Middleton Elite Coaching: Expert Real Estate Coaching For Top Real Estate Professionals
In Part 3 of our “Thought Leader Friday- Expert Coaches Series”, Middleton Elite Coaching Co-Founders & Head Real Estate Coaches, Bill and Debbie, were joined by friend and Middleton Elite Coaching Real Estate & Business Coach, Jim Gray.
Jim has vast real estate experience. He ran a fairly large real estate team of 50 agents based in 7 different locations across four states. In addition to being team leader, Jim also directed his team in lead generation.
Jim’s team closed roughly 600 units per year and generated approximately 1000 leads per month. With so many leads, it was imperative that his team create a system for keeping track of the leads in their expansive pipeline.
Though Jim’s team was large, Jim’s lead generation system can apply to any agent; whether you are generating 10 leads per month or 1000 leads per month.
Jim’s lead generation and effective pipeline strategy will be extremely valuable to all of our real estate coaching clients and anyone out there looking to grow their business in the upcoming year.
The Importance of Building An Effective Pipeline –
Real estate agents, real estate teams, and real estate brokerage firms of every size can all agree on this fact; knowing where your business is right now as well as where your business is going, will give you a competitive market advantage.
Having an effective, well-designed, and properly executed pipeline is going to bring you peace of mind. Jim says he sleeps better at night knowing, not wondering, what business he has in next month’s pipeline.
Identifying Quality Leads & Prospects –
Building an effective pipeline is not just about generating tons of leads. It is also about identifying the prospects who are going to take action in the future.
Having an effective strategy to quickly disposition and organize the leads in your pipeline is critical.
Assessing your leads to identify the prospects is step 1. Step 2 is the segmentation of these prospects. Jim stresses the importance of segmenting your prospects into categories. These categories consist of three timelines:
- Near Term
- Right Now
Meet Renata –
In Jim’s example scenario (watch the video here), we met Renata. Renata is a nice lady that works in a coffee shop. You have met her many times and see Renata most Sundays.
Thanks to passing conversation, Renata knows you’re a real estate agent. Renata mentioned that she lives in an apartment and that she’d someday like to buy a house. At one point you even gave Renata your business card.
Fast forward several Sundays later. You walk in and Renata’s face is just beaming. She is super excited. Renata exclaims that she is so excited because she just bought her first house.
Your reply is “Congratulations. I didn’t think you were going to buy it until, I don’t know, next year or something.”
And she says “Oh, my gosh. It’s amazing. I walked into an open house. The house was beautiful and the agent there was so nice. They helped me understand how my lease works and that I could actually break the lease by paying a small penalty. I don’t know if you knew that. She got me qualified with a bank and I was able to buy the house the same week. It’s amazing!”
And at that moment, a small piece of your soul dies.
Has this ever happened to you? It has certainly happened to me.
The Challenges We Face As Real Estate Agents –
As a real estate professional, you know many people just like Renata. They live among you in your population. Many of these people have done business with you. Many of these people have not done business with you, but they might do business with you. Many of these people know people that you don’t know who might do business with you.
And, if you’re generating paid leads, that crowd of people grows and grows and grows.
How do you keep track of these leads so that you never lose track of people like Renata?
A Powerful Pipeline Execution Strategy –
Lead and prospect development is probably the most important job in a real estate business because it’s the indicator of all the business that is to come.
The business of following up with prospects is, in fact, the key to the real estate business.
If you follow up well, everything else follows. You’ve probably heard that in real estate, it is important to hone in on your prospects’ motivation and their timing.
Jim shares with us his simple yet powerful pipeline execution strategy. This strategy is so simple that you should be able to begin implementing this strategy by the time you finish reading this article.
This strategy focuses more on timing, and less on motivation. The timing in which a person can buy or sell a home is of more importance to a real estate agent than WHY the person wants to buy or sell a home.
Dispositioning your Leads Based on Timing –
If the motivation to buy or to sell exists in a prospect, always ask the question “By When?”.
The following scenarios likely ring familiar to you:
Someone says: “I’m pre-qualified! Now I want to buy a house.”
You may think: I’ve got to get this person out in the market to find a house right NOW.
Someone says: “I’m pregnant”
You may think: This person will probably want to sell their house and buy a bigger house.
Someone says: “My spouse just passed away”
You may think: This person will probably want to sell and buy something more manageable.
Depending on their answer to your question, it might change the course of your conversation with them. Their answer might change how you disposition them, and the actions you take for nurturing and following up with this lead.
The Important Business –
The “Now” business is not the only important business.
Think of your business as a funnel. The top of the funnel is long-term future business. The middle of the funnel is medium-term future business. The bottom of the funnel is now business. The very bottom of the funnel is past business.
Without keeping the conversation going with your top-of-funnel leads, you will not have anyone to funnel through the pipeline to become now, and eventually past, clients.
Developing a system or a rhythm by which you identify and properly disposition your leads based on their timing will ensure you keep a steady stream of business.
Leading Indicators Vs. Lagging Indicators –
At Middleton Elite Coaching, our Clients use a very powerful tool called CTE.
CTE is a great way to track your business. It’s very sophisticated and it is reasonably priced. If you don’t currently use it for your real estate business, we recommend that you do. The majority of our real estate coaching clients use CTE to gain an accurate assessment of their business.
One way Jim uses CTE with his real estate coaching clients is to view their business in two buckets; Leading indicators Vs. Lagging Indicators.
Lagging Indicators are the business you have closed and will close by a certain point in time. These are indicators measuring business after the fact, such as active buyers, active listings, pending transactions, and closed transactions.
Leading indicators are all of the pre-signed business in your pipeline and the business that will be in your pipeline. These are the indicators that signal your future real estate business and demand
Do you currently have a place where you can assess what your first quarter is going to be?
If the answer is no, then what’s coming next is really important for you.
It is possible to create a crystal ball that you can look into and begin to project with increasing accuracy where your business is going to come from. And if you develop that skill and competency in your business, you will be better equipped to plan for future business.
Organizing Your Pipeline –
If you’re going to manage leads and manage them effectively, you’ll want to have a CRM.
Real estate CRM software enables businesses to manage and build stronger relationships with their contacts, such as leads, prospects and existing customers. The best CRM for real estate agents keeps all their contact data in one organized system and automates mundane tasks.
A real estate agent without a CRM is kind of like a carpenter without a hammer.
Most real estate CRMs have, at minimum, a couple of ways to organize your pipeline.
Many CRMs will allow you to organize your leads by statuses, or categories. For our example, we will organize our lead status by where they are in the transaction process.
Assign A Status –
Most CRMs will have available statuses such as Sphere, New Lead, Prospect, Active Lead, Client, Under Contract, and Closed.
Jim segments his active leads category by when they are going to take action:
- This month
- Next Month
- 60-90 Days
- This year
- Next Year
Jim assigns a number to each of these timeframes. In his examples, 10s are going to take action this month, 9s will take action next month, 8s will take action in 60-90 days, 7s will take action this year, and 6s will take action next year.
- This month – 10s
- Next Month – 9s
- 60-90 Days – 8s
- This year – 7s
- Next Year – 6s
Assign a Tag –
Once you segment your leads by category or status, many CRMs will give you the ability to assign a custom tag to your leads. For this example the tags we’ll use to segment our leads are the corresponding number of their time frame and whether they are a Buyer or a Seller.
In this example, a buyer who wants to get a house under contract this month would be tagged as a 10Buyer
If a seller wants to sell their house next year, they would be tagged as a 6Seller in Jim’s system.
Status + Tag = Lead DNA –
Lead DNA will enable you to design a follow-up cadence with your leads. This will be a strategy to determine the frequency of follow-up that matches the timing that the record has given to you as to when this lead will be taking action.
When you know the timing and the type of your lead, you can properly execute a cadence that is custom to the needs of this lead.
Remember Renata? Imagine you walk into the coffee shop and you meet smiling. Renata. Renata tells you that she’s thinking about making a move. At this moment, Renata is an active lead.
Remember the question is “By When”.
So you enter the coffee shop. You hand Renata money and she hands you your coffee, She says “Yeah. I’m thinking about buying a house.”
You ask a simple question. “Ideally, when would you like to be in your new house?”
Renata says, “Well, probably next year.”
She’s a 6 and she’s a Buyer.
The DNA of this lead is that she’s an active buyer. We know she is going to make a move next year.
We now create a corresponding campaign to nurture Renata from her beginnings as a 6Buyer, all the way until she’s a 10Buyer.
Nurturing Lead DNA with Corresponding Campaigns –
Now that you have the Lead DNA (Status + Tag) you can create a corresponding campaign. The corresponding campaign is the component of this strategy that tells you with what frequency you should be following up.
You can create campaigns in your system for every Lead DNA. Jim provides the example of creating a 10Buyer campaign for those tagged 10Buyer, creating a 10Seller campaign for leads tagged 10Seller, and so on.
The CRM that you use will likely have campaign automation as one of its components.
Jim urges not to let the word “automation” intimidate you. Once set, the process is, well, automatic.
Revisiting Renata – She said she’s going to move next year.
Her status is “active lead”.
We assign Renata the tag of 6Buyer.
We will now activate the 6Buyer campaign.
Automated Campaign Touches –
Your campaign will consist of several automated touches. The frequency of these touches is largely dependent on the timing of your lead’s desire to buy or sell.
Examples of these touches would be an automated market report sent once per month, or a once-monthly property valuation.
In Renata’s case, she is a buyer so we would set up an automated listing alert sent once per week. Over the next year, which is Renata’s time frame, that would be 52 touches.
If you sent Renata your monthly newsletter, that would be 12 additional touches. If you hosted four client events per month and Renata was invited to all of them over the next year, this would be an additional 48 touches.
With just these few different automated pieces of content, Renata will receive 112 touches from you throughout the year. You are staying in the forefront of her mind. When she is ready to buy, she will likely first remember you.
The EcoSystem of Communication –
I want you to think about every single record that is currently in your CRM.
Are all of your records configured by status? What about a system for tagging? Do you use automation to stay in frequent communication with your pipeline?
There is power in an effective strategy for communication with your pipeline.
Thinking about Renata again. She is wanting to move next year. She is a 6Buyer. We put her in an automated 6Buyer campaign. She receives standard touches from you as well as those designated specifically for 6Buyers. Renata receives a lot of real-estate-related value from you in various ways.
The minute she told you she was moving next year, she was given status and a tag. You know the area she wants to live in, so you have sent her market reports. She sees the market values and she is watching them. You set her up with a listing alert because she told you a bit about what she is looking for in her next home. You’ve added her to your newsletter list and have invited her to events.
If you do nothing else – Renata lives in a 112-touch ecosystem of communication.
Call / Text / Voicemail – The Physical Follow-Up –
Renata has been receiving these touches from you for a year now and her timeline is drawing closer. She has moved from a 6Buyer to a 9Buyer and she will quickly become a 10Buyer. Where do you go from here?
Renata is going to begin to receive a physical follow-up.
Physical follow-up happens when you connect with your 10 status leads in a way that does not seem automated.
Jim’s team performs physical follow-up on their 10s and their 9s. Anybody who’s a 10 or a nine does not receive automation.
By giving your energy to your 10s and 9s, and automating the rest, you can spend time assisting your NOW business while nurturing your FUTURE business.
Look At Your 9s and 10s Every Single Day –
Jim’s team creates a sort within their CRM to look at their 10s and their 9s every single day. They call, text, and leave voicemails with these leads every day until they set up appointments. Their primary objective is to get in front of their 10s and 9s to sign a buyer or listing agreement with them. This does not warrant automation.
Look at your 10s and 9s every day and ask yourself “Have they set an appointment with me?”
If the answer is no, you dial the phone.
For their 8Buyer and 8Seller leads, Jim’s team knows these leads will make a move sometime in the next 90 days. They are calling these leads no less than every other week.
For 8s, Jim’s team still uses a bit of automation. They create a campaign that will assign a task to call their 8 records every 14 days. That’s essentially a bi-monthly campaign.
When an active lead’s tag changes from a 7 to an 8, the 8 campaign is deployed.
Daily Lead Generation –
You are now checking your 9s and 10s daily. ✔
You are dialing everybody who has made an appointment. ✔
You are checking your daily tasks ✔
In today’s daily tasks you see that today’s the day to call Renata.
Next 90 Days
Imagine you have a lead that says “I’m going to move sometime in the next 90 days.”
You tag them as an 8Buyer. You’ve got them on an automated weekly call campaign. That campaign has 52 touches in a year and all it does is assign a task every 7 days.
Imagine you have a lead that says “I’m going to move sometime this year.”
You tag them as a 7Buyer. You’ve got them on an automated monthly call campaign. That campaign has 12 touches and all it does is assign a task every 30 days.
At this point, you’re calling Renata once a month.
Imagine you have a lead that says “I’m going to move sometime next year.”
You tag them as a 6Buyer. You’ve got them on an automated quarterly call campaign. That campaign has 4 touches and all it does is assign a task every 90 days.
At this point, you’re calling Renata no less than quarterly.
By scheduling your system to create a campaign where a physical follow-up call is being scheduled, you’re making great strides in an effective communication strategy.
Implement This Strategy As Soon As TODAY With These Scripts –
9s and 10s are being called every day.
8s are being called every week
7s are being called once per month
6s are being called quarterly.
Something important to remember:
Just because somebody says “I’m moving next year”, that may not be the whole truth. Perhaps they haven’t thought deeply about their timing and motivation.
As a real estate agent, you’re here to help.
Buyer Script –
“Hey, Renata. If you were standing in the PERFECT house today and you loved it; it was perfect for you AND you knew you could afford it; You also know that if you don’t take action right away, it will sell to someone else. What do you think you might do?”
And then remember Renata’s story. She discovered that she could break her lease.
Renata might say:
“Oh I would move tomorrow, but I have a lease on my current home until next year.”
You’re a smart agent and say:
“Well, you know, Renata, you can break a lease, and sometimes the penalties aren’t too bad.”
Imagine having that conversation. So what you’ve discovered is she thinks she can’t move for a year when the truth of the matter is she might be able to move sooner. You wouldn’t know that unless you asked the question.
Seller Script –
“If someone knocked on your door and offered you a really GREAT number for your house, but needed it to close in 45 days, what do you think you might do?”
Listen to what they say. People say all kinds of things and the way the seller answers that question will help you determine their true timing and motivation.
When in doubt, always ask this one.
“Ideally, when would you like to make your move?”
I’ve had people say, “Oh, Jim, I’m not leaving this house.”
And I say: “Okay, ideally, what would you like to make?”
Listen to what they say. Ask a couple of powerful questions because you want to get to the bottom of their timing.
Pipelines Are Built On Timing –
You’re building your pipeline on timing, and your pipeline is how you predict your future.
By learning to become very good and very intentional at the Lead DNA of your pipeline, your whole universe opens up.
An important thing to realize about the people in your pipeline is that for a number of reasons, their timing can change. You won’t know that unless you are in regular contact with them.
When you made your first call to Renata, after she told you she was moving next year, she might have talked to her landlord and discovered that she might try to make her move this year. Suddenly Renata isn’t a 6Buyer anymore. You remove the 6 tags and you put on the 7 tags. You pull off the 6 campaigns and put on the 7 campaigns. You’ve now gone from making quarterly calls to Renata to making monthly calls to Renata.
If you had left Renata where she was as a 6Buyer, you wouldn’t have called her again for three months. She would likely have bought a home, just perhaps not with you.
By dispositioning Renata’s lead differently, you’ve changed the cadence. You’ve changed the frequency of communication with her.
You’re going to call her in 30 days and she says something like “I went to an open house and I saw something really nice.”
Changing A Lead Disposition –
When Renata states that she went to an open house, a lightbulb moment happens for you.
“You did what, Renata? Did you go to an open house? Renata, tell me something; If you were standing in the perfect house right now and you loved it and you knew you could afford it, but you knew if you didn’t take action, it would sell to somebody else, what do you think you might do?”
Renata says, “Well, I’d really like to buy it.”
Boom – Renata is now a 10Buyer!
You say next “Why don’t we get together? Let me walk you through the whole buying process. What works better for you, days or evenings?”
Do you see how easy that goes? When you’ve got your pipeline well-constructed and are executing around the strategy, it can go as simple as it did for you at that moment.
Jim’s strategy for simply following a roadmap now makes it far easier to keep track of all the Renata’s in your life.
The NOW Business Is Backward Business –
The ‘NOW’ business is important, but it’s looking backward. It is a lagging indicator.
As you move later in the year and into the coming year, really commit to building your pipeline. Devote the time to getting yourself and your team in a rhythm for segmenting and dispositioning your leads.
Execute your leading indicators because when you do that right, you will never lose Renata again.
If you would like to see Jim demonstrate this system, here’s the video link.
Setting Expectations and Accountability Around Your System –
The biggest challenge we see with some of the larger real estate teams we coach is that multiple team members are responsible for completing the follow-up. Many team members are responsible for changing lead statuses within the CRM, changing the tags, maybe even inputting additional clients into the database to ensure tags and statuses are applied.
Jim recommends holding a weekly one-on-one meeting with every member of your team. He calls this meeting a ‘Pipeline Review’.
During this meeting expectations for accountability are set with his team member to ensure that the leads in the pipeline are always moving forward.
Together with his team members, they review their CRM. Jim then interrogates the pipeline. He asks his team members to show him their 9s and 10s. He asks if they are going to take action this week, this month? If their time frame is not such that it is possible to take action this month, then they will no longer be dispositioned as a 10, and they are changed on the spot.
In Jim’s experience, once your team members know the expectations of your one-on-one meetings, they will begin to have their pipelines very up-to-date before they enter the room.
Take The Pipeline Seriously –
As the team leader, Jim has found that the best way to keep his team really honest about their pipelines is to interrogate it during every one-on-one.
By training his entire team to take the pipeline as seriously as he does, he is able to get them in the rhythm of the system. One of the greatest benefits Jim has seen is that his agents feel better about their business. They know where to focus. They have clarity. When agents have clarity around and know where to focus, they take action.
If This Sounds Like A Lot Of Work To You…..
You may be thinking that you understand all of this intellectually. You may desire to have the system in place as Jim has described. You may also be thinking that it sounds like a lot of work to put it all in place.
Jim’s advice to you is to take a breath and begin to execute.
Begin by creating your tags. Create your 10Seller, 10Buyer, 9Seller, 9Buyer tags, and so on. By creating the tags and tagging your active leads, you’ll at least be able to run sorts in your CRM to see where everybody is.
Create a visual for your team members to understand the tag system and who qualifies as which tag. This way, when you add agents to your team they will also understand the process.
Even if you just get that far, you’ll be ahead of many of your competitors.
Once you’ve become accustomed to assigning and sorting leads by tag, you’ll next move on to creating your campaigns. Once you’ve got your campaigns firing, you can get really, really good at physical follow-up.
An ancillary benefit of a well-constructed pipeline is that agents can see their future. And when an agent can see their future, they’ll be reluctant to leave it. The retentive benefit of a quality pipeline is important for a team.
Like anything worth executing on, it is a process.
If you’d like to learn more about the work we do, click this link here.