President, Dane Real Estate.
At a time when communication has become modernized, yet disconnected, we’re seeing how important and meaningful it is to connect with others on a personal level. The pandemic has affected our personal and professional lives inextricably. It has changed the way we work, conduct business and communicate with friends and loved ones.
This crisis has also shown us how much we value human interaction and connection. This is why I still feel strongly about using the “outdated” sales method of cold calling, or as I call it, canvassing. Many avoid making calls out of fear of rejection. I am here to tell you that 99.9% of the time you will be rejected. It’s OK, though, because that 0.1% of the time you are successful, it will be so worth it.
Sales has been an integral part of my business life since I started working at age 16; it helped me launch my real estate career and allowed me to start Dane Real Estate 12 years ago, during the last economic downturn. A huge part of sales is canvassing: picking up the phone and dialing numbers. Today, my team and I still use this method which many of our colleagues find outdated or are just too scared to do. As Warren Buffet says, “Be greedy when others are fearful.” So we are. We are greedy because we want to talk and listen to people versus resorting to mass marketing schemes and emails.
To me, cold calling remains one of the most powerful sales tools in our arsenal as real estate professionals. It holds a strong position alongside the handwritten note, which has also become a communication relic. Even with the proliferation of social media, I still believe canvassing is the best way to prospect new clients, especially if you are aiming to get the deals that fly under the radar.
This doesn’t mean that brokers should only use canvassing when doing outreach. There are many different strategies to use when looking for new opportunities, and you can use all of them or just your preferred method. Some people use social media exclusively, while others still use direct mail or email marketing. And some “old school” types, like myself, still prefer human interaction in the form of cold calling. At the same time, the fewer people who actually pick up the phone to canvass, the better it is for those of us who do. Even though the majority of us have shifted to remote work, we’ve seen that face-to-face interactions over the computer and personal calls with clients and co-workers will never be replaced.
In my opinion, whether working remotely or in person, canvassing should still be leading the charge as you prospect new business, and here’s why: It’s personal. Actually speaking to someone over the phone allows for human interaction in the form of a conversation. This enables you to get more information that will help you personalize your pitch.
I have spoken to both assistants and high-level executives who weren’t my intended targets, yet many of these conversations have led to deals. It’s much easier for someone to delete an email than it is to hang up on you. If you email someone 20 times, they will likely continually delete you. If you call someone 20 times, it will eventually become hard to ignore you. They will at least pick up the phone to tell you not to call again — and then you’re in! Kidding aside, cold calling is more likely to eventually connect you with someone who you can express your passion and expertise to in a conversation.
Today, social media has taken the lead as the (easy) preferred way to approach a prospect or a potential business partner. However, it can also be seen as unwanted spam. While connecting with someone via Facebook or on LinkedIn can be worthwhile, it doesn’t usually lead to human contact. Messaging someone on social media does not take the place of a conversation. Direct messaging is not a connection like a phone call is, and you will not succeed solely by DMing or sending LinkedIn messages to someone for business.
The nuisances of a conversation, the pauses and the tone of someone’s voice are helpful in assessing their interest level. If you can master the skill of interpreting these things, you are listening. If you master the art of listening, you can master the art of caring, which can help you find the win-win situation. If you listen to your prospect when you go in for a sale, there still may be a deal to be made, even if it wasn’t one you were planning. If you force your pitch, you will lose an opportunity because you were not listening. One important note, though, is to make sure to ask open-ended questions rather than yes-no questions. This way, a conversation can flow naturally rather than ending abruptly.
In short, canvassing allows you to develop your listening skills, which will benefit you in any business. This will help you become a better communicator and lead to making better deals.
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