The most common complaint clients have about real estate agents is that they don’t follow up. Failure to follow up is like tossing your money into a trash can. How much are you throwing away in your business?
If you’re serious about increasing your production this summer, make following up your top priority. There’s no point in mailing out farming postcards, paying for internet leads or holding open houses if you don’t follow up on the leads you generate.
Here are seven key areas where following up is critical to closing more deals:
1. Sign calls
An innovative way to follow up on your sign calls is to obtain a free Google Voice number that can be forwarded to your cell phone, assistant or voicemail system. Some agents actually carry a second cell phone exclusively for their hotline.
When that phone rings, they know it’s a sign call that needs to be picked up immediately, even if they’re on a listing appointment. Besides, what better way to show a seller right on the spot how good you are at converting incoming sign calls?
2. New email inquiries
A long-time friend described his experience relocating to a new area. To begin his search, he sent emails to the three top agents he found on the web asking for information about the area. He also left his name, phone number and price range ($500,000).
One agent did call him back eight days later apologizing that he doesn’t check his emails very often. The other two agents didn’t even reply. When the buyer didn’t hear back from these three agents, he kept searching until he finally found an agent who followed up the same day.
3. Buyer calls, even if you don’t work with buyers
On a recent coaching call, one agent said she hated working with buyers so much she never returned their calls. She estimated this cost her business almost $50,000 last year alone.
If you hate working with buyers, team up with an agent who loves working with them, and take a 25 percent referral fee for generating the lead. Alternatively, hire a buyer’s agent.
4. Open houses
In the past, following up manually on open house leads was a daunting task. Today, lead conversion and follow-up are easy.
Tools like Spacio allow you to convert the lead as soon as the person walks into your open house, sends that person a “thank you” for attending your open house and then stays in touch with that lead.
5. Cranky sellers
This is the one area where our agents often earn low marks. You’re excited when you first take the listing, but when it doesn’t sell, you dread calling the seller. A simple way to handle this is to create a digital weekly update. This can be as simple as informing your clients of the following:
- The number of showings this week
- Broker feedback
- New listings
- What’s under contract
- New comps (what’s closed and final closing price)
If you’re really dreading calling the seller or you don’t want to use email, you can use an app called slydial that sends your call directly to voicemail.
If they really need to talk to you, they will get back with you. If they do, reply immediately (no matter how difficult your client may be) by texting, emailing or calling based on how they contacted you.
6. Referral leads
If there were “seven deadly sins” in the real estate business, this is the deadliest. Referral business is at the heart of a sustainable, successful real estate practice. With every referral, you have a double obligation to follow up, not only with the referral but with the person who gave you the referral as well.
Follow up with your referral resource by using these steps:
- Call the source of the referral immediately to thank them for making the referral.
- As soon as you hang up, send a hand-written thank you note.
- It’s also smart to send the person a small token of your appreciation.
- Update the source of the referral, regardless of whether you work with their referral or not.
In the case where the referral is not a fit, make sure you never say anything demeaning about the referral. Instead simply say: “Your referral decided to work with someone else. Thank you for having the confidence in me to make the referral. I’m extremely grateful.”
Remember, your goal is to keep the referral pipeline running. Always send a thank you note, and even better, a small token of your appreciation, whether or not the lead chooses to work with you.
7. During the transaction
While not following up on referrals is deadly, not following up on existing business is the costliest mistake you can make. Unfortunately, I’ve seen hundreds of agents lose transactions simply because they didn’t understand how to prioritize the most important parts of their businesses.
Remember, the real estate business is based on the following priorities in the following order:
- Properties under contract
- Signed listings
- Warm seller leads
- Warm buyer leads
- New/cold business
If you’re taking out a new buyer instead of following up with a buyer who has a property that is under contract or a seller whose house is listed with you, you’re making a serious error. Existing business should always be your top priority.
Following up ultimately comes down to money. The next time you don’t feel like following up, imagine your wastepaper basket full of $20 bills. You really don’t want to throw them away, do you?
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP (brokerageup.com) and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.