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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.

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.

“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 ?

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 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.

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  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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Business Marketing

Hiring managers keep you on your toes – make them take the 1st step

(MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – or it could backfire.



hiring managers interview

According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6% of them – that’s less than 1/3. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.

Most notably, the survey found that over 63% of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2% saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.

Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resumes over and over until they got a response. One or two follow-up emails after your initial application aren’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.

While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by bringing them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.

Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.

It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9% of applicants who said they have risked an unusual strategy, 67.7% of those actually landed the job.

Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?

Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resumes, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.

In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.

It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?




Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.



Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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