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In this episode, I'm talking with Joe Roberts, the founder of LandCaller.com.
Joe is a former Marine Cobra helicopter pilot who began investing in real estate while on active duty. He started acquiring single-family and small multifamily rentals before making the switch to flipping vacant land in 2021. Joe left the Marine Corps after 11 years in 2023 to pursue real estate full-time.
Today, we will discuss the opportunity in cold calling to find acquisition opportunities for vacant land.
Up to this point, cold-calling has not been a widely used marketing medium among land investors. The first time I heard about the idea, it sounded like the last thing I ever wanted to try, but part of my apprehension at the time was tied to my misunderstandings about how cold calling works.
The truth is that cold calling can be an incredibly fertile ground for land investors.
As I think we’ll find in this conversation, there’s a compelling case for cold calling in the land business.
Links and Resources
- Fast and Slow Roadmap for Real Estate Investors
- Text Marketing 101 for Land Investors
- The BRRRR Strategy Explained: Here's Everything You Need to Know
- How I Find Motivated Sellers (And Get Them Calling Me) Step 1, 2, 3
- 10 DataTree Hacks Every Real Estate Investor Should Know
- Land ID
- PATLive Review
- How to Ask the Right Questions of Your Prospects
- OpenPhone (Cloud Phone System)
- PhoneBurner (Auto Dialing System)
- DataTree (List Generation)
- Direct Skip (Skip Tracing)
- Pebble (CRM Solution)
- Pebble Review: What Can This CRM Do for Land Investors?
- Is Airtable the Best CRM for Land Investors?
- Airtable 4 Land Investors
- Alone TV Show
- Discover the power of cold calling as a lead generation strategy for land investors.
- Learn about the different types of cold calling in the land investing realm, from focused and targeted approaches to mass cold calling.
- Find out how to effectively incorporate cold calling into your overall marketing strategy and how to combine it with other marketing channels.
- Explore how cold calling can be a cost-effective way to reach motivated sellers in a competitive real estate market.
Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Seth: Hey everybody, how's it going? This is Seth Williams and you're listening to the REtipster podcast episode 168. Show notes for today's episode can be found at retipster.com/168.
So today I'm talking with my new friend Joe Roberts. So Joe is a former Marine Cobra helicopter pilot who began his real estate investing journey while on active duty. And he started acquiring single family and small multifamily rentals before making the switch to flipping land in 2021. Joe left Marines after eleven years in 2023 to pursue real estate full time. He is married with five kids.
And today I want to be talking with Joe about cold calling for land investors. Joe actually owns a company that does this, it's called Landcaller.com. And up to this point in time, cold calling is not a major marketing medium that has been commonly used in the land investing world. Perhaps it's going to change after this, but the first time I ever heard about the idea of cold calling a couple of years ago, I honestly thought it was a little ridiculous. It was like the marketing strategy of last resort, something I didn't really want to know or understand.
But the truth is this can actually be incredibly fertile ground for land investors. And I think it's kind of a thing where direct mail has been so easy for so long that there wasn't a need for anything else. But as the competition has really heated up over the past few years and response rates have been going down, a lot of us have been looking around for the next thing and wondering about what else might be able to pick up the slack.
And Joe has about as much experience with this as anybody I know with cold calling in the land investing world, which know definitely a niche in, you know, as I think we're going to find there's a compelling case to be made for cold calling in the land business, and we're going to talk about all that right now.
So Joe, welcome to the show. How you doing?
Joe: Thanks Seth, I am doing great. It's great to get on here finally. I still remember before I'd ever launched Landcaller reaching out to you and asking, “Hey Seth, who does cold calling for land investors?” And you're like, “Nobody that I know of.”
Seth: Yeah, that's right. A lot of times before we get on these kinds of calls, like when I'm going to talk to somebody like this for the first time, I'll go into my email inbox and just do a search for their name or email and be like, have I ever talked to this person before? Maybe I didn't know them, but I just got an email from them and you were there and I saw that first conversation so it's kind of funny.
Joe: Yeah, that really started the track because decided like, yes, I want to do cold calling after kind of proving it myself. But I didn't want to do it myself, and I didn't want to just hire a VA to do it for me either, because I tried that and it didn't work very well. And so I was like, well, if anybody knows a company doing this, Seth does. And you were like, nobody that I know of.
Seth: Yeah, looks like that's changing now that you're around. But I wonder what made you even decide to think of… like, in my mind, cold calling was just, no, I don't ever want to go there. That just sounds like a horrible existence to try to do this and find deals. So is it because you had been sending out mail and it wasn't going well, or what made you even think to do this and then actually put all the effort into trying it and figuring it out?
Joe: I mean, mail and how it kind of went throughout 2021, played a big role.
So when I started in 2021, mail was easy. Probably not as easy as some guys that had started in 2017, 2018 2020, but it was pretty easy. I was landing some great deals. I just noticed as the year progressed, and 2021 was obviously the year of real estate, crazy appreciation across the board of basically every asset class as things kind of got crazy post-COVID or through the lockdowns. And just as the year progressed, things that had worked initially or that I had maybe hadn't worked in my campaigns took some tweaking, but once I'd gotten them working, there was a good almost year where they were running on full cylinders and then things just started to tick down.
And so I tried changing up my types of offers, blind to ranged. I tried changing up the different types of mailers, what I was writing in the letters and postcards, and I just wasn't getting the same kind of metrics and return that I had before. And so spending all that time looking at it and, obviously direct mail is very expensive, I was sending not nearly as much as some people, but I was still doing about 10,000 letters a month, so that's expensive. So I was like, what are my other options, essentially?
So there was SMS, pay-per-click, cold calling. I mean, I was basically just googling like ways to generate off market real estate deals. What kind of landed me on cold calling or at least wanting to try it was I did a deep dive into my “seller profile,” is what I called it. So I basically went back through my last year of mail and I took every positive response to a piece of mail, even if I had never ended up getting it under contract, but a positive response. And I just kind of categorized these people and was like, okay, what do these people look like? And they're primarily boomers. So they're seniors. Many of them did not have cell phones or still had landlines that they use primarily that I was calling them back on when they received mail. They owned their property free and clear.
In my dealings with them, a lot of them didn't necessarily trust tech. I wouldn't always be able to get DocuSign or whatever with them. I'd have to send contracts out after we negotiated over the phone. There were people that were comfortable talking on the phone. And so to me, that's the mess was kind of the sexy thing that people were kind of moving to at the time. But I thought that at least for my sellers in my markets, cold calling was going to be a better way to get to them.
So I tested it out myself, had some really good success. I wasn't doing it at any sort of scale. In fact, I was pretty hyper localized in a very specific area that I wanted deals, but I at least kind of proved the model to myself and that's when I started to kind of explore different ways to scale it into my business.
Seth: And maybe we can talk just a little bit about why did you even start doing land in the first place? Sounds like you started doing single-family and multifamily houses like many people tried to do. Was that not going well or what even led you to start searching for something else?
Joe: Actually, I mean, it went very well. I had a single rental, which had been a primary residence, and then when the Marine Corps had given me orders and moved me to another state, we kept it, rented it out, and I had that single rental plus my primary residence for many years. When I started buying single-family homes and small multifamily in late fall of 2019, I just had those two homes, and by summer of ‘21, I was up to 23 doors. So in about 19 months, I owned 15 properties.
Seth: That's amazing. Nice job, man.
Joe: Thank you. So it went well.
First of all, I think you can only scale so much with single-family before kind of the economies of scale get to you, even if you have property managers, which I did prefer that because even property managers require managing. And there's always something going wrong with every house and that requires your attention.
And then honestly, I just looked at the real estate market in general as kind of ‘21 really took off and I thought it was getting pretty bubbly, to be honest with you. And I was also getting outbid on all my projects. I was doing the Burr model, as I'm sure some of your listeners are familiar with, where you buy it with cash, renovate it, and then refinance and rent it out so you could use the cash again on the next deal.
So I was finding very crappy and fixer-upper properties, but as 2021 kind of kicked off coming out of 2020, I just kept getting outbid on everything by flippers, who could buy it for less basis than I could because they were going to put lipstick on a pig. Whereas I needed to make significant capital improvement sometimes because I wanted it as a long-term asset. So I couldn't find good deals that I penciled anymore. I felt like the market was getting bubbly.
So I kind of just stopped for a while and I met JT Olmstead at a conference by chance, BiggerPockets conference. We sat down at lunch at the same table. I'm sure your listeners know JT, fantastic guy. I know he's been on here, I think a couple of times, but he was like, “Hey, what do you do?” And we got talking about land and it just fascinated me. I'd been sourcing off-market deals for single family with mail. So I had an understanding of sourcing off-market leads. All I needed to do was kind of tweak it for a new asset class.
Seth: So it was kind of because of JT that you discovered land?
Joe: Yeah, it was 100% because of JT.
Seth: Wow, that's crazy.
Joe: We had that lunch talk and then I was just fascinated and I hit him up later that day. I was like, “Can I buy you a drink and talk more about it?” So we went to the bar that evening and I think we talked for a couple of hours and I was hooked and I went back and started my land company.
Seth: Yeah, that's crazy man. Those conferences, if you really make an effort to, even if you don't make efforts, if you just are around people like that and have open conversations, it's crazy the connections you'll make and the people you'll meet.
Every time I go to this thing, I know something cool is going to happen. I don't know what that's going to be yet, but I always walk away from them with some “Aha!” moment or relationships that can turn into stuff that lasts for years. So it's cool to hear.
Joe: JT's still a great bud of mine. I use YourLandLoans, his service, and I still pop ideas off of him to get feedback. He’s a great dude.
Seth: Let's get more into this cold calling stuff. So when I think about cold calling, is this something that I should be using in conjunction with other marketing mediums? Like should I be doing this in addition to direct mail or texting or ringless voicemail or emails or whatever? Or are most of your customers using just cold calling? Like that's the main thing that they're doing and nothing else? And I guess if it is used in conjunction with something else, where would this show up in the sequence? Is it the first thing you do or the last thing you do?
Joe: Yeah. So before I kind of answer that, let me back up a little bit and discuss how I kind of view there's two types of cold calling. I kind of break it down into two categories.
There's cold calling that is the equivalent of you handwriting letters, essentially, which is you calling or somebody that's highly trained, excellent negotiation skills, knows the business in and out. That doesn't work at scale. So that works for you have that specific subdivision, that specific area within a county. You know, you want deals and maybe it's 20, maybe it's 50, maybe it's a couple of hundred lots, but it's doable. You can be highly focused and it's something that you could be just individually pulling the data on a property, finding the owner, skip tracing them, calling them yourself. That is one type of cold calling.
That's not what Landcaller does. Because what we're trying to model is essentially the direct mail, mass mail model for lead generation, which is out of 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 records, you find those few that are ready to make a good deal that pencils for the investor. So that's what Landcaller does.
And as that method of lead gen, it really can work either way. Our clients are almost 50-50 between those that use only cold calling and then those that use cold calling plus something else. Some of them are in all of the above. I find those clients tend to be a little bit more experienced. They have their honeyholes, their markets. And cold calling works really well because they're going back to the same areas time and time and time again and now they're hitting it from every possible area or angle.
And if there's a Venn diagram of all the owners in a county, there's overlap between those that are going to respond to SMS, those that are going to respond to mail, those that are going to respond to a cold call. But when you hit it from all sides, you could really take advantage of trying to capture everything else.
50% of our clients just use cold calling, and I would say at least half of those used to use other methods and just switched completely to cold calling because of some of the cost efficiencies, the agility of the model with how quickly you can kind of adjust things. So it's an either or, really.
Seth: Correct me if I'm wrong. So it sounds like when you were first testing this out to see does cold calling work at all? Is there anything here? Was it just you? And like a spreadsheet running it through something like their DirectSkip, getting their phone numbers, you would call them personally and go through these conversations and see if it led anywhere. And that's kind of how you decided, “Okay, there's something here. Maybe we should scale this now and do this other way where we have less specialized people doing the initial call and that kind of thing.” Is that kind of how it panned out?
Joe: Yeah. So there was a little bit I didn't kind of have this idea of the different types of cold calling formulated my mind then. But yes, I was basically using that first model I spoke about and I was calling I mean, I was very rudimentary. I was using Land ID or the GIS to find that I'd look at a lot, be like, I want that lot in a specific area, use Truepeoplesearch.com to find a number and cold call them again. Unless you're hyper-focused on a specific subdivision or whatever, that's a terribly inefficient waste of time for you to be trying to find deals yourself.
So then I tried to hire yes, I tried to use some of my VAs to cold call. So I was like, I'm paying them a lot less than I would want to pay myself to do this, so let's use them. What I quickly discovered, even though they had good English and they were comfortable on the phone, in having my VAs cold call, there was a whole lot more that kind of went into doing it even at a small scale within internal to the company. So I quickly realized I had basically hired myself as a cold call center manager at a small scale, which I didn't particularly enjoy, I don't think I was particularly good at. There was a lot of tech aspects. I'm not a very techie guy with the dialer system and all that.
And so that was actually when I reached out to you because I was like, okay, I just want cold call leads is what I really want. I think I'd proven a bit to myself that yes, cold call leads can work. I just want a bunch of cold call leads. And that's when I started my search for a cold call company that worked for land investors.
Seth: I mean, I know there's other cold call agencies out there that work for like house investors and that kind of thing, but to my knowledge, I think you're the only one that does the land specifically, right?
Joe: Yeah. And that was what, you know, talking to you JT some other people I do in the space, like, yeah, I haven't heard of anything like that existing. So I interviewed three or four of those kind of real estate cold calling companies very popular with wholesalers for single-family homes.
And I mean, they were good. They follow much the same model that we do at Landcaller. It was just when I tested them or when I interviewed them, I just didn't get a feeling that they understood kind of the intricacies of vacant land. A couple of them, I had their caller kind of call me and I ran through some things with them and I didn't get the warm fuzzy that they really understood the niche. These callers have been calling kind of single-family homes forever and they were just very much focused on what that looked like. And so I was about to hire one regardless and just figured over the months we'll work out and hopefully my caller sticks with me and we can get that caller comfortable with the vacant land niche.
And then I was just talking to my wife and I'd seen something on Twitter about starting your own call center and I was like, well, what if we just started a call center, hired a manager, so I'm not managing it. I'm sure I could find other land investors that would want to do this so that I make the investment worth it and go from there.
Seth: It makes me wonder, is there anything different about how you build your list in the beginning and ultimately decide which people to call? Like, do you only go after higher value properties or property owners that fit a specific criteria, like being more likely to respond on the phone or anything like that? Or is it literally just take the exact same list you would normally send mail to and just give that to you and go from there?
Joe: So we have clients that do every basically we have every type of land professional at this point as clients. We've got large scale, like big, big-time developers looking for vacant land. We've got land-specific agents, plenty of flippers, those focused on larger acreage and doing subdivides and stuff, those focused on infill lots and flipping them to developers and builders. So the only difference I would say is that because it is quite a bit cheaper than mail, you don't necessarily have to spend as much time scrubbing it or upfront doing so much work.
Because I know flippers—I never did this—but I know flippers who had a team of VAs who prescrub all their lists prior to mailing. They're looking for slope, wetlands, landlocked stuff, and they've got multiple people working on this going like looking at the properties in Land ID or GIS. And it makes sense because they've worked out the economics of mailing for all in cost of record or what it may cost to mail, versus hiring a VA for $4 or $5 to do that. With cold calling being about 60% cheaper on average than direct mail, there's really not a need to do that. So that's kind of the only difference I see in how you may have to prep a list or go after a list.
Cold calling works for the same types of properties that direct mail does. It's cheaper so if you don't want to spend the time scrubbing them up front, you don't have to.
Seth: Well, it's interesting that right there is something that it makes sense now that hear you say that, but I wouldn't have assumed that, not having knowing any better.
But you said that cold calling is 60% cheaper than mail, so what does that break down to? What is the cost per call for somebody to dial a number? Because I guess that doesn't include people that hang up or don't answer, right? It's just making an attempt to reach someone.
Joe: Yeah, so I look at it more as a cost of kind of per record. So a record is going to return multiple numbers, obviously once it's skip traced. And not every record is going to be skip traced. Just like when you pull a list, not every piece of mail is going to be delivered.
But if you look at a list of 10,000 (that was a pretty standard month for me mailing) all-in cost, including property records and mailing and stuff, depending on how much bulk you're buying, between 65 and and 70 cents a record. So you're looking at 6,500, 7,000, 7,500 depending on what scale you're doing it.
Whereas all-in cost for calling 10,000 records with land callers, about 3,000 to include the property records and the skip tracing and the TCPA scrubbing and all that and the caller working full time on the campaign. 3,000 to 7,000 is kind of the comparison there.
Seth: So I guess in terms of a land investor scrubbing their list before they hand it over to you, I guess they would just kind of go through their usual steps, like take off the stuff they absolutely know you don't want or stuff that you're 100% sure are not going to work with you, like a government agency or something. Is that it? Or should they be doing more or less or is there any notable difference in how they should be processing that before they put it in your lap?
Joe: No, not really. Again, that kind of depends on the flipper and what their strategy is. But a good chunk of our clients we pull the list for because we can get the data for cheaper than they can because we're buying in bulk, like DataTree data. So we'll take their criteria, we'll pull the list based on their criteria, and then skip it and scrub it. But other than the common sense things like you're not trying to call the Forest Service for their 50 acres in your county, no, there's no need to really scrub it out any more than that. And that's also something that we can scrub out when we get it. So there's really not even a need if you don't want to scrub it.
Our goal to be honest, is whether you're incorporating cold calling with other lead gen methods or we're your only lead gen method. And to me this should be the goal of any cold calling company that you potentially go with, is to be kind of, I call it as a Marine Corps background, a “fire-and-forget” weapon system. So it can be as involved as you do as much scrubbing as you want on the front side, but if you don't want to, you can fire-and-forget it. You can give us the county and the criteria and the acreage size and then you forget about it until warm leads start showing up into your CRM.
Seth: Maybe that's a good segue to help us understand. Take us through the cold calling journey. What exactly does Landcaller do, and at what point is it dropped into the lap of the land investor? Like, how many calls does it take for this entire journey to first contact the person to actually close the deal, and which of those calls are handled by your team? And at what point is like, okay, here's the information we got. You run with it now, land investor, how does that work?
Joe: Great question. So we are lead gen. We're not negotiating lead gen with some due diligence. Caveat, some due diligence, okay.
And that's based on the flipper as well. We individualize our scripts. We'll work with our client to build their script out, split test things with them, let them know what we've seen work, et cetera. There's any number of qualifying questions or whatever that they could put into the upfront script so that it does or does not get passed along as a lead.
But when you think about, okay, what does a cold call lead look like when it comes from the cold call center? It's going to look the same as when you sent out a mailer, and let's say you had somebody answering the phone and taking down that information, which then gets sent to your email or your CRM. That's the same kind of place where you're picking it up and taking it. So you have somebody who's interested. If you've got qualifiers in terms of things that you do or don't want, then it's not passed along. But if you have some due diligence questions in there, for instance, I'm running a campaign. Now, I know I don't want any of the HOA properties that are in this area. So that's one of my qualifying questions. Is it an HOA? Answer is yes, I don't see the lead in my CRM. It's not a lead.
So the negotiations and all that is on the client because they all have different strategies, right? Like I said, our clients are vastly varied. And even within the flippers, we've got very different strategies. We've got folks that they just want to buy cash at 35% of market value. That's all they're looking to do. And then we've got folks that are like, yeah, I'll put it under contract at 60% of the market value and wholesale it and make 20K. Sure, why not? So we don't get into the business of negotiating for our clients.
Seth: So I guess maybe one question is how many phone calls is this process, and which of those phone calls is handled by you and which of them is handled by me?
Joe: We will have one phone call ultimately with the lead, maybe two. If we call them, we start the conversation, and they have to call us back. So we pick it up later. But once we've got the information that's on the script or the information the client requires for their CRM, we pass it off, we're done calling.
On the client side, it typically looks like two or three conversations, maybe more. I'm sure we've all had those leads, even with direct mail where you go back and forth on negotiations because you're pretty close for a little bit. But typically what it looks like is— I'll use my land of business as an example, and my partner in Landcaller, John Lowry, also a land flipper with his own land business, he does it very similarly. So when the lead comes in, our first callback is rapport building plus more due diligence. So the lead came in, my VAs have pulled the deed, they've run the comps based on my script. We asked the question, hey, what are you hoping to get for this property?
So if they gave an answer, we have that number. We have other questions that kind of get after what level of motivation the lead might have, which helps us to prioritize who we're calling back. But that first callback is really to build rapport, build a relationship, be likable on the phone, and then answer additional due diligence questions that help us really pinpoint the value on improvements. Any number of standard due diligence questions, I mean, most of them come from the REtipster due diligence checklist straight off there. So anything that didn't get asked on the cold call is asked then.
We don't make an offer on that call. Some investors do because they've pulled comps, they know what they want. In my business with my sellers, I have found a higher conversion rate if I just use that call to get them to like me and to get the information. And I come back on a third call when I'm actually making an offer. I have a theory that it comes across as a little bit more professional, it gives time for the relationship to develop a little bit more.
So I'm making a third call, which is including the first cold call. So cold call from Landcaller, follow-up rapport building, due diligence call, and then offer call.
Seth: That’s helpful. So to recap: three calls, call number one, that's what Landcaller handles and that's ultimately the lowest value call. That's where I don't know what percentage, but a large percentage of people probably will not fit the bill.
And like the biggest time waster, if you were trying to do this yourself, yes, that would take you the most time.
Joe: Yes, exactly.
Seth: And once you actually have verified, I don't know what you ask like, are you interested in selling below market value or how you ask the question, but it sounds like by the time it's delivered to the land investor so that they can pick up call number two. In order to do that, they're armed with the knowledge that, yes, this person said they're interested in selling at a discount and it's not an HOA or whatever. Other basic questions they want answered. Is that accurate?
Joe: Yeah. Because to give you an idea, again, a caller on a campaign for us, they're working full time for that campaign, 40 hours a week, calling all day long with a multiline dialer or changing out the numbers up to twice a week. And they are going to make around 3,000 to 5,000 dials per day on average. And they're going to contact typically 200 to 300 people. And in a month they'll send about 60 to 70 leads.
Really, the number of leads has a lot of variables, but I would say that's our average smaller lots, lower price points have higher lead gen than more sophisticated big lots with high price points, a few hundred K-type price points. But I'd say our average is around 60 to 70 leads in a month. You're going through a lot of numbers and a lot of dials to generate those leads, which is where the economies of scale kind of work themselves out.
Seth: Yeah. And having a lead doesn't mean it's going to be a deal. It doesn't mean that they're going to sell for any specific price. It just means like, hey, this is the one to pay attention to. There's a hot one in the line here.
And then on that second call it sounds like it's a mixture of rapport building and also just verifying the facts. There's a link to the phone call checklist that I put together years ago, we still use it today. You can get a free PDF of it if you want, but that's kind of like the list of stuff that you want to verify. Just understanding the facts. Am I correct in assuming that a lot of that stuff you can find out on your own before you call the person back?
For example, does this property have road access or is it in a flood zone or whatever the question might be. So is the idea like on that second phone call you're not necessarily asking all those questions but you're verifying what you already think you know? It looks like this property doesn't have road access. Is that right or am I mistaken? That kind of thing?
Joe: Yeah, 100%. So I'd say it's three aspects to that. One is how much work do you want to do on the lead prior to asking them? And so that's a time value equation. There like how many VAsdo you have working for you? Are you doing it yourself? Do you really want to go pull every deed, every plat, look at every GIS for every lead prior to calling it back? Maybe you do, but there could be some things where you're just like, I will ask and then if it turns out we're close on price because I haven't made an offer yet, I can now go verify it before we go make an offer.
Then there's the aspect of just using those questions, and that's verifying like you said, but also just using it to have the conversation. A lot of these cold call leads, they're relational people. It makes sense. They picked up a call from a random number and talked to somebody for five, six, seven, ten minutes, and now they're talking to you again. Sometimes they just want to tell you the story about their land or they want to tell you like oh yeah, when they went to their grandfather's lot to go hunting when they were a kid. And so being just an active listener and then just some of the questions are just an opportunity to get them talking and again to get them to like you.
I mean, I'm sure you've had this with direct mail leads, Seth, but I've had many leads where they say something know I've had higher offers in the past but I want to sell to you because I like you. Maybe they're blowing smoke but I get that more often with cold call leads because they are relational people.
So it's a verifying of facts or it's getting the facts if you don't want to spend too much time on the front end before calling them back to do it. Although I recommend you do some due diligence. Like when I call them back, I've got land ID up, I'm looking at the lot so I can ask them about things on the lot and that sort of thing.
Seth: And I think that's a good thing for people like me or people who might be, like introverts or people who just despise getting on the phone for any reason, to understand that the point of phone call number two is not just to check boxes. I mean, that's part of it, but it's also to build a relationship with the person.
I can totally understand why that might be uncomfortable for some people, just picking up the phone and talking to a stranger, but I'm sure it works wonders when you can humanize yourself in any way. And it sounds like contrary to the way that direct mail works, how sometimes you get lots of hate from people and they just are livid. I mean just illogically angry at you when you have these kind of phone conversations.
Even when you get to call number three and you make the offer and it's below market value and they say no, how often do those turn into just vicious, hate-filled phone calls? Is it like a nasty experience or is it like they're just more civil because you've humanized yourself and they almost kind of like you in a way because you built a relationship? Is that accurate?
Joe: That's very accurate. Very accurate. I can count on one hand the number of people, even after making offers, which I knew we were going to be way far apart, that have even just hung up on me, let alone I don't know that anybody's yelled at me. And to be fair, I also don't do a fair amount of my calls anymore because I've hired an acquisitions manager who I've trained to make these calls and that stuff.
So we split my leads. But she's the same thing because she gives me reports every week on how the calls went. So it's exactly that you've humanized. It's not some disconnected piece of junk mail that they've gotten that they feel like is kind of a slap in the face.
Which is another reason I like giving the offer on the third call. If you give the offer right off the bat on the second call, it comes across as a little bit more business-like. Like, hey, yeah, you said you wanted to sell, here's my offer, take it or leave it type thing. That's why I don't know that it necessarily works as well with this type of lead. It filters like you are saving yourself some time. I will 100% give that. You will filter out more leads. You will lose leads, though, that you definitely could have worked.
And I feel like anybody who's doing this, regardless of what lead gen method you're using, should have follow-up drips. A lot of people that are doing mail, they'll drip their mail, right? Like they'll send a mail and then three months later they'll send it again. But with cold call it's nice because you've got their phone number.
So it's very easy. Maybe you're 20,000 apart and their motivation level is meh, but you call them back or text them, you've got their number. It's very easy. Just put in a CRM or a Google Sheet and be like, all right, in two months I'm going to hit them back up. You've already established that relationship.
I've landed many deals in the last two months from calls that were made in March and April, three or four I can think of off the top of my head. The lead gen method works well with follow-up campaigns and drip campaigns.
Seth: So I mean, aside from maybe the demographics and just the way that they interact with you, is there anything different about cold calling leads versus direct mail or texting or otherwise? Have we kind of covered it or does anything else stick out to you, yeah, they tend to accept lower offers or anything come to mind?
Joe: So a couple of things. So for one, there are people that you're only going to get with cold calling because they either don't have a cell phone so I can't respond to SMS or they just don't trust SMS. They're never going to respond to a text and they never respond to mail. Many times I've had leads that said, yeah, I get junk mail all the time. I get letters every day of the week asking me to buy this property and they all go straight in the trash. So there's one aspect, there's a subsection there that are only going to be reached by cold calling.
In terms of how the lead looks different. I would say this is if your business model is completely built on the self-filtering model of I send mail really it's the blind offer, right? Like kind of the least amount of work possible. I send the mail with the blind offer. I only get people that see that exact number and want to sell for that number and then I bet and make sure I offered the right number that actually makes sense for the property once the lead comes in.
This is different. It's not going to work the same. Now there's some things you can do up front like having that number or a range of numbers in that initial cold call conversation that our callers are having with them to pre-vet, that kind of narrows the funnel when it gets to you. But ultimately a cold call lead I would say is slightly more work. Like you're probably having at least one additional conversation over on the phone that you would a direct mail lead. I mean ultimately I spoke on the phone with every direct mail lead I ever got. So speaking on the phone is just part of the business regardless of what kind of lead gen method. You're just doing a little bit more with cold call leads.
Seth: I wonder, do cold calling leads tend to assume that you know more about the property or that you're smarter than if you were to just send them a blind offer since a blind offer is such an impersonal cold thing, like you're not really displaying anything about what you know about the property. Whereas with a cold calling sequence, you've had these conversations with them. You've asked the questions, you've had a chance to point out potential flaws in the property. Not saying that their property is worthless, but it kind of plants the seed that this might not be worth as much as you think it is if it's landlocked and if it has these issues, that kind of thing.
Do they tend to just sort of accept what you're saying as reality easier? Because you've sort of displayed your competence and that you know what you're talking about.
Joe: I personally would say yes. I don't necessarily have hard data to back it up other than anecdotal. And what I would say is so, first of all, we spend so much time customizing these direct mail letters and throwing in the tidbits here and there. Ultimately, who's reading that whole letter? Probably who's, like, picking up on the things that we're trying to imply in the conversation of making ourselves an expert in the air or whatever. They're scrolling down till they see your big bold price and then deciding, hey, cash offer. So I feel like it's easier to kind of drop those hints or those implications that we are professionals in a conversation.
So for instance, like one question that we script into a lot of our campaigns is it goes something like the cold caller says, “as I'm sure you're aware.” So right there—I love the psychology of cold calling, by the way, because it's fun to kind of just play with—you're establishing yourself as an expert because you're about to bring the facts, but you're not talking down to them because you're telling them that they're aware. And so when you bring the facts, the implication then is that this fact is true because you've just implied that they're aware of it.
So that's how we start that sentence: “As you're aware,” “As I'm sure you're aware, land in this market, in your market, can take a very long time to sell on an average of over a year for full market value. With that in mind, where would you say you're at with this property on a scale of one to ten, with one being ‘get the highest possible price I can,’ and ten being ‘sell as quickly as possible.’” And so now not only have you implied your professionalism and knowledge, you've implied that they also know this. So now they want to accept that because you've just implied that they're knowledgeable.
And then you've also given them the opportunity to demonstrate what their motivating factors may be, while not necessarily having to say, like they're vulnerable and saying, “Oh, yeah, I need to get rid of this thing as fast as possible.” Because even people that don't understand sales or anything else understand that when they do that, they give up leverage. But if they're just giving a number on a scale, they don't feel like they're giving up as much leverage.
So the psychology there can work. And now when you get that lead into your inbox, now you can prioritize it based on where on that scale they landed, but you can also take that and use that in negotiations because you've already implied your company as a professional. So you call back, “I saw you answered one that you're interested at the highest possible price. Absolutely understand that I'm not going to mess around with any low offers with quick closing timelines. Understand. Highest possible price, a little bit more risk. I might need a little bit more due diligence.”
So you can use that to your advantage. And then they're assuming you had multiple price points. You took their input of, hey, I want the highest possible price, and that's what you're now offering. So even if it may not look on the surface as a lead that might be any good, they're like, oh, I want the highest possible dollar amount. You can still use it in negotiation.
Seth: I'm wondering what percentage of these warm leads that you get end up as closed deals. And I know this is… I hate this question. I feel bad that I'm even asking you this because it's a giant “it depends on how much you're offering and what you're looking for” and on and on. But just to give people just a wild guess, like if I get 100 warm leads from land caller, what would be like maybe a percentage range that I could expect to actually close on those deals? Like how many of these callbacks and conversations would have to be had to actually walk away with the deal? Would it be like maybe, I don't know, five out of 100? Or one out of 100? Or 20 out of 100, or have any thoughts on that?
Joe: Well, it depends. That is probably the most individual client or flipper or land professional dependent. We have land flippers who are realtors. The vast majority of these leads or could end up a high percentage of them can end up as clients for them because they're people interested in selling. They're realtors who also flip. So even if they can't buy it, they'll sell it for them. We've got land developers, all they want is like 15% to 20% off market value because they're going to subdivide the thing and build on it so they get a nice high percentage. We've got flippers who use the kind of traditional model of, yeah, I just want to buy at 30% of market value cash and close in 30 days. I don't wholesale, I don't double close, I don't assign. They have the smallest percentage, I would say 2% to 5% of leads that come in.
And then I'm a little bit of… so my business, I average about 8% to 10% conversion rate off my leads. But I'll get creative and find ways to do a deal. I don't have like a very strict, “I need to purchase at this percentage of market value.” Because a lot of that is predicated on the deal size. Like that kind of like sub-100k or even sub-50k deal where you need to buy it at 30 to make it worth your time. Right? But if I'm calling for a lot, that's worth 150k and I know I can sell it for really going to only offer 40% of 150k lot if I could make 50k off of it with a quick wholesale? No.
So I would average higher than some of those other flippers because I'm willing to double close stuff, put it on a long due diligence period, see what happens. If I could make 15, 20k. And especially on higher price point properties, I'll take well above 50-60% of market value and put it under contract because I'm going to make more money than I would on the property that I bought for 10k cash at 25% of market value on the same property.
So I know that was kind of all over the place, but if your kind of land business looks similar to mine, I would say expect that 8-10%, 7-10% conversion rate.
Seth: No, that's super helpful. And it sounds all over the place because it is all over the place. I mean, there's all kinds of different people using your service, so I appreciate the different examples there. That's really helpful.
One thing I will say for those of you out there who are wondering, what exactly do I say in this conversation? Like give me a script, give me a word-for-word thing that I can use.
So Joe and I actually worked together on putting together a script. You can download it in the show notes, retipster.com/168. We'll have an email opt-in thing. You can download it there. We also had a completely separate and much more in-depth conversation about this where we even did some role-playing and that kind of thing to explain what does a call sound like. And Joe was very good at this stuff.
And that's in module one of The Land Elite Masterclass, along with a bunch of other advanced strategies. So if you're interested in that, check out landelitemasterclass.com and I'll have a link to that in the show notes as well. Again, retipster.com/168.
I'm wondering, who do you hire as these cold callers? For Landcaller, it sounds like they're not from the U.S. So I'm wondering does it matter if they have a foreign-sounding accent or anything like that or, I don't know, is that an issue or anything?
Joe: We've done some split testing with callers that we have that essentially have zero accent. Either they were born in America and they've moved back and the split testing hasn't indicated that for that initial cold call there's not a statistical difference. I think it potentially matters more on the follow-up calls where now they're kind of getting down to brass tacks and deciding, do they like you? Are they going to sell you the property? Trust is being established, but on the initial call it doesn't seem to matter.
So we have two centers right now. We had to open a second one to kind of keep up with demand that we opened up in Egypt. So we have a call center in Egypt, in Cairo, and then one in Manila in the Philippines. Classic offshore worker location. Both centers are in-person call centers, so the workers are coming into the center so we can keep things like internet speed, quality. We're trying to keep as many variables constant as we can. Internet hardware, management by floor managers on the floor so we can QA things quicker and that sort of thing.
And then we do a pretty extensive hiring process. So we only hire cold callers, first of all with excellent English skills, little to no accent. A lot of our callers, and then they have previous real estate cold calling experience, so we have no newbie callers. And what a lot of them we're realizing come with is a pretty unique ability to mimic American accents, particularly Southern accents and so they actually can sound almost a lot of them almost undifferentiated from an American caller.
And then we give them our own training package that we've developed, teaches them kind of the specifics of what land investing is, kind of what do our clients look like, what do these sellers look like? Who are these people you're going to be talking to? What is the process when it leaves here? So they kind of understand what's happening with the lead and why they're trying to get the lead and why they're trying to gauge motivation levels, those sorts of things. We do role playing with them and then we hire them on.
You lose all of your kind of cost benefits or most of your cost benefits over other lead gen methods, particularly direct mail, if you try to onshore this and use American callers because it is monotonous and tough work. You're dialing thousands of numbers a day and having hundreds of conversations a day. So to be able to do that at offshore prices versus U.S. prices is the difference, really.
Seth: If I were to try to hire my own telemarketers in the Philippines or something like that, just take this on myself, why should I not do that? What are the biggest challenges of trying to find those people on my own versus just going with a kind of a proven entity that has all the kinks worked out?
Joe: I would say that kind of what I mentioned. When you do that, you're hiring yourself as a cold call manager. You just have to realize that and what all that entails. So there's the hiring process, finding somebody with experience who understands the space, or maybe they don't understand the space, they probably don't, but at least experience cold calling. Make sure they have good enough English.
Then there's the training. There's figuring out the payment that you're going to use. You're going to go through Upwork or Wise or whatever. You're going to use contract training. How are you confirming? What's their internet speed? What's their setup at their house? Do they have the right hardware for calling? Do they have a good mic? Do they have a quiet space? They're probably working at home. So is there going to be traffic in the background?
Then there's the dialer system. So picking a dialer and understanding all the intricacies because you're not going to do this with an Open Phone number. I mean, you could, but you're not going to get nearly that amount of volume you need to sift through all these numbers to find those leads, right? When we talk to clients that previously used VAs to cold call and they're blown away by the numbers of people, we're reaching, like we're reaching more people in a week or two than their cold caller we reached in two months.
And it's because they're just using a single line dialer. They're just using an Open Phone number or whatever it may be. And just manually dialing numbers. So you want a dialing system and I don't even understand all that. That's why we have managers with 20 years experience that take care of that aspect because there's all sorts of variables when it comes to the dialer, the settings you set up in there.
There's maintaining TCPA compliance… well, not necessarily compliance, because if you're making offers to purchase, you're not subject to it technically, but there's still a lot of rules around it that you want to follow to keep yourself out of trouble. Even though you're not technically compliant. Then you've got training, so you got to make sure how are you training them? You're doing follow-on training because we do follow on training weekly with all our callers, and then QA is an aspect of that too. Are you listening to calls, providing feedback to the caller, incorporating that into future training modules for the caller, and making hiring and firing decisions based off that?
So I mean, that's some, not all the aspects of managing a cold call campaign at scale effectively.
Seth: No, that makes total sense. I know I actually work with a bunch of different individuals for various things. And maybe seven total that come to mind immediately. But all of these people, I could have them be my own full time employees. But there's just so much wrapped up in that, like the training and overseeing them and all this stuff. It's way easier to just outsource it to an actual company that does this and then they can figure out all the HR stuff and they already have the systems figured out. So it makes total sense to me.
Joe: And I think people, they just run the numbers of like, oh well, I'm sure I could find somebody who can do this for $4 an hour. First of all, good luck. But you can find a VA overseas for $4 an hour. Whether they can do it as well remains to be seen.
What's the price difference between them calling full time and us? Well, maybe let's just say it's $1,000 a month all-in cost. So what's your time worth for all those things that I talked about? Are you getting the same quality? So I feel like most people very quickly arrive at the conclusion that you're not really saving yourself anything by trying to bring this in-house most of the time.
Seth: What does it cost to hire a land caller at this point in time?
Joe: It's a little bit dependent on whether you are providing us a list or we're pulling it for you. So the caller themselves is just a flat fee for that full time caller on your campaign. And that's $1,500 to $1,700 a month. Based on the length of the contract you signed with us, we can go down to as short as a month-to-month contract for the highest cost.
And then on the data side, we can pull the list based on your criteria using DataTree data. That would be four cents a record. And then we will skip trace it and scrub it through a TCPA scrubber, which removes all known litigators and their family and friends, essentially, and plainers to the FTC. So essentially anybody that's at possibility of causing us or you problems with litigation gets removed out of the list so they're not being called.
Just a side note for all the listeners who are either cold calling themselves, hiring a VA to cold call, thinking about hiring another cold calling agency, or texting, you should be doing that because go look on Facebook. There are groups with tens of thousands of people where they just teach people how to conduct TCPA litigation. Like they don't even need to win in court. They can just file a suit and then, we or you, depending on what stage of the process it works, or they decide to file, then gets served with a notice.
So anybody dealing stuff on the phone should be doing that. Even though offers to purchase property are not subject to the TCPA, that doesn't keep anybody from filing a suit. And so it's very important to remove those litigators with a good software prior to it getting into your dialer.
Anyway. That’s 11 cents a record. So all-in cost. If we were pulling your list, skipping it, scrubbing it is going to be around, let's just say 10,000 records in a month, $1,500 for that, because fifteen cents a record, and then another $1,500 to $1,700 for the flat fee for the caller.
Seth: It's not that bad. I mean, you compare that to the cost of direct man, l I mean, it almost sounds like, correct me if I'm wrong, but do you recommend that people have Landcaller pull the list and skip trace it and do all that stuff instead of me? Like getting my list from DataTree, running it through Direct Skip and then I give it to you? Is it better for me to just put that all on you guys?
Joe: So we actually don't even allow people to give us skip trace lists anymore. We make some exceptions every once in a while. But the big reason there is we used to allow people to bring us their skip trace list. The problem is the quality of skip tracing available out there ranges widely. Let's just say that. And the vast majority of companies are all white-hatting the same data. They're just putting their brand on it, and it's this white pages data and it's not great.
What we did is we just require that we skip trace the data. Because for us, we can't perform for a client without good numbers. So it would made it very hard to pinpoint things going wrong with campaigns, split or test things if we don't know that we're getting good data back in the first place. So you pay more than you're probably your average skip tracer because we use credit bureau data, which is a lot more expensive. On average, it's bulk discount.
That's why somebody might hear that and say, “Oh, 11 cents skip tracing, that's crazy. I paid Direct Skip 9 cents.” But even just a few percentage points of better, of more numbers that are accurate, leads to one more, you're talking about saving like a couple of hundreds of dollars versus one more deal for a year for hundreds of thousands of numbers you're dialing. One more deal that lands you 20,000. So that's why we require that we skip trace it.
But yes, people can still bring us data. Lots of people have lists that they've been pulling forever. Land doesn't change hands that quickly. If they've got a list, bring us the list by all means. But if you want to move into a new area where you're probably pulling it for cheaper than you are and it's your data, we give it back to our clients. That's how our clients are doing their own SMS campaigns and direct mail campaigns with the data that we pulled and skipped and gave back to.
Seth: So aside from TCPA stuff or known litigators and that kind of thing, are there certain types of property owners you simply won't call? Like, “Oh, we noticed there's this characteristic about this person, so we're not going to call them or you shouldn't call them.” Anything like that come to mind or is that not a thing?
Joe: No, not really. And here's another tidbit for your folks that are doing cold calling themselves or hiring it out themselves, go ahead and call “do not call” list numbers.
I see a lot of or I talk to a lot of clients that used to do cold calling themselves maybe or had a VA do it. Yeah, half my list I can't use, and that's right about half your list is going to be people on the federal “do not call” registry. You are not subject to that if you are calling them in order to ask them to purchase their property. There's multiple court cases you can look up that have established the TCPA does not apply if you are offering to purchase and you were not marketing.
So if you're a realtor trying to find leads, it's a little bit different if you are trying to market yourself to provide a service to them. But if you're calling because you want to purchase a property and some court cases have even established that putting it under contract with the intent to purchase it or even wholesale, it also works. You can call “do not call” list numbers.
So a lot of you out there listening to this, if you're cold calling, you're artificially limiting yourself to half your possible list by scrubbing out “do not call” folks from your list.
Seth: So what if I hire Landcaller and I pay you guys thousands to call people and no leads materialize, or no deals are closed? Or I guess those two different questions. But does that ever happen where people spend the money and it just gets them nowhere? They just flush the money down the toilet?
And if so, how often does that happen? Why does that happen? Is it because people aren't following up fast enough? Or is it because they're terrible on the phone? Or any insights on people who try this and it doesn't work for them? If that ever happens, why doesn't it work for them?
Joe: Yeah, that's a great question. I'm sure everybody has that in the back of their mind.
So we have had one client to date that did not land a deal with us. We sent them close to 200 leads over the course of three months. No, actually it was about 220 leads. They were averaging close to 80 or to 100 leads a month. I think it was 220 or 230 leads, and it was about two and a half months of calling.
I don't know why they didn't land a deal. I looked at their leads that were coming in. Some of them seemed plenty motivated. They were a relatively experienced flipper, also a realtor, I couldn't say. I had coaching calls with them where I tried to figure out what they might be doing differently. They ended up getting out of land flipping altogether, or at least stopping their business for a while, not sure.
We have had nobody else that hasn't landed a lead. We have people that have landed, obviously, like much fewer than our average conversion rate. That's why our average is there. But the biggest probably, I'd say the biggest variable that you can control is—aside from your general strategy, which we talked about earlier, which is going to raise or lower what type of leads you're ultimately closing—is how quickly you're calling them back.
So this is not the guy that didn't land any leads, but we had another client. I see a lead come in, and I see in the notes that he talks about how he wants to move out of state. He wants to get it sold quickly because he wants to go live with his kids. He's 80 years old, and he's got like five other parcels he wants to sell as fast as he can. This is all in the notes. And so I hit him up on Slack. Every one of our clients, we set up an individual Slack channel for them where we communicate with them. We give them their daily KPIs, and they can ask questions and that sort of thing.
So I hit him up on Slack. I'm like, “Hey, great lead. Let me know how that goes. That sounds like a killer lead.” Yeah, I'll let you know. About a week goes by, I hit him up. “Hey, how'd that lead go?”
“Oh, I haven't gotten back to him yet. I'm going to do it soon.”
I'm like, “All right, man, get on that. That seemed like a great lead.”
About another three, four days goes by. Hit him up like, “Hey, how'd that conversation go? Did you get all those properties locked up?”
“Oh, man, I called him this morning and he went under contract with somebody last night for all of them.”
“You're killin’ me, Smalls.”
Seth: Yeah, that's a good lesson though.
Joe: it's warm.
Seth: These people are probably getting hit by other land investors giving them offers, and it's front of mind, like, they're thinking of selling.
Maybe the question is, what should the time limit be? Like, the second you get that lead, you got to call them within 24 hours? 48 hours? I know the answer is as soon as possible, but…
Joe: I try to do 48.
Seth: 48? Okay.
Yeah, I try to do 48. We have a couple of clients that we do live transfers with, and if we can't transfer to them, those lights are a little bit bigger. They have pretty built out robust systems, but we're handing off the lead. We go through some questions and they're like, hey, do you have time to talk to a manager? And then we're handing the lead straight connecting the call. I mean, that's as warm as you get.
But we haven't seen any data that actually indicates that that's necessarily any better at conversion rates than calling within 24 to 48 hours. Once you go past 48 hours, I think people start to kind of back to that, like, building, presenting a professional and serious face of the company that you represent. If you go past 48 hours, how serious are you? Like, 72. If you're calling back a week later, how serious are you about this transaction? Do you really want to buy it? It may be the implication to some sellers there.
So when a lead is warm, you definitely want to follow up as quickly as you can. But, yeah, 24 to 48 is what I do.
Joe: I'm not the expert that you are, Joe, but I would almost think 24 hours would be exponentially better. I think back to different real estate people I've called over the years, and psychologically, there is a difference when somebody calls me back that day or the next day. But once you start waiting, like days or weeks even, it's like, okay, I already written you off. I know I can't rely on you because you're not getting back to me.
So I guess ASAP is the answer.
Joe: Yeah, ASAP is definitely best. The only kind of caveat is a lot of times, our callers, we usually finish the conversation with, “Our manager is going to call you back. Is there a good time or what time of day works best for you?” And so a lot of times the seller is giving us a convenient time, which may not be like this afternoon. But all things considered, yes, the sooner the better.
Seth: And another thing that comes to mind here is the time commitment of calling people back. I mean, if I'm getting 100 warm leads a month, that's got to take a lot of time to actually call those people. I mean, never mind the discomfort of it for the introverts out there, but just like the time of following up.
I know it doesn't all happen in one shot like this, but if I get 100 leads dropped into my lap, how much time should I set aside to make sure I'm following up with those people? Is it like 15 minutes per lead or 20 minutes or five minutes or what would you say?
Joe: Yeah, I would say a little bit of that is what are you front loading that second conversation with? We kind of talked about that earlier. How much due diligence of online sources are you doing on that lead before you call them back? And how good are you with your systems? How quickly can you comp a property?
So that's kind of a whole aspect which I'm not going to speak about because that ranges widely. I take about three minutes to comp a property, and I know people that will take an hour to comp a property. At least I take three minutes to get a number that I'm comfortable going under contract on.
But I would say if that second call is about eight to ten minutes, and then a third call is typically shorter because you make the offer, you do a little chitchat, you make the offer and then pretty quickly, you know whether or not you're close and maybe there's a follow-up call or two to negotiate the last few thousand or not. So that one can typically be a little bit shorter. So I would say 15 minutes is probably a pretty good average.
So how do you manage that? First of all, 100 leads, that'd be a pretty successful campaign. That would be abnormal. But even 60 leads, that's still a lot of time. So the things you do are you either tighten the funnel on our end with our scripting, so you're only getting sent higher quality leads (which you just understand that there are leads that you don't get sent that you could have probably turned into deals, but you're just recognizing that you don't want to spend the extra time sifting through some of the other ones), or honestly, you hire a VA to do a good chunk of it. Because if your VA is doing a lot of that due diligence on the front side, it's very manageable to carve out a couple hours in the day or in the evening when a lot of people ask to be called back in the evening, you carve out a couple of hours and you just knock the phone calls out one after the other.
But if you work in a full time W-2 job, and you're also trying to do all the GIS, Land ID, deed registry poll, due diligence ahead of time, now you're probably running out of time to additionally do the phone calls. And so that's where a VA can really help you do those kind of monotonous tasks.
Seth: How knowledgeable are your cold callers about their clients? Like, if I hire you and somebody's calling on my behalf and the property owner's like, “Hey, I got you on the phone right now. Let's get an offer. How much can you offer me?” Are they authorized to throw any numbers out there? Or if not, how much information can they share about me before I get involved and start calling them?
Joe: Some of that's dependent on the client. So at a base level, they have standard responses. We get some information obviously during our onboarding about the client, where are they based? And you're always a local company, right? That sort of thing. And that buys. And so they understand the standard land flippers company looks like, and they can answer questions that just kind of come up, like, “Who are you? Why are you calling me about my piece of land I haven't thought about in ten years in another state?” they could answer those questions.
In terms of pricing, they will, unless it's a campaign where a client has provided us a pre-priced list and said, hey, either in the script, “I want you to bring this price up. You're authorized to bring this price up during the call.” Then on a question about pricing, they're just going to demur. They're going to say, “We want to give you the most accurate offer possible because we want to make sure we're maximizing the return for you. So we need to get this conversation and then make sure that we accurately comp it before we offer you a price.” And they'll just demur essentially to the manager, which is the client.
Seth: I'm assuming you don't record these calls, right? It's not like I get to listen to exactly what we said. There's just a few basic pieces of information that are passed along to me so I can kind of have some context for who I'm talking to.
Joe: So calls are recorded sometimes. Every state has different rules about recording conversations, so if we're allowed to record them, they are recorded. There's not an easy way to get recorded calls to the client that doesn't take a lot of man hours. So providing with the lead a recording of the call to every lead is not something we do.
That being said, we use the recorded calls most importantly for quality assurance. So we have a whole quality assurance team, which is listening to calls, a percentage of calls from every caller on a weekly basis, providing grades to that caller feedback, and then follow-on training. They're important for the QA aspect.
And then if it was a place where we could have recorded. We had the recording. If something in the caller's notes doesn't make sense or know, the client calls them back. And just what the caller or the seller is saying now is not jiving with what the caller said. They said on the initial call, we can pull that call on a case-by-case basis and provide that recording to the client so they can kind of parse through what the issue may be. I mean, that doesn't happen very frequently, but that is something we've provided for clients before.
Seth: When I jump in and do call number two, does it matter which phone number or area code I use? I guess along with that, is there some trick to getting people to actually answer the phone? Because I know whenever I get calls from numbers I don't recognize, I let it go to voicemail because I don't know you. And I guess if people do that to me, do I leave them a voicemail? I don't know, just any thoughts on how you best manage that?
Joe: Yeah, so when we're calling, we're calling either with an exact match or more likely a near match area code. So an area code from a nearby county. Best practice, I feel like this is regardless of lead gen source, is to call people back with a code from the state that you're operating in.
The way we kind of get around people ignoring that call—and they will ignore it sometimes—is kind of setting the expectations with the seller when our caller gets off the phone. So, “Hey, you can expect a call within 24 to 48 hours from our local manager who will follow up with you on this.” So they know to expect it. So if they see an unknown number, they might call back again. Why that kind of follow-up as quickly as you can kind of makes sense.
But then the other aspect is just leave a voicemail. I have to do that relatively frequently. It helps when the seller said, hey, I want to be called back at this time on this date, or whatever it may be, because then they're even more so expecting it. But sometimes you're not going to hold them because they're normal people and they're doing normal things. They don't have their phone on them. So just leave a voicemail. You'll get contacted back most of the time. Hey, talk to so and so. We can provide you with the name for your caller if you're a client with us so that you can reference it. You talk to so and So, my assistant. Just call them back with a few more questions about your property to make you an offer on that piece of vacant land we discussed.
Seth: And then if a person just doesn't answer, like ever, how many times should I be calling them back? Is it three and you're done, or do you just do it forever?
Joe: It happens. So I'll typically call them. I'll alternate calls and text if it is a cell phone and on a landline, usually every other day or sometimes every day for about a week to ten days. And then I'll usually just send a final text if it is a cell phone. Or I'll leave a voicemail which goes something like, “Hey, it seems like you're no longer interested in selling your property. I'll stop bothering you.” That will sometimes motivate people into no, I am interested, and they'll get back to you.
But if not, then I just transition them into a drip campaign and I'll follow up with them a couple of months later.
Seth: When you say drip campaign, you mean drip for phone calls, not like some other type of texting or mail or something like that?
Joe: Texting as well. But yeah, typically a phone call. There's a whole list of all right, this week we're following up on these phone calls from six weeks ago. Quickly make a dial, they pick up. Great. Hey, we had discussed buying your property a couple of months back. We lost touch. Or is that something you're still interested in? If they don't answer, then call them back the next month at about the six month mark. I typically just drop them off.
Seth: Now with all these I mean, even if you're just doing cold calling and nothing else, but especially if you're doing cold calling plus texting, plus direct mail, plus email, plus ringless voicemail, all these other things you can do, it seems like the need for a good CRM system of some kind goes up and up and up, because how do you remember what the last conversation was and what the first one was and how that went and when you've called them back and all this stuff? Do you recommend any specific type of system or do you use anything specific that's helpful for you?
Joe: So I use Pebble. I like Pebble. Pebble is a good CRM. Pebble I got because of how optimized it was for mailers back when I mailed, but I don't mail anymore. But it still works well, it has a public form like any good CRM should have, so that my caller on my land caller campaign just fills out the form and it drops it straight into Pebble. Pull it straight into a deal. That's pretty standard for any good CRM.
Airtable? I don't know. Airtable? Airtable is a pretty popular one with like we have a number of clients that have Airtable, but you're absolutely right. I mean, none of our clients that are doing multi-pronged lead gen are doing it without a CRM and doing it without VAs. I don't know how honestly it'd be possible to try to send mail, text, and get cold call leads using Google Sheets and doing it all by yourself.
Theoretically, I guess it is. But they all have VAs, and they all have pretty robust CRMs. But for somebody just starting out or wanting to bootstrap a little bit. We have plenty of clients that we are their only lead gen source, but they're just getting their leads in a Google Sheet, not spending the time working out how to maximize a CRM's efficiency because it works well enough for them.
Seth: We've actually got video tutorials explaining how to use both Pebble and Airtable. So if anybody's out there is like, what? What is this? How does it work? Check out the show notes for this episode. Again, I have got a ton of stuff that's going to be in there, lots of links to these tutorials and different things. So again, retipster.com/168.
So as we wrap this up, I keep coming back to this whole shy introversion thing. People who just really do not like talking to strangers on the phone. And I have an interesting history with this, but for somebody like me, cold calling, I mean, I guess doing that first call especially sounds awful. Luckily, we don't have to do that because of you.
But even the second phone call, whether it's the time commitment or just the discomfort with it, is there any trick to getting past the discomfort? Anything that you go through, it doesn't sound like you had this discomfort. Correct me if I'm wrong, and maybe the question intertwined with this is like, what kind of person should or shouldn't consider using cold calling in the first place? Is there a type of customer? It's like, yeah, you don't even go here, do something else.
Joe: I mean, I think there's definitely an aspect of know thyself and what your kind of strengths and weaknesses are. I would argue a little bit that just the land flipping niche, like making this a full-time business or even a lucrative side hustle very much lends itself to people that are good conversators. Like, even if you're doing direct mail and you're sending blind offers and you're only getting mail back from people that agreed to your offer, like I said, most of the time you're still talking with them on the phone, so you still have to be able to converse professionally.
Part of what's helpful for some people is just a little bit of, it's almost like hype man, or just envisioning how you'd want to appear to the other person before you get on the phone with them. Like when I was active duty Marine Corps and doing this as a side hustle and calling from my Google Voice know, after the kids were in bed. Or like, I'm not like Joe Roberts who's just got started in land flipping, and I don't actually really know what I'm doing yet. I'm the owner of New Life Lands. I'm a professional land investor. We buy and sell lots of land in this space.
Just tell yourself that right before you get on the phone and then act like it. It can be an act. There's actually a very interesting video, go try to find with so Deion Sanders, right. He's all the rage right now for the CU Buffs as their coach. It's fascinating. He did an interview, I think pretty recently of talking about how he's a very introverted or was a very, very introverted, shy person. But he had this goal of being a superstar because he wanted to provide, he's coming from a single mom whom he wanted to provide for. He wanted to give her the things that she had never been able to give him.
And so in college he realized, like, I need to build a persona and the persona is not me, but I can build this persona and then I can just go act out this persona and I'm just acting. It's not me. So I could still be Introverted Deion. But his persona was Prime and really fascinating interview that anybody that kind of struggles with this, I would say go look it up because I thought it's exactly that, build a persona. You're a professional land investor. You own a successful company. You're calling them back because you know the value of their land and you want their land and that will come through in the conversation.
Seth: Actually reminds me of two different actors, James Earl Jones and Samuel L. Jackson. They both struggled with stuttering as children. Like it was like a debilitating stutter. Like it was very, very difficult. But both of them got into acting because it's actually a fairly common thing. I don't know what it is about acting, but when you're reading lines and being somebody else, you don't stutter.
It's also a similar thing. Some singers, I can think of at least a couple singers off top of my head where they stuttered horribly when they would speak. But as soon as they're going to a beat and they're singing, they don't stutter at all. It totally clears up. And it's almost like if you can visualize who you want to be and what you want to be, you can make it happen.
I think I remember hearing I think it was Jack Nicholas, the golfer, where every time he would step up to the ball and take a swing, he would clearly visualize exactly how he wanted to hit it and it would go perfect, like perfect form. It would go exactly where I wanted it to go. And that was like a huge tool that he would use to hit it right every time.
It's probably a similar thing where your behavior and your actions and all this stuff kind of follow your thoughts, so you have to train your thoughts and take every thought captive.
Joe: I learned that flying helicopters in the Marine Corps. Like before I would go on a flight, especially a particularly tough, complicated mission, I would sit down and typically try to do it in a quiet space in a ready room. And just visualize the flight, like visualize the control inputs I would need to make for a particularly tough maneuver or when something was going to happen in the objective area, a particularly complicated portion of the flight. Just visualize it, walk through it. It's not the first time you're seeing it when you're there flying and things are shooting and you're shooting and everything's going on.
So you could apply those same principles to golf, to getting on the phone, to talk to a lead that's in your inbox.
Seth: Did you ever fly a helicopter upside down or anything crazy like that?
Seth: Is that even possible?
Joe: With some models it is. There's a rumor that it's possible with the Cobra, which is the model I flew. There's a rumor that it's possible with it, but I don't know anybody that's tested it out.
Seth: We haven't done this in a while, but I want to do this because I think we got a little bit of time, and I'm interested to hear these answers. So at the end of some podcast episodes, when we have time, I like to ask three final questions to understand more about our guests and understand how they think and how they work.
So, Joe, first question is, what is your biggest fear?
Joe: My biggest fear is that somebody else controls my ability to take care of my family. That was my entire motivation to get into real estate was some things that happened while I was in the Marine Corps and I realized that this could just all go away at a moment's notice. Whether that's my life or that's my job, but somebody else is controlling whether or not my family is going to be taken care of for the rest of their lives.
So that's my driving motivation, really, with anything I do, is that I'm not dependent on anybody else to provide for my family.
Seth: Yeah, it's interesting. I heard this on some podcast probably like, seven or eight years ago, but a lot of people have this idea that I don't want to have a boss. I want to work for myself. But the reality is, when you work for yourself, you actually have hundreds of bosses. It's just that it's, like, spread out and diversified. And if one of them disappears and fires you, it's okay because you have 99 other ones.
Joe: Yeah, exactly.
Seth: But I hear you, for sure. So what are you most proud of?
Joe: I mean, I'm most proud of my family, my kids, and my wife. And there was some tough years. I was deployed three of my last four years in the Marine Corps. By the time I got out of Marine Corps, I'd been gone for, almost all of my kids, more than half of all their lives. So just how they came through that experience and then my wife standing behind me as I left the safety of a guaranteed pension, a good career, essentially just kind of left it all aside so that I could pursue my real estate companies full time. And then when I have harebrained ideas, like, let's launch another company, call it Landcaller, and see what goes from there, she still stands by me. So I'm probably most proud of the woman my wife is and my kids for sticking with me.
Seth: That's got to be hard, man. Honestly, I can't even imagine that. I don't think I even let myself think about it like being away from your family for that long. I had a cousin who was deployed using the Navy Jag, and he was on a Navy ship for a year and a half on the Pacific, and he said it kind of felt like he was just in prison for that entire time because maybe it's different when you're on a Navy ship. I don't know. But that's tough. So my hat’s off to you.
And I bet being a Marine is that kind of wrapped up in your identity, do you think? Is it sort of part of who you are? Do you kind of look at a lot of life through that lens or not so much?
Joe: I actually like to say that it is not part of my identity and is why I was able to just walk away from it. It was a job that I took seriously, that I tried my best at every day. But ultimately, the people that treat something like the Marine Corps as being one and the same with their identity, they're let down, because when they get out of the Marine Corps, the Marine Corps doesn't care about them anymore. And many of them had left behind broken families. They may not have any faith to ground them to speak of.
And so when that's your identity, what are you left with when that's no longer there? So did the Marine Corps mold and shape me and teach me discipline and critical thinking? All sorts of things? Absolutely. I probably can't even count the ways that my experiences in the Marine Corps and with the people I served with have impacted my life, but it's not part of my identity.
My identity is first and foremost a child of God, a sinner saved by Christ, and then a husband, a father, a brother, a son. Those things are my identity.
Seth: Yeah. That's awesome, man. That's great to hear.
So, last question. Suppose you just got $100 million wired to your bank account, and you're not allowed to stay on your current career path. So no more land, no more cold calling, none of that stuff. You got to hit the reset button and do something else, but you can do anything else you want for the rest of your life. What are you going to do?
Joe: So no real estate at all or just no land?
Seth: Let's go extreme. Let's say no real estate.
Joe: All right, so I would probably start a and there's a little bit of real estate involved in this, but it's not the main part. So I think you can forgive me, but I would like to start like a company which finds big pieces of real estate in great areas. But what it does is it develops them out to train first responders, military, and that sort of thing in unique ways that they may not be able to otherwise.
So, for instance, in the Marine Corps bases it's very difficult to get ranges, get training areas. There's so many units and everybody's fighting for the same little piece of ground on the base. It's the same similar thing with EMS, police forces, and that sort of thing to get a big cool piece of real estatem maybe has the lake on it, it's got a mountain, it's know, backs up the national forest and then you can set up all sorts of good training for various first responders in the military.
I think that'd be something that would kind of pull from different aspects of my life. I've got a brother who's a SWAT officer who would probably be all about coming in and doing training and that sort of thing. And then I would also offer courses in survival, like wilderness survival. That's a big passion of mine. I did a lot of wilderness survival courses in the Marine Corps, all over the world, north of the Arctic Circle, in the desert. So I really enjoy that. And it would be fun to just have a wilderness survival kind of compound or big piece of land that people could come to and learn wilderness survival skills.
Seth: You ever seen that show Alone?
Joe: I love it. That's a great show. It's probably the best survival show out there.
Seth: How long do you think you would last in that situation?
Joe: I think I would last pretty long.
Seth: Of course.
Joe: Definitely when I was deploying all the time. And you have to have a mindset when you're leaving your family, especially when you're going into a combat zone where you have to be able to flip a switch from missing them, right? Because if you're missing them and you're not focused on your job, especially in your place where people are trying to kill you, then you probably don't come back alive.
So I'm sure you've watched Alone. You see the mental aspect is a big part for most of them. And they don't know that switch. They don't have that switch. So I think I would last quite a long time.
Seth: It is fascinating. You're absolutely right. I mean, so much of it is in your head. I mean, sometimes people have to leave the show because they're sick or physically they're totally worn down. But I feel like more often than not, they just miss their family or they discover themselves and realize this isn't actually what I want, and all this stuff. It's a fascinating show, just psychologically seeing what it's like to go through that.
And it's also interesting to me, I don't think they ever point this out on the show, but I keep thinking, like, what if it wasn't a single person on their own, but what if, like, two people could survive together? Because then you can start specializing. And it kind of goes back to this idea that two are better than one and three are even better. It's this idea that as soon as people can support each other, keep each other warm, one person can be like, okay, I'm going to look for food, you build the shelter. But when it's one person, they have to do it all on their own. It's like it's really, really hard and it's very difficult to survive in that scenario.
Seth: Joe, thank you again for doing another conversation with me. I say another because we already did another one for the Land Elite Masterclass, but both of them were fascinating. I learned a ton. I hope people listen to this, learned a lot as well. You're a great guy. It's great to know you.
And again, if people want to find out more about Joe, where do they go? Landcaller.com, is that the website?
Joe: Yeah, Landcaller.com that will have just kind of information about the company. I'm not very active on most social media. I don't have most of it, but I am pretty active on X, formerly known as Twitter. So if you want to give me a follow on there, I post not just about land and cold calling. You'll also get my thoughts on military matters and geopolitics sometimes, but I do post a good fair amount on land investing and cold calling for land investors.
So @joethelandguy is my X handle.
Seth: And I will include that in the show notes as well. Well, thanks again, Joe. Thanks everybody for watching. Again, I've said this several times, but it's because there's out there. Go to retipster.com/168.
I can't think of a recent show in recent memory where we had this much stuff in the show notes, so definitely check that out. I think you'll find it interesting, and I'll talk to you again in the next episode.
Joe: Thanks, Seth.
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