What Is Circle Prospecting in Real Estate and How to Do It Right
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.
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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:
- Finding phone numbers
- Having the right mindset
- Using the most effective script
- Following up
- Following up
- 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.
- Answer the phone using the lead’s name, tell them you just recently listed or sold a house near them.
- Ask them if they would also be interested in selling.
- If no, ask them how long they plan to live in their current home for.
- Ask them why they picked their current home.
- 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.
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.