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Don’t Vomit on Your Guests… (Leads)

Lead Conversion

The success we have converting our guests (leads) into clients is through the telephone. We all know that consumers are searching for homes on a multitude of web sites. Now when I get a call off my blog, they usually start by saying, “I’ve been reading your blog”.

My next question is, “great, which one?”


So much for knowing which one, but that’s fine, they called me first.

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There is a Difference…

There is a difference when someone visits your web site and sends in a request to see a house, asks for a CMA, or has just registered to view ALL the listings. If they have sent in an email request, this is what I have found to be the most effective way to communicate with them when you first call them. We’ve talked before about the importance of being the first to contact a home buyer or seller, so let’s build on that…

The most important part of this equation is that you do not throw out (vomit) a bunch of Realtor speak, especially if you have to leave a message.

Realtor Speak would be:

“Hi, this is Christa Caulk, from the Missy Caulk Team at Keller Williams Realty in Ann Arbor. We noticed you were visiting our web site, Search Ann Arbor Houses, is there anything we can help you with?” TOO much information until there is a connection.

They Don’t Care About Your Vomit

They don’t remember what web site they were on, they don’t care who you are, and they don’t care what company you belong to. That’s why I call it vomit; you are regurgitating a bunch of junk to them and they just don’t care.

Make the message short and to the point.

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“Hi, this is Christa; you were on my web-site looking at houses, how can I help you?”

If they are not home, the message is similar to this.

“Hi, this is Christa, my cell phone number is________ I’m going to shoot you an email with my contact information so if you need anything, give me a shout.

Can You Differentiate?

Hear the difference? One is short, to the point, not intimidating, friendly and helpful. The other one is verbiage going in one ear and out the other one. There is plenty of time to give them all the blah, blah, blah once a relationship is formed.

Think about when you go to an event and meet new people. How many people do you meet in person that you tell them your name, you who are and what you do, when you are introduced ?

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Try it. I think you will be surprised how many more people call you back.

I recommend not vomiting all over your guests (leads) on the first contact.

Written By

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.



  1. Cedar City Real Estate

    October 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I am so glad that I found your post today because it is exactly the way I feel. People do not care if you are so and so from so and so or even if you think you are the best. They do not care about you as they do about themselves. There are a ton of real estate agents that should read this.

  2. Mack

    October 7, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Buyers do not care about who you are until they know that you are there to help them! Great advice Missy.

  3. Brian Block

    October 7, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Missy, excellent advice for making a first contact with a prospective client. Traditionally if their first contact with me is by e-mail, I usually just send them an e-mail and get them signed up for listings or a CMA or whatever they requested. You’re right, though, that they don’t grok REALTORSpeak, so it’s best to keep any phone contact short and to the point and in language that they can understand. As I’ve become more proactive in phoning prospects, this advice will be followed.

  4. Joe Zekas

    October 7, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Unless I specifically asked you to call me, your call is vomit.

    Why do real estate agents have so much difficulty with that simple concept?

  5. Missy Caulk

    October 7, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Joe, if people give you there phone number, when it is not required, we call. It is not vomit.

  6. Ricardo Bueno

    October 7, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Short and sweet always works best! It’s more welcoming and conversational (that often makes people respond better; at least in my opinion).

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    October 7, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    (I love that I am at the gym, on the bike and reading this post… I love my new blackberry). I know that I can be a geek and that I over think stuff… But, I don’t think that they called me per se. They called on a house or a bit of information or a need. Finding out what they need ot want and just working toward that need is sooo simple. To many agents are still trying to just feed their ego. Great post Missy!

  8. Joe Zekas

    October 7, 2008 at 6:32 pm


    In that case, why not phrase your form this way: “Please furnish your phone number if you would like us to contact you by phone.” Isn’t it a simple courtesy to let people know the result of their supplying their phone number?

    You have, of course, verified that the phone numbers are not on the do not call registry and, if they are, met the t4st of having an “established business relationship” with the people you’re calling. Correct?

  9. Joe Zekas

    October 7, 2008 at 6:54 pm


    I tried to register at your Ann Arbor home search site, but took a pass because phone number is a required field – so marked with an asterisk. Vomit.

  10. David

    October 7, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    I think your advice is right on target. As someone who teaches professional public speaking as lead generation and conversion strategies, I have to hammer my students to stop with the jargon stop with the technical language and stop with the terminology. And more importantly, when doing any kind of lead generation and conversion, it’s sooooo important to think from the “prospect’s” perspective… a great mantra is “am I telling them what they need/want to hear, or am I telling them what I want them to hear?”

  11. Matthew Rathbun

    October 7, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Joe: “Isn’t it a simple courtesy to let people know the result of their supplying their phone number?”

    When you posted your comment, there was no disclosure that anyone would read the comment; but wouldn’t it stand to reason that when you typed your message and hit submit, that someone would read your comment? So same is the provision of a phone number.

    The Do Not Call rules exempts numbers that were voluntarily supplied and related to showing an interest in a product or service, until such time as the service provider is then ordered to discontinue calling.

    Joe, there are a number of consumer surveys that show that consumers PREFER phone calls when service is requested. It’s considered more personal and attentive.

    There is no way for an agent to know the preference of every consumer. Some prefer calls some don’t. We do the best we can with the information at hand. If you don’t want a call and then more on to another practitioner who won’t call you, than most of us would respect that.

  12. Joe Zekas

    October 7, 2008 at 9:02 pm


    If you care about the consumer’s preference rather than yours, there’s a very simple way to learn it: ask them. Why the reluctance to do that? You seem much more concerned with your preference than the consumer’s.

    Consumer surveys are irrelevant to what any individual consumer prefers. You have the ability to survey them one at a time and honor their preferences, but don’t do that.

    You’re not being candid here, in my view. You require a phone number to register for access to listings on your site, but state here that you don’t. Are you unfamiliar with what your own site requires?

    You’re seriously misreading the do-not-call rules. And, you’re ignoring the fact that the numbers were not voluntarily supplied to you, but mandated by you. Requesting access to a general database of listings is not the same as an “inquiry” within the meaning of those rules. No one has requested anything ini particular of your business in a manner that requires a response from you.

  13. Matthew Rathbun

    October 8, 2008 at 5:40 am

    Joe: Attention to detail is the foundation of debate. However, the tone of your comments, do not lead to a healthy and professional debate, non-the-less; let me set the records straight. Your last response was to Missy, however I made the comment.

    From the Federal Trade Commission’s webpage:

    “A company with which a consumer has an established business relationship may call for up to 18 months after the consumer’s last purchase or last delivery, or last payment, unless the consumer asks the company not to call again. In that case, the company must honor the request not to call. If the company calls again, it may be subject to a fine of up to $11,000.

    If a consumer makes an inquiry or submits an application to a company, the company can call for three months. Once again, if the consumer makes a specific request to that company not to call, the company may not call, even if it has an established business relationship with the consumer.”

    You can feel free to read the statute, but it doesn’t require the individual to put the “dog’s nose in their own mess”, per se. Understand that consumers not taking responsibility for their actions, is a large part of the economic mess we’re in. It’s not reasonable for a consumer to give their phone number out and then say “Oh, well I didn’t expect the vendor to actually use it” Again, I go back to my feeling that it’s a reasonable intended result, just as submitting a comment and expecting it to be read.

    In defense to any practitioner who requires a phone number (it’s not what I would do, but I support those who have chosen to do so) No one is mandating that you use their site. You have a choice. If you don’t wish to be called or add your phone number – no one is requiring you to. Listing information is ubiquitous, go to some other site, where the practitioner doesn’t require your information – or I dunno go hire a professional to actual provide the service. Public access to MLS is not a enumerated constitutional right. You cannot demand that an agent provide you information on your terms alone.

    Lastly, remember that publicly suggesting someone is violating a federal statute (and being wrong) is a good way to become the next caselaw for one of my risk management classes. Feel free to look up “deformation” on your own.

  14. Matthew Rathbun

    October 8, 2008 at 5:59 am

    BTW: Joe you said “Requesting access to a general database of listings is not the same as an “inquiry” within the meaning of those rules.”

    Inquiry is not defined within the statute. I didn’t see a “Zekas Ruling” interpreting it either, but that’s probably because Princton’s defines it as “a search for knowledge” and the federal government probably thought that most people could figure that out on their own.

    Your argument tends to hinge on the fact that you think everyone expects to be treated the way that you do. That’s very monomaniacal, don’t you think? Access to Missy’s page is not an entitlement and you can feel free to move on (as you demonstrated) therefore it is a voluntary inquiry.

  15. Mack

    October 8, 2008 at 6:33 am

    BTW Matthew, I think you are right on. I allow visitors to do anything they want on my site without a registration except for looking at listings. I pay good money to make every listed home in the metro Atlanta market available to visitors and obtaining a name, phone number and email address is my right. I know some agents that choose not to require registrations and that is OK also. What works for one may not work for all.

    As for Joe, you have the right to not register on a site if you so choose. Just move on to another site, but don’t fault those of us who choose to have registrations as that is our right also.

  16. Joe Zekas

    October 8, 2008 at 7:38 am


    You got one thing right – noting that I responded to a comment by you as if it had been made by Missy. My bad.

    I’m amused by someone who lectures me on my tone and then goes on to suggest I’m monomaniacal.

    I won’t take you up on your offer to look up “deformation.” I learned a thing or two about defamation during my days as an attorney. If you think well-founded disagreement on the interpretation of a legal requirement constitutes defamation, you ought to consult an attorney. While you’re at it, ask what the word “statute” means.

    You’re following the real estate agent’s first princple of legal interpretation: interpret any legal requirement in the manner that enables you to do what you want to do.

    You got one more thing right: I do think that people should be treated in a way that honors their legitimate expectations.

  17. Jonathan Dalton

    October 8, 2008 at 11:20 am

    If someone voluntarily provides me their phone number, I’m able to call. It’s about that simple, really.

    On my site, I require a phone number to view the listings. Those who don’t want to be contacted can move on, or if they’re really clever, type in a bogus phone number.

    I’m in the business of helping people buy and sell houses, not providing a public MLS search platform. There are other places to go for someone who wants that.

    I shunned registration for years because of my belief it was the consumers’ preference. Then I realized I’m not looking to placate consumers at large. I’m here to represent my clients. If someone doesn’t like the way I do my business, find someone else. Won’t hurt my feelings.

  18. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 8, 2008 at 11:50 am

    Missy, I like your point that people don’t always remember what site they were on, and regurgitating a long salesy pitch of who you are, who your brokerage is, what credentials you have and what you’re wearing really isn’t necessary.

    Like you implied- get to the point because that’s what everyone cares about.

  19. Missy Caulk

    October 8, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Sorry everyone, I have been without internet as of last night, still a weak signal.

    Joe, I have 3 web-sites, all of which require no phone numbers, the one you went does require registration with a phone number. That is the site that 42% of all my closings have come from this year. That is my PPC site. You don’t have to register, you don’t have to look at listings there, there are a multitude of sites you can get it all FREE, You can go to Zillow, Trulia,, You can sign in as, you can put it 123-456-7890.

    But, if you want help you sign in and give a phone call. With 42% of my closings this year from this site, there is nothing you can say that will change my mind. We can agree to disagree but that is how I run my business with success.

    Matt, I agree with you on the Do Not Call, if they give their number, it does not violate the law.

    Jon, exactly we are looking for a certain type of buyer that is ready, when they are ready they sign up or in. The proof is in the pudding. By the way we have people that ask to use my site, even though they are working with another agent. We say, “of course”. Obviously not everyone will work with us that signs in, but 42% is pretty darn good as of Oct. I think end of the year data will be higher.

  20. Mariana Wagner

    October 8, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    This reminds me of a couple weeks ago when my Buyer Agent threw up on her client, in her car. I mean REALLY threw up. But it all ended well. They parted ways, changed clothes, re-met up and wrote an offer.

    Regarding calling people who register on my site … I do it. People are not stupid. They KNOW if they leave a number that they will get a call. If they don’t want a call, they either don’t leave a number or say “please don’t call” in the comments. People love when we call and offer to help them sift through all the information out there.

    However – If you don’t want to call, then don’t. … Just remember that most buyers work the first agent they talk to.

  21. Missy Caulk

    October 8, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Mariana, yes buyers work with the first Realtor that they connect with and most of the time it is the first one. In the comments on my site, they can leave a comment, “don’t call” and we don’t too.

  22. Kim Wood

    October 8, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    I follow the lead of the potential buyer for my first contact. If they provide a number – I call. If they email – I email.

    However, I am always very short, simple, sweet and ‘non’ pushy. I get a good response – so I think it’s working 🙂

  23. Chet Hill

    October 17, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Brilliant !!!!!
    I love your short, to the point script .
    this is very sound advice many agents would benefit from.

  24. Alice Summar Womack

    February 10, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I had a wonderful manager, Carol Rohrbaugh, who would call a big product dump, “Show up and throw up!” Thank you for the reminder.

  25. Eliese Pivarnik

    May 17, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Great discussion. I call, too, because talking on the phone is way more personal and is much more likely to result in business being transacted.
    I will try your short and sweet message, as I was doing the overkill one with name, company, blah blah blah.

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