Most new real estate investors get VERY excited when their marketing efforts start working.
When most proactive investors figure this out, they spring into action and start blasting out their marketing message in a whirlwind of excitement (that's what I did, anyway). It's great to take action like this, but sometimes the cart gets ahead of the horse.
When putting together a direct mail campaign, it's important to know how to handle responses before they start coming in. If you aren't prepared to have productive conversations with each prospect, the process will feel a little out-of-control.
Making a Checklist
The solution to this problem is quite simple. Use a conversation checklist.
With basic instructions on what to say when a seller calls, you don't need to panic or lose track of what questions to ask because everything will be listed out for you.
Keep in mind, this is not a “script” per se. It just shows us what questions need to be answered.
These phone calls get much easier when you know how to start the conversation, where it needs to go, and how to wrap it up.
After my first couple of campaigns, I recognized how much I needed this kind of “checklist” to get me through each phone call.
It was essentially a list of all the information I needed to close each deal.
Even if the seller couldn't answer every question for me, it clarified which boxes needed to be checked to move towards closing. If the seller didn't know the answer to a particular question, I could call another person to get the needed information.
This checklist helped me a lot. Even after the thousands of calls I've had over the years, I still use it to this day!
If you're struggling with what to say when talking to prospects, I would strongly suggest that you prepare a similar set of targeted questions (nothing too crazy—just the basic stuff you need to know) and use them to guide you through every conversation.
Knowing What You Need to Know
So what kinds of questions should be on your phone call checklist?
That depends on what kind of property you're targeting.
For example, if you're talking to someone about an 80-acre vacant lot in a rural desert area, you'll be asking very different questions than if you're talking about a small, single-family home in a metropolitan area.
To ask the right questions, you need to know what kind of property you're dealing with.
Historically, most of the properties I've bought have been vacant land, so when a property owner calls me to discuss their property, I have a specific checklist that helps me gather the information I need.
Likewise, when talking to a homeowner who wants to sell their house, I have a different checklist I use when gathering information about those types of properties.
The same thing goes for farmland, self-storage facilities, and multi-family properties. I created an individual ‘phone call checklist' for each property type! As soon as I know what type of property I'm dealing with, I pull out the appropriate checklist and run through the questions with the seller.
Every property type needs a checklist because every type has unique attributes and features that must be accounted for.
Want the Exact Checklists I Use?
If you're not sure what should be on your checklist, just take a few minutes and think about it:
- What information do you need to know to make an educated offer?
- What things will you need to research to close the transaction?
- What would cause you to say “YES, I want to buy!” or “HECK NO!” and run the other way? Whatever it is, ask those questions!
That being said—I do understand the dilemma for new investors.
When starting from scratch, the relevant questions aren't always obvious. There can be hidden issues that don't rear their ugly faces until after they've become a problem. So, if you're looking for a quick solution on how to handle this—you can download my checklist right here.
Keep in mind: if you want to automate your “information-gathering” process fully, check out my detailed blog post on How to Create a Buying Website. You might be surprised—it's easier than you'd think!
Targeted Questions Save Time
Now—I'm not saying my checklists are perfect (even though they've done pretty well for me). But when the sellers start calling, you'd better be armed with the right questions.
Think about it, if you don't thoroughly understand what you need to know, why are you asking people to respond to you??
Even if you choose to send out blind offers, you'll still get a lot of phone calls back. And it's important to use these opportunities to get as many answers from the property owner as possible.
Direct mail campaigns aren't free, so don't start spending money until you know how to handle these conversations.
I created these checklists because my brain isn't big enough to remember everything in the heat of the moment. These checklists have become an incredibly important aspect of my initial contact with each person and act as a key piece of my due diligence.
It doesn't necessarily give me ALL the answers, but it does help me get started on the right foot with each caller.
The Right Information Has Many Uses
A few years into my investing career, I started to get tired of phone calls. Even though the phone had proven to be a great way to connect with people, build rapport, and establish trust, I just didn't have the time and energy for it.
So what did I do? I created a website—one designed to replace me.
Instead of asking my prospects to call me (and chew up 30+ minutes of my time with each call), I started telling them to visit my website. There, they could submit all the same information I would have asked for over the phone.
That's right! Instead of me verbally asking the questions and jotting down their answers in real-time, the website could gather all the same information without my constant involvement. Instead of me being the bottleneck in my business, the website could do this aspect of my job 24/7. It asked the questions I needed to know (via a property submission form) and answered the questions guests had for me (via my FAQ page). They simply filled out a short questionnaire (which includes many of the same questions from my property checklist). Once they hit “submit,” the information went directly to my inbox.
With this website, I could go through each submission at my leisure—giving it a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” in a matter of seconds (not hours). It is WAY more efficient.
A Time and Place for Everything
Now don’t get me wrong. There are some situations where the phone is a FAR better communication tool than a website.
In this initial “information-gathering stage,” I found that it’s less about how the questions are asked and more about getting them answered quickly. Having a website means I don't have to waste time on deals that will never come to fruition.