is more when it comes to this friendly correspondence. Ideally, it will begin a bit of back-and-forth.
When returning to Touchpoint 3: after completing all 6 touchpoints, you’ll return to this one. You’ll then go through the next three again, and again return to the email. As you repeat the email touchpoint, you will need to use common sense on what’s appropriate to write. Most often, if they are not nearing the point of sale, it will remain personal. But if there’s a major market event, or some expertise they could benefit from, don’t be afraid to share it. Just remember that those more sales-slanted messages should be reserved for later down the line.
Touchpoint 4: Personal Call
Purpose: Offer assistance; gather information; deepen friendship
Timing: 3 days after Touchpoint 3 email
Three days after your personal email message, call again. Simply ask how they’re doing, but do not follow up with a query about plans they may have to sell (or anything like that).
This call should begin a personal check-in, to see if everything is going well. In return, share with them what you and your family are doing to cope. Get personal! The goal of this entire system is to build a trusting relationship so they feel comfortable coming to you later with their tough concerns. Ideally, they will trust you enough in time (and know you well enough to understand your high level of competency), to sell their home successfully.
When working with a couple, you’ll generally have one contact number from the spouse who originally inquired. Don’t be afraid to ask for the spouse’s phone number; explain that you want to keep them in the loop when you share information. If you have both phone numbers, take turns calling each one. Don’t do a call to each one during this touchpoint (often, they’re in the same house), but rather rotate who will get that call as you repeat the nurture cycle. You want to a strong relationship with both decision makers.
When returning to Touchpoint 4: every time you cycle back to the phone call, it should have more purpose, but still ought to remain mostly casual. An example would be: “lately, I’m getting a lot of calls about what’s happening in the market, do you have any questions I could answer for you?” Again, do not ask them about listing or tout your many accolades. By asking probing questions, offering guidance, and providing market insights, sooner or later they will open up about their goals.
Touchpoint 5: Personal Text
Purpose: Top of mind awareness; reminder that you are “here to help”
Timing: Immediately after Touchpoint 4 phone call
Right away, follow up your call with a super-personal text. A reminder that you know times are tough, but “you’re here to help in any way you can,” especially if they have any questions about the current market. Beyond that, this text can then be about anything, really.
Cheer on their son as he trains to make the cross-country team. Send a link to a pet groomer doing mobile, socially distant groomings, if your prospect griped about how the dog groomer is closed. Perhaps include a funny meme underscoring everyone’s frustration. Be creative!
The real goal of the text message is to maintain top-of-mind awareness, and to open up a dialogue on this popular, easy communication channel. You want them to know they can call, email, and text anytime.
If you’re working with a couple, send a “group text” to both spouses rather than texting just one of them, or sending separate messages. This shows that you equally value both of them.
What if the prospect isn’t a “texter” or uses a flip-phone or landline? You may run into this. If so, skip it, but do the next touchpoint a few days sooner. When dealing with couples, be sure to get both homeowner’s cell phone numbers, in case one or the other isn’t a text-fanatic.
When returning to Touchpoint 5: you’ll be sending lots of texts as you cycle through these touchpoints, so don’t feel the urge to make each one too long. Sometimes, it can be a one-liner: “Great talking Kate! Bob, best of luck on your interview, as if you need it! :-).”
Touchpoint 6: Small Gift (Letter or Drop-by)
Purpose: “Can’t forget it” deep personal impression
Timing: 5 days after Touchpoint 4 call & Touchpoint 5 text
During “stay-at-home” (and longer, if your prospect is older), it is important to stick to mailing for this touchpoint. Send a personal letter about how you’re here to be a helping hand during this these tough times, and include a small $2 to $5 token gift that illustrates you are personally thinking of them. Like a “Stay Strong” magnet, or anything that can fit into an envelope. Examples include coloring books and crayons for the little ones, catnip toys for the cats, or tasty treats for the puppies.
A few items not to send: logo calendars, branded magnets, a keychain with your face on it, or any branded swag at all. Those are sales items, not a thoughtful gift. If you make the mistake of sending a promotional item, your prospect’s relationship with you will shift from “friend who’s also a great resource” to “salesperson targeting me.”
Don’t include a brochure, business card, or anything like that. Hand-write your phone number, if you think you need to. Remember, you’ve been emailing, calling, and texting with each other, so they know exactly who you are how to reach you! Undoubtably, they will research you online, where your contact information is also readily available – along with all the wonderful things you want them to know about you (but that you won’t be bragging about in the Nurture System).
When returning to Touchpoint 6: soon, people will once again be okay with you stopping over – by your third or fourth repeat, this touchpoint can transform into a “drop-by.” You can stop by with a small plate of cookies or their favorite Starbucks drinks. To make it less awkward, time it during one of your neighborhood listing appointments or showings, and share how you were in the area helping so-and-so list their home and that you remembered they lived nearby. This will take the pressure off inviting you in (it’s never a good time for an unexpected visit), and will also show the homeowner that you are an active agent in town. And even after the pandemic, you can rotate mailing a small gift with a drop-in; both are excellent, deeply personal, impossible-to-forget touchpoints.
Repeat Touchpoints 3 to 6
Be sure to repeat touchpoints #3-6 ongoing, until your prospect is ready to sell. Keep in mind that this phase can easily extend way beyond this virus we find ourselves in the thick of now. As time goes on and life returns to normal, start to space out your touchpoints, unless your prospect appears to be close to listing and selling. When they tell you this, it’s time to move them out of this nurture system altogether and into whatever your sales process may be (instead of continuing to ‘nurture’ indefinitely).
Remember, if you keep this system up and handle each touchpoint with a flaring boldness of care, when they are ready to sell they will contact you. At a minimum, you will discover their intent to sell in the midst of your constant interactions.
Maximize Lead Generation
Discover’s 12-page custom publications are time-tested, effective farming tools that can help you maximize lead generation. During times of crisis, we’ve designed powerful calls to action for our agents, so they can capture as many leads as possible from their farms. The more leads you’re able to drop into your nurture system, the more listings you’ll cultivate in the end.