Of all the hats that we wear as real estate agents, I think we can all agree that ‘follow-up caller’ is one of our least favorites. Early in my career, I would set a task reminder to make a follow-up call, then stare at my notes trying to come up with an excuse not to call them. They’re probably busy! I don’t want to bother them! Sound familiar?
Today, my entire career revolves around cold calling and training agents and inside sales agents (ISAs) to follow up effectively on the phone. What changed? Well, over the years, I developed effective real estate scripts and strategies to take the guesswork (and anxiety!) out of the process.
In this article, I’ll be answering the six most common questions I get from agents and ISAs about how and when to follow up with leads. My hope is that putting these questions to rest will help make your follow-up calls easier, and in turn help you convert more leads.
1. How Soon Should I Call Leads Back?
The most common question I get from agents is “How soon should I call my leads back?” The best rule of thumb here is to ASK the lead! AND PLEASE, ask them to do you a favor because you know how calls and texts can get lost: “Would you please save my number!”
Here are a few real estate scripts you can use to schedule your follow-up calls, making the process a no-brainer. This will help you build confidence on your calls.
“What can I do for you during your information/education process?”
“What is important to you in regard to receiving information about the market, location, or anything else of interest?”
“When would you like for me to check back in with you?”
“I have your email address as email@example.com. You are going to be receiving alerts about homes that are coming on the market (based on the criteria discussed). How often would you like to get updated—as soon as one comes on, daily, weekly?”
“Sometimes emails like to go to spam, make sure to check. I will be watching the emails to make sure you are receiving them. If I see you are not opening them, do you mind me giving you a quick call to remind you to check your spam?”
[Related article: 13 Real Estate Email Marketing Tips & Scripts That Actually Work in 2021]
2. What Do I Say When I Call Them Back?
The second most common question I get is “What do I say when I call them?” Well, the hard truth is that what you say is much less important than being consistent with your follow-up calls.
Your goal for your follow-up should just be to let them know YOU SHOW UP FOR THE JOB. Building confidence and rapport during this stage is vital to earning their trust and business.
Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Your First Call Will Determine What You Say on Follow-up Calls
You should know from the first conversation what is most important to them, which will determine what you say in your follow-up calls. I can’t emphasize how important it is to take detailed notes during your calls to prepare for a follow-up conversation.
Getting Personal Makes Follow-up Conversations Easier
Keep conversation personal; building rapport is the goal here. If they share with you that they are taking their child out to dinner for their birthday, on your next call, ask them how they enjoyed it. Remember, on that first call, the most important goal is not going right for the appointment. It’s about discovering where they are in the process, their situation, and how you can be of service.
[Related article: How to Build Rapport With Inbound Leads, Quickly [+ Scripts]]
For Effective Follow-up Calls, Ask the Right Questions
Here is an example follow-up script that leans on the rapport you’ve already built, and drives the conversation by asking the right questions:
Agent: Hey [first name], it’s [your name with your company]. We talked last [insert when you spoke last]. I just wanted to check in and see if you had any questions or if there is anything I could do for you.
Lead: No, not really. We had a setback and it looks like it may be a few more months before we will be able to do anything.
Agent: Oh gosh, I certainly understand and the last thing I want to do is bother you. How can I be of help right now? Is there anything I can do for you?
Lead: Not really.
Agent: Do you still want to receive the email alerts?
Lead: Well, I don’t want it to be a bother for you, because I don’t know when we will be ready now.
Agent: It is not a bother at all. I just want to be sure I am available when you’re ready. Let me ask you. Do you mind me checking in with you to see how things are going? I don’t care when or if you decide to buy—it is more important for me that you are happy where you are, and things happen when it’s convenient for you. I will tell you what—I will check back in two weeks just to say hey. No pressure. I would just like to stay connected with you.
Of course, not every conversation is going to go like this. But this is a very typical follow-up conversation. Asking the right questions to take the guesswork out of the follow-up is a technique that will prevent you from overthinking the process. Here are a few questions you may want to consider.
- Do you have any questions?
- Has anything changed?
- How is mom, dog, husband, grandchildren? (Or anything personal they may have mentioned in the first call.)
Show that you care and you listen. Always remember: They value how much you care more than how much you know.
Everyone likes to be listened to, and if you can get them talking about their life, you will win. What exactly you talk about almost doesn’t matter. This is because when pressing for the appointment, you will be attaching an emotion to your conversations with them.
Building rapport and establishing a personal connection takes the pressure off, and if you do it right, they will actually look forward to your follow-up calls.
3. What If They Don’t Answer the Phone When I Call Them Back? 👀
This is another very common question I get. The answer is simple. Do the happy dance and know you won’t get stuck on the phone. Don’t overthink this—just do it!
If you follow the scripts from the “How soon should I call them back” section above, you will never have to stress about them not picking up the phone. After all, you’ve already built rapport with them.
However, you should always remember you are not yet a priority in their life. All you’re trying to do here is to stay top of mind. That’s it.
4. Should I Leave a Voicemail?
Yes! Here is the message I train my coaching clients to use whenever they are sent to voicemail:
“Hey, [first name], this is [your name]. Just checking to make sure you are receiving the emails and see if you have any questions. Hope you are having a great day and I will check back in again with you next week. In the meantime, if you need anything, you know how to reach me.”
“Hey [first name], this is [your name]. When we spoke last week, you mentioned [fill in the blank]. I just wanted to follow up with you and see how things went [or fill in the blank, make it personal].”
While I say this in every article, it’s always worth repeating: You just have to be a little bit better than your competition. I promise you—competing agents are not even calling or are just hanging up when they get voicemail because they don’t know what to say. Now you know what to say, so you no longer have an excuse to not leave a message.
Are you going to win them all? Of course not. But again, I want to remind you that if you follow my strategies, you will feel better about yourself and will leave fewer opportunities on the table.
Don’t get frustrated if you keep getting sent to voicemail. People are busy with work, family, hobbies, and just living life.
You can’t control what people do, so don’t get hung up on one lead, or even getting sent to voicemail 20 times a day.
Always remember that this is a numbers game. The more check-ins you do, the more you are increasing your chances of winning. So when you get voicemail after voicemail, just keep saying Next…!
And I repeat, do not get attached to the outcome. Learn to enjoy the process. Be grateful you have leads to follow up with rather than being upset that they don’t answer the phone when you call. I’m actually grateful when they don’t answer so I can get more touches completed that day.
So, is your glass half-full or half-empty? It’s up to you.
[Related article: 24 Real Estate Cold Calling Scripts and Tips to Conquer Your Fears]
5. How Many Times Should I Try Calling Them?
This is where too many agents overthink the process and actually set up their own objections. They think they’re bothering the lead with their follow-up calls. What if they’re eating dinner? What if they’re playing with their children?
It’s hard enough dealing with the lead’s objections, so why create your own? Early on in my career, I had to learn to remove my own objections from the process as much as possible. I would set a follow-up call reminder and when it popped up in my tasks, I would just stare at my notes and talk myself out of calling them. Because I didn’t want to bother them.
I learned the hard way that if I set the proper expectations on the first call, it made this process more automatic. I was then able to stop the self-talk and just make the damn call. This was a huge confidence booster—not to mention a time saver!
In order to take the guesswork out of deciding how often to try calling, set the expectation for follow-ups on your first call. Here are some easy real estate scripts to use to do just that:
“I would like to stay in touch with you in the next few months. How often would you like me to check in?”
“I understand you are in the information gathering stage right now. However, I want to stay in touch and have the opportunity to earn your business. What would be helpful for me to do for you in the meantime?”
“So, what I hear you saying is you really want to be in a home by [enter date]. My job is to provide you with the tools and information to make owning a home your reality. I know connecting at the right times and communication can be difficult. Is it OK if I continue to call and text you to catch you at a convenient time? That way, if you can’t answer the phone when I call, you don’t have to feel bad not calling me back.”
This process stops the monkey mind because now you don’t care if they don’t answer the phone. You have asked permission to continue to check in and also let them know you understand they may not answer when you call.
Think about the calls you receive that you dodge. How does it make you feel? The more upfront you are with your leads about the follow-up process, the easier it makes it for everyone.
[Related article: 15 Best Expired Listing Scripts & Objection Handlers 2021]
6. What If They NEVER Respond to My Repeated Calls?
The unfortunate reality is that some leads will simply never respond to you. This is a hard lesson to learn, but an important one.
Dealing with this is simple. You can’t win them all! If you did, The Close wouldn’t exist and no one would be in need of my coaching services. The Close gets over 400,000 page views a month and my coaching business is busier than ever, so …
You also need to work hard to not take it personally. We can’t force people to hire us. However, if you use my scripts and follow up correctly, at least you will know you did everything you could to connect with that lead.
Making phone calls for over a decade (not just to my leads but for multiple brokers across the country), I have realized one thing. Your leads do not ghost you on purpose. Most of the time, leads that stop responding just changed their minds. Life happens, right?
Follow Up Until They Buy or Die
A lot of agents don’t want to hear this, but it’s true. Effective follow-up is a numbers game. The more you follow up, the better your chances of closing are. It really is that simple. You will never find the perfect time to call when they’re not busy. It just doesn’t exist.
In fact, when I follow up, I always try to mention that I know they are busy and maybe things have changed since we spoke last. Here are a few example real estate scripts you can use to acknowledge how busy you know they are.
Hey [first name], I hope all is well! I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind giving me an update on your situation. Feel free to drop me a quick text if things have changed. I know you are busy—I just want to make sure you know I am available when you need me.
[First name] checking in! Are you still looking to make a move? I don’t want you to feel like I am bothering you—just trying to connect.
Text Script #2
Gosh [first name], I know how busy you are, but do you have a few seconds to update me about when you would be ready to move forward? I just want to make sure I am available for you when you are ready.
[Related article: My 6-Day New Lead Text Messaging Campaign + Agent Texting Scripts]
Always make it about them, and remember you are doing what you should be doing. And you may just have to let go of some leads. I always ask myself, is this really someone I want to work with if they can’t communicate?
Build your business with great relationships and you will have a lot more fun. And always remember setting the expectation is the magic to winning.
Over to You
Do you have more questions about follow-up phone calls that I didn’t address in this article? Let me know in the comments!