Door knocking - real estate lead generationIn 1990, in a tanking real estate market, agent Tom Mitchell had two choices: quit (as a lot of his fellow agents did) or become proactive in generating leads, according to a post on the Keller Williams blog.

He chose the latter, and began knocking on up to 250 doors a day. It kept him alive until the market heated up again. Then came the crash of 2007. Mitchell took up door knocking again – and again, it worked. In fact, according to the blog, door knocking has “earned the $38.8 million in Mitchell’s 2013 closed volume.”

The fact that Keller Williams is a huge proponent of using door knocking to generate listing leads, and even offers training for its agents, was a big boost for Mitchell. But if you’re not with KW, you may need to train yourself on door-knocking best practices. Here are some tips and ideas to get you started.

Does Door Knocking Really Work?

Chesterfield, Mo., agent Katie Burmeister asked for advice about door knocking on a real estate advice blog. After several people offered their opinions, she tried door knocking, and then updated the post with her results. Here’s how it worked for her:

“I got 2 listing appointments and 1 buyer out of it for about 3 hours of work.  Not ONE person was rude or standoffish. . . Since then I continue to door knock and I get at least one hot lead out of it every time I go out.  The cost of door knocking is almost free, it’s a great way to get your name out there and it’s great exercise,” she wrote.

What Stops Agents From Door Knocking

Let’s face it, unless you know someone that lives in the home, door knocking is a cold call. The fear of rejection is probably the most common reason more agents don’t pound the neighborhood pavement, banging on doors.

“I think some agents are scared and think people are going to be rude and yell in your face,” Tom Mitchell explains in that KW blog. He finds that nothing could be further from the truth. “People treat me with respect and are friendly – even the ones who are not interested are friendly!”

Sure, you may occasionally meet with a door in the face rather than a foot in the door. When that happens, it helps to remind yourself that rejection is “specific and temporary,” not a personal attack, according to Business Insider’s Max Nisen. He recommends that you shake it off and move on. Chances are pretty good that you’ll meet someone nice behind the next door.

It isn’t easy to overcome the paralyzing fear that homeowners will be ill-tempered or that rejection lies behind every door. Reminding yourself of how lucrative this prospecting method can be, however, may help break the paralysis.

Rules for Effective Door Knocking

Successful agents that knock say that there are just a few rules to follow if you want to be productive.

  • Dress professionally, but for your market. If you sell real estate in casual Manhattan Beach, Calif., you don’t want to wear a shirt and tie. But in New York City you might want to consider it.
  • Bring something to leave behind with the homeowner – make sure it’s branded with your information.
  • Use a script to help get you started.


Learn more about HouseValues seller leadsNEED SELLER LEADS? You don’t need to go door-to-door to find qualified sellers – HouseValues can deliver a guaranteed number of exclusive seller leads each month. LEARN MORE >>


Don’t Skip the Script

If you were one of the thousands of agents that took the old Mike Ferry productivity courses years ago, you might remember his cold-calling script. Done right, the script was a business-changer for cold callers.

It can also be effective with face-to-face prospecting. That script, now called the Just Listed Script, is available online at Ferry’s website. Tip: Don’t skip any of the questions, because they all lead to the conversation-changer that occurs at number six. Here’s another script to try that seems to be loosely based on Ferry’s.

Get familiar enough with your script that you don’t sound canned, but conversational. That way you can concentrate on listening and not on what you want to say.

Overnight Success Is a Myth

Like all lead generation techniques, the results from knocking on doors take time to manifest. The lack of instant gratification causes many agents to quit too soon. Time and consistency are crucial if you hope to reap lucrative rewards.

Mitchell, who says it can take from two to six months to see results, uses a schedule to keep him on task. He knocks four days a week, averaging 600 doors a week.

Then, as with all lead generation methods, the fortune is in the follow up. Send a thank you note about a week after a conversation with a homeowner. Then put the names in a drip system to send a monthly or quarterly call, email or direct mail piece.

“Keep in mind that whether you are a salesperson or not, you are always knocking on some kind physical or mental door, and your level of success and happiness will depend on how good you are at getting through those doors,” says motivational speaker Andres Lara.

For real estate agents, these doors can include listing presentations, showing homes to your buyers, and many forms of prospecting for new business.

Just remember: Doors are built to open – otherwise they’d be walls.