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October 25, 2018

Follow-Up: It's the Foundation of a Successful Business

Real estate agent “Sally” (names have been changed to protect the guilty!) called me...

Good but not Great

“Denise”, she said, “my business is good, but not great. I’ve had a marketing makeover. I’ve redone my listing presentation.  I’ve learned consultative selling.  Things have gotten better, but I’m still not at the level where I want to be.  What am I doing wrong?”

Nine times out of ten when I hear this from an agent, I know exactly what the problem is.

I asked Sally a few questions.  It took me only five minutes to confirm my suspicions. Sally had been doing everything right—with one exception.

One Very Major Exception

She wasn’t being consistent with her follow-up.

I can’t tell you how many brilliant agents are losing business because of lousy follow-up, inconsistent follow-up, or no follow-up at all.  It perplexes me that an agent would put in all the time and expense to develop a business, only to ignore the one tool that consistently generates new leads.

Follow-up is basic.  Every successful real estate career has been built on it.

Take a good hard look at yours right now.

Are you staying in touch with your database?  Are you contacting your past clients?  Do you have an email campaign pre-written to automatically go out to them?

Do you send annual reports specifically tailored for their individual neighborhoods?  Do you hold an annual client appreciation event?  Do you call past clients at least once a year?

If your answer to any of these questions is ”no”, you certainly cannot expect your past clients to remember you when someone they know needs real estate assistance.

The reason is simple.  People—even the really nice ones—take the path of least resistance when it comes to referrals.  If the path of least resistance is that you’re top of mind, then you get the referral.

If, however, they haven’t seen nor heard from you in three years, the path isn’t so direct anymore.  Perhaps they’ve become friends with another agent since then.  Add the fact that you’ve disappeared from their lives and chances are that they will forget you.

When You Forget Them, They Forget You

Your follow-up is the one foundational piece of your business that needs your critical attention.  Consistency is key.  Without consistent follow-up, you are destroying your business.

I can just hear you now, “Destroying my business?  Really?  But Denise, I’m out there prospecting every day.  I work very hard to find new clients.  And I’m good at it. So what’s the problem?”

The problem is that you’re working harder and harder to find those clients.  You may indeed be great at prospecting.  That’s wonderful.  But prospecting is tiring.  It can wear you down.  The last thing you can afford right now is to become burned out.

It is so much easier – and more lucrative – to have an army of salespeople out there bringing new clients to you. These are your past clients.

One agent I know spends 80% of her time just fielding referrals.  How?  Years ago, she realized the value of past clients. Since day one, she has stayed in touch with everyone she has ever done business with.  It has paid off for her so much that her phone rings at least once a week with a new referral.  Wouldn’t you like to be in that position?

(Be careful. I’m not suggesting you don’t prospect.  Don’t forget – this agent has built her list over three decades.  Yes, it takes time.  But look what consistent follow-up did for her business!)

By having a strong follow-up plan targeted at your past client database, you will sustain your business longer with less upfront effort.  This frees you to focus on other tasks or to take time off – which is a mandatory element of being successful.

Follow-up doesn’t need to be consigned to your past clients, either.  Why not follow-up with the people that you come across in your daily travels?

Recently, in my Evolve! group, I asked agents to list every single person who is even remotely on their radar – people who might buy or sell a house in the next year.  Then, I asked them to hypothetically assume they would take action.  I had them calculate how much money that would mean to them.

The numbers were startling.  This hypothetical analysis showed them the possibility that existed with those clients, if only they can keep in touch with them until the clients are ready to move forward.  The sad fact was many of those agents did not have any kind of follow-up system in place … even when they knew that the clients would likely take action soon!

In order to do follow-up well, it’s important to have a system in place.  That system details exactly what to do every month of the year.

Here’s a great example of effective follow up:

  • Six times a year, send an article about what’s going on in the real estate market.
  • Four times a year, send a quarterly report that compares the previous year’s quarter to this year’s quarter.
  • Once a year, send an Annual Client Review.
  • Once a year, send a forecast for the coming year.

That’s twelve pieces to keep you in the minds of your clients—one for each month of the year.  Now that is a powerful follow-up program.  And you’ll notice that not one element of the system involves recipe cards, automotive tips, or suggestions for maintaining good health.  Your follow-up system must be focused solely on real estate.

Follow-up is the essential foundation of any real estate agent’s business.  If you’re not doing well with your follow-up, take some time to get it in order.  Ask yourself what you can do to make a connection with your clients RIGHT NOW.

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