How George Tallabas converts 18% of his leads!

George Tallabas has been a TigerLead client for five years, working in Boise and the surrounding areas. Over the course of his time with TigerLead, George has learned so much about how to maximize his business. While he won’t be able to make it to this year’s Success Summit, he still wanted to share all his tips with his fellow Tigers. Here, in his own words, is George’s story of how he reached an 18% conversion rate with his TigerLead license!

The way I got started with TigerLead was… well, I had some massive years in but in 08 the recession started hitting, and I had sold a lot of land and commercial property which I knew would slow down with the recession in full force. I saw the writing on the wall, I knew the market was going to change. I knew I needed to do something to generate a steady stream of buyer and seller leads.

Howard Tager (a TigerLead co-founder) put together this seminar, and Nicki Conway and some other TigerLead clients were on it. There was some powerful testimony – one women, I don’t remember the name, she talked about how TigerLead had the patience to work with her through some hard times. She had been scared because if it fell flat she was gonna be waiting tables, but it worked, and her life changed for the better. 

TigerLead was a lot of money, and my friends in the office told me I was crazy to do it. But I thought, if a single mom with 4 kids has the courage to do it, what’s wrong with me that I can’t do it? So I did it, and pretty quick I double-ended a $780,000 in Boise and paid for my TigerLead for the rest of the year. Average sale price in Boise is $180k, so that was a big one.

These days I’ve got a Handraiser Lead license and it’s working really well. I’m converting over 18% of these leads so far in 2014. I’ve never had a handraiser lead tell me they didn’t want to be called. But the big change for me is that I got rid of my team. I had built a team in 2011, 2012 & 2013 but my conversion ratio was sad and it just wasn’t working right. I talked to people all over the country about how to run my team, but I came to the conclusion that these agents… if they weren’t paying the bill, they weren’t taking it seriously.

So I got rid of my team, and I decided to take on all the lead calling personally, and that has made a huge difference for me. I got a lead caller, so if I know I’m gonna be tied up for half a day, she calls on my behalf. I got her licensed so she can answer their questions, and she just tells them she’s calling on my behalf. If I get overflow, I refer them to people in my office. And I’m giving them an approved buyer, so I charge a minimum of 40% referral fee, sometimes 50%, whereas with my team I was only getting 25%.

The situation that finally made me let go of my team was, I gave a lead to an agent of mine. And I called my agent and told her, this lead has some money, they really want to do this deal, you need to eat and sleep and breathe this lead until they close. And then months later, that lead sent us another request. I called her in three minutes and said “hey, I assigned you to my team member last May, how did she take care of you?” And the lead said “They didn’t.” My agent was just sending them drip emails.

This agent I had, she never asked to meet with them and get to know the lead or their place, just set them up on a drip program and sent them listings they weren’t interested in. So I asked to come over the next day to meet with this lead and her husband, and I talked to them for 2 hours about how to make their home more valuable, and they said “No one has ever cared enough to come talk to us like this.” I made $22k commission on that sale. And thank goodness this lead registered again, because I was able to save this lead. But if she hadn’t, my agent would never have closed the lead. She just let them go, just threw them away.

As soon as I let go of my team, my whole world changed. The big thing is calling the leads fast, you gotta call them fast! I take it as a personal challenge and compete with myself. If it took me 6 minutes to call my last lead, I have to call the next lead in 5. And the lead after that, I have to call them in 4. That’s really made a difference and I’m converting a much higher percentage.

Before I call each lead, I stand up, I take a deep breath – sometimes I even do jumping jacks! To get excited, to get my oxygen up. People might laugh, but it’s true, and it works!

If I get a lead from California or somewhere like that, I call them, and I don’t talk about myself. I say “Did you know property tax is only 7% in Idaho?” and they didn’t know that. I say “Did you know that Idaho has a property tax initiative where, if you occupy your home as the primary residence, they drop your taxes dramatically?” I don’t talk about myself at all. Most realtors, they ask them canned questions. “When do you need to buy?” or “It’s a great time to sell.” But I tell the lead useful information, and no other realtor has ever told them this. They love it.

I had a guy last month from California, I’m on the phone telling him about our property taxes, and I hear him shout out to his wife: “Martha! You won’t believe what this guy’s telling me!” He’d talked to 4 agents before me, and not one of them had talked to him about how low our taxes are. See, the leads don’t care that I’ve been in the business for 34 years, or that I’m a multi-million dollar producer. They just want to be taken care of. They want info they can use.

This weekend, I got a lead on Sunday morning, called him in 2 minutes, met him that day at the subdivision he was interested in. I handed him a spreadsheet I made of properties in that area, average sale price, average days on market, average square feet, everything. He’d never seen anything like it. He told me he’d worked with 3 agents and was about to write an offer through one of them, but he went home and told his wife “We can’t afford to work with anyone but George.” So we made an offer and it got accepted last night. It took me 48 hours to close that sale. Three agents before me hadn’t managed to close them, three! And you know what I did on Sunday morning before I called him? I got up, took a deep breath, I called them, and I walked to the mailbox and back while I talked to them. It works!

It isn’t rocket science. These people are telling you they want to buy a house. You just have to call them right away, and instead of trying to sell them something, give them the info that they need. You will be SO far ahead of the competition, if you do that much you can’t fail. Take off the hat of a salesperson and put on the hat of someone who cares about them and their families.

I had a client who was middle-aged, I asked if they had any kids, they had a couple of teenagers. I asked if the kids liked sports, and they did, and I told them about the sports we have here in Boise, and the kids were thrilled to hear about that. So I used that caring approach, and as soon as they came in to town I bought them these tickets to baseball and hockey games, they loved it.

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One thing I didn’t like with my team, they didn’t want to call people at 9 or 10 at night. But if someone makes a request on a listing at 10 PM and you see that notification, you know they’re awake! You know they’re looking at homes! Call that guy in 5 minutes!

I had a lead come in late at night, and I called him in 5 minutes, and he said “Oh, hold on, I’m on 7 websites right now. Let me figure out which one is yours.” We had a great conversation – I told him about the taxes and the golf courses and everything, and he came to town, and I sold him a $272,000 home. Now if I had waited – even twenty minutes! – to call that guy, 6 other agents could have gotten to him first. What do we want when we go shopping for a car or a computer or anything? We don’t want a sales pitch, we want people to give us information we need, and when we’re ready to buy, we want them to amaze us with the quality of their service.

This one agent that didn’t want to call leads late at night, she said, what if they get mad at me? And I said, what are they gonna do, take your firstborn? If you’re driven by fear, you’ll never be successful in real estate. If you adopt the challenge that you’re gonna convert every lead, your world will change. But if you approach every lead with fear, you’ll get nowhere.

 

 I’m a passionate person. I’m proud of what I do for a living. I post all my stories on my regular Facebook page. I’m not shy about telling the world what I do, and I try to do it in a personal way. I’ve gotten so much business off of Facebook by doing that. I sold a place in Boise to a gal, I’d been working with her for 3 years. I posted it on Facebook and said, “I’m so happy for her, it took 3 years but we found her home.” And within an hour I got a message on Facebook that said “George, my daughter is looking for a place just like that in Boise, can you help her?” And I’m working with the daughter now. Don’t be shy about what you do. I’ve gotten 12 leads off of Facebook already this year.

Before I let my team go, I had this vision of growing a huge team, getting 300 or 400 leads. But I had so much stress on my shoulders, and my agents just weren’t taking it seriously. And I realized that kind of model just wasn’t for me. I’ve found a plan that really works for me. For me, bigger is not better. Smaller, quality leads, contacting the leads myself – that’s the ticket for me. I’m very happy with it. I think I’m doing pretty well.

A big thanks to George for sharing his story!

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