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Oh no, not another post about these companies that sell leads to unsuspecting and unknowing agents who will do almost anything other than picking up a phone themselves to promote their business.
Now what I'm about to say comes from experience and research. I have actually looked at some of the products from companies "guaranteeing" leads. I don't necessarily agree with Bob Stewart in his post "Internet Lead Conversion: It's Probably Not the Leads, It's Probably You", because his theory is that some agents do better with lead conversion of similar leads than others. I would contend that this is certainly a factor but not the primary reason.
I won't name names here. But I have looked, tested, paid and cried at the crap that many of these so-called lead generating firms offer. I've sat down with upset consumers that have no idea how their name got onto a list and why 4 different realtors have called them about listing their homes. I've battled with threats of fines for calling people on the DNC list, and have had no support from the vendor that sold me the consumer's contact information.
I've worked with brokerages that believe in "don't make anyone register for free information" all the way to "you must register before you can enter the site." When I bought my Weichert franchise in 2008, I had to make an informed decision on how much information to provide before I require registration.
Why is this important? Because you don't want to get 100 "leads" a day from names like "Ida Ho" and "Dick Hurtz" which don't get caught and filtered out like names such as "Fred Flintstone" or "Sherlock Holmes."
So, the moral of my story is: "generate you own leads using Search Engine Optimization and good old fashioned pressing the flesh." Bob says in his article that the NAR says that the average lag between initial contact and actual purchase is 8 months. In my experience, that time period is getting longer as people "hold out" for something better. Good properties move fast - so fast that if the Internet buyer is not in daily contact with his Realtor, the listing gets sold before they finish their "on-line analysis" of the property - you know what I mean - what does Trulia or Zillow say - how can I reconcile the differences between the two - why are tax assessments so much higher (or lower) than asking prices, etc.
So, I will now step off my soap box and tell you how my agents consistently show 9-18% closure rates on internet based leads.
Step A. The Lead Capture mechanism
Regular mailings to the farm area, including "humorous" (memorable) postcards, sports schedules on magnets and foldable schedules for wallets.
Spot on market commentary and analysis of market absorption and sales trends AND comparison to neighboring towns.
Top notch website with up to date information and links (always make sure your links work at least monthly)
Mobile phone app download available for consumers to search listings with their Smart Phones
A network of "Gold Services Partners" all working to refer business back to me, as I do for them
Active participation in social networking and real estate related web content and commentary
Regular press releases announcing community activities, new agents, awards, etc.
Handing out ice scrapers at the commuter rail station with our office information, and other goodies throughout the year
Step B. The Contact Management System
Can be expensive or cheap, but must have the following attributes:
Fields for first, last name
name of spouse and kids
birthdays and anniversaries
address, email, telephone, cell phone, and work
preferred method of contact
ability to e-mail directly from the system and to receive incoming e-mails that are filed with the customer
a "notes" section for the agent's personal comments about a discussion, showings, etc
Step C. The "Bells and Whistles"
This is where we separate the serious lead management guru's from the dabblers
The ability to validate e-mail addresses for Internet registrations
The ability to cross-check phone numbers against reverse lookup databases
The ability to track the source of the lead and incoming search words used to find my site
The ability to analyze the time that people are visiting my site. People who register on a Friday at 3:00 am are more likely to be surfers than those who are sipping coffee at the office at 8:45 am waiting for the day to start
The ability to send out daily updates and to provide a link to neighborhood information and maps
The ability to see what the leads are looking at so that we can follow up
A "contact me now" button if they see a property that they really like.
A vendor partner that can provide demographic information for targeted marketing efforts
A vendor (hopefully integrated) that will allow you to send out thousands of e-mails a month with the ability to get through spam engines
Step D. The Follow up System
Drip Marketing - A MUST
We use "canned" content and customized templates that are attractive, have our contact information, a "contact me" button and promotion to use our on-line tools.
Invitations to home buyer's seminars, community events and publicity
Separate and distinct "campaigns" for new buyers, people registered to receive home updates, those who are not yet signed up for home updates, former clients, renters, FSBOs, rental clients whose leases are coming up for renewal, recent divorcees, recent widow or widowers, etc.
A methodical system of follow up. Passive marketing must not be the only means of contact.
Multiple levels of communication
Agents must pick up the phone at least monthly to speak with the lead or be able to leave a message
Personal e-mail follow up about a new listing, "did you get my last newsletter, etc"
Mailings that are attractive and memorable.
Management and Supervision
All active leads must be updated at least weekly, long term active at least twice a month, "incubating leads" - every three weeks with a status. This is not a replacement for the drip marketing and multiple levels of communication that we have mandated.
The ability for the manager to "see" real time each lead and last contact recorded (using a green, yellow and red coloring system)
The ability for the agent to return leads so that they don't think that they are "stuck" with "dead" leads
The ability for the manager to easily reassign leads if an agent leaves, is dehired or returns leads which the manager still thinks should be worked.
A separate "drip" system and incubation for returned and "dead" leads that is strictly e-mail based with the hope that the customer will either "unsubscribe" or be open to periodic calls from a new agent who is prospecting.
LEADS AND FOLLOW UP NEVER GO AWAY UNTIL THE CUSTOMER SAYS "STOP"
Step E. Lead Management that is uniquely Weichert
There is no other firm out there that has the technology, budget, and infrastructure to host a national call center that operates everyday of the week to route leads to local agents. Unlike the system of auto-routing a lead to an agent's e-mail, the Weichert Lead Network actually performs a warm transfer of the lead while they are still on the phone with our call center. National statistics show that on average, it takes 54 hours for an Internet based lead to have their call returned. We do it in 5-8 minutes. If an agent can't take the call, it goes to another live agent. We do not give the lead the opportunity to search anyone else's website for information.
All new agents are required (and experienced agents encouraged) to participate in weekly I-Call sessions. We take our list of visitors from open houses, cold-call lists that have been scrubbed against the national DNC list, and other returned or incubated leads owned by the office and CALL these people. All agents must submit a list of their calls and the results each week and must have a minimum of 100 names on it. Remember, it takes 100 calls to get 1 appointment.
Step F. Recognize the Leaders
We do everything we can to promote and encourage a healthy team spirit and reward successful agents with the ability to earn more and share in the success of the office through profit sharing and management opportunities. Every agent's performance is measured in terms of a) number of times I or the Lead Network tried to provide them with a Lead (i.e. the number of times they answered their phone), b) the quality and timeliness of follow up using the systems and tools provided, and c) their success rate in closing deals.
So, in conclusion, I still believe that it is the quality of the lead that is the primary factor in lead conversion. The customer has to wantto work with a realtor. Secondly, it is the responsibility of the agent to follow up regularly and using innovative methods. Lastly, it is the management of the agents to do their jobs.
For full disclosure, I am rewarded with additional AR points for promoting the following:
For other methods of converting internet leads, be sure to check out giftofshift.com/activerainwhere you can purchase a limited edition hardcover of Gary Keller's book SHIFT, which comes with a free version of the eBook Soci@l: Attract Friends, Followers and Connections to Your Business, written by Ben Kinney and Jay Papasan (in which Ben shares his 'ten days of pain' lead conversion method) as well as free audio versions of Millionaire Real Estate Agent and Millionaire Real Estate Investor all for $19.99.
Do you feel like your office is holding you back from your true potential? Is your broker competing with you for new business? Do you sometimes wish that you could work with an energetic and fun team of seasoned and new agents that enjoy the benefits of being affiliated with an office that provides superior technology; a lucrative compensation package, including profit sharing; company generated buyer and relocation leads; and office management that does not compete with agents for new business?
Come see what WEICHERT, REALTORS®-Synergy has to offer.
Interested? Contact us now or call us at 617-751-4001
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.