The 3 Deadly Sins of Real Estate Salespeople

sins of real estate salesWhy does the profession of Selling Real Estate pay so much to some and so little to the rest? What’s the secret of top producers? What do they do that is so different?

The answer is to STOP committing the Three Deadly Sins of Real Estate Sales.  Let’s start by identifying the 3 most common “crimes” Agents commit.

The Three Deadly Sins of Sales are:

  1. Not Prospecting consistently
  2. Not Prequalifying properly
  3. Not following up with past clients effectively

I call them the “Three P’s.” In this overview we will review each one and I’ll tell you how to overcome them.

Sin # 1.  Not Prospecting Consistently

All real estate agents know that it is important to prospect, that’s how we get business.  The more people you talk to, the more sales you make. There are two types of prospecting — passive and active.

Passive Prospecting is “waiting for them to come to us.”  Examples are mail drops, newspaper ads, some social media and video, etc.  Does it work?  Yes… but you have less control over your results and it can be expensive.

Active Prospecting is going to the marketplace and “asking for business.”  It includes phone calls, door knocking, open houses, social media, video, and face-to-face networking. Typically this is more effective, less expensive, and requires more effort.

The Problem?

Three issues are that most Real Estate Salespeople:

1) Do not talk to enough people every day.

2) Are not comfortable confidently asking for business.

3) Do not consistently prospect day after day.

The Cures for Deadly Sin #1

  1. Prospect at the same time every day – put it in your schedule. The morning works best.
  2. Prospect 5 days a week – 220 days per year is average for the Superstars.
  3. Talk to a minimum of 20-25 people a day – keep track / no cheating.
  4. Ask everyone you speak to for business and/or referrals – use a conversational question and practice frequently to get comfortable with it….

As you know I am always looking for more people to help in real estate… I was wondering, who do you know that needs my help to buy or sell a home this year?”

  1. Accountability is critical… make sure someone (like a coach) is holding your feet to the fire.

Sin # 2. Not Prequalifying Properly

All Agents recognize how important it is to prequalify the prospect.  We don’t knowingly work with someone who says they are definitely “not going to buy or sell a house.”  The problem lies not in “did we prequalify them properly?” but “how well did we prequalify them?”

Most Salespeople have a list of leads – those potential home buyers or sellers with whom who they follow up regularly.  The intention is to help them arrive at a logical conclusion and make a buying/selling decision to help them achieve what they want.

Does it ever happen seem like you want your real estate prospect to buy more than they do?  Why is that?  Because their motivation was never there, or it has changed.

The Problem?

The result is that inadequate prequalification results in you spending an inordinate amount of time trying to “convert” them. These borderline prospects take up a lot of your time and energy that could be expended elsewhere.  They become “Time Vampires!”  We say things like, “I can’t get rid of them now, I’ve got way too much time invested in them.”

The Cures for Deadly Sin #2

  1. Accept that you can’t change people’s motivation – get rid of the “maybes.”
  2. Ask every client the 3 motivation questions early: Where? When? Why?
  3. Pay special attention to their “why” and recheck frequently during the sales cycle. “Tell me… what’s taking you to Chicago?” and “What’s important to you and your family about making this move?”
  4. DO NOT cut corners – that will cost you a fortune! Use an effective prequalification script and be sure to ask all the questions. There are no shortcuts to proper prequalification. No Excuses!

Sin #3. Not Following Up with Your Past Clients Effectively

Be very clear – your past clients are your own “personal gold mine.”  Of all the sources of business you have, they are the highest yield. Why? Because they have already done business with you, they like you, they respect you and most importantly, they trust you.

There is another group of people that belong in your past client database.  Your Centre of Influence – all those people who know you and although they have not yet done business with you… they trust you.  I call those people the “Invisible Ones.”  Sometimes we forget what a huge resource they are.

The Problem?

Not contacting these two groups consistently or very effectively.  Many real estate agents do not talk to them often enough and when they do, they neglect to ask for business.

I don’t want to be pushy… they know where I am and if they know somebody to refer, I am sure they will send them to me”. This is a big mistake!

The Cures for Deadly Sin #3

  1. Make sure everyone is on your list – include all the “Invisible Ones.” Start adding one name a day. You’ll be amazed at who you have forgotten.
  2. Contact everyone in person or by phone every 90 days. Use IXACT Contact real estate CRM to remind you of the date for your next follow-up phone call. Note: if you can’t reach them don’t forget to leave a voice-mail message so they know you called. Also, a personal note is a nice touch. Hardly anyone does this anymore.
  3. DO NOT rely on e-mail to do your job for you – that’s not selling. It supports your personal contact approach, it will never replace it. Personal contact first, e-mail second. (Don’t overlook the value of social media and video, it too will set you apart).
  4. Ask everyone for referrals… see point #4 in the Cures for Sin #1 above. It’s a very conversational, “non-pushy” approach.
  5. Don’t worry about the ones you haven’t spoken to in a long time, they’re not keeping track. Give them a call or drop by. The only person that knows you should have stayed in touch more frequently is you. They will be glad to hear from you.
  6. Support all this with your IXACT Contact CRM. This allows you to complement your phone calls with easy to program email follow-ups.


Solve the problem of the 3P’s and your business will run much more smoothly. You will be significantly more successful. Prospect. Prequalify. Past Clients.  It is a terrific way to set yourself apart from the competition. The result is that you end up with yet another P… Professionalism. That’s who you are and everyone deserves to see you in that light. Go for it! NO Excuses.

Bruce Keith is a speaker, sales coach and author at Bruce Keith Results. Inman News recently honoured Bruce as one of the 25 “Best Real Estate Coaches in the Business.” You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Email Bruce Keith.