July 1st - 2011

Working the farm: Prospecting and farming skills are vital for new salespeople

You’ve finished your real estate courses and you’re eager to get started, but how can you build a client base to grow your business?

You’ve finished your real estate courses and you’re eager to get started, but how can you build a client base to grow your business?

Various techniques are covered in registration education courses, but putting them into practice takes work -- as well as planning, patience and a willingness to learn.

Watching experienced real estate professionals provides valuable education for new registrants, according to Laura Leyser, a Stratford REALTOR® and former president of OREA. Seeing the pros in action in her office made a big difference in her early career, she recalls.

“I remember feeling very intimidated on my first day,” Leyser says. “Although I learned a lot by watching the top salesperson in our office, I wish I could’ve had an actual mentor.”

A mentoring kit that provides guidance to new salespeople is now available from the OREA Real Estate College, and it helps ease the transition from classroom to brokerage office. The Training for Success Mentoring Kit for New Salespeople includes a series of booklets and DVDs featuring interviews with salespeople and details on the skills needed for a successful real estate career. Topics include business planning, time management and prospecting techniques.

Prospecting is a big challenge for many new REALTORS® and the kit tackles this subject in detail. Several different types of prospecting are discussed, including cold calling, working open houses and farming.

“Farming” in real estate involves activities similar to those used in agriculture. You must plant “seeds” and work on developing your farm by building relationships, cultivating your reputation and enhancing opportunities to meet buyers and sellers. Farming is a powerful prospecting technique because it gives focus to your marketing strategy and positions you as a specialist in the minds of prospective buyers and sellers in your “farm” area.

Leyser recalls that when she first started out she didn’t understand the term “farming” in relation to real estate. “I was in a meeting and the broker asked all of us who had a farm,” she says. “I spoke up and said I was a dairy farmer, which got a big laugh!”

There are basically two types of farms – a geographical farm and a personal farm. A geographical farm enables you to target your marketing initiatives to a specific area, such as all of the homes north of Main St and south of Hendricks Ave. It can also be more widespread, such as only working with homes selling for more than a million dollars.

Personalized farming is based on you and your unique interests, hobbies and relationships. Personal farms can be made up of your personal contacts, people who belong to a specific club or community group, people in a certain profession or people you worked with in a previous career.

“My approach to farming was to get as involved as possible with my community, to be active and talk to people about what I did, wherever I was,” says Leyser. “I volunteered, joined committees, played baseball and volleyball and got to know different people. If you think you can sit in the office doing duty time and the business will come, think again.”

Regardless of the type of farm you choose, you will need to work it, just as a farmer tills a field. Once the seeds are planted, you will need to cultivate your farm regularly by staying in touch with farm members at least four times a year. You can do this by calling people, but bear in mind the Do Not Call restrictions. You can also drop off material such as door hangers, fridge magnets or personalized brochures, or mail items such as newsletters, articles from the OREA website, announcements of properties you’ve sold (just be sure to obtain the sellers’ and buyers’ permission) or an annual calendar. When contacting people, be sure to obtain their permission to put them on your contact list.

The goal of farming is to build your profile and develop your reputation to a level such that your name is the first to spring to mind when a farm member is thinking of buying or selling. Leyser’s advice to new REALTORS® for growing their business: “Have a two-year plan when you start, be patient and never jeopardize your integrity. If you do make a mistake, fix it and make things right.”

The mentoring kit is a valuable resource for new salespeople and also an effective training tool for Brokers of Record. Copies are available for purchase at $75 plus tax and may be ordered by calling (416) 391-6732 or 1-866-411-OREA (6732).

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For more information contact

Ontario Real Estate Association

Jean-Adrien Delicano

Manager, Media Relations


416-445-9910 ext. 246