The Single Biggest Mistake Agents Make in Their Follow Up Calls

Thu, Jan 19, 2012

Follow up is a major weakness for many agents because most don’t have a system that can consistently and predictably convert a prospect into a face-to-face presentation. This is clearly a huge problem. If you don't have a system to convert your leads to appointments, you're wasting most of the time and money you're spending on lead generation. I know this with certainty because it happened to me. In fact, you wouldn't believe the wastage that occurs in our industry. I'll illustrate this important point by telling you about my own personal experience. Several years ago, when I was still trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle in place, I did some analysis on my business which shocked and depressed me. At this point in time, I had the lead generation part of my business working well. In fact, I had hundreds of leads coming into my business, and all these calls were dutifully entered into my contact management system. HOWEVER, because I hadn't firmly put a foolproof system in place to ensure that these calls were followed up properly, I knew I wasn't converting as many of these prospects as I could. The question was, how bad was it? I decided to find out.

I was devastated by the results . . .

I cross-matched my database of seller prospects against all new listings (by all agents) on MLS. Astonishingly, I found that 82% of my seller prospects listed within 12 months. Now understand, these were prospects who had called me first (i.e. they were prospects who had called me on one of my ads to request information from me.) In other words, these were people who had told me they were thinking of moving. They'd raised their hands and qualified themselves.

That part was good. After all, it helped me validate that the quality of leads I was generating was high.  However, because my follow-up system was not yet fully up to speed, I only converted 17% of this 82%. In other words, I lost the balance of these prospects to other agents! That was a turning point for me. That was the point when it became crystal clear to me that simply finding a better way to generate the lead was far from enough. In fact, by becoming so good at generating leads, I had inadvertently created another problem: i.e. too many leads to follow-up on . . . unless I found a way to automate this process. To fix this problem, I needed (and you need) a follow-up system that would significantly improve the conversion of prospects into face-to-face appointments.

Finding a better way to generate leads is not enough

Obviously, all your leads need to be followed up no matter where they come from. Whether you meet a prospect out in the field, or a prospect calls your office directly off a sign or property display ad, you'll need to schedule regular follow-up with them in order to convert this lead into a face-to-face appointment.

For the leads generated through your non-property direct response ads, however, there are some specific additional steps you must take in order to convert this caller. If you’ve executed these ads correctly, your prospects will have been directed to an automated telephone hotline or website because these vehicles represent an easy and non-threatening way for your prospects to get the information they want without having to speak with an agent. When you call these prospects back, you need to structure your call in order to convert this prospect into a person who will be receptive to speaking with you about their relocation plans on a regular basis. Depending on how ready-to-act the prospect is, the length of time and the number of calls or letters may vary, but the essence and order of the steps is the same no matter whether the prospect is calling for a free special report, a hotlist, or a property listing printout. It is critical to note that communicating with a prospect (or a client for that matter) is not a one-shot deal. People are inundated with information - you may have to communicate with them two, ten, twenty times before they respond.  Be careful to do this respectfully so you don't become a nuisance, but never forget that if you don't have top-of-mind consciousness, your prospects will forget all about you More to the point, as I found out from firsthand experience, they'll find someone else who is paying attention (or who just happens to be in the right place at the right time.)

The Unpredictability of Client Timing

In my experience, about a third of the prospects I spoke with were honest and realistic about their moving plans. In other words, they were open to using my services (although not necessarily committed), and the time frame they gave me was pretty accurate.

However, there was also a third of the prospects I spoke with who were not so open to using me (i.e. they saw me as a salesperson or some other negative, or had a relative in the business, etc. and would never have used me anyway . . . and as a result gave me an arbitrary date just to get rid of me.)

And, finally, there was another third whose timing prediction changed on them (i.e. they truly thought they were going to move in six months but suddenly a transfer or something of that nature came through) and they had to move sooner than they thought. What I found is that in the latter two cases, I would follow up as scheduled and find that suddenly they were listed with someone else. Despite the fact that you've scheduled your call back based on what they told you, there's always the possibility that something will go wrong. As a rule of thumb, always schedule your next call back for half the time they gave you in order to decrease the chance of missing an opportunity due to the unpredictability of client timing. When I listen to the follow up calls of agents new to my system, I hear the same mistakes being made over and over – all of which are incredibly easy to fix once you understand the precise science behind these calls. The problem is, “you don’t know what you don’t know”, and until someone points out to you the glaring mistakes you’re committing again and again, you won’t know why your failure rate is as high as it is.   P.S. You can test drive my ideas and systems absolutely free by signing up for Free Weekly Training which includes live weekly webinars, a monthly newsletter and priority invitations to free half day training events. This Free Weekly training will expose you to inexpensive and highly effective methods of lead generation (with no cold calling) -- what I call “Reverse Prospecting”, where qualified prospects actually hunt you down rather than the other way around, and then how to follow these leads through to maximum GCI via proprietary lead conversion and prospect presentation systems. This is the easiest way for you to find out with no risk or obligation what my system is all about and how it can help you profitably grow your real estate business and vastly improve your quality of life. JOIN MY FREE WEEKLY TRAINING PROGRAM HERE      

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