Dave Lawrence
on

As a small real estate firm, you’re probably well aware of the need to stand out. Competition is heavy in most areas, and there are many different agencies clamoring for client attention.

Nurturing your leads is certainly not a revolutionary concept, yet in the busy real estate work environment, doing more than a cursory job of lead nurturing often gets overlooked.

But chances are, if you’re not devoting enough time to lead nurturing, you’re losing a lot of business that would otherwise have been yours. In this piece encouraging lead nurturing from Scripted, the following statistics are revealed;

  • 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after meeting; 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up.
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.

One follow-up?! If your agency is in that 44%, you could be costing yourselves some serious sales.

There’s no sense putting a whole lot of focus into generating new leads if you’re not nurturing them once they’re signed up. Even for salespeople with little time, or those who don’t want to come across as pushy, there are ways to develop a lead nurturing program clients appreciate, while following up multiple times.

The “Old-Fashioned” Way

Your firm is probably using technology to help manage your leads, but “old-fashioned” strategies such as following up promptly and personally still produce the best results.

According to the National Association of Realtors 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellersreport, nearly seven out of ten buyers interviewed only one real estate agent when buying their home. For sellers, 72% contacted only one agent.

If they’re going to send messages out to fewer agents, obvious factors may seem to influence their choice. How quickly do you respond to that initial contact? How well do you ensure you are available to answer their questions? It is likely that the one agent interviewed is the one who got back the fastest…

Technology such as automated responses and email drip sequences still play a role, but they do not provide the personal touch people prefer. It is your ‘people’ skills that leave a lasting impact and reach the client in a personal way.

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Word of mouth

The Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report further finds that 41% of buyers used an agent referred to them by a friend, neighbor or relative. This further demonstrates the importance of old-fashioned nurturing skills – you might be generating leads online, but warmer leads can be found from in-person referrals because you did such a good job looking after their friend.

Being proactive

Old-fashioned nurturing is about much more than responding quickly to customer-initiated contact. It’s about taking notice, taking a genuine interest and initiating the contact yourself. Your leads tend to give you enough information for an observant, proactive agent to act on and learn from to build a relationship.

Many agents shy away from online leads because they have difficulty converting them, but as this whitepaper from Market Leader points out, the problem is not the lead, it’s the agent’s lack of understanding where the lead is in the buying process. The simple solution? Just reach out and ask them! If they are in the “sorry, just looking,” category, build a relationship with them over time until they are ready to commit.

A recent Inman survey found that while online leads often deliver a poor return, successful agents take a disciplined approach to harvesting and nurturing them.

When you work on building relationships with your leads, think about how you also prefer to get to know someone. Does immediately diving into a sales pitch work for you? Probably not, so work on listening to them, understanding their situation and providing useful information first.

Staying in touch

If you want the referral business mentioned earlier, or repeat business, keeping in touch with your old clients is an important part of lead nurturing. Typically, buyers will stay in their home for 9 years before selling, but your firm doesn’t want to be absent over that time. Homeowners go through life stages, often up or downsizing their homes, and you want to be front of mind for those stages.

Some of the most successful real estate firms commit to a regular program of keeping in touch with their past clients. Phone calls are a great tool for this, so devise a program which includes calling past clients and providing relevant, interesting information involving the local market, finance or city planning – anything real estate related. “Teach them something relevant” is one of our favorite tips for following up with all types of leads.

Using Technology

While old-fashioned people skills are a draw for your leads, making sure you are consistently able to get back to every lead who crosses your path is still a major challenge. This is where technology comes in as a tool which supplements and amplifies lead nurturing efforts.

Follow up quickly

How are you going to be that first agent to get back to the client? Time out of the office and on the road makes it challenging, but technology is here to help. Systems like Follow Up Bosswill call your phone or text message you the instant a new lead comes in. Statistically, if you call back within the first 5 minutes you are 100 times more likely to make contact than if you tried half an hour later.

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Create a plan for following up

Much like following up with past clients, initiating an effective lead nurture routine doesn’t happen by accident. No matter how busy your schedule is, you should be committing to a daily schedule of following up with leads if you want to be among the most successful firms.

Time is a major issue, but technology is once again here to help. Instead of calling a random selection of leads, your CRM database can help you prioritize “hot” leads first (such as those planning on buying shortly).

Set yourself up for effective lead nurturing by having a plan. For example, your plan might look like this:

  • Block out an hour every morning for following up with leads.
  • Create a prioritized list of leads.
  • Send them a text first to confirm their availability for a call.
  • Make phone calls and put relevant notes straight into your CRM for efficiency.

Remember that one size doesn’t fit all

Not every client can commit to talking on the phone for a period of time, or perhaps they simply don’t like it. Find out what the preferred communication method is for each individual client and make a note in your CRM.

Some clients might prefer email because they can get to it in their own time, or text messaging for more urgent messages. Tailor your communications to the client’s preferences or you will experience a disconnect. “They took the time to understand my needs” is a common reason that leads become buyers…

Final Thoughts

Lead nurturing is as important as lead generation for the success of your real estate firm. Real estate firms who become the choice of local clients commit to a program of following up, do so more than once and look for ways to add value for the lead.

The “human touch” is what sets firms apart, so responding quickly and keeping in touch with past clients are important parts of lead nurturing.

Remain present and relevant in the lives of your leads and you will find that they become buyers, refer others and come back when they need you again.


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