Old school prospecting is dead. No more cold calling, no more walking around neighborhoods door knocking. Never to be done again. This being said, ‘new school’ prospecting can work in today’s online environment – if it’s done right.
Prospecting online is rather like networking online, more of an art than a science. The new media generation have called it "inbound marketing" to describe the activities which are used to attract the customers right to your door. But there's actually nothing new about these activities, whatsoever as it is simply traditional pull marketing
It's simple, effective, and inexpensive and it is the perfect complement to any advertising campaign. Let me say that more clearly: Online target networking does not replace advertising. It complements it.
First Step: Call people you know. This doesn’t mean cold calling everyone connected to you on LinkedIn. If you wouldn't wave at them in the supermarket, don't bother calling them on the phone. Networking shouldn't be insincere. If people get the feeling you're just a dirty salesperson, the whole practice has backfired.
Start small and grow your list organically. Ten genuine friends who care about you and your business (and whom you care for as well) are better than 1,000 farmed names and friends of friends of friends.
Second Step: Ask for referrals and reach out to agents. Ask and you shall receive. Don't ask, and well ... you'll find out that the agent you previously worked with likes your projects but isn’t sure about commissions and control of their client throughout the process. In 2013, most developers and the general population do not understand how realtors make their money, nor how referral business works. Therefore you shouldn’t expect anyone, family or otherwise, to know you would like their business.
Third Step: Establish a community ‘friend’ business. Happen to enjoy a drink at your favorite bar? Like going to nice restaurants? Play in the community Tennis club? In order to be more believable and consequently more relatable, you should incorporate your hobbies and interests into your marketing campaign. Instead of tracking people down and hassling them to choose your new build development (which has become a huge turn off), create an image that makes them want to choose you.
As an example, I love a particular restaurant in town. Our family eats there at least once a week (don't judge), so it felt right to informally "partner" with them in marketing efforts. We worked out a mutually beneficial plan. When I launched the sales center for my company’s latest new home development, I pass out an exclusive coupon good for one free appetizer to prospects when they sign in. I also use the restaurant as a meeting place, and I give gift cards at the holidays.
This cooperation with my company and the establishment has led to increased traffic at the sales center, as the wait staff drops the information and pass my business cards out during their shifts. I, in turn, have created new fans of the restaurant. Think about how you and your friend/business can each provide something the other needs.
Fourth Step: Go to networking events. Everyone who goes is there to do one thing: increase business. This kind of focus is definitely worth your time. You can hear about these events online or through friends. Or you could just create your own. Bring together businesses that naturally work together: a builder, a remodeler, other subcontractors, restaurants, and local coffee bars. Start your own little prospecting mafia. Do this. It works.
Fifth Step: Stay in touch. Don't forget to stay in touch with those with whom you've already worked. They can be your biggest ally! Don’t forget to ask for them for a referral. And give them a stack of your business cards. This is sure to grow your business at a faster speed.
Sixth Step: Feed your fan base information they can use. Through social media you can post interesting and relevant stories for your fans to read. By doing this they will think of you as being an informed and trendy developer, which is essential in today’s unpredictable market. Make sure you don’t stray too far from topic while trying to grab their attention. You are a developer. Give industry specific information. This might include statistics of local sales, current number of new build developments on the market in different price ranges, average days on market, average sale prices, and perhaps development news in your area. To add some excitement, you can also post interesting international news stories such as, ‘best architecture of the year’ and some famous property purchases.
So now you know that prospecting is a changing art form and an extremely necessary one to master. In today’s environment, you can achieve your goals more efficiently, and therefore, more effectively. Performed alongside new media outreach, target networking will produce results.