The Pitfalls of Prospecting

Ah, prospecting. Every agent’s favorite thing to do. In 1.5 million homes, cars, and/or offices today, a Realtor popped open their CRM, topped off their coffee, and made their daily prospecting calls, right? Right?


Hell no they didn’t. Most agents cringe at the thought of their prospecting. Even more don’t have or use a CRM. Almost all of those 1.5 million will gladly find something to keep them “busy” enough to put off that prospecting until tomorrow, when they put it off until the next day, and so on.

But why?

The ones who religiously prospect are the ones that are the most successful. We know this to be fact. If that is fact, then why aren’t we all prospecting daily? There are a number of reasons, and they start with the word itself.


Inside my head is this war between trying to just do shit like it’s supposed to be done and my stupid brain trying to make me gamify or rename or reposition things in order to make them more appealing. My brain is a real demanding asshole. I know, reasonably, that at the end of the day what I call prospecting doesn’t matter. What matters is that I pick up the phone every day and talk to human beings. My brain, however, has created stigma around the word prospecting.

So, call it connecting, relationship building, or whatever you want if prospecting freaks you out, but pick up the phone and call.

Transactional Mindset

In the same vein of semantics is the mindset that “prospecting” creates. In my opinion, it seems very transactional. It creates the implication that the person you are calling is just a prospect. I prefer to think of prospects as people who need help from a trusted expert. I want to be the expert that they trust. More importantly, I want to be the expert that they trust repeatedly and refer others to when they need a trusted expert. That’s way more than just a “prospect”.

It’s the same reason I don’t love when people call their real estate transactions “deals”. It’s not a deal. It’s someone’s home. Calling someone a “prospect” lacks the respect due to someone using you to assist them in what is likely their largest financial transaction. So, can we agree that it makes more sense in the long run to approach our business development activities with a longer-term lens?

Unrealistic Expectations

I truly believe that this is an industry-wide issue. I think that the root cause of the procrastination, fear, or desire to be waterboarded instead of picking up the phone is in the unrealistic expectations that we set for agents when we train prospecting. Most real estate training sets this expectation that, unless you set an appointment or get a referral, you have failed.

That is bullshit.

I say that if you have had a conversation with someone, an actual real voice or face-to-face conversation, you have won. Maybe you get the appointment and maybe you don’t. Maybe you get the referral and maybe you don’t. What you have done, though, is move the ball down the field. You have connected, deepened the relationship, and given yourself permission to reconnect in the future. There is lasting power in that.

Reliance on Technology

It’s 2023 and the talk of AI is all over the real estate universe. I would argue that the antidote to AI is leaning into being more human. It is easy to rely on social media or automated campaigns or any of the infinite services out there to make your prospecting easier. The problem with that is two-fold.

First, it goes against what our clients want. Repeatedly, we have seen research that says that our clients want to actually talk with us. This research is consistent across price point, geography, or generation. So, why are we so quick to do the opposite of what our clients want? Because it’s easy to rely on tech than run the risk of rejection that may come with the human connection.

However, you know what else is really easy? Saying no to your electronic message. More realistically, though, is the likelihood that your client says nothing. Instead, they use the agent that most recently actually interacted with them. Then, one day, you realize they used another agent and you blame everything and everyone but yourself. Guess what? It’s your fault. It’s your fault because you chose easy over professional. Stop doing that.

Losing “Touch”

Let’s pull the thread on that last point a little longer. Without belaboring statistics, let’s just make two quick assumptions. First, almost everyone uses a Realtor when buying or selling real estate. Second, the overwhelming majority of people are happy with their agent and say that they would refer them. So, if everyone is happy with the agent they used, why do so few use the same agent the next time they buy or sell real estate. Depending on the study you quote, somewhere between 10-20 percent of the clients use the same agent the next time they buy or sell.

How in the hell do we go from “everyone loves us” to almost completely forgotten? Simply put, we lose touch.

Again, this takes two forms. First is the literal form. We don’t use our CRM to maintain meaningful contact on a regular basis with our past clients. If we know that they are going to use the agent they most recently interacted with, and we are not it, we don’t get used. Simple enough and I don’t want to beat a dead horse.

The second form is even more perilous to our business. By losing touch we also lose “the touch”, the ability to actually connect. Whether we lose the touch because we have gone so long without touching base that we don’t feel comfortable trying to reconnect or we lose the touch because we are out of practice, there are very real, long-term impacts on our business.

How to Solve The Problem

The solution is simple. The execution is less simple. So, how do we simplify it? How do we make sure we talk to people and stay top of mind all the time?

The first answer is systems. Are you using your CRM? Do you have a campaign set to maintain communication for life? If not, start today.

The second answer is automation. For everything else besides the voice or face-to-face communication, automate something. Whether a mail system, an email campaign, or some combo of both, your clients should be getting something at least every three weeks.

Your contact points are the lifeblood of your business. Procrastination and fear will rob that lifeline and kill your business. Your mindset and your systems will resuscitate it. Start today.

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