We don’t really hunt birds in bushes anymore, but “a past client in the database is worth two random real estate seller leads” might be a decent update to the old saying.
However, that past client in your database is worthless if you’re not keeping track of where they are in the real estate sales funnel and nurturing all of those leads from awareness to closing.
If you have no idea what a real estate sales funnel for seller leads even looks like, don’t worry — that’s what we’re here to cover.
From The Top Of The Funnel To The Spout
Real estate marketers (and others, too) use the concept of a funnel to think about lead generation and sales because it can help you envision where your prospects — or past clients — are in terms of their “sales journey.” Items (or leads) enter the wide top of the funnel, travel down through the middle and then reach the spout at the bottom, where they exit the funnel.
Deciding to sell a home is similar — very few people make a major decision like “I’m going to sell a house today” on a whim. Most of them have been thinking about it for a while, and in the era of Google, they’re also probably doing research and asking questions online.
Your goal is to keep in touch with them at every step of the process, from:
- “Happy homeowner” (the top of the funnel) to
- “Considering a sale” (the middle) to
- “Ready to hire an agent” (the spout) …
… so that when the time comes to list, they call you first.
If you’ve already represented the client in one transaction — perhaps as the buyer — then you’re in a perfect position to add them to the top of your seller sales funnel, also known as your real estate lead follow-up system.
Like any good funnel, you should expect that the number of happy homeowners are going to outnumber the number of prospects who are considering a sale, and those “considering” prospects will outnumber the people who are ready to hire you. You can use a simple touch campaign (a drip email campaign is one popular and effective example) to move those leads through your funnel and make sure you’re the first person on their list of potential agents when they finally reach the spout.
You will need the ability to create different lists or segments or groups of prospective clients that allows you to move them easily from one segment to the other — through your campaign — in order to make this work effectively. But when done correctly, you’ll wind up with (serious!) real estate seller leads — possibly more of them than you can handle on your own, depending on your market.
The Top Of The Funnel: Happy Homeowners
You can’t sell a house if you don’t own one, so as the agent, you’ll want to populate the top of your seller sales funnel with, well, homeowners.
And the best way to do that is to provide those homeowners with relevant information that they need or want in some form. That form could be a blog post, email drip campaign or newsletters, or a social media campaign — or a combination of platforms. The key to making your first touch campaign “simple” is to use a strategy that you’ll keep up with and that you understand, so start with one (maybe two at the most) platforms and build your campaign from that simple but effective foundation.
There are some attributes of the happy homeowner group that you should understand before you try to start selling them on hiring you as their agent, however.
- The key is in the name: These folks are happy where they are, and their focus is on staying in — and maybe sprucing up — their current home. Don’t talk to them about sales right now; they don’t want to hear it, and it will only annoy them.
- Their questions and pain points are going to revolve mostly around those spruce-up projects or the dreaded home repairs … but you might also find that homeowners in hot markets have lots of anxiety around tax season, too. And maybe they aren’t sure what that bill the local or state legislation is considering is going to mean for them, either. Thinking about what they want to know and giving them those details will win you fans and followers (and fill your funnel).
- Do you want to think about your own personal spruce-up or repair projects — or taxes! — every day, every two days, once a week, twice a month or even monthly? Let’s be real: You don’t. Neither does this group of prospects. So don’t “touch” them constantly or they’ll unsubscribe after the second or third irrelevant message. Reach out to them quarterly, or maybe six times a year, with seasonal or timely information about being a homeowner.
A lot of the information you’ll be sharing with your happy homeowners is “evergreen,” which means it has no real expiration date. Once you start reaching out to this prospect group, keep a catalog of what you’re offering them and any questions you get back in response. Check past information and send it out again as appropriate, or keep a record of it on your website as part of your blog. You can also use questions as jumping-off points for new blog posts, Facebook posts or newsletter topics.
It’s also worth reaching out to this group when you have timely content that doesn’t fit your regular publication schedule but that you know they’ll be interested in. If it’s been raining every day for a month in your normally pretty dry city, then that might be a good time to think about calling up some contractors and asking them how local basements are looking (and what the wait is to get someone in to fix a leaky foundation).
Make sure you tell all your happy homeowners in every post — briefly! — that you offer more frequent market-specific information for anybody who’s considering selling, and then give them the opportunity to sign up for that list.
The Middle Of The Funnel: “What If I Sold …?”
Now that you know your homeowner prospects are floating the idea of selling, your job is to provide them with more of what they enjoyed as your happy homeowner prospects — relevant information about what they need to know at this stage of the journey.
This group is a little bit different from the gang at the top of your funnel. Here are some attributes you might want to consider when planning your campaign “touches”:
- They are not ready to make a decision today or maybe even tomorrow. But the idea of selling has crossed their mind, so they are ready to start exploring the possibility, and they have a lot of questions about what that’s going to mean.
- Their questions and pain points are going to revolve mostly around preparing for a sale. So they don’t need to hear about staging or how to market a listing, but they might want to know about possible implications for their current home loan, the ins and outs of capital gains taxes and what repairs or upgrades to their current home might net them the most money.
- Because the idea of selling is on their mind — and that means they’ll probably make a decision between six months and a year from when they first begin to explore it — they’ll be receptive to hearing from you more frequently. You can talk to this group monthly or possibly even every couple of weeks if the information you’re delivering is solid.
You can use some market data or information to talk to this group of prospects, but be wary of bombarding them with mortgage rate or average listing price information — you can be sure that they’re finding that information elsewhere with other agents.
Instead, consider taking them behind the scenes to explain how automated valuations work or to give them a rundown of whether it would make more sense to spend their tax return on a kitchen or bathroom upgrade (or neither). This group might also be interested to hear about some case studies or success stories of your clients who have downsized after decades in the same home or found and secured a bigger space for a growing family.
You’ll also want to consider archiving any “evergreen” posts for this middle group — a lot of this information could require more frequent updating, so make sure you’re giving it a scan before you post if you’re recycling something.
By this point in your funnel, your prospects know that you are willing to give away valuable information in exchange for an email address, so entice the “what if” group to move to the next part of the funnel in every “touch” you make with a promise of valuable information on the actual sales process and how to hire an agent.
The Bottom Of The Funnel: Ready To List
Now that you’ve moved your prospects through the sales funnel and they have reached the spout, do you think it’s finally time to abandon the process of providing your potential clients with information they want and need?
Again, they’re going to have different wants and needs from the people in the other stages of the sales journey. Here’s a rundown of what to know:
- They’re serious about selling — but they might not be seriously in love with you as their agent yet. That’s OK! Just be wary of coming on too strong; you should try to position yourself as a knowledgeable person they can approach for answers instead of someone who’s seeking their business.
- Their questions and pain points will be mostly about hiring an agent and the sales process. This is where you can use phrases like “curb appeal” and discuss the importance of staging and professional photography, and also where you can explain what the appraisal shortage has been meaning for home closings and give a step-by-step rundown of what sellers can typically expect to happen after they decide to accept an offer.
- This group is deep into the sales process, so you can get away with more frequent touches — and they’re also likely to be more interested in some of the market data you can share, so this might be a good segment of your funnel to share that content with. Once or twice a week is probably a good tempo for ready-to-listers.
Put a call to action on every piece of content you share that encourages this audience to reach out to you one-to-one with any questions.
And don’t be afraid to talk to other agents’ current listing clients, either. If you’re regularly releasing content that explains how a CMA is crafted, what to consider when hiring an agent and how to keep the house clean (and stay sane) when it’s on the market and open for showings, then clients with less attentive agents might just drop theirs and come talk to you, instead. After all, they’re probably looking for answers — and not getting them.
Putting It All Together
Real estate seller leads are just people — people who are trying to offload the biggest asset they own, in most circumstances.
So to reach them, you need to:
- Consider where they are in the sales journey — happy homeowners, thinking about selling or ready to list
- Consider what they want to know at that point in the journey, starting with pain points and questions, and start offering prospects information that gives them the knowledge they crave
- Invite them with every touch to move to the next step of the sales journey by explaining what kind of content you can provide them to help them with that leg and giving them an opportunity to join the next group of prospects
If you can do this, you’ll have a consistent flow of real estate seller leads into your business — and your business will flow more smoothly because those leads are also the people you’ve been educating as they move through their journey.