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Taking courage to the marketplace


with Anthony Zakos - McGrath

Many years ago, the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” Indeed it isn’t. This globalised, connected brave new world that we find ourselves in presents many opportunities but also many challenges.

As parts of the Australian real estate market continue to be integrated into the global economy, now more than ever, real estate agents have to get smarter and more strategic to ensure longevity. It’s not enough to put up the sign and expect the customers to roll in with simple requests. Local knowledge, local economies, local actors and local institutions all remain important but understanding that clients are also homeowners and investors with global reach and multiple interests will ensure that you remain in business for many years to come.

One courageous man who understands how to work in this complex market is Anthony Zakos from Sydney. Seven years in the industry, Anthony knows how important it is to generate future leads by nurturing customers over a long period of time. Currently completing a post graduate degree in Commerce at the University of Sydney majoring in Strategy, Innovation and Global Business, Anthony is a master at creating gun lead teams and lead generations. To drive opportunities, the strategist and Team Leader at McGrath developed a bullet proof connected marketing platform while working in three of the most intensely competitive real estate markets in Australia – beachside Manly, the genteel Lower North Shore and in Sydney’s ritzy Eastern suburbs.

Anthony believes that lead generation takes time and is a vital part of creating a long-term sustainable business. He sees the aim of a company-wide, connected marketing approach is to try to locate as many new business opportunities for the sales and property management teams as possible.

Anthony says for a lead team to work, “You need to know that you’re in it for the long haul and understand that you’re willing to stand the test of time and make sure that clients are well nurtured for the duration of the client life cycle.”

Most recently Anthony has been running a team of three and they’ve generated about 638 face-to-face appointments in twelve months. In a market such as the Eastern suburbs, Anthony’s work has created a pipeline for millions of dollars of sales.

In the beginning

Anthony started his career at the McGrath office in Manly where he worked alongside the one and only Michael Clarke. He says, “Michael was one of those guys that I really looked up to, really aspired to actually. He was in the office till quite late at night, would always be pacing the stalls just prospecting, always on the phone. He had some amazing energy around him and he was just a really likable guy. I took a lot of really valuable information away from him.”

One Friday, seeking to expand his skill set and move into strategic selling, he called the high profile Director of McGrath’s Neutral Bay, Piers van Hamburg. After meeting one morning, he had joined their office by the same afternoon.

Piloting a more strategic approach to sales, Anthony started in the Neutral Bay office as a sole lead generator. He reconnected with a lot of past clients, identified their needs and also figured out how clients could be nurtured and serviced at a whole new level. He explains, “It was actually a lot of trial and error, a lot of testing and a lot of seeing what would work and what wouldn’t work. We started with just myself as the solo lead generator. We slowly worked our way up to two and then four and at one point, I was running with seven lead generators.”

Anthony found that this approach drove opportunities for the entire business. He says, “It was really beneficial for the client. Once we reconnected with them, it wasn’t just about, ‘Where have you bought and are you looking to sell?’. It was more, ‘Where did you buy? Are you looking to expand your investment portfolio? Are you looking to refinance your home? Are you looking to maybe buy another one or two or three properties and how can we help you with your future real estate plans and how can we really put you back on the real estate map and get you really excited about your next move?’. A lot of new business subsequently came in through the door.”

Clients could see that Anthony and his team were offering a useful service rather than simply asking for listings. Anthony says, “Clients would say, ‘Hey, you’re not just here trying to sell me something. Hey, you’re not just here trying to get me to list my home. You’re actually offering some really good, valuable information about what’s happening in my local market without being overly invasive’.”

After conquering the Lower North Shore, Anthony then made the move over the Bridge to the McGrath mothership – the Edgecliff HQ – home of the leadership team for the entire group and some of the most competitive real estate markets in Australia. And he continued to work his magic and improve the bottom line of the McGrath group.

How to develop a company-wide connected marketing program

1. Cleanse the data

It all starts with the data - agents hand it over to be cleansed and segmented. Anthony says, “We’d find anyone that might be a home owner either in our call area or out of area and make sure that we documented exactly what their plans might be over the next 12 to 24 months and tag the clients accordingly in our personal lead generation database.” After working with a client for an average of 12-18 months, once a client is ready for an appraisal, the agent was charged a standard 20% referral fee. Anthony says, “We’re actually told by our agents on a regular basis that the work that we do is just so good that we’re probably worth more money.”

He adds, “I’d prefer to have 300 consenting clients in my database that knew my name, that were receiving a regular update from me, a regular email, that I had really, really good communication with as opposed to 10,000 contacts that have no idea who I am.”

2. Care for your clients – nurture them

We don’t want to be beautifully cold. We are in the business of building long-term relationships. These take time – your job is to keep the love and lead alive. When nurturing a client there will be a mixture of follow up calls, SMS and emails. Send out an inviting digital e-newsletter from your lead generation team database. Anthony says, “It’s amazing after that fourth, that fifth and sixth phone call, how much of a great response we get from the client, because the client will almost start asking me more questions about how I’m going in my life than what we’re doing in terms of their property.”

3. Coach your team to keep them on pointe

Successful lead generation requires the right energy over the phone - to be up beat, to appreciate that you are talking to someone about his or hers biggest asset. Anthony says, “I really take the time with my team to sit down and at the beginning of each week, we work out a game plan and a structure as to who we’re going to call and how we’re going to tackle those calls. I think that that’s why we may have been quite successful in a lot of cases because we combine working with the client over a period of 6 to 12 months with the right energy and make sure that every step of the way, anything that that client needs, whether that might be a CMA or a bit of information about what might be happening from an investment point of view or what’s happening with the interest rates at this point in time, is provided.”

4. Ask probing, open-ended questions

Asking plenty of open-ended questions provides the information that you need to build and nurture client relationships.

Some good questions are:

Do you have any future real estate plans at the moment?

Anthony says, “This is a really great question within itself because at the end of the day, everyone has some future real estate plans. It’s quite open and it just allows the client to really have a think for a second and actually really open up to me and tell me what it is that they might be doing in the next six to 12 months.”

At the moment, are you just passively doing some research or are you actively in the market?

Anthony explains, “This allows me to establish quite quickly whether or not this person’s actively doing something at this point in time, in which case, I might be a little bit more detailed in my approach. Or it might be a case where I don’t go into too much detail about what they’re buying and selling.”

Are you currently receiving any property alerts or any information from McGrath at the moment?

Anthony says, “This type of question really allows me to figure out whether or not anyone in our office is currently servicing that client. In some cases, we already have agents that are in regular contact with these people so it’s a really nice way of making sure that we’re not crossing borders here and crossing into territories where agents may not want us contacting their clients.”

5. Remember that clients are multi-dimensional and may require multiple services

Don’t assume all customers are buyers. Anthony explains, “In a lot of cases, we tend to forget that this person might also be a home owner. They may be an investor. They may not just be looking to buy - they might be looking for rent as well, so the fact that a client may have multiple needs and might be available for multi-services in our marketplace, really allows me to go in there and ask some really, really good quality questions about whether they’re looking to buy, sell, invest or rent and how we can really assist them.”

6. Set a trail for the client on a case by case basis

Anthony says, “Setting a trail and nurturing that client from a trail and a follow up perspective is very, very important to me. At least every three to four months, everyone on our database gets a call. Once a month, we send out a really lovely digital newsletter. It’s a really, really nice clean template and it’s not overloaded with too much information. There are a few feature properties there that have just been listed by the team at McGrath and a few properties that have just been sold.”

Anthony thinks that level of contact is enough. He says, “When the time comes when a client may be looking to buy their next investment property or maybe offload a property to make their next move, maybe even refinance the home, they know that we exist. They know that we’re there and they know that we can put them in the hands of the right agent at that point in time.”

7. Provide the right information at the right time

Less is more. Anthony says, “The right information being delivered at the right time is really crucial.”

8. Set reasonable goals

Anthony believes, “I think it’s fair to be reasonable when it comes to making outbound calls. I mean it is very difficult for someone to sit behind a computer and sit behind a phone all day, every day, and just make calls as a primary position. I was quite flexible with my expectation - I wanted my team to break up their day and work into a couple of different, call it one hour, two hour, prospecting blocks but my expectation was a minimum of 50 calls a day. Now that’s a mixture of connects and disconnects and that does not include scheduled tasks as well.”

He adds, “It’s quality over quantity. I want to make sure that my guys are having 10 incredible conversations that are full of energy and were actually connecting with someone as opposed to, ‘Geez, I have to hit my numbers today’.”

9. Be authentic

Anthony says, “I think it’s very important as well to really listen to what our client has to say and really understand what their needs might be. Mastery is key.”

What many people don’t realise is that Malcolm Fraser, quoted from George Bernard Shaw when he said, ‘Life was not meant to be easy’. The full quote is in fact, ‘Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful’. With courage, can come many great financial and spiritual rewards. Anthony Zakos is living proof.

You need to know that you’re in it for the long haul.

You must make sure that clients are well nurtured for the duration of the client life cycle.

In a market such as the Eastern suburbs, Anthony’s work has created a pipe line for millions of dollars of sales.





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