So many leads. So little time.
While a plethora of real estate leads is certainly among the proverbial “good problems” to have (after all, it sure beats not enough leads), that doesn’t make it any easier to figure out which ones to focus on today.
We all want to believe every lead will turn into a deal, but the reality is you can waste a lot of time spinning your wheels by chasing the wrong leads at the wrong time.
Which brings us to a very real conundrum for top producing agents and teams. You don’t have the time to work with leads that aren’t ready to move forward, but you can’t know how ready a prospect actually is until you spend time engaging with them.
We turned to the experts to collect proven tactics for identifying the signals from the noise in a high-volume real estate database so that you can capture the best opportunities, without spending multiple hours per day combing through your lists.
Ways to find the hand-raisers in your database:
- Prioritize by lead source
- Use content to engage
- Help leads self-segment
- Ask a question
- Make your follow up list your to-do list
- Be authentic
- Don’t give up
What do your real estate prospects really want?
School teachers know there are many reasons students raise their hands — they may want to answer a question, or they may want to ask one.
In the same way, real estate agents know that a lead who has ‘raised their hand’ by clicking on a listing or filling out a contact form is interested in something.
They just don’t always know what it is.
Until you actually engage a hand-raiser, you can’t tell whether they’re simply browsing images for their vision board or actively looking for a home they can move into asap.
Many top producing agents and teams say that without a little help from real estate automation, the job of identifying and engaging the hand-raisers in their database can quickly become overwhelming.
But they’ll also tell you that tech alone isn’t enough to get the job done.
Let’s take a closer look at the tactics top producers use to find and engage the hand-raisers in their database.
More than 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (36%) and qualifying (22%).
1. Prioritize by lead source
There’s no minimizing the importance of regular follow up with each and every one of your leads. But the beauty of automation is that you can use it to free your time to really dial in and focus your follow up on those leads that are most important and urgent — the ones most likely to buy or sell.
“ALL new leads must be worked with the same intensity and frequency. Just prioritize which ones get worked first based on the quality of the lead source.”
-Dale Archdekin, founder of Smart Inside Sales.
Dale suggests segmenting leads with a focus on the intent of the buyer or seller.
Here is his no-holds-barred account of how it all breaks down:
- Referral: “A referral comes to you because someone who knows/likes/trusts you spoke to someone with a real estate need, who knows/likes/trusts them, and they decided to connect you two.”
- Portal: “A Zillow lead comes to you because someone with a real estate need didn't already have a know/like/trust to talk to and is willing to talk to a strange salesperson.”
- Website: “A website registration looking for homes for sale reluctantly agreed to give their contact information in order to look at a home online.”
- Facebook: “A Facebook cold registration with impulse control issues clicked on a pretty home in their feed and traded their contact info for more pictures.”
From there, you can prioritize your leads based on source. “A referral takes priority over a Zillow lead. A Zillow lead takes priority over a website registration, and a Facebook lead takes priority over a website lead,” explains Dale.
If you haven’t already done this exercise, it’s a great way to kick off your hand-raiser engagement tasks as it gives you a running start to a more personalized approach to your follow ups.
As you segment your leads, you may also want to revisit your overall lead generation plan to make sure you're getting optimal ROI on each and every source.
Psst! Need a little extra help with your Zillow lead conversions? We’ve got a complete guide for making the most of your Zillow conversations!
2. Use value-driven content to engage your database
One way to learn what a hand-raiser wants is to engage through content.
This might be a real estate newsletter with local market statistics, a video on the latest market trends, social media posts, or blog articles with homebuying tips.
The important thing is to offer content with value.
According to Dr. Lee Davenport, a top national real estate coach and founder of Learn with Dr. Lee, rather than sending promotional material about your team or your brokerage, you may want to consider preparing some customized articles focused on your local market conditions.
In fact, Lee believes sharing items of value is so important, she spends half of her internationally attended workshop, The 4 Laws of Follow-Up, on this very topic.
She has coached many agents in markets where low inventory is driving up prices and making sellers reluctant to sell out of a concern that they won’t be able to find an affordable replacement.
“I have had a few of the agents I work with send tools and tips to both sell a home AND find a new one within 30 days and in-budget. This hit home for many in their database.”
Send content. Create deliverables (videos, emails, mailers, ebooks, lists, social media posts, etc.) accordingly.
Because what’s relevant to one lead might not have value for another, and generic content won’t do much to move the needle when you’ve got a database filled with thousands of prospects — all with different needs and timelines.
3. Design your content to help leads self-segment
Austin Board of Realtors® Indy Broker of the Year winner Ryan Rodenbeck of Spyglass Realty, came up with a clever way to merge the previous two tips and engage with leads faster, by using the team’s monthly newsletter to figure out what’s important to them.
In addition to local market stats, his newsletter also includes a blog and featured listings with categories like “homes with pools,” “homes under $500K”, and one titled, ”What’s my home worth?”
“We tell our agents to check the clicks in Follow Up Boss after the newsletter is sent out. We're looking for intent based on what they clicked on in the newsletter.”
Another pro tip is to link information in the newsletter back to your website.
Lee Adkins, a real estate expert, consultant, and head of growth at Amplified Solutions, suggests using monthly and weekly newsletters to link back to neighborhood information, blogs, whitepapers, and buyer guides.
“Then you’ve got the data on clicks and opens to follow up with, and Pixel can help you with intel on what to say or send as a follow up.”
4. Ask a question
This classic tip is tougher than it sounds.
Because, while anyone can pop in and ask a question — the agents who succeed at consistently engaging the high-intent leads in their database are the ones who keep asking.
Mike Stott, an Inman’s Top 25 Real Estate Coach and Realtor with Northwest Atlanta Properties, says he occasionally gets responses to blog posts, emails, and newsletters, but his best strategy for generating interest from leads is to ask a great question.
Lately, with the way home prices have been rising and the way people are rethinking their homes in light of the pandemic, he’s been using these two:
Don’t you wish you had bought more real estate 5 to 7 years ago?
Are you living in the right and perfect house for you for the next 10 years?
“Both of these questions will get you into an easy conversation about real estate with your clients in which they see possibility, and how you can provide them the best information, options, and a proven system for them to take action for buying or selling.”
5. Turn your follow up list into your daily to-do list
Timing is everything, right?
At least, that’s how Realtor® Barry Jenkins, a multiple award-winning agent at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, sees it.
“What we decided to do was to take the concept of the Smart Lists and turn it into an actual workflow.”
For Barry, transforming his follow up lists into day-to-day workflows he and his agents can stick to just makes sense.
First, he numbers the lists. Then each list gets filtered for things like the last website visit and the last contact.
“Every day when my agent logs in, they know that list number 1 has someone that has done something important, and no one’s spoken to them recently. Also, the list shows them that during the time they haven’t tried to speak to them they were on our website as well,” explains Barry.
“When you do the above, you end up focusing your day on the right person at the right time so that you can provide them with the right message.”
6. Be authentic
The goal of any follow up activity, be it a text message, a phone call, or an email, is to invoke a response, and sometimes, the best way to do that is simply by being direct.
According to Nick Baldwin, COO of Lab Coat Agents and co-founder of the largest real estate community on Facebook, when you haven’t yet established a relationship with a lead — the best approach is to follow a smart real estate script that acknowledges you’re coming in cold.
Here’s Nick’s example of a low-pressure script that helps him identify the signals from the noise in his database:
I'm not trying to bug you; I want to make sure you're taken care of. Do you have any specific criteria I should be aware of so I don't spam you?
“These are messages that resonate because a salesperson never admits that they may be bothersome or spammy. Getting in front of that is refreshing to the consumer. The ones that respond are typically more ready than not.”
7. Don’t give up
No matter which of these approaches you use to engage with your prospects, it’s worth remembering that the best approach is to just keep trying.
Steve Johnson, an agent with The Minnesota Real Estate Team of REMAX Advantage Plus, follows Dennis Yu’s dollar-a-day strategy using videos targeted to the custom audience he’s built.
“I also make phone calls, direct messages and emails to stay in front of them, and I’m setting up a mailing farm,” Steve says.
“If they don’t respond to my first several outreaches, they go into my email database and get emailed until they unsubscribe. They also go into my custom audience on Facebook and see ads in perpetuity.”
So much of this business is about timing. While a little real estate video marketing can go a long way toward engaging with leads that have long been silent, the best approach will be multi-pronged and above all consistent.
Bonus tip: Focus on 150 leads at a time
Many of the experts we reached out to believe that lead generation through real estate advertising and marketing can’t hold a candle to keeping your focus squarely on referrals and past clients. Some even suggest you turn off forced registrations when you reach an optimum number of SOI contacts and past clients in your database.
Donna Stott, co-founder of Your Coaching Matters, is among them. According to Donna, it’s not how many leads are in your CRM, but who they are that matters.
“It’s far more effective for your database to have no more than 150 carefully selected, active people for you market to at one time,” she says. “With everyone else you can simply send an email or newsletter monthly to see if they raise their hands.”
According to Donna, those 150 leads can generate as much as a 56% return — 84 closed transactions a year.
“I call this ‘150-to-Life’, meaning if you have the right 150 people, you can successfully budget and plan a marketing campaign that allows you to HAVE a life again.”
Meet your hand-raisers with a (100% human) high-five
Just because someone looked at a listing, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to make a move. Figuring out what your prospects really want — and who exactly your top hand-raisers are — often requires a multi-pronged approach that includes:
- Offering something of value
- Asking questions
- Always following up
Agents and teams can use technology and set up systems to make these steps easier and less time-consuming to execute. But at the end of the day, it takes human interaction to really give prospects what they need.
With Follow Up Boss, you can see how many times someone has visited your website and find out exactly what they’ve clicked on. This data, combined with the right kind of intentional automation, can help you achieve better ROI in your business.
But without an actual human to identify and act on the hand-raisers in your database, your CRM is in business for itself.
“Honestly, and maybe there’s a learning opportunity for me here, but when it comes to new inbound leads, I still think humans are the only reliable filter,” says Ryan Graham, Founder of Community & Council Realty. “You have to call your leads. What the tech does do, is build structure around your speed to lead, and short and long term follow up strategies.” We couldn’t agree more.