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matthew says career and lifeWhat separates the great agents from the rest of the pack? Is it fancy training, an incredible manager or the latest tech tools? Ask agents and they’ll tell you it’s luck, being in the right place at the right time, or even the power of statues buried upside down in the corner of the yard.

We think, however, that it only takes six words to make a huge difference in a salesperson’s productivity.

What are these magic words – and why do they account for such a big difference in success-levels for agents (and their companies?) We think they are these:

“The customer never called me back.”

Take it from us – nobody has worked with more companies on leads worldwide than me. I’ve also discovered that these six words appear to be the most common denominator in agents whose productivity never improves.

Look at it another way. Most internet market actually works. Most  portals drive thousands of buyer inquiries each month to their agents. Smarter sites – with great photos and video tours – drive hundreds of leads a day. This isn’t news – it’s been happening for a long time – and yet too much of this business ever converts into closed deals.

Not all business comes from online, we know. There are still phone calls and walk-ins, depending upon the marketplace. Yet the biggest opportunity (online leads) seems to generate the biggest gripes from salespeople that online leads are bad. Why?

Because of these six words.

No matter how a customer reaches out, too many salespeople throw leads away too quickly – because these six words keeps them from turning customers into . And in a sense, it’s because  they’re waiting for the customer to do their job.

Companies that track  leads find that these six words are the number one reason potentially viable prospects are abandoned. When they examine their leads management databases, it’s not uncommon to see these words left by the agent in the comments. The customer inquires on a property, the agent provides information, then tries to follow up once, maybe twice.

Then: they give up.

The agent assumes the customer isn’t interested (but they mostly don’t know, since few of those follow ups ever became conversations). That’s where the self-defeating six words undermine success.

Whose should be chasing whom? That’s the heart of the issue: If we simply give up on business too fast, does it really mean the business was bad? It’s partly a by-product of the boom-times, too, when inventory sells fast. Why bother incubating a long-term lead if your inventory barely lasts a month on the market.

Because some day it won’t be a boom time.

Students of Peter Drucker, like me,  know that these kinds of performance problems start with the core values of the sales and management teams. If they believe all leads are worth something – or can be made to be work something with sales effort – then the six words are kept at bay.

Is it really that simple? Could agents turn more leads into business if they did just a little more follow up? Yes. The “secret” to converting more leads is to have more stamina than your initial inclination. To keep following up. To make the seventh, eighth or ninth contact. And to turn potential into actual closed business.

Top performing salespeople realize that it’s their job to pursue the customer. Even if a lot of customers start the buying process early by researching online and even asking for help by email, they may not be ready for months (or years). But that’s life in sales. Still, a lead received today, closing in six months from now, is still good revenue. If you have the stamina to succeed.

So it comes down to six words. The biggest difference between top salespeople and the rest isn’t a silver-bullet technology or super-scripts. It’s the recognition that a salesperson’s job to chase leads – and to sell them with stamina. 

Otherwise, you’ll never build a successful career by sitting around waiting for the customer to call you back.

– M