Beyond the Cold Call: Scripts for In-Person Prospecting

Be creative when meeting prospects face-to-face and you can reap big rewards.

September 1, 2005

Cold calling was never the most popular prospecting method in the world, and with the advent of the National Do-Not-Call Registry and state no-call lists, it’s no longer a viable option for real estate professionals to find new customers.

With the second anniversary of the national do-not-call law coming up on Oct. 1, it’s a good time to take a closer look at an attractive alternative to prospecting by phone—prospecting in person.

In-person prospecting can take many forms, including:

Making casual contacts. Although it may not be the most efficient method of prospecting, it’s effective and natural—something you can even do in your free time by talking to friends, neighbors, and contacts from your volunteer and social groups.

Personal contact is the main prospecting method of Wendy Furth, CRS®, broker-associate with RE/MAX Olson & Associates in Northridge, Calif. She never misses an opportunity to meet a potential client, even when shopping for groceries. “Get me in line at Costco, and I can always turn a conversation into a productive ‘real estate moment,’” Furth says. “From the beginning, when I found myself in a video store in sweats without a business card, I have learned to always find a way to carry business cards.”

Door-to-door prospecting. Douglas Franks Sr., broker-owner of Douglas Franks Realty in Staten Island, N.Y., launched a very successful practice by going door to door. Franks would ring the bell and simply say: “Hello, my name is Douglas Franks, and if you have any real estate needs, I’d be glad to help you out.” His goal was to give out his business card, and he says he was successful 98 percent of the time.

Approaching FSBOs. You see the FSBO signs while you’re driving around town, so next time stop by the house in and say something like: “Hello, I’m Jane Agent with ABC Real Estate. I saw your sign as I was passing by. If you haven’t sold your home yet or aren’t successful over the next few days, would you think about promoting it through a REALTOR®? I’m one of the top agents in this area, and I would like to help you. May I leave my card with you?” If they’re agreeable, take their name and ask if you may call back later to see how they are doing.

Or try this idea, which helped Stephanie Evelo, broker-owner of The Evelo Team at RE/MAX Advanced Teams in Indianapolis, complete 27 sales in eight months from FSBOs in her first year of business. She used this script for phone calls, but it would work just as well in person. Introduce yourself at the door and say: “I can’t blame you for wanting to sell your home on your own. I like saving money, too!” Continue on and discuss potential buyers by saying, “Would you mind sharing some information about your home with me? I have a responsibility to myself and to my buyers to know about every home that is available on the market. If I can’t fulfill my buyers’ needs with listed property, I would like to bring them to you.” Ask to preview the home at a convenient time and add, “If you are not successful in selling it yourself, I would be happy to market it for you.”

More Prospecting Ideas

Here are a few more ideas you can try to improve your in-person prospecting. As you implement these ideas, don’t forget to ask each new person you meet if you may contact them from time to time about real estate, so you can keep them in your contact database for later calls and mailers.

  • Think numbers. Try to give your business card to 20 new people each week.
  • Join a new business group. You can join the local chamber of commerce or other organization and attend the networking events.
  • Support local charities. Don’t just send a check. Volunteer your time, but also aim for leadership roles where people can really get to know you.
  • Prospect at the mall. Take a colleague with you and introduce yourself to passersby. Hand out items imprinted with your logo.
  • Prospect merchants. People you do business with are always happy to hear what you do and are often interested in investing. Ask, “How’s business?” Then bring the conversation around to your business.
  • Host events. A holiday open house or client appreciation events can put you in front of many new prospects. Send out plenty of invitations; you may be able to do a month’s worth of prospecting in one day!
  • Expand your circle of acquaintances. Join a bowling league, bicycling club, or a toastmasters group. Try attending a new church from time to time.
  • Partner with real estate service providers. Get to know some mortgage brokers, carpet cleaners, building inspectors, and painters. Offer to swap leads.
  • Coordinate a block party. This is a great way to get to know more of your neighbors and spend quality time with them.

Asking for referrals from current and past customers also is an important part of personal prospecting. Judy Markowitz, broker-owner of RE/MAX Millennium in Flushing, N.Y., says this: “Please be an ambassador of my business and spread good rumors about me.”

“We want to be so amazing at our responsiveness to our clients’ needs and be so solution-focused that people are compelled to tell others about us,” Markowitz says. “When I tell people this is my goal, they actually get engaged to our team, and the result is a great web of referrals and strong brand recognition.”

If you think in-person prospecting seems slow or old fashioned, just think of the numbers: If you ask one new person a day if you can help them with their real estate needs, you’re talking to 365 new prospects a year. That kind of number brings results!