Real Estate Lead Follow-up: Nail The First Call

    Overcome your call reluctance

    It’s irrational. After all, “call reluctance” is a malady reserved for cold callers, isn’t it? Then why does the warm-call-lead-follow-up produce the same symptoms?

    The dread at the thought of picking up the phone and trying to win the trust and business of a complete stranger isn’t all that irrational when you think about it.

    You’ve cleared the first hurdle by generating a response to your marketing. Now, it’s completely up to how you handle this call that will result in you winning the business.

    That’s intimidating for many of us.

    Intimidation gets us stuck. So, back away from the phone and take a deep breath. Then, learn the tried-and-true techniques successful agents use when following up on real estate leads.

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    Change your perspective

    Remember, this first follow-up call isn’t a cold one. You’re returning a call (or email, etc.). This person reached out to you and expects a response. You’ve actually been given permission to contact her.

    She may not be ready to pull the trigger on a real estate transaction right now, and you should be prepared for that, but she was motivated enough to take the first step and that’s a cause to celebrate, not back away.

    Besides, who has too many leads in their pipeline? There’s always room for one more.

    It’s all in the timing 

    While our industry is known for its “location, location, location” mantra, what outsiders don’t know is that “time is of the essence” is more than just a contract term to real estate agents.

    When faced with an initial contact from a real estate lead, time can either be your enemy or your best friend.

    It is critical that you place that follow-up call within minutes of receiving the lead. 

    If you don’t, another agent most certainly will.

    Whether it’s call reluctance or that you’re insanely busy, we get it. But studies show that the chances of reaching the lead are the highest if you return the call within five minutes.

    Years ago, two guys from teamed up with James B. Oldroyd, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to conduct a survey of more than 600 businesses.

    Their aim was to study “lead response rates, timing and effort, and their influence on the outcome of a lead,” they told Steve Olenski at

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    What they found should be etched into the minds of every real estate agent:
    • Call back within five minutes and you’re most likely to connect with the lead.
    • If you wait a half-hour, you are 100 times less likely to reach the lead.
    • Wait five hours and your odds of ever connecting with that lead drop by 3,000 times.

    An immediate call-back is not only most likely to result in a conversation with your lead, but it’s impressive as well.

    “We call it the ‘wow effect’ as in wow, that was fast! You are impressive,”’s CEO Dave Elkington tells Olenski.

    And, how could they not be impressed, especially if they’ve placed calls to other agents? The odds are pretty low that they got a return call this quickly from anyone else.

    But this isn’t all we can take away from the survey; conversion rates – “the rate at which the lead contact is willing to set an appointment and enter the sales cycle,” according to Olenski — increases with a quicker return call.

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    Obviously, getting an appointment is the goal with real estate lead gen follow-up, so ignore time being of the essence at your peril.

    What not to say after “hello”

    Before making the call-back, take a minute to familiarize yourself with everything you learned from his or her message. If it was a call about a specific property, get the MLS listing in front of you. Then look it over to determine the neighborhood, size, and anything of interest that may not be included in the public-facing listing information.

    Focus solely on the lead and his or her reasons for reaching out to you, no matter how tempted you are to toot your own horn. Naturally, if you’re asked, you’ll want to answer questions about yourself, but unsolicited remarks about your sales stats, designations, etc. make you appear overly “salesy.”

    Don’t push for an appointment until you understand where in the pipeline this lead falls. At this point, you’re a counselor, not a real estate salesperson.

    Identify yourself and the name of your brokerage, and quickly add that you’re returning his or her call.

    At this point, the lead may launch into the reason for the original call. Listen carefully to what’s being said and answer all questions.

    When the call is for information about a particular listing, describe it and then, again, listen.

    If you feel that the lead is open to remaining on the phone with you, begin a gentle probe, asking if he has spoken with a lender, if he has a home to sell before buying another and, naturally, if he’s interested in touring the home he called about.

    Before disengaging the caller, let him know that you have no intention of hounding him like some of the other agents he’s spoken with but that you’re available if he has additional questions.

    Ask for permission to email alerts about new listings similar to the one he called about.

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    The wrap-up 

    If you offer free reports or an e-book, offer it toward the end of the call. “I just created a market report for the Pleasant Skies neighborhood that will give you an idea of what the different models are selling for, can I email you a copy?”

    Great free reports to offer that are popular with consumers include, “Chop Years Off Your Mortgage“, “5 Reasons Your House Didn’t Sell” “Sure-Fire Tips For a Quick Sale“, “6 Dangers of Overpricing“, all of which are available here.

    Be sure to include your free report offer with your emails direct mail, social media and website to drive those inbound phone calls.

    No freebies? Hey, a list of new listings matching his criteria is a freebie, so offer that. “I’ll tell you what, Joe, give me your email address and I’ll be happy to email you alerts of new listings that match what you’re looking for.”

    End the call with something along the lines of: “Terrific. Now, if you see any other listings you’re interested in touring, don’t hesitate to give me a call, or text me. I’m happy to set appointments for you and show you around the neighborhood,”

    The key to success with a lead who leaves you a message is lightning-quick response time. Then, remember not to come on too strong. Counsel the lead, don’t sell to her.

    Now that you have a plan of attack, order Free Reports and add a Free Report Offer to ALL of your marketing (emails, direct mail, website, and social media).

    Need help targeting the perfect niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

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    Lisa is an accomplished marketer with years of expertise in direct response marketing, digital marketing, data analytics and business development working with both B2C and B2B.