What Is Circle Prospecting in Real Estate and How to Do It Right

overhead shot of neighborhood

What Is Circle Prospecting in Real Estate and How to Do It Right

overhead shot of neighborhood

In its simplest form, real estate circle prospecting involves calling people within a particular geographic area and asking them whether they are thinking of moving or whether they know someone who is thinking of moving. In other words, you’re calling people up and asking them for business.

The way it usually works in real estate is for agents to call homeowners who live nearby your recently listed or closed home. Circle prospecting in real estate is built on the idea that homeowners in a given area would be interested in hearing about a home near them that has recently sold. As a part of the surrounding community, nearby owners have a direct interest in houses selling around them, how much they are selling for, etc.

Why Do Real Estate Agents Use Circle Prospecting?

The thing with circle prospecting is that your objective is not necessarily to create an immediate transaction. Your goal is to develop a long term relationship so that people in that area think of you first when it comes time for them to sell their home. With that said, you always want to ask for their business first, but your job isn’t done if they say they say they are not ready to buy or sell in the near future. But more on that point later.

The way circle prospecting is often understood or visualized in real estate is as a farm or growing crops. By calling homeowners in a given area, you are “planting the seeds” of future business.

You’re accomplishing several things through real estate circle prospecting. First, you’re asking for business right now. Second, you’re putting yourself on their radar if they want to buy or sell in the near future. And third, by calling up surrounding homeowners and letting them know you just listed or sold a home in their area, they know you are capable of doing your job.

Taken together, those three aspects of circle prospecting work for you to win new business right now or in the future.

Circle Prospecting vs. Other Real Estate Cold Calling

Cold calling in real estate or any other industry is never easy. However, calling FSBOs (for sale by owners) and expired listings make the task feel almost impossible. That’s because there is a large number of other agents and ISAs all calling the lead at about the same time. As soon as that listing expires or they put their house up as FSBO, every agent starts circling.

You might be the best agent for the job, but it’s hard to get anyone’s business if you’re the 20th caller saying you can help them sell their home.

Circle prospecting, on the other hand, is calling people whose homes most likely aren’t listed and haven’t been recently listed. So you still have the challenges of cold calling, but at least there should be a lot less competition involved from other agents. These homeowners aren’t getting hammered from every direction by real estate professionals, so they might actually be happy to talk to you.

How to Do Circle Prospecting Right

At its core, circle prospecting is just letting people know you buy and sell homes in their area. Putting up signs on current clients’ yards and stuffing flyers into mailboxes also all technically qualify as circle prospecting. But more often than not, when people say circle prospecting, they are referring to cold calling the surrounding homeowners.

There are several things that go into successfully circle prospecting:

  1. Finding phone numbers
  2. Having the right mindset
  3. Using the most effective script
  4. Following up
  5. Following up
  6. Following up

Finding Phone Numbers for Circle Prospecting

Step one is probably the simplest part of the process. In 2021 there are many companies that will provide you with phone numbers of people in a given geographic area. The important thing to remember here though is to always check “Do Not Call” lists. If people have taken the time to put their numbers on a list, then they are not going to be happy to hear from you and it will most likely be a complete waste of your time.

Having the Right Mindset

Having the right mindset is crucial for any type of cold calling. Really, it’s critical for any type of sales. That’s why I like to hammer this home to the agents in my training program. The only way you’re going to be able to keep up the motivation for calling number after number is if you are telling yourself a good story in your head about why you’re doing it.

  • You’re working for yourself and your family. You’re building the life you want to live. You’re working hard to increase your GCI so you can work less and spend more time with your family.
  • On the client side, you’re making the process simpler for them when it comes time for them to buy or sell a house. You’re building a relationship with them so they don’t have to worry about searching for and sifting through a bunch of agents when they need one. When it comes time to buy or sell, you’ll get it done for them better than most other agents would.

Tell yourself positive stories, and it will help you build positive outcomes.

Using the Most Effective Script

Here’s where I might deviate from other agents and teams. I think the key idea with scripts is to use them for support, but not to rely on them completely. One of the worst things you can do is sound like a robot and seem unable to spontaneously answer questions or respond naturally. The most critical thing to do is have a real conversation.

  1. Answer the phone using the lead’s name, tell them you just recently listed or sold a house near them.
  2. Ask them if they would also be interested in selling.
  3. If no, ask them how long they plan to live in their current home for.
  4. Ask them why they picked their current home.
  5. See what they would look for in a new home.

Prepare questions and responses, but don’t lean on a script too much. Let the conversation flow, match their intensity and speaking speed, and just be friendly and find out about their current situation. Keep it simple. Even if they are not interested in selling in the near future, ask them if you can send them emails once in a while about real estate conditions and homes being bought and sold in their area. Get them in your funnel.

Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up

Following up is key to successful circle prospecting and building your sphere. One of the primary purposes of circle prospecting is developing future business. That means nurturing leads who may not want to sell now but will want to buy or sell in the future. Keep sending them valuable information (everyone likes hearing about what homes in their area go for), keep them updated on market conditions, especially if it becomes more advantageous for them to sell, and just generally be their real estate resource.

I would also recommend calling those leads every six months or so to check in with them. Ask them how they are doing, see how they are liking their current home, and tell them that if they are thinking about selling, you are ready for them. Following up via email and phone will help keep you top of mind.

Conclusion

Circle prospecting is an excellent way to develop and build new business. In today’s crazy real estate market, you have to use every tool at your disposal. Follow the tips we laid out above to do it successfully and make it worth your time.

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The Best Real Estate Cold Calling Strategies in 2021

real estate agent cold calling
real estate agent cold calling

The Best Real Estate Cold Calling Strategies in 2021

Real estate cold calling is probably one of the toughest parts of the job and, if we’re being honest, not one that most of us like to do very often. Afterall, we’re calling people who are not expecting us, who are busy going about their day, and who will most likely offer a good deal of resistance if they do answer the phone.

With that said, real estate cold calling is still a very important part of any lead generation and conversion strategy. What’s more is that with the craziness of the current real estate market, you need to cultivate every advantage possible for your team or business. That’s why we’ve gathered some insider tips and best practices for cold calling in real estate in 2021.

  • Mindset
  • Enter your calls in an interesting way
  • Have a real conversation
  • Sales discovery
  • Objection handling
  • Closing logically

Real Estate Cold Calling: It’s All about the Mindset

This might seem obvious or not like an actual solid tip, but the truth is that few things are more important than your mindset when it comes to cold calling. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many scripts you study, how many objections you practice handling, or how much research you do on your leads. If you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t be successful on your calls.

By “right mindset” I mean thinking positively about your role as a real estate agent or ISA, the value you’re bringing to each lead, and your faith that the interaction will be successful for you both. Here are three things you can do to help cultivate a positive mindset and enter calls confidently:

  1. Know and understand the benefits you bring to every person BEFORE you dial them. Know what you are offering them and how it is going to palpably improve their lives.
  2. Live and breathe mantras like “they are waiting for my call” or “they need my help”. Repeat these between each dial to keep your energy up on your entire list of leads.
  3. When you feel yourself becoming negative, take a break and focus on your commitment to helping others. Remember, they are benefitting from your call because what you are offering is valuable to them.

Enter Your Calls in an Interesting Way

Let’s face it, people do not answer the phone for numbers they don’t recognize nearly as much as they used to. That means that when you’re lucky enough to have a prospect actually pick up, you need to make the most of it. When they first answer you have precious few seconds to convince them that you are relevant to something they need or want.

How can you do that? By tailoring your opening statement to the specific person you are speaking to.

First off, assume the person who answered the phone is the person you were calling. Commit to their name; they’ll correct you quickly if it’s not right. Start your first sentence with “Hi Steve…” or “Hi Nicole…”. Then add a statement that lets them know that you know at least something about their situation. Something like, “Hi Mike, I saw you were looking for homes in Downtown Savannah”. By tailoring your message to the interests and behavior of your leads, you increase your chances of a positive sale.

Have a Real Conversation When Cold Calling in Real Estate

Real estate scripts can be very valuable when cold calling. They give you something to fall back on if the conversation gets away from you, they can help you have tried and tested responses to common objections, and they can give you a greater sense of confidence on the call. However, scripts alone are not enough.

Prospects can tell when you are just mindlessly repeating something you memorized. Instead, use the script as a starting point but then have a real conversation. Respond to what the lead is telling you in a way that is tailored to and makes sense for their specific situation.

Real Estate Sales Discovery

When it comes to cold calling, many agents and ISAs are too quick to close. More specifically, they try to close before they’ve put in the work to actually understand what the lead’s goals are—what their motivation behind buying or selling a home is (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not just “to buy or sell my house”).

You need to ask the right questions to dig down and understand what the lead is trying to accomplish through buying or selling, as well as additional information that will help you close later like:

  • The prospect’s financial situation
  • Their budget for buying a home
  • Who is involved in the decision to move forward working with you
  • What the prospect’s ideal timeframe is
  • Potential objections the prospect might throw at you later in the conversation

There are probably hundreds of discovery questions and variations you can ask when cold calling in real estate, but here are a few of the most common and effective ones:

  1. Where are you guys moving from? Great! Are you from there originally?
  2. Who are you moving with?
  3. Why are you guys looking to move out of your current home?
  4. How long have you been looking for a new home? What have you liked about the homes you’ve seen? What kept you from buying that particular home?
  5. Is this your first time buying a home?
  6. How long has your current home been on the market?
  7. Where are you planning on moving to?
  8. When would you like to be in your new home?

Real Estate Objection Handling Strategy

There are a lot of strategies out there for overcoming real estate objections on your cold calls. We’ve found that the most effective one is known as the PPO process. PPO stands for Perspective, Process, Outcome. It’s important to note that we’re referring to the lead’s perspective, the lead’s process, and the lead’s desired outcome. These are the three parts of every objection.

  • The prospect’s perspective is their past experience, knowledge and speculation. Examples of perspectives that may lead to objections are “I’ve sold my home myself before”, “I’ve already met with an agent”, and “I can do what an agent does, you guys don’t do much.”
  • The prospect’s process is their own plan that they have for their situation. Examples of a process is “I’m going to sell my home myself”, “I’ll just use the agent I used before”, and “I am just going to wait until spring to sell my home and get a better deal”. The process is typically what will lead to an objection. They have their plan and you are not a part of it in their mind, so they turn you down.
  • And finally, the outcome. This is the unique result or benefit the prospect believes their process will deliver for them. Examples of these are “not wasting time”, “avoiding disappointment”, and “proving to my neighbors or real estate agents or to the world that I am right”. Once you understand these three parts of your lead’s objection, then you follow these steps to overcome it:
  1. Acknowledge – Listen to what they say and let them know that you understand it.
  2. Paraphrase – Restate what they said without leading and without interpretation.
  3. Inquire into their perspective, process, and outcome – This is where you dig into their thought process how they see it. Get them to walk you through their knowledge, plan, and the unique thing they hope to accomplish. These are the three things you need to know in order to counter their objection, so ask questions that get you the answers.
  4. Determine the unique benefit or result they hope to achieve – this is their sought after outcome.
  5. Close if appropriate – Close if the lead does not bring up another objection as a result of the PPO process or if it becomes obvious that meeting is the next logical step in your conversation.

And Finally, Close Logically

Closing on your cold calls should be natural and bring all the above strategies together. If you are working with the lead to get an understanding of the outcome they desire, and you are powering through any objections they present, then the time to close is going to naturally arise once you can tell they are satisfied with your answers to their objections. Just follow the conversation.

If the lead says they are starting to interview new agents and get their home back on the market in a few weeks, then the logical time and way to close would be to say “Oh great! I am excited to show you how our team sells homes in less time and for more money than other agents. I am available on Wednesday or Thursday to meet. Which day works best for you?” That would not be the logical close if the lead said, “We’re not interested in selling. We took it off the market and are going to wait until the market improves.”

You see the difference?

Conclusion

Real estate cold calling in 2021 is difficult, but definitely not impossible. The biggest hurdle is low answer rates. But if you can get someone on the phone, then follow the strategies we outlined above, and you’ll to start to convert more leads and grow your business like never before.

If you’re an agent or ISA struggling to convert your leads, then Smart Inside Sales has a training program that will help called Conversion University. 

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