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by Matthew Ferrara

A recurring theme I’m hearing lately from some clients is that they are in need of a “system” that they can use to “automatically” prospect their new and past clients. You know, a database or something with some sort of “drip marketing” campaign tools. Isn’t there something like that, where I can just put my clients into it and ‘forget it’ while it keeps sending stuff to them.

Well, yes, there are things like that. Databases. Campaign managers. Drip email tools. Autoresponders. Even integrated versions of all of the above.

Problem is: none of them really lead to sales.

Now, don’t get me wrong: programs like Top Producer or ACT or even Outlook are great ways to organize data (and calendars and to do lists and the such). They even make it possible to create the ever-exhalted LABELS that are the staple of real estate relations worldwide. And sure, some of them even do a darned good job sending out emails, especially those (yawn) template kinds of mailings that are oh-so-exciting…

But that’s marketing technology. Not sales technology. And the biggest danger in real estate nowadays is the confusion between kinds of technology. One makes it easy to send stuff to people. The other makes it easy to build relationships with people.

The confusion comes when real estate brokers and agents think that sending stuff equals building relationships.

It does not. Sending stuff equals…… sending stuff.

Evidence? If all it took to “make real estate deals” was to send more postcards, more emails, more mailings, more stuff – then hell, real estate brokers would be long gone by now. There are companies out there that would mop the floor with the average broker’s budget for sending stuff. Catalog companies. Banks. Walmart. They send stuff ALL DAY – on TV, direct mail, newspaper, you name it. They use STUFF for MARKETING.

And they can; because to sell their goods, no “relationship” needs to really be created between the company and the consumer – other than a money-back guarantee (and who’s ever heard of that in real estate?!)

But real estate isn’t sold on “marketing”. It’s conducted on the basis of trust. On the basis of solid relationships. And the only way to build relationships is by applying sales techniques. And sales technologies.

Oh, and what’s the absolute best sales technology in the world?

Simple. The recurring appointment reminder in Outlook. Simply create a new contact record; create a new appointment. Click RECURRENCE. Sent a regular date to contact the prospective customer. And then do it. Do sales. Do your job. Call them. Write to them. Email them. IM them. DO SALES.

If you want to also put the consumer on an automatic drip campaign, that’s fine. Sure, send them stuff. New listing announcements. Open house schedules. Interesting factoids about Spring. How to bake a cake. Great. Send them stuff. And use technology to do it, because it’s the best way to save time, money and effort. Use technology to create email campaigns and generate labels.

Just don’t be surprised when all that marketing technology doesn’t really lead to more sales. Why? Because nobody ever trusted an email newsletter enough to ask it – or the person behind it – to become their trusted real estate professional just because they had been receiving so much of your stuff.

Two needs. Marketing AND Sales. Not the same. Complementary, yes. But different technologies. And most importantly: BOTH needed.

Word to the wise: If you think your email campaign is a perfect substitute for having to reach out and build relationships with people, you’re already out of the sales business. You just haven’t run out of money yet.