Everyone asks Ryan Serhant about marketing. But, as he pointed out in a BAM interview with Byron Lazine, not many ask him about the nitty-gritty details of running his business. 

Some of the first questions Byron asked were about email strategy—specifically Serhant’s tireless commitment to following up through email. And it’s well worth taking note. 

We highly recommend watching the full interview to gather all the insights from their conversation. 

But if you’re looking for a quick breakdown of the key takeaways related to Serhant’s email strategy, read on. 

And for those who want to see Serhant live, be sure to sign up for the BAM Pro Bowl, where he’ll be keynoting. Trust us, it’s a digital event you don’t want to miss. (And it’s free!)

Follow Up Like Serhant

Email is something Serhant finds really interesting—and well worth his time—because it’s tactical. 

Think about some of the biggest names in the industry, aside from Serhant. 

What sets them apart, generally speaking, are the tactics they not only use but find a way to upgrade from basic to extraordinary. 

Everyone wants to know how to do TikTok to make a million dollars. No one wants to know how to have an email strategy set up to go and meet your next future client because one takes a little more work and isn’t nearly as sexy.

Ryan Serhant

So, here’s a quick breakdown of how Serhant uses email to stay connected with clients both present and potential:

  1. Use email inbox folders to organize incoming messages.
  2. Always follow up with value.
  3. Follow up without expecting a response.
  4. Customize follow-up. 
  5. Build a strong support system. 
  6. Save automation for administrative tasks—not follow-up.
  7. Leverage AI/automation to make better use of your time. 
  8. Know who (or what) you’re really working for. 

#1—Use email inbox folders to organize incoming messages

I have more folders in my inbox than anyone Microsoft and Apple have ever seen. I only know that because they’ve told us. Because when the systems crash, they have to fix them… 

I definitely leverage time. I have different processes. And I have an email assistant who helps me sort, right, to manage. I have a ‘No reply’ inbox folder that catches every single email that I send that someone doesn’t respond to every 48 hours… 

I have ‘Active buyer’ folders, ‘Listing pitches,’ …It’s broken down by market, it’s all completely organized so that at any given point in time, I don’t even have to search because, once you’ve been doing this for 15 years, you have a million emails there. It’s a lot of data…So, we have a process of being able to go through it and find absolutely anything so we can also remember to follow up and follow up and follow up. And our follow up process is follow up, follow through, follow back, forever—the three Fs—until they buy or die.

Ryan Serhant

#2—Lead with value

I’ve heard agents say this to me, ‘I want to figure out how I can get to be like Ryan Serhant and how I can get into that position.’ And I always say to them, ‘Do you understand how much follow up he does?

Byron Lazine

In response, Serhant explains why he follows up even when a lead’s response to his emails is barely there. He also shed some light on how he follows up. 

Hint: It’s never with a vacuous “Hey, it’s me! You ready to transact, yet? Or is there anything I can do to help (you get closer to transacting)?” 

He also doesn’t send anything out with the expectation of a response. But as long as a response is still possible—i.e., they haven’t told him to knock it off, they haven’t already sold with someone else, and they haven’t died—he keeps following up with them. 

And he always does so in a way that makes him stand out. 

I think because…once you give me a little nibble, then I know you’re real…Because we spend a lot of time doing cold outreach, emailing people cold. I don’t follow up with those people for five years—who never respond ever… But once I see that someone’s real, maybe it’s just now isn’t the right time. 

And then I’ve always just followed up with value. It’s never a ‘Are you alive? Are you still searching? Anything I can do to help you?’ It’s never the annoying retail sales person who’s like, ‘Hey, thanks for coming in! What can I help you with?’ …This is why I buy things online. It’s always, always, always with value. It’s always a new listing, a new comp, something new in the market.

Ryan Serhant

#3—Follow up without expecting a response

Serhant looks at his follow-up emails as a type of newsletter. So, when he sends one out, he doesn’t expect a response—ever. 

These follow-up emails are like newsletters, in a way…I don’t really expect people to reply to it. If they do, great. But otherwise, this is me helping you…And until someone writes back with ‘Hey, stop it,’ or ‘Hey, I bought something. Sorry, I used someone else,’ …whatever it might be, then they’re fair game.

Ryan Serhant

#4—Customize follow-up

Not all your leads will expect or even want daily or even weekly emails. Customize follow-up frequency based on key readiness factors. 

To be clear, Serhant doesn’t pepper his email list with follow-up communications every day regardless of their response (or lack thereof). The follow-up rate depends on a particular lead’s position in the funnel, based on whatever evidence they’ve provided.  

  • Are they taking steps toward selling their home?
  • Are they actively searching for their next home?
  • Are they willing to meet in the next 6-12 months (or weeks) to discuss strategy? 

It’s not like I meet someone and then I follow up with them all day every day. Somebody I might follow up with every two weeks, every three weeks. We have a different system, we have a follow up calendar we use.

Ryan Serhant

#5—Build a strong support system

Customizing as well as implementing follow-up strategy can be a full-time job in itself, which is why Serhant, from the beginning, prioritized building a strong support team. 

All I ever cared about when I first started selling and building my team…I kept my [living] expenses really, really low. I just wanted to have the most support staff. I want to make sure that I’m only doing what I can do best—which is I’ve got to go meet people so I can follow up with them, so I can show them things. No system, no AI is going to do a deal.

Ryan Serhant

If you’re a BAM reader, this should sound familiar. Growth-oriented professionals learn to delegate tasks others can do so they can focus on the income-producing activities only they can do as real estate agents. 

#6—Save automation for administrative tasks—not follow-up

At this point in the conversation, Byron revisited the topic of automation and asked if Serhant used AI to automate any part of his email follow-up strategy. 

And Serhant’s answer was worth underlining—he does not automate follow up.

I just want to double-down on this… Ryan Serhant and his email assistants are not automating the follow-up. You’re curating it for the individual to add extreme value.

Byron Lazine

100%,” Serhant agreed, adding, “A lot of other things we’re automating now.” 

The follow up question to this, of course, is Serhant writing all those follow-up emails himself? 

No, not now. I used to—for like 10 years, I did. Now, I have two email assistants who help with that…They’re not automating it…Automated email is spam.

Ryan Serhant

#7—Leverage AI to make better use of your time.

From there, Serhant described an app called S.MPLE that he and the SERHANT. team use to automate real estate administrative tasks. 

We have an app that we built here called S.MPLE that just takes care of all real estate administrative tasks you can ever do—like you want to run comps, you don’t have to anymore. You want to add people to your CRM and you’re running down the street and you don’t have time for it, you don’t have to anymore. You want to do marketing, you want to do a social content calendar, you want to…literally anything you can think of, other than meeting clients and doing anything that is personal to you, it does. 

And it learns how you operate. If you’re somebody who likes to price things high, it learns that and it gives you a higher-than-average CMA. If you’re someone who likes to do all your email at night, it can draft all the emails for you, set it up in your inbox so you can just bang it all out at night and save yourself an hour of time.

Ryan Serhant

Plenty of things can now be automated, and with the right tools, you can save tons of time every day that would otherwise have cost you your time or someone else’s. 

But when it comes to the person-to-person relationship-building activities—like email—those are too important to leave to AI. 

I am very into time-hacking, which is probably why Harvard wrote that case study, to buy back as much of my time during the day as I possibly can, so I can use that time in a way that I am uniquely qualified to use. And for me, that’s being in front of people, doing stuff like this [interview], and doing unique follow-up that is personal and doesn’t feel like it’s spam or automated because we all get spam/automated follow-up all day long. It’s just all trash. Why even do it?

Ryan Serhant

Time management and organization are inseparable. You can’t manage your time effectively if you’re not organized. And if you’re not making the best use of your time (or other people’s time), running a business is like trying to climb your way out of a mudslide. 

Not being organized is probably, in my mind…the number one reason most salespeople don’t make it. It’s not just the money.

Ryan Serhant

#8—Know who your (real) boss is

When you’re working on your own follow-up strategy as a real estate entrepreneur, eventually it all comes down to the question, “Who do you work for?” 

Every real estate professional should be able to answer that question with resolute certainty. And too many give the wrong answer. 

Another thing I will say, especially to young agents, and it’s hard for them to understand, is to understand who you work for. You’re an entrepreneur, you’re a salesperson. Who do you work for? And 99.9% of the people in this business say, ‘Well, I work for myself.’ Okay. So, then I say, ‘Other than yourself, who do you work for?’ ‘Oh, my clients!’ Okay, well, that’s still wrong. I don’t work for a buyer. I don’t work for a seller. I’m responsible to me in the future. I work for the deal. That is my boss. The deal is the boss.

So, if you’re not following up for the deal, if you’re not working for that deal, if you’re not pushing that deal forward at all times, then you’re actually not doing your job.

Ryan Serhant

Watch the full interview to hear (and enjoy) the whole conversation. And don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments!