Several weeks ago, I used the referral page of a national website. I thought it'd be interesting to share my experience, and see what you thought of it!
Before I go further, I should disclose that I've worked in some facet of the real estate and mortgage industries for the vast majority of my career. So I have realistic expectations, and I understand the wild daily variety that comes with the turf.
Also, I conducted this experiment in good faith - I am truly a prospective home buyer and seller, and my timeline is sometime in the upcoming year or two. Probably what you'd call a "C" lead.
One last disclaimer: none of our current clients work in my home area, which is rural, and neither of the responding agents have ever done business with RealSupport. I didn't contact my prior real estate agent, whom I used 10 years ago to buy my current home, because she is no longer in the business.
After completing the lead form, I heard from Agent #1 within 48 hours. It was a polite, personalized email, to the effect of:
"Good morning! I'd like to help you with your home search. I understand you are looking for a 3 bedroom home in Cornfield County. Can you tell me a little more about your preferences, and how soon you are looking to buy?"
In my reply, I provided some details, but also explained that I was in no hurry, and just looking right now to see what the money would buy. I also pointed out that my target areas didn't appear to be part of her usual market. She responded with:
"I can absolutely help you in the markets of Podunk and Dinkyville. I have a current listing in nearby Blip and I'm very familiar with all of Cornfield County. I've pulled together some listings that match what you're looking for. Do any of these interest you? And would you like me to send you new listings as they become available?"
Ok, I liked how this was going. Professional, friendly, but not pushy. I responded to the positive, and for the past six weeks, I have been getting regular emails. Some of them are automated listing alerts. But personal messages are sprinkled in periodically. In fact, when the messages stopped for about a week, I was a little surprised. But then I received this:
"I'm so sorry I've been out of touch. I recently had a death in the family, but I am back in the loop now...."
Oh my goodness. I don't even have a transaction in progress with this kind agent, and she's apologizing to me for being temporarily out of email contact?
Meanwhile, Agent #2, from another brokerage, had contacted me about 72 hours after I'd used the lead form. Her approach was less warm. Professional, but coming across more harried - as if the last thing she really needed, was a buyer in the boonies in my price range. (In her defense, she was further away from my market area than Agent #1.)
I gave Agent #2 a polite reply, and that was it. I never heard from her again. I'm surprised she didn't try referring me to a peer closer to my market. Nor did she put me in her email database. She let me go, easily. So easily, that I can't recall her name at all now, and finding her single email would take some digging on my part.
Agent #1's "secret sauce" is a mix of automated listing updates, and the occasional - but sincere - personal message. In the process, she is building a relationship with me, even though I'm a low-priority lead who isn't in a hurry. And it isn't like she's desperate for business - a review of her profile and listings show her to be an experienced agent with quite a bit going on.
When the national website followed up with me to ensure that I'd been contacted by someone, I gave them a very positive review of Agent #1, and a fair, honest review of Agent #2. The first agent has impressed me - the other, is already forgotten.
Yet I wished that Agent #2 would have tried a little harder, or referred me to a local peer. While I completed the lead form as a buyer, I do have a home to sell, too! There could have been something for everyone.
Lead management practices seem to be all over the map. Do you find 'no hurry" leads worth nurturing, or do most of them peter out? Do you rank your leads by priority, or treat them all the same?
Copywriting and Marketing Specialist