When NOT to follow up on a lead

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Do you have lead capture forms on your website? If so, how quickly do you respond?

Hopefully, you can’t always respond immediately. If you could, it would mean you didn’t for success, respond quicklyhave any clients who need your attention.

But unless you’re ill or injured, you can respond within a few hours, or at least within a day.

Perhaps, after reading the statistics that say a lead goes from hot to cold within an hour, you don’t bother. I think you should – and you should do it as quickly as possible. Even two days later is better than nothing.

But if you wait too long...

After a week or more, that lead probably doesn’t want to hear from you. They would (perhaps rightfully?) assume that you wouldn’t be an attentive agent. In addition, they've probably found someone else to answer their questions.

It was definitely too late for the call I got this morning.

I’m not sure why I didn’t hang up immediately when I answered the phone and heard silence for a few seconds, but I didn’t.

The voice on the phone proceeded to tell me that he was following up on an inquiry I’d made. I vaguely remember doing some research and making some inquiries on the topic. That was last winter. Was it November? Maybe not until January. I don’t remember.

Just before I hung up, the voice told me that they’d “be glad to hop on a call with me …” I didn’t wait to see if I was supposed to push one or leave my number to get them “hopping.”

Why is that phrase – “hop on a call” - so annoying? Maybe it isn’t – maybe it’s only me who finds it obnoxious.

What I know for sure is that waiting for months to respond to an inquiry sends an entirely wrong message.

So is asking your lead to respond further before you’ll bother to speak with them.

In my opinion this caller’s approach was just as annoying (and stupid) as the calls that say: “Please hold for the next available agent.”

What? You called me and you want me to hold? Are you crazy?

What about leads you contacted who just wanted information and weren’t ready to buy or sell?

Stay in touch.

  • Call or write at least once a month, if not every week or two.
  • Send them updates on the market.
  • Tell them about new listings and homes that have just sold.
  • Use my Nurturing Buyer Leads and/or Seller Advice Letters to give them useful information about getting ready to buy or sell.

Don’t wait for 3 or 4 months and expect them to remember that you called them once.

Instead, stay top-of-mind with emails, letters, and phone calls that show you are the agent who knows the market and will give them the time and attention they want.


Graphic courtesy of Stuart Miles @freedigitalphotos.net

Comments (37)

Tiamerra Thomas
Tiamerra Thomas | Real Estate Agent - JPAR - Fleming Island, FL
Military Relocation Specialist in Florida

Thank you for taking the time to share and your right we can't wait for 4+ months to follow and expect people to remember us. It's said that most Realtors are not successful due to the lack of follow up. I call my calls "acts of kindness" and that helps to renew my mind towards calls, because the calls are mostly about them and we all love to talk about ourselves. The acts of kindness calls using the F.O.R.D. script is therapy for some people, I need to be more consistent and intentional about them. Coach Julie and Tim Harris recommends once per quarter.

May 02, 2020 09:46 AM
Laura Filip
Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life - Whitesboro, TX
What can we do for you today?

 Thank you for sharing your thoughts on staying in touch with people. 

It is best to just make the call, if they do not want to talk that is just fine but at least the call was made. 

May 02, 2020 10:31 AM
Brian Skaar
VanDyk Mortgage - VA, FHA, Conventional, VA Jumbo, Jumbo, Purchase Loans, & Refinance, Direct Lender - San Diego, CA
VA, Jumbo, FHA & Conv Direct Lender (760) 752-4480

I am with you on this.  "want to hop on a call with me" annoys me too, and sounds fake/shallow to me.  Might just be me, but I can't help it.  

May 02, 2020 11:46 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Tiamerra Thomas I was talking primarily about "first contact" leads, but yes - you need to stay in touch with past clients, people in your sphere, and leads who weren't quite ready on a regular basis. My feeling is that quarterly is the MOST time to wait between contacts.


May 02, 2020 12:15 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Laura Filip Exactly. Some people don't want to talk, but they also don't want to be ignored. I think Nina Hollander has the right system. Let the autoresponder reply immediately, the follow it up with a personal contact.

Brian Skaar Funny how some words just hit some of us as phony, and even slimy. For me that's one of those phrases.

May 02, 2020 12:19 PM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Marte,

You are so right that not everyone is ready for your service immediately, even if you answer in a timely manner. I like your follow up suggestions. You never know, when people are eventually ready to get serious. Moving should be a well-thought-out decision anyhow.

May 03, 2020 11:32 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Dörte Engel Right - some people are just beginning to think about what they want to do. In my opinion, if you can grab on to them and keep sending them useful information, you'll likely be the agent they choose when they make the decision to act.

May 03, 2020 08:10 PM
Raymond Denton
Homesmart / Evergreen Realty - Laguna Beach, CA
Laguna Beach Realtor

It depends on the industry, and target market.  Today, when a lead arrives at one of our websites, I need to attend to it within 5 minutes, or I've missed the opportunity.  That's why one of our team members is always assigned to monitoring the websites, while the rest of the team is out and about.

However, when I originated Reverse Mortgages, "aged" leads worked quite well, because it usually takes a homeowner 6-24 months of research before they decide to move foward.  A lead 12 months old can be just as worthwhile as one that's 5 minutes old, or 24 months old.

May 04, 2020 02:53 PM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Only Bunny Rabbits Hop!!  Or the old sock hop dances were fun but long forgotten

I always enjoy your post with good information we all can and should follow 

Your letteres are perfect!  thank you 

May 05, 2020 01:28 AM
Ricki Eichler McCallum
CastNet Realty - Corpus Christi, TX
Broker,GRI,ABR, e-Pro, TAHS

Hi Marte,  Good advice; communication is so important.  The longer it takes you to respond, the less chance you have of getting the client.

May 05, 2020 06:17 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Righ again Marti!  If I submit information on a website for a contractor and I don't get a response within 48 hours--well that tells me something.  I respond to leads as quickly as I can!

May 05, 2020 08:51 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Raymond Denton Your experience proves that it pays to know your audience - and you do!

Debra Leisek I'm old enough to remember doing the Bunny Hop - fun! Thanks for your compliment on the letters! I appreciate that.

May 05, 2020 09:19 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Ricki Eichler McCallum People are impatient - if you do't respond they move on to the next agent.

Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR I agree! It tells me they aren't all that interested in having my business. It also tells me that if I hired them, they'd be slow and/or wouldn't communicate well.

May 05, 2020 09:21 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Wow!  Months to respond and "hop on a call?"  That's the worst way to handle  a sales lead.  Great post!

May 05, 2020 02:05 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Jan Green I thought he was offensive - even though he was only a recording!

May 05, 2020 02:19 PM
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.

Definitely have lead capture forms on our website, but for now the spammers have taken over and send us multiple spam requests per hour. 

May 07, 2020 01:39 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

All red flag and good ones at that. Thank you for posting! Very good things here!

May 08, 2020 11:18 PM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach

I love when other realtors call me not realizing I'm an agent or when lenders tell me saying I've inquired about refinancing when I know who I would call I if that were the case. 

May 09, 2020 01:49 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I agree. Every once in a while, you’ll meet somebody who defies logic and good sense and you still have to smile through it and vert politely discontinue the relationship.

May 10, 2020 10:23 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

There are things that just come up that you would immediately have a red flag that people are coming to a certain realization about especially with Covid precautions

May 11, 2020 09:38 AM