Follow Up is a Marathon – Not a Sprint

Posted By on Jul 2, 2015 | 0 comments


Full Throttle Follow Up #17


 

It’s July of 2015 and I just signed up a new listing the other day from seller prospect I’d connected with through cold calling back on July 16th of last year. At the time, I was doing the face-to-face meet-up attempts with all these leads, so Personal Visits were part of the mix back then.

In all I made about 30 follow up touches through the mail, in person, or by the phone. I keep a log of them in Evernote and here’s what I have from her record:

(Note: FTL stands for Follow Through Letter)
6/30/2015: Listing Signed
6/27: FTL 10 Moving Checklist
6/23: Big ReQ – Apt Set
6/12: FTL 9 Think Like Buyer / JS Wrthington
6/1: FTL 8 Disclosures / JL Ardn / JS Ptrick
5/16: FTL 7 The Listing Agreement / JS Stnebrook / JL Shrwood
5/1: FTL 6 Vetting Offers
4/20: FTL 5 When The Offer Comes
4/3: FTL 4 Emotinal Connection
3/21: FTL 3 Where Commission Go?
3/14: left msg
3/4: FTL 2 Ten Jobs
2/27: Mailed Update
2/20: FTL 1 – Online Value Analysis
1/22: Mailed Update
1/11/15 PV: Met (Mrs says she’s going to call this week)
12/26: Mailed Update
12/13 PV: Unmet
12/1:Mailed Late
10/22 (Wed) Call: Mrs called and asked not tape to door.
10/22 (Wed) PV: Unmet
9/26/14 (Fri) – Call: Na/Left Msg – get pkg?
9/23/14 (Tues) – F2F:Unmet – Left CMA Lite
9/22/14 (Mon) – Call: Ms Stone called and we talked at length. Name mixup.
9/2/14 – F2F:Unmet – Dropped Market Snap
8/16/14 – F2F:Unmet – Left Article
7/21/14 – F2F:Met
7/16/14 – Init Mojo Call

In addition to all of that she gets my Any Presentations monthly newsletter.  The newsletter is one sheet of softball info about the national market as a whole (not the local market in particular) along with one or two softball real estate related articles that you can get anywhere.  It’s printed on a standard letter-sized sheet of card stock that gets folded in half before going in the mail.  So when it shows up at the prospect’s home…it’s essentially an oversize postcard that can be opened up.  That goes out automatically and I don’t add it in to the main follow up record manually.  So that’s extra touches here.
 

Follow Up is a Marathon – Not a Sprint

 
The biggest things I got out of this was that this lady told me that she was going to move “in the fall” back when we first met last summer.  It’s a year later.  She still wants to move.  Her time frame is that she wants to be into her new place before the holidays.  That’s what she said last year too.  Only difference is that this year she has all the stuff done to her house that she wanted to have done before putting it on the market.

A lot of people really have NO clue as to how much works is going to be involved in getting their home and themselves ready for a move.  That’s why it’s key to not lose touch with them.  You need to be there when they’re ready to pull the trigger.  But this leads to a bunch of tricky questions.

How long should your follow up extend?  Should it be fully automated or should there be a level of personal management at some steps.  What mediums should be used – personal visits, email, mail, phone calls, all of them?  What should the frequency be?  Should you ask the prospect when they want you to contact them back or should you NOT ask them and then contact them on your schedule?  Should “now prospects” like FSBOs and Expireds be contacted more frequently with more methods than people that are going to move but are not going to make that move for a year?

These types of questions are legion.  I’ll include my thoughts on them in my next Full Throttle Follow Up post.
 

The Follow UP Dilema

 
I belong to the Fearless Agent coaching program (the BEST real estate coaching program in the world) and my coach, Bob Leoffler, advocates a hyper-simplistic approach to follow up.  Here it is in a nutshell.  Get a postcard made up about you.  Whenever a prospect falls into your funnel, you mail them the same postcard for 8 weeks in a row and then you switch gears and send it to them every OTHER week – forever.  Or until they list with someone else.  The second half of the Fearless Agent follow up method is by phone.  When on the phone with a prospect you are seeking an appointment.  If no appointment can be made at the time YOU ask THEM when you should call them back.  Whatever date they tell you, you cut the time in half and put it into your calendar to call them back in half the time.

That’s it.  Nothing else.

Now this approach is contrary to he concepts taught by Grant Cardone in his book The 10x Rule.  Grant believes in MASSIVE follow up.  Phone, mail, personal visits, email, text message.  Everything.  The prospect should be seeing your face all over the internet whenever they turn on a screen.  Social media?  You should be there when they are through buying Google Ads or Facebook ads, or any other type of ads. Total Domination of the Mindspace of the prospect.  That’s Grant Cardone’s way.

Grant says that whatever amount of work and effort you believe you’re going to need to invest in order to achieve your dreams – you’re underestimating.  It’s going to take TEN TIMES (10x) the amount of work.  So plan for it.

So this is the other message that I’m hearing and trying to incorporate into my follow up program.  The only problem is that you can only automate so much.  The phone calls at least have to be made in person.  Grant doesn’t really address the issue of how you’re going to keep up this 10x follow up system when you have HUNDREDS of contacts instead of a couple dozen.

And hundreds of contacts is what you need in this business.  If you get 100 contacts that say they’re going to put their house up for sale “in the fall” well, a number of them are just going change their minds completely and not even move.  Of those that are left you’ll have about 25% of them that WILL put their house up for sale in the fall.  If you don’t follow up though…it won’t be your sign going up in the yard.  Another 25% will put the house up for sale in the spring because once the fall gets here they just want to move into holiday mode and are not wanting to move – your best scripts be damned.  Another 25% will put the house up for sale next summer (like my newest seller I was just talking about) and the other 25% will list their home for sale in a year or two.

See the problem?  They all say “in the fall” but there’s no way to know which ones are going to pull the trigger in a month or two, which are going to wait till spring, wait till summer, or just dawdle on for a year or two.  What you DO know is that whenever they DO pull the trigger, you want them to be signing a listing contract with YOU.

Thus the dilemma.
 

The Most Important Thing

 
I recently did a follow up call with a prospect I’ve been following up with since Febraury.  Since my business has been in complete flux this year I have not been making systematic calls as planned, rather my follow up has pretty much been on snail-mail-only life support.  When I did call this guy though, he said that he really appreciated all the articles I sent and all said it was clear that I was putting a lot of effort in helping them get their head right about planning for the move.

So he noticed.  He noticed and appreciated the fact that I was sending letters with helpful articles full of tips about all kinds of stuff to plan in advance for.  So that’s one story.

The next is related to this new seller I just told you I signed up the other day.  At a point during the listing presentation she went and grabbed a folder full of all the “stuff” I had sent her.  It was bursting at the seams.  She opened it up and was trying to flip through it and stuff and I noticed that a BUNCH of the letters I’d mailed were NOT EVEN OPENED!

She knew they were from me though because I have a return address stamp that I use on the back of all the envelopes I send out.  So even though she didn’t open the letters, she knew they were from me, that they contained “valuable info” that she wanted to look at later, and she filed them in a safe spot.

But she never read them.

So there you have it.  The MOST important thing in follow up is to just DO it, and do it CONSISTENTLY.  Letters with articles like I send are very well received, but the simple post card that shows up consistently for 300 people will have more impact if you are not going to CONSISTENTLY send the letter.
 

Familiarity Breeds….

 
The little proverb says that Familiarity Breeds Contempt – but that’s not true in the realm of real estate follow up.  People are looking for “the right agent” and what that means to them is “an agent that they can trust”.  They need to trust you enough to give you the appointment and then you need to validate that trust with a Rock Star level listing presentation which convinces them that their trust was well placed, that they don’t want to try and go through the trust building process with another agent, and that the BEST decision they can make is to work with you as their listing agent.

So in real estate – Familiarity Breeds Trust

The Fearless Agent Listing Presentation and Fearless Agent Pricing Presentation take care of the at-the-kitchen-table side of this equation.  If you can’t score an immediate appointment with the prospect then I think it’s best that (if you’re going to be mailing anyway) you design  your follow up steps to not just make yourself the most familiar agent in the prospects mind where the idea of “real estate agent” is stored, but you should also try to build trust.

In one of my future posts I’ll talk about the actual mailers I use and how they are structure and why, but for now let me just point out something that is key…

I signed up this most recent listing for a full 1 year term, the seller was happy to put automatic price reductions ever 14 days into writing on the actual listing contract, and I got the listing signed up at a full 7% commission rate.

Now this is the #FearlessAgent way.  The listing and pricing presentations are designed to get those three things sealed into every listing contract.  So I’m going to go ahead and say that the lion’s share of the justification for seeing those results the other day is based in the genius that is the presentations Bob Loeffler has designed.  But I do, to a certain degree, believe that the quality and consistency of my follow up had a part to play in the fact that the idea of interviewing other agents was never brought up and that she didn’t bother trying to dicker me down on my rate of pay.  She wanted to go with the agent that was consistent in giving her helpful information over time and once she saw the presentations understood the concepts contained therein, paying 1% more to the RIGHT AGENT wasn’t even an issue.  After all, nobody buys the cheapest tires for their car…so why would you just hire the cheapest agent when you can hire the BEST agent for the job for just a little bit more than what a typical agent charges?

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