** Disclaimer -- Hard-knock, old school advice contained within. (I usually write things with humor, sarcasm, and a certain lilt that most enjoy... This has none of that. Toughen up. This is about as serious as I can get without thinking I need coffee...or a vacation...)
“Internet leads are the new office phone call!” One of the folks that follows me on Facebook said that the other day. And, to be totally honest, I couldn't agree more.
The truth of the matter is that the internet lead is here to stay. (DUH!) And according to a recent NAR stat, 94% of all home buyers searched on the internet BEFORE they ever contacted an agent. So, agents have had to adapt to take advantage of this accepted fact.
But, the general opinion on internet leads is that these prospects are anywhere from six months to two years from making their purchase. And, in some cases, this is surely true.
But, the factual statistics simply state that the majority of internet inquiries are exactly the opposite. This data reveals that the vast majority of internet-generated leads are six months or less away from sealing the deal. Specifically, research has shown that a generous portion of all internet leads are only 4 months or less away from making their purchase.
In truth, internet leads tend to:
• Be better educated
• Buy more expensive homes
• Use a Real Estate Professional
• Have higher incomes
• Have a shorter search time
• Stay loyal to their Agent
• View fewer homes
So, why is it that sooo many agents have such a hard time converting them into prospects and, eventually, into a closing?
Well, to quote Bob Stewart of ActiveRain..."...it's not because the leads were bad, it's because you (the agent) were not good at working them."
More than half of all internet inquires are NEVER FOLLOWED UP ON!
(Excuse me for a second...I'm gonna freak out...)
WHAT?!? Over half of the people that are contacting a real estate agent asking for help are ignored?!? No wonder this industry has such a negative connotation...
And, the ones that are...? they are called as 54 hours (on average according to NAR) after they posted the inquiry online. 54 HOURS?!? That is the equivalent of an internet ice-age...
Working an internet lead is different than working someone that walks into your office or even calls you on the phone. And, the reason most agents fail at working internet leads is that they do not recognize that these individuals are merely gathering information. And, as such, they may be gathering it from multiple sources.
They have surely signed up on more than one website. There is no implied loyalty here. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are the only person they are talking to...or your site is the only one that they are checking. Thinking that you are the only resource they are checking at this point is setting yourself up for failure.
So...The goal here -- Be THE source that they should go to...Be the expert. Be the leader. Be the most responsive, best educated, and MOST WILLING to help them get the information that they need when they need it. Doing that will put YOU in the forefront in that buyer's mind. Make yourself stand out.
Which brings me to my closing point here: Follow-up phone calls. (Notice I didn't say anything about emails.)
Most agents simply do not call an interent lead. Fail. They email them. Fail. That is setting yourself up for failure. It is a cop-out. It's the easy way. And, in the vast majority of internet inquiries studied, it does not work!
Of the agents that call those inquiries, most agents do not call an interent inquiry more than two times. Fail. You have to remember that by signing up on your website, they are asking for information. They want something you have...and it is your job to get it to them.
Text them right away. Don't text?? Call them! Call them several times. They are asking you to do your job. Following up with them is your job. That requires calling. Don't call once. Don't call twice. Call twice a day for 5 days, if that is what it takes.
What is the worst that can happen?? They tell you not to call them any more?? Awesome!! At least that way, you have an definitive answer as to whether or not they are serious, right? The serious inquiries will want to talk with you. And, the ones that aren't will tell you not to bother them. Either way, you were successful. Don't worry about "being a bother" or thinking that you are going to offend them. Again...they are asking for information. Do your job. Get it to them. If you end up offending them along the way, then you are better off knowing you are spinning your wheels by attempting to work with them. Remove them from your database and concentrate on those that are willing to speak with you. But, until you reach that point, you will never know where you sit. Better to get a 'No' than to chase someone for months, in my mind.
Following up with your leads is your job. Learn how to do it properly. And, if you can't, hire someone that can. You will close more deals! You will be a better agent! You will make more money!