Share this Article

When Agents Don't Follow Up Everyone Loses

Written by on Monday, 14 April 2014 1:04 pm

When it comes to following up with prospects and clients, there are no "cracks."

Yet, time and again, real estate professionals explain their failure to follow up with a prospective buyer or a seller client by saying, "I guess they just slipped through the cracks." As if the buyer or seller had caused the problem!

First of all, there are no "cracks" in real estate, just the pockets of more organized, efficient real estate professionals. The buyers and sellers whom you let down or ignore don't abandon their plans to buy or sell real estate, they abandon you, because you abandoned them. Their real estate transaction will still happen, just without you. The commission that could have been yours ends up in the pocket of the real estate professional who followed through, earned trust, and enabled the client to achieve their goals.

There's no "slipped" in real estate either. When you fail to do what you said you'd do, prospects and clients don't slip away from you. They run. Today's smart-phone-savvy consumers want answers now and results even faster. Disgruntled prospects and frustrated clients will quickly turn to receptive professionals who can be trusted to do what they say they'll do. Wouldn't you if the tables were turned and you were intent on buying or selling your home, but an unreliable real estate salesperson or broker got in the way?

Don't kid yourself. When you say you'll do something, then in the mind of over-stressed buyers and sellers you just made a promise. When you promise to do more than you deliver on - whether that's failing to return phone calls, email information, or search out new listings or buyers - you let down those whom you need to earn trust from. You also let yourself down - now and in the future.

PJ's Test: What is FAILURE TO FOLLOW UP Costing You?

Let one prospective buyer "slip through the cracks" when you don't follow up on emails, promises to call, or on anything you committed to do for a buyer or seller, and you're the loser on many levels. As you read through the following list of repercussions of abandoning a buyer, use the average commission you earn on your typical real estate transaction to add up how much just one failure to follow up may cost you (This is true for abandoned sellers, too.):

  1. Lost commission for that buyer's real estate transaction: $ ____________
  2. Lost commission from subsequent referrals of that buyer's friends and family (let's say 2 more deals you won't get): $ _____________ X 2 = $ ____________
  3. Lost commission from resale of that property in the future: $ __________
  4. Lost commission from that buyer's next purchase: $ ____________
  5. Those un-followed-up-on buyers will spread word of your failings to anybody who'll listen. Every time your name comes up, those buyers will chime in with "promises were made." You may never know how many more buyers and sellers you lose. Or, social media may reveal exactly how wide ranging the buyer's negative reach is. Be optimistic and only dock yourself two deals here, but add to this amount your advertising budget for counteracting your proven bad service rating: $ __________ X 2 = $ ___________ + $ _____________ = $ _____________

What's your total cost of just one failure to follow through?

If your average commission were $3000 per deal, this list could represent a loss of $21,000 plusthe cost of advertising that is undermined by word of mouth and social media activity. Failure to follow through is expensive!

Since not following up is a bad habit, those who do it once will repeat this self-defeating behavior again and again. That means your total from one missed deal multiplied by how many times a year you drop the ball with a prospect or client is…. Do yourself a favor and do the math: $ __________ .

If you find yourself deciding to toss aside one commission possibility, especially a small commission, to chase "bigger fish," you've missed the point on many counts:

  • Re-read this article if you need a reminder of what "just one failure to follow up" really represents.
  • Stick to your chosen target market and build an excellent referral network for buyers or sellers whose needs fall outside your selected location or property type. Help every consumer who touches you achieve their goals, even when you can't help them directly, and you'll benefit from the positive fallout.
  • For those tempted to cherry-pick the multimillion-dollar market along with a mass of other professionals, consider the math above. Smaller commissions in less competitive markets can quickly add up to great incomes with follow through.

Attach a dollar figure to follow through, so you always relate the promises you make - from phone calls or emails to research or marketing - to your bottom line. This enables you to move from it's "only a phone call or email" to making business decisions about opportunities to lose or to earn credibility and income.

Part 2:The Best of Intentions Isn't Enough

The challenge for most real estate professionals is that they have the best of intentions when making promises and they normally care a lot about the buyers and sellers they work with, but…Part 2: The Best of Intentions Isn't Enough will be posted April 29.

Rate this item
(5 votes)

  About the author, PJ Wade


  • Comment Link PJ Wade  Author of Whats Your Point? Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark  Stick! Saturday, 03 May 2014 12:36 pm posted by PJ Wade Author of Whats Your Point? Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark Stick!

    Ed, thank you for taking the time to post. It's that attention to detail that will do you well in follow up with prospects and clients.

  • Comment Link Ed Castellanos Friday, 02 May 2014 2:07 pm posted by Ed Castellanos

    Thank you for the insight and the commission equation.

  • Comment Link Tim Dolan Monday, 21 April 2014 12:54 pm posted by Tim Dolan

    Oh I agree that "quickness" is key. I get back to all "leads" within 10 minutes during the hours of 6am to 11pm (I've gotten leads in the 2 or 3am timeframe) I get both txts and emails as they happen.

    Someone mentioned that I should GIVE them something rather than ASK them what they want. Try to be "hyper-focused" to their needs rather than my chest beating. tim,.,

  • Comment Link Jim Osgood Monday, 21 April 2014 11:19 am posted by Jim Osgood

    Tim, there is a point of diminishing return. Once you have attempted to contact them a few times, you have done your part. They have received what they requested; a contact. Whether they act on it or not is up to them. The longer that they do not act on it, the less likely that they are serious or that they have found another solution. If you are not the first to contact them, your chances of working with them or even making contact is significantly reduced. In responding to internet leads, speed is the key. Chances are they have gone to multiple websites and make multiple inquiries. You should try to get back tot hem in minutes. You need to be the first to respond.

  • Comment Link PJ Wade  Author of Whats Your Point? Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark  Stick! Monday, 21 April 2014 11:02 am posted by PJ Wade Author of Whats Your Point? Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark Stick!

    You are right in pointing out that failure to follow up is not confined to residential real estate. When so much time, energy and money goes into making initial contact, why leave all that great service on the table to prospect like crazy to someone else? It's time-worn 20th-Century shortcomings like this that continue to undermine professionals in the 21st Century.

  • Comment Link Jim Osgood Sunday, 20 April 2014 11:02 am posted by Jim Osgood

    Absolutely agree with you. One of the biggest problems I see is in the failure of #CRE listing websites, like Loopnet, to ensure that contact is made between prospect and an agent that can assist them. It is left up to the agent 100% and unfortunately, stats show that only about 50% of inquiries from listing sites actually get responses.... I just did a blog post on this a couple of weeks ago titled Why Commercial Real Estate Listing Web Sites Provide Poor Customer Service you can find it at

  • Comment Link PJ Wade  Author of Whats Your Point? Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark  Stick! Tuesday, 15 April 2014 6:57 pm posted by PJ Wade Author of Whats Your Point? Cut The Crap, Hit The Mark Stick!

    Solid idea, Tim. Another approach to non-response from target prospects after a few contacts may be to try something completely different. Ask a solid benefit-based question they can't resist learning more about. What do you know about your targets that could be crafted into a benefit question that they could not resist hearing the answer to?

  • Comment Link Tim Dolan Tuesday, 15 April 2014 10:07 am posted by Tim Dolan

    Good reminder article While I always response to phone or emails. Where I fail is continuing to nurture a prospect that does not respond after multiple attempts to engage. I should just keep them in a drip or Geographical update mailing.

Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.
Start Growing Loyal Leads!