By Debbie Hanlon

Ah, the dreaded cold call. Dialling a phone number to speak to someone you’ve never spoken to before doesn’t rank very high on most salespeople’s list of favourite things to do. I dare say it doesn’t rank high on anyone’s list, but it’s something you really must master if you want to convert those FSBOs into listings.

The good news is, it isn’t nearly as difficult, or uncomfortable, or intimidating as you might think it is because, like most other things in life, your chances of success increase in direct proportion to how prepared you are.



Let’s look at some of the tips and techniques I use for calling a for sale by owner prospect. I talk with many FSBOs – almost everyone who is listed in my marketplace will get a call from me and I’m continually amazed by how many of the FSBOs tell me I’m the only salesperson who called them. They say they get many emails but no one picks up the phone to call. Isn’t that odd? We are in the real estate business but most of us don’t want to actually talk to the client.

Consistency.

All this means is that you pick a day and time to make your calls, let’s say Thursday afternoon, 2 to 4 pm. One day a week is sufficient, but you must commit yourself to sit down for that time and make those calls. Once you get into the habit of doing this, Thursday afternoon will turn into FSBO time in no time. Consistency is key for improving your pitch and improving your success rate. This time must be 100 per cent dedicated to the task of contacting FSBOs and nothing else.

Confidence.

This is without doubt the most important thing to work on. No one will hand over the sale of their home to anyone who does not sound like they’re ready, willing and able to sell it. How do you convey confidence? Be prepared, simple as that. Start by looking on MLS and checking out the neighbourhood where the FSBO lives. Find out if their house was ever listed and for how much. Find out what else has been selling in the area. Do a quick CMA on their home before you phone. That way you’re coming at them showing you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in their property.

Remember they’ll be getting tons of emails from other salespeople, but very few phone calls and even fewer calls from someone who sounds knowledgeable and prepared. You’ll be looking good before they ever see you.

Relationship.

You’re starting a relationship with the FSBO, so your first call is not the end, it’s the beginning, and it’s just the first step in what will hopefully become a mutually beneficial relationship. How do you start a relationship? Normally you talk about things you have in common. After you’ve introduced yourself as a salesperson with your firm, ask them how things are going. Have they had any showings?  Have they heard from other salespeople?

Make it about them; give them things to talk back with. That can be as simple as a shared event, like the weather, (“You lived through the storm I see?”), (“What did you think of that thunder last night?). Small talk. The same way you’d talk to someone you met anywhere else.

In this wonderful social media world we live in, it’s ever so easy to get to know people long before you meet them. You can stalk them on Facebook and find out all kinds of neat things, but not to the point where they get a restraining order against you. That would be just plain weird!

Walk through.

This is the aim of that first call. You ask if you can walk through their home. You want to do that because you like to keep a list of homes that are on the market in your area. That makes you sound professional and cutting edge. Most people will be happy to let you in. It’s not costing them anything and they’re getting a free consultation with a pro.

Once you set up a time for the walk through, show up prepared and take the next step in your relationship. While you are starting to build that ever so critical relationship, let’s not forget the main goal here is to get the listing, so always be ready to sign it up right then and there. Yes, it can happen. It happened to me just last week. I went in to do a walk through and left 45 minutes later with another lovely new listing!

No-No’s.

Never tell them you have a buyer just to get their business. This ultimately makes you look bad and desperate if you don’t have one. If they tell you they have a family member or good friend in the industry, let them go. Concentrate on those without any ties.

This week I want you to take pictures of all the FSBO signs you see in your travels. Set yourself up on any classified sites that offer FSBOs so you can get notified of all the new FSBOs. Next week, set up a day and time to call those numbers, commit to that time, schedule it in and stick to it. Research the neighbourhood so you have a clear idea of what the home is worth, do your quick CMA, call them. Ask them how things are going. Ask them about showings and other salespeople. Ask them if you can walk through their home. If you don’t take those steps, you won’t end up smiling on the bank steps.

What we’ll look at next is how you can continue to build and foster the relationships your phone calls began. To have success with FSBOs you need a wicked stay-in-touch program. Mine works really well, and in my next article I will share my program with you. Developing relationships is fun and actually very easy; it leads to a high conversion rate and referrals.

Do you want the business or not? It’s your call.