Lists can be powerful when used properly. They imply organization, impart control and enable understanding. Instead of a “to do” list, I’m talking about lead lists. Instead of trying to explain a complicated customer relationship management (CRM) solution or an expensive training program, I’m going to tell you the six lists you need to succeed in this business. If you’ve got these and work them right, you’ll close deals.

The 6 lists every Realtor needs to succeed:

  1. Your sphere of influence
  2. Your past clients
  3. Your “A” leads
  4. Your “B” leads
  5. Your “C” leads
  6. Business development contacts

If you’ve got people in each of these categories, you’ve already got a good start. What most agents need and seem to pay a fortune for with consultants, advisers and coaches is the definition of who to put in each of those lists and what to actually do with the lists. It’s not complicated, as I’ll explain.

Who is in each list?

  • Sphere of influence: friends, family, past colleagues outside real estate.
  • Past clients: Duh! For new agents, this list will come.
  • “A” leads: anyone buying or selling in the next 90 days, is preapproved and motivated.
  • “B” leads: anyone buying or selling in the next six months, is organized, serious and seems loyal.
  • “C” leads: open house contacts, website leads and anyone “thinking” about real estate.
  • Business development: builders, lawyers, accountants, referral agents, etc.

Just to be clear on the ABCs, a lot of agents waste time massaging and cultivating their B and C leads as much as the A leads. In a word: DON’T! This is a numbers game and you will never convert every lead.

Conversely, don’t treat your “A” leads like Gollum treats The One Ring in “The Lord of the Rings.” That one client you really need to close is not “your precious.” Clients can smell desperation and clingy from a mile away. Provide good service but balance your energies on other clients and prospects.

What to do with each list?

What’s the reason most agents never do business with past clients? FOLLOW-UP!! Even if they like you, if you don’t reach out and touch them once in a while, they will forget about you. Don’t take it personally, but if you don’t send me a Christmas card or a “Happy Birthday” via Facebook, I’ll probably forget you, too.

So, the crazy, insane, ultraclassified secret to successfully using lists is …


There, I said it. That’s the secret. The cat is out of the bag. I’ve blown it for all the top producers.

If you follow Brian Buffini, then you’ll send them something every month. If you’re like me, I send them something six to eight times a year. Whatever you do, send them something so they know you’re breathing and you’d like them to send you some business.

Now, seriously, what you send them is up to you. Here are some specific suggestions, but you’ll find dozens of options from every sector of the industry:

  • Newsletters (short and useful)
  • Personal notes (NO PITCH, just say “hi”)
  • Phone calls (NO PITCH, just say “hi”)
  • Emails (useful information)
  • Gifts (something small)
  • Appreciation party invitation
  • Letters (yes, in an actual envelope)
  • Postcards (the big ones)

Are there other ideas? Sure. The point is that you send them things that are useful and genuine. If you treat them like just another cog in the system, they’ll pick up on that. Read up on “mass personalization” and you’ll understand what I mean.

Just a tip: Your MLS drip for buyers is NOT a contact. That buyer probably gets the same stuff from Trulia, Zillow and Redfin. Your MLS drip is meaningless. Send them something about the neighborhood they’re looking in. That’s useful and will get their attention.

What is the business development list?

Rather than paying for leads or hoping that the next buyer at an open house will write an offer, you need to be proactive. The purpose of business development is to CREATE BUSINESS. For the record, that doesn’t include whatever advertising or marketing program you’re running. This list includes people you talk to about frequent, repeat business.

Let’s say you want to sell trust assets (homes of seniors who die). You like working with the families and understand the process. You need to reach out to trust attorneys and promote your skills to them. Set up meetings and discuss what you offer. Build relationships with several trust attorneys and keep pushing for why you’re the best agent to sell those homes.

Another group is builders. As agents, you’ve got contacts on the lending, investor and builder side. OK, put that to use by building a team of people to buy and develop properties. Sure, many builders have these relationships already, but then again they may not. It’s up to you to figure out what they need and how to cultivate the relationship.

When do I drop people from the lists?

Patience is a virtue and, unfortunately, many prospects have very little of it. Your sphere of influence and past clients are most likely to remain stable and grow. Those two lists should seldom see people drop off.

The other lists will see people come and go regularly. Don’t take it personally. Here are some thoughts:

  • Spend one to two hours each day on lead generation and cultivation.
  • Drop leads when they tell you they’ve gone elsewhere.
  • Drop leads when you determine they’re wasting time or aren’t serious.
  • Don’t fear losing leads — generate new ones.

Customer service and your lists

The whole real estate business is based on customer service and how good you are at providing it. You don’t even have to be great at marketing or sales — just ensuring the customer is happy can go a long way. Harry Gordon Selfridge is credited with using the phrase, “The customer is always right.” His store, Selfridge’s, was all about providing an exceptional customer experience. Keep this in mind with everything you do with the people on your lists.

Make people remember you. Make people want to remember you. If you do, those lists will grow and grow.

This post by Bryan Robertson was originally published on ActiveRain. Bryan is the co-founder and managing broker of Catarra Real Estate, a real estate services company that provides highly personalized services to each client.

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