Early in my real estate career, I heard this statement from a good friend and colleague which really resonated with me. He stated: “Our industry does not have a lead generation problem, it has a lead follow-up problem.” It was to become an interesting observation, because he further went on to say: “If you master the follow-up process, you will not be able to keep up with the abundance of leads.”
At the time, I was perplexed by the statement, as the most common question or request I had from the majority of colleagues was that they simply couldn’t get enough leads. They were often looking for the perfect (aka, magic dust) “prospecting strategy” that actually worked and generated a consistent flow of “now” leads, with the minimum of effort, time and financial investment. In other words, they were in search of utopia. Don’t we all!
Many may also assume that leads are often the result of an agent’s follow-up process. And I believe most would confidently assume that in today’s modern world of real estate practice, the follow-up process with most agents would be sound. That is, once they make a meaningful connection with an individual who may possibly be a potential future seller, then there would be a corresponding and appropriate follow-up process with meaningful touchpoints to stay relevant and top of mind as an active agent.
It is therefore perplexing to think that, in the majority of cases, this does not happen. Especially with established clients such as past buyers and sellers. Some may debate this, but a very easy way to get a snapshot of the effectiveness of past follow-up, one can simply research the last 20 to 50 new listings that have come to market in their local area and cross-reference the last agency that sold it to the current owner. You may be surprised that more than 80 per cent have selected a different agent to the one they bought it off. That’s only one in five sellers that reconnect and list with the original agent they bought it off.
That begs the question as to why this is the case. Surely, a past buyer would be high on the reason list to stay connected with and build a strong value-based relationship, and because of it, we should see more of current listings relisted by the previous selling agency? And yet, in most instances and marketplaces, it’s not the current reality.
Of course, there is a multitude of reasons as to why past buyers don’t often use the agent they bought it off. It could be that they simply didn’t have a memorable experience in the first instance, were not followed up as mentioned in the introduction (I mean, how often do sellers say they can’t remember who they bought the property from?), or the agent has moved on and may no longer be in the industry or location.
Whatever the reason, one must assume that the “follow-up” process, in many instances, be it with past sellers, buyers, or appraised properties, is not at a level that keeps those agents with these potential future sellers at the top of the shopping list. So, what does an effective but simple follow-up process look like? I’d like to say there is one size that fits all, a set and forget, but there isn’t.
Generally speaking, “follow up” must be tailored to the individual, and timing plays an equally important role. Imminent sellers will have differing touchpoints than those who have no immediate plans to move. Both follow-up strategies to be effective, however, must have one thing in common, and that is “relevance”. With each follow-up or touchpoint, it must be relevant and informative and in a broad view, display that the agent is active, knowledgeable and effective.
Follow-up must also have a blended approach. It should have part-digital and tech, i.e. email and social. Direct mail such as handwritten anniversary cards or glossy market reports. The yearly phone call accompanied by regular (two to three per year) SMS updates goes without saying. VIPs and those that are your raving fans should also be treated to yearly client nights.
There is a plethora of follow-up strategies and opportunities that each agent can implement. For those that are serious and wish to take a long-term approach, I highly recommend conducting a full-day planning session with their team. In doing so, you will be able to map out an effective follow-up process which, when implemented, will generate an abundance of leads. It will be an investment of time that your future self will be eternally grateful for.
Manos Findikakis is the CEO and co-founder of the Eview Group.