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Follow-Up for Success

by Matthew Ferrara

Ferarra ArticleReal estate is an industry of trends: From social media to millennials, coming-soon listings to lead generation, there’s always a new, new, new idea to help grow your business. That’s why it’s often refreshing to review those oldies but goodies that continue to make a difference to your success. And nothing is as old but as good as the topic of follow-up.

All growth comes from conversion: turning opportunities into closings. Every new lead - from a portal or a referral - starts the clock on creating profits. It’s no surprise that the most successful real estate professionals I’ve met around the world are hyper focused on their follow-up systems, especially in three areas: technology, commitment, and content. Let’s take a look at each.

Follow-Up Technology. This is the easiest part of follow-up because there are plenty of technology options. Every smartphone, tablet and computer these days comes with the essential apps: A contact database that connects to a calendar and reminder tool. Classic solutions like Microsoft’s Outlook are as accessible as ever, focusing follow-up around your daily planner and email communications. Industry-specific programs, like MoxiWorks, combine data and communications with a proven sales philosophy for converting new leads as well as driving referrals from your sphere of influence, the largest source of most successful business. Cloud-based platforms like Boomtown will not only generate leads through web marketing but provide you with a follow-up CRM system to capitalize on every marketing dollar invested.

Such technologies do what most salespeople need most: Apply a step-by-step process for turning leads and relationships into business. They also address a common pitfall: Many salespeople give-up on following-up long before a prospect can say yes. By turning follow-up into a daily activity, your technology should reduce your lost business due to inconsistent follow-through processes.

Follow-Up Commitment. In addition to the best technology, successful follow-up depends upon your personal commitment to pursuing the business. Compared to cool marketing activities, contacting and following-up every lead isn’t quite as fun. So it’s important that salespeople validate and increase their commitment to their conversion strategy.

One way to strengthen your commitment to follow-up is to "show yourself the money" with every lead. Use your technology to add a "cost/potential number" to each lead. Add the cost to acquire the lead and the potential commission income it represents for your business. This helps visualize every lead's business impact. You'll be less likely to delete a lead that says "$25" attached to the record without at least having one good conversation. Even better, if your pop-up reminder shows the potential commission income with the prospect's name, you're more inclined to make the call or send a message. (Imagine your activity reminder saying, "$6,500 Follow-Up with Buyer Bob Smith.")

Another way to validate your commitment is look back on leads you may have dropped months ago. We've done this with clients, comparing past abandoned leads to MLS sales recorded in intervening months. Not surprisingly, a significant number of leads that were abandoned due to poor follow-through often show as closed deals with a similar broker in the marketplace. It's a brisk reminder that we often give up too soon, and our commitment to conversion must be as strong as to marketing.

Follow-Up Content. Finally, we come to the "insides" of a great follow-up strategy. There are many philosophies in the industry, from using automated drip-marketing content to hand-crafting personalized messages. The ideal strategy is a little of both, but it's helpful to keep a few core sales techniques in mind.

Effective follow-up starts with a strong initial dialogue with the prospect, to assess their needs and timeframe. As a rule, dialogue should drive content, not merely automation. Asking targeted and specific questions by phone, email or social conversation, should determine whether, how and when you'll be able to create a business opportunity. From the dialogue, you fine-tune the content strategy and adjust your technology and commitment appropriately.

For example, if your dialogue indicates a prospect is long-term, you might apply an automated email campaign of pre-written templates (about the market, home ownership, major trends, seasonal topics, etc.). You would adjust your commitment expectations to months or years. It might also mean connecting with them on social media, to slowly nurture and build rapport.

By contrast, a conversation that indicates immediate needs would require you to use different content (listing data, market metrics, critical finance issues). You might need to do immediate online research of their social profiles to learn about personal preferences, to pick something more appropriate from your library of pre-written content – or write something completely new. It also means the follow-up might not be effective if automated: the best sales need a salesperson to do the work!

The pillars of great follow-up - technology, commitment and content - are vital to your long-term success. Before you get distracted by the next, next thing to come along, take a look at the three pieces of your follow-up strategy to make every future opportunity count.


Matthew Ferrara has been helping real estate professionals develop their sales, marketing and personal growth strategies since 1991. You can enjoy more of his ideas at www.matthewferrara.com

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