Internet Leads - Best Practices

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty TN R.E. License 292369

Click here to see a survey and results of Web Lead conversion numbers.

 

The section below actually was linked in my e-mail from the on-line REALTOR® Mag.  It came from an article titled 6 Best Practices for Online Leads,  I am just a bit curious, what do you think about it?   Do people that actually supply you their phone numbers in an on-line form expect that you won't callWeb Leads them.  Do you think this author has it correct by suggesting not to bother them by dialing them up?  

 

I just spent the better part of the week in New Orleans with my Keller Williams Family Reunion and I have to tell you that this contradicts most everything I heard, and have been doing.  If I get a phone number, I am calling them.  If I don't get to them within 5 minutes, I believe I have missed an opportunity.

 

So, I am interested to know what do you think?

 

 Below is the sited excerpt from Realtor® Mag

 

Best Practice #2: Don’t Call Them

If you've somehow acquired a prospect's phone number and you're tempted to pick up the phone, stop yourself. It’s generally a bad idea. Why? You risk driving that potential client away because in all probability, he or she just wanted information, not a salesperson trying to set up an appointment.

Most human beings feel vulnerable and defensive when they’re on the phone with a salesperson with whom they don’t have a relationship. That’s one reason why Internet is such a popular place for prospects’ to gather information before speaking to a real estate professional.

So, is it ever appropriate to call an online prospect in response to an online inquiry? Yes, there are a couple of exceptions.

  •  
    • If the prospects explicitly ask you to call them and provide their phone number.
    • If it is clear that the lead has come directly from your highly targeted Web site, and the prospects offered their phone number voluntarily (in other words, they were not forced to reveal it in order to access information on your site or order a report). 

It’s so important the lead comes from your highly targeted Web site because then it’s more likely they’ve already learned about your business and have started trusting you. That’s a contrast from most inquiries from third-party lead generation services or “one size fits all” sites are actually quite cold.

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Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Coretta Logan 02/23/2010 03:46 PM
  2. Coretta Logan 02/23/2010 03:46 PM
  3. Brenda and Willie Gonzalez 02/25/2010 12:34 AM
  4. Mark Rienzie 02/25/2010 06:55 AM
  5. Sybil Campbell 02/27/2010 04:18 AM
  6. Sybil Campbell 02/27/2010 04:37 AM
Topic:
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Groups:
Active Rain Newbies
Internet Lead Generation-How Best To Capture Your Audience
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Rainmaker
49,399
Ken Snyder
Exit Realty NE Houston - Humble, TX
Houston Texas Real Estate

I won't turn this into a chat, but lol, Brett.  We were typing at the same time & both used the word, "media" in the same context.  Great minds...

Feb 25, 2010 11:11 AM #111
Rainer
8,223
Philip Gleason
Baird & Warner - Downers Grove, IL

 If I have a phone # I will text a message that I will be calling with the information they are looking for. No answer and I call. I always make contact but text is better thatn Email in this day and age.

Feb 25, 2010 11:24 AM #112
Rainmaker
207,960
Peggy Wester
Realty Executives Integrity - Grafton, WI
Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County

What a great discussion!! I do usually email first but most of those inquiring specify that as their preferred method of communication. We do, of course, talk on the phone eventually, assuming they have a real interest in buying or selling. Congrats on the feature!

Feb 25, 2010 01:01 PM #113
Rainmaker
920,697
Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc
Benchmark Realty LLc - Nashville, TN

Mike - I've seen the MIT sturdy, and I believe that you should call immediately and offer to help. Most of the time the client will respond with the just looking attitude. THank them for using your site, send them an e-mail with a link back to the site, and put them on a drip campaign with a follow up phone call in a week. You can convert 10 percent over time using that response.

Or you can let them look without requiring a sign-in, and reduce your leads by 95 percent. I know, I've tried it.

Feb 25, 2010 01:37 PM #115
Ambassador
1,703,610
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Mike, all I have to say is WOW!!  I can't believe some of the comments I'm reading here.  I am a rainmaker to get internet leads.  If I'm not going to call those leads, what's the point of using this venue?  I can tell you, when I first started calling people from internet leads, I was a little apprehensive.  What I have learned is that more people like that I call them than those that do not.  I am having discussions with 3 people right now that were all people that have signed on to my website in the last week.  I've already taken one of those people out and shown him property.  He didn't even leave me his phone number.  He just gave an e-mail address and I did 411.com.  You know what he said to me when I called and he hadn't even left his phone number, "I like your style.  You're exactly the kind of person I want to do business with."  As far as I'm concerned, that's all I need to hear.  I call and I'll keep calling.

Commenters:  I sit outside of Mike's office.  I have heard him on more than one occasion speak to people who have signed onto his site.  He has a servant's heart.  He genuinely wants to help the people that sign onto his website.  Remember this is a business.  He is providing a service that they have requested.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, MIKE!!

Feb 25, 2010 01:38 PM #116
Rainmaker
278,295
Franklin & Brentwood, TN Homes Mike Nastri
Keller Williams Realty - Franklin, TN
It matters to us as much as it matters to you.

I am overwhelmed by your responses and wish I could respond to each of you individually.  Thanks for your kind words Tammie and I have also seen the MIT report Larry and Ken.  After viewing that there is no doubt in my mind that you should call and immediately is not soon enough.  

Are the percentages of leads more qualified and solid if they initiate the call, of course.  But I can count on one hand how many have initiated contacted in the past year.  With those results I would be waisting my time with the internet.

As for web searchers not wanting to talk to a sales person, I have never considered myself a salesman.  I am in the service industry, my products are my time and expertise.  By the way my service TOTALLY FREE to all buyers.  

Feb 25, 2010 02:05 PM #117
Rainmaker
19,715
Scott Greeson
Raleigh Cary Realty - Knightdale, NC

What Steve, #33 said.  Real simple.

Feb 25, 2010 02:23 PM #118
Rainer
2,868
Mark Tapp
Irongate Mortgage - Denver, CO

Mike, I have to agree with you.

Firstly, Why on earth would you spend the time and money generating leads if you don't plan to follow up with them? And for those of you who think email is less obtrusive than a phone call you should see my inbox.

Secondly, if you are coming across like a pesky sales person, you are doing a poor job of communicating with your prospects. There is no reason to harass them or make them uncomfortable. If you are a true consultant you will ask the right questions in an effort to truly help your prospect obtain what it is they want. And, if you are good at what you do and you treat your clients well, you are actually doing them a favor by calling in an effort to keep them from making the mistake of working with someone less skilled and less ethical than you are. You should be shooting for the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship, not a paycheck.

Thirdly and most importantly, come on folks, the consumer isn't foolish. They know when they put their phone number in a form they will be called (or should be). At that very moment in time, when they are completing your information page, they are telling themselves "whatever the information is at the other end of this form it is worth the potential of being contacted by the person or persons giving it to me. Who's really being taken advantage of here? The consumer who expects valuable and timely information at no cost, or the real estate professional trying to provide the best possible experience and advise to those that need it ...even if they don't know it yet?

Feb 25, 2010 03:07 PM #119
Rainmaker
242,066
Jenny Durling
L.A. Property Solutions - Los Angeles, CA
For Los Angeles real estate help 213-215-4758

There is no hesitation- if a anyone gives me a phone number I am going to call them. PERIOD!

Feb 25, 2010 03:29 PM #120
Rainer
39,776
Jim Gaddis
Homestead Data - Binghamton, NY

Whoever wrote this article on Best Practices is not a salesperson. They probably just write, they certainly don't sell anything to make their livelihood.

Of course a call should be made, but I would nurture the lead a bit. I wouldn't call in the first five minutes as you suggest because I think you run the risk that you look desperate.

In my view, an e-mail attempt should be first made that conveys trust and creditibility, and maybe baits the lead with a free report or something, followed up with a phone call. The timeliness of getting this e-mail should be important - if they are an internet lead, then by definition they are by their computer seeking stuff out and they want information INSTANTLY.

I think that after an e-mail, the lead should be called, but "just following up" is a weak introduction to the first conversation, I think. The call should engage, probe, and offer more relevant information or provide a clear call to action. "Touching base following up from your inquiry" is pretty poor in my view - it's too easy for the prospect to blow you off. You have to take command of the conversation.

Feb 25, 2010 04:11 PM #121
Rainer
8,648
Troy Silvester
Freedom Realty Group,LLC - Roy, UT

This reminds me so much of the Registration vs. No Registration required  for property searches debate.  (By the way, I think a delayed registration is the answer, after they see you have the goods.)  When my own daughter was looking for a house I started her out on my website searching, and somewhere along the line she wound up loyally doing her searches on one of my competitors site that had exactly the same IDX feed as I do. Unless you make an attempt to get them, while they are there, they are gone off to any of a dozen other sites that have the same stuff you do. 

Ardell's comment above is so altruistic that I can't even touch it. We are in business to create a profit and as such, I do represent my own interests first, and as a Broker the interests of my agents.  I am sorry, but my duty to my family and my liveilhood is the driving force in behind my desire to do a good job for all of our clients, and I do, sometimes at my own expense. However, if we don't call, we do not deserve the opportunity to serve their interests.

Make is pleasant and as innocent as possible with a genuine desire to be helpful and most will appreciate it even if they are not ready (and they now can put a voice with your follow up emails), and if they are ready you both win. You get to work with them and they get a good helpful agent. Otherwise... that next webiste... or the next...

Feb 25, 2010 05:17 PM #122
Rainer
159,100
Monique Ting
INET Realty Honolulu, HI - Honolulu, HI
Your agent under the sun

Because we have prospects that live in different time zones, I always e-mail an internet lead & ask for the best time to call. For someone that is on the East Coast, if I call at 5pm HST it might be 11pm EST!!!

Feb 25, 2010 07:35 PM #123
Rainer
9,976
George Burgess
RE/MAX Heritage - Pittsburgh, PA

Mike, I e-mail back thanking them for the inquiry. Indicate that I respect their privacy and ask if they would rather be contacted by e-mail or phone. If by phone what is the best time to call? Sounds like another one of those things where you should do whatever you feel most comfortable with. Thanks for the post.

Feb 25, 2010 09:00 PM #124
Rainer
45,359
Dennis Erickson
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Montana Properties - Bozeman, MT
My Best..., Always!

Mike,

The fact that someone leaves me a phone number is not an invitation from them to have me call them.  It's an excuse I/we use to make a phone call to a "suspect" not a "prospect" to make it feel like we're doing our job.  A "prospect" will say "call me, I want to talk to you." 

I don't call unless I'm asked to call, HOWEVER, I follow up each inquiry with 12-18 drip emails, the first of which tells the person that OUT OF RESPECT FOR THEIR PRIVACY, I WON'T BE CALLING THEM but that if they would like to talk to me they can call me toll-free or email me.  I tell them I'll stay in touch via email.  This allows me to focus on live buyers and sellers and not be calling people who have a mild interest or no interest in doing business NOW.

Just a thought.

 

Feb 26, 2010 04:11 AM #125
Rainer
34,946
Chris Richter
Wintrust Mortgage - Chicago, IL

Great response Dennis, it will go over poorly on this thread.  It has been clearly stated that using a web-appropriate response mechanism to web leads means that you have call reluctance.  

You should be ashamed of yourself for thinking ;)

 

Feb 27, 2010 02:59 AM #126
Rainer
390,115
Jean-Paul Peron
The Outer Banks Real Estate Copmpany - Corolla, NC
Carova Beach - Living & Working in 4-Wheel Drive

IMHO, If there phone number is not required then I think why would they put it there if they didn't want you to call them. Now most likely they gave you an email address also, so I will email them the info first and close out the email by telling them that I will follow up with a phone call. This way when I do call they knew to expect it AND they know when I say I will do something, I will actually do it.

Feb 27, 2010 10:44 AM #127
Rainmaker
85,945
Debbie Durkee
Coldwell Banker Select, Realtors -- Tulsa, Oklahoma - Tulsa, OK
ALC, CRS -- Land & Country Estates near Tulsa

The article you quoted is in line with what Michael Russert teaches in his Online Dominance sessions. 

I let my people marinate in my online soup until they are ready.  Then they will email me or pick up the phone and call me.  It works. 

When they find me on the internet they already know who I am and what I do.  They understand my philosophy. 

My internet presence attracts people who think like me.  They are more loyal and we are more likely to hit it off when we finally meet.

 

 

Mar 01, 2010 12:46 PM #128
Rainer
147,192
Coleen DeGroff
eXp Realty - Gainesville, FL
Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL

Hi Mike,

I am so squeamish about getting calls myself that I always email customers, even if they leave a phone number. A lot of times they were just looking for more info on a house...doesn't go anywhere.  Other times they are a bit more motivated, and respond back to my email, and want to set an appointment. Then I call.

Mar 16, 2010 03:15 PM #129
Rainer
4,631
Greg Uttal
Golden1 Credit Union - Westlake Village, CA
Always thinking about real esate, always!

Wow so many posts and so many ways to try to convert an inquiry to a client. Taking personality and closing skills out of the mix I wonder if anyone cares to share their conversion rates along with their preferred method of initial contact? I would be interested in knowing the correlation between phone calls vs email to conversion to clients.

Apr 12, 2010 04:32 PM #130
Rainer
135,632
Matt Robinson
Professional Investors Guild - Pensacola, FL
www.professionalinvestorsguild.com

Don't call them?!?  That's terrible advice.  We get internet leads all the time from our office, and those that leave legitimate numbers always convert 10 times more than e-mails alone.  Now of course we get our fair share of John Smiths (or Doe), Mickey Mouse, and a bunch of folks with 8675309 phone numbers.  However, when someone leaves a REAL numbers, and we call them right away, it's almost always a very good lead.

May 30, 2010 10:11 AM #131
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Rainmaker
278,295

Franklin & Brentwood, TN Homes Mike Nastri

It matters to us as much as it matters to you.
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