An Amazing 9 Word Email That Revives Dead Leads

by Dean Jackson

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Dear friend,

this week we’re going to talk about an amazing nine-word email that revives dead leads.

Now that sounds pretty dramatic but it’s absolutely true and I’ve seen it happen again and again and again. See I’ve been studying and experimenting with lead conversion almost obsessively for over twenty years now. And there’s a couple of valuable things that I’ve learned over that period of time. And number one is the fact that just over half of the people who enquire about something will buy what they enquire about in the next twelve to eighteen months.

Now that’s been coupled with my own research and with reading a study by a company that handles millions of leads across all kinds of industries every year who say that people who enquire will actually buy what it is they enquire about within twelve to eighteen months. And they do study after study, they go back and they ask people what happened. Did they actually buy what they enquired about? And they find that something very interesting happens. Only about fifteen per cent of the people who enquire about something will actually buy what they enquire about in the first ninety days. So what that means is that the value of any what I call a bundle of leads – if you look at one hundred leads as a bundle of leads – any bundle of leads, only fifteen of those one hundred are going to do what they’ve enquired about within the first ninety days. That means that eighty-five per cent of all of the value of the leads that you’re generating comes after ninety days – between ninety days and eighteen months. Now, that’s good news because most of your competitors can’t follow up with prospects for twelve to eighteen days, let alone twelve to eighteen months.

Now the amazing thing about the simple email that I’m going to share with you is that it works even if you haven’t been following up with these prospects at all. So let me share you the nine words and then let’s examine them. We’ll look at some of the key elements so that you can create even more emails just like this one. But the nine words that I have been using and have proven that will revive dead leads is:

‘are you still looking for a house in Georgetown?’

Those are the nine magic words. Now the temptation that you have is to add more to it to, because, say, ‘well if you are, we’ve got this’, ‘if you are, we’ve got that.’ And that takes away all of the magic of this email. The thing that is at play here is that there are a couple of key elements that we can model through this email. And this email has three of those key elements that I want you to use in any follow-up emails that you have that you’re using with your prospects. And the three key elements are number one, that it’s short. Number two, it’s personal. And number three, it’s expecting a reply. Those three elements, when you add them together, create a combination that people cannot help but engage with. They can’t help but respond to an email like that.

Now a lot of times, people say, ‘well, what if I send an email like that and they reply no’? Well, what if they reply ‘no’? Wouldn’t you rather know that somebody’s not looking for a house in Georgetown, than wondering if they are, or being afraid to say the wrong thing so that they tell you that they’re not? You know it’s far better for you to know, black and white, yes or no, whether somebody is the real prospect or not. So when you’re looking at this, the key elements that are in play — and we mentioned short, personal, expecting a reply — make people feel like they are the only one who’s getting this email.

You know, when you think about the way you communicate with your friends, when you communicate with people that you are sending a one email to them, they’re the only ones getting it. You know the way you interact with your friends is the way you want to sort of interact with your prospects here. You might use email in communicating with your friends to say, ‘hey, would you like to go to the movies on Friday night?’ See, now that is a short, personal email expecting a reply. Now they might reply back and say, ‘yeah, that sounds great. What do you want to see?’ See now, that’s a short, personal, expecting a reply email. And you might reply back and tell them what movie you’d like to see and you can make that whole arrangement in two or three emails back or forth. You don’t have to get all of the information out at once.

See the very best thing, the very best emails, are like conversations. They’re just really slow conversations so you say something, they say something. Then you say something. Then they say something. So you’re engaging in a real dialog. It’s almost like if you imagine if you bumped into somebody in a train station, or at the mall. And you kind of bump into them and you recognise them slightly. And you were to ask them, ‘hey, are you still looking for a house in Georgetown?’ It implies that you knew that they were looking for a house in Georgetown at one time. And it also implies that if they are looking for a house in Georgetown, that you have something that they might be interested in.

See when you think about this, you never want to gear your emails towards people who are not prospects. You want to gear your emails towards the people who are prospects. Now when you look at that, it’s kind of a subtle difference, but a lot of times people say, ‘well, what if they’re not looking for a house?’ So what if they’re not looking for a house. They’re not our prospect. They’re not the person that we’re talking to. The people that we are talking to are the people who are looking for a house in Georgetown. So we want to focus all of our attention on them. We want to find who are the real prospects, the five star prospects. See now when we look at that, if, again, you look at a bundle of a hundred leads, if a hundred people come to your website, leave their name and their email address, could you tell which of those one hundred names and emails, which of those one hundred people are going to buy or sell? Can you tell that just from looking at their name and email? And the answer’s no, you can’t, you don’t know. But you know for certain, based on all of this research, that just over half of them are going to buy a house within the next twelve to eighteen months. So the very best course of action that we can take, is to treat all of them like they are five star prospects until they prove that they aren’t. Versus treating like they’re not five star prospects until they prove that they are. See it’s a very subtle difference.

A lot of times we take the attitude that we don’t want to go out of our way. We don’t want to waste our time with tire-kickers. We don’t want to get unqualified leads. Or we ask questions like, are these leads scrubbed leads? As if leads are somehow dirty and we need to clean them before they’re worthy of us interacting with them. Well, get over that mindset and try, just for the next bundle of one hundred leads that you get. Try going out of your way for people. Try acting and engaging with people like they are five star prospects and treat them like you would if you knew for certain that they were going to buy a home in the next twelve to eighteen months. And guess what? Half the time you’ll be right. Half the time, you’ll be absolutely right and there’s a good chance that you’re going to be the one that they will choose to help them.

Now another key when you’re doing email follow-up, is to always lead to the next step. Now there’s two key words there, lead and next step. You know, we don’t want to put too much pressure on trying to get everything done at once. You know it’s almost like you’re engaging in this dance, or you’re engaging in this chess game where all the moves are not going to happen at one time. And if you have the foresight to see where the path is, how to lead people step by step to what it is that they really want, you are going to be able to control the entire situation. You’re going to be able to lead people in a beneficial way because people are silently begging to be led. Nobody wants to be the leader. Everybody wants to be led.

Now let me give you an example of this. And you may have heard me talk about this before but the lesson is so valuable. It’s as if, imagine a scenario where I invite you into my home and I sit you down in my living room, and I say to you, ‘you know what? I’m really glad you’re here. If there’s anything you need to eat or drink, there’s lots of stuff in the fridge. Go ahead and help yourself. I’ll be over here in this other room if you need anything. You just give me a call.’ Now I may be saying those words with the very best of intentions. I may truly want you to take something out of my fridge or to feel comfortable enough to do that. Or to ask me for whatever it is that you need. I’m being a gracious host. Now, the truth is that society doesn’t work like that. You know, we know how we’re supposed to respond in situations like that. We know that if somebody, if I were to just say that to you, that there’s very, very little chance that you would go and get something out of my fridge. You know, just think about it for a second. You’ve been in that situation. ‘Can I get you something to drink?’ ‘No thanks, I’m fine.’ We don’t want people to go out of their way for us.

Now if I went into the kitchen and I bake and I came out with a freshly baked plate of cookies  and I came into the living room and I held that plate of cookies right in front of you and I said, ‘would you like a cookie?’ Now just imagine that scenario. I’ve got the cookies right there. They’re warm. They smell delicious. It would be very difficult for you not to take that cookie. It would be very difficult for you to deny it because, again, society, the way it works is that we don’t want to disappoint anybody. You’d probably take that cookie if the truth be known, even if it wasn’t your favourite kind of cookie, because you don’t want me to feel bad. I’ve gone out of my way for you. Isn’t society weird like that? You know, when you start thinking about it, it would be very easy for you to take the cookie because I’ve got it there.

You know, whenever you are offering something to somebody, you want to make it seem like it’s already available for them, that it’s already there. You’re not going out of your way. You know, if I, there’s a difference between, ‘would you like me to make you some tea?’ You know, because as soon as they say that, ‘well, are you going to have some? ‘Oh yes, I’ll have some.’ ‘Well, then I’ll have a cup of tea.’ Because we don’t want people to go out of our way. Just like we would never say to somebody, if asked, is there anything I can get you? You would never in a million years say, ‘you know what? Now that you mention it, would you bake me some cookies?’ Can you imagine saying something like that? You know, we would never do that. Yet, we’re so, in the way we communicate with people, prospects especially, we are so hesitant to be direct, to be direct and to ask people if they would like something. Or offer them something because we don’t want to be rejected.

If we can get over that and we can lead people in the direction that they need to go to get the benefit that you know that they want, or you know at least half of them want that benefit, that is going to be the biggest, most beneficial thing that you can do for your follow-up program. Don’t expect your prospects to take the lead. You take the lead. You know, so often we end our emails or we send people emails and say, if there’s any way that I can help you, or if you have any questions, feel free to give me a call or just shoot me an email. Again, we’re expecting them to lead.

So here’s what I’d like to do. I’m going to give you guys a little bit of a homework assignment this week. And what I’d like you to do is first of all think through what would you respond with next if somebody, if you send that email that says, ‘are you still looking for a house in Georgetown?’ what’s going to happen? You know I’d love it if you tried it with a group of prospects that you haven’t followed up with in quite some time. I’d love it if you tried that and leave a comment on the Marketing blog, right on the page, right at the end of this post, you can see there’s a place where you can leave a comment. Tell me what happened when you sent that email and tell me what you think the next step should be. How would you reply to the email that somebody’s going to respond?

And then a little later this week, I’ll reply. I’ll look at all these and I’ll send you a little update with some of these results that people have gotten and I’ll send you a recommended email that I would use to follow up with it. And the good news is that today’s Monday, you can use this email to get a buyer appointment this weekend. So let’s do that. I’m going to let you do that on Monday and Tuesday. And then maybe on Wednesday, I’ll send you another email so that you’ll still have time to send out the email before the weekend. And maybe get a buyer appointment this weekend. So go to Marketing Monday, leave me a comment, and watch on Wednesday in your inbox to see the follow-up for this. And tune in then and see if we can’t get you a buyer appointment this weekend.

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David Fanale March 30, 2009 at 7:39 am

Dean: Okay, so I want agents. Let me know your thoughts. Here is what I sent:

Get more Leads on your listings-average range of 100 to 200 more leads per listing…costs you nothing! Free! Zero!

Find Out How. 201-376-6945

David S. Fanale, Broker/Owner

CENTURY 21 Eudan Realty

Bob Willis March 30, 2009 at 9:07 am


I sent out 56 emails on Friday, March 27.
So far (it’s Monday now), I have had 7 responses.
3 already bought a home.
1 said they are working with another agent.
1 email address was invalid.
2 are waiting until they take care of some personal and financial issues before they start looking to buy.

Paul Bermudez March 30, 2009 at 11:49 am

Hi Dean,
What should we put in the subject line? Anything special?

josh March 30, 2009 at 11:14 pm

I’m giving it a try. I dig marketing monday, it gets me excited for the week!

Ryan March 31, 2009 at 7:59 am


Sent out about 250 emails alll from people who I found through Finding buyers through craigslist about 10 mins ago and got 8 emails and 1 phone call.

Not bad eh.

Dean Jackson March 31, 2009 at 8:16 am

Hi Paul,

The best is to do it like this:

subject: Paul

Are you still looking for a home in Georgetown?

That’s it.

The human mind can’t stand an unsolved mystery 🙂


Dean Jackson March 31, 2009 at 9:31 am


About using an email like this for recruiting…

What if you tried something like:

subject: David

Have you found a buyer for 22 Happy street yet?

See how we’re engaging them BEFORE we present your offer?

If they haven’t found a buyer for 22 Happy Street yet…they’ll reply and say NO.

You could follow up and say something like:

I think I can help you find a buyer…

Give me a call at ###

Very simple communication.

One step at a time.

1. Engage.

2. Get them to call you.

Try it and let me know…


Tony March 31, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Hey Dean,

Jen put out that exact message, and guess what, over 250 emails back, lots of folks aren’t looking anymore for a variety of reasons, but maybe 1 in 10 are still on the hunt. So there you go, it works.

yur pal,

Mellie March 31, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I sent the message: Are you still looking for a house? to 11 people, 10 of whom I’ve only communicated with through email. As yet I have only heard back from the one who I have met in person. He’s just begun looking again, after taking a few months off in anticipation of the spring market.

Cliff Keith April 1, 2009 at 10:25 am


I sent out 17 emails with subject line reading From: Cheap Homes. Within 2 minutes I had a “Yes” answer back. Ok now what?

How about: “have you looked at 268 cheap homes on the website, yet?”

Your friend,

Cliff Keith April 1, 2009 at 11:29 am


Well change that to 3 in this short time. 2 yes and 1 no. And I thought the no was ready to buy now. It’s a crazy world out there.


Paul Bermudez April 1, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Hi Dean,
Also used the principles for recruiting… 19 follow up emails, 1 no longer looking, 3 definately interested, 2 still considering.

Worked Great!

Cliff Keith April 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm


I have received back 6 responses. Only two said nope and one said “not in these trying times.” I responded back to him and told him I could help anyone he know who owes more on their home than it is worth and they can’t sell the home. He has two friends who are wanting my councel.
I up my total emails to 72 and my calulator tells me that is a 8.33% return. That is in less than four hours! The remaining probably aren’t even home from work yet and that number should increase.
Thanks for the great idea.

Your friend,

Vickie Hall April 1, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Hi Dean:

I sent out the message to everyone in my Get Response program – about 575 people.

I received about 17 responses:

1 said they had relatives coming into town in April that would be looking
2 were just out of office auto responders
2 bad email addresses
2 had already found a home and moved (without my help 🙁 )
7 said they weren’t going to do anything in this current market or had decided not to move
2 said they had decided to move to a different state – Texas
1 said that he can’t make a move just now because he had lost his wife and both of her parents in the last 2 week – YIKES!

So at least it keeps my name in front of them and communication going.

Alan Eggleston April 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm

I sent out 26 emails :
“Are you still looking for a house in St. George.”
5 undeliverables = bad email addresses
1 “not looking right now”
No other responses from the other 20 yet
These were sent 3-30-09

Kurt Nilsen April 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Hi Dean, Thanks to you I use the 9 magic words e-mail frequently in my drip campaigns with great success. Can you suggest a “lender” oriented version for me?

Kurt Nilsen

Shawn Perry April 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Hi Dean,

I am holding a First Time Homebuyer Class next weekend. Last month, 80% of the people who attended were there because of people in my Sphere of Influence telling them of the class.

I’ve been trying to think of a compelling one sentence e-mail to send to my SOI, engaging them to think of someone who is thinking of buying a home.

Any thoughts or ideas? — Thanks!

Christopher Newell April 3, 2009 at 3:56 am

got 18 responses from first batch – 5 put plans on hold, 12 said yes, and 1 said ‘yes, why do you ask?’

Lynette Wyrick April 3, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Sent out 4000 emails collected from my auto-responder over the past 10 years. Email went out at 6:35 PM on Wednesday, April 1st. As of this morning, I have received 109 responses. 15 Looking within the next 1 to 6 months. 41 plan on Looking Later (6 to 24 months). 1 will be a Listing within the next 2 months. The remainder of the responses were either Unsubscribe, Not Looking or have an interest in following the real estate market. The 41 Looking Later responses were tied to the economic downturn, fear of job security, etc. I promoted in my email response, which were individually answered to personalize, to please keep me in mind when they are ready and when they hear of anyone looking to buy or sell to please keep me top of mind as I love to have a reason to reward my referral business. Most answered back to my request and said they would. I then responded with a final email thanking them for their consideration. We shall see!

Ty Lacroix April 4, 2009 at 11:20 am

Great article and very informative. Keep up the good work.

Dave Osborne April 5, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Because I sent it out as a blast, the Subject I used was….

“Real Quick…”

Great responses so far.


rusty armstrong April 6, 2009 at 9:29 am

I personally sent on 4 and got 3 responses in less than 30 minutes. I have passed it on the my agent and those who have tried it got responses. Thanks Rusty

Gayle Holtzman April 6, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Last week I sent 130 emails: Subject: Are You Still Looking for a Home in St. Charles County? I received 25 responses of which 4 bought a house already, 2 were holding off and want to remain on my list until the economy picks up and they can sell their house and one person still interested in selling and buying in about a year or so (lead from 2006). The remainder of emails were from undeliverable or disconnected.

Jeff Coros April 7, 2009 at 8:13 am

Dean, I did as you said and the emails started to come in. I have 5 to date so far. 2 said they already bought, 2 opened the door with the comment “we just do not think we are ready”. 1 asked for update on listings.
Marketing made simple by Dean

Sara Guevremont August 18, 2009 at 9:08 am

I just saw this article in the archives, I’m ready to give it a try now….it certainly can’t hurt! October 29, 2009 at 6:13 am

Hey there, Dean,

[1] Where can I find the follow-up Email for the ‘magic 9-word message’?

[2] Does your program present a series of Email drip campaigns for prospective buyers, sellers and my sphere of influence? My research really hasn’t found any good ones, certainly none with the psychological penetration of your simple, laconic approach. But Realtors need a general and sustained program for staying in touch by Email that’s effective, just as I’ve seen already that you provide one for prospects by costly direct mail.

Walt November 14, 2009 at 7:44 am

Incredible, you’ve made me a believer! I sent out twelve mails last night as a test. I received 4 responses within 2 hours. ( These are people that have been accepting email and content for months-years, but had never sent me any comments.) Here is a sample response-“We are looking at homes between York and the Maryland line. My home will be on the market in two weeks, after extensive updating. It’s a waterfront 2 miles from Tampa
Bay. Will be there when it’s sold. We appreciate your alerts although I
realize it’s been a long time. Thanks for your help and hope to be in the area soon.
Thanks again,”
This person registerred on my site on 5/3/08. This is the first email I had from them ( despite numerous drip emails and solicitations from me).
Thanks for the excellent information.

guylain ramsay April 19, 2010 at 8:27 am

Great idea! I try it this week!!

Fernando Herboso June 7, 2010 at 7:49 am

Dean: I agree with you analogy about the cookies.. except, we can’t generalize everyone the same way. I believe the reason prospecting with emails leads to such a dismal conversion numbers is because. .that different personalities require different approaches.
Some like facts only and no BS . . others feel that a soft response is much better. . others feel that they are doing you a favor and other feel that you are doing them a favor.
I use a simple email (with added notes to prove them that is not a computer generated email). .when approaching all these leads . . . like this:

. . . . .”Before I go any further, I want you to know that I will always respect your privacy. If you would just like information at this stage or just want to communicate via email that is fine. Please let me know how you would like to communicate at this stage and I will totally respect that”

and now. .here’s the key sentence to motivate them into a response. .

. .”If I don’t hear back from you by email. I will follow up shortly with a quick phone call to make sure you have received these emails and to answer any questions.”

Our number went up as soon as we started using this in our first response email. .
unfortunately, we got responses but we are still with dismal numbers to actually make an appointment with them.

What do you think about this Dean?
I would value you opinion on this. .

Joe Altman June 8, 2010 at 8:23 am

Hi Dean,
Sent out 75 emails as you suggested on 6/7/2010. Received 0n 6/8/2010 six positive replies and one no reply.

What do you suggest as the next step.

Chris Hein June 8, 2010 at 11:50 am

Hi Dean,

I am going to give this a try ASAP. I have a ton of old dead leads that this would be a perfect last ditch effort for. Thanks for the advice. I would love to hear more about the follow up.


Dani November 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Just sent out 167 emails .. lets see what happens …

Danii November 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Just tried it out .. and WOW … already have 5 responses …. 2 moved out of state, 2 are holding off for another 3 month and 1 ist still looking and needs my help!!! IT DOES WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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