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Making The Right Call

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with Billy Eoko, Century 21, Washington DC, Maryland, and Northen Virginia

Many years ago, Billy Ekofo’s life pivoted on one very important phone call. The Director of Leads Management at Century 21 Redwood Realty tells the story: “I was born in the US which made me a citizen from Congolese parents. About a year after my birth, we moved out of the US.” After a stint in France, the family returned to the Congo. He says, “We lived there, everything was harmonious until about 1998. War or rumours of war, civil conflict just erupted. As an American born citizen, I was asked to be evacuated from the country. I literally left my family, got on a plane, came to the US by myself. When I came in, I was dead broke. Whatever funds I had to travel with were just depleted because the journey just took way too long.”

He continues, “I got in finally to Richmond, Virginia. I only had about 37 cents in my pocket to make a call to family friends who had absolutely no idea that I was even coming. When I talk about this stage of my journey, this was the phone call for me. If for some reason I made the call and nobody picked up on the other side, I just didn't know what I was going to do. I didn't speak the language, they were the only people I knew in the States. If I couldn't reach them, it probably would have been a bleak outcome.

But there wasn’t a bleak outcome – the family took him in and from literally having nothing, Billy has now made an abundant life in real estate. Working his way through media production, business development, international education, he found himself in the real estate industry and a place where he belonged. Rather than selling though, he discovered he really liked helping others. He says, “What fed me in the business was not the potential of earning more. I know people are in real estate and the majority of us were conditioned to be in this industry to focus on that. I guess I'm an anomaly. I found joy and just inspiration working with agents and seeing them excel.”
Billy now works with 450 plus agents in 12 offices throughout the Washington DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia area. He says, “Everybody that calls into Century 21 - I want them to feel like you're calling to a company where you're actually speaking to people and they actually care about your situation. It's not the same throughout. A caller’s situation is unique. It may look like somebody else's but it's not their situation - it's our situation. Whatever help a person needs with real estate, we can assist.”

He continues, “When people call in and they have an enquiry, if you just see them as sets of numbers calling in you're missing the point.” He looks at each call as a genuine person looking for some assistance. He says, “Am I able to help in every single situation? No. Am I having a good conversation, at least trying to, attempting to help? Absolutely.”

Almost every caller that comes through his company, talks to Billy first and receives the red carpet treatment. He says, “I view my role as a glorified matchmaker and it's amazing the way it works out. The way it's set up, at least in our company, every enquiry that comes in, or just about every enquiry, comes through my desk, through my phone. I was a selling agent before I became a lead manager. The way I think about what I do is the information that I'm collecting, the conversation that I am having - it's to help an agent really close quicker on a transaction.”

So when he talks to a client, he is on the lookout for kernels of information that will assist both the prospect and the agent. He says, “Time is of the essence. We're trying to get to the prospect faster and more efficiently. Then the sooner I can make that appointment, just so I can get an agent in front of the customer, the better. Relationships are being forged seeing each other, they're looking at houses or they're talking about selling their home. That's what I want and that's what I'm after as quickly as possible. I don't have the luxury to spend a whole lot of time getting frivolous information. I need to get the information an agent and client needs in the most efficient way and less amount of time. Then you focus on the experience, the global experience.”

Having been an agent, Billy asks himself what kind of information he would have needed if he was talking to a prospect. He says, “That information, sometimes no matter how small, may make or break a transaction. If you know actually good data on an incoming lead or prospect, I think that's going to help you close a transaction quicker. I am after that. I am after a warm handoff because everybody wins in this situation. The prospect feels like they're being taken care of. The agent feels like I'm not just getting a call from Zillow or whatever other online portal that they use. I'm actually getting substantive sets of information and a very good prospect.”

Once the conversation with the prospect is over he then calls the agent and provides good sets of data. For example, Billy explains it could be, “This person that hasn't qualified, or at least they're thinking about looking for a mortgage so they probably need to talk to a loan officer, I tell them that you will be able to refer them to a loan officer. So just little nuances.”

In terms of commission, the way it works is, “Every prospect that I give to an agent in a form of an appointment, it's a 50-50 split with the brokerage.” He continues, “If I'm going to ask for an agent to work for 50% less of their commission, well I'd better make sure that my end of the bargain is actually legit.” Billy knows that calls count

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