S1 E14: Conversations that Lead to More Appointments
In this episode of Today’s Brew – Coaches Corner, we sit down with Jeff Cohen, a real estate agent and Tom Ferry coach.
Jeff shares his background and journey in real estate, starting in 2016, and quickly finds success through phone prospecting and door knocking.
Jeff emphasizes the importance of having conversations and setting appointments to generate leads. Jeff also discusses his work ethic, daily schedule, and the mindset needed to overcome challenges in the industry.
He shares his preference for phone prospecting and his favorite lead source, For Sale by Owners.
Jeff encourages agents to leverage social media as a complement to their lead generation efforts.
Noel LaFerme (00:00):
So we talked about briefly, you got into three months, three months, no commission check and doing open houses, and that was probably not conducive. So what was the change? What did you start doing differently to eliminate the open houses and open up more time?
Jeff Cohen (00:18):
Started using this cell phone. I started incorporating the phone a lot more and during the days I would also door knock as well because I boiled down to, as Tom says, and others I’m sure has heard it’s about conversations and appointments. Whoever has the most conversations in theory sets the most appointments.
Noel LaFerme (00:40):
Hi, I’m Noel with Today’s Brew. We’re top producing real estate agents, share their tips and tricks on taking more listings, making more money, and having fun doing it. On today’s episode, we have a special guest from Kansas City, Jeff Cohen with the Tom Ferry Coaching Company. Hi Jeff, how are you?
Jeff Cohen (01:04):
I’m great. How are you, Noel?
Noel LaFerme (01:06):
I am wonderful. Thanks for coming on today.
Jeff Cohen (01:08):
Absolutely. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be here with you.
Noel LaFerme (01:11):
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Jeff Cohen (01:13):
Yeah, absolutely. So I’m from St. Louis, Missouri originally and I now live in Kansas City, Missouri. And a little bit about my background. I went to college in Kansas City 2011. I graduated from there, did a few different corporate jobs, 2011 to 2016, and in 2016, most recent corporate nine to five job, put my two weeks in, no backup plan, no connection to real estate, not the biggest social butterfly. As you can probably guess, I’m on a prospecting phone call based podcast. So when that happened, I went ahead and did roughly about 40 homes my first year in real estate and then grew that to not work with both buyers and sellers, but just sellers. And I had a small team. I was growing, had a buyer’s agent, he worked with the buyers and then I grew that further, had an admin, and then from there kind of found more of my niche that I’m sure we’ll talk about making phone calls. And currently now I’m coach with Tom Ferry coaching and also I have my own little business within real estate with phone calls for referral partner agents. And I’m real excited to share with you all of this.
Noel LaFerme (02:30):
Yeah, no, I’m excited to hear all about it. So you started in real estate 2016?
Jeff Cohen (02:37):
Noel LaFerme (02:39):
So we’re about seven years in and you’ve managed to cover a lot of territory and figure out exactly what it is that you love doing and I guess make the most money doing too most sense. Yeah, peace
Jeff Cohen (02:53):
Of mind too. So I’m married and no kids, just me and my wife right now living here in Kansas City and had some ups and downs and she’s still by my side.
Noel LaFerme (03:06):
That’s wonderful. No, that’s great. And being your own boss can have its ups and downs as long as you run a tight ship and show when you’re supposed to, you have the abilities to have a life.
Jeff Cohen (03:21):
Yeah, I mean when my wife Kim, we weren’t married at the time and we were dating and I was at the corporate nine to five job and said, Hey, I’m going to do this. And I know there’s some nerves on her end, definitely some nerves on my end. And it was challenging. It took about three months until I had my first real estate opportunity to make money listing and helping a buyer. So she saw me for the first three months and it was a challenge doing open houses at an extremely high level as a disruption to our life. We were nine to five is Monday through Friday, and then you’ve got the weekend and you spend it together and then to all of a sudden we had to have Kim days, Sundays at some point it came to that. So I’ve learned a lot just within my real estate journey. It’s not just about the money, it’s also about the peace of mind and people you care about too.
Noel LaFerme (04:16):
And it allows you the freedom, the time to spend with them. Yes. Okay. So we talked about briefly, you got into three months, three months, no pay commission check and doing open houses, and that was probably not conducive to your relationship with Kim. So what was the change? What did you start doing differently to eliminate the open houses and open up more time?
Jeff Cohen (04:42):
Started using this cell phone. I started incorporating the phone a lot more. And during the days I would also door knock as well because I boiled down to, as Tom says, and others, I’m sure it’s heard, it’s about conversations and appointments. Whoever has the most conversations in theory sets the most appointments,
Has the most real estate opportunities working with the seller to sign or working with the buyer to sign from there. So I had a mentor when I first got into real estate and basically said, look, you want to be successful, go ahead and just focus on having 20 unique conversations a day. Now I was doing this, so I had this focus for the week seven days, but I was really trying to still work that Monday through Friday, not making calls on the weekends, but doing open houses or showings and listings, things like that on the weekend as well, but not proactively making calls or door knocking on the weekend. So my goal was Monday through Friday ticking off how many conversations did I have, how many dials? And that allowed me to really fast track my results as a brand new agent with no connection to real estate whatsoever in a city I’m not originally from. I’m not the biggest social butterfly. I had aunt and uncle at the time living here as well, but I’m a new agent. They’re not going to necessarily say, oh, you got to use my nephew. He’s number one here in Kansas City. They don’t know I haven’t. So I had some challenges in that sense.
Noel LaFerme (06:26):
Yeah, so you’re a coach too, and I’m sure you’ve coached clients and agents who are newer at some point as well. I know I got into coaching when I first got into real estate as well, and something that you just kind of touched on is, you’re right, you have your friends and your family who, like you said, they may not go out and say, oh, you have to use my daughter, you have to use my son or my best friend because you’re new and they don’t know you’re any good. And they’re going to say, oh, well how many houses have you sold? The number one question that a Client is going to ask you. So what do you tell your newer agents something to get past that? Because everyone has that same fear. How do you get started,
Jeff Cohen (07:17):
Show off your work ethic? I don’t have that local native connection to the city that I was practicing real estate in 2016 here in Kansas City. But what I can tell you is that my first few opportunities, well one was from Circle Prospecting for an open house. So I was calling for an open house, and what happened is the gentleman answered, I said my script, I didn’t think anything of it. He wasn’t interested at the time with whatever I said in the script, because I’m pen and paper, old school, I’m taking notes all the time still to today when I make calls. And I didn’t write down his name or number or anything to follow up with. And then out of the blue, I can’t recall exactly if it was a week or two weeks later, but short amount of time afterwards, I got a call out of the blue.
It was him. He said, Jeff, I don’t know if you remember me, but I liked your hustle. I like that you’re making phone calls. That’s the type of agent that I want and I have a house that I want to sell and I want you to come over here and let’s get going on it. So that’s my work ethic. Another example is numerous listings that I’ve had from door knocking, even door knocking in the ring. I think it is easy to do things like that if you just gamify it. I’m a big fan of it. I mean, I’ll show you here. I’ve got the timer, so it helps keep me on task. So I, I’m making my calls, I do 30 minute blocks. It keeps me focused. And let’s say you’re going to go out and door knock, go print off a hundred flyers and just say, look, I’m not getting back into the car until my hands are empty.
And if I want to know how many more doors I need to knock, we’ll start counting in the middle of the street on the sidewalk. Well, okay, how many do I have? Kind of weird or not. So the point is put some things in place to just gamify. And at the time I was reading Grant Cardone and 10 X Rule, whether you like ’em or not, I think there’s something to be said to doing way more than what you think you might need to do. And I just adapted that to my thinking in real estate. What’s the average agent? How many contacts are they going to have in a week? I don’t want to be an average agent, so what do I think I need to do? How many open houses do I think the average agent is going to do? Well, I’m not average, so I would shoot for three to four at least over the weekend. Wow. Wow. Yeah,
Noel LaFerme (09:45):
That’s a lot of open houses.
Jeff Cohen (09:48):
But the results came a lot faster because what I would do in a month, it would take the average agent, they’d take ’em two to three months to catch up.
Noel LaFerme (10:01):
So prospecting, you said you changed a few things. You said you got on your phone at the beginning. So tell us about what you started doing differently on your phone. And you talked about having conversations and how many you want to have, how many hours are you putting in daily? Because you said, I know that you’re coaching, but you’re also still doing a little bit of real estate. And if you want to explain that to everybody that’s watching how you dabble in both.
Jeff Cohen (10:25):
So in between coaching sessions, I’m getting on the phone and calling and setting appointments. And I’d say if you can spend a solid three hours a day intentionally, not coffee breaks, bathroom breaks, chitchatting, but actually three hours of focus making calls, I think you’re definitely going to have some good success from that. What I find is in about a 30 minute calling session, I’m able to land one appointment, but I’m also able to do all my notes and everything that I need to do to complete and exit that appointment from being said, all the information is done. So my goal is five appointments a day, I’m working Monday through Friday with that. But now I am showing up over the weekend at times when I’m not happy with my weekly goal from Monday through Friday if I haven’t hit it. But really what I would like to be doing is setting 20 appointments a week so I know I’ve got the buffer. If I shoot for five and I did 25 in a week, that’s great. That’s really challenging to do as you might imagine.
Noel LaFerme (11:35):
Jeff Cohen (11:36):
But all can be done if you just keep showing up and you keep dialing, you’re increasing the chances of it happening.
Noel LaFerme (11:43):
What time are you getting to the office in the morning and starting your day? What does the morning look like for you?
Jeff Cohen (11:50):
I’m pretty disciplined. I’d say I’m always here about eight o’clock in the morning. That’s my goal. And just start dialing right then and there in the morning, right at eight. Now I am going to be having some coaching sessions on some days that’s going to disrupt when I do phone calls during the morning time. But in between those I’m still going to continue. And it’s kind of like my philosophy, and I know a lot of successful real estate agents have used this as their schedule, which is if you can win the morning, you win the day. I’m sure we’ve all heard that. And basically using the morning time to outbound lead generate, whether you’re knocking on doors or using the phone and making phone calls, something proactively. And then you have lunch and then in the afternoon you’re going on appointments or you’re showing homes or you’re putting out fires, sending amendments, things of that nature. And then if you don’t have any of that and you’re not happy with how it’s gone for the day, then continue lead generating in some capacity,
Noel LaFerme (12:45):
Get back on the phones or maybe go
Jeff Cohen (12:47):
Out and door knock or mix it up. It can be easy to get burnt out. And I learned your environment is really important with how you lead generate. So I’ve been in big brokerages before where there’s a lot of agents. I’ve been in big brokerages before where there’s not a lot of agents. And for those of us that make phone calls at a high level, if there’s not a lot of people around, I mean at least for me, it’s hard to celebrate the highs. There’s no one to kind of cheer you up when you’re in a little bit of a slump with the lips. And also I think there is something, at least for me, from what I’ve experienced, seeing heavy hitters, veteran agents walking around thinking, okay, what am I doing not being productive? And my goal is to get up to that level. Well, there they are, get back to work, Jeff. So I think it is important, the environment that you’re in.
Noel LaFerme (13:49):
So you prefer going into an office every day, getting dressed, going in, okay,
Jeff Cohen (13:54):
I have a home office, I could do this wherever. I just need to know all of us, an internet connection and cell phone service. But for me to truly feel like I’m at the top of my game, I’m standing up, I’ve got my scripts. That’s one thing I think a lot of people don’t realize is treat this like a sport. I always say if you’re going to go play basketball, are you going to wear a parka and have snow boots on? And you might be the best dresser and best at three points, but you’re not going to be as good if you’ve got that heavy parka on and you’re running across the field with your snow boots on. So the timer that helps
Role playing a script before you get on the phones, especially if it’s something new. Don’t have the general public be a Guinea pig, whether it’s someone in your office or someone in an ecosystem of some sort that you’re a part of practicing with them, the very least, it could be a friend or family member, depending on what the script is, you might not get the best feedback from them, but you can still practice and hear what they think as more of the general public. I’m standing, my diaphragm is not compressed. A couple other things, I’ve got two monitors here. So one is for the house that I’m calling on and the other is just kind of my notes. Or I’m going to take notes on a pen and paper because the way that I go about it is I’m really big on active listening. Sometimes I’ll even walk away from my desk so I’m not distracted. I’m just in tune on that same wavelength with that lead.
Noel LaFerme (15:34):
Yeah, you’re right. It is easily to get distracted anywhere in the office or at home. Like you said.
Taking a coffee break or maybe even just not walking away and having your pen and paper right there. Maybe just doodling or thinking of the next question you want to ask them versus active listening like you said. What about the agents that don’t have the work ethic that you have, that it doesn’t come as natural to pick up the phone after getting maybe say a bad call happened, someone was not nice to them. How do you keep their mindset going?
Jeff Cohen (16:14):
I mean, we all have those states and I think whether it is using the phone to generate leads at a high level or it’s door knocking to generate leads, at high level it’s identifying how you want to do business and how can you totally maximize and leverage that opportunity. So with open houses, it’s not just, I mean, think about it. Could you gamify it and make it a win that if you had no one that came to the open house, it was such a success because of X, Y, and Z, because of the social media that you did because of the door knocking that you did because of the emailing your database about it. Can you leverage any events? So I’m talking about open houses here, of course. What if nobody showed up, it doesn’t matter.
Noel LaFerme (17:01):
Yeah, I like what you just said about that. I didn’t really think you’re right. That is a good way to look at it. It is a great way to look at it even if you didn’t have anybody show up, like you said, you put out all those emails, you did all the social media, so you probably reminded a handful of people that you’re still an agent, you’re still active, and that might make them think of you sooner than later versus not having to at work
Jeff Cohen (17:26):
If you door knocked before or after or both for the open house if you made calls before, after, or both for the open house, adding that in, sending video texts, being strategic. I mean, there’s so many different ways that it can be leveraged. So think about it like, hey, my goal is to get one listing opportunity or a buyer opportunity, whatever the case is, aligning again with your goals. But my goal is to make that happen so that if nobody even came, this was fantastic. This is a big win. I got to sit down and do some other work, I guess during the open house.
Noel LaFerme (18:06):
But see, I like the way that you said that because that’s a really positive mindset to take in open houses all of the work that you did surrounding it, just maybe the one to three on Sunday, that active hour of the open house. No, I love that you said all that because that’s a great way to look at it.
Jeff Cohen (18:29):
Yeah, I think it’s important if you can find how it is that you want to generate leads with being proactive, that is how can you maximize it? So I make phone calls so everybody knows I’m a phone call guy. That’s just a passion of mine. I can do all these other things and I have done these things and that’s fine, but do what you love. Okay, that’s what I’m doing. So I obviously am going to express that to the world. Instagram follow below, but I hold myself accountable and vulnerable. I put myself out there. So on a regular basis, I am taking a video or a picture of me at work, just one I’m showing I’m consistent. Not only am I coaching a high level amount of coaching clients, but I’m also making phone calls, which a lot of people don’t like to do and think it’s challenging and it’s a mindset thing.
But I’m putting myself out there to say like, Hey, look, I’m human too. On days that I don’t set appointments or I set a low amount, I’m letting people know. And then when I said a lot, I’m letting people know I’m not here just to show the good, because you got to take the good with you got to take the bad with the good, you got to take it all. So if you’re door knocking and you’ve got a flyer, could you not only one, are you having a best quality conversation with actual potential homeowners that do have an interest in real estate, what their house is worth? Most likely they want to know. But could you take a picture of you with your flyer, hitting the streets with the sidewalk and houses behind it or with you in it and leveraging that on social media. Hey, I’m out here looking to see in Misty Meadow South made up neighborhood to see if there’s any future potential home sellers. If there’s a neighborhood that you love, send me a DM and I’d be happy to see if I can find you any future home sellers that are thinking about selling.
Noel LaFerme (20:25):
Wow. So you led right into my next question, which was going to be how active are you on social media and what your thoughts are on it of agents using it as a lead generation source, so it works for you.
Jeff Cohen (20:40):
I’m still more of an introvert, I guess I’m in a box. I mean, I like making phone calls, so not life of the party. I mean, I can adapt. I have adapted and all that’s good, but social media, I just think it’s just gravy for us that are big phone callers lead gen in that respect. It’s like, well, I can’t control. I can make the best social media video and I can put it out there. And I think it is. I can even have friends that say, oh, that’s gold. Okay, I put it out there. I can’t control how many people are going to see it. I can’t control how many likes. I can be proactive with the likes and the comments. I can do all that, but I can keep dialing. I can keep knocking on the door if I said, you know what?
I’m not getting back in the car unless I’ve knocked on a hundred doors. Well, how many have I knocked? I’m almost at a hundred. I’m not going to stop making calls today until I hit 400 or 400 or whatever the number is. If you’re using a dialer, you’re a little bit more in control in that sense. The appointments not always in control of that. I mean, you can have the mindset of, I want to make sure this week I said X number of appointments, so it’s going to keep you going with your lead gen activity. But I’m more of a fan in that sense because it’s up to me. I’m going to make it happen. Where social media, I think is a nice, it compliments nicely what you’re doing, but not something to totally rely on. And everybody that’s a social media guru is like, this guy, Jeff doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And that’s fine because it’s not my thing. And you obviously know something that I don’t, so props to you.
Noel LaFerme (22:22):
No, I agree with you. I’m the same way you are with social media, so I agree with you.
Jeff Cohen (22:32):
Some will and some won’t. And that’s okay. I get it.
Noel LaFerme (22:35):
But I think that’s good because there’s something for everybody, whatever they’re comfortable with because a lot of people are not comfortable getting on social media. And for you being an introvert, look at us right now.
Jeff Cohen (22:47):
Yeah, I mean, just by nature, I mean, I don’t know. I think we’re all, everything introvert and extrovert, but I’m not the agent that is going to be having huge client events and the life of the party at these client events. It’s more like, Hey, I’d rather call somebody I don’t know and see if I can just in thinner snap of the finger, produce an opportunity, an appointment to help somebody, whether it’s buying or selling. I think that’s really cool to me.
Noel LaFerme (23:15):
Absolutely. So what’s your lead follow up look like if you get a no, what are you doing to get back on with them? Or do you just move on to the next one?
Jeff Cohen (23:24):
Yeah, my goal is it depends on the script and the conversation. If I’m asking, have you had any thoughts of selling your house? And no, we haven’t. Okay, well, are you completely happy in your house or are you in your dream house? Is there one thing that you wish was different about your house? Just to kind of see if there’s more of an opportunity where, well, maybe we would want to change because we were thinking about an addition, but we don’t know if it makes sense to stay. Well, it can open up the conversation further, but I’m always a big fan of when would you want me to talk to you again? See if your plans are still the same or if something came up different. So I’m big on finding I, it’s a mini appointment. You tell me, Noelle, when do you want me to be calling you back?
You have a say in it. So then I know a timeline and we all know the rule. Whatever it is, you cut it in half that they say, call me in a year minimum, you’re calling six months. So you get to work around that. And then within that timeframe, depending on the situation, the lead you can come from contribution come from value. I’m always sharing with coaching clients. It’s not obnoxious sales and spammy. If you’re doing that. If I knew that we had a conversation and you’re interested in moving in Misty Meadows South at some point in the future, and I saw an off market property or there’s a coming soon that kind of fit what you told me on the phone, if I emailed you or texted or whatever the medium is called you to share that, that’s going to be more open and welcoming than if I just called you to try to scare you with the market and say, Hey, interest rates are rising. Are you sure you still want to sit tight? It’s not cool. There’s a big difference with all that. And there’s agents that do both, I think Do the first one more.
Noel LaFerme (25:21):
What’s your favorite source?
Jeff Cohen (25:23):
My favorite source would be for sale by owners. Okay. Absolutely. I like that one phone call. They say within real estate finder niche. So you could start off by saying, all right, I don’t want to work with buyers anymore. It’s an easy one to say, all right, so then you just work with sellers and then you can say, well, first time sellers or sellers that have sold many homes, investors, I mean, you can go down the path. So I really kind of took that the heart and said, well, what is one phone call that I really like? Now I can do several other phone calls and that’s fine, but what’s one that I get the most joy and happiness out of? And that’s for sale by owners. And then how can I be productive with that at a high level and be efficient? And that’s kind of the path that I went. Now, I didn’t know that day one, I still remember being called out for reading on a script, just a little room not that far from my office here where I was like, oh my gosh, that made such an impact on me that I clearly know where I was sitting in that room when it happened.
Haven’t forgot it. So anyone that’s like, oh, I’ve never made calls, guess what? It’s, you can have a moment like I did. You’re NFL, you’re going to flounder. You’re going to say, this is horrible. Not going to hold back and lie, oh, you might set the first appointment. Beginner’s luck. Chances are you’re going to probably want to quit. Tom talks about the J curve where you start here, you’re hyped up everything. You’ve got your systems in place, you make that first style and it starts to go downhill, downhill. And you’re like, this isn’t that good. And then maybe on your hundredth conversation with this, you’re like, okay, I’m getting a lot better. I’m starting to handle these objections. I’m feeling a lot better. And then before you know it, sorry, this light headed to my little dance sometimes without moving around enough. But then you’re going up the letter, Jay, you’re on the right side. And then before you know it, all the agents in the office were like, Hey, can you come teach a class? Hey, how do you do this? What’s going on? They don’t see the bottom part. You got to ride the highs and the lows. You got to just push through, but you got to just keep sticking with it.
Noel LaFerme (27:34):
Yeah. Well, gosh, I’m thankful for this conversation today, and I know that a lot of agents are going to be watching this and they’re going to want to know how to get in touch with you. So please give us your email and phone numbers. I do see your Instagram at the bottom, but I know that people would like to have more information and ways to get in touch with you.
Jeff Cohen (27:51):
Yeah, absolutely. So my phone number, my cell phone, (816) 284-6800. And a good email you could use is email@example.com. And of course on Instagram. So yeah, definitely reach out to me if you have any questions. I’m always here to give back.
Noel LaFerme (28:19):
No, I love it. And we thank you so much for coming on today.
Jeff Cohen (28:23):
Yeah, no, I appreciate you Noel, and everyone at Today’s Brew and Espresso Agent for inviting me. This has been fantastic.
Noel LaFerme (28:31):
Yes, thank you so much.