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Increasing your conversion rate is no secret. It’s like everything else in real estate (and life) in that you must follow a proven process or model. That proven process/model is a good mix of lead sources, and, most importantly, a follow-up plan for each.

The leads can be separated into three categories:

  • Top 50/key referrers– These are the people that know, like and trust you, and that you have a high level of face-to-face contact with on a monthly basis.
  • People you’re currently working with– This includes any current business that’ll be under contract within 30-360 days.
  • New business– These people can be from a variety of sources, such as pay-per-click ads, office call-ins, etc.

Oftentimes, people focus on one of the major two: sphere of influence (SOI/Top 50) or pay-per-click leads (Zillow,® or CINC) and ignore the other. While specializing in a high level of attention to one group may seem like a good path to success, it’s often too limited a resource pool to succeed at the level we need to survive on in real estate, which leads to a high turnover rate.

A good way to ensure success and increase conversion rates is by defining what’s considered work, and what’s considered busy work. For our process, work is defined as any activity that’s primary goal is to produce a money-making outcome. Examples include open houses, customer parties or events, prospecting for buyers or sellers, showing houses or listing appointments.

Busy work is defined as all supporting activities to the money-making activities (MMA): inspections, repair estimates, title work and the paperwork/processing of the transaction. This is why agents and teams with assistants often out-produce individual agents by a wide margin.

A great way to test your work-to-busy work ratio is the 30-minute clock. Starting when you get to the office, and continuing for 3-5 days, set your cellphone alarm to go off every 30 minutes. When it does, write down the activities you’ve been working on, and highlight the MMA. Most agents find when conducting this activity that they complete less than 60 minutes of MMA daily. For a healthy business, we should conduct a minimum of three hours of MMA a day.

Once we’re focused on the correct activities, we must follow a proven system. Let’s take the three-hour per day minimum. First, focus on your highest conversion rate, or your Top 50/key referrers. Spending one hour of your daily activities in face-to-face meetings with your Top 50 should produce 86 sides referred and 50 closed.

It’s also important that you always focus on the client’s needs, not yours—and never ask for referrals. The FORD dialog is the goal when it comes to learning more about and having a solid relationship with the client. Note in your CRM your client’s Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams (FORD) so that you have conversations that are of high value each and every time. Studies have shown that people will default to talking about the weather and their occupation when there’s a lag in conversation, so take advantage of the opportunity to tell them about how amazing the market is and how many families you’ve been able to help.

Nearly three decades of real estate experience—including 15 years of coaching with Verl Workman—have made Jim Knowlton one of the top agents in the country and one of the most popular coaches on the Workman Success Systems’ team. In addition to serving as director of Coaching for Workman Success Systems, Knowlton also owned and managed several real estate franchises, earned numerous awards for his performance, and continues to lead a Keller Williams Mega Agent team in New Hampshire today. Contact him at For more information, please visit