For decades, prospective home buyers contacted a buyer’s agent when they were ready to shop for a home, but that’s not always the case anymore. Prospective home buyers increasingly use the Internet to find the home that they want to buy. Once a desirable property is identified, they contact an agent for help. This shift in buyers’ behavior creates opportunities for agents to capture new clients – provided that strategies are in place for converting online leads.
Here are 4 tips to help real estate professionals create plans and a system for managing and converting online leads.
1. Respond rapidly to online leads. Time is of the essence!
Some savvy experts suggest that you should respond to an online lead the instant you receive it. Consensus among experts is that “instantly” means “within five minutes.”
In her April 2016 webinar, author and real estate broker Melissa Zavala said that “31% of leads expect a real estate agent to reply instantly to their online inquiry, and 88% of leads feel that response time is ‘extremely important’ when selecting their agent.”1
Timeliness makes good sense. After all, the digital world is all about immediacy. Online search, instant messaging, and an array of digital transaction capabilities have all contributed to expectations of an immediate gratification.
2. Advance preparation makes a rapid response easier.
One simple and effective tactic that helps ensure you are prepared to respond to online leads is to create prewritten email and text messages. When you receive a lead, you can immediately send the email or text that acknowledges the prospective client. You can also begin setting up a time to talk and/or schedule an appointment.
In its guide, Realtor.com suggests routing online leads to a separate phone number and/or email address so that all incoming communications that need immediate follow up are all in the same place.2
3. The first call should be about building a relationship.
Building a relationship with the prospective client is your primary objective. Getting to know the customer – their wants, needs, preferences and motivations – builds trust. Some agents profile the prospect before making a call to gather insights and assess readiness to buy a home.3
The first call sets the stage for meeting face to face or scheduling a longer phone exchange. Experts recommend that detailed discussions about a specific property should take place during this second encounter – and after talking with the listing agent of the specific property.2
4. Proactive communication and follow up pays off.
If it’s been 48 hours since you contacted an online lead and you’ve received no reply, you can continue to build the relationship by sending helpful emails. Try sharing links to appropriate MLS listings or details of properties that are comparable to the home the prospective buyer originally expressed interest about.
Strategies for keeping a relationship alive will vary depending on whether the home buyer is immediately ready to buy or is in the “research and prepare” stage. Successful agents plan their time and follow up with calls or emails twice a week with “ready to move forward” buyers.3
Sending weekly emails with a variety of helpful content, such as buyer’s guides, new listing alerts, newsletters, nurtures those prospects who are still preparing to buy a home. According to Realtor.com, 95% of internet leads convert between the 2nd and 12th contact attempt. Persistence and follow up does pay off.2
When online leads become satisfied customers, everybody wins. And, the time and resources you’ve invested in online conversion strategies pays off in further opportunities among the friends, family members and others referred to you by your clients.
Sep 12, 2016
1 Real Estate Agents – Create a Lead Conversion Plan that Works. Melissa Zavala. Web. 07 Apr. 2016. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. http://www.slideshare.net/MelissaZavala/real-estate-agents-create-a-lead-conversion-plan-that-works
2 Tips for Closing Leads. Realtor.com. Web. 08 Aug 2016. http://www.marketing.realtor.com/inventory/downloads/Connection/tips-for-closing.pdf
3 How to execute killer online real estate lead conversion. Paul Hagey. Inman News. Web. 24 Sept. 2015. Web 29 Aug 2016. http://www.inman.com/2015/09/24/how-to-execute-killer-online-real-estate-lead-conversion/