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By Craig Proctor

RISMEDIA, September 17, 2008-Here’s an amazing fact: Most agents do not follow up on their leads. When they do, they do it haphazardly. Some days they do, some weeks they don’t. They have no “system.” The problem with this is simple. No matter how good your lead generation system is, if you waste your leads by not effectively following up on them, you can’t hit your income goals and your advertising costs may even eat you alive.

But, on the other had, if you kill yourself doing haphazard follow up, calling and chasing, well, eventually you’ll simply burn out.

In a perfect world, all those buyers and seller leads you generate would simply commit to you right off the bat. They’d hear your pitch, realize how smart you are, and how much your services will benefit them, and they’d hire you on the spot. But in real life it doesn’t work that way.

You know how good you are. You know that no other agent will give them better service. But your prospects aren’t yet so sure about this. Human nature dictates that they will wait until the last minute to commit. And even if they like the information you give them, and they have a pleasant conversation with you when you first speak with them, they will forget all about you over the next few weeks or months while they put their plans together. They’ll tuck your information aside, and if some other agent calls at the right time – when they’re really getting serious about their plans – chances are they’ll just go right ahead and list (or buy through) this agent.

If you think I’m exaggerating, let me tell you a story. Several years ago, before I had really systemized my conversion system, I made a follow up call to someone in my town. In fact, I’d made several follow up calls to her over time. She’d called me first to get a special report, and I put her into my contact management system and scheduled some follow up calls.

I spoke with her in December and she told me she was planning to list in June. Being diligent, I called her in March (half the time she’d told me) and she said: “Oh, I’ve already listed my house. I just listed it last week.”

I thought to myself, ‘How can this be? I did what I was supposed to do. I even did better than I was supposed to do!’

So I said to her: “Last time we spoke, you felt you would be listing your house in June. What happened to change your plans?”

“Oh,” she replied absently, “my husband got transferred sooner than expected.”

‘Okay,’ I thought to myself. ‘That happens.’
But then I got a real kick to the head. I asked her: “Do you mind me asking who you listed with?”

“Well, now,” she said. “I think her name is Judy something. Yes, I’m sure it’s Judy. She came over to meet with me the other night.”

She couldn’t even remember the agent’s name she had just listed with!

After I hung up the phone, I hit my head hard on the desk just so I wouldn’t forget the important lesson I’d just learned.

Someone once said something to the effect that we’re far more important in our own minds than we are in anyone else’s. We imagine that people are thinking about and discussing us, when really they’re preoccupied with themselves. Well, that goes double for real estate. You must remember that when a prospect responds to one of your ads and leaves a message to receive the information you advertised, this is only permission to make first contact with them and by no means does it seal the deal.

I know you all know this, and yet still there are so many of you out there who do not yet have a handle on how important regular and consistent follow up is. The story I just told you is true, and it’s one of many. You see, I know from firsthand, painful experience how vitally important it is to get a grip on this. Early in my career I tracked a large number of leads that I had generated over many months. I found out that 82% of them had listed with other agents within the 12 months. Wow! If I could have gotten just part of those “lost” ones, I’d have been rich.

On the one hand, I was happy to know that my marketing was generating such a high quality of leads, but it was incredibly frustrating to know that I’d let so many of them just slip through my fingers. I did all the work to get them revved up, interested, ready . . . and then some other agent swooped in and collected “my” commission. That was a real eye opener for me. A whack on the head with a two by four, and it definitely got my attention. It motivated me to caulk the cracks and plug the holes – to properly value my leads and to make sure that I had a very thorough, fail-safe follow up system to protect them from my competitors so I could have an opportunity to convert them to clients when they were ready — even if that was 2, 3, 5, 10 or 12 months after first contact.

Follow up is very important. You need to value you leads by putting a consistent, intelligent and “doable” system in place that you won’t be tempted to let slip as time progresses.

“Without the systems in place to follow up on these leads, all the lead generation in the world is not going to successfully grow your business. Keep following up until the prospect says no. If someone says they are not ready now, but will be in six months, call them in 3. Always, cut the time in half.” — Willie Miranda, Clifton Park, N.Y.

To find out more about effective follow up systems, you can visit where you can learn about my 3-day SuperConference where I train agents on proven conversions systems, including my Universal Call Back Script, which allows me and my students to convert 9 out of 10 prospects to a face-to-face appointment.

Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/MAX Worldwide for 15 years. To receive free training from Craig with no obligation, visit: