A commentary by EXIT Realty Premier Partner, Opcity.

Did you know that in 2017, 49% of home buyers found the home they ultimately purchased online?  This is great news, right? Now you can cut down on your marketing spend, stop purchasing leads, and just wait by the phone for buyers and sellers to come to you, right?

Wrong. Although there is an increase in the number of online leads, this surge has become a double-edged sword for agents and brokers alike. You do meet interested home buyers and sellers, sometimes. On average, only .05% of online leads convert.

The growth in inbound leads has actually created more work for agents and brokers rather than less. It takes a lot of time to reach inbound leads, and once you get them on the phone, it takes time to qualify and educate them, set up a time to meet, and then move through the sales process. It’s gotten to the point where many agents consider online leads to be a burden rather than a benefit, a phenomenon we refer to as “lead fatigue”. Cutting down on lead fatigue at your brokerage will result in increased agent satisfaction and retention and will result in more sales.

Every month, brokers spend hundreds to thousands of dollars purchasing leads for their agents, in the hope they can increase their closes and use this lead distribution incentive as a way to attract and retain agents. Unfortunately, purchasing leads for agents and expecting them to follow up and see the lead through the entire sales cycle doesn’t align with typical agent behavior. On average, salespeople follow up with online leads 1.4 times before giving up, but it takes at least 6 calls to finally reach 90% of inbound leads. Not only that, companies take on average 38 hours to respond to an inbound lead, but if a lead is not contacted within five minutes, the probability of qualifying that lead drops by 400%. And, 77% of online leads are never called at all.

With those numbers, it’s no surprise that the real estate industry as a whole sees a -32% ROI from purchased online leads.

To be successful converting online leads, you need:

  1. Time to Contact
  2. Agent and Buyer Compatibility
  3. Accountability and Insight

Thirty-five to fifty percent of all sales go to the first company who contacts a lead. Sounds simple enough, just get there first, right? Nope! Leads purchased from web portals are hardly ever exclusive, so even though you may have purchased a lead for your agent, if they’re not waiting by the phone to call that lead, chances are they are not going to win the business.  Wading through these leads is not a good use of your agents’ time.  Alternatively, having a team of Inside Sales Agents (ISAs) dedicated to calling leads within seconds of inquiry increases the chances of identifying quality leads, frees up your agents’ time and leads to happier agents and more sales.

Making sure the agent and buyer or seller are correctly matched is another key component of inbound lead success. A lead for a buyer or seller who is interested in a mobile home should not be sent to an agent who specialize in selling homes for $1M+. However, when leads are being purchased and distributed without a strategic plan to match the right lead with the right agent at the right time, this is often overlooked.

Create profiles for each of your agents where they list their inbound lead preferences, such as zip codes they are willing to work, price range, transaction history and availability.  Then create a system where leads are matched with the right agent. Manual distribution is cumbersome, so we recommend setting up a workflow in your CRM to automate the lead distribution process.

Lastly, your agents need (and appreciate!) accountability when it comes to converting online leads. Agents are busy, and their time literally is their money, so they’ll focus their time on the most urgent activities that will result in the most immediate closes. Online leads typically take longer to close than leads from other sources and require nurturing and multiple follow-up attempts before they close. Holding your agents accountable and creating a system that builds incubation into their daily habits will pay dividends in the long run.

During the incubation process, we recommend that leads are contacted at least once every 7 days, so your agents stay top-of-mind. There are many agents in the area, and without a preexisting relationship between the agent and buyer or seller, there’s not a lot of loyalty.

The follow-up to accountability is analytics. Knowing which lead sources perform and convert is key to knowing where your marketing dollars are going and how to use them most effectively. Do you know how much total revenue each of your lead sources has actually brought into your brokerage? Reports that show daily agent activity and how your online leads are performing are invaluable.

We know this sounds like a lot of work, and it is.  Using a third-party lead management system may be the answer. Over the past two years, EXIT Realty Premier Partner, Opcity, has built up a team of over 300 ISAs who make more than 1,000,000 calls to buyer and seller leads every month, so we have a lot of data on what works and what doesn’t. In 2017 alone, we facilitated the transaction of more than $1.2B in home sales.

Opcity’s Broker Lead Accelerator program screens the leads you purchase or generate to deliver real results and provide the highest value from your leads. We contact 94% of our leads within 90 seconds or less to make sure we get there before your competition, and we follow up with leads 26 times via call and text over a 6-month period.

The best part about Broker Lead Accelerator (besides the pre-scrubbed leads) is that we keep track of the leads provided to us by lead source and provide data back to the broker on which specific lead source is converting the best. This allows our brokerage partners to ramp up what is working and cut back on what isn’t.

Lead conversion is our bread and butter. For more information, visit www.opcity.com/broker-lead-accelerator to see if your brokerage qualifies.

 

 

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