If you want to make money in real estate, there are some things you can’t do without. One is a strong lead-generation strategy that keeps your pipeline filled with prospective clients. But just as important is a killer conversion strategy for turning leads into clients.
To paraphrase Chris Smith, author of The Conversion Code, the fortune is in your follow up. As an agent, you are leaving money on the table if you don’t have a system for following up to convert leads into appointments, and convert appointments into sales ― a system designed specifically for the highly competitive, modern, Internet environment.
So, where do you begin? By looking at the four essential elements of successful follow up:
The Need for Speed: Have A Strategy to Get There First
We live in an age of 24/7 instant gratification. The Internet, email and cell phones have changed our expectations for how quickly we expect companies and individuals to respond to our requests.
Think about your own experiences. Let’s say you want to update the window covering in your home. You visit two sites with similar pricing and products. Both offer free consultations where a salesperson will bring samples to your home and go over options. You supply your contact info and receive a call from one company within minutes to set an appointment. The other company calls the following day.
They’ve missed their opportunity.
Leads should receive a reply, whether by phone, text or email, within 5 minutes. If you don’t respond immediately, another agent will, and, as the saying goes, you won’t get a second chance at a first impression.
Too many agents still aren’t getting this message.
Did you know the median response time to online real estate inquiries is a whopping 3 hours and 8 minutes?? Most agents are over 3 hours late in responding! Worse yet, 47 percent of agents never respond at all. They are literally throwing away business. Don’t make the same mistake.
Obviously, you won’t always be able to personally respond to prospects within 5 minutes. You may be on an appointment or in the middle of a negotiation when the inquiry comes in. Take advantage of technology to bridge gaps in response time. The easiest thing to do is set up an auto responder with a pre-written text or email message to let the prospect know you’ve received their inquiry and will get back to them soon.
If you really want to make your auto responder work harder, ask the prospect for the best number to call them back, even if you already have their number. It’s not really about getting the number. It’s about giving the prospect a reason to reply, getting them engaged, which increases the likelihood of winning their business.
For tips on creating effective auto response messages, download the free digital white paper, Convert Internet Leads & Land More Listings
Try, Try Again … And Again … And Again
Consider this: The probability of making contact with a prospect on the first attempt at contact is just 48 percent. But it goes up to 81 percent on your third attempt, and 93 percent by your sixth attempt.
Follow-up success is a matter of simple math. Your odds of converting a lead go up exponentially with persistence. Keep in mind that these aren’t cold calls. These are people who’ve put up their hands. They’ve responded to your ad or subscribed for information. They are already halfway down the funnel. You just have to keep at it.
Frequent contact is the only way to be sure that home sellers will see your message at a moment when they are ready to call you or email you. Until you establish a dialog, the communication is one-sided, and it’s entirely up to you to keep it flowing. The agents who have success converting leads stay in regular touch with prospects, using multichannel marketing campaigns.
You don’t always get the kiss on your first date, right? Follow up is a process. People are busy. They’re distracted. They don’t answer their phones, especially for numbers they don’t recognize. Your follow-up strategy should include a drip campaign of emails, text messages, direct mail and phone calls to overcome these obstacles.
Move The Relationship Forward: Have A Strategy to Spark Conversation
As I mentioned previously, you’ll want to set up a drip campaign using a variety of media and messaging. While you should definitely try getting the prospect on a phone call, many people prefer to receive emails and texts. They may be more comfortable initiating a conversation through this type of “soft contact.”
Don’t underestimate the power of direct mail as part of your follow-up strategy. I cannot stress this enough to agents we work with at Geographic Farm. Yes, we live in a digital age, but using direct mail as part of an integrated campaign remains shockingly effective. According to a 2015 Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report, direct mail continues to outperform all digital channels combined by nearly 600%.
Keep in mind that simply being in contact won’t get the job done. You are competing for the prospect’s attention with everything else they could be doing, so your communications have to break through the clutter and grab a prospect’s attention with strong headlines, bold visuals and relevant information.
Most importantly, your communications should “engage” the prospect in a two-way conversation.
There are two ways you can do this:
- Offer something.
Adding an offer to your communications can dramatically improve your response rates. It could be anything from a checklist for dealing with lenders to referrals to reputable contractors ― anything to make the prospect hit reply or pick up the phone.
- Ask questions.
This will get the prospect talking, making it much more likely you’ll be able to schedule an appointment. Their answers will also help you uncover information to qualify the lead ― for example, understanding where they are in the buying or selling process, so you can gauge how serious they are, and how much of your time they’re worth.
As important as converting leads is to your business, you have other obligations ― marketing your clients’ homes, arranging inspections, holding open houses. Since you can’t spend all your time on lead conversion, you might consider employing an automation service to create a comprehensive follow-up campaigns for you.
Automation services bring the benefits of single-focus expertise as well as economy of scale, often delivering better results than you can get on your own, at a far lower cost-per-conversion.
For tips on creating drip campaigns that convert, download the free digital whitepaper, Convert Internet Leads & Land More Listings
Have A Strategy That Makes the Best Use of Your Time
Asking questions can help you to qualify prospects so you can concentrate your time and marketing dollars on prospects who are most ready to move forward, helping you get the best return for your money and effort.
Another way to optimize your results is to contact leads during the days and times when they are most likely to answer and willing to be engaged.
The best time to reach leads is between 8-10 a.m. and 4-6 p.m., and the best days to make contact are Wednesdays and Thursdays. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try calling at other times, on other days, but keeping this in mind can be helpful when planning how to optimize the time you spend on following up on leads versus other activities.
The Next Step: Putting Your Strategy in Place
Devising and implementing a strategy to convert leads at the highest rate possible takes time, but the results are well worth the effort. Anything you can do to increase your conversion rates ultimately means more money in commissions. Your skills as a marketer directly impact your success in sales.
My hope in writing this article was to provide you with a general introduction to broad concepts, but there are far more detailed and specific tactics and tips available in the full white paper, Convert Internet Leads & Land More Listings, which is available as a free download.