How to bounce back from a missed listing

Spend 5% of your time on the problem (I missed out) and 95% of your time on the solution (what am I going to do differently next time).

How to bounce back from a missed listing
Photo by Debby Hudson / Unsplash

"Don't speak... I know just what you're thinking..."
- Me, when an owner calls to say they've chosen another agent.

The emotional roller-coaster of real estate sales...

There was a point in my career where I went on an impressive run of missing out on listings.

I looked online one day and counted up 11 properties that were on the market with other agents that I had either directly interviewed for, or had at least known about before they were listed.

I had lost every single one to another salesperson.

Then, I did the worst thing ever: I calculated the gross commission I had likely missed out on by not getting those listings.

At that point, I swore profusely, hung my head in shame and stared at the ground for a very long time.

How did it happen?

The short answer is, I got complacent.

  • I started doing one-stop listing presentations instead of two.
  • I started presenting to one owner instead of insisting on all owners being available.
  • My advice was always honest but sometimes delivered without laying the appropriate groundwork, meaning the owners might not have been ready to hear it.
  • I gave owners lists of things to do to get ready to sell before truly understanding the capacity of the owners to handle those steps.
  • I didn't follow up on opportunities (lack of phone calls after appraisals).
  • I stopped dropping off pre-listing kits before the first meeting.
  • My appraisal reports were slow to be processed and delivered.

At the time, I was fortunate. I had other listings to keep me occupied. Other owners who had chosen me. The obligation to do a good job meant I couldn't dwell on my loss for long. I simply had to dust myself off and carry on.

But for many agents, each listing opportunity is make or break. Miss out 2 or 3 times in a row and you might not be able to pay your bills next month.

Miss out on 5 or 10 listings and you might not be in real estate much longer.

I want to share with you how I bounced back from this period, and from every other listing let-down in my career. Because in real estate, we all miss out on listings. And our success in property is largely influenced by how we respond to our losses, not our wins.

What to do when an owner says "thanks, but we've chosen someone else."

Step 1: Respond the right way and ask for feedback.

While on the phone with the owner, use the following script to gather feedback:

"Thank you so much for the opportunity to present to you. It has been a pleasure getting to know you. {Insert name} is a good agent and I'm sure they will do a good job. We are always looking for ways to improve at what we do, so could I ask if there is anything we should look to add to our service (or change) so that we can be more competitive in future? Any advice you can provide would be a massive help and I am thick-skinned so please don't hesitate to share honest feedback. I won't be offended."

Two key things: firstly, reassure them that they have made a good choice. Don't be a dick and cast aspersions on their chosen salesperson. It won't help you. Be gracious in defeat. Secondly, ask for feedback in a way that makes it safe for them to be honest with you, but keep in mind they may not tell you the real reason they chose someone else.

Sometimes owners just like the other agent better.

Avoid getting fixated on things like commission or advertising. These things matter if everything else is equal, but it very rarely is. If you find yourself missing out on more listings than you would like to, then focus on building better relationships before you get to the presentation stage. That's the key.

The listings will come! Start laying the foundation for your future success.
Plant seeds now that will turn into listings in 6-12 months time. Be ready to take advantage when the market changes and launch your career to new heights.

Tip: Implement a regular communication system with Agent Monday content, establish yourself as a local expert and you might just end up being the only agent they call in.

Step 2: Let it go.

The best agents in the world generally have an 80% appraisal to list ratio. It's rare to be much higher than that. For an average salesperson, their success rate is around 30 - 50%. So if the best agents on the planet miss out on 1 in every 5 listings, and veteran agents miss out on 1 in every 2, then you are going to miss some as well. It's just part of the game.

Emotionally, it's important to acknowledge the loss and frustration when you get the call to say you've missed out. But realistically, 10-15 minutes should be enough time to accept these feelings and move on.

As my old manager used to say:

"Spend 5% of your time on the problem (I missed out) and 95% of your time on the solution (what am I going to do differently next time)".

Step 3: Get better at listing presentations.

Don't practice on the public. Most of us can't afford to do that. Roleplay with a friend or colleague and record it on video. Nothing will improve your listing skills quicker than practising live responses.

Yes, roleplaying feels weird at first but it's actually easy once you get started. 30 mins practice handling common owner questions once per week could earn you tens of thousands of extra dollars next month. It's that simple.

Here are some great owner questions to role-play with another agent:

"What is the best selling method to use right now?"

"What sort of advertising do you offer? How much will it cost me?"

"Why should we hire you?"

"How many houses have you sold in this area?"

"What is your commission? Is it negotiable?"

During my career, I got exceptionally good at real-life listing presentations when I was doing at least 3 per week. That was enough 'practice' to be smooth in my delivery and to think quickly on my feet, coming up with great answers to questions or objections.

If you are handling anything less than 3 presentations each week, then you should be role-playing. It's just like going to the gym - once a week is not enough to stay fit.

For more ideas, check out:

How to get better at listing presentations
In this guide, I will run you through my top tips for improving your appraisal to list ratio.

Still missing out?

It's time to start looking at how you compare to the rest of the options in your marketplace.

Commission, company size and branding aren't everything, but they do matter.

Some salespeople are so engaging and charismatic that they can list houses even when they are the most expensive agent in every situation. But not all of us will have the luxury of being that good at selling ourselves. And that doesn't mean we shouldn't be in real estate, it just means we need to work out what our key points of difference are and make sure owners understand how we add value to their selling process.

So spend some time pondering the question: Why should an owner list with you? Really think on it. Come up with a good answer that you believe in. One that truly encapsulates your personality and your approach.

Yes, it's ok to drop your commission.

Finally, I am going to talk about commission rates because they do make a difference. Especially if the owner is not a past client who already knows you and likes you.

Sales managers will tell you that commission rates don't matter and that you shouldn't discount yourself to win the business. But that doesn't help you if you've just missed out on 5 listings in a row to discount competitors and your confidence is shot.

The Agent Monday position is that commissions should be fluid, depending on the state of your business.

Got 10 listings and you're busy as heck? Quote a high commission and be selective of who you take on.

Missing out on everything and just need a break? Cut your commission to whatever level you need to (within reason). Whatever level is going to get you in the door and help you build your confidence. Once you have a few runs on the board you can slowly raise your rate until you are flying once more.

One could argue that you should quote the same commission rate to every owner, in every situation. And there is merit to that, especially in a small town market. But real estate is so situation-dependant. Every house is different and so it's understandable to quote a lower commission for a highly-sellable property (and a higher one for a hard-sell).

It's also understandable to quote a lower commission rate when the market is extremely tight and listings are hard to come by.

Or, if you're just worried how you are going to pay the bills next month.

Moral of the story?

Do what you need to do. Once you have built up some semblance of market share, you can start raising your commission rate. Just don't keep relying on a low commission forever. That's a surefire way to go broke and/or burn out in the long run.

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