Those of you who have been in the business of selling for a while realize that the job description and requirements have changed dramatically.

Back in the day, if you could conduct a decent presentation and ask some closing questions you could make a comfortable income. Way, way back in the day, you didn’t even need that much, you just needed to be able to be pleasant and write a contract.

The business of selling homes nowadays has shifted dramatically. Just as the responsibilities have shifted for builders and brokers, sales people have to do a lot more with a lot less.

It used to be, if you were a new home sales agent, you would show up on site, open the doors, turn on all the lights and wait for the traffic to walk through the door. Thanks to the endless marketing dollars flowing out of the builders’ pockets it was a safe bet you’d sell a few houses each month. But now, things have changed. The marketing budgets are dwindling and sales agents have to be more resourceful if they are going to keep their numbers up and, in some cases, keep their jobs.

One of the key differentiators for a sales executive and the easiest way to make yourself indispensable is if you have a plan for your own lead generation. What I mean by lead generation is this: the ability to self-generate your own prospects without relying on an outside marketing plan or dollars.

This is not a new concept, but one that I believe has become vital to the success of any sales person.

What I want to do is give you three simple steps to create your own lead generation plan.

Step One: Become the recognized expert

What could you be the expert on? You might be the one who knows new construction inside and out. You might be the “building green” expert. Or maybe just the expert on your community and area. As you establish yourself as the expert you will see heightened awareness. In order to do this, you need to publish great articles on your own blog, be active and connected on social networking sites, create a monthly email newsletter for all of your new connections and take your networking offline as well. Build your reputation as the one to call for __________ (fill in the blank). With this new awareness will come referrals and phone calls.

Step Two: Generate referrals by being remarkable

Often overlooked but critical to success, you must focus on the referrals from past customers. Now referrals are a tricky one. Everybody talks about referrals but so many sales executives drop the ball between the time when they sell a home and the time when they need to ask for a referral. It’s pretty awkward to ask for a referral when there’s been no memorable communication after the close.

So how can you be remarkable enough to earn a referral? Communication is key. Memorable communication leads to great customer service, which in turn, leads to the right to ask for a referral. Are you responsive? Did you shoot videos of the home for the customer? Did you send pictures to your prospects? Did you call enough?

The great thing about technology – it allows us to be creative and think outside the box to appeal to our prospects and create a strong first, second and third impression.

Many times we just forget to communicate with our past customers because we are focused on current prospects. Utilize your systems to stay in touch with your past customers and watch your referrals go through the roof. My favorite way to ask for the referral, “Do you have any friends who want to live next to you?”

Step three: Have a follow-up plan for self generated leads

Congratulations, you created a new lead on your own. So now what? You go to the networking event and you come back with a handful of real estate agents’ cards. People are referring their friends to you. All these new found opportunities but no specific process to stay in touch. Some will buy, some won’t – no matter what, you have to stay in touch.

Creating agent relationships doesn’t happen overnight. If you don’t put a process in place to communicate over the next month after that relationship – the lead that you generated is worthless. A prospects buying cycle may be long, if you don’t have a specific plan for short and long term follow up – you miss a sale.

If you walk in the door to any interview and show them a specific plan for lead generation you will place yourself in the top 1% of sales executives out there. If you execute on that plan you will have a successful career!

Execution of a plan is always the hard part. Spending time on this every day is what it takes to be successful. Be diligent, be memorable and be active and you’ll see your awareness increase along with your sales.

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