Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Breakthrough Marketing for a Changing Market

On last week's Mastermind Conference Call, sponsored by HouseValues, Agent CEO Tonia Mann shared several stories about how she's leveraged Internet leads to grow a large and successful real estate business - including nine buyer agents and two assistants. Since joining HouseValues, Tonia's team has been ranked #1 in the Atlanta market and #5 in the U.S. by Coldwell Banker.

Highlights from her call are below, including how she's responded to a changing real estate market with new strategies that have continued the growth of her business.

Featured Speaker: Tonia Mann, Atlanta, GA
Moderator: Raymond Gravelle, Distance Learning Specialist

Raymond: Tonia, please share with us how you tripled your income in two years.
Tonia: I created a business plan which included building a team. There are now 13 on my team: my husband Don, nine buyer agents, two assistants, and myself.

Raymond: How did you handle the market shift in Atlanta?
Tonia: The market shifted to the buyer side. We converted our HouseValues subscriptions to JustListed subscriptions. It was easy to transition and take advantage of the change.

Raymond: What were your production figures for 2005?
Tonia: We closed 153 transactions last year with $875,000 in gross commission income -- $430,000 of that from HouseValues and JustListed.

Raymond: What is your system for working the HouseValues leads?
Tonia: I immediately send the pre email, then a wide range CMA with two comparables. Don and I hand deliver a pre-listing package. My assistant does the follow-up phone calls, offering service.

Raymond:How do your buyer agents work the JustListed leads?
Tonia:Our assistant sends the pre email and sets up a search, then refers the lead to an agent. That way the prospect receives a response immediately in case the agent is in the field. The agent follows up and I keep track of how they’re doing in my Market Leader.

Raymond:What is the systematic approach your buyer agent, Carla, shared at a recent seminar?
Carla: I needed a process to give me a grasp of what my numbers were. I use the category field in the prospect’s information page to add the expected purchase month. I bring them up in List Builder and touch them more often close to their month. I spend the most time on 30/60/90 days. I call and/or email with the message, “It’s getting close to the time you indicated you wanted to buy. What more can I do for you?” I also use the category field to prioritize. If they respond by email or we had a phone conversation, I add “LC” (which stands for live contact) as a category.

Raymond: What are your results?
Carla: I use the information to help me get a sense of my conversion rate. My stats for six months were 211 in my database, 64 who had unsubscribed, leaving 147 potential prospects. Seven sold in that timeframe – that’s one in 14, better than the industry standard of one in 25. Now I know to keep doing what I’m doing because I’m getting good results.

Raymond: Are you doing anything new for 2006?
Tonia: Yes. We just subscribed to HomePages. I will be sending a postcard with the message, “Look at your home in a whole new way,” to drive people to our HomePages Web site.

Question & Answer

Question: Most of my prospects aren’t really interested in selling, they’re just curious about the value of their home. How would you handle them?
Tonia:I maintain the relationship over time. I get listings from prospects after they’ve been in Market Leader for years. That’s because at the very least they are getting the automatic email campaigns. My assistant also calls if she has a phone number whenever that activity pops up.

Question: Do you get buyers to sign a contract?
Tonia: I personally meet them and show a few houses before committing. I’m not sure I want to work with them and vice versa. Work on building a relationship by offering and providing service.
Carla: I have an email template that explains buyer agency with “someone who cares” and “buyer services – priceless.”