When it comes to closing real estate deals, follow up is everything.
And isn't easy. It takes guts, determination and the rare ability to relax and have fun, even when you're under extreme pressure. Unfortunately, there will be days (though hopefully not too many) when you or your agents just don't feel up to it.
Here’s what to do to get back in the game.
Buying or selling a home almost always coincides with a major life event. Whether it’s a move, a divorce, or sending the kids off to college—the process can be stressful even for second or third-time home buyers.
If you put yourself in their shoes, it’s no wonder prospects take their time while making a decision. In fact, according to Zillow’s 2019 Consumer Housing Trends Report:
While many real estate agents give into the temptation of pressuring the client to close ASAP, top producers play the long game by putting faith in their follow-up process, helping them to close more deals, more consistently.
A great follow-up process also makes prospects much more likely to refer you to the friends and family in their sphere of influence (SOI). Why?
Because no one likes to be treated like a commission check. Today’s real estate consumers are better informed (read: more skeptical) than ever. They demand knowledge, empathy and patience from A to Z of the real estate journey.
But if you’re here, you probably know this already. For many successful agents, the question isn’t whether or not to follow up, it’s how do you follow up without having to handcuff yourself to your laptop?
And that is a whole other ball game. Luckily, we have a few proven tactics to help.
Whether you’re a team leader or solo agent, follow up is probably an ongoing battle.
Justin Seeby, owner of The Seeby Group, has seen some serious success in his real estate business, yet he still believes his team has plenty of room for improvement on the follow up front.
"We have the ability to see when agents last looked at a lead and did any type of actionable task for that lead. Basically, we can see when they sent the last email or the last time they texted or called the lead when they use the app. It’s hard to get them back on track."
Justin uses 15-minute daily meetings in the morning before the 9:30-11:30 am follow up time. "It works well, but still, it was not that effective so we hired a director of sales. We positioned her in the middle of all the agent’s cubies so she can keep them on track."
But depending on the size of your team, you may need more than one accountability officer.
Justin also hired an ISA to take care of the following tasks:
But what if you’re flying solo?
Even if you’re working alone from your basement, there are still plenty of ways to make follow up part of your working environment.
Take Kelowna-based agent, Brandon Grass for example.
This top producer uses a robust CRM, but he also surrounds himself with tangible reminders of why follow up is crucial, including his 'Sell Or Be Sold' whiteboard.
The outcome? In his first two-and-a-half years in real estate, Brandon had already called over 25,000 leads resulting in 80 listings appointments in just 6 months.
To ensure your follow-up process is easy to execute, here are some proven tips to get you and/or your agents back on the follow up horse.
Not all clients are the same. Some folks like a good old-fashioned phone call. Others would prefer email or text. The first time you speak with them, make sure to ask for their preferred mode of communication.
By letting them choose, you help eliminate the dread of being told off by a lead and make it easy for you or your agents to follow up. “That’s important because customers today are so smart—we know when we’re being automated,” says Renee Funk of The Funk Collection.
She and her husband Jeff doubled their team’s transaction volume in just one year, simply by arming their agents with better, more organic ways to follow up with leads.
Of course, the content of your follow up matters just as much as your method.
Take the following example. Which statement is more likely to get a prospect on your side?
My name’s Beth, and I’m an agent with Best Homes Realtors. We noticed you recently set up an account on our website, and wanted to check in with how we could help.
John, I see you’re looking at a few condos on Beverly Avenue (based on your account). If you don’t mind, I could arrange a few home viewings, so you can see in-person what the condos look like.
If you guessed B, then you guessed right. The follow-up process is an opportunity to build lasting connections with your leads by establishing a real relationship.
That’s why it’s important to remember that scripts are only the starting point. Prospects know when they’re dealing with an agent who’s all about the commissions vs. one who is genuinely empathetic to their needs.
When sending an email, in addition to summarizing the previous conversation, be sure to include an actionable value-add that reinforces your authority as a resource on all things real estate.
This could be a piece of content, an industry report, etc. Whatever it is, it shouldn’t be salesy.
For example, when visitors to Barry Jenkins’ website pass by to browse listings, they have the option to register with their phone number and email. But many people don’t want to do that. They just want to give their address.
In these cases, the lead goes directly from Barry’s website to Follow Up Boss, which fires to Zapier and then sends the lead’s address to Thankster, where there’s a template for a handwritten card set up and ready to go.
“We don’t even know their name. Yet, we’re able to send them a card that gives them a relevant message. It’s something along the lines of, ‘Automated home values are helpful, but if you really want to know what your home is worth, reach out to us and we’ll do an assessment. No strings attached,” says Barry in our 2018 interview.
As a top producing Realtor, your leads expect you to be an authority in the market. They’re counting on you to help them break down the trends, market metrics and any other data that they might need in order to confidently do a deal.
To emphasize your position as a local expert, try helping your prospects by sending them text and video emails clarifying any market trends they should watch out for, or providing them with “insider tips” on how to make the most out of the market.
Taylor Hack is one team leader who’s done a stellar job of positioning his team as a resource to clients. Among other things, Taylor has sent thousands upon thousands of video follow ups and secured a place in the top 2% of RE/MAX agents worldwide.
Coincidence? We think not.
“By setting a frequency that’s realistic, I’m not just the man of negative news,” says Taylor. According to him, many agents only contact listed sellers to ask for a reduction. Because Taylor uses video for all types of follow ups, he’s able to boost his know-like-trust factor and make delivering “bad news” a breeze.
There’s no two ways about it: Your CRM is central to your success in follow up.
But if you’re lucky enough to have a large database of leads, it can be easy to fall into the shiny object trap or get stuck in analysis paralysis. And that’s the quickest way for leads to fall through the cracks or get poached by the competition.
With a smart sales platform, you can create workable filters and lists that allow you to prioritize leads based on important factors like buying stage, recent communication, website behavior or other custom data.
This takes the guesswork out of who your agents should reach out to next and makes it easy for them to move seamlessly from contact to contact during their daily prospecting time.
When you’re in the business of running a real estate team, agent accountability is half the battle.
An "instant gratification" mindset, fear of rejection and a lack of motivation are just some of the core problems that can keep your agents running in place. We asked a handful of top brokers, team leaders and real estate experts how to figure out what's really holding your team back.
"We coach a large mega team—one listing agent was feeling 'overwhelmed' and took herself out of rotation for new leads, we came up with some great dialogues for following up and offering service for the 27 leads she had while servicing the 14 she had under contract and she took 12 listings in March," says Mike Stott of Your Coaching Matters.
For Mike, getting follow up back on track is all about, "Knowing your numbers if you’re a larger team—knowing your people if you’re smaller in size.
Team leader Barry Jenkins agrees. He accepts the follow up struggle as par for the course when running a team.
"Rather than complaining about it, I’ve accepted it because if they were like me I would have the wrong team. But rather than accepting them not working hard in following up, I’ve inspired them to try harder and created systems that assist them in following up and giving them intel on the leads, and manage them daily with a daily huddle."
Barry ends his morning calls by reminding his rockstar team why the work they do is important. Here's how he signs off:
“As you drive to your appointments today, you’re going to see people unhappy and limited by their current employment. You have the opportunity to be different. The sky's the limit with your career path. Be grateful for your current employment and go crush it today!”
Barry is also a stickler for relevant content. Here’s how he approaches the email element of his follow-up process:
Once you’ve got the right cadence, consequences and tools in place, it’s all about paying attention to what your agents are (or aren’t) doing.
CEO of Labcoat Agents Tristan Ahumada is a KW Realtor with over 14 years in the game. He ALWAYS suspects his agents aren't following up.
"As I write this I'm calling leads and checking notes on Follow Up Boss. Surprise!" he laughs. According to Tristan, you should "Always inspect what you expect."
"I don't wait until I feel like my team is slacking. Once a month I take a week and I just sit in front of the computer and dial. I call and call and call and call, I convert leads and I remind the agents that aren't making calls and putting in notes to get on the leads. In the end, some agents just don't fit the model and I have to let them go and some choose to go on their own. For those that stay, they succeed at a high level."
To make sure your agents are meeting your expectations, coach Mike Stott recommends weekly accountability meetings to review the leads together.
"The only way to find out is accountability at least weekly—someone going through all the leads assigned to an agent with input on each one. Takes 10 to 15 minutes a week. We did this ourselves while in Hawaii and had 40 agents making over 400 sales a year from leads we gave them," Mike explains.
This is a system he and Donna, Mike’s wife and co-founder, regularly teach their real estate team leaders. Donna recommends using the following questions in your one-on-one reviews to help your agents see the bigger picture of what is and isn't working.
And according to Florida-based broker-owner Robert Slack, you absolutely need to know what's happening on the ground in order to be able to make the right calls in how you distribute your leads.
"With Follow Up Boss it's easy to check on the team members’ responses to leads, because, under the 'Reporting' tab you can easily see what the response time is for each Agent, how many 'alerts' they set, how many calls, texts, or emails they do. IF I suspect an Agent is not being diligent on this, I assume that they have too many leads and cut their leads," he says.
Which brings us to the question no one likes to ask.
The idea of firing a team member is never fun. Here’s what one of Inman’s Top 25 real estate coaches had to say on this touchy topic:
"My coaching clients, out of frustration, would ask me, 'Should I fire such-and-so?'” recalls Dr. Lee Davenport.
According to Dr. Lee there are three key things to consider before you fire a team member.
1. Is it a scheduling problem?
Have you given the team member several responsibilities, including those that are more demanding (a.k.a. current transactions)?
Before giving the heave-ho, be sure to review their schedule and see what realistic adjustments can be made to make more time for follow-up. For example, if the agent typically needs to "put out fires" in the afternoon, the afternoon should be avoided when planning follow-up time.
2. Is it a training problem?
Sometimes more seasoned agents assume that everyone understands effective follow-up like we do. Follow-up is never "one and done"—one call, one email, one mailing, one social media post, one smoke signal, or anything else your team uses to stay in touch.
If you have a team member that is lacking in follow-up, have a pow-wow and point blank ask, "What does follow-up mean to you?" If their answer does not match your hustle and expectations, train them on what you want (or hire a coach to do so).
3. Is it a system problem?
As a follow-up question to, "What does follow-up mean to you?", also ask the team member, "What system are you using to keep up with your follow-up activity?"
If you have a preferred customer relationship management (CRM) system for the members of your team to use, take a moment to get honest feedback from them. Is it truly user-friendly for EVERYONE on your team?
Sometimes technology is great in theory but a pain in reality. Choose the wrong system, and it may actually stifle your follow-up.
Take Lee's advice. Before you part ways with a team member you know has potential, take a moment to consider whether you're really doing everything you can to help them succeed.
Follow up isn't easy. But with the right tools and systems, you can manage your lead conversions from one central place, while ensuring every lead lands with the right person.
Ready to get your team back on track? Try Follow Up Boss for free!