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Building a pipeline

By
Managing Real Estate Broker with Tarbell, Realtors 01121054

Everyone who becomes a Realtor is taught the word "Pipeline". It is used frequently by brokers, owners, trainers, coaches, and salespersons throughout their real estate career. What is a "Pipeline" anyway? One definition is this; "A pipeline is an effective system for capturing, cultivating and converting prospects into customers by communicating with them throughout the sales cycle".  In previous presentations, I talked about homeowners and homebuyers taking one to five years of planning before they actually decide to buy or sell a home. That is their "sales cycle".

Most Realtors only connect with their prospects in the final few weeks of that sales cycle. They are inclined to ignore hundreds of potential prospects, those that I call suspects. These suspects tend have longer timelines in the sales cycle for buying or selling a home.  According to NAR research, statistics show that 74% of all homeowners, list with the first Realtor they interview.  So, with that important information now planted deeply in your noggin, it would make sense to contact as many suspects early and cultivate a relationship that will potentially over time, provide you the best opportunity to win their business, when their sales cycle ends, and the prospect takes action.

Almost all Realtors I have coached have a similar initial approach to prospecting early in their career. Once they get a deal in escrow, they have a tendency to baby-sit the transaction and stop prospecting.  They are starting the "Peaks-and-Valley" cycle for real estate sales income. When the commission check comes in they are at the Peak. Only place left to go is down in the Valley. The Valley is the next morning when you pay your bills, when you don't have any "Hot" prospects to work with and probably only a few bad leads. You failed to keep prospecting for new business during the last transaction and now you have to start the Peak and Valley cycle all over again.

With the pipeline system, you do not ever have a bad lead. Anyone who is willing to go into your prospect database is a good lead. Every lead is treated the same way and cultivated with same marketing and advertising plan. Some prospects will get more intensive or aggressive attention depending where they are in their own sales cycle.

Capturing prospects is a very straightforward business approach, just be friendly, non-sales-y, sincere, service-oriented, and offer value to your prospects. Sometimes it may be a market analysis, maybe information for recent sales or new listings in their area. You may even be asked to provide information about real estate in other areas, including out of state. Be prepared to give and get information.

Once these prospects are in your pipeline, you will have plenty of time and opportunities to provide them with information from your marketing and advertising plan so that they become confident, that you are the right person when the time comes.

Where do you find these suspects? Everywhere: open houses, postcards, door-knocking, CMA's, past customers, sphere of influence. Talk with prospects that have long sales cycles as well as those that have immediate needs for your services. It does not matter how you decide to capture new leads, just do it regularly, and collect their email addresses for easy follow-up. Make the right connection, and as many connections as possible with your prospects.

Just because a prospect does not appear motivated the day you speak with them, does not mean they will not be highly-motivated the next day. And their motivation could have come from something you said or sent to them.  Your attitude made them a "Hot Prospect". So cultivating prospects at every stage of the sales cycle must be a high priority. This really means spending time with prospects that don't initially appear to be motivated. (Absentee Owners)

If you want to make the most of your prospecting pipeline, you must find leads and cultivate relationships with prospects while you are representing sellers, working your current escrows, and while showing properties to your loyal buyers. Multi-Million dollar earners in the real estate business have success because they are use a prospect pipeline to build and manage relationships with thousands of potential sellers and buyer simultaneously.

Find the time to build a strong pipeline, using an email delivery system, Corporate EZ-Mail delivery system, friendly notes, market up-date reports, newsletters, personal notepads, and by using proactive follow-up methods. Being proactive can be as simple as leaving a 30-second voice mail on the answering machine during the day when they are not home, this way you don't even have to talk to anyone.

What kind of a message would be good? It should be simple something like "Hi, this is Bill Velto with Tarbell, Realtors. I just wanted to check in and see if you still have plans to make a move soon. I hope you have been getting the real estate information I have been sending you and I hope it has been helpful. Give me a call or email me if you need any help or if you know any friends or family that may need any help with real estate. I am happy to help, Goodbye."

The message is not a sales pitch. It is an offer of service. It's reaching out to prospects rather than waiting for prospects to pick the phone up and call you or maybe someone else. Make these calls periodically to everyone in your pipeline. By contacting these prospects every so often, your name stays in your prospect's mind so they will naturally think of you when they decide to make a move.

Over the years I have coached thousands of real estate agents. Most agents in the past have found that this type of prospecting is expensive and requires a lot time to create. Today, technology and automated systems make it more cost effective and easier to keep in touch. America's best corporate organizations understand that sales, is a numbers game. If you have a prospect pipeline, and 30% of your leads, results in a transaction over the next 28 months, that can add up to a huge number - depending on the size of your pipeline. Prospecting and cultivating relationships with prospects is a process, so your success grows over the long term. The sooner you start building your pipeline of future transactions, the sooner you will put and end to the peaks and valleys, and replace them with a steady flow of business.

Bill Velto, CRS, GRI, is the Managing Broker for Tarbell, Realtors. A Southern California based real estate company specializing in residential real estate. He can be reached at RealtorBill@juno.com