You want to have a lot of leads and your marketing will bring them to you. Drive those leads into a local number even if you are not local to them. They are going feel secure. The prospect list that you are mailing to is going to feel more secure if they are calling a local number than if they are calling an 800 number. The perception of an 800 number is that it is a big company, but if it is a local number then it just must be the guy down the street that buys houses.
I also recommend using an answering service. If you have people go to voicemail you will lose 50% of your callers. Understand that motivated sellers are really hoping that nobody is there that way they can say well I called but nobody answered the phone. You have to have a live person answering the call. If you have a voicemail 50% of them will not leave a message. The other thing about an answering service is you are going to get seller phone calls at all times of the day and the night. And it's not always going to be the most convenient time for you. You could be at a nice restaurant and all of a sudden you get this seller call and it is just not going to be appropriate. Or like me, I'm working on something and all of a sudden I get a seller call and it is hard to switch your mental thought process to get ready for this seller call. It is easier if somebody else answers it. One great answering service I recommend to my students is weanswer.com.
What you do is give them your script of questions you'd like to be answered. A live person will answer the phone as if they are your company. In other words, let's say that you are Mike Buys Houses. They will answer the phone Mike Buys Houses how may I help you? “Um yeah can I speak to Mike?” They will take the information for you and ask the questions that you have in your script then e-mail you the details. Then you can call them back at your convenience. Even if you are going to call them back right away what an advantage it is to already have that information. Now you have the address so you can go in and pull comps before you call them back and know what the property is worth. You can figure out how much you think you might be able to offer for the property before speaking with them. The only thing that is going to be missing for you is repairs which you will get from them when you start talking to them. You can formulate your plan even before you get on the phone with them.
Remember when you get on the phone what your purpose is. The purpose at this point is not to try to sell your service to them. It is not to buy the house. The first purpose of the phone call is to prequalify the caller. Remember I told you you have prospects versus leads. You want to now separate the prospects from the leads. They are all leads coming in but what you want to separate is the tire kickers from the ones that are real motivated sellers. And that prequalification process should take no more than 5-10 minutes on the phone. What you are looking for is the answer to two questions.
First, are they motivated and second are the numbers going to work? Unfortunately you can't say are you motivated to sell your house. You are going to have to build some rapport with them and find out from the questions you are asking what kind of motivation is there. Why is it that they are looking to sell there house right now? How soon do they need to move out? The biggest indication to me as to whether they are motivated is when I start asking some of the personal questions. How much do they owe on their house and I throw out some lowball prices. When they just laugh at me and they almost don't want to continue on then I know that this person is not really all that motivated. When I explain why I need this information or I explain why my price came in so low and they say “let's go on” I know I have a motivated seller.
The next question is; Are the numbers even going to work? Are we playing in the same ball park? I don't have to zero in on the number yet, but I need to get an idea. If I can only pay $150,000, but they owe $250,000, then we aren't even in the same ballpark. Or if they are adamant that they have to get at least 200 and I am at 150 well we are pretty far apart. If I can't get them off that number then why go forward, because I don't want to spend an hour with each caller. The first five or ten minutes is just about deciding whether I want to move forward with this caller or not. If they are motivated then I will spend an hour, hour and a half with this person really building a rapport. I will go as far as making some ballpark offers based on what I already know from the comps and from what they told me about the house. I ask them some questions about the house and based on what they told me give them a ballpark on what repairs will cost. I will give them a ballpark offer if they seem flexible, if it seems like something that they want, I will go to the next step. If it is a local house then go out and visit it and if you are working out of a different city then certainly you have somebody on the ground that you are working with. Don't send your eyes on the ground to every house only to the ones where it looks like there is really going to be a deal.
If you handle your incoming leads that way then you won't find your incoming leads to be overwhelming. So many investors complain about having too many leads coming in. You know I have 60 leads coming in I can't spend an hour on the phone with each one of these leads. What you want to do is prequalify and find out which ones of are motivated and will turn into a deal. That is where you want to spend your time anyway right? You don't want to spend your time with a tire kicker. You want to spend your time with somebody who actually has a deal.