Realtor at an open houseIf you ask most REALTORS® they will tell you that lead-generation is purely a numbers game. Simple math right? More leads in, more closed deals. You need to be focusing your time and energy on cultivating high-quality leads. It all starts with being able to spot the difference between a rock solid lead and a cold (or fake) lead.

In real life, it’s easy to tell who’s serious and who’s going to waste your time. I’m sure you’ve been there before, scanning the room at your open house trying to determine which person you should approach and focus your energy on. Do you talk to the ones who are avoiding you and clearly have nothing better to do on their Sunday afternoons, or the friendly couple taking their time and snapping photos of every corner and planning what they would do with each room? It’s easier to read their body language and look for other signs that they’re interested when you can see the person with your own eyes. “Are they pre-approved? How did they find out about this listing?” just ask, they’re standing right there.

Online, it can be harder to pick out these differences, but if you master the ability to focus your attention on the leads that have a higher chance of converting… you’re going to save yourself a lot of time and stress. Let’s look at a few common ways that real estate agents capture leads from their websites.

Forcing visitors to provide contact info before going further.

The MLS® Reciprocity Program (or DDF) allows thousands of agents to display the exact same listing data on their websites, so if you’re forcing visitors into providing you with their contact information to see data that’s publicly available on other websites without having to sign up, then your leads are most likely going to be low-quality. Sure, you may capture the odd lead by a confused visitor that’s not aware the information they seek is readily available elsewhere, but that’s not the norm. You’ll most likely have people jump ship entirely or fill in your form with a simple mash of their keyboard to rush past your gate.

Asking visitors to provide their contact info for something of value in return.

If you’re providing something of true value that the visitor can’t easily get elsewhere, then it’s worth it for them to give you their contact details. You provide them with value and they provide you with their contact details as a form of equal currency.

What’s going through the visitors mind when they’re faced with this situation? “If I give you my personal contact info…

  • Are you going to save me a bunch of time? (research, stats or other enhanced content that would be a pain or impossible for me to compile on my own)
  • Do you have some insight that can benefit me? (market knowledge, sales statistics, new listings that match my criteria, etc.)
  • Are you going to spam me? annoy me? call me during dinner? sell my contact info? add me as a friend of Facebook and comment on all my personal photos to stay “top-of-mind”?

online website leadsThe bottom line is that nobody is going to provide you with legitimate contact information if they don’t expect you to contact them and provide them with something of value.

You don’t want people to use your website as a search tool then take their findings to their own agent. It will happen from time to time, but it’s not your goal. You need to entice people to contact you (the expert) for more information on a particular listing or service they’re interested in. Make it worth their while.

Nothing is stopping people from visiting and searching for a home… but why would they come to your personal website and search? Do you provide a better search experience? Is your search faster? is it easier to understand and does it present the listing in a more appealing format? Are there less clicks and time involved to find the same information? If it’s a better overall experience for the user then they will prefer to do their searching on your website. By providing them with the best possible real estate website experience, they will be more inclined to contact you for further information if they seek it. For example, RealtyNinja websites don’t show ALL the fine details of listings, if someone wants to know how big that second bedroom is… they will need to contact you and ask. The key is that the user initiates contact with you out of will, therefor you’re in a better position to sell them on your services.

The anatomy of a lead

Typically, a lead from your website will be regarding a particular listing or search criteria. Other leads may come from contact, buyers, sellers and market evaluation forms. For example if you get a lead on a specific property, look at the information they provided to best determine if they’re a hot or cold lead.

  • Only provided you with their email address and inquiry = Most likely just browsing and probably not interested in you contacting them about anything other than their specific inquiry. They may be working with their own agent and just using you for comparables.
  • Provided their name, email and phone and detailed inquiry = Likely quite interested and open to you contacting them via phone and/or email.

Pro tip: Email them details on the property they requested as well as 3 other similar listings on the market that closely resemble the one they’re interested in (bracket by price, sub-area, property type, age, bedrooms and sqft). Follow up with a phone call and reference the email you sent. Ask to schedule a showing as well as send them supporting material that will help with their decision (market trends, sales stats, buyers tips, newsletter and other valuable insight).

Define a Standard Operating Procedure to deal with hot and cold leads

You should have a set formula to handle leads. Hot leads should be taken through your entire sales funnel and cold ones should have a less time-intensive method. The goal is to never re-invent the wheel when following up on a lead. Write out an “initial follow up” template for each type of lead (hot/cold) and it’s corresponding action steps. Design a system that works for you, but focus on providing value to the leads you determine to be of higher quality. Nurture these prospects until they have shown signs of commitment to move to the next stage of the sales process.

Your buyers template should include a series of questions to help you further determine the motive of the buyer on the end. For example:

  • Why are you thinking of buying? (scaling up, downsizing, empty-nesters, career change, etc.)
  • What type of home are you looking for? (determine if their wishes actually seem plausible, given their circumstances)
  • How long have you been looking? Are you looking to buy soon? (don’t spend too much energy on someone just seeing what’s out there… if they’re 6+ months away from buying then sign them up for an automated email campaign for now – such as your newsletter or new listings on the market matching their criteria and forget about it until they contact you again)
  • Are you familiar with the home buying process?
  • Are you pre-approved?
  • Are you working with another agent?
  • Do you have a mortgage broker, lawyer/notary? (for your referral network)

Your sellers template should be similar:

  • Why are you thinking of selling/moving?
  • Are you familiar with the home selling process? (show them what you’ll do to market/sell their property)
  • Are you familiar with the costs involved to sell your home?
  • Are you familiar with current market conditions in your area and how your home compares?
  • Do you have a mortgage broker, staging company, photographer, etc.?

In Conclusion

Provide your website visitors with a smooth and informative experience. Don’t put walls between them and the information they seek unless you’re going to provide them with added value (that’s worth them trading their contact details with you). Get familiar with the characteristics of a lead and have a standard method of dealing with different types of leads. Focus your energy on cultivating high-quality leads, providing an awesome experience and your business will surely scale.

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