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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bringing dead files to life

Many years ago, as a junior real estate agent, I set out into the world of business and sales without connections or client relationships. So I took every bit of sales training I could find, and discovered two sources of leads (until I started building referral and repeat clients).

The first group, "FSBOS", were people advertising privately their homes for sale. Using the "script" from a sales trainer, I would call them, start a conversation, and ultimately obtain a few listings. I determined the boundaries to call would be within the free calling area of my home (in a far suburb of the city).

Interestingly, I had the greatest success in another suburb, at the opposite end of town -- and by this community's standards -- a very long drive. But any time I tried to screen the list to be more geographically convenient, I failed to get business, even though when I didn't screen, I often found business away from this distant suburb.

Lesson learned: Don't screen too hard at the start, provided the core qualifications are met (but don't deviate from your qualifications.)

My second best source of cold leads turned out to be the real estate brokerage's "dead file", expired listings and records from former clients. I discovered a filing cabinet full of these records and set out to call them (with the brokers' permission, of course). Several were happy to hear from me, and signed up.

You may have dead records in your own office; it won't hurt to go through them and make a connecting call -- you may find new business that way.

I learned some other lessons during my time as a Realtor. First, I discovered I enjoyed the work as long as I was learning and growing; within two years, I had achieved my brokers license, and helped put together some reasonably advanced commercial transactions. As soon I stopped learning, however, I began to hate the work -- one deal seemed to morph into another; the actual intellectual exercise required for the work seemed to lack enough challenge to motivate me. Worse, while I was good, I knew I could never be great. I needed to move on.

My solution: Return to my first passion, journalism, but this time as a business owner. I would start a publication for real estate agents and brokers. Financially, the original venture never made sense, but it got me into a business I truly enjoy and where I can take the ups and downs because it always challenges me.

However, I haven't forgotten the lessons from the real estate sales experience. If you are starting out in sales or marketing with a construction business, maybe your boss won't mind you going through the former client files and calling a few of them -- and if it is your business, you might find gems of future business in those dusty files.


Bobby Darnell said...

Your newest offering reminds me of the old saying, "Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life."

Thanks for sharing...


Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Bobby, you are absolutely right.

Construction Marketing Ideas said...

Bobby, you are absolutely right.