One of the keys to survival in the business of real estate is the ability to generate fresh leads. But there is a huge divide between generating a lead and converting one.

National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates that the typical lead-to-transaction conversion rate is somewhere between .04% and 1.2%. In other words, for every 200 leads you generate only one or two will become a client. There’s got to be some room for improvement here!

When you are contacting a fresh lead for the first time you have an incredibly small window of opportunity to make a connection. If you launch right into a sales pitch or seem over-eager to convince them of your objective, that will probably be the last time you speak to that individual.

Chances are, whoever you are speaking to on the other end will have their guard up from the first time they hear your voice. That’s just the reality of the times we live in. Telemarketers seem to be more abundant and more sophisticated in their tactics, and phone fraud seems on the rise. 

If you're an agent experiencing the frustration of leads not calling back, this post will help you troubleshoot your approach and make the necessary adjustments. 

For one thing, if generating leads is about quantity, converting them is much more a game of quality. The agent who devotes the proper care and attention to one lead has a better shot at conversion than one who breezes through 20 leads in a day hoping to luck upon a quick ‘yes’. 

In most cases, leads going cold is preventable. And the best ways to prevent it is through:

  1. Education
  2. Empathy



BoxBrowie.com virtual staging commercial
Presenting a commercial landlord with a virtually-staged prototype of one of their empty spaces is an example of education and empathy at work. In this case, the agent has taken the time to learn about the best way to market empty commercial space (Virtual Staging) and employed the empathy necessary to problem solve on the owner's behalf. This is the sort of extra effort that turns a lead into a client.


1) EDUCATION: Do Your Homework - Parts One Through Three

Homework Assignment #1: Know the sort of marketing that sells homes

If you're going to have any luck prospecting for listings you are going to have to establish yourself as an expert on how to sell a home. The best way to establish yourself as such is to actually become an expert. Knowing what buyers find most useful when they are searching for property is a great place to start - this is the 'straight goods' that sellers want a real estate agent to provide.

There is no better place to understand the preferences and tendencies of property buyers than NAR's annual Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report. This document is the product of extensive research conducted every year by the largest and most trusted real estate body in the United States (possibly the world). 

It is extremely valuable to the agent who is seeking to convert leads into listings, because a) it breaks down buyers' and sellers' preferences and habits according to demographic; b) every year it ranks the marketing features that were most important to buyers in their quest to find a home. 


BoxBrowie.com 3d floor plan
Did you know that property buyers rank Floor Plans as the third most useful website feature in their search for a home? Still, only a slim minority of US real estate listings contain one. Use this information to your advantage in your pitch for a listing! (ABOVE: Our 3D Floor Plans add an extra dimension of appeal)

This year, buyers declared that the top four marketing features that they would like to see in a listing are:

Agents who use this data as a guide when putting together their listings have the inside track when connecting with a buyer. However, don't assume this information is only valuable after you've received a listing. 

This information is equally valuable at the lead conversion stage when you are trying to convince a seller that you are the best person to market their property. A marketing plan built around these NAR statistics is a whole lot more effective pitch than simply asking a seller: "Hey let me have a crack at selling your home." If you can show a seller that you know your stuff when it comes to marketing your chances of winning that listing will greatly improve. 

One other detail of NAR's 2022 Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report is that sellers state the most sought-after quality of a real estate agent for them is the ability to find a buyer for their property. Show them that you possess this quality at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Homework Assignment #2: Learn as much as possible about your lead

Just as important as knowing how to present their property to the pool of buyers, is the knowledge you can obtain about your lead. 

The more you can find out about an individual and their property before you call them, the better positioned you'll be in to nurture that conversation into a lead. 

When you demonstrate that you've taken the time to learn about their situation, their property, and options they might have in the current market, you will instantly remove their suspicions that they are at the tail end of a random phone call - which might be your biggest obstacle in making a connection. 

But even more important than this is that the more you can learn about them, the better equipped you'll be to understand how you might help them. There is absolutely no sales method or lead conversion technique on the planet that is more effective than the ability to truly help a client. 

Homework Assignment #3: Learn which marketing tools work best for which properties


BoxBrowie.com item removal fixxer uppersl
How deep is your virtual property marketing education? If the owner of this property told you “make this place presentable in 24 hours and the listing is yours” what would you do? (SEE THE BOXBROWNIE.COM SOLUTION BELOW)

Properties are like snowflakes, and so are the people who own them. No two are exactly alike, and in many cases, the marketing approach for Property A would not suit the approach for Property B, and so on ...

This is one reason why it helps your cause to know as much as possible about the property of the person you are calling. But even if this is something you learn after the fact, it is vital to develop an understanding of which elements of your marketing toolkit work best for which sorts of properties. 

  • Is the house a fixer-upper? Research shows that soaring house prices have more people willing to buy fixer-uppers than ever before. As an agent, you should learn about 'How to Sell a House Even if it needs Repair'.
  • Is the property going to be furnished or unfurnished? If unfurnished, then it's valuable to let your prospective client know that Virtual Staging is proven to sell properties faster and for more money.
  • Is it an unbuilt property or a future development. The agent who knows the ins and outs of CGI Renders and 360° Render Tours will be ahead of the game when seeking to land that listing.
  • Is it occupied by a hoarder or a messy tenant? Learn about the wonders of Item Removal in the realm of real estate photography.

Whatever the nuances of the property in question, you, as the agent should know how to address them and how to present them in the best possible light. As your expertise grows in this area, you might find that people not returning your calls becomes less and less of a problem. 


BoxBrowie.com item removal fixxer uppersl
(FROM ABOVE) Our Item Removal service is a perfect way to market cluttered or neglected homes or homes in need of renovation. The agent who has educated themselves to the point that they are aware of such tools would have known exactly what to do in the scenario presented in the caption above.

2) Empathy: It's The Little Things That Count

After a day full of outgoing calls and none coming back in, the last thing you want to do is drive home from the office feeling like the protagonist from a Pet Shop Boys video: "Little things I should have said and done/I just never took the time." And yet, if you're aware of the little things you omitted doing, you're on your way to correcting that behavior.

Getting a lead to take interest in what you have to say is a fragile enterprise that can fall apart because of the tiniest detail. Having the empathy to view your interaction with a lead from their perspective, can prevent you from some costly oversight.

Here are some basic 'rules of engagement when trying to turn a lead into a client.

Let Them Know ASAP How You Got Their Number

It might seem like an unimportant detail, but one of the first things you should do after introducing yourself to the call recipient is to explain how you got their number. 

If you got their contact details from a mutual acquaintance that would be great. But even if you’re involved in a technique like circle prospecting, where you are ‘randomly’ contacting all the homeowners within a small radius of a house you just sold, tell them that.

“The house down the street from you just sold for X amount of dollars, do you think I could email you an aerial map of your neighborhood showing what I estimate the houses might be worth?”

Whether or not the recipient of your call is interested in your proposition, they will certainly be more inclined to listen to you after you’ve provided this information, linking the two of you to the same geography. 

When you are upfront with your lead about where you got their number, you have immediately provided a context that no robocaller or telemarketer from a foreign country would possibly be able to supply. 

Stop Thinking Of Them As ‘Leads’

Forget how we’ve just referred to them in the last paragraph, now is the time to stop thinking of them as ‘leads’. 

Across the internet, the jargon for real estate sales strategies can be harsh and impersonal. 

Such terminology can be useful for clarity’s sake but if you internalize this sort of lingo it might become hard to forge those important personal connections that make for the best business. 

From the first instant, you speak to your ‘lead’ the practice of categorization should cease and the process of dialogue should begin. 

Let Them Do Most Of The Talking, And Listen

Perhaps your objective for a particular phone call is to convince the other individual to let you do a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) on their property. Don't be fooled by the idea that your goals going into the conversation are where the true value lies. 

Whatever the focus of your phone call, bear in mind that it might just be the pretext for a conversation.

By letting the other person talk, and hearing them out, you will be in a position to locate the true value inside that phone call. It's amazing how many billionaires talk of crucial moments on their path to success where they picked up on a supposedly unrelated detail of a conversation that turned into the Eureka moment in their lives. 

Even if it's not so dramatic. You might call someone hoping to conduct a CMA on their home, only to learn that one of their children is looking for their first home. What began as an attempt to win a new listing, might end up as a sale of one of your existing listings! Why? Because you listened. Strange things have happened in the world of real estate.

Follow Up And Don't Wait Too Long To Do So

A necessary step toward converting most leads is to follow up after your first contact. Calling once, then leaving the next move in the client’s hands is one way to ensure that your conversion rate remains near those uninspiringly low percentages that NAR has estimated. 

In many ways, your main goal going into your first contact with an individual should be to come out of that conversation with an opportunity to speak or meet again. 

Failing this, if you have been listening well in your conversation, you should already be thinking of other ways you could be useful to this person. This is where the smaller variety of empathy moves into the bigger picture. 

A Final Thought: To Leave or Not To Leave A Voicemail?

Ten years ago it would be the definition of foolishness for an agent to call a lead and NOT leave a voicemail. In this era, where text has supplanted talk for most phone functions, it doesn’t seem so crazy. More and more people seem to HATE receiving voicemails, many agents among them. 

When using your phone for business purposes, it’s a lot easier to go through 15 texts than it is through 15 voice messages. 

But just because YOU cringe with annoyance every time your smartphone tells you to log back into your voicemail, don’t assume that your lead feels the same way. This might be the one area in business communications where you should NOT practice the golden rule. 

The irony of this point in time is that some people believe it’s rude to leave a voice message, while others still believe it’s rude not to. Until you know how your lead prefers to communicate, cover all your bases.

Don’t ever hang up on your chances to nurture a conversion!



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