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2008-01-22 11:59:00

6 Myths About Real Estate Leads Management

For the past few years the real estate industry has been dealing with the mysterious yet exciting Internet lead. We have been focusing on the quality of the lead and being able to get the lead to our sales associates.

Have we done a good job? Many of us have spent time developing systems to get these leads with good reason. Many consumers go online before they ever call or email us. We then spent good money created systems to get right back to the consumer – because the internet consumer will respond to the first REALTOR that gets back to then. The pressure was on us to make sure we did. We have hired lead coordinators, bought Blackberries for our sales associates, created back office systems to distribute leads, but my first question stands. Have we done a good job?

What I believe has happened is a shift in what our focus should be. Leads management is not just getting the lead and answering it quickly. It is the proper management of leads. So what are the myths still permeating our industry?
Myth 1. It is about  generating leads. It is NOT - It is about management of leads. You don't need more leads. If any of us did statistical analysis of the leads we have generated, I believe you will find statistics that will not make you happy. Why? Many good leads are marked dead. Just because someone doesn’t say work with me after two or three emails, doesn’t make that a bad lead. One company reported over 17% of leads marked dead as good leads that actually were resurrected and closed as sales. How do we manage leads more effectively? By making sure we understand how the consumer wants us to stay in touch. Many buyers are just not ready to buy when they contact us. We need to build relationships so when they are ready they will buy with us. How do we accomplish that? 

Myth 2. Electronic automatic response is not a substitute for sales. As always, we believe in the silver bullet mentality. Now that we have internet leads, let’s find an easy way to keep in contact and all our lead problems will be solved. WRONG! We have a quest to automate everything - that is a huge strategic error in converting leads. Automatic responses, drip systems are not doing anything to build relationships. This industry is built on referrals and creating relationships. Can you do that will an automated email? I think not.

This myth leads to a simple solution. All you need is a way to remind you to DO the work, not do the work for you. Use your Microsoft Outlook program to flag emails or contact records, and pick a date to  follow-up. If your client is a baby boomer or older they may appreciate a call. If your client in Gen X, an email may be appropriate. If your client in a millennial – you may need to text message. Let your technology task you to follow-up.

Remember, the telephone yields 20 to one ratio more than any other marketing tool. If you won't pick up the phone you are out of business.

The tools of real estate don't change just because the real estate agent gets older. (and new technologies and tools are introduced)
Myth 3.  The vast majority of leads are not good. Leads are misunderstood. Realtors do not have the training to handle leads, especially electronic ones.

If a lead tells us they don't want to buy for four months - we give up after three weeks. If a leads tell us they want to have information on financing - we send properties. Purchase the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers for 2006 and absorb the statistics. Interview buyers and sellers in your market and find out their buying and selling habits. The Internet has created the lurker. You need to train your sale people to work these type of leads. Fifty percent  of these leads will not convert for at least 12 to 24 months. Convert the interview process that you use on the phone into emails.
Myth 4. Salesperson knows how to convert an online lead. Sales people HAVE NOT been trained to convert on line leads. The vast majority can't use email, can't type, can't say a sales pitch, and can’t write a sales pitch. How can you expect them to convert on line leads?
This is truly a training issue - we generate leads thinking people can convert theses leads. We need to go back to basics – a technology solution includes how to write emails  properly. Training should focus on how to use spell check, signature files and WORD. If you use Outlook for your email client you can use word and SEND email from outlook. This makes it easy for most sales associates to use bullet points, insert pictures and put their logo in their email.
Myth 5. Leads do not need managers attention.
All leads need a manager’s attention. A lead distribution system is not a replacement for this – it is unacceptable if you are spending company money. An internet lead coordinator is also not a replacement. Management needs to step up to the plate be trained to use a simple excel spreadsheet or Microsoft Outlook to keep track of leads. Once a week, or month a simple phone call and appointment with sales associates can be made to follow up on leads. Many times training and coaching opportunities will be uncovered as management finds the weak areas of their sales associates.
Myth 6.  Most Internet leads come from the Internet. You can't prove it if you can't track it. Tracking is so easy with the technology available today. You  MUST put some type of system in place. You may find that even though someone eventually finds you on line, they saw a sign, chatted with a friend, saw a billboard. You needs to know these numbers so your marketing dollars are spent wisely.
The real goal of leads management should be to track the effectiveness of every form of marketing even though the actual inquiry may have come electronically. This is the most important reason to have leads management.

While we are experiencing a correction in the market, now is a good time to clean up all those leads in your contact management system. Organize, purge, get permission to email people, gather email addresses. Think about some of the ideas proposed and put an action plan together.

The online lead is counting on you!

(Amy Chorew of Matthew Ferrara and Company teaches REALTORS how to use technology. She is a Certified e-PRO Trainer and teaches CE, GRI and skill-development courses for REALTOR Associations and brokerages across America and Canada.)

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