Realtors spend about $9 billion every year on advertising. Furthermore, from that data, 56% of that sum (a little more than $5 billion) is spent on purchasing leads. It’s reasonable to assume that there’s an immense amount of value associated with purchasing leads. However, there’s a massive difference between leads of a buyer and leads of a discernible buyer.
Top performing agents aim their sites on the discernible buyer over just the broadly stroked “buyer.” They understand the emphasis that needs to be put on qualifying and scrubbing their leads rather than just purchasing a plethora of generic leads.
Below are 6 ways top performing agents are enhancing their lead strategy to outperform the rest. The industry average lead response time is 3 hours and 8 minutes. Top performing agents who utilize lead response and scrubbing tools available to anyone (but only few choose to adopt) respond to leads within a whopping 5 minute window.
According to Inside Sales, the odds of a lead being converted are 21X more likely when responded within 5 minutes as opposed to a response within a half hour. Just because a lead isn’t ready to convert now doesn’t mean that it won’t ever be ready. Inman suggests that the number one mistake real estate agents make with leads is they give up on what they think are “dead-end” leads. Inman notes,
“[…] That’s why it’s imperative that you nurture your leads. You spent time, energy and money generating the lead, now nurture it. Stop treating the ones that don’t buy or sell immediately (most of them, by the way) like they are lepers. Start treating them like the absolute gold that they are. It takes thought, time, energy and, yes, even some money, to set up a beautiful lead nurturing process. But that time, energy and money will pay off. Huge. In massive returns.”
Now you might be thinking you don’t have time to nurture leads that might only be actualized 6 months or perhaps a year from now. Top performing agents don’t actively pursue these leads day in and day out. They use passive technology in order to keep these leads nurtured over the long haul. Not all lead generation is searching and purchasing leads. Sometimes, you need the leads to come to you.
Top performing agents utilize an effective marketing strategy to get their name and reputation out to the public and have the potential customers come to them. The National Association of Realtors® reports that 44% of all buyers research online before reaching out to a Realtor®.
If you’ve been having trouble building and advertising your brand, check out our guide to building your brand.Did you know that the millennial market makes up 33% of the present day real estate housing market? Not that many realtors know that.
Furthermore, since millennials have delayed home buying longer than any previous generation, the demand to enter into the home buying market is set to explode. There are deliberate and effective strategies top performing agents use in communicating and doing business with the largest generation in United States History.
As it pertains to their lead strategy, these agents know what form of communication is preferred. Studies indicate that 86% of millennials would prefer to communicate via text message over a phone call. If you are an agent who is focusing on this niche market, there are tools that you can employ to exploit this opportunity.
For being such a competitive industry, you aren’t working in a vacuum. Many top performing agents utilize referral networks.
For many agents, referrals from former clients, family, and friends often have the highest closing ratio of any other lead source.
Bruce Ailion, a 37 year veteran realtor who earned $450K GCI last year, has a unique source for leads: other realtors. “My favorite lead source is a referral from another agent. Most Realtors come upon several people a year relocating out of the area.”
Agentology’s Referral Network allows agents to refer eligible leads back to the network and get paid a 25% referral fee for each closed deal.
In short, referrals allow you to make money off of leads without lifting a finger. Just because the deal is done doesn’t mean you send your customer off into the “rising sunset.” Your past customers are going to be your most valued lead going into the future.
A great experience is likely to reward an agent with repeat business.
25% of real estate agents generate more than 50% of their business from repeat clients; across all real estate transactions, which accounts for 12% of all residential real estate volume, or $56 billion. These figures are staggering.
Furthermore, the National Association of REALTORS® conducted a survey concluded that 89% of buyers would prefer to use their agent again in future purchasing.
Top agents know that going through the rigmarole of capturing new business (a task 7X more costly) than capturing a repeat customer. Old leads with a great experience associated to the purchase are converted into future qualified leads.
If you’ve been struggling with your lead strategy, perhaps it was due to ignorance of knowing what was out there. Maybe you have been going down the wrong road for quite some time. Either way, with the strategies listed above, you are set to dominate your local area with what leads may come your way. If in any way you are having trouble trying to find the time to enact any of the listed strategies above, Agentology is here to help. While generating buzz and brand awareness is crucial, as mentioned earlier, saavy agents know that success demands the use of every trick up your sleeve.
Essentially, you should be drumming up clients by any means necessary.
In that vein, our friends over at Follow Up Boss have some fantastic resources at their disposal. Namely, they discuss some timeless tips to generate leads for any business. Many of these will no doubt be ingrained into your real estate psyche already, but there are some gems that are often overlooked and worth implementing into your business strategy.
Furthermore, for those less interested in broad strokes and want more of a cheatsheet , there’s a great list of easy to use (and FREE) lead gen ideas that is certainly worth checking out.
Closing is the make-or-break moment in real estate. Unfortunately, the job doesn’t just entail helping a seller sell and a buyer buy. Far from it. In fact, in 2007, Pat Vredevoogd-Combs, past president of the National Association of REALTORS®, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Housing. As part of her testimony, she submitted a list of 184 things that listing agents do in every real estate transaction.
“By all accounts […] the general public is not aware of all the services that agents provide to sellers and buyers during the course of the transaction, probably because most of the important services are performed behind the scenes.”
On top of everything that goes into the actual purchase and sale of the real estate, we haven’t figured in the labor-intensive effort it takes to help market and build the brand of your enterprise.
Everything you’ve built up until this point would be squandered if you are unable to close the deal on any opportunity that comes your way. As a real estate agent, you have the potential to be a negotiation master. Everything that you do in this profession leads up to helping individuals buy and sell the most important assets that they will exchange over the course of their lives. Here are some tactics, strategies and techniques that will help build you into an expert closer.
We’ve all had that moment whether it be via a phone call, a knock on the door, or being approached on the street where we’re confronted by someone looking to make a sale with a script. If we don’t have the wherewithal to kindly stop them and move on, we’ll end up seeing their whole scripted presentation from start to finish.
A buyer or seller can tell when they are being sold and not being helped. According to Oren Klaff, Author of Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal, “A frame is the instrument you use to package your power, authority, strength, information, and status.” When dealing in negotiation and working towards the close, you always need to remain in control of the frame being represented.
You customer, more often than not, is going to look at controlling the frame of the deal. Maybe they will come up with excuses like, “Let’s make this meeting quick, I only have 15 minutes” to which you would respond with, in order to control the frame, “Great, I only have 14 minutes. Let’s get started.” It may seem silly, but controlling the flow of conversation and leading the customer to sign the deal to their new house is your responsibility as an agent and closer. In most cases, the buyer appears to be in control of the negotiation of the sale. With this technique, you give the seller options he/she can present to the buyer. The buyer may still be in control and have negotiation advantages, however there are too many options that are too enticing to overlook. You play into what is advantageous for both the buyer and the seller and drastically reduce any objections or uncertainties with the menu of options. What at first glance might seem like an avoidance of the actual close, when examined more closely, it is a supreme technique when dealing with the “haggler” during the sale. This technique is to be used when it appears there are still a few concerns that are in the way of closing the deal. The concerns, however, are to be addressed after signing on the dotted line. An example is as follows:
“If we sign the contract today, we can start work on these concerns first thing tomorrow morning. Is that something you would be willing to commit to?”
Make sure you are the last agent to be met with. If a seller has made six listing presentation appointments with competing real estate agents, number six on the list is in the best position.
When a seller is going through the available agents to list their property, they are information gathering. They are betting on the last agent they meet with to have some unique, valuable nugget of insider information that they prior agents maybe didn’t provide. Furthermore, the last agent is going to be fresh in the mind of the client. In conjunction with strategy 1 (listed above), try prompting your client with the following question, “Could I please be your last appointment? I’m a bit different from most agents and I want to be able to address any questions or concerns you have after you’ve talked to others.”
Everything you’ve worked for in building your business and brand, gathering clients and securing listing will be for naught if you are unable to capitalize on the close and get your client to sign their “John Hancock” on the dotted line. You’re currently juggling everything from fostering a referral program to building your optimal real estate team (link to real estate team blog). Expediting your closing rates and becoming a real estate rainmaker is within reach.
You’ll be surprised by how much of an impact personality can have in closing deals; in fact, certain traits can play a part in making or breaking your business. When someone is said to have a “winning personality”, what kind of person comes to mind? (And no, I’m not referring to when you ironically describe the crotchety cat lady next door.)
So take a second, close your eyes, and think – who genuinely fits the bill? Without a doubt, you’ll imagine someone who has all the traits that translates into success – in their business, in their relationships, and pretty much life in general. Self-assured. Ambitious. Even charming. So here are some traits synonymous with success, but first – here’s one surprising characteristic.
The Customer is Not Always Right!
Yes. You heard me. And if you disagree, then good – because that means you’re a winner with a backbone, since being too much of a people pleaser could be a dealbreaker in your business. Studies show that “Agreeableness has a negative relationship with sales”. Don’t get me wrong – customer service/experience is vital within the real estate space. It plays a large part in building your brand with word of mouth promotion. Yet it doesn’t entail having to roll over for them. Such as when you need to push back and assert your expertise when a client challenges you with hearsay and conflicting information.
Now, agreeable in this context doesn’t mean having a crummy personality or even being likable. Instead, it means that “People who are high in agreeableness tend to be more cooperative while those low in this trait tend to be more competitive and even manipulative.” (Very Well Minded) Clearly, you have to strike a balance in this regard – you don’t want to be excessively cooperative to the point that your client assumes you’ll just roll over during negotiations. Yet you don’t want to come off as ‘manipulative’, like some sleazy salesman with a comb over toupee in a pit-stained 3 piece suit. (Speaking of which, make sure you’re style is not killing your business either)
Vigilance is key
Now that you know what not to do, it’s worth exploring the characteristics which have proven to generate more success- which of the Big 5 will help you close more deals? Surprisingly, it’s much more than a winning smile or some cheesy catch-line. Have you noticed that your top earners are ones that keep a steady calendar and constantly updated task list? Or have you observed that your top performing contemporaries (aka, your rivals) all are creatively stylish with a pension for outside-the-box marketing strategies? These scenarios all qualify as examples of Conscientiousness and Openness – the 2 big traits which translate to more success.
“Conscientiousness and Openness did show a positive relationship [with Sales]”.
Conscientiousness is described as the “key ingredient for success” and describes “people set and keep long-range goals, deliberate over choice… and take seriously obligations to others.” Highlighting the benefits of this trait, a study by a Yale professor showcases that an increase in conscientiousness results in a 3-6% in annual revenue. More importantly, for agents this translates to more closed deals. So basically, set goals, make strategic decisions, and stay accountable/keep your word. It will pay off (literally).
Openness, as its name implies, can “lead a person to be more open to novel or unconventional ideas and viewpoints.” These are the type of people who are willing to try out-of-the-box solutions and usually arrive at the kind of strategies that no one else would have thought of (or open to subordinates who do so). In a business where you’re constantly fielding objections, this kind of flexibility is crucial.
I discuss at length the many different ways to boost your business, but at the crux of all of this is an openness to new and innovative ideas. Settling for outdated, hackneyed, or garden-variety marketing strategies will earn you a one way ticket to mediocrity (or worse). If you have any hopes of rising above the pack, then you have to be open to new and different things.
There’s very little doubt that these traits are dealmakers. Lucky for any remaining skeptics, there’s further research supporting this notion that proves the obvious – clients want to work with someone they can trust in every sense of the word.
Up to 94% of consumers are loyal to brands that are transparent. 73% will pay more for a product that offers complete transparency.
So basically, as long as you’re a straight-shooter, your clients will throw money at you and keep coming back.
Lastly, there’s good news for the more patient but passive agent: Personality Changes for the Better with Age! “Conscientiousness, a trait marked by organization and discipline, and linked to success at work and in relationships, was found to increase through the age ranges studied, with the most change occurring in a person’s 20s.”
For the rest of you: the impatient but meticulous trailblazers with aspirations for more success – be mindful of your personality as it can play a large part in achieving your goals. Remember: less of a pushover + more of an organized innovator = more closed deals.
Real estate leads can be fickle–while there are many ways to generate leads. Which are the most financially viable and advantageous for an agent to follow?
Technology today allows you to generate leads from a variety of credible sources (Trulia and Realtor.com top that list). As an agent, you are just a mere click from being exposed to thousands of leads. Yet, you still aren’t closing at a rate that is consistent with your standards–let alone the standards of the industry. How can this be?
What if just merely generating leads wasn’t enough? What if there was another reason responsible for you and your team’s lackluster lead response strategy?
Let’s take a look…The most important facet in regards to leads in the real estate industry is the quality of the leads.
How are you scrubbing the leads you are getting in? What measures are you taking in following up with the leads?
To illustrate how lead generation is accessible to all yet wrought with its pitfalls, let’s take a look at Terry Dyer, an agent from San Diego, CA. Terry notes that,
“I’ve been paying for Realtor.com leads for over a year. Am hoping to build a team so I’ve been investing a LOT of money…more than $5000 per month. After months of asking my account rep Mary Padilla sent me a spreadsheet of my leads. I deleted the duplicate e-mail addresses and found over 500 duplicates. […] I’ve been billed $25,000 for the same information..the same buyers…..over and over…..Realtor.com says they consider one person can be multiple leads.”
What are the richness of those leads, however? We can obviously see the overspending being conducted by him and his team. On the flip side, we have Keith Dunham from HomeCity Real Estate, who grew his real estate business from $4 million in 2014 to $50 million in 2015. Much of his success, he claims, has to do with the vetting and scrubbing of his leads over just the initial investment of generating the leads,
“If you are going to run your own business, you’ve got to go all in […] When you realize how expensive leads are, if you want to stay in this game you have to follow up and stay in touch with them.”
Keith has a deliberate approach in qualifying and scrubbing his leads. He uses this strategy to help grow his business and this strategy was an integral facet of his astronomical growth.
“It’s about leveraging technology to convert more business […] At the end of the day, it’s about transactions. It’s working with people who are ready to transact with us. We put a system in that allows agents to focus on the low hanging fruit, while we focus on the back end and follow up […] Most brokers expect agents to follow up with a thousand leads. Get the lead, sell the lead, then service lead. We would rather put real opportunities in their hand.”
The dust is beginning to settle on the importance of scrubbing your leads that drive a higher closing rate. A big question remains, however…
What if I don’t have a customer service team that can handle this expedited process? Luckily there is technology at your disposal to help vet the thousands of leads you will generate in a given year.
Many agents have used our lead qualifying technology and have seen their businesses grow as a result. Bobby Martins of Bobby Martins Realty Group puts it simply,
“What I love about it is someone is reaching out right away. And the best part is that is ties into my CRM. Now it’s allowing me to focus on the top 10% of people doing business, and I can give my agents and my team more leads that are actually qualified…to me that’s invaluable…it comes down to ‘work smart'”.
The industry standard for converting leads is floating at a mere 1% success rate. However, there are agents and realty teams out in the field that are converting at three times that rate. These agents have taken their lead strategy from merely generating leads and have put a larger emphasis on vetting, qualifying, and scrubbing those leads.
If you have been experiencing higher costs associated with your lead generation and haven’t considered assistance with lead scrubbing–you should. Your team will thank you for the assistance and your business with thank you for the assistance
There’s generally a difference between networking and lead generation, but the reality is we’re generally always looking for opportunities to make connections that could someday turn into leads. LinkedIn has primarily been a tool for job searchers and B2B sales opportunities, but that’s changing as personal and professional lives increasingly blend together. More people are looking to make connections not based on the tool they use, but on where they spend their time. With 500 million members (75% of whom have incomes over $75,000), and considering that 40% of LinkedIn users use the service daily, it’s a great platform for finding potential clients.
Networking is an always-on activity if we’re going to keep a steady lead stream coming in, but it’s just as critical to be astute about your activity on LinkedIn.
Robbing banks and collecting leads
Someone once asked infamous bank robber, Willie Sutton, why he robbed banks. His reply: “‘Cuz that’s where the money is.” By the same token, you can spend time networking and creating leads in a lot of different places, but LinkedIn is where the leads are. In fact, LinkedIn provides 277% more leads than Facebook and Twitter. It also presents a solution to the issue of scale; you can simply connect with more people digitally than you can going door-to-door. Certainly, quality of the connection is important, but if done correctly, you engage with potential customers on LinkedIn just as effectively as with other lead channels, but with much higher odds of reaching a massive volume.
Besides being such a dynamic source of activity, LinkedIn is also underutilized by Realtors®, so this is an opportune time to get on board. Interestingly, of all businesses, agents included, 98% have a Facebook page, yet only 66% use LinkedIn. Real estate agents need to make use of any and every tool that can deliver success; if LinkedIn isn’t on your list, you owe it to yourself to learn how to leverage it.
The site is loaded with data and information that will help make your lead generation easier, but it can also be overwhelming; Our tips will help you be smart and focused in how you take advantage of it:
1. Establish your role as a leader and guide
LinkedIn provides an easy-to-use platform for publishing original content. That means articles you write can be published for free and distributed to your connections and followers. It establishes you as a trusted thought leader and it keeps you top of mind among your connections.
John Hall, CEO of marketing firm Influence & Co, recommends using LinkedIn as a key tool for elevating your profile. He said, “…with LinkedIn’s publishing platform, you have the chance to more easily stay top of mind by publishing content and getting it in front of your audience the moment you hit ‘publish’.”
You might want to take research on real estate trends and write a synopsis. Maybe you had an experience with a great client and you want to share that. Or perhaps there’s some specialty you service as a Realtor® (downtown lofts, rural lots, houses ready to be flipped) about which you already have a lot of knowledge and facts. Write a piece that will help people become smarter as it relates to home buying or selling and they will look to you for future advice.
2. Create a success platform
LinkedIn users tend to be ambitious and achievement-focused. 54% of LinkedIn users are college graduates or have some college experience. These are job seekers looking to improve their status and the LinkedIn demographic skews towards those in professional careers; they appreciate success and like to be around it. With that in mind, use it as a way to showcase your own successes — houses you’re listing, ones you’ve sold, customer testimonials, or anything that users will see that say, “This is someone who is trusted and gets things done.”
3. Promote offline activities
As you build awareness and an audience of followers and connections on LinkedIn, you may want to use it as a way to generate interest in offline events and activities. Open houses, informal wine and cheese get-togethers, informational seminars, or other opportunities for potential customers to meet you in real-time. Awareness coming from LinkedIn is automatically trusted and the announcements you post on your LinkedIn page look professional.
4. Connect and connect more
You’ll likely start out your LinkedIn experience by connecting with dozens, if not hundreds, of people you know. Spend time to get those connections, and then start connecting with THOSE people’s connections. The concept of “three degrees of influence” actually supports the idea that second and third-degree connections can often be more effective when it comes to creating new relationships.
5. Connect, don’t sell
Keep in mind that LinkedIn is for making connections, not directly for selling. Don’t put the hard sell on, but rather, make them aware of your skill set, your success, and your ability to provide your service when needed. It’s a softer approach, but because you can create such a large network, the odds of turning connections into actual clients are much greater than when using other avenues.
“LinkedIn can be an incredible tool for real estate agents, but don’t expect a flood of leads to start filling up your phone. Professionals who are patient and know how to network effectively and engage constructively, however, will eventually find that LinkedIn can be among the more valuable tools for creating, sustaining, and delivering profitable professional relationships.”
Let’s face it– even if you’re a real estate rainmaker, building an optimized team around you provides more benefit than performing your role as a lone-wolf advisor. When you’re working solo, you’re always going to be presented with the sour moment of turning away leads due to not having ample time and resources. You can’t do it all. You need a real estate team.
With a team, you’ll be able to build your real estate empire. You’ll be able to capitalize on every lead that comes your way and knead and bend the constraints of your day so that you can get every task completed. [Not only will leveraging a team allow you to bend the constraints of your day, but it gives you the ability to capitalize on every lead that comes your way so you can focus on building your real estate empire.
To borrow from Jim Collins, American author of Good to Great and renowned lecturer on the subject of company sustainability and growth,
“In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances…”
In short, your team is paramount to the success of your business.
What should an optimal team look like and how should you go about building said team?
Below are a list of tactics, strategies and practices involved in building the best team possible for your real estate dominance:
1. Outline your overall “why”
Ask yourself: Why are you looking to build a team under your tutelage?
When you are first building your team, you need to consider your needs.
- Are you looking to delegate some of your work as to have more freedom?
- Are you looking to ramp up revenue generation and have people follow up on the leads you’re too busy to follow up with?
- Are you looking to offer more customer support to your clients?
You need to properly identify and outline your motivations for building a team. There isn’t really a wrong answer, however if you follow the wrong motivation, you are destined to fail your business and your team.
2. Make sure your own office is in perfect working order
“The foundation of building a profitable real estate team is to have your own house in order first.”
— Jan O’Brien, RealEstateTeamBuilder.com
As the business leader, your role is to make sure that your team has the proper resources to take all the excess work that is being presented at your doorstep and capitalize on it. Your team is not there to solve all the problems you may already be experiencing with your business.
Your hires are looking for delegation, direction, and guidance. Only when you have your own office in working order can you take on the role of delegator and leader.
3. Identify the right people for your team
Referencing the above quote from Jim Collins, it’s important to know who you have on your bus before you decide on where you want to go with this team.
Where are you weak? Try to identify potential team members that make up for your shortcomings. Many realty businesses have employed using DISC Personality Profiling to aid them in matching the necessary skills needed in building their team with potential hires.
While DISC Personality Profiling might help in identifying your needs, it isn’t a surefire failsafe. Other successful real estate agent enterprises enact a trial period hiring process (generally 90 days) in order to see if the candidates are the right fit.
84% Of job seekers would consider leaving their current job if offered a job by a company with an excellent reputation.
4. Your reputation will reflect your candidate pool
Your reputation will dictate how much you are sought after in this business. When you reach the point of building a team, you are going to want the best people possible. Are you in a place where the best candidates are going to put you on their radar?
A study conducted by Glassdoor For Employers indicates that 69 percent of job seekers would not take a job with a company that has a bad reputation–even if unemployed. 84 percent would consider leaving their current job if offered a job by a company with an excellent reputation.
In a world where job satisfaction is put at a higher priority than compensation, what kind of culture are you fostering?
5. Hire slow and rely on your gut
Kyle Alfriend is a Realtor with over 20 years experience. He knows a thing or two about hiring a team.
Here’s Alfriend’s three step process on hiring new team members::
- First, his staff conducts an initial phone screening.
- The second step is an interview, which incorporates some Myers-Briggs testing with the main focus of weeding out the bad candidates as opposed to finding the good ones).
- Finally, the candidate gets to Alfriend. As Alfriend puts it, “The more ‘out of the box’ I want them, which is marketing and sales, the more I follow my gut. However, on the more procedural or compliance related jobs, like closing coordinators or processors, the more I allow the questionnaires and personality tests to decide,”
Alfriend says regardless of the position, he always makes the final call ultimately based on gut feel.
The strength and prosperity lies on your decision making abilities and vetting processes. When it all comes down to it, what does your gut say?
As a real estate advisor, you are always wearing a leadership hat. Whether you have only yourself to be responsible for or you are building a team to help you navigate the dynamic landscape, you are the catalyst for your own success. Building a team is tough. We wish we could merely clone a few copies of ourselves and employ them, but of course we can’t. However, you can use various tactics and procedures to build an advantageous team. From there, you can achieve our most ambitious goals.