Nothing is more frustrating than having a past client list with a competitor. If losing out to other agents is frustrating you, making a few simple changes can return potentially errant sellers back to you as clients.

1. The No. 1 way agents lose listings
Are you paying for Facebook ads, SEO, or featured listings on, Trulia or Zillow? Are you sending out “Just Listed” or “Just Sold” cards? Do you call on owners of expired and for-sale-by-owner listings? Each of these activities can be important ways to market your business, yet the most important strategy is usually the most ignored: staying in regular personal contact with past clients.

The typical person knows 12 people who hold real estate licenses. Research shows that most people list with the agent with whom they have had the most recent contact. To make sure you’re that agent, identify the top 150 people with whom you have done business or who are the most likely to refer you business.

The second step is to make face-to-face contact at least quarterly, as well as monthly personal contact through a text, Facebook message or email. The simplest way to do this is to monitor each of your top 150’s Facebook pages and to respond to any posts they make. The response can be one or two sentences. This strengthens your connection because you’re having conversations about topics that matter to them. You also avoid annoying them by sending them unwanted real estate marketing materials.

2. Cut your attrition in half
The typical agent loses 20 percent of their past clients each year due to attrition. As noted above, the most common reason for attrition is that agents fail to stay in touch. Other reasons include that people move out of the area, they were foreclosed upon, or their credit was ruined in the downturn and they were forced out of the market.

To cut your attrition rate in half (which would be the equivalent of generating 50 new leads if you have a database of 500 names), get back in contact with these past clients. Friend them on Facebook or link up on LinkedIn. Be in regular conversation with them, even if they live outside the area. You never know when someone will be moving back.

Even more important, those who lost their homes in short sales or foreclosures between 2009 and 2011 may have already rebuilt their credit and are now ready to come back into the market as homebuyers. If you haven’t reached out to them, do so now. Many may not know that they could be in a position to become a homeowner again.

3. You didn’t listen
Another major complaint about agents is that they don’t listen. If you walked into your listing appointment and did a slideshow or presentation on your tablet, chances are you did all the talking.

The secret here is to move from presenting to asking questions. For example, what have the sellers enjoyed about living in the property? What do they like about the neighborhood? What’s motivating them to move? What features will be important in their next property? When you ask questions about what matters to the seller, you strengthen your connection. This also increases the likelihood that you will get the listing.

4. Failure to provide a unique selling proposition
To beat the competition, it’s important that you provide the same services your competitors provide, plus one or two unique services that they don’t provide. An easy way to do this is with video since most agents are still not using this important tool.

You can also set up single-property websites (i.e., that use the property address as the URL) on the Web. In the same vein, you can also use the property address to create a single-property Facebook page, as well as a single-property Pinterest page.

5. Lack of a competitive marketing plan
If you lost a listing to a low-price competitor, chances are that you failed to show the value you bring to the transaction. One of the best ways to do this is with a robust marketing plan.

For example, did you provide the seller with a checklist of all the places where their listing will be displayed both on and offline? Did you give the seller a copy of your 90-day marketing plan that outlines when their listing will appear on the MLS, when the For Sale sign will go up, when the open houses will be, as well as the dates for your other marketing activities? Integrating these two features into your listing appointments will result in a higher conversion rate.

The five shifts above are fairly easy to make. Nevertheless, they can represent a substantial increase in the number of listings that you take. If you can cut your attrition in half and convert more actual listing appointments into signed listings, you won’t have to spend as much money in lead generation. You will also close more deals!

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Discover why leading Realtor associations and companies have chosen Bernice’s new and experienced real estate sales training for their agents at and

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription