How to create an email lead prospecting system that nurtures leads automatically

Real estate is about building trust, creating relationships and educating your seller leads over a period of time.

How many times have you scheduled a follow-up call the following week or two to touch base with an appraisal client but they still aren’t ready?

Then you forget or a few months pass and because you didn’t call one more time or soon enough, they list with another agent?

That hurts, especially when you had a great first meeting and got on well with them.

It’s happened to me more times than I could count. If I did keep score it would be a very depressing figure.

Your timing was not right, and it never will be especially if all you rely on is a monthly newsletter or calling them on the phone.

I’m sorry to say it but they will forget about you.

It’s not their fault. It’s your fault and you only have yourself to blame.

This will continue to happen in your business until you have an automated prospecting funnel that keeps in touch with them every week automatically until they are ready to sell.

Monthly is NOT good enough. Neither is endless just listed just sold emails. I did that too…

Bombarding your prospects with listings, does not work.

Like all things in life, there are statistics to prove that just listed/sold emails have a success but its in the single digits, or less. There are far better ways with a +80% success rate and they are 100% automated.

The best frequency is twice per week for 60 days, then weekly after that.

This is the very same process that Gary Keller from Keller Williams wrote about in his book, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent: It’s Not About the Money…It’s About Being the Best You Can Be!.

The difference is that his system that was written when the Internet was not around like it is today used direct mail.

This is great news for you because email is much cheaper, more effective and instant.

You need a combination of short, medium and long-term prospecting funnels for property sellers. Because sellers you appraised today that told you they want to sell their home soon, change their minds or the circumstances aren’t right.

Thing is they do finally put their house on the market a few months or even years later, but unfortunately not with you.

My mentor Marc McLeod frequently used the term of “fishing up stream for sellers”.

Real estate agent prospecting up stream for seller leads

It’s less competitive and less stressful when you are doing appraisal today expecting them to list in several months.

Real estate seller leads requires longer term prospecting system, property management on the other hand is nearly instant right now.

Mark McLeod used to tell me that your appraisal conversion rate should be really low.

This almost seems counter intuitive, but it is true.

If your appraisal conversion rate is high you are not doing enough appraisals.

The further upstream you fish, the lower your conversion rate, and this is okay when you have an automated system in place that nurtures your prospects until they list.

Your second appointment with your prospects will be to list their property and they will listen to you, follow your sales plan, and invest in marketing because you are the only agent they call.

Real estate is a numbers game, do more appraisals and feed your system.

You must have an automated system in place that is designed for long term educating.

This takes time but your results will explode and your business will grow which will allow you to say no to problem listings, you know the ones out of your core area or are just do not listen.

Meanwhile your competitors are going after the right now listings which are a very small percentage, have more competition and the sellers do not listen because there is just too many people in their ear. They get confused and choose the cheapest agent.

You know those appointments, you walk in and there is a stack of agent materials all over the table.

On these listings where you just met the sellers you can calculate your success rate by dividing the number of agents going for this listing normally 3 by 100.

Even if your competitor is the number one agent it the area, they have the same conversion rate as you of 33%.

This is a fact.

What you want to do is be the only agent they call when they are finally ready.

This only happens if you have an effective and automated prospecting system that delivers helpful information to them every week.

Your conversion rate will be closer to 100% on these sellers.

So how can you effectively handle these different types of leads?

You do this with an email auto-responder to communicate with your database.

Right now you have different types of seller leads:

  • Now
  • in a while,
  • next year, or
  • much longer.

What you need is a prospecting system that provides relevant information to these people.

Don’t worry its really easy once you know how and what to send.

As with all things that are worthwhile you are going to have to do some work.

Know this, once its setup welcome to the world of automation that will pay off day after day and month after month, and year after year.

Are you sure they want to read about real estate?

You are living in a world where information is key and often find myself with my iPhone inches from my face and reading various emails I get from various blogs.

If this happens for me, doesn’t it happen to you and your prospects?

Think about what you are interested in. It may be several different topics or related to your current interest and what’s happening in your life.

It doesn’t matter, what matters is the fact that you are reading stuff from a variety of places about your current interests.

If you were not in real estate and are going to sell, wouldn’t you start reading about how to sell your property?

I know I would.

You would read about:

  • the real estate market,
  • find out about selling,
  • read about auctions, and
  • even watch real estate shows on TV, they are very popular.

You would read information to help you understand how to buy and sell, it is after all the biggest financial decision we all make.

If you would research selling, real estate and property, aren’t your prospects doing the same thing?

Where would they look for this information, on the Internet and hopefully on your website or blog.

You have a unique opportunity to provide a voice to your area of specialty and instead of just talking to prospects one on one and telling your funny real estate stories to individuals one at a time, write about your advice and help them understand the real process of buying and selling.

Frankly its really scary to sell a home and go through an auction, and find a new place to live. So why not be their guide and help them understand the obstacles that come with transacting real estate.

Help them; you will be rewarded with better listings, higher commission and more marketing.

What should you send your prospects?

You know your prospects are looking for information and are going to sell but they really aren’t not quite sure when.

So how can you educate them and keep them interested in what you have to say about real estate over a long period of time?

This is where you create a mini training course that teaches them about selling from a trusted professional real estate agent, you.

Instead of delivering your key course material and tips all at once and overwhelm them, what you should be doing is sending a well written piece of advice about the real estate selling, buying and investing process at least once per week.

These are known as email auto responder drip campaigns.

Above where I mentioned that you should do more appraisals, this is the really cool part. Even if you don’t actually do an appraisal for someone you meet, subscribe them to your automated email drip campaign.

You should also setup a dedicated appraisal landing page on your website.

Offer everybody at all your opportunities to subscribe to your awesome email because it will help them understand the buying and selling process and you can promise them its your best work ever.

Here is what you are going to do to set this up.

First, write down topics that you are get asked by buyers, sellers, investors and anyone who has asked you something by email or in person.

Keep writing down ideas and brainstorm topics and let your mind wander, this will help you come up with dozens of potential topics.

Next, take that list and categorise them, as some might be buyer related, selling, settlement, contract issues, finance, selling etc. Now sort these topics in a way that can you can deliver your messages to your prospect over time in a clear order.

Then you are going to expand each of your topics with bullet points and/or just sit down and write, length is NEVER important it should be as long as required to get the message or solution across to your reader. This will take a bit of work but remember the payoff will be huge and last the rest of your career if you take the time to do this correctly.

Now create a schedule for your reader to receive your information, but take note of where you met them; possibly as a call, or at a home inspection so there is a really high chance that they will do something in the next 30 to 60 days. However also remember that they may take a bit longer 60-180 days, or not till next year. This can be easily taken care of by creating a schedule around your topics.

For example, a prospect has just met you at your inspection at 66 James Street and has said that they are looking and are pretty serious to move as they have growing kids and need a bigger house.

This is a great first topic because you have just met and they are an upgrader who need to sell to find the next home.

What topics do they need to know?

Here are some topics to help you get started.

  1. Get an appraisal of your property and review the sales in your area so when you find that house of your dreams, your expected sales price to make it work is also NOT a dream.
  2. Contact your banker and ALWAYS get a second opinion on your mortgage because you can save 2% on your repayments as my finance broker did for many others.
    ** So even if you don’t get the sale, you may end up with a mortgage fee from your finance broker.
  3. How to check the value of a property you are looking at buying by reviewing recent sales that you can get right here.
  4. Now that you’ve looked at several potential properties that just aren’t quite the one, its time to prepare your own property because when you least expect it you will find your dream home.
  5. How to get the highest price for your property because your offer has just been accepted and you haven’t appointed a real estate agent.
  6. What to look for in a real estate agent.
  7. Methods of selling your property, their differences and why you should not discount a particular method in this market. * Being an auction fan and this is a great post to lead into the benefits of selling at auction or your preferred selling method.
  8. Keep building your own messages and throw in your war stories and how you helped others succeed.
  9. Include a glowing testimonial that tells a story, you know the one that brought a tear to your eyes.

How often should you send them emails?

Once you have a list of topics it becomes much easier to figure out the best sending schedule.

If you just met this prospect at your inspection and they are a buyer wouldn’t they be pretty interested in making sure that they tackle 1,2 and 3 in the next few weeks so your schedule should be automatically set to two messages per week.

As you can see the first message is about getting your foot in the door and doing an appraisal of their property where you may even end up listing the property or at least discover when they are most likely to sell.

Your schedule for the first two months should be sending these fantastic tips and advice twice per week because as a buyer had I read tip three before putting an offer on the house, I’d be scratching my head and asking:

“I wish you told me this last week“.

Once the 60 day mark has past it is anyone’s guess as to when this particular lead will sell so reducing your schedule to weekly will keep your prospect informed and not overwhelmed because your content is informative and interesting.

Nothing stopping you scheduling in a phone call to touch base, email is a fantastic tool when used correctly but a call might just push them over the line to act.

When you speak to them they will talk to you like they know you because they do. They read every single email you sent, because each was fantastic, informative told a story and in their mind they said THANKS!

More often, they will call you and say; “We are ready, come sell our house”. or better put 100% conversion rate with no competition.

These will be the best listings you will ever get, where they do exactly what you tell them because they trust you.

So just a quick re-cap if you want to automatically prospect for 6 months to a client you are going to need a total of at least 20 messages. Here’s the thing, you have already written a lot of these messages and they are currently sitting in your email sent messages.

You’ve been answering questions from buyers and sellers via email from the very first day you started in real estate. Check your outbox for your answers to questions from buyers, sellers and investors.

What tools do you recommend using to setup a drip campaign?


With MailChimp you can create your first automated drip campaign quickly and set the schedule based on the day they subscribe.

Also what is really neat about MailChimp is their RSS to email system that automatically creates a newsletter from your blog posts.

Once you write your first 5 messages add them to your drip campaign, this will give you at least 14 days to write the next five articles and think about your next topics to refine your messages.

Ah…ha moment.

Yes you need 20-30 messages to last 6 months, but you do not have to write them all today, whew. You can write them in batches over the course of the next few months, set a reminder and stick to it.

After a couple months you have built an informative and deeply engaging auto responder series that is prospecting for you automatically.

Make sure to plan the outline at the beginning the order of your messages and how they connect with each other. You can do this this by adding a footer to the current message, EG: “Look out for my next email where I show you how to review key sales data in the area you are looking to buy so you don’t pay too much”.

Without a pre set plan it is much more difficult to connect your messages and have them flow.

Plan ahead or it just won’t work effectively.

When you have your auto responder working for you you will be churning out hot leads and your real estate business will become more stable because of it.

Then all you need to do is feed it with clear, trackable prospecting strategies.

So what are you waiting for?


  1. Merv this is music to my ears. So much going on right now about going only for people who are ready to sell right now when that breaks every evidence-based marketing strategy. Intelligently and effectively “fishing upstream” will “hook fish” before the short-term thinkers even get their bait out. You’ve described so articulately what I admit I believed but struggled to express so persuasively.

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