Prospecting – The Art of Winning Business

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This sounds a bit like a Sun Tzu quote (he was a 6th Century genius military strategist who wrote “The Art of War”) but that’s prospecting in a nutshell

It’s winning business through your communications. Be that letters, emails, or phone calls.

So is it really the dark art people think it is? And if not, why are agents so bad at it?

I can assure you it’s not a dark art and there’s no magic to it, in fact, one of the reasons why agents are so poor at it is that they forget about the basics!

So, here is a basic breakdown for you of the process I follow to make me a Prospecting Wizard

1. Mental Fitness

This doesn’t mean drop down and give me 20. It means how you recover from negative responses… and believe me you will come across a lot of them!

There is no way on this earth you will phone, email or send letters out to prospects on a  consistent basis and not get negative feedback.

You just need to roll with the punches and move on as quickly as possible.

Some people are just born rude, so don’t sweat it.

Try not to worry about what they say, and just move onto the next prospect as if it was the first one of the day.

It is that positive attitude that will keep you winning, while others stay bitter.

2. Preparation

By being prepared, you are massively increasing your chances of success.

There will be some past customers you were going to prospect that now you know not to. Or some prospects that now you know the back story of, you can adapt your pitch to suit and hopefully come out successful.

Always prepare your list and make sure you know as much as possible.

It could be the difference between being told where to go and getting a lot of business in.

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3. Consistency

Most agents I know say that prospecting does not work, and when I ask them how long they tried it for, I normally get a few days or a week in reply.

Did anyone ever go to the gym for a week and then win a bodybuilding show? Of course not. So why expect this to work without all the hard work and consistent effort that needs to be put in?

You need to have a plan of how many times you will contact that person and in what manner, be that letters, emails, phone calls or leaflets. Always make sure if you say you will follow something up, then you make sure you are good to your word.

You only get one chance to make a first impression so make sure its a good one!

4. Knowing When To Prospect

The answer to this is simple – prospect every single day!

The chances of you making a phone call or sending our a letter and having a landlord or vendors drop everything to give you their priorities is very slim. You will be made to work for it. To show them that you can be trusted and that you are their trusted advisor.

Do not expect overnight miracles. And remember to keep on prospecting even when business starts to come your way, do not stop. Never think that this is enough, I can slow down now. Always keep going and make sure you have protected time to do so.

5. Active Listening

My old man said you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Use effective listening to find out what the customers wants, rather than thinking you already know what they want.

Most agents jump into a sales pitch to end all sales pitches, quick to tell how great they are and how crap the competition is, without stopping to think about what the customer actually wants.

Not only would you be so much more effective by simply listening to the customer, but the call would go so much quicker allowing you to make even more calls to even more prospects.

6. Effective Questioning

Some prospects will immediately say that you are too expensive, but with effective questioning you can find out that the fact that you are too expensive is not the real reason they won’t switch. It may be the though of the hassle or the fact that their current agency won’t play ball.

Price is very rarely the issue.

However, it is the most commonly used excuse not to switch.

Switching agents can be a scary thing. Make sure you handle that as a concern and that you can ensure a smooth switch over process.

Use questions such as “What do you look for in an agent?”. Such a simple question to ask, but so powerful as it can allow a prospect to open up and let you know exactly what you have to do to seal the deal.

It is then up to you to tailor your response and wording to hit all of the prospects pain points.

Obviously, you need to be true to your word and able to deliver but as with the active listening, you won’t be wasting your time and annoying the customer by telling them how many branded cars you have or how many awards you have won.

The good thing about prospecting is that most agents don’t do it and the ones that do are very poor. This is not a crowded market place, I assure you.

The edge this can give you over your competition is huge, and personally it has taken us to No. 1 on properties taken on in every location we have a branch.

This has a direct effect on the bottom line – and who wouldn’t like that?

We have seen our profit make a dramatic increase, and it has allowed us to reinvest back into the branches, take on more staff and open up another two branches.

Prospecting is the most powerful tool you have in your business, make sure you use it to its full potential!

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The 5 Steps You Need To Take To Fully Systemise Your Lettings Agency

Blackboard Strategy

This has to be the most common question I get asked, and I am always very surprised to learn how many agencies are not fully systemised.

Lacking systems had a number of negative effects; poor customer service, demotivated staff, higher turnover of customers, a lot more hassle and a lot less profit!

So why are so many agencies bumbling along without systems in their business?

Why are so many business owners working 7 days per week and making no money at all?

Well… the main answer I get is that they don’t have the time.

That is a paradox in itself! People don’t have the time to systemise their business to give themselves more time

(If they knew what a fully systemised business could bring them I think they would find the time!)

If you seriously want to learn how to systemise your agency and make your time your own again, then I would take notes because I’m going to share with you our 5 Step Systemising process. This alone has allowed me to develop a fully systemised agency, taking me from a 60-70 hour work week to around 2 or 3 hours per month (probably less if I wanted to).

It is easy to follow and extremely effective. It is also the main reason why we have won so many awards and accreditations, including the 2014 Sunday Times best letting agent in the UK and the Sunday Times best letting agent in the North for the past 4 years.

So, here are the 5 steps EVERY letting agent needs to take now:

1. The Operations Manual

The majority of people seem to think that by writing an operations manual, or a ‘systems bible’, whatever you want to call it, that you are fully systemised.

That is completely wrong. Writing a manual is actually only about 1/5 of the process, and in all honestly, it’s probably the easiest part of the process.

After all, your manual is simply the rules you use to operate your business, how hard can that be? Well, a lot of people still manage to completely overwhelm themselves and not know how or where to start.

As I always say – how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And this is no different…

(Don’t all rush out to buy elephant meat for the BBQ – that was a metaphor guys)

You simply needs to sit in a quiet space and have some protected time. No one knows your business better than you so sit down and write everything and anything that you and your staff do. You can make this even easier by sticking to SMART objective (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bounded).

Make sure that every little process has been documented and leave nothing to chance. Ensure that every action has a person assigned to it along with time frames and any forms or appendix that need to be utilised.

The way you write the process is equally important, crafting them well will allow you to take yourself out of the day to day running of the business.

And remember, this will only be the first draft. Your manual will change and evolve over time, along with your agency, but the point is to start now and perfect it later!

2. Training and Development of Staff

Once the manual has been written, staff need to be trained.

Don’t just pass them the manual and say “See you in a week”. You wouldn’t put up with your kids being taught like that at school so don’t accept it here.

Document every training session and conversation around procedural training, this may need to be relied upon later if performance management is an issue.

Also, be aware that people have different learning styles so have various methods of teaching when it comes to the material and most importantly, keep it fun! We all remember the cool teacher at school who made it fun, and I bet you learnt and remembered that content a lot better, It’s no different here.

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3. Audit

I think this is by far the most under utilised and easily forgotten part of the 5 step process, but it is probably the most important!

The manual is your rules for the company, the training gives your employees the attributes to follow those rules, but the audit is someone refereeing the rule to make sure they are being followed.

Just imagine if there was no referee in the game of football, things would get missed, people wouldn’t follow the rules and mistake would happen, leaving a lot of people very frustrated.

Regularly auditing the business keeps everyone on track and ensures the rules of procedure are being followed.

When you first write out and roll out the procedures I suggest weekly smaller audits and then once things are being followed, monthly audits should do the trick.

4. Feedback

The results from those audits NEED to be fed back to all those concerned.

To not do so, if a bit like having an exam but never finding out the results. How frustrating that you’ve tried your best but get no feedback on how to improve.

Feedback is essential for us to progress in our jobs and also in our own self development.

it is what motivates us to be better, and without it we can feel as though our accomplishments are not important.

Many companies view feedback as a necessary evil. They can be apprehensive about giving it out. But, if you want your staff to improve then you need to have those conversations.

Always aim to praise your staff when they do things well and then support and coach them when they get things wrong.

5. Review

Sometimes, even when we follow procedures to the letter, we just don’t get the results that we want or expect. This means that your procedures need to be reviewed.

The first time you ever write a manual, you won’t get every procedure correct, this is why your manual needs to be able to grow and evolve,

Our manual has had many iterations and is changed almost every month as we grow as a business or as new legislation or company processes come out.

Systemising a business is essential to business growth and consistency of customer service. It also makes staff accountable and motivates them. There is no more “he said, she said” scenarios, as everyone has a specific role and responsibility and these are able to be reviewed easily.

Always remember:

Without systems, you don’t have a business – you have a job!”

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